Month: March 2018

“Lights are out, the alarm is on.” (Duane Louma)

American Ways

by Duane Louma

Time to close again, two minutes past six, another day gone. I close every day, except sundays; a man needs to rest a little. Twenty six years, six days a week for twenty six years–closed sundays. I should check the back door, it might be unlocked… no, I know it’s locked, it’s always locked. Lights are out, the alarm is on. Oh yes, it’s all on or off, according to the way it should be, nothing is amiss. How could it be? Six days a week for twenty six years, I check the doors, lights, alarm, always I do this–twenty six years.

I’ll do the money now, not much today, not much anymore because of the supers. Eighty-eight dollars, opened with seventy-five-thirteen dollars, a lost thirteen dollars. I put in ten hours today for a lousy thirteen dollars. Six days a week for twenty six years and today I bring in thirteen dollars. It probably cost me more to keep the store open; ten hours and I lose money, what good is that? What’s the use? Spend my life trying to keep alive, six days a week, except sunday, for twenty six years; what’s the use?

Where that crayon! I know it’s in this box somewhere; here it is, good it’s black. A little wrapping paper, do it nice and neat; hope I have tape; use big letters to they can read it–NOW OPEN SUNDAYS.

“American Ways,” by Duane Louma originally published in Forum (1972, City College of San Francisco).

“A Day in the Life of City College” by Elizabeth Mims

Forum 70s cover and content

Past issues of Forum. Clockwise from top left: & other lovely insects (1976), (no title, 1973), Reality Trip (1972), Double Mirage (1975).

A Day in the Life of City College

by Elizabeth Mims

my debut begins at noon
I lock the locks
check the mail
survive the hardhats
wave to George’s Market
buy my cheese at the health food store
make the island just in time to miss the K
pay my dues to the muni
join the conglomerate collage
hump the tracks
write tribal danced letters
walk the mile
eat the fog
steady my opinion against floating philosophy
find a hair on my cheese
seduce m books
render my body
hump the tracks
discard the stale
unlock the locks
climb the stairs
and take a
bath

“A Day in the Life of City College,” by Elizabeth Mims originally published in Mild Perversions ([Forum] 1974, City College of San Francisco).

“Production to profit is his scheme / Both part of the American Dream” (Frank Viollis)

Batmale Hall Exterior

The English Department (Batmale Hall R556) at City College of San Francisco holds 35 past issues of Forum, the earliest issue dated 1948.

Be Home at Five

by Frank Viollis

Now take the man on Montgomery Street
Here’s a fellow with swift moving feet
Where he’s going I can’t say
I wonder if he knows his way

Production to profit is his scheme
Both part of the American Dream
Fifteen minutes is all he takes
Time enough for his coffee breaks

A fast moving man, briefcase in hand
Running around, buying up land
Got to build a building tall
Which can be seen by one and all

Be home at five, is his last remark
He’s home again, Gee! the TV’s dark
You hear about Joe next door
He moved up to the 25th floor

We leave our friend on Montgomery Street
He’s got competition with which to compete
About his life he makes no bones
And me, I shouldn’t throw stones?

“Be Home at Five,” by Frank Viollis originally published in Forum (1969, City College of San Francisco).

“lips’lust / devours the entire sex- / less shape extreme” (Lorraine M. Tong)

by Lorraine M. Tong

letting my hair down
a banana unreels it
self exposes
the raw inner
meet the sensitivity
headskin
cascading hair
down slippery
shoulder mountains
shreds of veins
long entangled
with the direction
of down the shapeless
vertical form
that cannot stand
but to lie there
the curves become
evident
soft pregnant sweetness
lips’lust
devours the entire sex-
less shape extreme

“(untitled),” by Lorraine M. Tong originally published in Mild Perversions ([Forum] 1974, City College of San Francisco).

“I can see there is no god in this country and no god” (J. Baker)

Batmale Hall Exterior

The English Department (Batmale Hall R556) at City College of San Francisco holds 35 past issues of Forum, the earliest issue dated 1948.

Poem

by J. Baker

At five o’ clock,
with August faintly weeping at the news,
we hit the dead end rump of Texas and take the border
town in one smooth grab.

The light is fairly even, inside and outside.
I can see there is no god in this country and no god
in the smelling bodies in the smoking cabin of an
American humble, Greyhound Bus.
So my mind goes backward to La.,
Mississippi, Alabama, and
nowhere will my mind rest, nor
in the land I go on toward.
For I have lived too many places poorly
and with the promise of riches always
and elsewhere.

Her dark, dirty baby cries next to me,
cries in Mexican for a rest stop,
an old white man from Georgia lights a brown cigarette
and thinks of murder and supper and sleep.
Four trees with their colors cased in evening mist
emerge like four green bottles spaced out on the
tight horizon, and are gone.

Mother, were all my life’s
hard indoor afternoons to
bloom like this, in August,
just outside the Texas tableland?

“Poem,” by J. Baker originally published in Forum (1966, City College of San Francisco).

“a visage of true nobility / arose from the slime.” (Frank J. Serpa)

Rosenberg Archive

Past issues of Forum magazine can be found at CCSF’s Louise & Claude Rosenberg, Jr. Library, R335 (Archives).

Man

by Frank J. Serpa

Once in a vague passage
a visage of true nobility
arose from the slime.

It grew and expanded.

It flourished and was the
master of its destiny.

It decayed and destroyed
itself.

“Man,” by Frank J. Serpa originally published in Forum (1961, City College of San Francisco).

 

“and in memory men continue to live, …” (James L. Kramer)

Ad Infinitum

by James L. Kramer

Thoughts lead into thoughts and those in turn to others as if the imagination revolves with ideas, each waiting to appear. Existence, a constant repetition, continues as idle thoughts and dreams: the significance of what was dreamt a yesterday has been forgotten and what dreams fill tonight will be unrecalled tomorrow. Those thousands of faces we have seen cannot be recognized and all those with whom we have spent our lives we never knew. What at a time was vividly read and talked about has faded in our memory until, undistinguishable, it is taken from us. The words of the great poets still sound while our memory, a brief echo, diminishes into the hollow. Perennial memory, like some reluctant precipitate, slowly dissolves in time while we await, past remembrance, among the dead. Yet hope transcends death, reducing it to a mere termination, and in memory men continue to live, although they must finally die in a later history. only time continues undisturbed and, having no beginning, will have no end.

“Ad Infinitum,” by James L. Kramer originally published in Forum (1963, City College of San Francisco).

“Nothing seems worth believing now, All beautiful thoughts, I ignore.” (Sandra Verdi)

Batmale Hall Exterior

The English Department (Batmale Hall R556) at City College of San Francisco holds 35 past issues of Forum, the earliest issue dated 1948.

by Sandra Verdi

Values seem lost in this haphazard world,
Righteousness seems not sincere;
The eyes of the guilty lurk all about,
Life’s purpose does not render clear.

My world is colliding with rapid speed,
With all that I cherished before;
Nothing seems worth believing now,
All beautiful thoughts, I ignore.

For they are not real in such chaotic times,
When the merits of man are unsure;
When honesty falls prey to tyrannical foes,
When life’s pain is so hard to endure.

Can nobody speak the truth anymore,
Is it all a forgotten, dark past;
Can no one find strength in the glory of virtue,
How long must such deception last.

I’m tired of running and searching,
For values that do not exist;
Must I cast aside my ideals like all others,
And scorn those who try to resist.

one last question now invades my mind,
That which I can’t comprehend;
If all of humanity proceeds as it has,
Is not the world close to its end.

“(untitled),” by Sandra Verdi originally published in Forum (1968, City College of San Francisco).

“Like incense smoke in the still air.” (Jack Lagoria)

Gloom

by Jack Lagoria

Sadness rises up around me,
Like incense smoke in the still air.
A cloud of despair enfolds me,
And clutch me to its heart
In an embrace that no human
Power can break.

Must I forever live in
Black and purple vapors?

Is there no God that can
Set me free?

Can’t I for just one moment,
One moment of all eternity,
See the stars?

“Gloom,” by Jack Lagoria originally published in Forum (1942, City College of San Francisco).

 

“to make sense, to get it right, to get to the bus stop” (David Plumb)

90s Batmale Hall

Past issues of Forum, published as City Scriptum and Voices in the 1990s.

The Homeless Envelope

by David Plumb

The fat yellow manila envelope
on the window ledge of the Bank of America
branch at Stockton and Columbus
said Harry Woodson, homeless
The poor state of his life attested to
by a dental clinic sheet with a bus token taken on
that would get his teeth fixed
or at least the front right incisor he complained about
There was a voucher from a homeless shelter
saying he was a volunteer in their food program
and according to another form
he was supposed to have a welfare interview at ten
to prove he was Harry Woodson and that he
lived at the Holland Hotel

I called his case worker
a Filipino man who talked too fast
and got ground up on the phone with the buses going by
and when I rang the Holland Hotel bell
I was greeted on the stairs by a woman named Patel
who was suspicious of me, of him and I’d guess the world in general
At any rate he’d checked out
and I had the envelope

A documentation of hunger
one-night stands and rotting teeth,
suspicion, alienation and missed appointments
A fragmented life trying a piece at a time
to make sense, to get it right, to get to the bus stop
with what little ammunition he had left
(yes he was a bet) to take the token
before losing it to a stranger or a crowd
before the madness took over or the tooth hurt too much
or the bus went by
and the bus went by
and all that was left was the envelope
I put back on the ledge

“The Homeless Envelope,” by David Plumb originally published in City Scriptum ([Forum] 1989, City College of San Francisco).