Nancy Berg’s book of poems, Oracles for Night-Blooming Eccentrics, won the 2009 Blue Light Book Award. Her work has been widely published in anthologies, literary journals, and magazines in the U.S. and internationally. She is recipient of a Poetry Fellowship from the National Endowment for the Arts, a Matthew Darovic Poetry Award, and a CSPA Gold Circle Award, among other recognitions. Three of her poems are nominated for the  upcoming Pushcart Prizes. Nancy has taught with California Poets in the Schools and has an M.A. in Communication from Stanford University, where she received a Fellowship on the basis of an original musical comedy screenplay. Raised by two cartoonists, Nancy began life as a cartoon, and later spent time as a lifeguard, a performer in a traveling tent show, a teacher of meditation, a university instructor, a disaster relief promoter, an evaluator of prognostications, and a small-time  hula hoop savant, but she’s primarily earned a living as a writer and editor in various media. Nancy Berg lives in Woodland Hills, California.

Blessing of the Animals
“May all the beings in all the worlds be peaceful and happy.”
—Vedantic prayer

She may have been overdressed
for Holy Saturday on Olvera Street,
adorned, as she was,
in tie-dye, pink roses, and white chiffon,
but at home she slept in a
flower-decked shrine to the Sacred Mother,
and this was one devout chihuahua
you would think was more than ready
for the Blessing of the Animals.
She expected, most likely,
a fine mist of Holy Water
sprinkling memories of heaven,
a vision held collectively
by the pig in the lavender frock,
the tortoises, parrots, ponies, chinchillas,
the goldfish in a jar held aloft by a watchful boy,
the ashes of dearly departed creatures
clutched in urns by Oaxacan widows,
and, most fervently of all, by one radiant cow,
leading all the diverse procession
with a yellow carnation cross
and a promise of resurrection.
Yet all good photographs are born in contrast,
which is why we are now iconic,
Getty Images of the blessing
for China, Utah, and points beyond.
Cardinal Mahony is generous with Holy Water.
Serenaded by Mariachis, we were baptized with a torrent.
The pious chihuahua, now cradled in my arms,
unintentionally flinched and braced against the soaking,
while I, furless, featherless,
water-blind in clip-on shades,
elated, rose to meet it like a wave.

Peace Out
I am the woman
who flipped the bird
at the guys in the tricked out Mustang
who almost ran me over
as I walked to the peace vigil,
and yes,
I was wearing
a perfectly round
white on black
replica vintage
peace button
at the time,
though no,
I am not entirely without
a sense
of the basic laws
of microcosm/macrocosm
but listen,
those guys looked like
they aimed the car
directly at me
on purpose,
plus true,
as I’m sure you’ve noticed,
you can take the girl
out of New York but...
You’re right.
I am holding a sign
that clearly indicates
I don’t want
18 year old kid
dropping bombs
on skinny families
in my name,
so yes,
I might try to be
a little more like
the gentle-eyed,
candle-holding activist
chanting next to me
at the vigil.
That’s right,
the one who smiled
when somebody
reached a hand through
the sunroof
of a silver Nissan
to give us the finger...
the one who said,
“Oh look!
Half a peace sign.
He must be an amputee.”


Cat’s Eye Emerald:  The Geometry of Desire

Now that the want cook
has you stalking
holy mist
on a green mountain lake;
now that you haven’t slept
once all summer,
trailing one streamer
of restless
now that you orbit
a cat’s eye emerald,
sweeping through sacraments,
weak-limbed with love;
know that this radiance
never will leave you—
once you are blessed
you are blessed to the bone.

from: Oracles for Night-Blooming Eccentrics (Blue Light Press, 2009).

Nancy Berg Poet at Moonday Poetry

© 2010 Nancy Berg

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