“Compatriot” by Susana A. Sanchez


by Susana A. Sanchez

When I told him that I was a Mexican
He began to talk about his farm,
And plowing the fields,
And killing the coyotes with an old shotgun
And sleeping on dirt floors.
but I
Who have lived in a city
And worked with computers
And had servants
Did not speak his language.

“Compatriot,” by Susana A. Sanchez originally published in City Scriptum ([Forum] 1989, City College of San Francisco).

Reagan-Era Paratrooper (John D. Couch)

Reagan-Era Paratrooper

by John D. Couch

I would have to say one of the most eye-opening experiences I ever had was being a paratrooper in the 82nd Airborne Division during the years 1983-87. President Reagan, as Commander-in Chief, was my boss; the top of this lengthy “Chain of Command” I had to keep committed to memory. During my term in service I had plenty of experiences that shot holes through my ideals of patriotism. I was part of those “shows of force,” commonly used by the Reagan White House as a foreign policy tool. Whether these “shows of force” was effective or not, remains a mystery to me. I found myself in situations that seemed to be more damaging to our relations with other countries, then they were to be helpful. Then again, I was just a simple soldier doing what was expected of me. Perhaps those who out-ranked me really did know what they were doing; at this point, however, I still question that notion.

One of the most memorable experiences that had me questioning my actions as an American soldier took place outside the Grafenwoer training area in West Germany. The majority of troops stationed in Europe were mechanized; they relied on tanks and armored personnel carriers for their mode of transportation. This severely limited the areas where they could train. As paratroopers, we were able to jump into our training areas. After the, we relied on our feet to get us from place to place. West Germany, being occupies, was wide open to us, with the exception of “urban” areas. During an exercise in the summer of 1985, we were conducting a company level (120-150 troops) movement through the German countryside. our unit came upon a small farming community. In front of use were acres and acres of farmland. Our Company Commander was confronted with the decision of taking the roads that zig-zagged through the fields, or maintaining our present direction of travel. He decided that we would go right through the farmlands.

We started moving across the well-groomed fields of produce. Since this was a tactical movement, we were required to travel in a formation that was appropriate for wide pen spaces–as far away from each other as possible. I’d say that the width of our formation was about 70 meters or so across. Every once in a while, I came fairly close to the people who were tending the fields. One of them, an elderly man in his 50’s, started cussing at us in German. He was pointing at the American flags we wore on our sleeves and shouting at us. The words themselves, I didn’t understand, but the emotions behind them struck me harder than a swift kick in the crotch. There we were, “america’s Guard of Honor”, tearing up these farmlands that brought food and a way of living to these people, hardly what I would call “diplomacy.”

I was near the center of the formation, so I was able to see the damage made by the 50 or so soldier that were in front of me. There were some recently planted vegetables, that had once reached for the sun, driven back into the ground by careless soldiers. I tried my hardest to leave as little impact as possible on the soil beneath me, but after awhile, my efforts only seemed futile. The damage I saw along our path was quite extensive. At that point, I couldn’t help but to question our presence there. Was this really in the best interest of the United States? I didn’t know. All I knew was that we had surely done several thousands of dollars of damage to their crops for no apparent reason. I mean, I could see cutting across the fields if we had the entire Red Army hot on our trail, but this wasn’t the case.

After what seemed like days, we finally “breached the open space in a swift manner.” Once on the other side, we moved into a security perimeter. I was lying on the ground, propped up on my elbows. From my vantage point, I was able to look out over the farmlands we had just finished crossing. Cutting diagonally across the parallel rows of produce, was a 70 meter wide path pounded into the soil. I dropped my head in disgust. Out of the corner of my eye I saw the flag on my sleeve. There it was. The parallel lines that ran its length weren’t blemished, but the ideals it was supposed to stand for were. At this point in time, I thought about all the people home in the States. I’m sure that they had no idea as to what was being done under the name of the United States. Then again, they probably didn’t care. These were the asme people that put Reagan in for a second term.

After several days of evading an invisible enemy, we brought our training to an end. We were then flown back to the rear by helicopters. While we sat on the ground cleaning out weapons, our Company Commander started into his usual “after action speech.” Paling in front of us by with his hands clasped behind him, he said, “Men! You have really worked hard these last few days.” He then stopped his pacing. “Some of you might be asking yourself if it was all worth it.” He was scanning the crowd in front of him, almost as if we were supposed to react. “Freedom!” It’s all about freedom!” Men, believe m. You all have earned yours!”

“Yeah,” I thought, as I ran a cleaning rod through the bore of my rifle. “At the expense of someone else.”

“Reagan-Era Paratrooper,” by John D. Couch originally published in City Scriptum ([Forum] 1990, City College of San Francisco).

Pagan Flap (Paul Sajnt)

Pagan Flap

by Paul Saint

If I would not perish
then the task before me is to gather about myself
the mantle of life and leave behind the bomb flag
of ceremony, celibacy, and circumcision.

For there is unity. It’s been found again
it has one name but many speakers
it is in the water of life
and it comes undivided.

But most of all it’s in me
in you–ego
where do we go?

There are the men in robes and hoods
there are the women in rosary harems.
Genuflections in madness
assassinations of pontiffs.
Piety that is left laying in the pew.

Give me a crown of thorns, and I’ll give you a creed
let me have absolution, and I’ll give you my sins.
Resurrect my soul in bee’s wax
and drown my babies in holy water
stifle my brain with incense censors
drone on with the pander from the pulpit
eucharist my tongue with communion platters
you want wine. We serve blood:
here is the prodigal son from desolation road.

“Pagan Flap,” by Paul Sajnt originally published in acrophobia ([Forum] 1971, City College of San Francisco).

Rat Glances (Les Miller)

Rat Glances

by Les Miller

Jason Jeremiah missed his computer commuter train and fell awkwardly onto the train tracks. “Well, I’ll just stay here,” he thought. “I’m not getting up. That’s the last train I’ll ever miss. To hell with this rat race.”

As he lay there waiting for the next train to divide him among his followers, he noticed that no one seemed to be concerned about the fact of his future fatality. He glanced up to see people glancing  at their watches. One person glances at him, but quickly glanced away when he noticed he was being glanced at. Then everyone glanced at each other; collective surprise, then they all focused their attention on their watches (the safest thing to do).

So Jason stared at his watch too. “Blast!” he whispered, “I should have been dead eight minutes ago! Where is a train when you need one.”

“Rat Glances,” by Les Miller originally published in Mild Perversions ([Forum] 1974, City College of San Francisco).

“Pearl Friday” by Albert Bell

Pearl Friday

by Albert Bell

So you stand with hand on my hip
and patiently apply your lipping
nuzzles to my throat,
And I stand with my hand on your head
and patiently apply my love nips to
your shoulder,
and we stand with our hearts on our minds and patiently
allow love moss to cover us until we can no longer see
or be seen by any except
the beads of sweat we
roll and slide into heating

“Pearl Friday,” by Albert Bell originally published in Reality Trip ([Forum] 1973, City College of San Francisco).



“How ugly is chrome, / And tubular chairs” (Phil Murray)


by Phil Murray

In a room full of sound
And a nicotine haze,
Stand glittering machines with electronic smiles
And little windows with salivary delights
(Each technically augmented, of course)

So I with the rest pay tribute and homage
To these transistorized gods who vomit forth prizes
All steamy and hot and tasting like cardboard.

How ugly is chrome,
And tubular chairs
That fit to a form that’s not quite yours,
With a plasticine form eating celluloid food
In a room full of people, Alone in myself.

“12:30,” by Phil Murray originally published in Forum (1968, City College of San Francisco).

Untitled (Sharon Winter)

by Sharon Winter

Could I find some virgin land
Where lakes are green and reeds are tall
Where naught but bird’s feet mark the sand
And wild things to one another call,

Some spot where I, alone, could view
The sun arise anew each day;
Observe each bright and changing hue
From morn’s pale mist to sun’s last burnished ray–

Another clime where trees thrust high
And mellow light sifts gently through
While soft winds pass with but a sigh
And shadows cast are deeply blue,

Then would I silently commune
With all about me, free and calm;
At dusk, reach out toward stars and moon,
And nevermore be known to Man.

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

Bloodletting is Beautiful by Roberta Greifer

Bloodletting is Beautiful:

by Roberta Greifer

Drowning in skin,
Punctured in
A wilderness of sheets,
A piece of you still lingers in my prison of

At a wooden dinner,
Your eyes are firing squads
Across the mashed potatoes,
And we pretend the amputation is

My glittering assassin,
Prepacked in a box,
You wanted my advertisement of
And a hardness chained to watches
Is irreducible as

Your ego dangles like a naked light bulb;
My smile is sociable

“Bloodletting is Beautiful:,” by Roberta Greifer originally published in Forum (1973, City College of San Francisco).

Let’s Talk (Daniel J. Barbeau)

Let’s Talk.

by Daniel J. Barbeau

Let’s skip over the elements
the wind and rain
the thunder and lightning
that can move me so
let’s skip over love
the exultation
the pain of it
let’s skip over night
the bars and brawls
the sex
let’s skip over regret
the sorrow and remorse
the wishing things had turned out differently
let’s skip over fear
ever present in this temple
let’s skip over prayer
all the good it’s done us
let’s skip over loss
for once
let’s skip over poetry
just for today

“Let’s Talk.,” by Daniel J. Barbeau originally published in City Scriptum ([Forum] 1993, City College of San Francisco).

Eclipse (Joanne Chu)


by Joanne Chu

yellowly outrageous
of poppy wonder
and banana skins
shrieks beams
through space
and stabs me
in the eye

Has singled me out
and melts my borders
into a shadow

I’ve no shell
to keep me together
just my
black smudged
on the ground

“Eclipse,” by Joanne Chu originally published in Reality Trip ([Forum] 1973, City College of San Francisco).