Thursday, February 27, 2014

The Eiderdown of Stars

Pear Detail from "Autumn Garden Spirit"
—Poems and Art by Jennifer O'Neill Pickering, Sacramento

(after viewing "Pears" by Renaldo Cuneo)

Before the skies pepper with fowl

the first hard freeze she climbs the knoll

booted feet the muddy road

complaint of knees 

basket slung on flannelled arm

the farmwoman’s charm bracelet

Fog cobwebs the orchard

noon sun brooms away

surveys a family’s labor

a daughter’s inheritance  

She chooses Mirabelles, Bartlett, Anjous, Bosc

for their fragrance: honey and spice

imperfect skins conceal pale sweet flesh 

chooses for color: lutescent coppery, sumac red, 

those blushed by summer’s constant gaze

for their song of curves

for how they fill an empty hand.

Grandfather was a patient teacher.
There was no more gifted orator
on the fly, trade secrets
netted in her braids,
tucked beneath a straw hat
with the marabou jig. 

              Summers he’d demonstrate the way
to bait a hook, when to troll,
with the right bait:
nymphs, dillys, Velveeta.
Follow the moons phases
leading to the deepest pools,
catch and release what needed
to lengthen another season.

             She gave up the pole
never getting her limit,
reel in the elusive lunger,
fishing in ponds of words,
in streams of consciousness,
following in his footsteps,
another pursuit that cannot be rushed.

Putting My Life Back Together on Paper


“Your Mother will not be with us long,”

says the river with no name 
that feeds the pond.

“The fowl take flight in round full song.”
She thinks of her mother

in the small room with

the varnished floor 

whitewashed walls

spooned in honey light 
old wounds

split open 
like dogs


Feed dark hunger. 

“This is normal,” says the woman

who lives with a peacock at the pond.  

“Reach in your throat for the missing language 

that speaks to the part stretching in all directions.

Follow your mother on gauze of stars, 

to moons sweet enough to eat.” 




Sound chalice
incised with tongues
blood stained
born of darkness
green notes fastened to
rungs of light.

Here with robins
lifting twigs
through sodden air
clouds of gnats   
all one song.

I ask morning if
there is a poem in the
sparrows’ hedge
lemon cupped narcissus
brimmed with steady rain
in the iris releasing
fists of bruised blooms? 

 Tree at Black Berry Patch Cottage, Pt. Reyes


sit cross-legged in the air
supported by something rooted into earth,
anchored to the sky
to trust in another
to break your fall
take another’s shape
older than first memory
cause friction
climbing to disks of sun
trust in your own strength
on the avenues of squirrel
embark on junkets of clouds
with creatures of song
add to their choir
wait for the rain
receive gifts of flowers
bows of leaves
tied with fruit
live with change
crowned with moons
wrapped in the eiderdown of stars.



She hasn’t had her heart broken
moped around with blood-shot raccoon eyes,
slammed doors, pounded  pillows,
sponged the stream of tears.

She doesn’t think she’s going to die or wish them dead,
is not on the rebound, had a one-night stand,
doesn’t ignore the text message,
isn’t taking a Facebook break,
still thinks the music on her iPod eases heartache,
has good appetite: isn’t binging on junk food,
demolishing cartons of cookie dough ice cream,
watching tear jerkers, 
stuffing, starving, sublimating pain.

She’s in Paris, purchases a love padlock
from a vendor on the Pont des Arts,
makes a wish for good fortune in love
attaches the lock to the bridge’s railing,
tucks the key in a safe place.

(first appeared in Tiger’s Eye: A Journal of Poetry)


Our thanks to Jennifer O'Neill Pickering for today's poems and artwork! Jennifer grew-up in Tierra Buena and Yuba City, CA and lived in New York State for many years.  Her writing appears in numerous publications. Some of these include: Tiger’s Eye: A Journal of Poetry, Sacramento Anthology: 100 Poems, Earth’s Daughters #53, Yellow Silk, Sacramento News and Review, Heresies Vol. 23, and Harlequin.  Her poem, "I am the Creek", is incorporated in the Sacramento sculpture, Open Circle. An audio link of her poetry can be found at: Restore and Restory. She’s published two books: Poems with the Element of Water, and Mandala Art, Poetry, and Instruction. She edited and compiled The Sable & Quill v1, an anthology of writers and their visual art, and is co-editor of Walking and Writing at the Creek. She studied art and poetry at S.U.N.Y. Buffalo and has an MA in Studio Art from C.S.U. Sacramento. Her art has been featured in several literary journals including: Moon Mist Valley, WTF!? and Blue Moon Literary & Art Journal #8. She frequently donates her art to non-profits for fundraising events. Some of these include: the SPCA, KVIE Art Auction, Women’s Wisdom Project, Lawyers for the Arts, Diogenes Youth Services, Chalk It Up, St. John’s Shelter for Women and Children and W.E.A.V.E. She works in many mediums has exhibited at the Crocker Art Museum, S.U.N.Y. Buffalo, Robert Else Gallery, Poets’ Gallery, Capitol Public Radio, Fe Gallery, the Red Dot Gallery and elsewhere.

Copies of The Sable & Quill may be ordered from Jennifer at


Today's LittleNip:


when you try to straighten them out
they might go along with you for awhile
then, they’ll jump their banks
to snatch back their wild.
All you really have to do is:
widen their boundaries
let them meander.



 Jennifer O'Neill Pickering