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Jennifer Pickering: poet and artist

Jennifer O’Neill-Pickering

As both a visual artist and poet, Jennifer O’Neill-Pickering brings a painterly eye to her words on the page. She shows us “the dark blur of crows,” and comments on “silver threads of light/illuminating something you can’t hold/and therefore can never lose.” From "turquoise unions" to "apricot light," a strong visual sensibility is at work in her poetry.

When she was growing up, Jennifer he wanted to be an artist and a poet. Her early years were spent in the rural community of Tierra Buena, fifty miles north of Sacramento, with a view of the Sutter Buttes. Today, Jennifer wears many hats, as artists often do: mother, wife, writer, artist, teacher, graphic artist and former Technology Specialist for the Legislative Data Center.

Jennifer’s poetry has appeared in anthologies including: Munyori Journal, The Sacramento Anthology:100 Poems, Earth Daughters, People Matters, Poet News and Consumnes River Journal. She has taught art at Consumnes River College, as well as art and poetry at St. John’s Woman’s Shelter and the Sacramento City Schools thanks to grants from the Sacramento Metropolitan Arts Commission. Jennifer has won numerous awards for her artwork including an Award of Excellence at California Works. She has published one book of poetry entitled Poems with the Element of Water. You may view Jennifer’s art and words by clicking on these links: cafepress.com/3952, Fe Gallery or contact her at:jenniferartist@att.net.

 

Three Memories of Tierra Buena

I.

Barefoot
night gown a jellyfish of north wind
drifting over frozen alfalfa fields
alone with the dark blur of crows
and a cock pheasant stirred to flight
colliding with a bruised dawn.

II.

4 a.m. chasing down the road
the moon flinging silver threads of light
illuminating something you can’t hold
and therefore can never lose like promises
between best friends.
sworn to secrecy on the Methodist bible’s
worn out cover
binding pages of proverbs tired and overused.
Out of breath at the aperture in the privet hedge
where in the spring
white crowned sparrows
nest
as this night we did.

III.
The barn smelled of hay
stood standing when everything else
fell down from neglect
including
childhood one afternoon
drenched in Carmel light
zippers catching
weight that can’t be lifted
the horse shoe hung
over the crooked door jam
promise of good luck.

 

Paper Prisoner

Yesterday they delivered the new chairs,
blue to match my mood.
I would rather have a window, or clean building air,
but they tell me, “Be satisfied with your
executive blue chair.” “With a six inch padded seat
how deep you will sink and never want
to leave this trendy room .”
Mauve decor can’t hide the fact it’s still a cell
and I’m a paper prisoner with paper clip chains
terminally down, tame as the African Violet on my desk
blooming under unnatural light,
where managers pace the halls
sporting polyester smiles.
Noontime, I flee to the K Street Mall,
prisoner to the yard.
I do not plan escape-hop lite-rail,
tunnel the paperwork;
I only want to exercise.
I am not hungry like this man on the steps
of the Cathedral of the Blessed Sacrament,
wearing three dirty shirts, a twisted bad tooth grin,
smelling of last nights Thunderbird.
I wear silk, expensive perfume, and weak regret.
I am overweight, live for the next state holiday,
and have never seriously considered parole.
I turn my head down wind
drop a dollar in his palm
as he God blesses me.

 

I Am the Creek

Slow and easy
In this fall of Han Lu
Mother of minnow
Swimming in nursery schools
Sleeping in cradles
of algae and sedge

dance floor
to Damselflies
gyrating turquoise unions
to tambourines of leaves

tomb to families of oak
anointed in my waters
last rites repeated
in the currents passage

riparian spring
to hare and fox
drunk in the tent of dusk
and apricot light
of a Samhain moon

place of wading
into muddy beginnings
pools of clarity
changing my course often
lithe as the water snake’s glide.
 

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