SLO County poet laureate Jeanie Greensfelder reads 'At Sweet Springs Preserve'
From the sweeping sands of the Oceano Dunes to the rolling hills and verdant vineyards of Paso Robles, San Luis Obispo County offers plenty of places to pause and reflect.
In celebration of National Poetry Month, here are some of the poems penned by county residents and selected by Greensfelder.
For more poetry about local places, visit artsobispo.org/slo-county-poet-laureate.
'Los Osos: Valley of the Bears'
By Teddy Llovet
She greets the morning sun
flows with the seasons,
her meadows and fields the colors of
celery, parsley and kale
Poppies and goldenrods dance,
Grasses submit to morning breezes
releasing hidden fog
From a tall pine, a bald eagle scans
A murmuration of blackbirds
announces their approach
Bluebirds and meadowlarks sing
in the hills of the burrowing owl,
all glad to call her home —
home in the Valley of the Bears
'To Paso Wineries'
By Diane Arkenstone
Wine, beautiful child of the earth, we salute you
Earth and sun contained in a cup
Of ruby, topaz and light
Velvet, loving and strong
Giver of life, friends and joy
Gift of heaven that lights the soul
We thank you.
'In the Face of Stone and Sea'
By Kevin Drabinski
When you’re waiting on the outside sets
North of the Rock
And you look straight down the line
A wave crests
Its chest thrust forward
Like a sprinter leaning at the tape
Timely tides speak of change
I’ll return to sand one day
As will the Stacks
As will the Rock
Yet something in this crest and break
Intimates a divine wrinkle
A measure of eternity
How the foam flies!
This shorebird chorus!
This heady horizon!
'Atascadero’s Three Bridges Oak Preserve'
By Chris Moody-Schulz
At the base of the Santa Lucia’s,
ancient oaks form a village of trees.
The oaks, bordered by three bridges,
house a long awaited trail.
It traverses tumbling waters,
skirts granite outcroppings,
sidesteps riparian meadows.
There are no straight lines,
no dead ends; it climbs, it winds.
Along the path, fields of tender
grasses highlight wildflowers:
pinks, yellows, purples and blues.
I hear a benediction in the wind,
I bow in reverence
'SLO Citrus Gleaning'
By Bettina Swiggert
An orange in winter is a miracle.
Each iridescent pip contains a miniature explosion
waiting to be ignited by the tip
of a sharp tooth
or a dull knife
or the slightest pressure.
Its thick rind offers flavor and scent
beyond the juice
the sweet and sour sticky tang together
I pluck an orange from my neighbor's tree
and pull my cotton dress around my body.
I'll go inside and sit bare-legged by the open fire
sipping a glass of sweet fizzed water,
flavored with miracle.
I shouldn't have written the poem about the orange.
It was a mistake.
In California, oranges are commonplace,
even in winter.
The thermostat reads 76 Fahrenheit at dusk,
my boots and sweaters lie lonely in the closet.
I wipe my brow and take a sip of sweet, fizzed water.
Oh, what the hell.
It is a miracle, after all.
'Shell Creek After Drought'
By Rosemary Wilvert
On Persian carpets
of owl’s clover and lupine
goldfields and poppies
I keep to squirrel runs
no wider than my feet
Revelries of birdsong
infusing endless blossoms
release my steps from care
On pathways overladen
like a carousing bee
I let my shoes
turn gold with pollen
and yearn to share
I wear home
my golden shoes
and dance in circles
By GC Hillberg
sun rays devolve fog
waves misty scintillating
morro rock solid
'Pismo Beach Walker'
By Don Van Acker
Blustering winds carve
waves in the dunes
while shore birds chase
along sandy beaches
that travel boardwalks,
piers and trails
high from white cliffs
to buckskin hills
with blankets of oaks,
mustard and purple vetch.
By Carol Nylander
Sinking in the sand
my feet grow tendrils
touching ancient travelers
whose paths I follow
to unknown destinations
I caravan over the crystalline desert's
peaks and valleys
seabirds summon me
onward to the sea
sirens of surf awaken me
written in sand
By Beverly Boyd
In morning stillness before breezes
curry the inlet's surface, an egret
steps with majesty through eelgrass
and mud, waiting, watching for prey.
She snatches what she craves, stepping
forward, certain to find another
if she's patient enough. I, too,
watch and wait, knowing what
I seek lurks beneath the shadows,
appearing only when my mind
opens like an insect net
to catch what I may use as bait.
But standing in the current, I'm wary
of patience, sensing its deceitful
tug. Each breath — time's persistent
ripple — instills an urgency
to step faster than an egret
to keep from sinking into a slough.