Bret Norwood

Poet, Writer, Conlanger, Cartoonist

Category: Written Work

When the Clouds Catch Fire

The following is an example of Field Writing, which is the literary equivalent to plein air painting; one goes outdoors to write from the environs.


The sun’s obtuse angle has gilded the rural hills in gold. It’s the photographer’s “magic hour,” when the world is lit in twilight colors: darkest darks and lightest lights side-by-side, when fuchsia reds and rare violets are consumed alike by advancing gray. An afternoon rain has left its scent on the air, but the overcast has broken and few clouds remain. The high plains where Crazy Horse learned war ripple up into the blue-tinted Bighorn range. Above, the remaining clouds are hemmed in silver fire.

Steam from a coffee drifts up from the red deck boards by my feet. The flat screen is muted with the sun behind it, and the unreality of the symbols thereon is brought to mind. What passes here passes like ghosts pass. Yet it’s not so unreal in a world where all impressions pass like this.

We’re all participating in perception–this great river of ghosts–from the finch flying overhead to the white gnat that landed by my feet, the clouds, the sun, the author and the reader, the reader within the author, and the author within the reader…Now, the rain puddles on the deck catch reflections of the sky.

So it’s all complicated. Ockham’s Razor is a fallacy. It’s never the simple hypothesis. The reality (the perception of perception) is always more complicated than the most contrived or outlandish of fictions and fantasies.

Take, for example, how many blades of grass are out there on the high plains. Take also the uncountable water droplets suspended in maddening patterns in the silver evening clouds. The amount of reason needed to account for this all is greater than can fit in the cranium of the human animal; one is tempted to postulate an almost infinite amount of reason is needed to account for it, and an infinite amount of reason might be equal to insanity.



Masada Naturalis [Poem] — Reading

Masada Naturalis

Originally published in the Owen Wister Review, Spring 2010


There is a wall of constellated stars,
a fortification built by strange pre-cosmic colonists.

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Succulence [Poem] — Reading

originally published in the Open Window Review

This sentence, once congested, stuck,
now chases the cursor slipping in the white,

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On Maneaters of Kumaon (1944) [Poem] — Reading

On Maneaters of Kumaon (1944)

Originally published in the Open Window Review issue 2.

Read about the book Man-Eaters of Kumaon by Jim Corbett @ Wikipedia.

Came Christ the tiger.

–T.S. Eliot, “Gerontion”

When in youth I hunted, the tiger
I tracked was not so much the prize
as was the tiger of youth inside–
to tame his reckless strength to valiance.

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To the Chaldean Zeus [Poem] — Reading

To the Chaldean Zeus

Originally published in the Open Window Review issue 2.

Cloud rider, falling from the sky
harder than a nuclear sunset,
have you measured your wings?

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Black Sand Beach - Waiapanapanap, Maui, HI

Black Sand Beach (Poem)

I’ve seen a black sand beach
stranger than any foreign world
where King Poseidon draped in seaweed
once walked upon the Earth–

a black sand beach where steel-colored waves
wash up to shining, ashen stones
nested beneath charcoal plateaus that break out
all over in lime green leaves.

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