Stephen Ratcliffe
poems from CLOUD / RIDGE

pink red plane of chimney in the pale blue-

framed window on the stairs, green of trees

filling the space behind it

                               woman in beige

sweater telling the man next to the blue door

her last week’s dream, which ends when the man

goes to see someone named Kathy spelled with “K”

man in blue shirt writing a first sentence after

visiting Cézanne’s studio, how “the doctor tells

me I can go home again”

                           Mrs. Ramsay noticing

“the movement of the wings beating out,” air

“cut into exquisite scimitar shapes”


shoulder of wave breaking across the nearly

motionless grey plane in lower left corner,

cormorants flapping to the left toward it


parallel lines of high thin white clouds in pale

blue sky above still dark ridge in left corner,

sweptback wingspan of a jet passing overhead

woman with hair falling across left cheek

leaving message in middle of the night,

apparently having looked up and dialed the man’s

number in her sleep

                       woman on phone recalling

man on subway screaming “The Sopranos blew up

World Trade Center,” noticing girls in Henry

Darger’s paintings have tiny penises


“choosing what her mother was to wear,” Mrs.

Ramsay noting “Rose would grow up”


white cloud slanting up across pale blue sky,

left-sloping shoulder of green ridge below it


oval-shaped grey cloud moving across faint blue

white sky in window opposite the unmade yellow

and blue bed, bird calling below window blown

open beside it

                  tall man in blue grey shirt

quoting his “eternal return of the slightly

different,” noting that he too likes English

spelling of “grey”

                      woman on phone recalling

printing out the poem in Courier, seeing lines

get wider

             Mrs. Ramsay “listening to a clatter

in the hall,” Jasper asking if “the same birds

came to the same trees every night”


white cloud in front of right-sloping shoulder

of ridge, silver of sunlight reflecting across

the nearly motionless blue green plane below it


eight brown birds perched on scotch broom branch

in front of vertical plane of still dark ridge,

green of passion vine-covered fence in lower

right foreground

                    man in green shirt waking

from dream of woman parking blue car in green

slot, man getting out of water taking at least

fifteen minutes to dress

                            tall man in blue grey

shirt asking about straightness of right margin,

wondering if Robinson is man at the long white

table’s family name

                       Mrs. Ramsay “taking her

place at the head of the table,” wondering if

“it’s all come to an end”

                             sunlight slanting

down to the right from behind grey white cloud

in upper right corner, bright blue sky above it

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