We had the honor of hosting the Yucatec Mayan poet Pedro Uc Be last night at CCSF’s Mission campus. Mr. Uc Be held an illuminating conversation with us about the aggressive development in the Yucatan peninsula and its effects on the large Mayan population there. He also read three beautiful pieces of poetry in the Yucatec Mayan language and in Spanish. Dr. Steven Mayers translated the conversation and poems into English.
Mr. Uc Be cast light upon the poorly publicized struggle between the Mayan people of the Yucatan and the various forces at play looking to develop their ancestral land for economic gain. Specifically, large corporations and state actors are aggressively pursuing the development of a train that runs right through the jungle of the Yucatan, which would bring with it widespread damage to the ecosystem of these peoples’ homeland. Worse, Uc Be informed us that State actors are blatantly unwilling to investigate the ecological effects of these projects before proceeding. The Yucatec Mayans have a deep connection with the natural environment around them, relying on plants for medicinal, alimentary, and cultural purposes. Such rash development projects will surely be a crippling blow to this indigenous population’s way of life. Please take a look at Mr. Uc Be’s blog for more information and ways to help.
Pedro Uc Be’s blog.
Check him out on Facebook here.
Photos by Tigran Demurjian
Come join us at Lit Night on Monday night at 7:30pm to get lit, so lit, so very literary! Featuring the always inspiring writing from our large CCSF community, including students and faculty, staff and alumni, passerby and Ocean Ale house locals.
Want to read? Email ahead or waltz in and put your name down. The theme is CHANGE: “We all change, but that change is never easy. Tell us a story or poem about a time you or your character was experiencing some great life change that made them question everything—life, love, hopes, dreams.”
Lit Night happens every third Monday of the month at Ocean Ale house at 1314 Ocean Ave, a few blocks from CCSF’s Ocean campus. Check them out at http://www.litnight.org
Thursday, September 19, 6:30-8:00pm
CCSF’s Mission Campus, Room 109
Free and open to the public!
Prof. Uc Be is a prominent Yucatec Maya poet and essayist who uses the pen name Lázaro Kan Ek. He contributes to training and reflection projects in Maya culture and identity in many indigenous communities of the Yucatán peninsula, through consulting and facilitation of workshops in Mayan language. Pedro has a Middle School Teaching Credential in Social Sciences from the Escuela Normal Superior de Campeche. He is the author of many poems as well as articles. He has won the State Poetry Prize for “Spirit of the Letter,” as well as the 5th Festival of the Mayan Culture (FICMAYA) prize. He has written articles on biodiversity, sustainable energy, and the preservation of nature.
We are honored to have Pedro Uc Be visit San Francisco to take part in a series of events sponsored by City College of San Francisco and Asociación Mayab. On September 19, he will be reading poems in Mayan and Spanish, and English, and talking about environmental issues in his home state. For more of the activities this month in San Francisco celebrating Mayan writing, art, music, and ideas, please visit: https://www.mayawomeninart.org/coming-soon.
This event is sponsored by CCSF’s Creative Writing Program and Asociación Mayab.
It was time to go.
I walked outside to wait for you.
You were picking me up for a picnic
and I was delighted I’d be with you.
You didn’t talk about
your AIDS diagnosis —
mysterious letters I didn’t comprehend.
What was that, anyway?
Instead you were just you,
which was everything — the perfect man.
Your laughter, your wit, your exuberance
kept me smiling and, as always, adoring you.
It was time to go.
You picked up your picnic blanket.
You carefully folded it
and handed it to me.
“Here. Take it.
I won’t be needing it anymore.”
That’s how you told me.
It was time to go.
(In loving memory of Richard-Michel Paris)
Vivian Imperiale uses poetry to process her emotions and to pay ongoing tribute to the Love of her Life who died in 1985 in the AIDS Epidemic.
Constance Louie-Handelman completed her A.A. degree at CCSF in 1973. Now retired as a clinical psychologist, she has returned to CCSF 2019 spring semester with a focus on digital photography.
In hot suburban Florida
in an old, sandy bungalow
my father used to
measure my height on the doorframe
If we left the honey out
roaches would come
a bee drove his stinger into my arm—
that kind of summer visit
my baby brother—
learning to talk
my father tuning in
to area news
amid rows of Miller cans in the TV room
dad sold home alarms back then
drove us around
with a gun in the glovebox
I used to look for love in the gifts I gave him—
paisley ties and cologne
I wrote confrontations from 31,000 feet above
only to ball them up at sea level
enter the string of wrong
me, a war girlfriend
waiting by the phone
I am older now, a mother
I can see inside the dollhouse:
The marble queen pothos—that glossy, leathery, heart-shaped vine that grew up in my mother’s home—cascades down my banister. Devil’s ivy, they call it, because it is un-killable.
Dad falls off a low ladder
Son learns how to surf
Son builds castles from old boxes
Sails boats of old and worn shoes
A native of New Orleans, Megan Brown feels most at home near water. Her writing has been published in the Social Science Quarterly, East Bay Times, and 580 Split. In 2008, her short memoir about her campaign work in Nevada earned an Honorable Mention in the America’s Funniest Humor Writing Contest.
Sarah A. Smith
Sarah A. Smith works with ink on paper to create scenes that feature animals and nature. Often, her inspiration comes from antiques and objects in museums like this one, “Tiger and Hen,” drawn from a design on a 17th century huqqa base which is in the collection of the Asian Art Museum of San Francisco.
Seventeen glasses, full to the brim –
coffee, orange juice, milk, some water to drink.
They took so long to finish their breakfast,
Not that they wanted them to last.
Seventeen kisses, or sighs from Dad and Mom;
Don’t be late, come home by five o’clock.
Let’s plan tonight for our weekend getaway,
or maybe let’s watch some movie, so we better stay.
Seventeen rides going to school –
Busy cars, buses, or walking on foot.
Smiles were greeted, bags lain on desks,
Phones were barred, though they still check their texts.
Seventeen steps, walking in his boots
to reach Building 12, the mad boy took.
Shooting his AR-15 everywhere he aimed his fire –
Imploding from inside he took his ire.
Seventeen calls, or more the students made;
Smoke everywhere, what’s happening, for heavens’ sake!
Tears, cries, and bloodshed sprawled on the floor.
Who even let this guy enter the door?
Seventeen dreams, cut without warning.
On this day the sun at the park stopped shining.
Fernando Rosal Gonzalez
Fernando Rosal Gonzalez has published novellas, children’s storybooks and written TV scripts both for mainstream and independent producers in Manila. He created the children’s TV show, “Oyayi,” which was jointly produced by CBN-Asia, the NCCT (National Council for Children’s Television), and ABS-CBN. He is currently taking up filmmaking and creative writing courses at CCSF.
My photographic journey started six years ago when I took my first photography class at CCSF. This course ignited my passion for making pictures and creating something with my camera. It has become a way of expressing myself.
Spirals enthrall her.
She draws them in notebooks,
coil upon coil, twisting glyphs
about the page.
She sports a tattoo choker.
In this she finds comfort and beauty.
A loving vine about her neck turns her morning glory blue.
She re-enacts vestigial memories of a liquid time:
An umbilical cord slowly constricts;
her heart languishes
with each thrust.
She bears straps about her legs,
spiral rotators to twist in-turned hips, and inserts
that only allow for clunky shoes, an imposition most unartistic.
She howls in protest, hangs from me in anger, arms encircling my waist,
counters my legs with thick brick feet, pulling me
over, pinning me, craving the intolerable
constraint of love.
She snakes yarn about her arms,
winds the wool around her legs, circles
her trunk, all around until – wrapped like a grub
in a cocoon — she trips around the room,
delighted with the oddity.
She’s eight and knows constraint,
winds it decoratively about her body.
Dictating the confines of ability and rules, she turns . . .
the choker into
Erika Dyquisto works as an adjunct professor at City College of San Francisco and San Francisco State University. She cherishes the moments of (human) itarian metaphysical power that carefully chosen words can create, however brief those moments may be.
Ana Lazaro is a San Francisco-based artist. She considers herself a world citizen and has, since childhood, had a passion for capturing moods and emotions through her portraiture. Her background includes fashion and jewelry design. Ana’s current work is inspired by her desire to celebrate female artists across the globe.
(Elegy for Tede)
How you danced with rainbow scarves
one in your hand, the other draped
across your bare shoulders
You made a tutu from violet shorts
curtsied for the camera
your red lipstick never fades.
You wrote the lyrics of your disease
Desire still trembling from fingertips
caress of a sunflower on your cheek
Sitting on the steps at the Washington march
You pulled back a sleeve, pale arm, held
the interferon laced syringe, poked
a needle into thinning veins. You, who named us
Mainstream Exiles, vagabonds, cast out of homes,
queer kids singing poetry on any empty corner
and abstract art projected onto flat buildings at night
We stole storefronts from their owners
Teeth chattering cold, but cheap
We were shadows, running to tape our words
on telephone polls on unlit streets. Your pretty boy face
returns as the exiled ones roam
and enter bars where you once sat
in dark rooms, illuminated by one disco ball
sequins, raw sex, edged in hidden alleys
back doors, the snap of fingers, attention
puckered lips, swaying hips, and the rough red spots
of disease. Coming out at twilight, a candlelight vigil
Haunting echoes of a conch shell summons
all who have laid in death’s bed
morphine induced dreams, fists raised
How the banner unfurls, blanketing us
Fingers pressed to lips, heads bowed
Not as supplicants, as dancers waiting
For the music’s crescendo.
Carla Schick was in the political queer arts group, Mainstream Exiles, in the early 1980’s. Their poetry is published in Sinister Wisdom, A Gathering of the Tribes, Suisun Review and Earth’s Daughters, and they received first place in the Barbara Mandigo Kelly Peace Poetry Contest.
My name is Desi Pena. I am 23 years old and enjoy skateboarding, making skate videos, photography and writing. Follow my Instagram @desip_
Currents move unselfishly.
Lapping at the shores of our consciousness
Repainting memories now faded
from strained expectations
but it is a gift
A taste of what true love is
of the heartaches measured in the waves
watch as the sea moves
in conjunction with the wind
they are kind lovers to one another
like the rib I’ve sought over lifetimes
It is a gift
the innocence of dreaming
the act of creationism from a childlike heart,
sewing the purest seeds of destiny and home.
So I listen to the sounds of forgotten pictures
Lapping at the shores of my consciousness
repainting the memory of my own dreams
– tiny masterpieces of life
I believed would be mine one day -
and I feel the hope well
the source of my good
the kindest parts
that I’d covered up for protection.
And in my mind
I drink from this well
A treasure I had once lost the location of
the origin of what my love languages look
like in flesh and spirit.
And I’m happily transformed by the attention paid to the lovers,
and my own deepest desires,
of a life consisting of intoxicatingly
waves and wind.
R. Shawntez Jackson
R. Shawntez Jackson is a native of the Eastbay. He is an award winning poet, playwright, spoken word artist, actor, educator and father of Wordsi2i.org. He is described as a vivid story-teller creatively framing and displaying some of the best and worst details of relationships, religion and sexuality.
S. M. Murphy
S. M. Murphy is a multidisciplinary artist inspired by the grotesque and macabre. His murals and artwork have been shown on the walls and in galleries of Sacramento and San Francisco, including both M5Art’s Art Hotel and Art Street projects.