Category Archives: Poetry

student writings

Poetry Piece: “Hivemind”

Hivemind

 

“What will we do?” he asked the touch 

screen, capable of any

thing, but turning

Off. An entire civilization.

 

Only a circumstance, cinders.

Like a beehive dying

Sticky, abandoned.

Antennae and pheromones dance 

Instructions to air and wax

Meaning collapse; signal loss: total. 

 

Or a web of snapping 

Threads, delicate strategies.

Spinning and skilled hooks

Once tethered each branch to action,

Gathering vibration and struggle 

In a center, a silk heart.

 

Now subject to circumstitch replacement

Mere object, nano optics, operant conditioning

A swivel chair and a console.

 

“Who is there to do 

Anything now?” a small god

In his head offered. “You don’t even know 

it is happening.” 

 

Written By: Robert Hill

About the Author: Robert Hill lives in San Francisco. He is interested in philosophy and the relationship humans have with technology. He is a song writer and is attending the addiction and recovery program at CCSF.

 

 

Poetry: “Address To Myself Across Decades”, Featuring Image: “Days Catch”

Address To Myself Across Decades

 

Stricken as you were with silence—the fall-out from that troubled Celtic island—

you were dumb, voice held as if in solitary

confinement.

Language languished.

 

I remember you taking flight

from Dublin, fleeing the dole, the lone

twenty-four old you were.

You heaved that great bag, the

huge heft of it all

across continents to Tokyo.

 

The oppressive September heat of the East, heavy and thick held

you in place, no breath

of wind to stir your tongue, your thoughts taut still.

God gone.

Silent, you pushed through that new city,

the furtive stares of the people: foreigner—

signaling the need to know yourself.

 

              I see leaves of trees animated

                             the God I came to know releasing breath

                                            gently bowing boughs 

                                                            blowing blessings to all who listen.

 

Listen!

Were I able to reach you then, from decades’ distance, 

I might say,

“Go to the trees, 

twine around trunks

press your palm on bark

a pine—lay supine

draw in the mystery of tree

Your silent stasis will pass.”

 

Might you have heard?

 

Written By: Bette Mc Donnell

About the Author: Bette Mc Donnell is from Dublin, Ireland but has called San Francisco home for many years. She’s returned to poetry after a long hiatus. Bette works for habitat restoration in the City (www.natureinthecity.org) and enjoys hiking, dancing, and learning about biomimicry.

 

days catch_bnw

Visual Art “Days Catch” By: Erick Orihuela

About the Artist: Erick Orihuela is an Ethnic Studies and Film as Literature high school teacher. He grew up in the Mission District after moving from Mexico City. For him, teaching is a means of showing people his favorite philosophers: Frantz Fanon, Silvia Federici, San Te of the Shaolin Temple, and MF Doom. Takes pictures to better balance work and ludic activities.

Poetry: “gamma-aminobutyric acid or GABA”, Featuring Image: “Friend in Me”

gamma-aminobutyric acid or GABA

 

worry is another love, to worry is to love

sweet talismans of take care / be well 

not enough to guard against 

metal sharpened teeth biting down

on inner cheeks, salted salivary

shame flowing down through lips.

 

my mother’s love is worried

cuticles, scorched forearms 

forcing a plastic lid cracked open,

to peel back foil of never sour enough mast

tanged with thick prepped herbs that

radiate love, a worried radiation full

 

of sweet morsels to feed syrup down

your throat, raw short nails scoring 

the plain of mars, kindling flames

humming glassy eyed, worry sheared razor thin, 

roasted fat dripping hot, burning flesh,

wiping out wellbeing.

 

my mother’s love a sun small enough

to burn me, encompassing warmth, 

coppered hot and floral, mint alighting 

my tongue, irradiated comfort 

fleeting against the bordered

creases in our eyes.

 

crawled from the belly of my

father, my mother too wounded 

to carry me, a blazing sun crisping 

me brown, leaving a parched shell 

behind crumpled from intense radiation

blasting everything in its path.

 

mirror the way my love is worried, 

care tossed in worry wrapped 

around my figure, refreshed

to pink and blue plump little cakes

climbing to dream ourselves 

wicked, benzos bitter on our tongues.

 

unease dissolving sharp and metallic,

worry burned brightly away under

a chemical blank, a challenge forgotten.

 

Written By: Dena Rod

About the Author: Dena Rod is the Assistant Creative Nonfiction Editor for Homology Lit. Through creative nonfiction essays and poetry, Dena aims to illuminate their diasporic experiences of Iranian American heritage and queer identity, combating negative stereotypes of their intersections in the media. Catch them on Twitter @alightningrod, denarod.com, & on tour with Sister Spit this upcoming spring.

Friend in Me_Visual Arts_Photography

Visual Art “Friend in Me” By: Eunbin Lee

About the Artist: 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.

Poetry: “Swallow a Beginning”, Featuring Image: “Samedi 01.12.2019, Toulouse”

Swallow a Beginning

 

I have a death wish. I wish death upon those who wish me ill

and look through my cellular walls, decide I am a nucleus weakened

 

from the world’s arsenal of surveillance. Do you see me through 

impact ending life blood on your phone screen? 

 

Do you feel it begin to burn when the crescent moons

of your nails pit the palms of your flesh in the fabric of this world?

 

How air flowing through your cracked nostril is eternal vigilance,

the price of victory, victory living out alive, two paths side to side 

 

leading forever to hear your water fall. Here’s the thing; 

I am a nucleus weakened from the world’s arsenal of surveillance

 

manipulated to what form sells the best reality, strongly threaded

to what raised me, the price to survive, build a new home in a crevice. 

 

The world presses down pushed in forever, I leaned into edges 

avoided; a terry cloth wrapped waist, light up ninja turtle sneakers,

 

rolled up skirts, page boy haircuts. Creating rules of my own reality,

I forever dripped sparkle on myself, roll on glitter dusted in diamonds,

 

mirrored fabric from a land only known from family stories. I’ve

built my way out of here, woven metal threads of fabric in this world.

 

Written By: Dena Rod

About the Author: Dena Rod is the Assistant Creative Nonfiction Editor for Homology Lit. Through creative nonfiction essays and poetry, Dena aims to illuminate their diasporic experiences of Iranian American heritage and queer identity, combating negative stereotypes of their intersections in the media. Catch them on Twitter @alightningrod, denarod.com, & on tour with Sister Spit this upcoming spring.

Samedi 01.12.2019, Toulouse_Visual Arts_Photography

Visual Art “Samedi 01.12.2019, Toulouse” By: Katie Holmes

About the Artist: Born and raised in California, Katie Holmes is a photographer and art historian based out of San Francisco. Throughout her photography Katie strives to explore the fine line between imagination and the more spiritual aspects of reality, She has recently served as an artist in residence for Arts Atrium in Arles, France. IG: @katie_holmess

Poetry: “Lucky Penny”, Featuring Image: “Vertigo”

Lucky Penny                                          

 

He laid the penny down

dug deep from his layered rags

this stranger on the street

at the corner outside the coffee shop.

 

He laid the penny down

with care and consideration

and, after a pause,

he walked away

in his tattered clothes

possibly to his home down the street

in an alley, or a doorway.

 

But he left the penny there 

hopefully to be found

by someone

who needs luck and possibilities,

who will pick up this penny,

and hold it tight                                     

for as long as is needed.

 

Then to pass it on          

to another

from another place 

on the ground

where luck and possibilities abound.

 

Written By: Bill Lautner

About the Author: R. William (Bill) Lautner, Jr. 75, father/grandfather/gay man, BSEE/MSIA Purdue, introduced to poetry in High School, renewed interest in early ’70’s, began writing in earnest in late 90’s concentrating on self-discovery, adding love of nature, and observations /experiences with family/farm/southern Indiana, studying with OWLS of San Francisco.

Vertigo_Visual Arts_Photography

 

Visual Art “Vertigo” By: Nikos Kihem

About the Artist: Nikos Kihem is a bicycle, motorcycle, world traveler and music lover. Enjoys reading graphics novels in newly discovered lonely benches. Awards winning photographer and writer living in Athens,Greece. Poetry publication“οι στροφές και ο δρόμος”(the road and it’s turns). You may visit him at kihem.com or send an inquiry to nikos.kihem@gmail.com.

Poetry: “Blue Fig”, Featuring Image: “Purple Yam”

blue fig

 

my shoulder bone hooks

soft and bruised

beneath your arm

tenderly threaded

hands slide inside
blush of blood
wrists rotate round waist

cupped together

cold limbs blanket

from arching branch
in the windy night

smell of sweetness

against your winter jacket

our flesh leaks

 

Written By: Lisa Graves

About the Author: Lisa Graves is a California Native, now living in El Cerrito. She is attracted to the unconventional were she can quietly push boundaries and explore the edges. Lisa now finds art and expression in writing and photography. Her work has appeared in Milvia Street Journal and Rag Zine.

Purple Yam_Visual Arts_Photography.jpg

 

Visual Art “Purple Yam” By: Gloria Keeley

About the Artist: 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.

Poetry: “Autumn in New York”, Featuring Image: “The Fog”

songbook: Autumn in New York 

Why does it seem, long

after I left, long after she

left, autumn invites Aunt

Stella down from her

penthouse to walk her

way into it, just a few

blocks east, until 93rd

stops being west. 

 

And the hurried grid of Manhattan

spread-eagles suddenly onto rocks

and grass and Stella can pass

through birds scurrying through

what’s left of their September

sounds, and Stella can still sniff

past her own perfume and still

inhale auspicious splendor of

autumn decay. 

 

Passing the benches of

Central Park, she kicks her

Bergdorf boots through

unpackaged piles of

crackling russet riot which

the trees, green gone, would

not hold on to. 

 

Stella turns to me to wonder

with me what it will be like to

be scattered and remembered

this way.

 

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.

 

The Fog_Visual Arts_Photography

Visual Art “The Fog” By: Nikos Kihem

About the Artist: Nikos Kihem is a bicycle, motorcycle, world traveler and music lover. Enjoys reading graphics novels in newly discovered lonely benches. Awards winning photographer and writer living in Athens,Greece. Poetry publication“οι στροφές και ο δρόμος”(the road and it’s turns). You may visit him at kihem.com or send an inquiry to nikos.kihem@gmail.com.

Poetry: “Three Cloves of Garlic”, Featuring Image: “Lion Chops”

Three Cloves of Garlic 

 

The members of the allium 

family remained whole, 

its Gilroy roots still bonded together, 

hidden underneath the dry soil 

along the narrow highway 

but the Romeros lost a 6-year old, 

standing 4ft tall, a chubby 

cheeked smile, and as an arid 

light breeze blew through 

the festive food court, 

a grandmother wept 

at what might have been 

and a mother’s grief spilling 

onto the sidewalk outside 

the hospital walls. 

 

It is an ancient bulbous vegetable, 

easy to grow and requires very little 

space, offset now from the darkened 

expansive imagination of a 13-year-old dreamer, 

a baby’s life now without an older sister, 

brushing her long black hair 

as Mama peels back the flakey skins, 

mincing its flavor into Monday night’s 

chicken dinner, now with one ingredient 

missing, and Papi sits back, tears 

gathering, while futbol, like his mind, 

is televised miles and miles away. 

 

Each will multiply in the ground, forming 

a new bulb of up to 10 cloves, 

as 60 separate rounds spilled out, 

maiming him lifeless, while his father 

holds his son’s biology degree close 

to his heart, remembering 

his 25-year-old’s love of humanity 

and studying life’s interactions 

but now not understanding its hate 

for one another. 

 

Love, like garlic, 

is eternal, it grows 

from individuals, broken 

off from a whole. 

It tastes enticing, always blended 

like flavoring in a recipe and between 

each other. It hugs us around our waists 

and in about a searing oiled pan. 

Its aroma drifting throughout our lives, 

remembering those moments, 

like the light scent 

on our fingers, 

…days later.

 

Written By: Vincent Calvarese 

About the Author: As a writer and visual artist, he found his wings amongst his heroes of Eureka Valley. Using the San Francisco Bay Area as his canvas, he highlights themes of restorative justice in The Final Visit, familial pain in The Flesh of the Father, gun violence in Three Cloves of Garlic, the pharmaceutical crisis in The Clipboard and the gentrifying 7×7 plain in The Slanted Winds Down Guerrero Street. He is a past General and Poetry Editor for Forum Magazine.

LION CHOPS_Visual Arts_Photography.jpg

Visual Art “Lion Chops” By: Victor Turks

About the Artist: Growing up in San Francisco, Victor Turks attended locale schools. His writing has appeared in the SF Chronicle and the Examiner featured his story about the first-ever Rolling Stones concert in Moscow. Victor presently teaches ESL at City College.

 

Poetry: “Courage of our Ancestors”, Featuring Image: “Maya Angelou”

Courage of our ancestor
My grandmother was named after one of the Adelitas
in the Mexican revolution
The dresses she sewed for my sisters and cousins,
were Art
We walked for miles,
in the Colonia de San Andres hills,
selling her dresses door to door
She was home for me,
an inner home
With her I found joy, emotional nourishment
I took her to Acapulco once
We breakfasted outdoors,
next to a turquoise green sea
We ate chilaquiles
and the most delicious ice cream I have tasted,
made from fresh coconuts
I bought her soft brown spiraled seashells
It was all she asked for
In the 80’s, our sister Patricia paid a coyote
to get our grandmother across the border,
from Tijuana to Los Angeles
Family pitched in with money for this journey
I gave $200
Her priest gave a santa cruz blessing
She was squeezed tight with another immigrant, a youth,
as the lid of a trunk of a car was closed on her.
A viejita praying she would not die
I was scared for her
It was not criminal for our Abuelita
to want to see her grandchildren
Her only motivation for crossing
She never talked much of the rigors of this crossing

She talked once of my grandfather Sixto,
not giving her a document she needed,
to cross the border
Intentional withholding,
so he could have power and control over her
Revenge for leaving him
I recall playing with red geraniums,
when I was 6
She said, This is your grandfather, Sixto
A saxophone player
I never saw him again
He died a few years later
My Abuelita died in her house, in Mexico City
400 people came to her funeral
I could not go.
I have never visited her grave
I feel too sad to see it
On a hot July afternoon
walking by Chicano Park,
I saw a mural of an Adelita painted underneath the bridge
She was wearing a long white cotton skirt
and a rifle
I felt then that my grandmother
was in a sanctuary, a deeply peaceful place
Her courage still inspires

 

Written By: Rocio Ramirez

About the Author: Rocio Ramirez has a Masters in Counseling Psychology and a Certificate in Expressive arts therapies. She has recently presented on Sandplay therapy and collage, with Latina domestic violence survivors, at the Institute for Violence, Abuse and Trauma. She is always happiest when she is next to the sea.

Maya Angelou_Visual Arts_Acrylic on Wood

 

Visual Art “Maya Angelou” By: Ana Lazaro

About the Artist: 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.

 

Poetry: “Essential Processes to the Development of a Sense of Self”, Featuring Image: “Zion’s Watchman”

Essential Processes to the Development of a Sense of Self

 

You string a hammock 

up beneath the willow 

within a thicket of oaks and redwoods, 

your body swings gently

back and forth, back and forth, 

 

time to relax⁠—inhale 

 

a deep breath of crisp fresh air, 

savor the soothing scents of eucalyptus, 

appreciate the rustle of leaves

after a sudden gust⁠—a chilling breeze,

the sun punctures her way through the clouds

kissing your skin⁠—the warmth tickles,

then there’s bliss, 

the bliss that comes with 

staring up at a canopy of bright

green leaves, eclipsing a sea of evening stars,

 

dawn draws near⁠—You exhale  

 

amongst the grove of oaks and redwoods, 

vines of ivy grow, clambering towards the sky, 

You observe, in the hammock 

beneath the willow swaying 

back and forth, back and forth. 

 

Written By: Francesca Bavaro

About the Artist: Francesca Bavaro enjoys reading and writing poetry and short fiction. In her spare time she enjoys hiking, walking dogs, and frolicking in the grassy knolls of Golden Gate Park. She is terrified of birds.

Zion's Watchman_Visual Arts_Photograph

Visual Art “Zion’s Watchman” By: Constance Louie-Handelman

About the Artist: Constance Louie-Handelman completed her A.A. degree at CCSF in 1973. Now retired as a clinical psychologist, she has returned to CCSF 2019 spring semester with a focus on digital photography.