Saturday, April 09, 2011

Accidental Habitats

 Leopard Lily
—Pencils by Jennifer O'Neill Pickering

—Jennifer O'Neill Pickering, Sacramento

I asked the sky if it defined
the boundary of the barn.
Sky replied, "Trust what is seen,
answer all else with faith.”

The barn said, “I sit on the earth,
a shelter made from the limbs of a sister oak,
older than I and who once held up the sky."
The spirit of the sister oak said to the barn,
“The sky was never a burden
even resting on my shoulders.”

Her son called to the passing squirrel,
“I welcome you across my threshold
as friends do strangers, mothers their children.”
The squirrel thanked Father Lightning
for opening a door.

A hawk flying by called down,
“If you agree there are no differences
between endings and beginnings,
no boundary will define you.”

Then the wind came up, whispering,
“Listen to your breathing.
In each breath reside all answers.”


Thanks to Jennifer O'Neill Pickering and Phil Weidman for today's poetry and art. Jennifer is an award-winning artist, a poet, and teacher living in Sacramento. She’s taught art and poetry workshops at St. John’s Shelter for Women and Children, Art History at Cosumnes River College, and art in the Sacramento Public Libraries. Her poem, "I Am the Creek," is included in the Sacramento site-specific sculpture, Open Circle. She’s published poetry in many publications. Some of these include: Moon Mist Valley, Cosumnes River Journal, Sacramento Anthology: 100 Poems, Earth’s Daughters, Yellow Silk, Heresies, WTF, Poetry Now, and Munyori Journal. Her art has been shown in numerous galleries. She studied art and writing at the State University of New York at Buffalo, CSUS, and has an MA in Studio Art from California State University, Sacramento.

You can see Jennifer's photo over on the action-packed bulletin board (the skinny blue box at the right), because she'll be reading Thursday from 12-1:30pm at Folsom Lake College's “Literature of the Wild” reading to celebrate Earth Week, which will feature Jennifer plus open mic: bring poetry, prose, creative fiction/non-fiction or read a favorite “wilderness” writer. That's at Folsom Lake College Main Campus (Rm. FL1-8), 10 College Parkway Dr., Folsom. (Info: 530-642-5637 or 916-608-6711, or Kathy: or Tim: For more info about Jennifer, go to  (There will also be a FLC "Literature of the Wild" reading on Tuesday in Placerville which will feature Taylor Graham—more about that later, or check the b-board.)

Speaking of action-packed: since Wednesday will be Rattlesnake Press's Lucky Seven Birthday Bash, we are inviting five poets to read for five minutes each. If you'd like to be one of those poets, let me know at The first five poets to e-mail me will be our open mic—and we still have room for more!

And be sure to head on down to the very very very bottom of the Kitchen for a look at the re-furbed Ticklers box!


—Jennifer O'Neill Pickering

Two mallards, a husband and wife,
have taken up residence in the park
with the crows and hawks poised
in watchful grace.
What are the draws—
firearms-prohibited signs?
a concrete pond nobody is using?

We watch them waddle
toward the water
returning to the green
when the sprinklers shut off
and armies of angle worms
surface for air.

The couple rejoices
for this sudden marsh
flapping napkins of wings,


—Phil Weidman, Pollock Pines

Wife hangs a hummingbird
feeder from a rafter
above the front porch.

I often sit out there
to read or search my
thoughts for something

worthy of sharing
and find myself watching
a colorful hummer, wings a blur,

hover and dart,
needle beak threading
a tiny hole in the red plastic

for sweet
homemade nectar.
Sometimes more than one

of these darters approaches,
and an aerial competition
erupts, reminding me of WWII

aerial dogfights I saw
on matinee newsreels
when I was a kid.


—Phil Weidman

A man with unkempt
gray hair and beard sits
in the shade outside Safeway.
His soiled pack leans against
the store wall behind him.
He sits with legs crossed
and Ernie sees the sole of one
of his boots is worn through.

Need a lift? Ernie asks.
Naw, he mumbles, too busy.
Ernie gives him a quizzical look.
Pondering, he says, as if
reading my thoughts.

Ernie digs out a ten
and hands it down to him.
Can you use this? Ernie asks.
He takes the bill, studies it,
hands it back.

It won’t make no difference,
he mumbles.
Thanks just the same.


—Phil Weidman

Keep getting letters
from outfits that
want to bury me.

Got one today from
the Trident Society.
They want to burn me.

If I had my druthers,
I’d have my wife
rent a backhoe to dig
me a grave in the High
Rock Desert big enough
to bury me and my
trusty 18-year-old 4X4.

Just prop me up
in the driver’s seat,
hands on the wheel
and throw in the dirt.

Let coyote scat
be my marker.


Today's LittleNip: 

The waters fade
    and the wild ducks' cries
        are faintly white.

—Basho (trans. from the Japanese by Janine Beichman)



Wild Iris
—Watercolor by Jennifer O'Neill Pickering