Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Growing Like the Dickens

Photo by Michelle Kunert, Sacramento

—Patricia Hickerson, Davis

birdcall dawn in the pine barrens
the echoing forest
we pick blueberries
Grandma and I
big fat summer-smooth berries
roll through our fingers
her skeletal fingers stiff and strong
my small straying hand
crushes midnight juice
stains the sand deep purple
we two bent under the Jersey giants
their silent figures straight and tall
needles sharp and seer

smell of sweat
beads dot Grandma’s brow
I smear my lips
for a Cupid’s amethyst bow

time to go home

for love of a berry!
tooth-crisp and merry!
I’ve lost my way—
these sandy barrens:
it all looks the same,
but Grandma knows.
which way? I turn here, there
through a blueberry maze
no, this way, she says
Grandma’s a country girl
grew up by a creek

no barrenness of blueberries
thrown into the breakfast bucket
berries lolling in thick cream
under a blanket of sugar


We’re celebrating Earth Week with a give-away—send me a Seed of the Week poem about Fruits of the Earth and I'll send you a copy of Emily and the High Cost of Living by Kathy Kieth from Tiger's Eye Press—or any rattlechap of your choosing from Rattlesnake Press—free. Send 'em to or P.O. Box 762, Pollock Pines, CA 95726. There's a deadline on this SOW though: postmarked or e-mailed by midnight, Sunday, April 25.

Richard Hansen at The Book Collector has found a stash of Goldvarg: What Makes Bones Talk, the wonderful memorial collection of Phil Goldvarg poems (with illustrations by Barbara Noble) that was published by 24th street irregular press and AMP Press in 2006. Richard is selling these at the bargain rate of $5; get ‘em while he still has some left.

New from Lummox Press and R.D. Armstrong—

—A new collection of poems by Gerald Locklin and short stories by Beth Wilson called Modest Aspirations. The book is available on the Lummox website (, and as usual it costs $15 + shipping. Also still available: Drive By: Shards and Poems by John Bennett, and Sea Trails by Pris Campbell...two really fine books recently published by Lummox.

Gerald Locklin is now a Professor Emeritus of English at California State University, Long Beach, where he taught from 1965 through 2007, and continues as an occasional part-time lecturer there and in the Master of Professional Program at the University of Southern California. He is the author of over 125 books, chapbooks, and broadsides of poetry, fiction, and criticism, with over 3000 poems, stories, articles, reviews, and interviews published in periodicals.

Beth Wilson was born and raised in Oklahoma. She got a Bachelor’s degree in English from the University of Central Oklahoma, and a Library Science degree from the University of Oklahoma. It was while she was studying creative writing at UCO that she met the poet and author Gerald Locklin. As a full-time reference librarian and mother of two small children, Beth writes short stories and poetry whenever she can find a few minutes strung together. She uses her own observations and experiences from the “heartland” as well as stories she gathers from her husband and friends to fuel her writing. Her chapbook, School of Sky, was nominated for a Pushcart Prize. She prefers to write near a window so she can look outside and see what the weather is doing.


—Mitz Sackman, Murphys

Lined up along the living room window sill
My summer garden sits in miscellaneous plastic boxes
Awaiting the frost clearance date, frog jump time
Gazing with longing at the sun and rain outside
They stand stalwart, turning each day towards the window
I have to rotate them each evening to prevent leaning
They can hardly wait to stick their toes
Into the warm earth
Feel the sun on their faces
Grow beautiful tomatoes, peppers and eggplants
They gaze with envy at the broccoli, collards and parsley
Growing happily outdoors


—Richard Zimmer, Sacramento

Great Expectations for the garden.
Earlybird tomatoes on the vine.
Beefsteak tomatoes doing fine.
Even old Marley wouldn’t mind
Dragging his chains at harvest time.

It was the best of times.
It was the worst of times,
But still the cucumbers grew.
The lemon yellow kind.
Delicious salads come to mind.

Red and green bell peppers
Planted in the spring.
It is a far far better thing
That I’ve ever done.
I’ll have a juicy one.

Basil, sage and cilantro,
Growing green and thick
Almost ready to be picked.
Growing in pots by my door.
Even Oliver Twist
Couldn’t ask for more.


—Taylor Graham, Placerville

It’s a cold steady rain whose forecast sent us
scrambling to get our new-mown hay in windrows
drying; raked up, hay-stacked in the middle
of the field, under tarps, safe

before sky clouded over, wind rummaging loose
edges, whispering a coming storm.
The sheep have turned their clockwise circuit
toward the barn.

The new-mown field opens all its small green
mouths for rain. How thirsty we’ll be in August,
how starved our sheep for this between-
storms hay.


Photo by D.R. Wagner, Elk Grove

Today's LittleNip:

spring rain
browsing under my umbrella
at the picture-book store

—Masaoka Shiki