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

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 exactly
I just muttered something
Of a fumbled disclaimer

But she was unfazed
And just as she stepped closer
To see the barely sketched out canvas
My artist pals drove by

I don’t know what it looked like
But later they informed me
I’d be buying beer that night
Or they’d send the photo to my wife

* I thought this was pretty funny, but I don’t think I mentioned this to my wife yet, so if you’re reading this honey: I love you like crazy and I sure hope you know it.

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 young couple
Watching another southern California sunset
From the edge of crumbling cliff
Over the mirror of the sea
Clearly expecting
A green flash

I’d just finished painting the scene
And drinking 3 beers
That’s not exactly 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”
It doesn’t get better
Only more difficult
To ask the right questions

This child would not be their first
Or their second
Or third
I don’t remember now
But it was maybe their ninth
Or thirteenth
A number enough to make you wonder
If they were much, much older than they looked

So I asked if it was true
That it got easier after the third child
They said absolutely
3 is the hardest
After that it gets easier and easier
As they start to raise each other

That’s how they could leave the other 8 or maybe 12 behind
And relax into the sunset here tonight
The team was on top of it at home
Building themselves some dang quesadillas

I’d only had three kids
The most challenging number
Now verified
My folks had three
And I was the last of them
Same for my wife
And I can confirm
That we are two of the most difficult people
You’ll ever meet
Aside from my mom
Who was the first of two
And was the pinnacle
Of difficulty
She recently walked off into the sunset
I said my goodbyes
Through salty tears
She told me to get off her cloud

So with my feet planted back on the ground
Beside the mother and father
Of a small nation beside me
And a setting sun before me
I don’t remember
If there was a green flash or not
But I knew that my three kids at home
And these three beers on the edge of this cliff
It was enough for me

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 his castle
From the scattered shards
Of your broken body
Just maybe then
You can live again
As the castle’s ghost
Belonging to the King



I was thinking of baptism when I wrote that poem. Mostly because of the person who suggested I paint this place, possibly for his dad. I’d never met him, or his dad. I didn’t know at the time that his dad had baptized hundreds or thousands of hippies here at this beach at the end of the 60’s when all those kids realized their sex and drugs and all-of-that wasn’t exactly creating a better culture after all, and so many of them turned to Jesus all at once.

But I did know of his dad. I knew him as a pretty well known southern California pastor, and also as the man who commissioned the Gospel of John series of perhaps the greatest paintings ever made by Rick Griffin, one of my favorite artists of all time. He even told me that he and his dad saw shades of Griffin’s work in my own. It meant the world to me to hear that from them. No doubt Griffin was an inspiration. And that’s an understatement.

Ah well then, I went to paint the scene anyway. Hot day, crawling with people. I found my perch and noticed lots of equipment on the beach (too much fuss for the painting so I left it out). A kid with green hair scampered down the dirt path on my right and asked what was going on down there. I told him I had no idea, I just work here, nobody tells me anything. When he returned 20 minutes later I asked him if he found out what was going on. He says they’re filming something called the Jesus Revolution. I look it up later and it turns out it’s a film about the guys’ dad, and all of his hippie baptizing from 50 years ago.

I have no idea what that must have been like, but sounds like it’ll be an interesting film.

What I do know for certain though, is that on this 85 degree day standing in the hot sun over this beach, I could have used a good refreshing baptism at least 3 or 4 times while painting here.

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
In our books
In our bed
In our mouths
No more listening to me talk on and on when I should just shut up
No more wondering why I’ve shut up when I should be talking
No more fool of a man to look down on
For being a fool of a man
For overthinking everything
For procrastinating too much
For working all the time
For not having the time or or means to take the family on enough amazing vacations
For preferring colder weather
For preferring to pray silently
For not doing enough
For wanting too much from you
For not being the man you hoped for
For checking my phone too much
For drinking too many beers
For zoning out on our kids
For being a beer-bellied walrus
For not saying sorry enough

And for dying
I’m sorry about that too

So look on the bright side…
You’ll be joining me sooner or later
When the time is right
And there will be no more disappointment then
Only the truest love to share
Between us

(But I cant promise anything
About the beard hairs
We’ll just have to see how that goes)

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 was the shore that shaped your soul, the same but different to the one that shaped my own.

So at noon oh two and not a minute later we’ll drink down our beers and let our differences sink like a stone.

I could go on about it but the next beer’s getting warm and we’re near the end of this poem.

By night we’re half-drunk on the edge of a cliff, what the hell and how far can our troubles be thrown.

So I’ll leave it at this, you clear-eyed disaster and paint flinging bastard, my respect for you it has grown.

It’s not a secret at all, it’s friendship, it’s clear, like gin in a jar, so drink deep and don’t go it alone.


*Dedicated to my buddy Spencer Reynolds, who showed me this spot and brought the beers.

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 and has been hunting for it ever since. Avoid going to town if possible. And never go south to the Big City or you will probably get lost… or just displaced.

Pioneering profiteers rumbling the earth with the crash of money trees. Damn the creeks, and damn it all. Mill the timber and milk the earth for all it’s worth. God knows it will waste no time consuming you when your time on her surface is done. So do what you can now for the ones you love. And keep an eye on your little ones. Don’t let them venture too far from their homes. They could easily get lost… or just displaced.

Smoke and fire. Souls released to the heavens as blood returns to earth. Apologies for mentioning a massacre, but nothing can erase the memory of a small child who hid from the light-skinned newcomers and watched her older sisters heart cruelly cut from her chest and her body and heart both left for dead so that when the child finally emerged after the murderers were gone she knew not what else to do so she stood in the blackened grass and held her sisters heart in her hands. And cried. Lost. And now displaced.

Homes of rough hewn redwood full of drying fish and baskets full of baby sisters laughter. A bird that visited each morning, turning it’s head just so. They thought it silly. It thought them beautiful. The grownups had worries that traced back for a thousand years at least. The little ones barely remembered breakfast and wanted life to stay like this forever. So they decided to never grow up because if they did, all would be lost… or just displaced.

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


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
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




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


Chain of Command

March 5, 2022

Chains of oppression
Forged of human weakness
Masquerade as strength
Behind machines
With a thousand different ways
To spill blood

A chain of command
Sends a child
To destroy a town
That could have been his own
And it may just break that child
Or may by him be broken

He stands beside the caravan
Shaking beneath the weight
Of what he’s about to do
To the city that rises
Like flames
Beyond the rolling hills

He’s been told they have strayed
Lost their way
And need this show of power
To be brought back to the fold
United again
He believes
In better days ahead

But his body is weak
From hunger
And he remembers his home
His grandmother
Strength masquerading as weakness
Her kitchen full of the aroma
Of fresh baked bread
And her frail arms
That could hold the whole world
Or just him
And him alone

Above her table hung an embroidery
“Give us this day our daily bread”
That would bounce crooked on its nail
Every time he ran out the backdoor
And down the wood steps
Into the rolling hills

Standing on this hill now
He’s suddenly struck
Not by bullets
But by the memory
Of his grandmother’s voice
Speaking softly over him
Of the Shepherd that leaves
The flock to save one lost sheep

And in one final act
Of holy defiance
He drains the fuel reserves
And watches the river
Spill its bloody rainbow
Into the roadside ditch
Before he looks to the sky
Lays down his rifle
And walks slowly
Into the rolling hills
Where he waits
For their bullets
To carry him home

The chain of command
Has broken this child
But for him
And him alone
The chains that once bound him
Have been broken forever
In that roadside ditch
Where they lie

“A Poor Shot” (1880)
Konstantin Kosovo


Sure, this was inspired by reports of young Russian soldiers abandoning their posts in Ukraine, but it could also be about any soldier finding themselves caught between obeying orders and taking innocent lives. Or any of us caught in that awful space between what is expected and what is right.

When I came across this painting by Konstantin Korovin, a Russian Impressionist from the late 1800’s, it struck me as a beautiful reminder that even though war is inevitable, we all look up at the same sky and ultimately only war against ourselves.

Let mercy be the rule.

Talk of the Endings

January 8, 2022

We talk a lot these days
About the Endings
Put your boots on
When you enter the kitchen
And step carefully
Through broken china
Sometimes the Ending
Is only a burnt tortilla
With the face
Of Jesus

But mostly
We talk of the Endings
In low tones
Fearing the unknown
We speak of lives lost
And suffering to come
As if these things
Aren’t just variations
In the rhythm
And the beat
Goes on

Maybe we can only know
Some tragedies
Of the Endings
After they’re over
Through songs left unsung
And artwork left unfinished
And books left unwritten
The collective works
Of broken souls
In burned out mobile homes
That would have let the rest of us know
That we aren’t alone
And that we’ll always have a home
To go back to

Damn it
The world cannot end today
We’ve still got work to do
And as much as we talk
About the Endings
We never really know
Where or when
We will see
God’s face

Pacific Coast Higher Way


I know where this is going
I just don’t know the way
The road turned inland
Behind steeper hills
What lies beyond them?
Who can come close
Or ever even try to say?
Only those who travel
The Pacific Coast Higher Way

The twists and turns
Down here below
Far from the straight and narrow
They betray our longing
To let loose
And fly
Like the arrow

Confined to our vessels
Where the rubber meets the road
Constrained by highway asphalt
Here on earth below
And even if we should break free
From these well-oiled rolling chains
Our feet would fail us still
O’er the impassible terrains

We cannot fathom the beauty
That stays hidden from our view
By these high and holy mounts
We consult our maps
We pour over our charts
But still we’ll have our doubts

In the domain of birds
Dwell our thoughts of wonder
And all that is beyond
It remains far off
Just out of reach
Like the cat
To the fish
In the pond
And when the surface breaks
And the claws sink in
And all higher thoughts are gone
Who knows if we’ll ever
Understand the air
Or even the words to this song

To see these shores with my own eyes
As good as touching hand to earth
I’ll need another body
I’ll need another birth
I’ll need to start again
I’ll need a spirit that is new
Or perhaps an aeroplane
That would also do

Plate Tectonics

January 6, 2022

A plein air painting of the steep cliffs of the Pelican Bluffs trail on the Mendocino coast of northern California


When two bodies collide
There will always be
A fault line to find
In you or in me
But not now
For today we are lovers
Folded one around the other
Cliffs and chasms
And sedimentary flesh
Thrust like beating hearts
Love is a precipice
We stand on the edge
And as we spill over
We fall into the wind
And rise like mountains
On the updraft
And from these higher heavens
We wonder at all the gems
Glowing like children
Pouring out from the earth


Artwork Title: Prime Pelican Real Estate

Water Wheel

January 4, 2022

Time is a water-wheel
And we’ve gone around the bend
Water spills out
And down the creek
To the oceans to the clouds
And back for another spin
Looks like we’ve got a whole new chance
To do it all over

Our last turn was dripping
Into an empty room
Full of whole new ways
To put each other down
Busted neon
And a broken tune
Perfection left the practice
All in a ruin

Yet water takes the form
Of the vessels that hold it
The river is the shape of the valley
And the poem is the shape
Of the thoughts in the mind
Of the one who thunk it and told it
So we’ve got another year ahead
To take this water
And mold it

Let’s think some higher thoughts
Of garden plots
And fresh laid eggs
Or just getting along and getting by
With our feet in the dirt
And the only division
Is the line between earth and sky
Let’s hold this year’s water
In better jugs
And nicer buckets
Or even that fancy pitcher
That your grandma left to you
Yep, that one
The one that’s hard to reach
The one up in the back of the highest cabinet
The one that’s shaped like a chicken
And makes you laugh every time
It may not work at all
But it might be
Worth a try

Ghosts Can’t Swim

December 28, 2021

You never really know
Who they bring along
What ghosts are riding shotgun
And drowning out the song

But everybody here
Knows that ghosts can’t swim
Cold water to them is searing heat
And anyway
They can’t even stand
A bit of sand on their feet

The ghosts just stay in the cars
Angry at the stars
And their children here below
Made of countless planets
That stick between their toes

So in the cars they wait
Listening to AM radio
While the real people
Laugh and play
Real smiles on real faces
Beneath a bluer sky
Better times
And better places

So linger a bit if you will
Lend that wax to the stranger
Crack those jokes
And hide those beers from the ranger
Take it easy
And take it slow
And don’t be in such a hurry to go
Because it’s never really known
Just who’s waiting for your friends
On their lonely ride home

The Light In Our Eyes

December 21, 2021

One fine morning we arose
And somehow cooked
Our morning brews
Seventeen machines
From which we could choose
And some of them
Are pretty good

We stare into ceramic darkness
That floods our morning with life
Egad, what’s this?
The sun that shines
In our eyes while we’re trying to write

Piercing light whom I address
One little request if I may
Just please step aside
And shine from behind
My eyes weren’t yet ready to play
My coffee’s not drank
My mind like a bank
Robbed at the break of day
But take it slow if you will
And I’ll dip this quill
And jot down whatever you say

And though I heard every last word
It now seems rather absurd
Like a worm that swallows the bird
And the details may be a bit blurred
But it went something like this
Rest assured…

The moon is in tears
Out under the pier
For her lover’s been stabbed by the light
She’s dressed to the nines
And dark eye shadow lines
Streak her cheeks as the night slowly dies

The clouds collapsed
When lighting made cracks
In the urn in which the wind churned
Out the rain poured
Through cracks in the floor
And the fire no longer burned

Winter’s love has gone cold
There’s nothing left here to hold
You walk in and she just looks away
But the note on the pillow
And her suitcase of snow
Make it clear that she’s leaving today

This season of strife
This fight for your life
This darkness that conquered the world
It’s converted to digits
There’s no way to bridge it
In a blaze of light the plug will be pulled

The night and the storm
This season forlorn
You know them well and you hold them so tight
You let them define you
But let me remind you
The warmth of the sun still brings you delight
And when all things end
I’ll still call you my friend
I am here and I am the light


December 2, 2021

She sat in her chair   
(with concern)  
When I put 27 grapes in my mouth at once  
And got one stuck up my nose  
She sat in her chair   
(blissfully unaware)  
While I dug a hole  
All the way to China  
She sat in her chair  
(with me)  
When I sat beside her and asked  
Why the sand was full of plastic  
She sat in her chair   
(romance novels)  
When I was hit in the head  
By a stray surfboard  
She jumped out of her chair  
(things I can’t repeat)  
At the seagull thiefs   
Who came for our lunches  
She sat on her boogie board  
(behind dark sunglasses)  
Like the coolest kid on the beach  
After riding the wave of her life  
She sat in her chair alone
(this world behind)  
And I wish we could be  
Back on this beach

Parts and Pieces

December 2, 2021

I forged you in an open field
On a bright and cloudless day
Rare elements and minerals
Mixed within the clay
You took the form my eyes beheld
And there was no other way
I gave to you part of myself
And let the chips fall where they may
I gave you more and more and more
I gave and then I gave

And now parts of me are missing
I’m losing pieces everyday
I’m not the same as I ever was
And I don’t know what to say

You stuck your boot into the mud
Your hand into the brine
You painted me as though I mattered
As though parts of you were mine
And now I’ll go into the world
Forgotten by design
Set aside where few will see
Although to them I just may shine
But it’s not me that draws them in
It’s the parts of you they find

And now parts of you are with me
I’m finding more everyday
I’m not the same as I ever was
And I don’t know what to say

War and Peace

Plein air painting of the Humboldt county coast near Trinidad, California


Conflict is inevitable  
The Sea sends its navy   
To war against the Land  
The Fog lays an ambush   
Against the Bluer Skies   
The Mud launches a ground assault   
Against Your Soggy Boots  
Warring factions lie in wait   
Around every bend   
At the end of this trail   
Named for a creek   
Whose Latin tributaries can be traced   
Through blood red thickets  
Back to the god of war   
Whose thirst for conflict   
Is only surpassed   
By the mutiny of his forces   
Aligning with Dappled Light   
and Babbling Creek   
And Chirping Birds  
and Buzzing Bees   
And the Unhurried Lover  
In Your Arms  
To bring  

My Father’s Song

November 8, 2021

There’s a song my father used to sing
Not really a song at all
Just a rhythm of syllables
Rising and falling
With every step
And a pause with
Every breath

There were never any words
Neither for the song itself
Nor for the way
It brings me home

It would often be sung
Out in the wilderness
Surrounded by wonders
Sometimes emerging
From an ice cold pool
Formed by a beaver dam
In the high mountains

Or sometimes just in the kitchen
After a phone call
Grandpa has gone home
And our hearts fell
Like fresh-washed plates
And broke

Today I heard the song again
It came from my own heart
Sung quietly over my kids
On a forest path
As they took my hand
And said
Papa we’ll show you
The waterfall
And the ice cold pool

And along that path
The song walked along
Never really beginning
And never really ending
Just filling the air
Like the call of birds
Like the rush of the creek
Like my Father’s song

The Sea is for “California”


The Sea is for “California”
The Ay is for “Ay, it looks kinda fun out there”
The El is for “Where the El did all these people come from? It didn’t look this crowded a minute ago”
The I is for “I didn’t see you back there”
The Ef is for things I’ve heard out there that I can’t repeat
The Oh, is for “Oh look at this set coming in”
The Arr is for “Arr, that guy seems like he’s getting every wave with that massive log”
The In is for “Hey those guys just went in”
The I is for “I might get a wave or two now”
The Ay is for “ay, it is was super fun out there today”