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Philip Levine - Clouds

1 

Dawn. First light tearing 
at the rough tongues of the zinnias, 
at the leaves of the just born. 

Today it will rain. On the road 
black cars are abandoned, but the clouds 
ride above, their wisdom intact. 

They are predictions. They never matter. 
The jet fighters lift above the flat roofs, 
black arrowheads trailing their future. 

2 

When the night comes small fires go out. 
Blood runs to the heart and finds it locked. 

Morning is exhaustion, tranquilizers, gasoline, 
the screaming of frozen bearings, 
the failures ofwill, the TV talking to itself 

The clouds go on eating oil, cigars, 
housewives, sighing letters, 
the breath of lies. In their great silent pockets 
they carry off all our dead. 

3 

The clouds collect until there's no sky. 
A boat slips its moorings and drifts 
toward the open sea, turning and turning. 

The moon bends to the canal and bathes 
her torn lips, and the earth goes on 
giving off her angers and sighs 

and who knows or cares except these 
breathing the first rains, 
the last rivers running over iron. 

4 

You cut an apple in two pieces 
and ate them both. In the rain 
the door knocked and you dreamed it. 
On bad roads the poor walked under cardboard boxes. 

The houses are angry because they're watched. 
A soldier wants to talk with God 
but his mouth fills with lost tags. 

The clouds have seen it all, in the dark 
they pass over the graves of the forgotten 
and they don't cry or whisper. 

They should be punished every morning, 
they should be bitten and boiled like spoons.

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Poet: Philip Levine
Poem: Clouds
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