Category Archives: Visual Arts

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.

 

Fiction: “Miss Pandora”, Featuring Image: “Geary”

Miss Pandora

 

The man who identified himself as Mr. Foley, looked at me from across the table. “The only responsibility you’ll have is to take care of my mother’s pet birds.”

“That seems simple enough”, I said.

“Well, it isn’t.” Foley’s voice had taken on an edge. Then he sighed. “Look, there are some things you need to know if you’re going to work here”. He paused. It looked like he was trying to carefully pick his words. “My mother is…not well. She has a bad heart condition, and the doctors’ give her only a couple of more months, at best. I’m just trying to make sure that her last days are as comfortable as possible.”

“I’m not a professional caregiver,” I said cautiously. “You might want to consider someone else for this job.”

“She already has professional caregivers coming by regularly. You’d only have to take care of her birds.”

By the hesitancy in his voice I could sense some red flags popping up. The job seemed way too simple for what Foley was offering to pay me. “What kind of birds are we talking about?” I asked. “I don’t have any background handling exotic birds either.” I was envisioning macaws, mynahs, even hawks.

Foley grimaced impatiently. “You sure seem hell bent on finding excuses for not taking this job I’m offering you.” He leaned back in his chair and returned my gaze evenly. “The birds are standard pet shop varieties: parakeets, finches, love birds. Nothing more exotic than that.”

This was all very confusing. “Just exactly how many birds are we talking about?” I asked.

Foley cleared his throat. Okay, I thought. Here’s come the catch. “I don’t know exactly,” he answered. “Over a hundred. Maybe around hundred and fifty”. He paused to let this sink in. He saw my expression and gave a wry smile. “Don’t worry. The story gets a lot crazier.”

I didn’t say anything but just sat there, waiting.

“Do you know the Greek myth about Pandora’s box?” Foley asked.

Well, I didn’t see that question coming. Foley seemed to take some slight amusement at my startled look. “No,” I said cautiously. “I don’t know anything about myths.”

“Pandora was sent by the gods to mankind along with a giant unlocked chest,” Foley said, his voice in story-telling mode, “With firm instructions that these stories go, Pandora was consumed with curiosity about what was in the chest. Finally she couldn’t stand it any longer, and she gave in and opened it. And every conceivable horror that now plagues mankind flew out of the chest, through the window and into the world at large. Every suffering that humanity has to endure today is because of Pandora’s obsessive curiosity and disobedience .” He stopped and looked at me, gauging my reaction.

“Um, why are you telling me this, Mr. Foley?” I asked.

Foley let a good twenty seconds go by before he spoke.  “Well,” he said. “Beside her heart condition, my mother also suffers from dementia.” He sighed. “She thinks she’s Pandora’s reincarnation. And her job is to undo the harm that the first Pandora did.”  Without meaning to, I gave a startled laugh. “Yes,” Foley said sardonically. “I suppose this all does sound funny.” 

“How is she going to set things straight?” I asked. I was embarrassed that I had laughed. Foley obviously did not consider this a laughing matter.

“She buys and cages birds, and assigns a particular evil to each one. ‘Greed’, ‘Pestilence’, ‘Cruelty,’ and so on. She believes that as long as these birds are caged, she’s sparing the world from everything ugly. And she keeps on telling me to buy more birds, every time she thinks of some new nasty thing to protect humanity from. So, I buy the birds. It keeps her happy.” He gave a wry smile. “She named the last two birds I bought ‘Indigestion’ and ‘Genital Warts’”.

“Okaaay,” I say. “And just would my job be?”

Foley’s expression grew exasperated. “Just take care of those damn birds,” he said. “Change the cage linings daily. Make sure they all have enough food and water.” He shook his head. “Her place stinks like a giant aviary. At least try to keep the odor down to a minimum.” His eyes  opened wider. “And for God’s sake, don’t ever let a bird escape from its cage. All hell will break loose if you do.” He gave me a smile with precious little amusement in it. “So, do you want the job?”

I thought about the generous pay that Foley was offering. “Okay,” I shrugged. “I think I can handle that.”

Foley nodded. “Good.” We stood up and shook hands . “You start tomorrow,” he said. As I opened the door, he called out, “She wants to be addressed as ‘Miss Pandora’, by the way.” 

Because of what Foley had said, I was prepared for the smell when I entered Miss Pandora’s house.  But not the noise. Foley and I were greeted by a cacophony of chirps and trills, which would have been cute if uttered only by two or three birds. But with this menagerie, it was harsh and deafening. Foley, speaking loudly over the noise, introduced me to his mother. Miss Pandora said nothing, but gave me a long, hard stare. To describe her as “birdlike” would just be too glib, but she did have the sharp glower and jerky head movements of some bird of prey. She carried about her the fierce aura of a warrior hell bent on saving the world, whether it wanted to be saved or not. At least her intentions are noble, I thought.

Her house was not big, and there were stacks of bird cages, several rows deep, all along the walls of her living room. I could see more cages through her open bedroom door. After Foley left, I waited for Miss Pandora to say something. She eyed me suspiciously, but was silent. “Well, I said, putting a hopefully friendly smile on my face, “I might as well get to work.” 

I spent the rest of the day going through Miss Pandora’s house, room by room, changing the bird cage liners, and refilling the water and seed containers.  There were at least three and often as many as six birds per cage, and a card was taped to each cage identifying its inhabitants. Not only the seven deadly sins were represented, but smaller and more particular evils as well: “Cavities”, “Bruises”, “Line cutting”, “Belching”, “Talking too loud”, and so forth. There was a green and yellow lovebird identified as “Rape”, a pure yellow canary called “Genocide”, and a sky blue parakeet tagged as “Running Sores”. I winced at the harsh names given to these small, pretty birds, but they seemed happy enough and well-fed. The birds fluttered around, chirping and squawking, whenever I stuck my hand in the cages, performing my tasks. “Careful!” Miss Pandora called out once, sharply, as I was struggling with one of the larger cages. That was the only thing she said to me that day.  

I did this work for several weeks. Once, Miss Pandora had me run an errand to a pet shop nearby. She had a running account there, and the sales clerk greeted me with a friendly smile when I identified Miss Pandora as my employer. Per her instructions, I bought a finch and two parakeets. When I returned, Miss Pandora pointed out the empty cage she wanted me to put them in. After that, she assigned each of them a name, which I dutifully wrote down on an index card and taped to the cage: “Allergies” and “Sullenness” for the two parakeets, and “Anal Leakage” for the poor finch. 

A little over five weeks into the job, I got a called from Foley telling me that Miss Pandora had died last night in her sleep. His voice gave nothing away, but I imagined that he was more relieved than grief-stricken. “I need you to come by this morning,” he said. “For one last chore.”

When I got to the house the door was wide open, as were all the windows. Foley was in the center of the living room, opening up the cages and shaking the birds out. They fluttered frantically around the room before finally, one by one or in pairs, finding an open window and flying out. Foley raised his head and looked at me. “Start opening cages,” he ordered gruffly, “And help me get these fucking birds out of here.” While he was talking, I watched as “War”, “Brutality”, “Athlete’s Foot” and “Farts” flew out to freedom and disappear into the distance. We spent the rest of the day releasing all the rest of mankind’s ills and sorrows onto an unsuspecting world.

 

Written By: Clint Seiter

About the Author: Clint Seiter, a longtime inhabitant of San Francisco, is now retired and loving every minute of it. He has been a prolific writer, with seven anthologies of his stories published under his former pen name Bob Vickery. He is also an avid gardener, a passionate reader and a perpetual student.

 

Geary_Visual Arts_Photography

 

Visual Art “Geary” By: Meredith Brown

Fiction: “HoH”, Featuring Image: “Haze”

HOH   

     You liked her as soon as you first heard her speak while both of you were inside the elevator on your way to the fifth floor – she with that distinct, Michelle-Pfeiffer-sultry voice that coos and mesmerizes the Fabulous Baker Boys while she sings on top of the piano. You were meant to be together, you whispered to yourself. You were surprised, and so was she, when you realized that both of you were going to the same restaurant for your first day of work. The lounge area was so quiet… and the only sound that you heard was the thuds in your rushing, beating heart. You knew right there and then that you must have her, by hook or by crook.

     Of course, several months later, you got what you wished for. You visited her place one time and after dinner, both of you listened to Roberta Flack as she ebbed her dying chorus regarding a boy who was strumming her pain with his fingers and was softly killing her with his song. You needed to close the windows as the rustling of leaves kept intruding the harmonious silence of the evening. You were listening to her sighs as she kissed your palms while you were gently caressing her cheeks. You knew how someone from her past had screeched her gramophone and left saying nary a goodbye. You heard the sound of her tears sliding down her cheeks as it tousled with her hair, and you just put up your dam to prevent it from overflowing. Shhhh… It’s going to be alright, you said. She said she wanted to eat…. But then you just sat there, feeling disoriented because you had just splurged on the first memories of your skin touching, and you were still basking in the afterglow. No, she said. I didn’t want you to sit. What I wanted was for us to eat something. Aren’t you hungry? You then laughed, sealing the chemistry between you two, grateful for the connection. But it was also the first time when you experienced how a mishearing can affect your communication. After that night, you became an item. She became the cup to your saucer, and you, her tenon to the mortise. You became inseparable. You became her god while she became your muse. 

     Soon you became one in marriage and not long after, three children followed. You both were devoted in bringing them up. You both knew the intimate times were somehow getting few and far between. But it didn’t matter. You both were caught up with your own respective affairs – you as the boulder of the family, and she as the light. You barely noticed the seasons passing by in a frenzied hush, sashaying you to be quiet. Their moods were mostly mad, desperate for speed, squashing what was left of the day before when all were just figments of borrowed memories. Soon you both found yourselves missing the silent rifts and skirmishes amongst your children. You heard the last fledgling leave, and you were left with the empty nest. What to do now?    

      You loved watching films at home. During Blockbuster’s heydays, you always made sure that Friday and Saturday evenings were spent watching whatever films you both fancied; it was also the sacred time for homemade pizzas or pastas, which she so lovingly cooked. You adored her for her culinary expertise – wasn’t that the primary reason why she caught your attention and fell in love with her in the first place? But the food you always guzzled down on those nights was just secondary to the passion you both have for the movies. You loved to be scared out of your wits and preferred whodunits or psycho thrillers. You got a knack out of watching Ted Bundy’s horrid tales and Hannibal Lecter’s eating fava beans for a side dish, while she adored romantic comedies which featured all the ingenues from the Golden Age up to the present. You saw how she got starstruck and imitated her favorites in Tinseltown – Claudette Colbert, Audrey Hepburn, Sandra Bullock, Jennifer Lawrence. You laughed whenever she would mouth Bette Davis’ famous line, ”Fasten your seat belts – it’s going to be a bumpy night.”

     Whenever you both went to the cinema house on rare occasions, you always turned to her and asked her to repeat what had just happened or what the character had just said. You said you were lost. You were kind of upset when she ignored you.  You know that whenever she watched a movie, she wanted to focus on it and not get distracted in any way. You wanted to hear every single word that was uttered even by the minor characters. You wanted to be there. You wanted to be in the moment. All around you, you heard the shhhs and the tsks tsks – coming from random people in the dark. You hated it when home movies didn’t have subtitles.

     You were fine, you mentioned. This quirky ear would act normal soon. You always  convinced yourself that you are far from being deaf. The hospital visit could wait.

     You were not there when Mr. Paredes mentioned to your wife that your land title was being revoked due to a technicality. Your wife wished to tell you sooner, but she was preoccupied with finding the resources to hire a good lawyer. She hid all the details not just from you but to all of your children… thinking in her mind that you wanted to get rid of the property and just look for a smaller place for the both of you. So she decided to just be quiet in the meantime. She would let you know at the opportune time… as soon as she got a better deal for the sale.   

      It was 3:00 in the morning, and you complained about why she needed to wake you up just to check if your dog Tubby was safely tucked in her bed. Hmmm… hmmmm…. Then eerie silence. You said, “do you really need to check?”

     You remembered earlier you had just watched “A Quiet Place” in the cinema. Alone. You had done that because you had to wait for her while she was having her me-time with her two friends at the salon. Aarrghhh… Emily Blunt mouthed. You abhorred the alien who would like to pry on her and perhaps hurt her unborn son. You knew how painful their silence was. Tap. Tap. Tap. Water was overflowing in the bathtub… Shhhh…. You knew you enjoyed the movie, like the way you enjoyed foreign films because you didn’t need to hear the lines, you just need to read the subtitles, especially now that you could watch movies on your tablet.

     It was dead of night. You were there, beside her. For some reason, you just wanted to hug her, feel the warmth of her embrace and touch the glistening strands of her wavy, graying hair. You pushed your chest against her breasts and soon you two were stuck together, glued by unseen forces, your two hearts beating as one. You let her feel the tears running down your cheeks, a river that wouldn’t let up. You touched her face like she was the only star left in an evening on which all of the universe’s galaxies had hidden themselves for the night. You were hugging her so tightly, both of your loose naked skin screeching like a printing machine, which always jammed because the oils hadn’t been used and calibrated for so long; enmeshed and oohing, a mosquito buzzing in your ears to let you know it wanted to suck your blood.

     “I’m sorry,” you said. “How can you forgive me?”

     Shhh. The window pane was knocking like a soft tumbleweed, all the snowflakes summoning Jack Frost to come and make amends for not coming sooner, just when you needed him the most.  

     You just sold the most important deed in your lives – the land title you had so long kept and cherished. When she told you to just “seal it” and wait for her to look for a better deal, you thought you had heard her say “sell it” and with that mishearing, Mr. Paredes smiled the widest smile of his life not realizing that the next day, you, and your wife’s lives would never be the same again.

     You tried to rectify your mistake. You tried to contest the misunderstanding, the mishearing. You told them it was your condition that caused the blunder. Trying as you had to recover all lost ground, the enemy didn’t budge. You signed it. Your wife endorsed it. Somehow you wished this was one of your silent movies that you were used to watching on Friday or Saturday nights, when even if you couldn’t hear what Robert de Niro was saying in Raging Bull, or Scott Campbell’s gibberish to Julia Roberts in Dying Young, you could always depend on the subtitles. If you were given the chance, life should be a series of tapes where even if you forgot to hear the words, you could always pause and rewind them to hear the misheard lines again. Hush. The night is still. It’s just money.

     You decided to leave that night, convinced that it wasn’t too late to get the land title back. All you needed was a good lawyer. This lawyer lived next to a railroad station and you were determined to get a hold of him. You hailed a cab on your way there and soon found yourself walking on a railroad track, praying somehow that you would be back early morning the next day, just in time so you could make her some brewed coffee, for a change. You didn’t hear the muffled sounds of an approaching train. All you heard in your mind were answers that would bring a smile back to her lips. You loved her. It would break your heart to see her cry. Back home, she was awoken from her sleep when she missed hearing your rugged snoring. Downstairs, Tubby was groaning, like a cat trying to kill a rat. Back in the bedroom, she tried pulling herself from the bed but decided against it. You just couldn’t interrupt her smile for obviously, she was enjoying her dream. She was hugging the pillow like it was you. You were there.

 

Written By: Fernando Rosal Gonzalez

About the Author: Fernando Rosal Gonzalez has published novellas, children’s storybooks and written TV scripts both for mainstream and independent producers in Manila. He created the children’s TV show, “Oyayi,” which was jointly produced by CBN-Asia, the NCCT (National Council for Children’s Television), and ABS-CBN. He is currently taking up filmmaking and creative writing courses at CCSF.

Haze_Visual Arts_Photography

 

Visual Art “Haze” 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: “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.