The President

Two things happened recently. First, I spent a week exploring and painting along one of mainland California’s most remote and mysterious coastlines. Missile launch silos. American flags. Chain of command and all that. But this painting isn’t about that trip at all except for one detail. One morning on the beach, miles from the nearest pavement of any sort, I came across some paw prints on the beach. I’d heard of mountain lions on this coast, and somehow I always pictured those cats, well, up in the mountains. The thought of one of these majestic beasts with sand stuck between its toes go…

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Recent Fractures

Standing on the edge
Where everything brittle must eventually break
Where every painting is a tempting of fate
I do think about these things
But not deeply, and not with too much weight
Because I try to tread lightly on the edge of fate
But recent fractures
Can’t be ignored nor can I the consequences understate
Should I be a fool with the my easel and miscalculate
And become a statistic for the local papers to state
All for the homage to beauty that I’d hoped to create
If the ground would only have held for one more day
So with caution I step, and I work, and I pray
Because more than anything I would surely hate
To subjugate
My wife and my kids
To suffer from my foolishly befallen fate


Who Are You?

Let’s meet for tacos. I drag an art pal along and we meet up with a lawyer friend who has collected both of our works. The tacos are delicious but they are giant burgers and these beers are absolutely perfect. Another lawyer pal of the first lawyer shows up and another round ensues. We leave the funny tacos and head out to paint this spot for the collector friend. We drive a convoluted route through a college campus to a packed parking lot and wander off past the college kids all over the sandstone bluffs in search of this view. Once we find it, we scratch an X and we return to the lot a…

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Higher Learning

If I had learned a little more
I’d have known what not to do
I’d have stood my ground
And refused to paint
The whole entire view
But here we are after the fact
Showing every reef and where they lie
Splayed out across this canvas
From a vantage point
Halfway up the sky
A smarter arter would have simply
Painted only one piece of this coast
But thankfully
I missed that class
And I’m not as smart as most


Silver and Gold

Silver and gold I may not have
But what I have I give to you
I’ve got the golden sun
On a morning bright enough to
Cast out shadows
From the depths of hell
I’ve got the silver sea
On a morning calm enough to
Cast a sweet spell
Up to the heights of heaven
Take ’em
They’re yours


Not Exactly No

It was bright green And there wasn’t very much of it Still dripping with saltwater Across her goosebumped flesh I knew she was an artist Because as I fought to keep my focus Safely on the twin circles Of her eyes I could see they were dark And curious She saw me setting up on this cliff As she dipped under a wave Too cool off down below So she came up the path And straight for me It was a short conversation There wasn’t very much of it She wanted to see the painting I had barely even started The painting was at an awkward point That made two of us And I couldn’t say no Not ex…

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Into the Sunset

Will this be your first? That was my stupid question for them I’m not very good at this They were really quite beautiful together A perfect couple Watching the sunset Clearly expecting A green flash I’d just finished this painting And drinking 3 beers That’s not the usual During the course of a painting But friends had joined me today And it sometimes goes that way Words of wisdom Spoken by an old friend: “Nothing is better than a two beer buzz” Truth It doesn’t get better Only more difficult To ask the right questions This child would not be their first Or …

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When the Ship Comes In

The ship has sailed And with it your lover Stolen away So you live like a pirate now Steering your terrestrial warship Your vessel made of sand Stealing only what you need And in need of everything And needing it today Stealing whatever you can Stealing one last glance At the bigger picture Before your world grows small As you wait for the rising tide To level it all In a baptism of salt And if a mighty king Should later arrive With plastic bucket and shovel Barefoot and sunburned With a grape stuck up his nose And a panicked mother Searching far and wide For her lost prince Who happily builds…

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Where It Wishes

You never know where the wind will take you.
I generally avoid painting down at sea level.
I like to be up on the edge of the cliff.
Canvas bouncing in the wind.
But today I’m here.
Not of my own decision.
I’m painting this for some friends.
They’re moving on, and this, a parting gift.
You never know where the wind will take you.


The Brighter Side of Widowhood

As I was nearly finished with painting this scene I watched a woman descend the narrow path To this small cove With her child They were beautiful And complete As they were She didn’t need a husband down there Checking his phone Drinking too many beers Zoning out when his daughter called for him Showing off in the frigid water And looking more like a fat walrus on his return Than the finely sculpted merman He thinks he is They made me think of you And of us And if I should die before you Look at the bright side… No more beard hairs on the table On the floor On the kitchen counters I…

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Thermal Windows

This private beach club cove once hosted a thriving whaling community. If one could activate time layers to run simultaneously we’d see grandmas playing smashball over bloody whale carcasses being carved away on the beach. But today is a quiet weekday and I see neither. I only see the quiet scene blurred through my sweating eyeballs as the southern California heat rises from the scorched desert at my feet. And speaking of whales and sweat, of coarse everyone knows that whales don’t sweat (I didn’t, I had to look it up just to be sure, but I strongly suspected they wouldn̵…

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Mine… Or Maybe Yours

We met when we were older, when we had more swagger, and we stood a little closer to the throne. But we had a falling out between us, we’re artists, and we’re awkward, this is widely known. The fault was all mine, that’s what I’ve been told, but it could have been yours and yours alone. Years went past, we lost too much, loved ones, and our youth, a wife, and a home. There’s no point blaming each other now, we’re brothers, and anyway, our conflict was overblown. So today we stand here side by side and harvest the morning colors from the intertidal zone. This…

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Needle in a Haystack

The needle was the view
And the haystack was the mist
I come for the first
But cursed my luck
When I couldn’t see past my fist
I set up in faith
That it would clear
And momentarily it did
Had to work quick
To get the jist
And that is what you see here


Lost… Or Just Displaced

The glossy pages of outdoor magazines are the admission tickets. Nylon and Gore-Tex nomads. Lovers of the adventurous life with paid time off. Communing with nature while eating astronaut food under the stars. Always keep it moving. You have to match the speed of gravity to stay in orbit. Don’t stop, or you might get lost… or just displaced. Back to the land hippies spring up like flowers in shelters built from the ruins of industry scattered across the landscape. Avoid the rat race. Avoid the poisoned food. Avoid shaving. Avoid scary Jack who lost his mind way up the creek one day…

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A Little Ways Away

Thérèse of Lisieux
Born in an age of books without end
Teachers teaching the taught
The perfected lesson
The corrected doctrine
But no one to love the world entire
Unable to bear the burden
And fully aware of the limits
Of her own imperfect love
Small, weak, and broken
She found her greatest strength
In her failure
No longer striving for greatness
Of knowledge or deed
She forged The Little Way
By scattering flowers
Of small sacrifice
Of fleeting glance
Of gentle word
The smallest
Actions of
Love
And
Light
Falling on
The monastery
That bears her name
Across the bay
A Little Ways away
A simple reminder
That this canvas
On which I lay down petals
Of Red Yellow Blue and White
Is but itself
Insignificant
And merely another
Flower scattered
For Love
 
 


Stairway to Here

It’s the word that was spoken
Before I was sent
To a world collapsing
Under it’s own colorless night
We look with our eyes
And see failure
An abandoned outhouse
A crime spree
Suspicion and
Self destruction
Egos ablaze
And rampant consumption
Of her beautiful form
Of her body
Of earth
And water
But these aren’t the words
And this isn’t the book
There’s no stairway to heaven
Only a stairway
To here
So go forth
But not with your eyes
Just give them your heart
And every color within it
And I’ll give you my word
And my word is
Love


Ukha

Unfasten the beading
Undo the hook from the loop
Soon we’ll be eating
Russian Fish Soup
Tonight in the cabin
After the sun jumps its hoop
We know what we’re havin’
It’s Russian Fish Soup
We’re not in a hurry
But the ladle’s first scoop
Sets our spoons in a flurry
Of Russian Fish Soup