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a literary journal published by the Black Earth Institute dedicated to re-forging the links between art and spirit, earth and society

Jennifer K. Sweeney

Lady Slipper

To find me
over the crisscross places
without losing center.
One delicate hiding
meant for its own
private witness.
We don’t all want to be hung
on the beauty mantle
nor have the possession
that something lovely seen,
be wanted for all-time.
My bloom my bloom—
blush mercy of years—
is the answer
that comes after the question
has buried itself
in the asking.
Some have tried
but they could not
break open
the seed.

California Black Bear

seeing-time comes again
sliding its overshine up the peaks
oh that it comes so soon now
scrabbling to reach all the layers
to the brownest dark
where darkness hides
itself in holes
don’t sing to me sweet deep dark
when the berries are redred
and I can thicket-paw through
I am mouthfuls
in the swish of a warm while
one bear two we pad deep
in yarrow
which hum to follow which
hum goes gold
trundle the stream
we unsleep
into water that is
one water    elegant and cool
lucky swipe a fish
go where the one water goes
thin shine now
when the light leaves it leaves
to nothing

Golden Chinquapin

then turn in the sky-

tumble of a full crown

then thickly

sway in slow notes

slat-light and the low

doze of fruit chocolate

brown and night-shined

inside the inside of

pith and husk and pin

needle them so

then golden

in October’s druze

chink from chinqu from xinkw from

big  large  great great

body lined bright

red beneath dark loaves

of trunk then


pods crack at the hinge


pin from min from seed from



Jennifer K. Sweeney is the author of four poetry collections, Foxlogic, FireweedLittle Spells; James Laughlin Award winner How to Live on Bread and Music; and Salt Memory. Recent awards include a Pushcart Prize, the Terrain Poetry Prize, and the Backwaters Poetry Award. She writes and makes literary collages in Redlands, California, and teaches poetry at University of Redlands.

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