Poetry

student writings

Poet Javier Zamora Reads at Mission Campus!

Zamora FlyerJavier Zamora was born in El Salvador and immigrated to the United States as a boy. He earned a BA from UC Berkeley and an MFA at NYU and is a 2016-2018 Wallace Stegner Fellow at Stanford. Unaccompanied is Zamora’s first poetry collection. His poetry has been featured in numerous magazines and he has received multiple honors including a National Endowment for the Arts fellowship.

Poetry: Under the Saffron Sun by Alexander Hudluman

Under the Saffron Sun

by Alexander Hudluman

Under the Saffron sun, to the east and west
amidst its brilliance.
A pair of unlikely sun burnt eyes strained forth.
Played upon by the endless mirage trickery.
Misery was surely the desert’s dealing with the devil.
Suffering was its voice and the land told a tale of a hellish wasteland.
Littered with ornamental bones to laugh at the next unsuspecting man.
Death provided the over watch to the many things that didn’t necessarily survive.
Undeterred by other’s heed to the desert’s hostilities.
The man had dug his own grave.

Poetry: Tão Clara by Ana Sjobon

Tão Clara

by Ana Sjobon

Clara como a luz
que irradia do sol
Clara me conduz
mesmo me deixando só

Ela já se foi
mas é dificil acreditar
a saudade me corrói
pois me ensinou a caminhar

ás vezes sinto sua presença
me da forças e me acalma
como uma bússola que guia minha alma

sou seu legado
sua partida não foi em vão
seu exemplo é minha motivação

So Bright

by Ana Sjobon

Bright as a light
That resonates from the sun
So bright that guide’s me
Even when on my own

She is already gone
And it’s hard to believe
Your absence corrodes me
As you taught me to live

Sometimes i feel your presence
It strengths and sooths me
Like a compass for the soul

I’m your legacy
Your departure was not in vain
Your example is my motivation

Ana Sjobon is a Business major student at CCSF.

Poetry: Intension by Alexandra Saba

Intension

by Alexandra Saba

Oh how selfless and true we could be if we only learned to communicate more effectively.
Oh me, oh my, oh dear
how our words spill carelessly
dribble like mother’s milk from a babe’s mouth.
We can plant these seeds carefully if we hold them in steady hands,
dig holes with intention.
Mend pains of nonchalance
through calculation.
Reckon healing with sedulously poised letters
balanced on cracked lips.

Alex Saba is a poet and student at CCSF. She enjoys psychedelic trance, dancing in the rain, talking to cats, singing to the moon, and hailing the glow cloud (all hail).

Poetry: La Petit Mort by Alexandra Saba

La Petit Mort

by Alexandra Saba

Glowing
crashing
waves flit
across
the nebulous terrain
of my body.

Aching.
Arching.
Crash.
Echoing ripples
reverbing back
into my surrounding reality.

Warm, white glow
blankets me
lulls me
into sleep,
little slice of death
tingling
tasting sweet.

Alex Saba is a poet and student at CCSF. She enjoys psychedelic trance, dancing in the rain, talking to cats, singing to the moon, and hailing the glow cloud (all hail).

Poetry: The Hobo Ride, by Gloria Keeley

The Hobo Ride

by Gloria Keeley

the night railroad holds sleepers
each with their own dreams
the train in the rain whistles
lonely on skinny rails
rolling the canyons
boxcars hold card games
the flickering lanterns lend
credence to kings and queens
corn stalks the land
nests dry in the moonlight
grass grows around baby birds
beaks red from cherries
fed by their mothers
the early morning breeze
ripples the fish-full pond
the hobo rides the freight
after tramping the yards
the main line tunnel
where souls are hidden
spoon the smokestack veins
indians set ears to ground
sense the ancient rumble
riding down the double E’s

Gloria Keeley is a former student of CCSF. She attended City in the late 60s and taught for CCSF for 34 years. Her writing was included in the 1968 issue of Forum and she was editor of the 1969 issue. Her poem “Billie” won the 2016 Forum Online writing contest.

 

Poetry: Sober by Jake Ortega

Sober

by Jake Ortega

Moving on sounds simpler than it is
I can’t move on if you don’t let me go
I can’t count how many times I’ve heard it
“Just give it up!”
“Do something else to substitute it!”
As if I haven’t tried

Despite the brand you left on me
As blatant as the day it started
Your influence seems superficial to them
But that’s just the man that I portray
The pain continues because I try
I try to salvage what remains

And every day that precipice gets wider
Every hour you goad me to take that leap of faith
I’ll never be rid of you until I do
And you wave that opportunity like a checkered flag
Assured that I won’t even try
It’s a distance you know I can’t overcome

You drink my misery like beer
But I’m the one who’s off my face
As the world goes ‘round without me
I can’t lay down without holding on
I used to relish such spirituous delights
Part of the plan you’ve laid before me

Your laughter echoes through my being
A face beneath my jaundiced skin
Cackling at the husk you inhabit
Knowing that all that I carry with me
Is everything that I have
And everything that I am

Your presence threatens to consume me
But with your presence I must live on
In hopes that my appeasement is enough
And if the day comes that you depart
The vacancy of your being may be too inviting
For another to take your place

Do I have you, or do you have me?

Writing Prompt Wednesday (on Thursday)

Hey everyone! I know we took a bit of a sabbatical last week (Forum Lab was canceled because Professor Young had the flu– happily she’s much better now), but I definitely missed y’all.

Here are a couple of photos from yesterday’s lab, where we wrestled with the final proofs, talked about grammar, and tried to obey Graphics’ directives about cutting some pages. Y’all, we got so many awesome submissions the editors and readers loved that Graphics had to ask us to cut 20-40 pages! So, you know, if you submitted something and it didn’t get in, keep in mind that there was a ton of amazing competition and we definitely want you to try again in the Fall.


On to the writing prompt!

I’ve seen some amazing quotes for National Poetry Month, but I think this one, from G.K. Chesterton’s essay Cheese, has to be one of my favorites.

Respond to this beautiful and extremely deep quote in any way you please:

 

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A poet’s hope: / to be, like some valley cheese, / local, but prized elsewhere. (W.H. Auden, “Shorts II”, Collected Poetry, 1976)

 


Whenever you write a poem, story, take a picture, or create a piece of artwork based on these prompts, you can post it in the comments or submit it to submissions@forumccsf.org for consideration on the Forum Magazine Blog.

Make sure to follow all submission guidelines and in the subject line include “Writing Prompt Wednesday”. In the body of the email, please include the writing prompt you used for your piece.

Writing Prompt Wednesday: Spotlight on Haiku

Happy Wednesday, everyone. We are back from spring break! Today’s topics are all about finalizing publishing documents, page counts, fact checking, and arguing about whether we should cross-publish pieces here and in the magazine (make your opinions known in the comments, y’all!)

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Professor Jen Sullivan Brych, Carolina and Obo listen to C (off-camera) holding forth

We’re also starting work on some group projects reviewing other literary magazines, because professional development is important.


On to the writing prompt!

Spotlight on Haiku

I know we all learned a very rigid definition of the form when we were in grade school– a three line form with the format of five syllables/seven syllables/five syllables. If you pick up any book of joke haiku, you’ll see this impulse at work.

There are other traditional haiku rules that we don’t talk about as much– writing in the present tense, a “season word,” (kigo) which is a nature image specifying the time of year. Still, many modern poets writing haiku break with the traditional formats– modern haiku, especially, are increasingly unlikely to follow the tradition of 17 syllables or to take nature as their subject.

But the essence of haiku is the juxtaposition of two images or ideas with a kireji (cutting word) or caesura between them, a verbal or visual punctuation mark signaling the moment of separation and relation.

Below are a few famous or Forum staff-written haiku to get you going:

Matsuo Bashō:
In the twilight rain
these brilliant-hued hibiscus –
A lovely sunset

Yosa Buson:
Over-ripe sushi,
The Master
Is full of regret.

Richard Wright:
With a twitching nose
A dog reads a telegram
On a wet tree trunk.

Zach Hauptman (Forum Web Editor):
pilgrimage–
a late afternoon
coffee break

Kriz Natalie Monrose (Forum NonFiction Editor):
madness creeps out and
plays, in and out of the shadows
breaking my mental state

shadows play
on the raven’s wings
in my mind

Alexandra Saba (Forum Assistant Web Editor):
flickering lights shine
through early morning windows
sirens sing their song


Whenever you write a poem, story, take a picture, or create a piece of artwork based on these prompts, you can post it in the comments or submit it to submissions@forumccsf.org for consideration on the Forum Magazine Blog.

Make sure to follow all submission guidelines and in the subject line include “Writing Prompt Wednesday”. In the body of the email, please include the writing prompt you used for your piece.