Dutch Clouds Are Boring

By Alexandra Yep

People love Dutch clouds the painters paint,
Their white reach small, their outlines faint.
These are the clouds we picture.
But have you seen them holding skies?
The perfectness that dignifies
The Dutch cloud as a fixture

In our minds is really nothing but
Cumulus Humilis as far as the gaze can strut.
When you see it, you will be disappointed,
Like when you try to touch one
And think of fog. The Dutch one
Has no edges, anointed

With tame breezes. Give me
Updrafts, jet streams, instability.
Give me American clouds, fat
And vicious, layered from stratus
To wispy cirrus, from undulatas
To riblike uncinus. Give me cumulus that

Respects itself, mottled alto-, hoary nimbo-,
Stormhead heaped to heavy limbo.
The loudest silence breaks in thunder,
The day after Valentine’s worth
The winter. Mine are clouds of girth,
Clouds of stature. Let me fall under

Hailstorm. The glow is worth the fear.
The price of our troposphere
Is tornado warnings, the price of brilliance,
Insanity. Keep your fluff,
I’ll take the face-clouds, rough
Gales for lightning, risk for excellence.

Better boring than bad,
I used to say, until I had
A man as ambitious as thunderhead,
Until I breathed, let the whirlwinds reach me.
Humilis has nothing left to teach me.
I’ll be in love, inspired, or dead.

Cumulonimbus mammatus so fiercely crests
The stratosphere, its airmass sinks and forms breasts.
At least I know peril and beauty run together.
At least the rain-winds slant me
And the sunlight. Let it refract. Grant me