this breeze
refused an
evening rising,
we might have missed such
clouds; such silent, feathered
gliding down hidden, sharp-edged
currents; such easy slope toward night.
Had this breeze not risen, there might have
been no falling, nor memories at all.


Comments always are welcome.
Newer readers might not be familiar with one of my favorite poetic forms: the Etheree, a syllabic poem containing, in its basic form, ten lines and a total of fifty-five syllables. For more information about the form, please click here.

120 thoughts on “Breeze

  1. I feel the swish of that sweet breeze you write of so eloquently and there it is again reflected in that stunning cloud photo. The perfect alliance of poetry and vision.

  2. I liked the poem even before I clicked to read about the Etheree. How fun!

    had a
    breeze tonight?
    Our air is still.
    Trapped beneath the clouds.
    Clouds that do not scuttle
    or march in red regiments
    across a gray-blue firmament.
    Our breeze is waiting for tomorrow
    to clear the sticky Houston summer heat!

    1. I just went back to your blog to be sure I’d mentioned that Etheree Armstrong Taylor was an Arkansan. She’s certainly one of the state’s hidden treasures, and more hidden than she ought to be.

      Your clever etheree tickled me. Wasn’t that fun? Now, the only thing we need do is define “tomorrow.” When it comes to breezes clearing out this heat, “tomorrow” usually translates to “October.”

    1. It was a special sky, Yvonne. I suppose each sunset is unique, but this one was patterned in a way I can’t remember seeing, apart from this night. The photo’s been sitting in my files, waiting for just the right time to use it. I think I found it.

    1. Thanks. Given your recent post, I spent some time pondering whether horizontal virga could exist. I decided against it — for one thing, no rain’s involved here — but the effect of the wind on the building clouds is something to behold.

    1. Sometimes, these lovely combinations just happen. I took the photo in 2015, but started the etheree a couple of weeks ago. When I went looking for a photo to use, there it was. It amuses me that, if I’d started with the photo, I might have ended up with an entirely different etheree. I’m glad this one worked out as it did.

    1. “The wind blows wherever it pleases. You hear its sound, but you cannot tell where it comes from or where it is going. So it is with the breezes…” Someone said that — sort of.

    1. Thank you, Nia. Everything in life can be transformed, just as the sunlight and wind transformed these clouds. What was gray and heavy became light and colorful. It’s truly a wonder.

    1. I like the form, too. In the beginning, I naturally paid most attention to syllable-counting. Eventually, I learned how to fit rhythm, rhyme, and other poetic devices into the structure, and it became more enjoyable and more challenging. Working within a structure demands a discipline that can’t always be learned with free verse — or free writing of any sort. I’m glad you like it.

    1. You like it — that’s award enough. It’s always interesting for me to notice which came first: the photo or the poem. In this case, the poem was first, and halfway through I went looking for an image to use with it. How convenient that this little gem was just sitting there in the files, waiting to be admired.

        1. In this case, I can guarantee that the answer is “no.” The poem had its genesis on July 9, when I left a comment on another blogger’s post. As I said there, “I’ve never read this [Wallace Stevens] poem…but after about the third reading, I suddenly was back in my grandmother’s house during nap time,with my book, watching the sheer curtains blow in the breeze…”

          Not only that, it inspired me to write an etheree. The first lines just appeared, and so will the poem… it will have to be tinkered with a bit before it’s publication worthy…”

          Looking for a photo in my “sky and clouds” file didn’t happen until the poem was well underway, and headed in a wholly new direction. Serendipity strikes again.

    1. I’m glad you find it so. It’s always nice to find an especially neat fit between words and image. Sometimes the whole truly is greater than the sum of its parts.

  3. I don’t know much about poetic forms. I do like the cloud forms and colors. When I first saw the title Breeze, I thought of a song by J J Cale.

    1. I know that song. In fact, it was one of the first songs in the rotation when I took Princess for her first road trip. Have you seen the official video from the JJ Cale tribute album? It’s animated, and delightful. Cale and Clapton don’t do too badly in the realm of poetry themselves.

      1. I haven’t seen the video. But, I do have the album. Cuts from it often pop up in my Pandora music feed. I get to play guitar along with the artists. Fun. You are right about the artistry and poetry of Cale and Clapton.

    1. Poems need to be read aloud. I’m glad you did, and I hope he enjoyed it. Just think — the day’s coming when the two of you can stroll outside and watch the sunset together!

      1. Yeah, that’s great, a dream chart. You’ve posted beautiful clouds before, and mentioned sailing in your posts — I don’t know anything boats or ships, but I’ve heard the sailors’ expression “keep a weather eye out for…” and I guess if we tweak the meaning of that phrase, it’s perfect for you!

        1. It sure is. I pay as much attention to wind now as I ever did when I was sailing. There’s a reason animals sniff the wind; it can tell you a good bit. In fact, if you’re at sea and the wind is right, you can smell the land long before you can see it.

    1. You’re most welcome. Sometimes, flowers aren’t the only things that bloom. A poem can, too — provided it doesn’t get choked out with weeds, or mowed down. In some ways, these etherees are like volunteers in the garden. They just pop up, and then I decide whether to nurture them, or not. I’m glad you liked this one.

  4. The clouds remind me of the feathers of a bird in flight and your poem is a delight. This morning my puppy wanted out at 5 or so and my bleary eyes were treated to pink clouds against a soft blue sky.

    1. Now that you’ve mentioned feathers, I not only can see those, I also can see the main cloud pillar as four birds, flying one above another. Of course, I can see the whole mess as cotton candy, too — sticky, pulled apart sweetness flying in the wind.

      If you have to be up at five for the puppy’s sake, it’s good that you have those glorious colors as a consolation prize. I suppose it won’t be so nice in the winter, but right now, I suspect it’s almost pleasurable to be out and about.

      1. It is~ I am not usually up at that hour as you know, so it is nice to see the world in a different light. I’ll be glad to return to my nocturnal ways though. As I type this the little beast is sleeping soundly at the foot of my bed after getting me up at 6. So much for schedules!

    1. Our summer sunsets profit from billowing clouds, dust from the Sahara, and even the humidity we all moan about. Not only that, they linger for a good while. Even after the sun has disappeared beneath the horizon, the colors keep changing. In short, our summer sunsets are slow sunsets — just right for both of us.

    1. Indeed it is. And while the quiet breeze is rustling, many a mother has sung this lullaby. Mine did, and it can take me right back to those summer evenings. I wonder if Tennyson would be surprised to find his poem so widely known?

      1. There’s a lot of wisdom packed in those couplets, and generations of experience. Being midwesterners, we stripped them down to the basics: “Red sky at night/sailor’s delight — red sky at morning, sailor take warning.” There wasn’t much sailing done in the Iowa cornfields, but the wisdom held true.

    1. I wondered if anyone would catch the twist in those last lines, and you did. Sunsets can be poignant as well as beautiful — a time for reflection and memory.

    1. It was unlike anything I’d seen, Jeanie. It also resembles the “firenados” I’ve seen reported, like this one in Colorado. But this cloud formation was all well-behaved beauty, and not destructive at all. I hope you have some equally gorgeous sunsets at the lake this year.

    1. Thanks, Pete. Now we can add “dervish” to the imaginative interpretations offered. Isn’t it wonderful how one image can evoke so many different responses? That’s part of the fun of images like this. Your abstract color studies are equally attractive, and open to interpretation. Imagination — that’s the key!

  5. Beautiful prose to delight the senses… and that photograph is perfect.Thank you, Linda, for I shall think of this breeze as I work in the pecan orchard this afternoon!

    1. I hope you had some breeze in the orchard today. It makes so much difference. Without a breeze, even shade doesn’t always offer relief — especially when the temperatures are climbing like they are for you. We’re hovering around standard July conditions: 90/90, as we say. Ninety degrees and ninety percent humidity is such a treat.

      I can’t remember: is there natural water on your property for the deer? I think you have tanks, but a creek would make the animals’ lives more comfortable, too. Be careful — we can’t offer that caution too often!

  6. Lovely photo, Linda. I am forever fascinated by all of the shapes that clouds assume. I can’t resist seeing animals, scenes, and people. Sunset and sunrise add to the allure. Fun That your poem did an upside down job of matching the cloud. –Curt

    1. That’s a sharp eye you have, Curt. The shapes do mimic one another — a pleasant result I didn’t anticipate when I put the post together.

      Don’t you think that our ability to see shapes in clouds was nurtured by our childhood experiences? We had the time to lay outdoors and watch them — a luxury denied to so many of the over-scheduled, gadget-ridden children of today.

      1. Could be Linda. I can look at a speckled ceiling and find animals. :)
        Our grandkids like their electronics, but they are also ready to see things in clouds, however. I certainly agree on the need to give our kids more downtime. There is far too much scheduling. Free play frees the imagination. –Curt

  7. Stunning photo and lovely etheree, Linda! I imagine that breeze felt good after all the sticky days you’ve had. We got a bit of rain last night, but the heat is scheduled to return mid-week.

    1. Even our breezes feel hot and sticky just now, Debbie. I had to imagine myself a nice, cooling breeze to write the poem. That’s one of the things that’s so much fun about poetry (or fiction, yes?). We can reshape experience into something different, but equally delightful.

      I don’t think we’ve had an excessive heat warning yet this year, but I see there are some scattered around your state. Be careful — both you and Dallas.

  8. It was a week of sky drama. (Guess all the saharan dust is landed by now?) Hard to complain about the clouds as they cool a bit, but seriously tired of damp (and muddy dog paws)
    Striking image – almost unreal. Wistful, reflective poem . Both suited for this time of year

    1. One of the things I enjoy is seeing these clouds “from both sides now,” as Joni Mitchell would have it. There are a couple of weather enthusiasts I follow on Twitter who live in West U and somewhere NW of the city. It’s fun to see their sunset photos, and compare them to mine. If the clouds are between us, I get the advantage of backlighting, and generally more colorful images.

      Rain shafts, cicadas, and nighthawks: the essence of a Houston summer. From another perspective: sweat, silence, and more sweat. I can’t wait for August — can you?

      1. Local news is now constantly featuring weather images – many from close to us. I have one similar to your lines of scarlet, but a bit earlier when it looked like a woman with her hair blowing in the winds. Big skies are important.
        Aug? Hmmm…can I just hibernate until mid Oct?

  9. The monsoons pummel the Arizona deserts; the clouds whirl into their own costumes; you have captured a wild one in that photograph. Thank you for sharing along with your poetry.

    1. These clouds aren’t nearly so wild as the flash flooding that Arizona’s experienced recently. I noticed that the NWS had issued plenty of warnings, but I didn’t see “pummel” included. Perhaps they should have considered it. I did see one of our local NWS fellows use the phrase “compelling clouds” once. Descriptive phrases like that seem to pop up more often from the ones on duty in the middle of the night.

    1. As I recall, you had an extended spring this year, too. I hope you have enough leftover breezes that being outdoors still is a pleasure. We’re well past that point, but October’s coming. Until then, we’ll just have to take our beauty where we find it — I’m glad you liked this little bit.

  10. A moment of magic in the capturing of that cloud image…those moments are so fleeting, and we are so fortunate when we do manage a perfect netting…and – love the etheree. I’m almost tempted, after all yours, to try one myself. Will keep you posted!

    1. Two things make etherees a nice form to work with — at least, for me. Always, they begin with a line that just comes to mind. It may be a beginning phrase, as it was with this one, or it may even be the last line. But I’ve never thought, “Now I am going to write an etheree — what shall it be?” Always, the thought comes, and I know it has to be an etheree.

      Beyond that, they’re wonderfully convenient little poems. I can construct them in my head as I work — as long as I have sandpaper and pen around to keep track of my thoughts. Give it a try! I think you’d enjoy the process.

      I like that you use the verb “netting,” too. Some people go fishing for topics with a pole. I prefer to drag a net through the world, haul in the catch, and sort through it to find the good ones.

    1. Thanks so much! I do enjoy working with the form. Some turn out more satisfying than others, and this is one that satisfied me very much. I’m glad you enjoyed it.

    1. Now I see her, too — facing to the right. Isn’t it interesting how different people see different things? I like your angel more than my tornado, although, if an angel showed up, the experience might be similar to a tornado rolling through.

    1. That brings to mind the Mobil Oil logo — the red horse. That sign used to be everywhere. I suppose somewhere along the line, a merger dictated a new logo, and we lost Pegasus. Your fiery steed recalls your comment about Piers Anthony earlier today. No pale horse, this one!

    1. Our summer skies are fabulous, and quite varied. With a good bit of Saharan dust, they can glow like liquid gold. Sometimes, they’re lemon and turquoise. And sometimes, as with this one, they seem almost artificial. But of course, they’re not; that’s the wonder of it all. I’m glad they pleased you, and that you enjoyed the poem, too.

    1. What an interesting observation, Lynn. I wouldn’t have thought to describe myself as being familiar with nature, but when I think of my years of sailing, and my decades of working in the midst of nature, it makes a certain sense — especially when I add to that the hours I’ve spent wandering with my camera. “Knowing about” nature is one thing: “knowing” nature quite another. It’s that “knowing” I prefer.

  11. What do I know of poems? And yet your thoughts seem in tandem with mine (as I feel often happens with us). We refer to things that pass by, that are ethereal, and yet we are better for them.

    Even when it hurts.


    1. Yes.

      It’s going to be a poignant year for you, but in the end, when the curtain falls on your curtain, and your origami, and the cursive, and all the laughter, I suspect you’ll be satisfied, and ready to create a different life. And, as the years pass, there will be many who remember you just as I remember my own teachers: with affection, and gratitude.

    1. There’s nothing like a summer evening. Especially down here, the relief that comes with an easing of the day’s heat can be profound. Add in the lightning bugs, or the nighthawks, or the last song of the birds, and and it’s perfection. It’s nice to know the description felt right to you.

    1. Isn’t it, though? There’s no predicting what treats each day will bring — this was an especially lovely one, and I really enjoyed pairing the photo with the poem.

  12. Your attention to the breeze’s effect on the cloud formation and the widening out of that observation is exquisite. I don’t know why, but this etheree puts to mind the last lines of Wallace Stevens’s Sunday Morning:

    And, in the isolation of the sky,
    At evening, casual flocks of pigeons make
    Ambiguous undulations as they sink,
    Downward to darkness, on extended wings.

    1. That’s a lovely passage from Stevens, although I think he could have done with three fewer commas. Look at me, criticizing a master! I have begun to watch myself when it comes to the overuse of commas, which seems to be creeping in everywhere. Of course those seemingly extra and unnecessary marks have multiple functions, especially in poetry. Still…

      Some day I’ll find a sky filled with comma-shaped clouds, and write an ode to punctuation.

    1. Actually, the poem began when I read an entry on another blogger’s site on July 9. I was thinking about naptime at my grandparents’ house, and the summer breezes there — that was the start of the poem. When I started looking in my files to see if I had an image that would go with a breezy poem, I found this one, and that, in turn, helped to reshape the poem into what you see here.

      What’s amusing is that the photo is nearly three years old. There’s a reason to rummage through the archives from time to time!

  13. Glorious, both photograph and poem. I have been painting some more clouds these days, and have often thought that catching a feather in paints must be rather as difficult. I have just started a piece with some waves crashing, and find there like challenges.

    1. I’ve been hoping you found some fun activities for your break: sailing, painting, traveling. It’s interesting that you’ve been painting clouds. Do you know the Cloud Appreciation Society? Here’s an initial link to the Clouds in Art page, but the whole site is worth visiting. They have photos, cloud identification pages, scientific information, and a Cloud of the Day. It’s the sort of site that leave a person envious, awed, amused, and re-enthused — something we all can use, I suspect. Happy painting!

      1. Very nice site, thanks. I still have some conferences etc that I am preparing for and some holidaying to do, but looking forward to getting back to writing in a bit!

    1. I always enjoy watching clouds form and re-form. Even if they don’t look “like” anything, the energy they contain is impressive. We’re in our best cloud-watching season now, with big summer thunderheads bubbling up in the afternoons. Sometimes they bring storms, but most of the time they just build, drop some rain right under the cloud, and then dissipate. And sometimes they’re more unusual, like this one. I’m glad you like it — and the poem.

    1. I do enjoy them. What’s most interesting to me is that I’ve never been able to sit down and create one out of thin air. I never say, “Now I shall write an etheree.” Instead, a line or a thought will come to me, and I’ll think, “That’s meant to be an etheree.” It’s a little weird, but there it is. I’m glad you enjoyed this one.

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