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.
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.
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
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.
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.
Neptune (acrylic on canvas) by Michelle Engledinger, published previously in Spring 2019.
The stairs to the backyard are dusty with un-swept dog hair. They cling to my footsteps as I run by; the need to follow still hiding in their genes. The chickens peck holes into the sweet nasturtium caging them in. An unlucky worm is found between stalks and chicken wire. The path to the shed shows signs of neglect: unattended plants causing havoc, a meandering line of clovers that peek through cracks in the bricks we placed last spring. I shove the swollen door, the rain has been thick. Inside your old shed: fallen coins from your pockets forgotten on the floor, a lucky bamboo shoot, its small green leaf not yet wilted. I linger in the doorway. The chicken scrapes her heels into the ground.
The strawberries grow wild in the dirt next to me. Their sweetness untamed.
Our Backyard After You Left by Valeri Alemania
Valeri Alemania is a Bay Area writer living in San Francisco. She has a B.A. in Creative Writing from San Francisco State University. She was previously awarded first place in the Short Story section of the Diablo Valley College Creative Writing Contest.
Isabella Antenucci is an artist, writer and blue collar worker that lives in the San Francisco Bay Area.
don’t follow me like that
with your sleazy saunter
and those toned (bone-d) twigs
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
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.
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.
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.
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.
Pre-Partition luggage tag
for the ancestral round-trip
Attendant sees my belly and lets me board early
with the still-complete families
Lahore traffic clouds my open eyes,
the only part of me that can pass
When storm-windowed shut, they only
dream in American and only
got here by exhausting the question:
How much of Daughter’s climate is negotiable?
Slashes of jet lag until life rhymes:
The oven an unaging beast
My frozen stomach thaws and feasts
Ten days cut shorter by warping east
Then time to vaporize, says my iPhone priest
My toes touch grandma’s when we hug goodbye
Under the floorboards hushes a treasure that lawyers can’t split
But it’s over the weight limit
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 atmattluedke.com.
Metrô Sumaré, Photograph, by Vincent Calvarese
Vincent Calvarese is a visual artist who photographs his travels. This photograph is from an art installation, Estação Sumaré (Sumaré Station) in Saô Paulo, Brazil’s Metro System, by Alex Flemming
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.
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.