Category Archives: Poetry

student writings

Poetry Piece: “If My Vagina Could Speak”

If My Vagina could Speak

She would tell me that she is the “mouth” of my heart.

She would say I have fed her rotted filth masquerading as food, for longer than I want to admit.

She might ask me, beg even, if I could sample my lovers first, if I could at the very least chew the invaders before I swallow. 

But I have always been the fastest eater at the table,

My world has always been an eat or be eaten- “who’s it gonna be?” world. 

If my vagina could speak.

But she’s mute most of the time,

Except when red dribbles from her lips,

Marbling into water,

Or when she’s so hungry she drools what becomes a waterfall of insatiable lust.

If she could speak I wonder if she would declare that we stand on opposite sides of the picket fence,

Calling me a traitor to myself,

If I gave her the power to speak would she speak on behalf of who I am or would she shame me,

Asking me if I remember all the ways I forgot she was a part of me,

And if I remember all the times I blamed her for the hijackings that took place simply because she existed.

 Because she would be right, 

And she would be wrong. 

If my vagina could speak,

We would laugh about that time she shot a menstrual cup onto the floor,

Spit it out and said “fuck this- I CAN’T BREATHE”-

And we would laugh about the time she convinced my urethra to pee in the middle of the kitchen,

And I’d tell her she was an asshole for drying up like some sort of sahara desert that one time-

And she would call me an asshole for falling asleep that time I masturbated.

If my vagina could speak

She would apologize for existing in the first place,

And I’d tell her that I love that she’s here with me,

And that it’s the fault of people who don’t understand no,

And it’s my fault sometimes for wanting to feel anything but—

Sshe would tell me she took what I gave, has carried what I did not-

And she would tell me that the burden of femalehood should not be as heavy a load,

And I’d say “but it is. Because you and I both exist.”

And we would both say our sorries-

If my vagina could speak she would ask me if I trusted her.

And I’d say we need another round of tequila for that conversation.


Written By: Christine Alicea

About the Author: I am a Queer Latinx Jersey transplant living in the bay area. I am majoring in education with an inclusion of queer studies. I am practicing the idea of becoming an Oasis for my community as well as telling people how they make me feel. We only have today.


Poetry Piece: “Close Your Eyes”

Close Your Eyes


Machine guns gleam and jackboots click

Vacant eyes blink back tears

Tiny prisoners caged for slaughter

Welcome to America, welcome to your new home


Vacant eyes blink back tears

Under flood lights blinding bright

Welcome to your cell, welcome to your new home

Piles of children spilt on concrete


Floodlights blinding, never ceasing

Turn the cameras off, there’s blood on the floor

Madmen chuckle and mop the concrete

A child’s eyes roll back into his head


Turn the cameras off, there’s blood on the floor

Two monsters come and take a girl away

A child’s eyes roll back into his head

Someone whispers nothing’s real here, nobody exists


Two monsters came and took a girl away

Everyone shuts their eyes and tries to pretend

The monsters cackle, screaming nothing’s real here, you don’t exist

The air is rank with piss and fear, everyone frozen, no one can move


Shut your eyes and try to pretend

Nothing’s real here, no one exists

The air is rank with piss and fear, everyone frozen, no one can move

Welcome to America, this is your new home


Written By: Chris Lukens

About the Author: Chris Lukens lives and writes in San Francisco. You can often find him prowling the streets of the Mission, burrito in hand, on his way to the Roxie or trying to remember where he parked his bicycle.

Poetry Piece: “Escuintles”



Have you met the dogs

In the De Young Museum?

You can see them

Behind glass


In the Mesoamerica 

Room; it’s almost like

A pet shop.


Olmec, I think, they’re 

Like chihuahuas
But plump, 

The color of dust.


My favorite

Is scratching 

At his fleas.


Another is lounging

Just like every lazy

Dog you’ve ever seen

On a hot, hot day.


But this fellow’s been 

Lounging since before Cortes 

Came, maybe long before.


Study their faces. 

I swear you can see 

Which ones lick 

And which ones bite.


Written By: Jason Szydlik

About the Author: Jason Szydlik studied poetry at City College.

Poetry Piece: “Unforeseen”



The poison apple provides ample rest

for Snow’s strength to return

and certain vision to coalesce.


The prince’s kiss, electrifies; yet 

what seals the deal is 

her awakened personal power.


From glass case made for her slumber 

she rises and strides to the cottage

alight with wattage disallowed before her nap.


Trailing her; seven skipping dwarfs

their gentle maid is back!

one brow knit prince 

why does he not lead this pack?

and… a new order of the day

her business case will soon be made!


After sumptuous sup’ prepared by Doc

all gather round the board to talk of Snow’s broad new vision –

deep distress over climate calls her to make haste!


She builds her case: no more mining in their future,

out of the forest they’ll move to the plains

build a wind farm, ‘Heigh, ho’, above the winged things


Venture capital, in princely sums, their dinner guest supplies.

Guided by Ms. White, minority CEO, 

SW7, their newly founded enterprise provides 

clean green energy for a conscious kingdom, 

and perhaps,

one day, a queen…

but that’s still unforeseen.


Written By: Claire Heinzelman

About the Author: Claire Heinzelman is enjoying retirement from serial careers of (reverse order) music education, advocacy training for families of children with special needs and corporate finance. To the untrained eye, this progression may not make sense; nonetheless, each chapter has provided a different lens through which to observe life and attempt to capture it on the page.

POETRY: “your two big toes”

your two big toes

the gate’s frame heaves and hoes
depending on the season
in winter, snug and resistant
like a pill bug
rolled up tight, looking
to tuck to a soft
warm side rib
then in summer
blooming loose, an open
laughing game
can’t catch
my running smile
but love, me
I am all the rooted
so why sit scrubby
tending distant
threads, measuring
stilted gulls
over lumbering water

Written By: Lisa Graves

POETRY: “Celia”


I feel very connected with you,
as I am writing this
but also reading this
for the first time,
just like you.
And you,
will you be cared for
by Iaia, as I was, as a little girl in Rio,
where my crazy flower of a momma
left my father, the man in the television,
left him helpless to put order in our hearts?
Are you holding my hand?
How do you feel when you read
how much I care about your caring about me?
Iaia was from Bahia, the warm womb of Brazil,
and she came with Candomblé,
the river on which the African saints
had sailed westward, in slave ships, in dark days.
Iaia cooked us cozido and pirão
and delighted with us in our girlish dancing.
Luiz Gonzaga Malheiros,
my esteemed father,
could never be a mama.
So he sat himself at a worn wooden desk
to prove the inexistence of God.
Maria de Gloria, in her separate sticky room in Copacabana,
missing the mothering of me, did auditions for death.
Neither Luiz nor Maria succeeded.
And in between them,
I began to hear the music,
the breath of the waves,
the clamoring coro of the sidewalks.
And my way started to compose itself.
I bloomed, and learned to be plucked,
and tested my browned and blonded body
by quickening its head, with smoke and colors.
Sometimes I saw what mommy saw,
and was glad and sad to see it.

Daddy sent me away, to the Disneyland of the North,
where I learned to order greasy food with hard consonants.
But I remembered to sing.
And I found America yearning towards my dipthongs,
seeking my salt-watered musical memories,
wanting curing from my dear dead Iaia.
Are you listening now, as I sing choro and bossa?
Have you married me, and made a mother of me?
And now, are we world enough?

Written By: Jeff Kaliss

About the Author: Jeff Kaliss has been studying creative writing and music at City College following the completion of an MFA in creative writing at San Francisco State University. At City, he’s appeared in Forum in various genres, read at Lit Night, and hosted the Poetry for the People Podcast.


POETRY: “washing machines in a dark room”

washing machines in a dark room

almost romantic, to watch
the two move balanced in step,
rumbling in one another’s rhythm

the two grasp at
touches, the sound of gentle metal
upon gentle metal

the humming
reminiscent of
conversations that drift into
early morning hours

in their stomachs
a swirl of foam and bubbles
light-hearted and innocent

what happens when
the soap leaves their systems
does their love hover when they stand
next to each other

still and motionless

Written By: Wesley Wang

About the Author: Wesley Wang was born in Nashville, TN and moved to San Francisco at the age of two. He later earned his BA at UC Davis where they studied English and Japanese Literature. He currently takes classes at City College of San Francisco and is applying to MFA programs.

POETRY: “Sign”


I saw it writ big on the new building’s side:
Hayes Valley Isn’t
Just a State of Mind
It’s a State of Being.

I doubted that credo out loud—
Its ontology, its epistemology. No one answered me.

Is it true?
How can one know?
Only faith might illuminate this mystery.

I strained mine to imagine someone say,
“I guess I never thought about it that way,
but I suppose it’s so,” then shell out
For a million-dollar studio.

Written By: Jason Szyldik

About the Author: Jason Szydlik studied poetry at City College.

POETRY: “Old Furniture, Valencia Street”

Old Furniture, Valencia Street
low middle frequencies
of easy conversation
soft shaded light
through sidewalk windows
sweet maple umbrellas over
dozing meters and wheels

tenants of Valencia
arise and meander down your street
weaving like rattlers on your way to Dolores
I see you while a soft saxophone purrs in my ear,
rubs against my leg
making me forget all about
the sleeping desperados
who lay next to discarded dreams and other furniture
awaiting fate on the bordillo

hope is more expensive than slumber
dream of your childhood’s earliest days
before your sadness began

Written By: Steven Louis Ray

About the Author: Steven Louis Ray is a multidisciplinary artist working in traditional film and darkroom processes, in addition to writing and recording ambient & experimental music and writing poetry. He’s currently studying poetry at San Francisco’s City College. More of his photography can be viewed at


POETRY: “The Night Before Tomorrow”

The Night Before Tomorrow

Black above as far as the neck will stretch
Dark night sky, ear to ear black
But for the fireflies alit
And the stars that dance with white twinkles
And the faint smudge from 12 th Street
Aloft across the roof
Under the dome
Down to behind Billy’s dad’s house
Where the Moon sleeps during winter nights

Special shadows live at night
Some crawl from yellow street lamps
Others live in the ballpark by the stands
Where popcorn wafts and salted peanut shells hide
During Summer days but disappear when the Sun rests
After a long day surveying, cresting over the lake
And the birds retreat to their nests in the maple trees
Bluebirds and robins and brown birds with no names

Sometimes the sky explodes in crimson ribbons and pink petals
Night swallows day’s colours as a fish might play with a worm
A nibble or two to tease a ripple on the surface
And the colours are absorbed when the Sun tucks itself in
And rolls over until tomorrow
When bright and early before the milkman left a glass bottle or two

The kind that have a bulb shape at the neck to catch the cream
And the smells of breakfast stir juices in tummies

One day just like that a new dawn arose
That’s what cousin Billy said that night
But it seemed to me that kindergarten was the same
We played and napped and filled in lines with colours
And it didn’t rain, but we did have chocolate donuts
Still warm from the bakery where Nanny worked
And my brother and I fought about something
That was very important at the time

Still Billy called me outside after dark
Almost past bedtime and pointed up
“Do you see that” he said
And I knew he was joking so I said “Yeah.”
“Do you know what that is?”
“Yeh, a sky full of night and stars”
“No, that one is not a star but it is moving, see . . . “
“Where? Oh, I see. So what.”
“I don’t get it?” I whispered, not for the last time.
“What’s Telstar?”

Written By: Thomas A. E. Hesketh

About the Author: Thomas A. E. Hesketh was born in Toronto, Ontario, Canada, on a cusp, in the last half of the last century of the last millennium; none of it his fault. He enjoys poetry because of its verbal range, except the caesuras, and chess because it is non-verbal, except the regicide.