Writing, Painting

Glad to hear that several of my poems will be in the next issue of Marsh Hawk Review in September. Yes, I continue to write. But I also continue to paint. Since fire and smoke have been more or less a constant for the last couple months in Monterey, I’m working on a Fire Season series of 20 x 20″ paintings.  I’ve actually gotten sort of used to the smoke and gray or hazy skies. Everyday I hope for some real sunshine, and occasionally it actually happens. But not today . . .

Fire Season - Sobranes 2016

“Sobranes 2016.” Acrylics on canvas, 20 x 20 inches.


The Season

The fire started in Soberanes
canyon, has spread now over
45,000 acres; someone left
a campfire “unattended” so 50+
houses burned down, one guy
dead. And in a year, it’ll be
a good season for morels.

Reading a translation of Dogen
who tends to repeat himself.
I seem to be shifting from writing
to painting. Very little focus
these days, the brain too full

to submit to any sort of rigor
and the details of myriad
memories are in there somewhere
but now some are harder to get;
for example, I was going to
stop writing poems online,

was going to write only by
hand in notebooks. Instead
I’m drawing diagrams for
paintings, and now writing
a kind of poem here because

it’s a curative. Medicinal. I’m
my own arbolaryo, have to
shake out the words over this
charred landscape.



Water soluble oils over acrylic, on canvas. 20 x 16.” Work in progress, or maybe just done.  Very tempted to title this “The Flowery Land” after the 1864 mutiny of a British ship by a variety of crew members including Manilla men, of whom seven were later executed in London. Catching a few minutes painting before heading to the cafe to do some freelance editing…

green acres

I used to live in “the country” in Elkhorn, CA. I was just thinking it would be fun to put a chapbook together on “country living,” which I say with full irony.  Here’s a poem I wrote a couple years ago:


It’s damned gorgeous today. Warm as spring,
dry as sandstone. In mid-winter. The goat

is dead. To the laundromat I must go. Clearly
clover will not green this field. That’s
California winter: green. Was, anyway.

G. has raked leaves over her infectious
bloodstains. (Where once the blewits grew,
orange-juicy edible fungus).

The clothes take for fucking ever
to dry. In the meantime, reading
a story about books. Then another
story about books and cats.
Unbearable lightness of dog
and cat love. Then have a coffee.
And M. is sick with a cold. Chloro-
phyll will not rise; ground props up
weed skeletons and rocks, towhees
peck for seeds dropped from
the feeder. Sun goes down garishly
the way we like it. Flashing
phantom green.

Then it’s dark again, and the oaks
(the cakes) throw shadows, make a black
tunnel under which I skittle down
the road to snatch the mail. Yo,
bats, owls, goats: where are yooo. What
do you call home now. Give me
a little scare.

Masked figure

This is a continuation of a painting I started a couple years ago; It was originally nude. I have this impulse to build up paint and then scrape and hack at it so that the surface reveals previous gestures and ridges. I  keep scraping it and adding paint, and it just keeps getting more and more surreal. Oil over acrylic on wood panel w/collage.



In the open air

Monterey Bay Aquarium. Eco-tourism. Plein air painting. Consumption. Reading Stephanie Rutherford’s “Governing the Wild: Ecotours of Power,” among other things.

Sometimes I catch myself thinking “I really hate  en plein air painting” (and I seem to live in the plein air capital of the U.S.). Seems silly or mean to think negatively about something so pretty & pleasing to the eye, so innocent. I feel like it had something to say in 1850. But now it just seems irrelevant, and yet Monterey art galleries keep plugging it, and plugging it for the eco-tourists. It’s redundant, like a plague word. One can go on and on about the beauties of nature, and completely miss the destructive forces pulling the rug (grass?) out from under you. Really, Monterey: is that all you’ve got?