May 2002 [Home]

Tom McCarthy

My Garage
         Point Richmond
Reflections of Three Small Skiffs on Water
         View of Rocks By the Sea
El Dorado National Forest, No. 3
         Light on the Land

~ . ~

My Garage

          Louis Siegriest, 1921

purple walls brown facade
red trees green leaves
blue windows
lavender door says come on in
mango melon vanilla yard
split-level garage bravely standing
storing the blazing paintings
he finally despaired of and burned
turning the yard permanently
brighter than the floodlights of Hades
the way he paints the countryside
stroking the flames as pigment
turning the bright landscapes
into ashes yes
but coating the world with
a luminescent swirling smoke

~ .

Point Richmond

          Maurice Logan, 1927

Red orange and yellow hills
muscle up to the E-shaped bayshore
pushing the bent shacks
into the drink like
a dog scraping off fleas
down left
canvas appears as blue
melts away offshore
picture lifts off the surface
thick slabs of yellow paint
pile up
the whole area a heaving
geologic process of color

~ .

Reflections of Three Small Skiffs on Water

          August Gay, 1935

dark dank stippled river water
line of chemical green trees stand
and lean along the far bank
pink trunks twist in the heat
gunwales bleed into ripples
along the surface of
fast running water
relentless current knocking
the red boats against each other
yank the tie lines knotted on the pilings
and pull them blindly away

~ .

View of Rocks By the Sea

          Maurice Logan, ca. 1926

bulldog's chin
of desert rocks
beating back the sea
red streaked blue sea
with relentless hard dry
a tempered yellow and brown
scorched by fog
yet resolute against full water
stubborn stone
while sloping blue hills
that have given up the fight
fade away in the background

~ .

El Dorado National Forest, No. 3

          Marv Johnson, 1998

"A friend gave me a gift certificate so I
got all these brand new tubes of paint."
Skipped the brushes and took the tubes
in his fist directly to the canvas.
"They call it texture, but I think
it's chunky, swirly and thick."
Trees marched up a rocky ridge
branches curling over boulders flowing
under a grey-beard, tough-guy sky.
"A long way from Pierce Point, from the
seamless brushwork, but this is more of
what I make of what I see, now."
Impeccable moustache floats above his smile
he dodges at the painting hung low on
the white wall below big reddish rocks
his new sneakers squeak on the
cleanest studio floor in all of art.
"I used to meditate, and paint and paint
and paint. Now I simply trust instead."
The blue sky behind the grubby clouds
is the same blue of my old pickup truck
weirdest color ever on a pickup but
the attempt here makes harshly clear why
this sky we should see more of more often.

~ .

Light on the Land

           Crossing IV, Nila Rusnell Oakes. Oil on board, 16x72

Well it's raining like hell
20 miles east of here, black clouds
dragging grey skirts along
the highway empty and flat
sort of goes that way, and back
maybe hailstones the size of apples
this time, but over here, west
partly cloudy and the sun is warm
but the wind it
feels a little heavy and damp
change is going to come along
pretty quick
does in such a big place
the ceiling is awful low here
yeah, the prairie is so flat
you naturally want to stay low.

(Tom McCarthy's poems have apeared in California Quarterly, Poetry Motel, Smartish Pace and Green Fuse, among others. Poems on paintings have appeared in Puckerbrush Review and Ekphrasis. He lives in San Francisco.)