What's your favorite place in SLO County? Local poets speak out

SLO County poet laureate Jeanie Greensfelder reads 'At Sweet Springs Preserve'

San Luis Obispo County poet laureate Jeanie Greensfelder reads her poem "At Sweet Springs Preserve," at the location of the same name, in March 2017.
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San Luis Obispo County poet laureate Jeanie Greensfelder reads her poem "At Sweet Springs Preserve," at the location of the same name, in March 2017.

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.

Arts Obispo, the San Luis Obispo County Arts Council and county poet laureate Jeanie Greensfelder recently invited community members to share their original poems about Central Coast landmarks.

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

los osos valley by Teddy Llovet.jpg
Morro Bay resident Teddy Llovet writes about one of his favorite places in his poem, "Los Osos: Valley of the Bears." Teddy Llovet

'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.

Tablas Creek Vineyard is located on the west side of Paso Robles, about five miles south of Dubost Vineyard & Winery. Photo courtesy of Tablas Creek Vineyard

'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

Shoulders back

Like a sprinter leaning at the tape

Timely tides speak of change

Of mutability

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

The moon sets just north of Morro Rock. Linda McDonald

'SLO Citrus Gleaning'

By Bettina Swiggert

Part I

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.

Part II

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.

03-26 wildflowers
MARCH: Wildflowers seem to go on forever along Highway 58 from Shell Creek Road to California Valley. David Middlecamp

'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

with goldfields

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

Arroyo Grande resident Carol Nylander loves sinking her feet into the sand of the Oceano Dunes. Carol Nylander

'Pismo Beach Walker'

By Don Van Acker

Blustering winds carve

waves in the dunes

while shore birds chase

receding surf,

stranding footprints

along sandy beaches

that travel boardwalks,

piers and trails

high from white cliffs

to buckskin hills

with blankets of oaks,

mustard and purple vetch.

'Oceano Dunes'

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

my footprints

written in sand


behind me

11 Sweet Springs1
Jim and Donna Howard of Los Osos walk down a trail at Sweet Springs Nature Preserve in Los Osos, toward the viewing deck next to the Morro Bay National Estuary. Laura Dickinson

'Sweet Springs'

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.