Monday, January 23, 2012


With a little frame showing. Whoops!
Nothing brightens my day more than the arrival of a photograph of one of my brother’s paintings. The most recent painting is one of the northern California coast–the magnificent rocks and water executed in varying shades of blue. Something about the one blue color gives me a feeling of peace, and I hope to put it on the cover of a new book of poetry I’m writing this year, which, at this date, only has seven poems in the collection.

Another of Paul’s recent paintings features more rocks and sea and a small coast town on an island in the forefront of the painting. Although Paul’s eyes are failing, he seems to be able to render tiny houses and trees well, and I think he must strain mightily to execute his art at the age of almost-eighty. Many of his paintings are abstract ones I’ve used for my chapbooks, and his art often appears on the covers of novels I’ve published.

Paul began painting and drawing when he created his first story about a bear that my father introduced at bedtime called “Jimmy Bear,” and he was encouraged by my mother who painted pictures of gnomes, fairyland creatures, forest scenes featuring huge frogs and dwarfs holding paintbrushes. When Paul moved to northern California nearly twenty years ago, he began painting again in earnest–no lessons, no art school–just the paintings that reflect memories of Louisiana, gardens and flowers, seascapes, landscapes, and brilliant abstract renderings. His garden and yard also reflect his artistry and are paradisiacal scenes.

I am withholding most of the pictures because they may appear on chapbooks of poetry, but will include the blue one that lifted my mood when I received it. Also, the scene inspired a poem:


Is it barometric pressure
or days catching up

with the oppressive rain
simmering on heavy leaves,

when the last drop of ego
has evaporated into a scentless past,

and the oak makes deep shade
outside my window and within me.

I’m given a memory of elegance
piercing sea fog,

and in the blues of his art,
ghost ships sail away

on a tempestuous day,
a tempestuous sea.

Atop cradling waves of silver-tipped blue
my brother captures me with his visions,

a child once, and returned,
painting a long transport…

this ocean voyage
on which our history ripples.
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