123.1: Robert Andrew Perez:: late summer & hailing clouds & asperatus 123

These three poems by Robert Andrew Perez are lyric meditations with punch and pop. Each poem coheres strangely and wonderfully line-by-line, but his speaker dexterously balances the sublime impressions of careful and focused thought with a small dose of the idiosyncratic. Take “hailing clouds,” a poem about the challenging task of sky-gazing while the mind drifts in and out of various points of contemplation. Unable to suppress his own offending Adam (Sorry, couldn’t resist!), the speaker insults the sky:

                              say: blood cot-

          shaped cloud-ridden sky—screw
                    your moonlessness
                              and your moonlessnessness

I will not even venture to articulate what the “ness-ness” does to one’s own moonless state of existence, but the finesse with which the speaker moves from deeply contemplative to stunningly wry is alluring. Of many tasks, the mark of a fine poet is when he or she can use language to unsettle the seemingly benign and ordered way we take in our universe, to upend the proverbial snow-globe and recast the filaments into the atmosphere that fertilize our wonder. Perez cites Stevens in “late summer,” and after reading these graceful and wonderfully rich poems, I graciously give him the title of Marianne Moore’s title of her review of Stevens' Harmonium in a 1924 issue of The Dial: “Well Moused, Lion.” Cody Todd

late summer

the sea or bay—

enough. a handful
fits in the mouth
easy. gone is gone

is gone. in poetry school
& in life you learn a word

is elegy
for that which it signifies (a rule
of semantics) by way

of stevens. by way of the sea.
how dry. even this sea: dry.
a house neatly

of popsicle sticks.
an herb garden


on a ledge above
the sink.
steam filtering through basil

leaves. hot water & porcelain.
by this logic, elegy is an elegy of an elegy.
and grief a failure

of necromancy.
zombie poem, be.

hailing clouds

today cumuli

resemble semen

ribboning in chlorine-

blue pool water

in this mood

i mind the root

meaning of words:

how ore comes from ear

or earth & or-

comes from mouth

or wound

i am bound

to attach import

to a leftover ache

that is to say a beck

& call: you

there—the gondolier—

the lovelier

of us—with exposed opening

& closing heart valves—

in imperfect halves

an exceptional hard-on-

yourself look

say: blood clot-

shaped cloud-ridden sky—screw

your moonlessness

& your moonlessnessness

then name it—

cirrus priapus

cirrocumulus thrombosis—

to escape the pother

that flees

too slowly


in 2009 the founder of the cloud appreciation society
along with his fellow arbiters announced a new formation

the sky has inverted earth’s rolling hills siphoning the green
from them to make a blanket that waves

at god-time. undulatus asperatus. this is another/different
cloud poem. an ode, to our unmade bed, a gas-rendered

ceiling. pre-boiling-point forms impress each other
shifting the moistening cotton and foam. everything white

everything upside down. there is no distance in this metaphor
greater than its exactness. not likeness, equipoise.

imagine the city we live in, known for steepness and sparseness
of anything flat. imagine the soft, pliable earth manipulated

by geothermal happenings—a hot giant invisible hand molding it.
these our bodies. what we unmake shape heaven and earth.