Poetry Selections From:


by Scott Galloway

Poetry and Photo Illustrations of the Big Sur Coast

Copyright Information

All text and photographic images are copyrighted by Scott Galloway, copyright ©. 1995. All rights are reserved. No poem or section of a poem, and no photographic image or portion of a photographic image may be copied, printed, distributed or used for any commercial or business purpose, or for the purpose of distribution electronically or in any other form without the express written permission of the author.

This page contains a selection of poems from THE INFANT SKY, published by Solo Publications in 1995. THE INFANT SKY is a collection of poems and photo illustrations of the Big Sur Coast. Although the geographic subject of the poems is Big Sur, California, the poet explores in the meeting place of sky, sea and mountains, the essence of the eternal. The three chapters of THE INFANT SKY depict the Big Sur Coast as experienced by the author in forty years of wandering that region.

Selections From THE INFANT SKY

Short Poems

Untitled Poem -- at Tassajara

Dance of The Dog Star


Narrative Poems

On Raven's Wings

From The Blood of Whales


---- At Tassajara

The stream clear,
The water almost distilled,
Flowing out of a deep spring
Finds its way
Between the meditating forms
Of the mountains.
5000 foot peaks
Sitting like giants
With knees pulled up
To form the first ridge
Of the continent,
Their feet in the sea,
Stare out over the wide Pacific.
Each peak rises to equal summit,
Or nearly so,
Like a group of meditating monks.
They are a vast range
Of serrated summits,
A contrast
To the eastern mountains
That tilt slowly to their snow clad crest,
Or the redwood carpets
Of the northern mountains.
In the canyon,
There is always the shadow
Of these peaks,
Like a darkened
Very early in the morning
Or late in the evening,
Light in the monks eyes only.

Other Selections From THE INFANT SKY


Low on the horizon
It glimmers in the still November night.
The rush of the surf below,
The forever blue black space beyond.
It shines blue, then white, then green,
And brilliant crystalline red,
Laser red,
Brighter than all of the stars.
Above it, in the shoulder of Orion
Betelgeuse, amber red
Dying giant, glows on.
The bright star
Is a point of concentration
In the night.
The dog star, Sirius
Shines above our world,
Above its own worlds
If there are such,
Focusing our concentration
Beyond our own lives.
Our shallow economies
Will fall to ruin
As inward we turn,
Finding blame and saviors,
All in human form.
Orion knows.
His savior
Gave up a dogís life
To join its master in the stars.
Now that dog's star
Shines brighter than all Orion's glory.
Orion's story is our human story,
Transposed on the heavens
From our perspective,
But the dog star
Knows more truly
That there is only empty space.
He shines his love
And we are in his heaven,
A dim shadow
Passing before a yellow star.

Other Selections From THE INFANT SKY


You find eternity
And they ask you
To join the body
That searches for eternity.

You find eternity
And they offer you Temporal happiness.
You find eternity
That it is an institution
For which you must pay
Or that you may subscribe.

You find eternity,
And then you remember
You must feed
The dogs.

Other Selections From THE INFANT SKY


The rain of the past night
Remains in silver drops
On the fresh red leaves
And on the petals of the yellow rose.
Blue holes open in the gray overcast
As lingering storm clouds pass.
Out in the meadow
Each tiny new spear of spring grass
Reflects the morning sun.
A film of silver light
Lies like a spiderís web,
Supported tenderly
By each blade of meadow grass.
The green hills and green canyons of Big Sur
Nourished by the rains
Breathe heavily,
Shaking off their winter sleep.

In the quiet morning air
From across the canyon,
The call of Raven
Against the Sun.
The ravenís black form rises
Into the expanding blue sky.
There is the flapping of wings,
Scattering silver light,
The silver flash of reflected light
From midnight wings,
The silver of the morning dew,
The glint of the sun from the petals of a rose.

This bird on midnight wings
So often shatters the calm
Of morning
With its black on blue affront
To the day sky,
And its hoarse discordant call.
The black wings tear into the tranquil blue
As he rises
From a perfectly silent canyon,
Ending the meditation of morning.
Raven is the disquieting coyote
Of the sky.
He rises out of the depth
Of the black night canyon,
To throw lightning bolts
Of reflected silver light
From wings the color of absent light.

Raven does not hunt quietly
Like Hawk, who passes
Silently overhead
Broadly sweeping the sky
With motionless wings.
Raven announces his arrival,
Settling raucously in a tree,
Bending low the tender branches
And then sulks like coyote
At the edge of opportunity,
Waiting expectedly
For the unwary,
Or saunters at the shoreline break
For the tideís leavings,
Penetrating with his black beak
Dark recesses for a tender meal.

Ravenís heart is the heart of night.
Ravenís hoarse call is the sound
Of the primordial conflict between day and night,
The primordial conflict between the Sun
And the Night sky
That is fought each dawn and at each dusk.
The wings of Raven suspended
Against the tranquil blue of the day sky
Are the wings of the night sky
Raven is the dusk in the morning sky,
A reminder of dawn in the afternoon.

It is at the times of change
That peace may be found.
It is at the places of change
That our hearts find rest,
The turbulence of the breaking sea
On the rock strewn beaches of this coast,
The laughing torrents
As coastal streams cavort
Through their rapids and falls,
Tumbling downward
Through the redwood canyons
To the sea,
The instant of sunrise,
When light
First sweeps the world of night,
The fading of the last light
From the ridge tops
As the sun passes on
To the place where east begins.
These moments of time and place
Stir in the human heart
The essence of eternal
Peace within.
It is from the very heart of these moments
Of discord that the throaty voice
Of Raven calls to us.
It is on the wings of these moments
That Ravenís wings rise into the day sky.

Ravenís black wings
Bring a shower of silver light.
Ravenís call is the call of the sun
Fading westward.
Ravenís cry is the cry of peace,
The cry of dawn,
The cry of midnight closing
At the birth of the day.
Ravenís cry is the howling
Of the skyís coyote,
Shattering the sleep of the morning calm
With an echo
Of wilderness from the night sky.

If we will open our hearts,
We will hear
In Ravenís cry,
The breaking of the sea upon the shore,
And the discordant crackling sound
That the Sun should make each morning,
As it breaks free
Of nightís horizon.
On Ravenís wings
The sunrise lives,
Reflected in silver light
As tender
As the first light
From the web of dew
On the morning meadow grass.
On Ravenís wings,
The night confronts
The daylight sky.
The light
Of one million midnight stars
From the heart of the most black night.

Other Selections From THE INFANT SKY


There is a high point
On the south coast,
Marked by a road sign.
A large parking lot
For cars has been built there,
And beyond the parking lot,
There is the sea.
There is a rail of redwood there,
Bridging stone columns
At the edge of the cliff.
You sat on that rail in the sun,
Four hundred feet
Above the shoreline
Of the Pacific Ocean.
It was a warm day
In late winter.
The Gray Whales swam slowly
By the point
On their way north
To the Bering Sea
To feed on krill.
It was their annual migration.
You could see the spouts
Of the whales
As they rose to breathe,
And occasionally
You could see their dark
Backs rise
And slide back again
Into the depths.
You felt your own breath
Enter and leave your mouth.
As you watched the whales pass,
You remembered that blood
Pulses through your veins
With the same life giving oxygen,
That brings the whales
To the surface of the sea.
You walked from that point
South along the the highway
To the trail head.
The trail began at the roadside,
And quickly climbed
Into a redwood grove,
Where a small stream
Flowed between steep green banks.
The trail turned and climbed again,
Steeply up a ridge into the warm
Light of the bright day.
You stopped
At the top of the first hill
To rest for a moment.
Below you, the Pacific Ocean
Reflected back to the sky
Its perfect crystalline
Blue light,
The color of cobalt.
A tall oak tree
Leaned out across the trail.
It formed a gateway.
As you entered the gateway,
The trail became more gentle.
It was a fire road
With two well defined ruts.
Between the ruts,
The tender stalks of grass
Stood two feet high.
The beginning buds of wild flowers
Lined the trail.
The soil in the ruts was still
Dark with moisture
From the rain of the previous day.
As the trail rose, it wound
Into small arroyos
Where seasonal streams
You followed the trail
As it climbed up
Over the sloping ridges,
Until at the elevation
Of 1000 feet, the trail turned eastward
To follow the rim
Of Partington Creek Canyon.
The ocean seemed to have grown
In dimension,
Spreading to a wider,
More distant horizon.
At the edge of the canyon you could see
Partington Point below you.
You could follow with your eyes
The path of Partington Creek
Upward to its source,
Beneath groves of redwoods.
You could see that source plainly,
The top of the first ridge of the
Santa Lucias,
The first ridge that the continent throws
At winter storms,
A dam for the rains.
The top of the ridge was marked by a line
Of pine trees,
Standing like flags in the sea wind.
At the edge of the canyon
The trail rose again more steeply
Under another gateway,
The boughs of a redwood
Draped across the trail.
The trail was now wide,
Bare dirt in places, and in others,
A litter of the spent
Branches and cones
Of the redwood forest.
The trail had been cut deeply
Into the steep hillside,
Exposing sandstone rock
That stood as a moss covered
Wall on the uphill side of the trail.
Between the groves of redwoods
There were stands of tan oaks,
And open places where
The fresh leaves of wild
Iris pushed aside
The debris of the past season.
Around each bend you could see
The summit of the first ridge
Come closer.
The trail wound through
A series of switch backs
To the west and south,
Through a grove of Madrone
And out onto the ocean face
Of the ridge you were climbing.
The trail hooked west again
And dropped down to Tin House.
You walked out into the open meadow
To the west of the building.
The meadow soil was tender.
It sank under the weight
Of your boots.
You dropped your day pack
In the grass
And stooped to sit,
Using the pack as a seat.
2000 feet below you,
The Pacific was a shimmering lake
Of fire
Under the afternoon sun.
The whales still swam there,
But the brilliance of the sun
On the water,
And the elevation hid their
The surface of the sea was constant.
You could discern no movement
Of the swells.
Although a pattern was visible,
It seemed to be a standing pattern,
Without motion,
And not connected in any way
With time.
You noticed that the position
Of the sun was far to the west
Of its earlier hold on the sky
When from the wooden rail
1600 feet below,
You watched the swimming whales.
The day had aged
But you and the Ocean had not aged.
All morning as you
Walked up the trail,
The life of the ocean
To devour and swim
As life in the ocean
Will do,
But you, having left
The swimming whales
When you left the roadside,
Were not engaged
With that life.
You stopped frequently
As the trail wound in and out
Of its myriad little canyons,
To stare at the surface of the broad Pacific.
Each rise in the trail,
Each new vantage point
Brought a broader view.
It was the timeless surface
Of the sea you sought,
Its suspended pattern
Of change, frozen in time.
It was this relationship
With the sea,
This relationship
With the cold inaccessible surface
Of your own consciousness,
That brought you to the meadow
Before Tin House.
As you climbed to that meadow,
Life along the trail was in the act of changing,
The tender shoots of grass
Reaching toward seeds
To come,
Striving to spawn the next generation
Before the drying heat of summer,
The soft buds of the trail side flowers,
And the spears of wild iris
Penetrating the memory
Of Autumn.
All around you,
You felt the energy of change in time,
But you climbed beyond time.
As you walked,
Only elevation changed,
And only your vantage point
On the surface of the sea.
As you climbed, gaining distance,
Your intimate relationship
With the life of the sea
Was broken.
Your body,
Its blood pulsing
With the identical salinity
Of the blood of whales
Was cast aside
To lie with the forest litter
Beside the trail.
You no longer were a creature
Of the sea.
You had passed beyond time,
Into the dimension
Of the sea itself,
Broad patterns
On the surface of the earth,
The timeless stars,
So distant
That we measure them in light years,
As if time were distance.
It was to that relationship
That you climbed,
To an intimate relationship
With time,
Achieved through distance.
They say that as we approach
The speed of light
The dimension of time will change,
But that we will not be aware.
The soul of the universe
Is found in the scattering of light
Between the stars.
On this planet,
The cold eye
Of the Pacific Ocean
Stares openly on its star,
The Sun.
It knows that the light of stars
Is timeless.
Under your watchful eye,
The pattern of the wind
Lies frozen on the surface
Of the broad Pacific.
Below you,
Time also has stopped.
You can clearly see the changeless face
Of the universe
In the scattering of light
From the sun reflected
Off that frozen surface
Into your light drinking eyes.

Other Selections From THE INFANT SKY

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