Cloud Atlas for Dummies

A dramatic spring sky where the clouds take on exotic shapes, this one taking me back to grade school when I first learned about plate tectonics, the idea our earth was once supercontinents that broke apart, that you could fit them back together like puzzle pieces.

This cloud above me now was like Pangaea, all the continents joined together as one. As a young boy how fascinating the idea, the earth could be brittle like that, prone to snap like a biscuit.

And I’d seen that twice myself, once in an earthquake where the ground seemed to bubble, and another time on a golf course at night on LSD. And both times it was liberating and horrifying to recognize that solid ground wasn’t solid at all. Not for where we put our feet, not for any notion of reality. The ground loosened the same as the clouds, always changing form, drifting on. Any stability we perceived was imagined and temporary. All of it a farce.

I had this all mapped out in my head before I sat down to write it, I could see it as clear as the shapes in the sky before the clouds broke apart and the sky was just the sky again. The sun, just the sun. All the pieces fit together as they should. And when I sat down it broke apart again.

Categories: prose, writing


31 replies

  1. This was lovely. I love the way you paint pictures with carefully chosen words. I can SEE what you’re seeing. But there’s still time to replace that last paragraph with a more elegant ending. (Never let them see you sweat, darling.)

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Yes, quite an earth-shaking realization, that none of us are really rooted, on firm ground, I think the dratted geologists didn’t think this through, when they invented tectonic plates, and cut us adrift, just rafting around like Huckleberry Finn or High Plains drifter, or similar disreputable, shiftless sorts. I don’t know why you think post was this was broken pieces, it seems pretty cogent to me! I used to see kids in Ithaca with a lot of “Reunite Pangaea!!” tshirts but I haven’t seen any recently, maybe it was a fundraiser for Cornell’s geology museum or something.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Reunite Pangaea! That’s awesome. Yeah, there’s a lot of neat directions you could take this. I did like the notion too of art-type visions forming in our heads and then dissolving when we try to form them for others. It really shook me so to speak when I saw the ground ripple like that. It upsets the bedrock of our whole worldview oddly. I like your mash-up of Hick Finn and High Plains drifter. Good one RP!

      Liked by 1 person

      • I’ve only felt tremors, never felt a real earthquake.
        I remember in school, we read that “Kubla Khan” poem by Coleridge, and were told it was supposedly all complete in his head, after an opium dream, and he couldn’t get the whole vision written down before it faded out.
        You’ve got a cool picture, there, too, is it clouds or a forest fire?

        Liked by 2 people

      • My photographer buddy Loren in Portland took that and I stole it from him. I think it was a plume of smoke from some awful paint factory fire. Yeah, on Kubla Khan. And Neil Young wrote Cowgirl in the Sand and a couple others from that same record while feverish I think. Funny that. I’ve just been resting a lot and lifting weights, taking my cod liver oil before bed. Seems to be helping with the creativity for the time be-in

        Liked by 1 person

  3. All always changing (around us and within us!) Re having a piece move from head to written word – mine NEVER stick together as conceived. I trust my fingers more than my logic to deliver the message! I like how this one came together for you … earth bubbling is intriguing (an experience I’ve not yet had) – agree any perceived stability is temporary. A “farce” only in that we let ourselves live in delusion instead of reality.

    Liked by 1 person

    • I thought that with the Arab spring, how thin and frail the idea of control and order, you know? We need to believe it’s more substantial than it is, I think. Hope the shin-dig and TexMex were good yesterday! Thanks for reading Jazz.

      Liked by 1 person

  4. …I’ve looked at clouds from both sides now…

    Ref. Joni Mitchell

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Brain tectonics. Word-plates shifting.

    Liked by 1 person

  6. What an amazing piece, Bill. I love gazing at clouds and the sky which is therapeutic, light, romantic and spiritual, often baking dreams. I love putting the description in my fiction as well 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  7. Well, a pretty satisfying facsimile, if you ask me. That’s the problem with writing: the writing.

    Liked by 1 person

  8. Howdy, stranger! I always feel that way with earthquakes. We delude ourselves that the ground is solid. When it tries to flick us off like a dog shaking off water, it’s terrifying.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Yeah a big howdy is in order! I wondered if that was really you or a Russian bot! So glad to see you again, looking forward to catching up “chez vous.” And yes you’ve been flicked more than me in this regard I’m betting, given your so Cal persuasion if I’m right. Happy to see you again, old friend! Thanks for happening by!


      • It’s me! Although I wouldn’t rule out that I’m a Russian bot and just don’t know it. Good to see you, too.

        Yup, still SoCal for the time being. Still terrified of earthquakes.

        Liked by 1 person

      • Seems you experience that earthquake terror even once and it resonates, or reverberates more like it. Looking forward to hearing more about what’s been going on with you, good time to be a bot I reckon.


      • Very true. Though, honestly, I’m not sure which scares me more–the tornadoes I grew up with or earthquakes.

        Not much going on with me, but WP just told me to keep up the good work for a 3-day streak so that’s nice.

        Liked by 1 person

      • Yeah they have me motivated (their bots) on a 13-day binger myself. Well done! Way to go!


  9. Ok! Well that one’s a keeper, for sure. I can see the point about the elegant ending, but if I hadn’t, I wouldn’t miss it. Keep up the resting and weights and oiling up, seems to be working.

    Liked by 1 person

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