Category Archives: Poetry

student writings

Neon Pharmacy

I know I’ve stepped on sands of beaches

hit on all sixes; shot the Chicago typewriter

mammy cradles Jazzbo to the living end

near the villa I kiss his warm lips,

tarot cards over dry lake beds

near Missouri tugboats

map my route

wings flap like coattails as

anchors fall from the sky

leaving their sailor moon

over the lily pond snowflakes mix

like neon pharmacy by the candy aisle

butterflies land, colors camouflaged.

in the backyard the dog gathers bones

to study archaeology

the sound of crab apples in the distance

lingers in the key of leaving

chopsticks click; once conjoined

the capo slides onto the guitar 

Written By: Gloria Keeley

I’m a graduate of San Francisco State University with a BA and MA in Creative Writing.  My work has appeared in Spoon River Poetry Review, Slipstream, FORUM and other journals. I graduated from CCSF and I taught at CCSF for 34 years and was the editor of FORUM in 1969.

Copy of ornithophobia_Visual Arts_photography

Art Title: Ornithophobia

Artist: Eunbin Lee

I am a student studying photography  from Korea. Living in a new culture and environment of the United States, I try to express through pictures what I felt based on various daily experiences. I feel a sense of freedom by expressing it through my photographs rather than words. I hope people can feel the feelings that I want to convey through my photos.

Pant Legs Protrude

Gritty sneakers, one 

sock, raggedy pant legs protrude 

from a soiled pockmarked box 

abandoned in a doorway 

the wrest of him 

slumbers hidden 

in precious privacy. 

 

Next door excited 

people queue up 

for a grand opening 

salivating for pricey chicken 

and waffles and the hullabaloo 

of musictangledchatter to numb 

conflicted hearts.

Written By: Grace D’Anca

I came to San Francisco in the late 60’s to pursue theater and dance, performed with small companies and wrote poetry too; discovered creative arts therapy as a profession and    worked encouraging people facing challenges to express themselves. Retired now, I love taking writing and art classes at CCSF.

Copy of Flowers_illustration_ink

Art Title: Flowers

Artist: Dimas Arellano

Illustrator of queer things and Portfolio Club representative pushing for more Art exposure on campus! From Los Angeles but have called San Francisco home for nine years. Love City College to death and want students to continue to express themselves as much as they can through the Arts programs offered.

Court Geometry

r           r

  u      e

     b b

pavement 

 

cassette tape beat

don’t chase the ball into the street 

l            r

  e       e

    a th

hardwood 

 

scoreboard screams

television bleacher dreams 

 

he and i memorize the lines

— on the court

on the ball —

in our pronouns 

 

sweat and contact and equipment closet-

ed

after practice 

 

one on one 

 

a timeout stolen from the game with no final buzzer

in which every move is a statistic

and on the line is

out

Written By: Matt Luedke

Matt Luedke is a former editor of Forum who continues to be inspired by the writing community he’s found through CCSF. He has also been published in Prairie Light Review and Ripples in Space. Links to his published works are at mattluedke.com.

Away

Our eyes met amongst the oak desks 

 

and rough wooden school benches, 

pencils lost between their skinny cracks, 

 

and stray chalk dust on shiny wax 

 

floors that reflect your blue 

sneakers reaching out to mine 

 

But only briefly— 

you headed out the door, 

 

shoes squeaking in the wax.

Written By: Britt Trachtenberg

Britt Trachtenberg is a high school senior who plans to major in creative writing in college starting in August. They are inspired to write mostly by nature. Their favorite poet is Mary Oliver.

Quiet Places

quiet places

 

there’s something about walls and ceilings

and their clearly delineated lines

are rooms put together

/ constructed

that way

to give us the illusion of order

providing a familiar

/ predictable

space

to come back to to

exist

in

after

spinning in the

maelstrom of life

?

clearly, they don’t satisfy every need

we’re always nailing things up

calendars to remind us of passing days

art to remind us of beauty

the forgetful or addicted mount their televisions

to remind them of the

madness alfresco

if bare walls mirrored life

they’d resemble cubist art

which would be good

museums are always quiet places.

Steven Louis Ray is a multidisciplinary artist working in traditional film and darkroom processes, in addition to writing and recording experimental music and writing poetry. He’s currently slogging his way to a creative writing certificate and studying printmaking at City College of San Francisco. More of his photography can be viewed at stevenlouisray.com

a couple admiring a work in a museum
At Moma by Junona Jonas

Junona Jonas is a student at City College enrolled in the Fine Arts Department. She has been painting and drawing for a number of years and have been able to develop as an artist working with the extraordinary teachers at City College.  Her work is largely narrative, Whether using pastel or acrylic for work that is landscape or figurative, Jonas wants to engage the viewer by telling a visual story.

Buckets of Rainwater

 

Proudly, he awakens his three youngest at dawn,
they’ll share eggs, herring and tea. Zeb,
his oldest won’t visit from his conscription
in Sanai for another 3 to 4 months while an opaque
gray of sadness clings to the walls
and his wife Sedja’s ashes sit above the makeshift
mantle, her lungs first, then her uterus
Metastasizing the entire family and her parents
now no longer allowed to travel
with the pedestrian crossing closed.

He remembers their weekly visits for groceries
and toilet paper, the store owner Elon, sat
with judgement like Ezra the Scribe
when he held her hand in the tight aisles
waiting in line for her medications,
no hair left under her khimar
yet he would smirk and mumble under his breath,
“see, they are weak, they even kill each other.”

His business was forcibly closed by decree,
he could no longer buy or sale supplies
to the Westbank with increased restrictions
on coastal fishing and the expanding tributary of walls
have assured him, it is forever. He’s still confused
that he no longer sees the love for humanity
his parents instilled in him from crib to classroom,
home to Sabbath, Mediterranean to Dead Sea.

He looks forward to his children’s sleepy eyes
and shuttering the windows for the night,
he will sip a small glass of Arak,
after their feet have lifted and are tucked
away quietly in the far bedroom. An array
of dog’s barking and movement of armored
vehicles can be heard in the distance.

He holds onto his resentments like springtime
buckets of rainwater near the Gaza Strip,
as the tattered Star of David flies solemnly
above and dangles tarnishing in 14k
around his neck. Everything that falls
from the sky like droplets of hate
are owned by the Promise
but his feelings are all his own.

He says, so long as they persist in hatred
of the other and the insistence on maintaining
the seclusion, they are helping to create
a group of people that do not belong
to either one of the two nations
and love is forbidden alike.

Buckets of Rainwater by Vincent Calvarese

Vincent Calvarese is a writer and visual artist born and raised in the San Francisco Bay Area. In his latest work, Buckets of Rainwater, he gives voice to those in the Middle East battling the multiplying walls of hate.  After 32 years in San Francisco, he recently relocated to the Coachella Valley.

Abstract, waterlike painting
Neptune by Michelle Engledinger

Neptune (acrylic on canvas) by Michelle Engledinger, published previously in Spring 2019.

 

 

 

Dialectic

 

The absence of

Desire is sometimes

Called peace.

 

See flowers.

Smell them.

See birds.

Hear them.

 

Imagine their absence.

 

Who can deny life’s desire for more life?

The absence of desire is sometimes called peace,

 

But perhaps only by those too weary

To witness spring.

 

Dialectic by Jason Syzdlik

Jason Szydlik studied poetry at City College. 

For My Iranians

Rest in power to the 176 beautiful human beings that were taken from Mother Earthtoo quickly, on January 8, 2020, shortly after taking off from Tehran International Airport for Ukraine. Thinking of all of you, your family, and your loved ones.

People in Iran will literally give you the clothes off their back. No exaggeration.
“Ghabel nadareh.” [It’s no big deal.]
“Biya, tokhmeh bokhor.” [Come here, eat some nuts.]
“Gherdoo barat shekastam, biya azizeh delam.” [I’ve broken some walnuts for you to eat, come here my darling.]
You are a guest in Iran, always.
Iranians compete for who pays the bill. Fights ensue. Names called. From the outside, it looks like a misunderstanding, a fight, even. For us, it’s a deep show of care. We call it “Taarof”.
When Iranians walk in front of you, they will always, all ways, apologize.
“Goal poshtooroo nadareh.” [A flower has no front or back.]
The hospitality, the poetic warmth, the generosity; engrained into the very fabric of the culture. Neighbors know one another here. They talk all the time. A guest stops by my grandfather’s house, just to say hello—brings flowers, sweets, dinner—salam, chetori? hello, how are you? I heard your grand-daughter was in town. Bebakhsheed keh zoodtar nayamadam. My apologies for not stopping by sooner. I wish you health, happiness and joy.
“Hameen.” [That’s all.]
For me, it’s everything.
I remember my Haji Baba crying
As I picked up my suitcase and headed for the door
Tehran airport the final destination
He tells me
Bebaksheed ageh keh vaghteh khoobi nadaashtee.
I’m sorry if you didn’t have a good time.
Tears pool quickly fall from his eyes
Hot raindrops
I kneel down, one knee, embrace him
Feel the hot mass
Azizam, cherah meegee bebasheed? Kheili kosh gozasht eenja.
My dear, why are you apologizing? I had a wonderful time here.
He tells me “Azizeh delam, areh, areh, areh.” [My darling, yes, yes, yes.]

For My Iranians by Ladi Khoddam-Khorasani

Ladan (Ladi) Khoddam-Khorasani, known by her friends and loved ones as Ladi, is an Iranian American womxn poet, story-teller, advocate, and life-long student. Ladi’s writing is mostly fueled by mint and cardamom coffee, dark chocolate, and spontaneous dance parties in her kitchen. Her writing focuses on the power of the human spirit; kindness as a necessary ingredient for intentional living; and the resiliency of community. She currently works as a public health advocate for youth experiencing homelessness in San Francisco, and is always looking for ways to connect community to the healing power of the arts.  You can find her at IG: ladifuggindadi and/or Twitter: lkhoddam.

“my new friend”

“my new friend”

don’t follow me like that
with your sleazy saunter
and those toned (bone-d) twigs
wobbling wedges
dollbaby dress
hippie handbag
and impossibly long locks
the color of crows (screaming murder!)
the color of cats, those black island cats, following me all over
staring me down with eyes the color of citrine

don’t look at me like that
holding your ground as i back toward my car
posing against the cemeterial scene
thousands of stones
millions of bones
dressed in summer green with floral accents
languidly tossing, up and down, up and down, a white ball
daring me to hold my ground
staring me down through eyes the color of that ball
(eyes with no color at all)

don’t haunt me like that
the other patron in the red water bar
the passenger in the back seat of my car
the visitor at my bedroom door that’s ajar
silent, insistent
that we go back to play at the alae*

*alae – a cemetery outside hilo, a city on hawaii’s big island

Sarah Elliott is a poet, classical pianist, and opera coach, who in her spare time practices law in San Francisco.

Graffiti style painting
Children Forever Dream by Victor Bhatti

Born in Karachi, Pakistan, Victor Bhatti started practicing graffiti art on paper at the age of 8, emboldened by the walls around his neighborhood. He works in a number of mediums, including spray paint, airbrush, acrylics, oils, pastels, color pencil, and more. Children Forever Dream is the name of an artist collective he founded to bring together community artists and inspire the next generation.

Advice for Modern Americans

Don’t let your children study abroad,
Don’t let them go overseas.
The things that they learn in the rest of the world
Are things that can’t be unseen.
Don’t let them work in a foreign concern,
Discourage that class in Chinese.
They’ll never get work at the Credit Union,
They might also bring back ideas.
Why should we send our youth outward,
When we have everything you could want here?
Healthcare and cars, jobs and backyards,
But don’t you dare scratch the veneer.

Advice for Modern Americans by Stephanie Johnson

Stephanie Johnson has recently completed an AA degree in English Literature at CCSF. She has been working overseas for the last two decades and is enjoying the challenge of trying to re-integrate into a society that has changed dramatically. She hopes to capture her feelings about this in her writing.

Portrait of Dorothea Lange and one of her subjects
Dorothea Lange (screenprint)

Dorothea Lange by Ana Lazaro

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. Ana’s current work is inspired by her desire to celebrate empowered women making a difference across the globe.