They were real clouds.
They were boring clouds.
We were in them.
We were bored.
We were expecting a quid pro quo
ala Constable or Turner—we were
over the Midlands, weren’t we?
And where was the Meissen china,
the vintage Narcissus tea?
And weren’t we going first-class for the view?
And for that we needed movies,
movement, movie-ment, at least,
not modern art, not all this white,
not Olson’s open field, not a tabula rasa
of static snow, not these clouds.
We wanted moving color,
we wanted to be
flying in a green light,
pigments of every hue but . . .
After they threw us out they wrote
in the pilot’s log that
we were thrown
into a perfectly blue sky
amidst twenty black clouds
and we were of three faces
each as white as a sheet.
Italicized lines from “Thirteen Ways of Looking at a Blackbird,” Wallace Stevens
About the Author
Harshman’s WOMAN IN RED ANORAK, won the Blue Lynx Poetry Prize and was published in 2018 by Lynx House/University of Washington Press. His fourteenth children’s book, FALLINGWATER, co-authored with Anna Smucker, was published by Roaring Brook/Macmillan in 2017. He is also co-winner of the 2019 Allen Ginsberg Poetry Award. Poems have been anthologized by Kent State University, the University of Iowa, University of Georgia, and the University of Arizona. He is the seventh poet laureate of West Virginia.