“Can’t substitute a milkshake, sorry.” (Jackie Davis Martin)



by Jackie Davis Martin

You would have lied, too.  You would have promised the manager to work the entire summer when you applied for the breakfast shift at the diner which had you arriving in the parking lot at six in the morning in a brown nylon dress and white oxfords, to set up the creams and sugars and ketchups, shine the counters, all the easy part until the doors opened and people demanded their eggs over light, over for at least a minute, poached firm, scrambled soft, egg whites only, hash browns, home fries, bacon, make it sausage. You stand there, pen in hand, smiling at fat women who want extra gravy, stringy women who cringe at butter, sliding into padded booths, hour after hour so early –- where do they all come from?

You need the money, driving in the next morning in your washed brown nylon dress, your polished white oxfords, ready to ready the counters, wipe the menus.  More coffee?  Decaf?  Juices? Can’t substitute a milkshake, sorry. They slide in, slide out.  It’s almost mid August, six weeks you’ve done this, and your boyfriend who doesn’t love you as much as he once did is impatient.  Are you coming with me or not?  You’re going to London with him, but you’re also going to the diner, morning after morning.  He’s paying for London; you are paying for your kids’ food and clothes and rent.  You tell him yes, yes, I’ll be quitting any day and you arrive again in your limp brown nylon dress and scuffed white oxfords thinking I must tell the manager I won’t be back, that – that what? – you’re scheduled for three more weeks, maybe tell them you have to have surgery, or you’ve contracted something contagious, anything but that the man you love who doesn’t love you the same will cancel your trip, will return to the woman he had an affair with, tell them anything but that your life will be over if you don’t quit tomorrow. You need time to pack, to please him once again, yes, okay, eggs barely flipped for you and sunny-side for you, I got it, no muffins, just three kinds of toast, and all the while, what will you do, what will you do as you gather quarters, sometimes dollars, from under saucers, wipe down the tables, take off your apron and say to the boss with the oily scalp, I’m sorry I won’t be back tomorrow: my uncle needs rides to the hospital and I’m the only one – I’m so sorry – but, you don’t have an uncle, and you walk to the car, tears streaming with humiliation, a job you cannot return to next summer.  You say to the boyfriend, it’s okay, I’m ready, and he says good then, let’s go, and even though you don’t know where you’re going beyond London, you say yes and never go into that diner again, not even for a cup of coffee.

Jackie Davis Martin’s work has been included in print and online journals and collections, including Modern Shorts, Love on the Road, and Road Stories.  Prizes were awarded by New Millennium and On the Premises. A memoir, Surviving Susan, was published in 2012.  Jackie teaches at City College of San Francisco.

Fall 2017 FORUM Magazine Launch Party

launch party

CCSF’s literary magazine Forum invites you to their Fall 2017 launch party! The night will feature an open mic, as well as readings by contributors and local poets, including San Francisco’s own Poet Laureate, Kim Shuck. We will also be announcing the winners of our nonfiction and visual arts contests. Jazz accompaniment will be provided by CCSF’s Jazz Musicians Club. Copies of our new Fall issue will be available for purchase. 

All are welcome to enjoy refreshments, readings, and music!

Forum Magazine is a student-produced publication of the City College of San Francisco and is dedicated to providing a platform for the contemporary, urban voices of our community.

Photos from Javier Zamora Reading

We want to thank all who attended our reading on Tuesday at the Mission Campus with poet Javier Zamora! I think the students really appreciated meeting someone who they could see themselves in—young, down to earth, funny, casual, uncertain, honest—who is also an accomplished writer and educator. Thank you, Javier, for coming and we look forward to the next time!

Forum Magazine Showcase (2017)

Poet Javier Zamora Reads at Mission Campus!

Zamora FlyerJavier Zamora was born in El Salvador and immigrated to the United States as a boy. He earned a BA from UC Berkeley and an MFA at NYU and is a 2016-2018 Wallace Stegner Fellow at Stanford. Unaccompanied is Zamora’s first poetry collection. His poetry has been featured in numerous magazines and he has received multiple honors including a National Endowment for the Arts fellowship.

FORUM Magazine Showcase (LitCrawl SF; October 14th 2017, 6:30PM-7:30PM)


FORUM will be participating in LitCrawlSF. On the final day of LitQuake literary festival, LitCrawl events will be hosted by venues throughout San Francisco’s Mission District.

FORUM Magazine Showcase
Adobe Books (3130 24th Street, San Francisco, CA 94110)
(Phase II) 6:30PM-7:30PM, October 14, 2017

Curators: Jen Sullivan Brych
Participants: Brianna Allen, Kevin Cosby, Zachariah Greer Hauptman, John Isles, William Petersen, Bryce Riegel, Lucretia Samuel

 The complete schedule of LitCrawlSF events after the break.


Celebrating Hispanic Heritage Month, SEPT 15th to OCT 15th (Academy of American Poets)



by Ramón García

After Gail Wronsky

Reading Colette
I am reminded that I, too
come from a culture steeped in taste
variegated nourriture.

But being Mexican, I never made
much of it.  Amidst fancylesness
banqueting, savoring what couldn’t
be bought—joie de vivre,
the metaphysics of indulgence.

Not being French,
sex came with complications,
incurably guilt-sick.  Love, obtuse,
or melodramatic.

The senses, Sidonie’s beloved
home, was for me darkly decorated
in Christ, the proverbial lack of money.
But look, mole is a lush carmine,
hefty with spices, secret excesses.
Rancheras are operas.
The flesh, the supreme study,
can be mastered in many languages,
all of them dead.

Longing doesn’t have to cabaret itself
in philosophy.
Sensuality can also be mute,
after all, it doesn’t have much to say,
though it writes itself beautifully.

Literature, poetry,
doesn’t need Paris, chateaus,
Gallic cads or any kind of gentlemen.
It does with little commercialized California
towns entrenched by churches and canneries,
with barrio dancehalls where Mexicans
dance cumbia in celebration of a baptism
or for no reason at all.

In these mundane towns
as in the world of Colette
the spirit is manifest in what remains
of the home country, children, animals,
heartbreaks, family attachments, strawberries,
perfumes and flowers.
Every ranchera houses memories
the blissful plaintiveness
of living fully.

Ramón Garcí​​a is the author of two books of poetry: Other Countries (What Books Press, 2010) and The Chronicles (Red Hen Press, 2015). He is a professor at California State University, Northridge, and lives in downtown Los Angeles.
“Sidonie,” by Ramón García featured in “Celebrating Hispanic Heritage Month (American Academy of Poets, Sept. 19, 2017.)