On Clouds by Terry Jones

On Clouds

by Terry Jones

On Clouds

Accumulated exhalations of the oceans,
future shadows, horizon’s trees,
how in heaps, layers and curls of hair
through thermal convection or frontal lifting
your Kelvin-Helmholtz instabilities
form billows, pouches, smooth skull-caps,

contrail, mammatus, orograph, and pileus,
according to your natures
you gather in global brightening,
in noctilucence, in ferns, spoked wheels
and filleted honeycombs of red, of orange,
of twisted pink and bluish-grey
a progeny of crystals,
as congestus, calvus, capilatus, floccus, and humilis:
your veils, grains and ripples, waves and rows
in mares tails and almonds
anvils and fishbones, vertebrae, arches and ribs
cast branches banners and filaments

run to wind-torn Morning Glory, ghost in the lake, roll
porous pebbled, draughted out
then flung open so citied and wild blossomed
fingered to iris-blooms, brain-flowers,
spread as lense in the light
your doors white as precipices ghosted and cliffed;

wet haired, melted and mercury pointed, you lift hands
part to the chalk horizon, move an arm
arms, armfuls
of full snow over your face
so down the back of your falling is white in a drift
and a blue eye
shows and closes;

heather-purple and molten set in a bowl there’s your swing,

red browed to sunset and the coloured cups
where you touch the heartland

cumulus foot on the earth

nimbo stratus
feet wet and touching the world’s edge
cirrus and your hair
the wind unable to blouse where it bends and melts

and the unmilked cow turning its head turning its flank to the shadow


Terry Jones was shortlisted in the main category of the NCLA’s Water Poetry Competition 2012.

The NCLA Water Poetry Competition was judged by W.N. Herbert and John Burnside. The ceremony was held at Northern Stage on 23rd February 2012.

Photographs of the event can be viewed here.

NCLA Water Poetry Competition website.