Rylee McNiff

Read a beautifully written poem by this young person this morning on Rattle.

The submission process asks: Why do you like to write poetry? The answer: Rylee McNiff: “Because when it rains on the 4th of July but you still light sparklers on the porch while your dad reads a James Patterson novel.”

What a wonderful response!

i’m dizzy. i’m dizzy all the time.
i take in the breath you left behind
stash it under my tongue—
suck on your toothbrush
like a man and his dip

The rest is here:

Secret Escape

Oh my daughter
By light’s waning do I see you fly.

Under the cover of secrecy
Does the heart push us to risk and danger.

How many times
Must I die this death?

To quell the strength
Of authority and dominion
The realm of balance
Tears at the heart.

Love has no bounds,
Is strongest when silent
And most practical
When spoken
Only in the right moment

Yeah….not sure why this ekphrastic went here. Both of our daughters left the nest some time ago. Just a memoir I suppose.

Photo is a multiple exposure using a cheap $150 mirror lens. Fun, but a fairly steep learning curve.

Mission Trails – A Walk in the Park

In December, it will be ten years since I put this photo-book together. It was a labor of love for the regional park that has inspired so much of my photography.
It was also part of a charitable drive. Proceeds from those initial sales were forwarded to the Mission Trails Regional Park Foundation.
There are many projects floating around in my head at the moment. “Start painting again….finish mounting current prints…write more music….make more nature videos…create more nature videos with music….produce more instructional videos for photography.”
And now….update “A Walk In The Park” with “A Walk In The Park II.”
The cover photograph was made before I jumped into multiple exposures. It is a long exposure piece made with many filters to slow down the shutter. When this is applied to the work, light becomes clay in the hands of the photographer and the camera can be moved around at will (with intention, not hap-hazard).
The original is linked below for review.


We walk lightly
Among the driven
Out of place
Out of step
Standing in place

Amused by the banal

The trends
From the screen

We understand
Is a lie
Certainly never found
In another
Who should ever carry that weight
Of selfishness

Is not an outcome
Of circumstance
But of perception
A firm grasp
Of the reality
Of the human experience
And the application of perseverance
To grow something
From the smallest of seeds

I am old, (but not real old) and have found that the requirement of a positive happenstance for happiness is a ruse mostly perpetuated by commercial advertising.

Wild Buckwheat

Days are warm and the grasses have faded to brown.
Such is the harbinger for the beautiful buckwheat bush plant.

It covers vast areas of flat fields and hillside chaparral and has proliferated due to the steady rains we received his season. These plants burst open with little pink/white flowers en masse. Their drought resistance empowers them as an environmental mainstay to the typical California climate.

Even more wonderful is how buckwheat support bees. The over-abundance of the flowers ensures busy bees have a good supply of nectar for their hives! The fields light up and bee support are a win/win scenario in my book.

As summer wears on, these flowers will turn a rust red. All stages of the colors make for some dreamy compressed photography.

California buckwheat is edible and was a staple for the indigenous Kumeyaay tribes within this region.


Traffic billows
Clouds of disagreement
Heat rising from its midnight
Fumaroles to be embraced
While slowly killing us

This short journey quickly ends
Beyond the bounds
Of the enchanted forest
Where I will be changed again
To a time when everything was wonder

The door slams
Feet hit the pavement
And time begins to slow
A swirl of life
Circles about my head

Men and women in spandex
Bicycle to conquer
Run to escape and to find
Newer selves
Changed in heaving breaths
Pushing out the old self

Beyond the fumaroles
Lies the path
That will swallow me whole
And without a sound
Will make me a child again

When I started making photographs, I rediscovered the child in me. Easily impressed with life forms….like the simple guppy. A few days ago I witnessed a hummingbird courting his mate. He flew high and hovered, then swooshed down. During his upturn, his tail feathers made a “chirp” sound. A physical manifestation created at almost 9G’s of force. The forest is full of stories like that.

But…In the Name of Science!

Our garden is in full bloom and we are harvesting its fruit daily. It truly is a great privilege to have the space to manage this endeavor.

Last week I took some time away from work and started some new video/music projects that will be filling much of my artistic time. The garden is filled with butterflies of the lycaena order and I decided to try and make videos of them. They flutter about with such speed and randomness that it can be daunting to see the order in which they live. But do not be fooled, there is order here.

From a pulled back view, one can see a single butterfly encounter another mid-air. Suddenly, they will perform a ritual “circling”. They will circle each other once or twice then either move on, or continue the dance. I assume the female is sending mating messages to the male (perhaps pheromones).

If the female is agreeable, she will land and perform a rapid flutter, signaling to the male. The male will land and perform a short confirmation of gentle stroking, then join ends with the female. Once fertilized, the female will lay her eggs within the base of a fallen flower.

All of these things were an amazement to my childlike curiosity.

Then I told my wife Robin about what I had learned. She said, “Mark that’s awful! You’re a voyeur!”
Well, I disagree in the classic definition, but it does make one think about how it is that we humans will satisfy our curiosities concerning nature. We document their every move. Eating, mating, relaxing, pooping…whatever happens….just to understand them better. It is unique to the human animal to do this.

I tried to imagine what it would be like if the tables were turned and animals were recording our every move. Thus, the rough sketch of a bear photographing a woman at a dining table.

Here is a peek of my upcoming video/music efforts. It is based on the idea that we all want a peaceful moment, or maybe we just want to fall asleep. The videos will feature in-the-moment white noise and inspired music along with slow motion nature moments.

Enjoy…and peace!

Dream Sequence 1 from Mark Wade on Vimeo.