When I Paint

Meditations on Messiaen
Insights from Beyond

7

When I paint

When I paint, I paint.
I choose at random a brush and a color.
Then I stroke bright lines across a white page.
Fresh snow waiting for tracks and footprints.

“I draw meaning out of shape and color.”
Henri Matisse with scissors and cut outs,
and I am here with brushes and tubes of paint,
totally clueless, waiting for inspiration to descend.

But it doesn’t. Just these lies, these colors, these shapes
that define my life and elaborate a destiny
that I never planned nor wished for.

Colors, so vibrant. Anger. Energy. Tranquility. Rebirth.
Thoughtfulness. Meaningful. Moments held
in the mind’s eye, clasped between fingers,
dripping off the ends of a brush,
mixed and mingling in the unconscious mind’s eye
that contemplates, yet never judges, the colors
that unfold subtle, untold meanings, across the page.

Click on this link for Roger’s reading.
When I Paint

OMG-3

OMG-3

55-54 BCE. Julius Caesar visits Britain, but he doesn’t come as a sight-seeing tourist. When asked later about his trip across the channel, he replied with three little words that have echoed through the halls of history: veni, vidi, vici / I came, I saw, I conquered.

Filled with a desire to paint, I prepared a floral background. Overnight, those words came to mind: veni, vidi, vici. To them I added Alpha (the first letter of the Greek alphabet) and Omega (that alphabet’s last letter), these being the Greek letters currently being attached to the various variants of Covid-19. It being Sunday and me, having years ago sung in the choir of the ancient, 12th Century Anglican Church at King’s Stanley, I thought of the words of the old hymn “Omega and Alpha He”. Then, with a stroke or two of the pen, I added them to the painting.

Last, but not least, I added co- to -vidi to get co-vid-i. The painting was almost done. OMG-3 (OMG cubed in the painting) was the final touch and there you have it. The ultimate Covid-19 painting, or is it a poem? Whatever it is, it is a warning, or rather a series of warnings. (1) It is here. (2) It is real. (3) It is killing people. (4) We are currently at Omicron. (5) There’s still a long way to go to Omega. (6) It’s not over yet, not by a long way.

So my friends: keep well, keep safe, keep out of trouble, keep believing, and keep visiting this site! There’s something new here every so often. And once in a while it’s pretty and / or unique.

Spirit of Boo

Spirit of Boo

So, I can’t draw dogs, nor people, nor reality. But I can draw spirits, and moods, and emotions. This is NOT my neighbors’ dog. It is the spirit of their dog: energy, joy, happiness, and total and complete love. What more could a doggy want or an artist, however useless, do.

Boo: I salute you.
Woof!

Original drawing, dated 9 August 2014, can be found in my drawing notebook of that year. I used it as a model for the painting, was completed on Tuesday, 30 November 2021.

Welcome Guests

Welcome Guests

They arrived last night, late.
Bright moonlight. Soft silence.
I neither heard nor saw them.

I awoke to moonlight on snow.
Shimmering stars. Orion
proud among prancing planets
sparkling in frosted air.

I looked out. Nothing there.
White wilderness of snow,
unmarked, but shadowed.

Dawn. An anxious child
on Christmas Day, I peeped
under the tree, and yes,
I cried out, “He’s been.”
I remember brightly
wrapped packets of gifts.

Today’s gifts: hoof prints
emerging from dark woods,
circling beneath the ash tree,
leading to the bird feeders,
and back into empty woods.

“Yes!” I said aloud. “At Last.”
And joy filled my heart.

Click on this link to hear Roger’s reading.
Welcome Guests

Comment:

Reading the poem aloud, I changed some of the word order to the rhythm of my speaking voice. It’s reading before an audience and hearing their reaction that tells me when a poem is right or needs retouching. Alas, those live readings are gone for now. Anchor, Spotify, Facebook, Twitter, and this blog are good, but not quite the same. But, for a rhythm and voice poet, who loves live readings and welcomes a live audience, they are better than that midnight silence under dark trees.

Normality

Normality

In spite of grey skies,
blueish snow and early-
morning, under-cloud-
light combine to color
my garden several shifting
shades of blue-grey.

Light grows and the garden
starts to whiten. No deer as yet,
but they aren’t far away.

Two big ginger cats,
I think at first they are foxes,
stalk their marmalade path
through the trees towards the road.
I have never seen them
before. New neighbors?

One crosses the road
but the other hesitates, then flees,
as flashing school-bus lights
bring normality back to my early
-morning dream-filled world.

Click on this link for Roger’s reading.
Normality

North Wind

North Wind

North Wind descended from the pole
sending its wolf pack through snow-
bound trees. Listless, they stood there,
then wind and wolves came, cutting
and shuffling, playing snap-the-branch,
chase-the snow-flake, and strip-jack-
naked. Wolves danced on their hind-
legs, round and round, shaking trees,
biting at branches, testing winter games
until trees stood naked, stripped of snow,
tresses and garlands gobbled and gone.

Oh the wickedness of winter, its cold-
cut cruelty, the lash of the wind, ice-
pellets hurled, picketing fences, pecking
a wild winter-song, forlorn in its fury,
its pace, its power, its reckless race
to hurl everything away, out of its way,
snow twisted, tormented, twitching
its snake-way down barren highways
devoid of secret places in which to hide
tender faces from the North Wind.

Click on this link for Roger’s reading.
North Wind.


First Snow

First Snow

Fell softly, quietly, soundless, in the night.
I knew it was there. A lightness in the air,
a subtle change in the quality of light.
Now everything has changed: yesterday’s bare
trees wear their winter dresses, frilly tresses
garnished with garlands of snow.

The deer will arrive, sooner or later.
They always do. They troop from right
to left, west to east, as day turns to night,
then troop back, east to west, in morning light.
They step dark and diligent, flitting shadows
beneath snowy trees, one after another,
forging a single passage from yard to road,
crossing it, then vanishing into dark woods.

I saw them one night in a midnight dream.
They stood on their hindlegs underneath
the mountain ash and danced, so delicate,
reaching up with long, black tongues,
to steal bright berries from lower branches.
They danced in a full moon’s spotlight
and filled my heart with joy and pain.
How I long to see them dance again.

Click on this link for Roger’s reading.
First Snow

Art from the Heart

Art from the Heart

Just out today, thanks to my good friend Jared who turned a difficult task into a simple one. And yes, this is my first art book, though there are two more, at least, to come. Thanks to Patti too for the delightful portrait of the author as a flower-child. That was some time ago. This is a very limited edition. Best friends only – BFF. NB The photos are rotten. I apologize for that. However, the cartoons are very special. Here are the two on Climate Change, much debated, sometimes denied, but all too true for this poor snowman.

Climate Change
aka

“I won’t believe in climate change until April or May.”

April May be Too Late.

Again, the book is fine.
My photos are shaky!

Poetry Painting

Poetry Painting

This was a totally new experience: a poem written over a painting that linked visual to verbal. I tried several versions of the words and have come up with a better one… but, once the words are on the canvas, it’s so hard to change them. The spoken word, once loosed, can never be recalled.

Our New Brunswick leaves have gone already. We are looking at ships’ masts, sails unfurled, in an anchored harbor. Further south, Thanksgiving is here. My distant neighbors and friends are contemplating turkeys and family gatherings and all that is good about harvest festivals and the end of the productive year, the agriculturally productive year, that is. Below them, in Mexico, the land of four continuous harvests, growth continues.

The cycle of the seasons rolls on and on. In the British Isles Woodhenge has turned into Stonehenge. Four thousand five hundred years of history measured in stone circles, seasonal star and sun points, times for sowing and harvesting. Absolutely bewilderingly marvelous. More than 5,500 standing stone calendars can be found in those islands.

And here, in my painting, leaves, letters, words deliver a message of intertextuality. Change is upon us. We live with it, focus on it, describe it in words. Each letter, each word, is a leaf on the tree, falling or soon to fall.

Autumn Leaves

Catch them
if
you can.


Catch them
while
you can.

Autumn Leaves.
Don’t grieve.
Close the door
when she is gone.

Click on this link for Roger’s reading.
Autumn Leaves

Sharp-shinned Hawk

Sharp-shinned Hawk

She surveys her empire
from a tall tree, then steps
into space, plunging her
body’s weight downwards,
diving into fragile air.

A feathered arrow,
she makes contact, feet first,
and pins the unsuspecting robin
to the ground. His shrill shriek
emerges from a beak
that shreds failing life.

The hawk’s claws clench.
Her victim weakens.
His eyes glaze over.
One final spasm,
a last quick twitch,
the robin is gone.

One wing drags, flaps weakly,
borne skywards in the hawk’s
triumphant claws.

Click on this link for Roger’s reading.
Sharp-shinned Hawk