Category Archives: Visual Arts

Abdication

At first I think
of postage stamps and the faces of queens, immortalized
in their black-and-white moment. The shades of the past
are monochrome, marred only by some accidental fold,
some streak of pale lightning. Pink roses blooming
on the wallpaper of my bedside dresser. When I take
this photo between my thumb and forefinger, I find
a child. Younger than I, somehow:
roundcheeked in a stiff-collared dress,
lips peeled back in what we called a shuaya smile—
“brushing teeth” in perpetuity, to appease some ghost
behind the lens. (Her own mother, as it turns out).
Her eyes are dark and wide. In her entirety
my mother is barely larger than my thumbnail.
(I am eight years old). Here are things that surely
must always have existed as they are
now: Mars. Stonehenge. Mt. Everest.
The swelling of the seven seas.
The gnarled roots of redwoods, reaching
deep through the soil of the earth. When
she tells me of my grandmother
witch, who sent her away at two, expecting
love at six, and then a smile flashed for the future too,
I cannot help but
shrink away from the unframed tears, saying
Bu xiang can le. I don’t want to see. Burying myself
in the legos scattered on the carpet, and the photo
underneath the socks in the uppermost drawer
of the dresser, floral and pink.
On nights when the moonlight streams through
my window slats like tiger stripes,
slinking slow across the ceiling, something
brings me to rummage out the past,
to gaze back at a face younger
and more vulnerable than mine, though somehow also

still sleeping in the room right beside me.
I wonder who else had watched Princess Diaries,
and pawed through their mother’s things, seeking family
heirlooms: perhaps the gems
of royalty, or an alternate path
towards nobility: “You were adopted!”
My mother tells me that she knew, at ten, that
her daughter would be a princess.
It is often the nature of things to follow
patterns, branches to twist onwards
as tangled as the buried roots.
Yet she does not curse me
with her inheritance—the mother of hers
who had chosen favorites, withheld
love. Could I too have
hacked a clean cut at the past?
Loved the usurper, that baby brother
like I would my own children? Transmuted
my blood into garnets
at each joyful coronation?
Never my (her) own.
(I am twenty six). Older
than the not-crying child in the photo,
older than her mother when her mother had her, nearly
older than the mother she herself would become
upon having my older brother
in this far and foreign land. The beautiful country.
Now when we hug and she says that
I am her dream, born into being, I wonder
if it is too late to throw down my crown.

Written by: Jessica Yao

Jessica enjoys exploring winding roads, new ideas, and interesting combinations of words. Hopefully one day this all coalesces into something beautiful. In the meantime, she continues to mash at her keyboard.

Maau!_Visual Arts_Photography_Kayla Wilton

Art title: Maau!

By: Kayla Wilton

I received my English degree with a Spanish minor from CSU Stanislaus in spring, 2019, and I will complete my creative writing certificate at CCSF in spring, 2020. Writing is my passion, but I also dabble in drawing, painting, photography, and performance. My work has appeared in Penumbra Literary Magazine.

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.