Stars Fall (a poem)

Occasionally, a painting inspires a poem.

Stars Fall 24x24 oil on panel

Stars Fall 24×24 oil on panel

Stars Fall

As it happened,

A great void covered me

One night, empty

But for its blue-blackness,

Vast beyond knowing.

And I asked

Why are you so black?

And I asked

Why are you so empty?

And I finally asked

What have you lost?

There was no answer.

Slowly, I saw stars

Falling all around me,

Splashing into the sea

Taking their slips of silver energy

Into another great deep, dark,

And equally distant place,

Leaving a luminous trail.

I cannot follow.

Fluid Dynamics of a G-clef

TM8235 Fluid Dynamics of a G-Clef 36×36 oil on panel

This painting began life with the sweeping gesture of a G-clef in dark blues and greens. Of course at first I didn’t recognize it as such, but after developing the forms I began to see nothing but a G-clef. Too obvious. After much thought, I gave up, took the painting off the easel, and leaned it against the wall – on its side. Now it was a G-clef on its side, but also a breaking wave.  I resumed work on the painting but in its new orientation. I liked it, but it was still too simple – it didn’t say enough. So it sat in the studio for several weeks until I realized the curving forms needed to be read against something more definitive, more linear. Happening on a diagram from fluid dynamics, I realized that it was the merging of the clef with the wave, a sort of musical fluid dynamics, that was the real subject of the painting. I quickly painted in the graph of lines using a very dark, muted cadmium red. Now the wave, which is continuous, is held by the length of its lines, or measurement. Words from both disciplines. The words were so elegant I had to use them in a poem, hence the writing of the poem below.


The gesture is a G-clef,

Upright, full of speed

And strength –

So strong

It compels all sound

Until I lay it

On its side –

Let it rest, let it swim

Into a wave, this

Fold of fluid dynamics

Turning to rhythm’s count

Sum of muse and music –

Breaking in measured lines

And lengths instead.


Blue Note

Small Mysteries at the Quarry Pond, with its crazy reflections, suggests a more colorful “water music” than the ocean paintings. I scribbled some observations after finishing the painting, and they turned into a poem. Enjoy!

Blue Note

I think I found it

Hiding here, low

In syncopated chords and

Overlapping rhythms,

Such jazzy hymns

To a tree idea

Reflected in fresh

Breeze beat water.

Zigzag trunks

And rippled patterns

Swing dizzy music

All day all summer

I want to clap

And say Amen

But that would break

The silence.

Heat Wave

Improvisation on a September Pond

The Painter Ponders Painting, or
Decisions During a Heat Wave
Whether to take the heat
On its own terms – wear red,
Eat chili peppers, sweat
Like a glass of iced tea, paint
Blasted zinnias and marigolds
With buckets of cadmium red,
Pyrrol scarlet, nickel azo yellow
Or reflect oneself into a pond
Remembered from last September –
The water clear, reflections bright
With old greens, aureolin yellow
And the brilliantly cold blue
Solicited from the sky, borrowed
Until dusk crawls in with barely
A teaspoon of cool crimson
Limned with a soft brush and
a whisper.
Sometimes the muse is generous…sometimes it’s just the pressure to bring something to a poetry workshop. Either way, I hope you enjoy these short ramblings on a deeply summer theme. (more information about the painting is available in the post dated July 19, 2011.

Poetry and Painting

Sometimes, working on a series of paintings requires one to step back and ponder the question what was I thinking? For me, that question finds its answer  most often in the form of a poem. The precision necessary for a poem forces me to think clearly, and at the same time brings unconscious influences to the surface. Wow, was I thinking that?  The poem titled Observation, located beneath the  image, is a meditation on the cosmos paintings. Enjoy.
TM8111 In the Vicinity of Galactic Winds


Small white lights stuttering
at the fringe of certainty.

We stand aside and watch stars
pull their way into being,
amassing hydrogen, helium,
carbon, etc.

Grace notes navigating our ship
through the blackest sea.

We plot our charts, take copious measurements,
then mightily pull our way through
tides of myth and rampant speculation.

The oars keep getting heavier.

                                                                         Teri Malo

I’m pleased to announce that the new Portfolio: Cosmos Oils page is uploaded and ready for your viewing pleasure. The actual paintings will be on view at the Fenway Annual Open Studios November 6 & 7, available for sale.