Santo Cielo

A poem for Southern California…


Sainted sky…

Blessed sky?

Once so, I cannot help but feel it.

Struck-in-the-eye by its limpid quality.

Or, rather what’s left of it.

Something missing…

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Low sun on water,
Golden rocks and dun sand.


The color of sky.
Radiating off smooth water.

Scarce ripples,
Picked off in deep green,
Or indigo blue,
Where the yellow is used up.

Ripples of soft back-wash
Smothered in violet.

A play of complements and triads
Refresh the eye.
Maintaining an intensity
For as long as we can look.

It keeps shifting,
Reaches a peak intensity
Just before the sun touches its limb
To the land.

Slowly fading
Until the last ray-strikes are
Replaced by reflected refraction.


Gold drops to dun.
Dun to tan.
Still the blue,
So pale,
Just a fraction darker than the snow.
Joins blue and gold in itself together.
Not making green,
The two together,
Distilling the essence of fluid at rest.

Gulls scratch across a sky
Too calm to glide them home.
A raft of Eiders float on
Clumped, chunky bodies
Impervious to the cold.

My eye wishes the man-made
Gone from this view.
Harder to do,
As the fading light
Dulls this moment’s
Magic intensity.

A surface magical.
Carved by coursing
Energy arcing and

The sound,
Tonal equivalent to


Hovering over surface without purchase
To focus the eye.
Wavelengths too long
To capture whole.

The sky:
Clouds carved by contrails;
Colored by the soot of our
Constant fires.
Combustion so pervasive,

Cloudscape of
Meager paint
Knifed on and

Not like the water:
Fat and smooth.
Fat and smooth.
Fat and smooth.


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For a painter a surface is like the sea
Transparent, translucent, a skin, a membrane, a passage
Between up here and down there, between in here and out there
Malleable, moving, dynamic, reflective.

For a painter a surface is where you connect with Being
Where things become visible, where we see the connections
Between what is in here and out there
What was and what is and what will be.

Illusion is always present on a surface
A surface is never only what it seems
A surface is constantly changing, ablating, concreting, eroding, resisting
Like the sea it is forever healing, always changing, always the same.

A surface is entrancing
A surface is appealing
No matter what horror may lie beneath it
A surface seduces, thank God.

A surface holds us in front of existence
A surface gives us a place to stand
A skin to wear, another to interact with
A surface gives us what we need.

A surface can be the blankness we begin with
Or it can be the film of colored mud we build upon it.
The blankness might be an abstraction, an ideal nothingness
Or it can be the air out of which presences emerge.

A surface blank or marked is a thing and also the air
The intervening invisibility, both real and illusory
Made substance and then seen through
A surface is a challenge to awareness.


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