catching up

Anyone following battlestar galactica? I’m way behind. I’m catching up on my motel cable tonight though. I came down here to Carrizozo NM to paint a fork in the road in the desert black, with biodegrable paint.

carrizozo-1-of-1 carrizozo-1-of-1-2

carrizozo-1-of-1-3 carrizozo-1-of-1-4

It will degrade, if it ever rains. Spent the rest of the week on the Carrizozo sets. Great crew. Shooting starts tomorrow. Final touches in the morning then I’m out of this lovely little town. I’ll come back with the family and explore. They will love the wind, the mountains, the mining towns and the desert.

I appreciate all the notes left on the blog (and on facebook) while I have been on this show. I look forward to responding to all of them.

Later, skaters.


Posted in film work, paint dept., scenic art, the book of eli, works in progress | 4 Comments

home again home again

What a treat to have this time. I’ve been living out of a suitcase in a motel while working in Albuquerque on “The Book of Eli”. My co-workers are extraordinarily gifted and easy to be with and the sets are beautiful, sumptuous, and stark. No photos, sorry, as these are closed sets but I’m sure that when it is released the film will draw a lot of attention.

No time for my own art now. With the world falling apart it doesn’t seem smart to say no to work. We work from 6 in the morning to 6 at night, and soldier on six days a week. I’ve jumped from the art lane to the art factory. I’ll be back in the studio soon enough. Hopefully more collaborations await.

The time I have I spend with family and friends. Broadus, now 9 years old, has developed a love for model rocketry (using rockets and solid fuel engines from Estes Industries). I’m back in my childhood now, doing some things I always wanted to do. Lucky me, Broadus loves it, too.

In debriefing after our launches we have determined a few things. It is best not to launch after dark, things like that. We’ve blown up a few rockets and crashed others and we’ve frozen our butts off out on the soccer field, but we’ve had a great time.

Naomi is as usual, organizing is 12 directions. She and Ada have just returned from 4 days in NYC working with donor organizations funding some large projects in New Orleans. The Las Vegas NM Cold Weather Shelter seems to be a going concern. Folk-singer and songwriter and 7 times Grammy nominee John McCutcheon (, will be playing benefit concerts Valentine’s Day in Santa Fe and the following evening here in Las Vegas NM, to benefit the Rio Gallinas Charter School, The Las Vegas Peace and Justice Center, and Grassroots Leadership, Inc. and their work against the private prison industry/complex  and immigrant family detention centers in NM (and across the country).
UWC-USA will host John’s song-writing workshop Sunday afternoon on the UWC campus (free to UWC students, $20 to others, space limited).  She is also organizing the annual 2009 New Mexico Peace Works Conference – Global Youth Forum and Youth Leadership Workshops, Feb. 20 – 22, 2009, Santa Fe, NM  FREE! Open to 7th – 12th Grade Youth. Please email me or leave a note here if you would like more info.

Here are some pics of the family now… Naomi and Ada and Broadus and me.





Posted in 'tis a gift to be simple, art for film and tv, Broadus and Ada, family, John McCutcheon, naomi swinton, new mexico peace works conference, painting, storybook collaborative, uwc-usa | 17 Comments


ada at six months, having a ball, belting out Auld Lang Syne, singing about the times gone by. Gone bye bye.


Posted in ada corinna meridian swinton, ada's paino, auld lang syne | 11 Comments

frank rich article

A President Forgotten but Not Gone

Published: January 3, 2009

WE like our failed presidents to be Shakespearean, or at least large enough to inspire Oscar-worthy performances from magnificent tragedians like Frank Langella. So here, too, George W. Bush has let us down. Even the banality of evil is too grandiose a concept for 43. He is not a memorable villain so much as a sometimes affable second banana whom Josh Brolin and Will Ferrell can nail without breaking a sweat. He’s the reckless Yalie Tom Buchanan, not Gatsby. He is smaller than life.

Posted in dangerous morons, frank rich, politics, portraits, stupid war | 2 Comments

good-bye, george

Frank Rich is right, for a moment one can almost feel sorry for him. Until reflecting on the stupid, arrogant, mindless choices that have caused so much ruin, so many deaths and so much sorrow. I can’t think of anything he could do to make amends except to walk out on the world stage, express profound regret, and then shoot himself. Followed in the act by Cheney, Rumsfeld, Rove, and the rest of the and svengalis and sycophants.

And here’s a note to the Secret Service. I’m not suggesting here that anyone should off the president. That’s his job. I am suggesting that the tradition of hari kari has its place, its noble and proper use and that I think it should be employed here. The whole point is to atone and to restore some lost honor. Hardly possible in this case but the attempt would be nice. And the whole mess could have been avoided if only george had called his sponsor and gone to a meeting. Instead he’s used Jesus to justify every evil thing he’s done.

I know, I know. Its not for me to cast stones. The man has to live with himself. It should be enough just to be glad I am not him. I guess he really rubs me the wrong way.

Posted in good riddance | Tagged , , , , | 2 Comments

ada and the man

Ada will be 6 months old tomorrow. She is watching me now from her nest by my side.

Here she is. She’s picked up a new interest.


And this blog will be a year old.

Posted in ada corinna, collaborative storybook | 7 Comments

happy new year

happy new year everyone. the best of everything to you.soup-kitchen-witch1

from rick, naomi, broadus and ada

Posted in faith, happy new year!, make a difference, soup kitchen witch | 6 Comments

alone time

is hard to find these days but I have some now and I am puzzling out how to use this blog. I stay away from writing and painting too long – which happens whenever I take a movie job – and I begin to feel dry and a little bit crispy. Not to mention cranky. Great things are…

I work with people I like and admire and I have work I usually enjoy, and that I know has a finite end. When that end comes I rejoin the ranks of the unemployed, and try to put my talents to good use in my studio until the next job comes up.

Ada and Broadus are well again and we are out of fearful parent mode. They are again little wells of life and beauty, sensitivity and intelligence. Joy and trust. B as always is a creative dynamo. Naomi and I are unwinding, releasing the fear and tension that comes with having a really sick child.

We have energy and health and a roof over our heads. A couple of months ago I returned from a meeting complaining to Naomi that I had met a young couple who were sane, sober and homeless and that cold weather was coming and there are no shelters here. She got on the phone and started making calls, seeking volunteers, donors, places that might work as temporary shelter for the homeless here in San Miguel County.


The upshot is, there is now a cold-weather shelter for the homeless here, thanks to a host of people here. I’ll get a more complete list from Naomi but for now I’ll mention that there would be no shelter without the work of Sharon Seto of UWC-USA and the students of UWC in Montezuma, NM; Pastor Rev. Randy Campbell and the congregation of The First Presbyterian Church of Las Vegas, NM; Rosie Lopez; The Samaritan House; Birdie Jaworski and Daniel; Gallinas Magazine ; Spence and Janet Swinton: and the benefaction of a generous, anonymous donor.

The organizers were hoping to have the location of the shelter rotate between churches, two weeks to a church, staffed by volunteers from the congregations, and others. First Prez has stepped up to the plate but as yet the other churches here have offered to support the project in any way they can except with space and volunteers. Hmmm…..

Who can blame them, really? These are the great unwashed, and they do smell to High Heaven. Naomi and Ada and I staffed the shelter a few nights ago and I know what a difficult commitment it is to take in the homeless, the hopeless, the misguided, the deranged. But it is only for 3 or 4 months of cold weather, and in the meantime people can put their heads together to figure out a more permanent solution to the problem of homelessness in Northern New Mexico.

By the way, if anyone has seen the painting above, “Citylights”, please let me know. It vanished from storage in Boston some years ago. I wish I had a better photo to share with you. Please feel free to tell the story here if you see one. I think I’m back. I won’t be posting as often while I’m working, and the image prompts will be hit or miss. But it is good to be writing. Let me hear from you. Click on “comments” and add yours. I would love to hear what you think about things, most anything.

p.s. more late-breaking good news. (Actually the news has been out for a while, but I’m just getting it.) A poem of mine, Sizzle, was accepted and published in the Nov. issue of the new online journal, protestpoems. Publishing is a first for me. Check out protestpoems and its parent site, babelfruit. I wondered why I got such an unusually high number of hits in early November. As requested, I have for the time being taken the poem down from this blog.

Posted in art, art for film and tv, babelfruit, birdie jaworski, Broadus and Ada, callings, citylights, collaboration, ecphrasis, ekphrasis, faith, film work, first presbyterian church las vegas nm, gallinas magazine, georgia o'keefe movie, homeless shelter, homelessness, image prompts, las vegas nm, let's hope, love, making a difference, naomi swinton, painting, pertussis, picture prompts, poetry, protestpoems, Rev. Randy Campbell, Rosie Lopez, samaritan house, san miguel county, sharon seto, sizzle, spencer and janet swinton, storybook collaborative, Uncategorized, uwc-usa, whooping cough, why does good change take so long?" | 21 Comments

Ada’s better.

Much better. Still some coughing but back to her happy, bouncy, cheerful self. Back to making funny noises and rocking out in her bouncy seat. Thanks for the good energy and warm wishes.


Posted in Ada Swinton, art, kids, pertussis, poetry, whooping cough | 10 Comments

on pertussis, and a new image prompt

I’ve been meaning to write but with Ada sick and new movie work starting my creative energy is way down. Broadus has been sick with pertussis, too, but since he has had the vaccination it hasn’t hit him quite as hard. His cough has gone on for 4 weeks now, maybe 5. I’ve lost track. It has been crazy. Things are easing up now but Ada’s cough still makes my heart stop. She doesn’t cough as often but she still coughs until she runs out of air and then the coughing doesn’t stop, it just keeps going and I’m saying, breathe, Ada, breathe and finally she is able to draw a quick breath between coughs and the air whistles back into her lungs. That sudden panicked whistling is why it is called Whooping Cough. It will scare the daylights out of a parent. For two weeks Naomi has been sleeping sitting up, her back against the wall behind the bed so she could hold Ada upright. We’ve been getting to bed after midnight and then I’m up at 5 to drive to work in Santa Fe. Waking up with her, or with Broadus 5 or 6 times during those hours has left us all weary.

It is good to see my movie friends again but the days are long and I usually have to pull off the road and sleep for a few minutes during the drive home at night. My eyes start to cross and I start to see double I know I need to pull over.

Other than that, everything is fine. Oh, yeah. The world is falling apart.

So what’s with the painting? Any thoughts?

Posted in art, love, pertussis, pertussus, poetry, sick kids, whooping cough | 6 Comments

update on Ada

She’s doing much better. Thank you for your thoughts and prayers, your good energy. The coughing spells are still scary when she loses her breath but they don’t come as often and all of us are getting a little more sleep.

I’m finishing up lunch on this show (Georgia O’Keefe) and just wanted to post this update. Now it’s back to work.

Here are some pics of the kids and their friends here at World College. Pictures by Logan Bunting-Mock.




Posted in Ada Swinton, art, art for film and tv, Broadus Mobbs, logan bunting-mock, poetry, united world college, whooping cough | 7 Comments

georgia o’keefe

Lunchtime, and wireless! I’m writing from Santa Fe. I started a new movie this morning of this new day in our country. The sun was rising overr the mountains as I drove through the Glorietta Pass. It is a beautiful new day for us.

The movie is “Georgia O’Keefe”.  Looks interesting but don’t know much about it yet. Paint crew are familiar hands, great painters. It is good to be back in the saddle.

Ada is holding her own. We are all a bit sleep deprived but in good spirits. Thank you all for your prayers and thoughts.

Posted in Ada Swinton, art, film work, georgia o'keefe movie, painting, poetry, scenic artist | 6 Comments

rollercoaster/whooping cough?

Hello everyone, all of you who have left such kind notes since my last post. This is just to let you I have no intention of disappearing from the blogging community, nor of laying this particular blog to rest. We really have been slammed or I would have said this sooner.

We had a wonderful time with family in NC and now are back in NM. Naomi’s work also carries her far and wide so I’ve been Mr. Mom to a greater degree than usual (best job I’ve ever had).

Our son, Broadus, turned 9 years old on Halloween. Her is a picture of Broadus with his friend Morgan. B is on the right.

morgan and broadus 10/31/08

At this moment I can’t remember just what were the other things that took me out of my studio and kept me from writing but I can’t complain that life is not full enough for us here in NM.

Bad news here is that  Whooping Cough seems to have appeared in our little town. A lot of kids, including Broadus, have developed wicked, deep, long-lasting coughs. Because of early vaccinations they don’t get the full, potentially dangerous illness, although they can carry and spread it until treated with antibiotics. The illness is especially bad for babies.

The bad news is Ada (almost 4 months) has not yet been vaccinated and she has just been diagnosed with it. Naomi spent a few hours in the emergency room at our local hospital (and was given great care and attention by the E.R. physician, Dr Mariann Lucini).

Her coughing is racking and sometimes she stops breathing between coughs. It’s frightening and weird because, except for being a little more subdued than usual, she’s fine when she’s not coughing. The coughing spells themselves are awful. When she starts to cough we hold her against a shoulder to help her. We expect she is going to be okay but they tell us the illness could grow more severe for the next two weeks before easing up over the following two. We treat the symptoms and feel grateful that she’s such a fundamentally healthy kid.

We watch her carefully, and don’t leave her alone. Broadus and the rest of us are now on antibiotics so we are no longer contagious. I don’t understand why the NM Dept. of Health hasn’t stepped in to educate and treat everyone in the schools. This county in Northern New Mexico happens to be one of the poorest, most neglected in the country. It is a shame some of the billions wasted on Iraq could not have been spent at home on health care and education.

Okay, we’ll get back to the art soon, and the writing. I do want to say meeting all of you through this blog has been a very enlightning, incredibly enlarging experience and I thank you from the bottom of my heart. I look forward to again circulating, visiting, reading, writing and painting. In the meantime of course feel free to use the images you find here for your work. Send me links to it and I will get back to posting them when I can.

Hold us in the Light, please, and we’ll do the same for you.

Posted in Ada Swinton, art, basic training, Broadus Mobbs, Dr Maryann Luchini, ekphrasis, kids, nm, painting, pertussis, picture prompts, poetry, san miguel county, social justice, stories, storybook collaborative, Uncategorized, useless stupid leaders, useless stupid war, why does good change take so long?" | 14 Comments

10/24/08 closing a chapter – one last prompt

I’m writing from the coast of North Carolina as tropical rain and winds lash the house and the lights flicker inside. My extended family is gathered for a reunion here. There is something comforting about working while the winds rage and the lights flicker and the family sleeps peacefully around me.

Trying to juggle the needs and demands of family, work and travel I keep dropping the weekly image prompts I have been putting up here on Thursdays for the last nine months. So rather than letting the adventure sputter out I’m either taking a break or calling it quits, time will tell which. Although turning the blog over to the next artist or artists is an idea I have toyed with, and I am open to suggestions.

In any case I can’t keep it up in a way I feel good about so here is one last prompt for all who are interested. In a post to follow I’ll put up the recent collaborations. I will also try to look back over the time spent doing this and the collaborations that have resulted and try to make some sense of it all and thank you properly for your months of interest, your amazing collaborations and your support.

ybonsey asked me recently about this image, which I used to illustrate a post about war and pacifism.

The painting is in oils on canvas and is maybe 3.5 feet tall. It began as a study for a class in figure painting in oils. I considered it a failed painting and abandoned it until Dan Brawley, Director of the Cucaloris Film Festival, and founder of the Independent Art Company, of Wilmington, NC, invited me to submit a piece for a show he was curating on the subject of the Male Nude.

As it was a failed piece I flipped it upside down to see what I could make of it, thought about male aggression, noticed the penis was the pivot point and worked from there. Now, if you find a story there I would love to hear it.

Posted in art, completion, cucaloris film festival, ekphrasis, image prompts, independent art company, male nudes, painting, picture prompts, poetry, storybook collaborative, wabi sabi warehouse | 28 Comments

what google got

(from Google’s Project 10 to the 100th project proposal submitted tonight by Rick Mobbs and Naomi Swinton)

10. What one sentence best describes your idea? (maximum 150 characters)
Social networking for conscientious objectors, friends & families of COs & prisoners of conscience; connecting media, COs and the resources they need.

11. Describe your idea in more depth. (maximum 300 words)
Create a web-based global registry for Conscientious Objectors, Prisoners of Conscience, Pacifists, Refusniks, War Resisters, their families, friends, and supporters; and a Social Networking site along the lines of Facebook, where people could begin to build an international, multi-lingual pacifist community in real time, and in real time could talk, correspond, share and compare experiences, educate, etc. They could also respond to threats, intimidation, harassment, and the incarceration of their members, much in the way a human rights violation can trigger a massive response from Amnesty International.

The effort would leverage the web to explain Conscientious Objection and the Pacifist Movement to the public, attract individual C.O.s, their families, friends and supporters, and give them the tools to build a real-time community of peers and allies on-line. The site would be used to heighten publicity around individual cases where needed, mobilize membership drives, especially of teenagers and students and their supporters, and to organize and present educational ventures and massive critical response triggered by any threat to its membership.

12. What problem or issue does your idea address? (maximum 150 words)
The isolation of and lack of information available to young people considering conscientious objection; the lack of leveraging of these individual acts of courage, which aggregated, do have the power to impact governments and armies; the need to strengthen and make more readily available a culture of peace and habits of resistance to violence.

13. If your idea were to become a reality, who would benefit the most and how? (maximum 150 words)
Conscientious objectors and their families would gain support, recognition, and safety in numbers; more people might see possibilities for peace and alternatives to war that could save many lives; young people would be recruited to take courageous stands and see that their choices can make a huge difference in their lives and the lives of others.

14. What are the initial steps required to get this idea off the ground? (maximum 150 words)
Set up a website with a number of different kinds of access to allow for outreach and privacy where needed; assemble information and resources to populate the site; disseminate widely and begin registering conscientious objectors, friends and family; assess particular needs of conscientious objectors in particular countries/communities and tailor web resources to them; create strong media relations to assist with individual cases.

15. Describe the optimal outcome should your idea be selected and successfully implemented. How would you measure it? (maximum 150 words)
Thousands of people would be inspired to refuse military service. Conscientious objectors would gain power in numbers and be better able to share their stories. Media would have greater access to stories of war resistance and the on-line community could create a more informed dialogue about methods for war-resistance and an action base in support of peace.
18. If you’d like to recommend a specific organization, or the ideal type of organization, to execute your plan, please do so here. (maximum 50 words)

War Resisters International, in cooperation with other Pacifist organizations doing similar work.

Posted in 10 to the 100th, conscientious objector, draft resistance, faith, google's 10 million, naomi swinton, pacifism, social justice, war and peace, war resisters international, what google got | 5 Comments

swords into war toys

Cut from steel plate. I know, not the best answer. But it’s a start.

Posted in art, conscientious objector, ekphrasis, pacifism, steel sculpture, swords into war toys, vote | Tagged , , , | 2 Comments

Google’s $10 million, revisited

A couple of weeks ago I posted a notice about Google’s 10 to the 100th project. You know, Google’s call for ideas that could change the world and offer to fund the most popular to the tune of $10,000,000. Deadline is Oct. 20. I suggested a collaborative, web-based approach, using this or some other blog to work on ideas collectively. Blog hits went through the roof because of the tags but most had nothing to do with me and since I didn’t get any takers on the idea of a collective project I took the post down. Probably should have left it up but I felt freakily self-conscious about the attention.

The days go by and and I’m thinking, well, you know, I could have thrown out an idea. Just to give people something to start with. What could I come up with if I was trying to think of a project that could change the world in a positive way? Even a little thing. Even an itty-bitty little thing.

Well, I thought of something but kept it to myself except for emailing friends for feedback. I got all jazzed up and then I crashed and now I’m sick of the whole thing and want to drop it. It’s that sense of self-consciousness again, that uncomfortable feeling that I could have kept my mouth shut and let people wonder how dumb I was but no, I had to go and tell them.

This is how I flip flop. Think of something, say it out loud, wish I hadn’t. That’s the flop. The flip side is I know that often the only way to get to the good idea is through the string of half-baked ones. The road to success is through failure, my dad used to say.

So I’m going to do what I thought of originally, post an idea on the blog and ask people to shoot holes in it, offer corrections, refinements, or tell me it’s already been done and suggest I scrap the whole thing and move to something new.

Anyway, here’s the idea. If anyone would like to pick it up and run with it please, feel free. I am still most interested in a collaborative effort.

My idea is to create a web-based global registry for Conscientious Objectors, Pacifists, Refusniks, War Resistors, their families, friends, and supporters; and a Social Networking site along the lines of Facebook, where people could begin to build an international, multi-lingual community in real time, and in real time could talk, correspond, share and compare experiences, educate, etc. They could also respond to threats, intimidation, harassment, and the incarceration of its members, much in the way an event can trigger a massive response from Amnesty International.

This idea came to me because here at UWC-USA (where my wife works and where we live) we are very aware that a recent graduate, Mia Tamarin, an Israeli teenager and a Conscientious Objector, has been jailed in Israel for refusing induction into Israeli compulsory military service. Here at the school we have 200 students, 17 and 18 years old, from 90 something countries. We live in on campus in an incredibly beautiful place with some of the smartest kids in the world. We have kids from all the trouble spots. You name it, they’re here. And once they get here they have to work out their differences or the experience just won’t work. More often than not they come to see themselves as Citizens of the World.

Mia’s experience led her away from seeing the wall dividing the Israelis from the Palestinians and the occupation of Palestine as necessary and good to seeing it as harmful, degrading and in the long run counter-productive to the best interests of Israel. A commitment to Pacifism – to conversation, negotiation and mediation, and to her people was, as far as I know, the basis for her refusal when she graduated and went home. She knew what the consequences of refusing military service would be and prepared herself.

And while perhaps her family would have made other choices, her friends understand and everyone who knows her well recognizes that with this decision she is speaking her truth. People want to help her. Her friends want her actions to help make a difference on a larger level. However, they depend upon an email chain for news and discussion and altogether have no more clout than any other small group of teenagers protesting injustice anywhere.

Since dreaming up this idea of an international registry I have discovered that other organizations have been doing this quite effectively for years:  documenting Pacifism through registration in order to create paper trails for individuals facing hearings; providing trainings, resource materials, links to outside resources and a bulletin board for notices of events, conferences, popular and scholarly articles, and issuing alerts concerning the intimidation, harassment or threats to C.O.s.

In other words, these organizations provide critically needed clearinghouses of information and resources, and all credit goes to them for the courageous work they have been doing for years. But, as far as I can tell they have not yet begun to really tap the potential of the web to explain Conscientious Objection and the Pacifist Movement to the public and to attract individual C.O.s, their families, friends and their supporters, and to give them the tools to build a real-time community of their peers on-line, and help them mobilize membership drives, (especially of teenagers and students and their supporters), and to organize and present educational ventures and massive critical response potential triggered by any threat to its membership.

(Please correct me if you are aware that I am wrong and it seems I am suggesting we re-invent the wheel.)

So I have moved from the idea of creating this organization from the ground up to the idea of proposing inviting the existing organizations to work together to create a central, multi-lingual web-based clearinghouse for all they already offer; to begin to investigate how they might utilize the web to its potential; to become a free hosting service for websites and bloggers, and especially, to establish a real-time on-line community of C.O.s, War Resisters, Refusniks and the like and their families, friends, and committed supporters. Something on the line of facebook but without advertising. Or perhaps to make use of Facebook and all the other social networking services instead of trying to create a new network from scratch.

Well, that about wraps it up. How much would we need from Google to fund this? I don’t know. The cost of a stamp maybe, or a telephone call to someone who could set these ideas in motion. Maybe we don’t need Google at all, just, as Paul says below, their technical expertise and some of their programmers willing to donate their time.

Here is a partial list of existing organizations currently registering C.O.s or providing support. It is a quick list so please email me with others if you know of them . (Or list them in the comments.) If I include Peace Groups there are dozens, hundreds, who knows how many more.

(The organization provides national Conscientious Objector registration and also addresses many other social justice concerns.

This is a registry created by the U.S.- based Peace Abbey in response to the 1st Gulf War. Articles and links and a place to register as a C.O. and begin a paper trail.)


(national Conscientious Objector registration

Here one can register to begin a paper trail and there are many resource links.)


(national conscientious objector registration

draft resistance info and c.o. registration)

war resistors international

Exceptional resource. Founded in 1921. International sections and associations, resources, contact info, international conferences, publications. I could be wrong but at a brief glance it seems to be geared for adults, activists, leaders rather than teens and the individual resistor. War tax resistance resource. Threat alerts.


Amnesty International

globalising nonviolence

The American Friends Service Committee

The Unitarian Universalist Service Committee

The Mennonite Church

United World College

Bartos Institute


and a long list of Peace Groups

Posted in 10 to the 100th, anger management, art, Bartos Institute, callings, changing the world, collaboration, conscientious objector, draft resistance, ekphrasis, faith, google 10 million, making a difference, pacifism, painting, questionable rights of the state, refusniks, swords into war toys, uwc-usa, war and peace, war tax resistance, war toys | 6 Comments

10/16/08 image prompt

I’m actually posting these images on a Thursday, like I said I would. Life gets a little hectic here with a new baby, workaholic parents, a wild 9 year old. Almost 9.

Okay, about the baby. Omygod, what a baby. She is beautiful, with incredible eyes that are open to her soul, maybe beyond. She favors Broadus when he was a baby except that she is delicately formed were he was a great galumpus, so big his cousins called him Bam Bam. She is 3 months old now. Born on the 4th of July. Our Halloween birthday boy is coming up on his 9th birthday. He thinks it is really neat that they both have such interesting, special birthdays. He’s magic and jack-o-lanterns, no fear of witches or things that go bump in the night because that is his domain. She’s fireworks and rockets and sparks, he says, and dotes on her.

So, for an image prompt this week I am putting up a work in progress, a Halloween painting for Broadus. If you find any stories we would love to hear them!

other work in progress

and the wall, the wall, the wall

Posted in ada corinna, art, broadus, children, collaboration, ekphrasis, halloween, image prompts, painting, poetry, Rockheads, stories, storybook collaborative, works in progress | 10 Comments

uwc-usa southwest studies – agua prieta

US/Mexico Border

by Marc Figueras, for the UWC-USA newspaper
followed by notes by Rick

After all the preparations for what was going to be a unforgettable experience in Mexico, Bart, Ditha, Gal, Hickson, Holly, Kwun Kui, Louisa, Nicole, Rayah, Rave, Zipporah and I finally departed at 6 a.m. in the cold of Montezuma’s mornings, destination Agua Prieta, Mexico. We were led by Adriana, Naomi, Rick and their kids, Ada and Broadus. We were accompanied by Logan Bunting-Mock, a hilarious photographer from North Carolina. The bus ride was long and not very exciting in general except for the balloons we could see through the windows of the bus when we passed by Albuquerque. The food was greatly appreciated and very Mexican. Pretty much what we ate every day was rice, tortillas, and beans. We were staying at a community center in this small town. On the first night there, we had empanadas for dinner, prepared by a local family. The father of the family worked in a maquila and lived in a house with no electricity or running water with his wife and two kids. Their house was made of cement blocks and consisted of a dormitory, a bathroom and a small kitchen, all lit by candles. They were very kind and generous and I think the opportunity to talk to them that night was unique for us and for them.

On the next day we woke up early to visit the border in the Sonoran desert. We were accompanied by an organization called Agua por la Vida (Water for Life), which maintains and refills water tanks for migrants on the Mexican side of the border. Around 600 migrants die every year in the desert, mainly because they get lost in the desert or because of dehydration. It was shocking to see the 4-meter-tall wall built by the U.S. to separate them from their neighboring state. We also visited the office of Just Trade coffee in Agua Prieta, where we learned about the processing, the different kinds of coffee and the main issues in the trade. Their coffee is produced in Chiapas, Veracruz and Haiti and most of it is sold in American universities. One of the most interesting activities was working with drug and alcohol addicts in a rehabilitation center called CRREDA in Agua Prieta. We painted the walls of one of the girls’ dormitories and built a new floor for the community space of this center. Some of them were as young as 15 years old but I was surprised to hear them talking so openly about their addictions with us.

I think the most striking experience was volunteering at the Migrant Resource Center. The following account was written by Rick Mobbs, and I think it greatly reflects how shocking this particular experience was for most of us.

….the returning migrants—the returned migrants—straggled into the Agua Prieta Migrant Resource Center in ones and twos, threes, fives, sevens. Weary, dirty, bruised, aching, sad, some in shock, some tearful, all were tired to the bone. These were migrant workers captured in the Arizona desert by the U.S. Border Patrol. They were arrested, booked, processed and held for varying lengths of time. The coyotes, their hired guides, tell their groups to run if confronted, describing the Border Patrol agents as sadistic fiends. These migrants had been caught, and perhaps a lucky thing too, as the desert brings horrible deaths to hundreds and hundreds of migrants every year. Tonight my group of UWC-USA students was? staffing the Center. We had the 9 p.m. to 1 a.m. shift. The regular staffers gave us a half hour briefing and went home, leaving us alone to deal with whomever and whatever showed up.

Our job was to watch for these people and help them if we were able. In their condition they were easy prey for predators, robbers, and rapists. The returning migrants were easy to distinguish from the other pedestrians walking back and forth through the border crossing. We recognized them by their lack of shoelaces. Shoelaces are confiscated by the Border Patrol. We recognized them by their dulled affect and the way they clustered together as they walked, as if for protection and safety. We counted and noted for the record the ones who passed by our open doors without turning, and we waved inside the ones too hungry, scared, sick, exhausted, or defeated to walk farther. For most it was the first time in many days that they could feel safe, hear civil words, tell their stories and be recognized as human beings. Most were cowed, ill from desert exposure and exhaustion, bruised, cut and scraped by stumbling about and falling in the desert at night. We gave them places to sit, brought them steaming coffee, burritos, sandwiches and pastries made by church groups or donated by individuals. We supplied phone cards for them to use to call their families, their husbands and wives, their parents.

The first group of tall/short, light-skinned/dark-skinned, men/women and a child of maybe 9 or 10, arrived penniless and pesoless. They had been robbed twice in the desert by men with guns before being picked up and jailed by the Border Patrol. Between 10 p.m. Friday and 1 a.m. Saturday, 30 or so people straggled in. We lost count of the number who passed on by without stopping. This flow of returnees went on 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, and this is a relatively small town border crossing. Another man, in his 40’s, thin, so thin and pinched, came in just as we were closing. His group had been robbed by men with pistols before they even got to the border. Fifteen of them were made to lie down and were systematically robbed of all their valuables. This man had been across before and knew to take only a few dollars, but others in the group were carrying $300 with them. He said the coyote set them up but wouldn’t admit it, and afterwards everyone walked across with him anyway. After walking two nights and sleeping in the day to avoid being seen, they were spotted by a helicopter and arrested by the Border Patrol. I asked him where he was trying to go. He said, “Texas”. I asked if anything good had ever happened in Texas. He smiled and said, “My wife.”

Three other women were also in the Center, part of another group picked up in the desert. One of those women had sent her three year old son through the border with fake papers, in the care of a couple with legal documents and with a plan to rendezvous in Phoenix.  When she was picked up and returned to Mexico, she lost contact with the couple with her baby and, in any case, didn’t have another $2,500 to pay to have the baby brought back through the border and returned to her. She stayed in the Center until we locked up at 1:30 a.m., at which point we gave her a ride to a cheap hotel on a dusty, unpaved section of Avenida 1 near Calle 7. She didn’t know how she was going to reach her baby. Before getting out of the car she cried and asked us if we would find the child in Phoenix. She had the address. I told her I would meet her the next day at noon with Naomi or Adriana Botero, the vice-president of UWC-USA, who was a member of our group and a native Spanish speaker.

On the way home, in a lull in the conversation about the woman, I said, “Yes, but what would Jesus do?” The kids fell absolutely silent until they realized I was kidding. The laughter broke the spell of despair. But the question resonated with me and maybe with them. Thoughts of the woman and the child were with me all night.

Posted in agua prieta, an embarassment of riches, art, border issues, despair, faith, illegal immigration, immigration issues, mexican border, migrant resource center, migrant workers, race in america, southwest studies, stories, the wall, uwc-usa, why does good change take so long?" | 5 Comments

the mad celt asks

“Historically, the conquest destroyed the outward form of what had already inwardly decayed; it cleared away with regrettable brutality and thoroughness a system of life which, with all its gifts of order, culture, and law, had worn itself into senile debility, and had lost the powers of regeneration and growth.”

-Will Durant
(on the decline of the Byzantine Empire, The Story of Civilization, Volume IV)

The Mad Celt asks…What forms of conquest do YOU think the U.S. is succumbing to? Are they outer forces, inner forces, both? What, if anything, can we do about it? Discuss.

the above from CELTUS LUNATICUS

‘America’s main export is envy.” Used to be, anyway. On a national level I think our downfall was written in our hubris and hypocrisy, our ruthless death-dealing, our arrogant policy-making, our addiction to getting our way, our rationalizations and self-justifications. It was written in hidden motives and in our denial of truth and responsibility. It was written in our unwillingness to confer human status – and human rights – where it did not suit us. Power and strength have corrupted us. These are human faults and foibles, not limited to Americans, and lie in wait for every individual and society but they are most readily recognized in the strong, for the unchecked display the wildest excesses.

How far will we fall? I dunno. I think it is true we are a divided society and that our cognitive dissonance is building. Perhaps a bottom is coming. But then we still have to do something with it, make something positive and creative out of the ashes. We have a little window of opportunity here. If we bounce right back we’ll probably lose it.

“We have met the enemy and they are us.” as Pogo used to say.

Posted in art, character studies, mad celt, poetry, quesrtionable rights of the state, works in progress | 4 Comments

10/9/08 image prompt, a poem, and marcia abigail ryder

We’ll call this painting this week’s image prompt. I’m in Agua Prieta, Mexico, on the border with Arizona with a group of UWC-USA students who are doing a week-long Border Issues study. Internet is sketchy so while I have it I’ll say a few things, but first a picture and then a poem. More about Border Issues in another post.


Poem for the Family

What so deeply underlies our baseline conceptions that fathom weights turn in circles and loops, like one who seeks hope in the ocean, swimming in waters far beyond waters we know? What overarches our thinking from such a far distance we can only guess… Maybe…. as above, so below?   What holds us here like the unknown unseeable holds the mosaic total?

Father swings through the trees, he wrestles crocodiles, white men, personal demons. I see a small jewel – green hills and blue ocean – rotating inside the compass of heaven. Fine silver threads in circles and spirals, fractured pinpoints of gold, ruby and emerald hang in a canopy of velvet. The absence of light does not equal darkness, sight shatters on far-away anvils and leaves hammer shards, finally silent.

Through transparent eyelids I watch a sandstorm cover the sun. Twilight rides not on light but whips around from darkness, a rude wind marshaling vast killing wings. Between sight and knowing are clear jelly curtains and outside, the mean blur of teeth. The wind is an iron-framed plow, a rusty, steaming, oil -flecked  stallion with shoes of blue steel, throwing up sand, clacking, spitting and clattering. It is a torn accordion,

wheezing and whistling, entropy compressed and then tortured through ripped leather fittings. The wind hits the dunes with cutting fists of diamond. It is here that my mother nurses her husband. She waits down the wind, the triumph of darkness, the blowing sand peeling skin, carving bones. The wind grinds the rocks down. Mother swings Father onto the wind and leaps on behind him. She seizes a good night not to go

gentle in and leans to the stallion’s ear hissing: is this the worst you can do, evil thing?  A maniac riding a maniac wind, heels hard in his ribcage, fists in his mane, holding a man who is dying. She drives her heels in and spurs the wind on, into the well of souls that they came from. The wind sends it’s unrest, it’s hornets and locusts but nothing remains here to kill or consume except death, and death is dying. Time has unrolled

to its end over nothing and no new myth comes. No milk streams through space from her breasts, no planets or galaxies spring from her forehead or anus and he’s just crazy, with crazy thoughts, like: the son beside the elephant is so small, yet the elephant obeys him. Higher now than she has ever been, she holds her husband through the driest time. The black wings of another wind sweep down around them.

The ground turns upside down and vanishes. The stars take their place in the sand. Silence and stillness replace sound and movement and now the unteaching, in earnest, begins.


I wrote this poem when my father was dying. I am posting it now because it came to mind as I was thinking about the recent passing of my friend, Marcia Ryder.

Marcia Abigail Ryder, 1952 – 2008.

Marcia was a native of Wellfleet Mass, a ninth generation Cap Codder. She was a painter, a ceramic and enamel artist, a sailor, gardener, art teacher, wife, daughter, sister, friend. She was married to Roger Cole. She died April 1 of this year.

I never thought I would be writing this. I knew Marcia since high school where she was a year behind me and oh so far ahead. I used to check in with her once or twice a year but have been out of touch for these last years and just now when I was looking on the web to see if I could find a current email address I found instead that she had died. This is so sad. Marcia seemed to be made of light. She was a lifelong beacon and inspiration to me and probably to many others.

In high school we had the same tuned-in art teacher, Marcia Sewall, who inspired us to both to careers in the arts. I bumbled my way into mine. Marcia took a more direct route, maybe knowing from the start that she was born to be an artist and a teacher. She taught art in the Kittery, Maine school system for 28 years. She touched and brightened the lives of I don’t know how many kids and teens and grown-ups. I can’t begin to describe her grace and humor, the beauty she radiated and she found in nature and in the people around her.

This picture prompt does not do her justice but it is one of the ones that stands out for me tonight. I hope your week is a good one. Goodnight, Marcia Ryder.

Posted in art, cape cod, ekphrasis, friendshp, image prompts, kittery maine, love, marcia abigail ryder, painting, picture prompts, poetry, roger cole, storybook collaborative, teaching art, walking on water, wellfleet mass, winchester high school | 11 Comments

10/3/08 day late image prompt

Oops. It’s been a topsy turvy week. I apologize to those who have sent work in that I have not yet put up. I’ll try to post it later today or tomorrow. In the meantime, here is something Broadus and I started in the Spring that we are just getting back to. I don’t know if it is finished, but I am ready to be done with it. Remember when you are looking for stories here that this is a collaboration with an eight year old, one who will be nine on Halloween. One who continues to lead me. Best wishes for a great week.

. fecundity-at-play, from Glenn Buttkus, creator of bibliosity

and in case you are interested in where these things come from, here is a studio view of works in progress…

Posted in art, broadus aurelius, collaboration, ekphrasis, image prompts, painting, poetry, stories, storybook collaborative, works in progress | 9 Comments

it’s true

I just get better and better looking. Thanks, Virginia Jones, for sending this little portrait, a memento of our Grand Canyon rafting trip. Photo by Mike Jones or Liz Willey.

In the beginning, when we were still made of mud, and pieces of ourselves were always falling off, it was necessary to live close to water. Running water was best. Still water makes smelly mud, and we would be too easily stalked if we were to leave smelly droppings as we walked to and fro across the earth. Red mud was the best of all, because it was the oldest, ground from the most ancient stone to the finest dust and therefore an aid to memory, for we were an old people, the oldest people, and too easily did we forget our origins. We saw that often, especially upon the veldt but also far to the arid, mudless north. Straggling remnents of once vital families and strong tribes, mud slatherings fallen away, soft skin the color of sand, dry grass, dark water, shadow, or the clouds at sunset; peppered with bug bites and burned by the sun and worst of all, no memory of who they were, where they came from, how they came to be, and no idea of where they were going. Sad people with vacant eyes, lost in the bewilderness, but lessons to us all.

Posted in liz willey, mike jones, mud people, portraits, virginia jones | 11 Comments

summer 2

Like the moon she swims in darkness.
She gives, and only hands can block her gifts.
She wraps herself in blues and greens
and tastes of loam and snow, of marmalade
and rolling thunder.
Summer hides within the everglades with her,
and plays upon her belly.

But Summer’s knees are getting older now,
older as the rocking earth a slower,
slower movement makes.

She sleeps, and quiet trees and green birds
with eyes like conduits to god record and watch
the burst with which, too late,
summer struggles to be free,
and gasping, drowns in autumn.

Posted in art, autumn, ekphrasis, fall, line break puzzle, poetry, summer, the 4 seasons, the four seasons | 4 Comments

9/24/08 image prompt

A day early but I’ll be out of town tonight (off to Santa Fe to hear Isabel Allende with my son, Broadus, who loves her children’s stories, and a van full of international students from UWC-USA). And besides, this is one of the paintings I am currently working on. I’m interested to see what you see in this work-in-progress. Best wishes for a great, productive, safe, happy week.

through a haze, by lirone

Domesticity, by Tiel Aisha Ansari

Is it Teeth? from Callie Guerin

Someday, by Guatami Tripathy

Equus Aethereus, by Glenn Buttkus

Give Up, by Noah the Great

Posted in art, ekphrasis, image prompts, isabel allende, painting, poetry, stories, storybook collaborative, supernatural bridge, Uncategorized, works in progress | 13 Comments


Posted in art, hope, poetry, race in america, stand up, stupid war, vote | 14 Comments

9/18/08 image prompt

This image was inspired by the spirited freedom always evident in the artwork produced by my son, Broadus. If a dragon needs four eyeballs, or double jaws, or teeth in its belly he does not hesitate to add them. It is also inspired by the stupid war, obviously. Let’s hope it is brought to a peaceful conclusion soon. It also kinda naturally follows the last post, 9/11 angels and demons…

And here is the first collaborative effort. (You guys are quick! This image hasn’t been up but an hour or two!)

. Dragon’s Lament, by Tiel Aisha Ansari, author of Knocking From Inside

. Courage, from noah the great, author of noahthegreat!

Posted in art, broadus, collaboration, ekphrasis, image prompts, painting, poetry, quesrtionable rights of the state, stories, storybook collaborative, stupid war, tell us a story!, the children's hour | 5 Comments

9/11/angels and demons

Another day, and my small town sings into a gray morning.
The clouds hang low, walking slowly eastward on bound feet;
their feathered skins and souls are wrapped in old newspapers,
damp straw, cotton from the fields to westward; they are bound
with rubber bands and orange twine, now gray and rotten.


No drum rolls herald the approach of war. War came like sudden
summer thunder, jumping full blown out of nothing. No preliminaries,
no undercurrents, no premonitions, just sudden bangs to startle
sleeping dogs and children to frightened wakefulness and howling.


I jumped up, too. I caught my bearings, calmed the dogs, calmed
the children, sent them back to dreaming. Concussions shook the house
and lightening flashed and filled the windows. The air around the building
shook with sudden apparitions as angels spilled from books older than the bible.
Leather pages drifted down.


So many wings beating around the house. Flocks of bright wings swirl
with wings of demons and all are howling.  Where was the calm
proceeding the storm? The end of time had raced to catch its breath here,
only to be overwhelmed and beaten down. There was nothing I could do
but watch. I tuck the children in again, calm them down, speak to the dogs,
hold their eyes, scratch their chins, and send them also back to sleeping.


The noise awakens Judith, she who sleeps through anything.
“Go back to sleep,” I say, “It’s nothing.”


She trusts me, she covers her white breasts again, rolls over on her side.
The crackling lightening flashes from the storm light the still landscape of her
shoulder, her hip, her thigh. I see (and love) the curved white meadows
in between, where we play our highland games. They are moonlit highland
home to generations.


How many? I have lost count. I see stars shine through
her body now. The milky way curls twice and then dissolves.


I have traded in my guns and knives for paint and brushes.
I love the fight. Beyond all other passions, I love the fight.
The truth is simple: I love the killing. There is no joy quite like
the joy of knowing death’s sure end awaits the one,
or the other, and races quickly towards the harvest with
open hands for gathering.


But who wins, really? Joy may be found in killing, but life?
And then the joy goes dim.


Lifetime after lifetime we reach first for mother’s milk, and second,
for the nearest weapon. And do it again and again,
until we grow sick of blood and tired from killing
and lay our  weapons down and walk away from them.


Do others follow? Do we call out to them,
“Lay your weapons down and cease from killing!”


No. It does no good it does no harm it does nothing.
We do not applaud we do not ignore them.
Instinctively we protect our own. While I breathe
no harm will come to Judith, or the children, or the dogs,
or the friends; but only because I can defend them without force
or threat of arms. I will their defense, they suffer my protection.


The instinct is built in. Perhaps a later life will find me
releasing will, as well as weapons.


Time has concluded her return. Now it begins again.
Angels and demons swirl around some other house.
They flatten cities, they flatten townships. Their spittle
and their frenzy, their deployed legions are herds of pigs
I run from cliffs. I do not need or want them. The low clouds
of the morning, gray and close above this small town, are
prisoners of war, bootless, chained; prisoners of desire, rage,
and longing. They trudge east into darkness beneath a brilliant
orange rising sun.


Wake up, children. Rise and shine.
The day awaits. Morning is breaking.

Posted in art, poetry, prose poem, stories, stupid war, waking dream | 10 Comments

openhand’s story

.the dragon prince

Mister Openhand, I think maybe it would be okay to quit your day job.

Posted in art, birth, ekphrasis, image prompts, myths, openhand, painting, poetry, stories, the children's hour | 6 Comments

9/11/08 image post

Maybe someone can find a story here? Or a poem? This painting belongs to Broadus, and he would like a story, please. It’s almost bedtime.

Sept. 11, 2008 image prompt

. The Dragon Prince, by Openhand

. A Not-story, by Z (distillation infusion)

. Sailing Sunsets, by Angelica

. Night’s Invitation, by Pamela Olsen (coosacreek – amputated)

. Under the Big Top, by Tiel Aisha Ansari

. A Friend Told Me, by Annie Burie

. Dragons Descending, by Glenn Buttkus

Posted in art, callings, ekphrasis, image prompts, painting, poetry, stories, storybook collaborative | 15 Comments

the dream of the sailor

The black cats arrange themselves in pairs by starlight,
on polished black marble by a black lapping sea.
They bow to each other — yes, they stand upright —
and wait till the band leader clicks, one, two, three….
The dance begins gracefully, with great formality,
under the stars, on polished black marble, by the sea.

Where are the trees? There are no trees,
only shadows between stars
and the rising sigh.
This is the dream of a sailor
alone in a small boat,
asleep under canvas
on a calm, endless sea.

The wind takes a photograph from his fingers.
The ocean erases a name from his memory.

Posted in art, dream of the sailor, is this love?, love, poetry, stories, waking dream | 9 Comments

stolen poem

Early Naomi but still a fave. It is sometimes hard to get back to poetry if one is really good at grant writing, speaking, facilitation and training, strategic planning, community organizing and the like. But sometimes I wonder who is more likely to move the world, the community organizer, or the poet?

Old Man comes back from the sea
ready for hot baths and baseball on the radio
ready for a companion, not too much company
likes perishable foods and souffles.

He sits on the porch and plays with the dial
Doesn’t see the sun up or down, just the stadiums
broadcast from Chicago, New York, Seattle
The crack of the bat on ball and the stands full of fans

He won’t drink beer anymore, reminds him too
much of the fish. Likes the Chinese take out 3 miles
away, if he times it right he can get egg foo young
and only miss half an inning. Laundry needs to be

done, so do the taxes, though really, does the government
give a damn about him? He dreams of water, swallowing
up the ocean and the world it contains in his belly.
He snores and starts when he wakes, wondering at the

steadiness of the bed. His skin gets pale, and his legs
a little skinnier. In August a navy buddy passes through on
a visit, travelling with a widowed sister-in-law. They all get
along fine, but it is the announcers who keep the Old Man’s

attention, who make his mind jump and his body remember
youth. Sun on the face and shoulders of that young body,
a craving for details and description, an inability to rest and wait,
a hunger and speed and desire he can watch now like a movie

but which eludes him, doesn’t want to be him anymore. He loved words
when he first got a sense of himself, love the names of things, the making
of sense and object and relationship where before was just being.
The great being of the sea made words small nonsense, but

just the same he always took poetry with him to read to the waves.
Poetry and baseball and sex and restaurants: what else do we have
to rudder with, what other anchors have made peace in modernity?
He has another smoke. The need for words to recognize, to say, to populate

and mark. The craving for understanding and pattern and history,
and wanting grandchildren without children, stories without endings,
menus and maps without meals or direction. The sea comes up to his bed
at night and the fish are swimming on without him, no one else catches them any

more. They are happy he has baseball and aftershave commercials and they
want him to feel rich and virile without working his nets, without the salt
and sand and stretch of early days spent fishing. They don’t say anything
and his dreams usually turn to port, to farmland, to hardware, somewhere else,

somewhere he hasn’t been and won’t be going, something he isn’t.
He closes up the porch and he house and pulls on boots and leaves in
October, walks and then rides a bus to New York City, rents a room at the
Methodist Yachtsman’s Hostel and says hello to the fellows at the bar.

He buys a baseball hat and shirt and logs on to sail for Amsterdam but
finds himself instead up all night gambling and then in a car with
a woman driving to Fort lauderdale, listening to shag music on the radio and
stopping to pee behind gas stations and eating steak and potatoes once

a day at chain restaurants that get cheaper the farther South they go.
He’s drawing down his pension but who cares. Baseball is between
him and this woman, there isn’t much else to talk about, the words he had
when he was at sea don’t come into play very much here. Who ever

heard of Neruda, who wouldn’t laugh if he started to describe his love
for the green structure of leaves revealed by an easy tear but then magnified
by the scale and pattern of trees, his anger with the taxi drivers who
spoke so many more languages than he could and seemed to him like urban

sailors with words available, part of the trade, it made him jealous and sad,
what use were poems for a divorced woman with three kids she didn’t
know where and clothes that fit okay, lipstick that she liked and a matter
of fact plan for everything, from rest stops to handling strangers to

arriving alive on the other side. Poems were better kept private;
you couldn’t tune them in on the radio and shut out the rest of the
world and share the excitement of 100,000 others breathing and watching
what will the pitch be how will they call it what word is next to truly say

how it is to make us remember this moment forever. No chance, no
dice, better to just drive and leave the rest behind. Once they arrived in
Florida they said goodbye after she took him to a hotel and he sat
listening to the radio, fully dressed and uninterested in her lying

naked in bed. She owed him fifty dollars for gas in the end but what
did he care, really, the trip was a bargain, he walked out doors and
looked at the little lizards running up the white wall. She reminded him
of circus people, funny but very practical, hard hit but always moving.

The quiet knowledge of words and sea wouldn’t leave him alone, he couldn’t just see and breathe his mind made rhythms and questions and names and rhymes and just kept holding on when his heart couldn’t do it, never had, it was the words he loved but nothing else satisfied, why had he taken them all to sea all

alone? A whole life spent with tides and stanzas and now a waiting
with no breaks, no meter, innings and half time and batter up just a long enough substitute to help him forget what he wanted so he could get on with the eating and sleeping still on his plate. Some sports might have the complexity

and assurance of words, the predictability and surprise of the sea, the hope and naivete of poems, but he hadn’t found them yet. The farm teams let him watch, and he stayed on for the season.

naomi swinton

Posted in art, baseball, callings, naomi swinton, old man and sea, poetry, stories, the writing life | 11 Comments

saturday night in the big city

Once I saw a seed gone bad,
a twisted, tortured face it had,
its roots and voice were trapped inside,
life would never break through here;
tomorrow would wait forever.

It was a futile, little, budless thing,
full of sadness, hopeless,
abandoned by its maker.
It’s she who weeps beside you now
and shrieks
and scares the birds and squirrels
and bites the children who used to climb upon her.

There’s one who watches
from a distance
her insanity, his persistence,
helpless as a man
who’s lost his hands
and shattered, shattered,
shattered by the bitter taste of
mildew in the seedbins,
in the corn and acorn
and in the arms and under
the sway and shadow
of an old oak tree

Posted in art, poetry, stories | 6 Comments



Winter comes. The leaves must bind their thoughts
to now, or too soon leave the branch.

Well, indeed…

Where is my commitment? Placed in overlays?
One facing forward and beneath that,
one facing back?
One fine and bright but beneath
are winter’s trees and rocks,
winter’s shadows, winters tracks?
I am the only life here.
Winter says, “Don’t go.”
I say I must.

She plays her light for all she’s worth.
Her clothes of ice and crystal
mesmerize, and my eyes flicker.
She fascinates, she changes shape,
she weaves and draws and her snakes sleep
but she never, never, ever does.
She’s another, other, thing, entirely…


Hands build, slam boards together,
hammer, hammer and all the woods
and the woods’ tall gods watch,
mouths iced over, eyes aglitter,
snapping tight to never-was, almost,
when at some whisper those hands stop,
drop boards, clench hammers.

The man straightens, turns to face her
feels terror between heartbeats enter.
Winter makes Her presence felt, and neuters.
All contracts, signed, on file in Memphis
as of this moment, null
as of this moment, void
the boards, the lumber pile,
the pick-up truck can go to hell.

Her face shows now, she snarls,
her lips crack and avalanche
and earthquake tell
no wrath hath Hell, like Winter.
No face, like hers unmasked.

(Across the valley a churchbell tumbles,
church blood freezes, church feet stumble)

You should not have looked.
You should have stayed asleep.

You could have trusted me too see you safely into Spring…

the breath is drawn from me

…YOU KNOW TOO MUCH!! She screamed.


Now, in this rooming house in Memphis,
summer outside, summer in.
Bare walls, and bare bulb’s brilliance
black and purple paint my windows.

She’ll come again. She’ll shatter them.
She’ll take this ceiling, pull the plaster,
pull the lattice till the walls burst
at her sudden, measured, focused vacuum
but I’ll be gone.
She got the man downstairs last night,
tomorrow she’ll get John.

If I didn’t have the Sight, the gift
that came to me the night she turned,
I’d lie here, I’d watch tv. I’d be a part
of foolish life and foolish art.
I’d talk of other things than endings.

But I am hers, as all are.
I speak to measure time,
to pull and stretch it.
If it knots when I drop it
someone else
will have to shake
the kinks out.

Posted in memphis, poetry, stories, Uncategorized, winter | 19 Comments

9/4/08 image prompt

Wanted to call it, “Bruno Goes To War”, but that’s not really what it’s about. So, for lack of a title I’ll just call it “The Fight”.

Have fun with it. Next week I’ll get back to, heck, I don’t know. This week the kid in the ring is on my mind.

(In “catagories”I checked “race in america” without thinking, but I think I’ll leave it. Hope to hear from you. Have a great week.)

Posted in anger management, art, ekphrasis, image prompts, law, painting, poetry, race in america, stories, storybook collaborative, Uncategorized, vegetarian pacifist boxers | 3 Comments

will scarlet’s feud

The Kid has a blog. Will Scarlet’s Feud. He is telling stories and, chip off the old block, he is collecting stories. Any kind of story, it seems, and from anyone, as long as it is from personal experience. He has started a story chain, the linkages being story, to story, to story, without explanation (or apology). Knowing him I imagine he’ll make the rules up as he goes. So if you have an experience to relate, a story to tell, or a memory to release, there is a place to do it.

And a right pleased and happy pappy I am to announce it. Yep, the secrets out. I’m an old guy, and the Young Turk is right on my heels. We made a pact, years ago, that if I would run ahead of him when he started feeling restless, and sprinkle instant monsters for him to take on in to-the-death-single-combat, he wouldn’t put me in A Home. At least, not until later. (And then only if he could catch me.) The instant monsters serve the pupose of keeping him from unleashing his awsome, restless, destructive potential upon the world. (See, Killer in the Ring. Also Roger Zelazny) He thinks the threat of the Home keeps me on my toes. Keeps me young. He doesn’t know about the volcano.

So, check out Will Scarlet’s Feud, and tell Bruno a story.

Posted in #1 son, #2 son, art, broadus aurelius, law, poetry, politics, stories, vegetarian pacifist boxers, will scarlet's feud | 1 Comment

Praise, pepek the assassin

hmmm… can’t seem to let this one go. Joyce (pepek) has changed a line in her poem, Praise, written to accompany the image below. I am posting both versions below. Would love to hear your response to the change…

. praise, by joyce davis (pepek the assassin) version 1

,. praise by joyce davis (pepek the assassin) version 2 – you choose

Posted in art, callings, collaborative storybook, ekphrasis, image prompts, joyce ellen davis, painting, pepektheassassin, poetry, stories | 17 Comments

8/28/08 image prompt

supernatural bridge (red shoes)

supernatural bridge (red shoes)


4′ x 3′ approx. mixed media on linen. This picture came out of another time. It grew out of a loose scumble of color on the back of a piece of printed upholstery fabric. The fabric was a fine English linen & cotton blend, a floral print and the colors that bled through to the back were subtle and beautiful earth tones – ochers, umbers, siennas – and and soft grey-greens and muted rose colors. I wish I could find more.

I unrolled the bolt of material (about 4′ by 30′) along the city sidewalk and used large pieces of charcoal to pick up impressions from cracked and broken sections, marking out rectangles for approximate image sizes as I went. Then I stapled the 30 foot run down one studio wall. (I worked and lived in what had once been a union hall.) The charcoal rubbings acted as image prompts and I used charcoal, pastels and then paint to gradually bring out the suggested shapes and figures. Sometimes two blocked out rectangles grew together and I would end up with something like this. When I finished I cut out the pictures and stretched them individually. I got seven or eight paintings out of the bolt of material. This one belongs to Carol Roberts. It went to a good home.

I did name it but never did get around to the story. See it in there, anyone?

Well, yes. You saw several. Pretty quickly, too.

. Ada’s Adventure, by Glenn Buttkus

. Water Girl, by Tiel Aisha Ansari

. annunciation, by lirone

. Dancing by lirone

. Goody Two Shoes, by Why Paisley

. Trying to Find Meaning, by Gautami Tripathy

. I’ve tricked your vision; I’ve jaded your sight, by CordieB

. Storyteller, by Nicole Nicholson

also, to go with the prompt of 7/31/08

. i see a raven in the sky, by cheong lee san ( dsnake1 )

. Soaked, by Noah the Great

Posted in art, callings, carol roberts, egnima, ekphrasis, image prompts, painting, poetry, red shoes, storybook collaborative, supernatural bridge | 18 Comments

this is the post that opened the storybook

I am catching up here, having been distracted by some 8 weeks on a film crew, and having a baby (well, Naomi had the baby. At home! Welcome, Ada Corinna Meridian Swinton!), followed by driving a moving truck 2000 miles from NC to NM (Janet and Spence’s, Naomi’s parents, have joined us here in NM. Yeaaa!!!), followed by 10 days on a father and son adventure, 8 days of which was spent whitewater rafting down the Colorado River through the Grand Canyon!

So, no wonder the blog is so disorganized. I want to sincerely thank everyone who has been involved and supported this project. If you do not see your name in the Bloogerroll please understand we are still catching up here. Weebles. I like that word. Thanks, Amuirin!

F.Y.I., here is the first contribution to the storybook collaborative, way back in February of ’08:

little monster hatching, looking around and saying, “Oh, my God…”

(from 2/3/08 post) “…I had reservations about the poem I matched with the painting here and so took it down. So, in the spirit of collaboration, if you, or you and your kids, or your kids, or anyone else would like to offer poems, captions or stories to accompany this picture I will submit them to the committee (Broadus and Naomi) and we will publish them here…”

I believe that this invitation was the beginning of the storybook. Expalla took me up on it and wrote:

There was no denying the look in her eye
she loved him more than she realized
his trip to Oz would be long and trying
but she knew he would return
with the heart ,brains , and courage
her little monsters would need to survive.

by xpalla

Posted in Ada Swinton, alice o'leary, art, art for film and tv, big-time collaboration, Broadus Mobbs, callings, collaborative storybook, damn cat, ekphrasis, friendshp, Grand Canyon, image prompts, making up stories, myths, naomi swinton, painting, picture prompts, poetry, stories, storybook collaborative, tell us a story!, who the heck is alice?, with ah! bright wings, xpalla | 3 Comments

new writing / catching up!

. Here is Grand Canyon, a poem from Tiel Aisha Ansari, creator of the blog, knocking from inside. The poem is from her 3 trips to the Grand Canyon and accompanies this week’s image.

. And flesh and rock, from Lirone, of words that sing.

. Glenn Buttkus wrote sentinel. His blog is bibliosity/feel free to read.


naomi, broadus & ada, day 1

naomi, broadus & ada, day 1

on ada’s arrival, by openhand


. From randy pepper, (better late than never), my four sisters from the prompt below:

my four sisters

my four sisters


. From Jason Bruno, who knows whereof he speaks: MORGAN

. Boxing out, from the rambling of angelica

. and from noah the great, of noahthegreat, Worry

. Glenn Buttkus wrote Fist of Dreams

Posted in art, collaboration, collaborative storybook, ekphrasis, footprint of the creator, geology, Grand Canyon, image prompts, myths, painting, picture prompts, poetry, Rockheads, Uncategorized, works in progress | Leave a comment