National Poetry Month Day 16: “Where do the clouds begin?” by Dan Moeller ’07

Where do the clouds begin?

Like a wave hitting the reefs
the fog smashes the mountain
and is pulled up its valleys.
The breakers swirl upwards
and are lost in the white sky.
There is a constant tide
but wear does the fog start?

Maybe miles away,
the masses roll so slow.
Farther mountains are lost
just as a coin loses its brilliance
while sinking to murky depths.
The tide leaves again.
The mountain,
a large mountain spider
(maybe the one I hunted
in my own apartment)
rising beneath a
silken white handkerchief
his beautiful, terrible legs
slipping out then back in.

When does the spring start?
It rains a cold and bitter rain
even though the warm air
slid off jackets and long sleeves
weeks ago.

Over there,
does that lone chimney help build the clouds too?
Puffing out breaths
into the vast gray-white.
Does the smoke disappear
before touching the sky?
Is it the source?
Or is it a different substance
helping the clouds
floating separate but near?
The drops of water
from the sink you splashed
into my pan of oil, separate,
the kitchen slowly warming
from our separate efforts.

Is their real tension in the atmosphere?
You can’t see the particles colliding,
but then again,
you can’t see the fury
of Japanese teachers around me,
writing reports,
literally running to their next task,
as I stare out the window and write a poem. But I see them.

Hey, you!
Isn’t this interesting?
I point up the mountain.
I want him to slow down.

No, the fog is dangerous.
The ferry stops,
the roads are unsafe.
Sorry, I’ve got to go.

I’m left alone
with my very different thoughts.

Hey mountain,
is there a heaving furnace hidden in your crevices?
A boiling pot in your bowels?

As if the sky were filling up again
the fog lowers
and swallows the peaks.
That lone chimney
is cooking our school lunches,
but what is the product of your efforts?
Surely not these words.
The floodgates open
and the tide recedes.
Again and again.



Dan Moeller graduated from Bucknell University in 2007 with a BA in Cultural Anthropology. After studying abroad in Samoa and teaching English in Japan for two years, he has returned home with his wife. He teaches kids and writes a lot on the internets.


2 thoughts on “National Poetry Month Day 16: “Where do the clouds begin?” by Dan Moeller ’07

  1. Love this description of fog over mountains–especially the first three lines. I have often wondered how I would describe the way that the fog rolled over the mountains in Zinacantan, Mexico. Smashing waves is appropriate. I also like the questions and voice in this poem. Thanks for sharing! 🙂

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