New Art Direction

Cherry Blossom

Cherry Blossom

I started a new approach with mandalas this year. The art is more representational rather than the geometric abstracts I have been doing. My cousin Vince, who is also an artist (great wildlife: see http://vincepagliaroli.vpweb.com) categorized them as Zen/Almish/New Wave/Retro. I guess that means it’s hard to say what they are! In designing them I begin with some familiar image and go from there. I love making them as it is a meditation for me that quiets my busy mind. I am not a draftsman or illustrator and they all have a primitive look to them. The medium is ink and markers on Bristol board. The colors are a little more vivid than shown. To see more examples, go to http://MarieTaylorArt.wordpress.com and click on “New Mandalas” on the top menu bar.

After the Storm

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On the second day after the storm
that drove the rain
in slanting horizontal bands
outside the window,
all is calm.

The creek whose waters
ran up and over its banks
to touch the brim of the gully
in which it resides, is now confined
and at peace.

The trees which bowed beneath
the power of the wind,
branches kneeling in submission,
now stand straight, limbs glistening
with kisses of small green buds.

The birds which were absent
from telephone lines and trees
now emerge singing
from bushes to preen their feathers
in the watery sunshine.

Dandelions are now scattered,
like a broken necklace,
across the chartreuse grass
while the dark pines, aloof,
look on.

The sky wears pale blue
on its cheeks and now smiles lightly
at passers-by who wear hats
and walk briskly and breathe deeply
in this chill February air.

Waiting for the Storm

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We have been forewarned,
and this morning await inches
of drought-quenching rain.

The weekend, they say,
will have little sunshine
as rivers and streams and fields

gulp down this manna from heaven.
The morning sky is sullen,
bruised with blotchy greys.

Traveling north and east,
the wind is spoiling for a fight
like a young man hopped up on beer

and cigarettes and the smiles of a sexy girl.
The spring trees sporting white and pink
blossoms, two, three, four weeks

ahead of season may be stripped
of their finery before day’s end.
The neighborhood cat who stops by each morning

for a quick breakfast has already come
and gone, his patchy grey and white coat
reflecting the sky above.

The air is damp with bone-aching coolness
as I sit near the window and look out,
heating pad alternating between knees and shoulder.

The sky grows dark, a rumble and growl
of thunder, until one, then two rain drops fall,
announcing the imminent arrival of the storm king.

Art show coming up

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Three of my pieces will be in an art show next week at a local city hall. The exhibition theme is “Nature” and this show is not juried, there is no entry fee and no 50% commission. Naturally, I liked the price. Here are the three I entered. They are smaller – about 8 x 10 unframed. Also below, I have been playing with some new designs for mandalas. These are more freeform and less abstract.

Thanks for stopping by.

Mid-January Morning

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Readers have asked me why my poems  are usually limited to what I see at the park – too much of a “sameness.”

I used to write poetry as a means of expressing my thoughts or opinions, purging deep emotions, telling my stories. Now I rarely get into philosophical discussions, describe the turbulence of life and relationships, make reference to current socio-political situations or injustices, or make comments of a personal nature. What poetry I write now is a by-product of sitting quietly and writing down my observations – very visual, very factual without much recourse to any ‘story’ behind what I see.

I am trying to disappear as a poet, as a presence in the poem – maybe exist as sort of an eye relating what is seen. Why? Because I am tired listening to and recording my thoughts – which often/always revolve around what I think, what I feel, what I want, my past, my future, me, me, me, etc., etc., ad infinitum. If I restrict myself to the visual, the constant chatter of the mind subsides and I feel peaceful. I now leave it to the reader to supply any story line or to give any meaning to the experience.

Here is what was seen the other day. Thanks for visiting.

Mid-January morning,
fog and dew burned away,
reveals a scattering of tiny suns
in the grass – dandelions.

Damp air
filled with the scent of clay and chlorophyll
and the endless twittering of unseen birds,
curls around oak’s gnarly limbs
that twist and turn like arthritic arms,
soaking up the sun that drives the sap
coursing through cellulose veins.

Look!
White dots are scattered
along black branches of graceful trees –
blossoms-in-waiting
soon to awake from winter dreams of summer.

Three squirrels
race up and down the trunk,
of the slender willow,
swing from branch to branch,
like drunken acrobats,
tails twitching, eyes sparkling.

Four city workers
wearing eye-blinding orange vests and baseball caps
set out lawn chairs beside the big tall pine,
open brown bags as they discuss the challenge
of keeping the waters flowing
through sewers that lie beneath
the black paved streets of a winter-soaked city.

Young brown girl
sports a sleek 1940’s pompadour,
curled and rolled above her delicate shoulders,
ear buds in, iPhone on,
in seeming conversation with the air,
sack purse swinging, smooth hips swaying,
young legs striding across the lawn
she moves to other destinations.

Black boy,
pants at half-mast, bandana round his head,
stands beside the hip hop van
with low rider wheels and dice on the dash,
greets a member of the ‘hood’
who arrives slouching and bopping
and snapping his fingers to the booming bass
that smites the air with impact and effect,
and shares the secret tribal handshake.

An old man
in a tattered gray coat
pushing a grocery cart with wobbling wheels
and piled high with fat plastic bags,
rumbles down the street and is followed
by a middle-aged woman
who jauntily holds aloft a gaily striped umbrella
and sings softly to herself.

Grandpa
totters, leading the way to the duck pond,
as the small shoes of the curly-haired girl
blink off and on at each hop and skip,
while Grandma smiles and follows,
walker clacking,
step, roll, pause – step, roll, pause

Little white dog
leashed to a large white woman
is tugged and pulled from enticing smells,
waves its feathery tail
and tosses its head and sets to shaking
ears that are caught up with pink pony-tail ribbons.

Two golden retrievers,
walking along in unison,
jump into a small white car
bearing “Go Kings” stickers –
and as it drives away
big orange heads
hang out of windows,
ears back, tongues lolling,
tails waving goodbye.

Bright, sparkling, clear day of winter

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Bright, sparkling, clear day of winter,
the first day of the year at play
in this garden of Eden.

The rowdy wind flexes its muscles,
somersaults across the trees
and plays kick-the-can with leaves

as they clatter up and down the street.
Bright sparkling, clear day of winter,
beloved by pine trees and firs,

who shake their skirts and toss their heads
and straighten their aprons
in celebration of the new year’s arrival.

The winter sun wraps its chilling arms
around the dark oaks where mistletoe
hangs like giant Christmas balls

and reduces the ladylike white birch to a sleepy stupor.
The naked long-limbed branches of the willow
dance and sway side to side

across the small creek that carries sere leaves
and broken branches and autumn-colored ducks
that paddle around small rocks and yellow reeds.

The sharp sun beams through its blue sky portal
and sets in relief the street man
who rummages through trash barrels

for empty cans and bottles,
setting aside half-eaten sandwiches
and luncheon treats for later consumption

then throws the bulging black plastic bag
over his shoulder, making the bottles clink
as they settle down among the cans

while he walks to the empty playground
that waits in patient silence for the arrival
of the laughing children of spring.

Bright, sparkling, clear day of winter
shows the frosty breath
of the heavy-set, hip-jiggling girl in green

who jogs in the wake
made by long legs
of the young black boy

who slides and glides
along the slipstream of paths
while their stream of conversation

tacks back and forth
in the winter breeze
and startles the small dog with a wagging tail

who sits in a gray camper truck
that wears a kayak on its roof
and waits while the man with a plaid cap

unloads a silver and black tricycle,
long and low and elegant, then
slides down into the molded leather seat.

Man speeds off, dog racing alongside,
as a tall yellow pennant at the rear
whips in the cool breeze.

Bright, sparkling, clear day of winter
with swashes of chartreuse
streaking through the emerald grass

making eyes to squint to mute the vibrancy
while infinitesimal pin pricks of lights
dance behind closed eyes

blinking off and on, each a minute life
played out on a red stage
as the wind tosses and taunts and prods

to create the first poem
of the first day
of the new year.

 

Storm

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The excitement is palpable; the air vibrating with energy. The evening news is full of Storm, born in the Pacific and growing now to full strength, as it journeys inland.

Hints of its arrival can be felt in the increasing winds that are ripping the last brown and yellow leaves from the autumn trees whose bare black branches seem to sag from holding them aloft.

TV’s are tuned to the weather channel where viewers watch white clouds swirl over the ocean and pulsating bands of green move into the Great Valley. Residents in low lying areas are warned of flooding while housewives fill bathtubs and stockpile bread. Christmas decorations are moved indoors and hatches battened.

Soon we will watch with awe as the heavens open and pools form and creeks rush and rivers swell and banks are overflown. For a few short hours the wind will blow without restraint and Mother Nature will loosen her girdle, let her hair down and allow her heavy breasts swing free. The earth will open its mouth to receive her gifts and slacken its drought-weary throat.

A part of our soul yearns for such abandonment, to throw ourselves upon the Mother and changed from the old and ancient into something new and unknown that will rise phoenix-like, not from fire but from water. We seek a baptism into a new life, washed clean of the past and ready to see with child eyes. We are reborn, arisen from Buddha’s mud to Christ’s shining star that leads wise men across unknown deserts as we breathe deep, drink long and fall with the rain.

Getting Around

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Instead of visiting the local park several times a week as I did in years past, my visits now, due to arthritis, are limited to just a few times a month. But today the glory of the autumn sun and the cool breeze traveling up the delta prove an irresistible inducement.

Getting from the car to the grass carrying the lawn chair is challenging but I soon find a spot that is ideal. As I sit and watch, I reflect how man depends on clocks to know what time it is and sets them back and forth to match his mood – so unlike the trees that are guided by solar tempos and are now changing into their autumn colors.

A squirrel scans me from beneath a nearby tee, sitting on his haunches, tail twitching as his small black eyes probe to evaluate the threat I may represent. Slightly reassured, he makes a quick dash across the open grass, one eye on me, the other on the large oak to my left. Once arrived the squirrel seeks the safety of high branches and startles a large black crow.

The crow who raucously caws at a squat Japanese man wearing a large straw hat who trots by, his forward-looking eyes ignoring the young lady jogging with her two pit bulls stepping in military precision. They are followed by two chattering women and a snuffling Schnauzer who briskly make their way towards the pond, slipping in and out of the sun and shade cast by the trees.

A car pulls up and honks. A short broad man with a bald head emerges and hurries across the field, arms waving, to attract the attention of a backpack-wearing young Indian man. Apologies and explanations about missed directions are shouted until they meet and shake hands. They walk towards a picnic table and soon brochures and iPads are brought out as they discuss new business opportunities and over seas call centers.

A man wearing a Yankee’s jacket struggles with a Labrador pulling on his leash while he helps a small boy climb the monkey bars. A bent man with the raveled gray hat is slowly limping around the playground, stopping first at the sliding board, then pausing for a moment near the swings.

Is he perhaps remembering a father who pushed a swing as he tried to touch the sky? Is he perhaps remembering a mother who clapped her hands the first time he slid down the sliding board alone? He is perhaps remembering what it is to be five years old and have his whole life stretched out ahead like a golden road?

The sun slides into a new position and I feel the morning chill. I carry my folded lawn chair in one hand, the cane in my other. My knees creak and my feet shuffle. As I near the car, I reach out to steady myself so that I don’t stumble. I feel the car’s solid, immovable mass beneath my hand holding me up.

Then it suddenly occurs to me that I am being supported at all times by everything around me. I am never left to fend for myself. When I’m at home, I travel across the room, lightly balancing against a chair, steadied by a wall, upheld by a table. Friends and family appear and help me do the little tasks that now are so difficult.

Everywhere I go, I find support in all directions. When I reach out something solid and deep and dependable that keeps me steady. I drive home elated. Without realizing it, all these years, I have been held by angels in disguise.

Noon Chorus

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The oaks are lightly touched with the first tints of rust and gold and the cool breeze, bearing the scent of dying leaves, sets the birches shimmering like a Klimt painting. The clouds are thin and stretched like cotton gauze across the sky.

The stream which has been so dry for so long is wet again from last weekend’s rains. A few ducks investigate the yellowing reeds along the bank as a lone man, head down, hands in pockets, slowly walks along the stream pensively looking into the slowly flowing water. He passes an old lady sitting on a park bench wearing a red knit hat, her hands grasping a long leash that holds in check a jumping white poodle who is trying to chase a squirrel scrabbling in the grass for nuts.

An oversized van pulls up and the occupants disembark. Two white-haired crones sitting in shiny steel wheelchairs slowly roll down the path that leads to the pond. They are soon followed by two red walkers and one blue, pushed by two women and a man, shoulders bent, heads down, eyes to the ground, feet shuffling. The young black man who has driven the van pulls up the rear, his arms filled with brown paper lunch bags. Stumbling after them he loudly exhorts, “Be careful how you go!”

Nearby, the fountain shoots white plumes high above the pond. Splashing down they pepper the surface of the water to create thousands of ripples that race outward like the young boy wearing inline skates who speeds by, body crouched, head forward, hair streaming as he rounds the corner of the path and disappears. He is pursued by a teenage boy riding his skateboard like a surfer, birdwing arms out-stretched, baseball hat blocking the sun from his eyes.

Strollers filled with wide-eyed babies pushed by tired young mothers rumble by while an old man pulls a shopping cart piled high with old clothes and plastic bags. A thin woman wearing scuffed sandals and a Mumu holds a Chihuahua under one arm and carries a bag in her hand. Methodically stopping at each trash barrel, she selects only the best bits of discarded lunches and recyclable cans.

Two wolf-like German shepherds determinedly pull a small man wearing a yellow shirt and pass a young woman wearing a black t-shirt and gold chains around her waist. Meanwhile a large white labradoodle named Marilyn and a small brown terrier named Ted lead a beautiful black girl down the path and bark at the paper bag somersaulting across the field.

A gaily painted purple van arrives and a party planner quickly erects a large yellow canopy that will mark the center of the coming celebration and provide the proper setting for the multi-tiered birthday cake and bobbing yellow and orange balloons. A small boy with blond curls accompanied by his short father and tall mother is soon joined by children who scamper from arriving cars, their voices high and chirping with excitement.

A passing cloud hides the sun and the air cools instantly. Then the sun peeks out, blinks, and disappears again. A lone crow calls plaintively in time with the noontime bells of a nearby church.

 

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