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The Coast of California by Tom KillionTom Killion perfects the effort of capturing California’s coast visually, and in text, with his book, Coast of California. First handprinted in 1979 from his Santa Cruz garage, then reprinted in 1987 by a Boston publisher, Tom initially focused his work geographically from Point Reyes to Point Sur. The second printing stretched out to encompass further north to Mendocino scenes such as Westport and southward to include the extinct volcano and quarried Morro Rock, as well as Palisades Park in Santa Monica.

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First out on the road, on a weekend morning, Chryslers and Dodges, convertibles
and sedans, rental cars for tourists. Next Gas 33 Miles

Black asphalt, solid yellow double lines, freshly-plowed fields. Umber sandstone
bluffs, black jagged rocks, white foam, and a cold, blue, shimmery-velvet Pacific.
Cabrillo Highway.

On the long straight-aways, seventeen Harley-riding bikers rumble two-abreast.

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Facing West from California’s Shores
Walt Whitman
(1819 – 1892)

Facing west from California’s shores,
Inquiring, tireless, seeking what is yet unfound,
I, a child, very old, over waves, towards the house of maternity, the land of migrations, look afar,
Look off the shores of my Western sea, the circle almost circled,
For starting westward, from Hindustan, from the vales of Kashmere,
From Asia, from the north, from the God, the sage, and the hero,
From the south, from the flowery peninsulas and the spice islands,
Long having wander’d since, round the earth having wander’d
Now I face home again, very pleas’d and joyous,
(But where is what I started for so long ago?
And why is it yet unfound?)

The Black Vulture
by George Sterling

Aloof upon the day’s immeasured dome,
He holds unshared the silence of the sky.
Far down his bleak, relentless eyes descry
The eagle’s empire and the falcon’s home—
Far down, the galleons of sunset roam;
His hazards on the sea of morning lie;
Serene, he hears the broken tempest sigh
Where cold sierras gleam like scattered foam.

And least of all he holds the human swarm—
Unwitting now that envious men prepare
To make their dream and its fulfillment one,
When, poised above the caldrons of the storm,
Their hearts, contemptuous of death, shall dare
His roads between the thunder and the sun.

Sterling, George. The House of Orchids and Other Poems. (San Francisco: A. M. Robertson, 1911).

The North Coast
by Gary Snyder
(1930 – )

Those picnics covered with sand
No money made them more gay
We passed over hills in the night
And walked along beaches by day.

Sage in the rain, or the sand
Spattered by new-falling rain.
That ocean was too cold to swim
But we did it again and again.

“My sense of the West Coast,” he says, “is that it runs from somewhere about the Big Sur River-the southern-most river that salmon run in-from there north to the Straits of Georgia and beyond, to Glacier Bay in southern Alaska. It is one territory in my mind. People all relate to each other across it; we share a lot of the same concerns and text and a lot of the same trees and birds.”

Many of Snyder’s original arguments addressing pollution and our addiction to consumption have by now become mainstream: reduced fossil fuel dependence, recycling, responsible resource harvesting. Others remain works-in-progress: effective soil conservation, economics as a “small subbranch of ecology,” learning to “break the habit of acquiring unnecessary possessions,” division by natural and cultural boundaries rather than arbitrary political boundaries.

As an ecological philosopher, Snyder’s role has been to point out first the problems, and then the hard medicine that must be swallowed. Snyder has become synonymous with integrity-a good beginning place if your wilderness poetics honor “clean-running rivers; the presence of pelican and osprey and gray whale in our lives; salmon and trout in our streams; unmuddied language and good dreams.”


The Coast Road
by Robinson Jeffers
(1887 – 1962)
from: Such Counsels You Gave To Me
published: 1937

A horseman high-alone as an eagle on the spur of the mountain over
Mirmas Canyon draws rein, looks down
At the bridge-builders, men, trucks, the power-shovels, the teeming end of
the new coast-road at the mountain’s base.
He sees the loops of the road go northward, headland beyond headland,
into gray mist over Fraser’s Point,
He shakes his fist and makes the gesture of wringing a chicken’s neck,
scowls and rides higher.
I too
Believe that the life of men who ride horses, herders of cattle on the
mountain pasture, plowers of remote
Rock-narrowed farms in poverty and freedom, is a good life. At the far end
of those loops of road
Is what will come and destroy it, a rich and vulgar and bewildered
civilization dying at the core,
A world that is feverishly preparing new wars, peculiarly vicious ones, and
heavier tyrannies, a strangely
Missionary world, road-builder, wind-rider, educator, printer and
picture-maker and broad-caster,
So eager, like an old drunken whore, pathetically eager to impose the
seduction of her fled charms
On all that through ignorance or isolation might have escaped them. I hope
the weathered horseman up yonder
Will die before he knows what this eager world will do to his children.
More tough-minded men
Can repulse an old whore, or cynically accept her drunken kindnesses for
what they are worth,
But the innocent and credulous are soon corrupted.
Where is our consolation? Beautiful beyond belief
The heights glimmer in the sliding cloud, the great bronze gorge-cut sides
of the mountain tower up invincibly,
Not the least hurt by this ribbon of road carved on their sea-foot.


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Days until manuscript completion

Final DraftNovember 30th, 2013
Dot i's and cross t's.