Poetry: La Petit Mort by Alexandra Saba

La Petit Mort

by Alexandra Saba

waves flit
the nebulous terrain
of my body.

Echoing ripples
reverbing back
into my surrounding reality.

Warm, white glow
blankets me
lulls me
into sleep,
little slice of death
tasting sweet.

Alex Saba is a poet and student at CCSF. She enjoys psychedelic trance, dancing in the rain, talking to cats, singing to the moon, and hailing the glow cloud (all hail).

Poetry: The Hobo Ride, by Gloria Keeley

The Hobo Ride

by Gloria Keeley

the night railroad holds sleepers
each with their own dreams
the train in the rain whistles
lonely on skinny rails
rolling the canyons
boxcars hold card games
the flickering lanterns lend
credence to kings and queens
corn stalks the land
nests dry in the moonlight
grass grows around baby birds
beaks red from cherries
fed by their mothers
the early morning breeze
ripples the fish-full pond
the hobo rides the freight
after tramping the yards
the main line tunnel
where souls are hidden
spoon the smokestack veins
indians set ears to ground
sense the ancient rumble
riding down the double E’s

Gloria Keeley is a former student of CCSF. She attended City in the late 60s and taught for CCSF for 34 years. Her writing was included in the 1968 issue of Forum and she was editor of the 1969 issue. Her poem “Billie” won the 2016 Forum Online writing contest.


Forum Magazine Spring 2017 Launch Party!


Forum Spring 2017 Launch Party

Adobe Books
3130 24th St, San Francisco, California 94110
May 24, 2017 from 6 PM – 8 PM
Free and open to the public!

The CCSF Forum Magazine invites you to the Spring 2017 launch party. The night will have readings by contributors, local poets, and an open mic. Copies of our new spring issue will be available for purchase!

Forum Magazine is a student-produced publication of the City College of San Francisco which publishes quality non-fiction, fiction, poetry, and visual arts from across the Bay Area and beyond.

Nonfiction: The Moderating Influence of the Other Gender, by Howard Isaac Williams

The Moderating Influence of the Other Gender

by Howard Isaac Williams

Responding with an anger to exceed that of his adversary, the youth yelled and leaned his taut body toward his foe. The other young man stood his ground and yelled back. If either felt any fear, he showed none and both ignored the earnest pleas of their friends to avoid violence. And there on that pasture just outside Peshawar, Pakistan, a fistfight between two men might easily escalate beyond the boundaries of persons into battles between families, tribes, or entire ethnic communities.

The men standing around the two would be combatants knew their obligations to keep peace and felt those obligations even more. Elders and youths pleaded for calm. For the sake of ethnic solidarity, the two should make peace. For the holy cause of Islam, they should put aside minor differences.

But such imploring, so emotional yet so reasonable, mean so little to egos in conflict. The two angry youths cared only about the perceived insults to their manhood and forgot their masculine responsibilities to others.

And their friends were losing hope in their own efforts. If this matter did come to battle, each man on each side might have to stop protecting his friend with appeals to peace and start protecting him with fists or worse. Even as they tried to physically restrain the two would be combatants, they were watching others to see if any might take advantage of an opening to dangerously escalate this matter. And in this quite masculine society where women are rarely seen and never heard, didn’t some of these men yearn for the moderating hand of the other gender, so familiar at home yet so unknown on the street?

On the other side of the field, about 30 yards away, a water buffalo cow observed this noisy and potentially dangerous scene. Rousing herself from the near somnolence associated with her domesticated species, she grunted, then bellowed. Her hoofs pawed the ground. She swung her massive head in great expressive arcs and kicked out her forelegs, then bellowed again. She began trotting, then cantering toward the two angry youths.

Her charge first distracted the friends and relatives of the two adversaries who were still shouting at each other, apparently oblivious to the approaching danger much greater than each other. On she rushed, her massive bulk fixed like an arrow on a target just between the two foes. Now the crowd began to part but the two youths stood momentarily transfixed as the huge mother, her udder swaying, nostrils snorting, her mouth bellowing, charged toward the tiny gap between them.

At the last instant the two adversaries dove away from each other and the buffalo seized the contested ground, instantly stopping and occupying it with authority as dust rose all around her. The two would be fighters lifted themselves off the ground and dusted themselves off.

Now as all in the crowd regained their composure, they began laughing, none more than the two who had been so angry a few moments before. One man in the crowd turned toward another and asked, “Why did she do that?”

The other shrugged his shoulders and replied, “I guess she didn’t want them to fight.”

Howard Isaac Williams was a student of Professor Julie Young’s Spring 2016 English 35A class. He also has a Certificate in Labor Studies from CCSF from 1991. He lives in the Outer Mission and is a retired bicycle messenger and pest control technician.
From 1989 to 1997 Williams worked summers as an aid worker in Pakistan and Afghanistan assisting disabled persons. “The Moderating Influence” is a memoir of one of his experiences there.

Photography: St Slim by Ted Herzberg

st slim

St Slim by Ted Herzberg

Ted Herzberg is the photographer of The Quarterback and St. Slim. He has had a long history with City College. In the late ’70’s Ted took life drawing classes at Fort Mason and in the mid-90’s an acrylic painting class there. He has taken ti chi classes at the main college and on 18th St. at various times. He took senior computer classes at the Oakdale campus about ten years ago. Ted also appeared as Trotsky in the musical Frida and Diego in the Diego Rivera Theatre. The last classes Ted took at the main campus was a semester of Cantonese about seven years ago.

Writing Prompt Wednesday: The End Is In Sight

Happy Wednesday, my friends! I hope you all are enjoying the Forum web selection– I’m really happy with the pieces our editors chose to spotlight! Please look forward to more awesome writing and art in the near future.

Today’s Forum Lab is all about going over the final proof so that the book can go to the printers! We’re still finding a few trailing issues, but that’s how it always is with publishing, right?

The end is near, though, and the launch party is coming soon!
(An official post will go up as soon as I have approved art for it, courtesy of the multi-talented and over-worked Carolina Pistone.)

Which brings us to today’s writing prompt!

Since we’re busy little ants, finalizing everything for publication, today’s prompt is:

“The End Is In Sight”

What does that mean to you? Let us know through fiction, poetry, nonfiction or art.

Whenever you write a poem, story, take a picture, or create a piece of artwork based on these prompts, you can post it in the comments or submit it to submissions@forumccsf.org for consideration on the Forum Magazine Blog.

Make sure to follow all submission guidelines and in the subject line include “Writing Prompt Wednesday”. In the body of the email, please include the writing prompt you used for your piece.

Painting: Lorena by Talavera Ballón

Copy of VisualArts_Talavera-Ballon_Oil on wood panel

Lorena by Talavera Ballón

Talavera-Ballón is a Peruvian painter based in San Francisco. A disciple of  Palao Berastain, he captures the essence of ordinary people’s lives across diverse regions and cultures of the Americas. He explores themes that highlight social and cultural aspects of the people and places he has encountered. His work is also a tribute to immigrants like himself who left their home countries in search of new horizons.
Affiliation to CCSF: former ESL student

Poetry: Sober by Jake Ortega


by Jake Ortega

Moving on sounds simpler than it is
I can’t move on if you don’t let me go
I can’t count how many times I’ve heard it
“Just give it up!”
“Do something else to substitute it!”
As if I haven’t tried

Despite the brand you left on me
As blatant as the day it started
Your influence seems superficial to them
But that’s just the man that I portray
The pain continues because I try
I try to salvage what remains

And every day that precipice gets wider
Every hour you goad me to take that leap of faith
I’ll never be rid of you until I do
And you wave that opportunity like a checkered flag
Assured that I won’t even try
It’s a distance you know I can’t overcome

You drink my misery like beer
But I’m the one who’s off my face
As the world goes ‘round without me
I can’t lay down without holding on
I used to relish such spirituous delights
Part of the plan you’ve laid before me

Your laughter echoes through my being
A face beneath my jaundiced skin
Cackling at the husk you inhabit
Knowing that all that I carry with me
Is everything that I have
And everything that I am

Your presence threatens to consume me
But with your presence I must live on
In hopes that my appeasement is enough
And if the day comes that you depart
The vacancy of your being may be too inviting
For another to take your place

Do I have you, or do you have me?

Wednesday Writing Prompt: Postcard-sized

Good evening, friends and family! Welcome to our penultimate Forum Lab. The magazine is coming along well, with the proofs just about ready and the acceptance letters being written as I type.

Keep an eye on this space for announcements about the launch party at the end of May– I promise, it’s coming soon!

The other major topic tonight was our class presentations on other literary magazines, ft. Poetry Editor Kevin C. giving us the history of seminal pulp mag Weird Tales and Poetry Reader C S. introducing us to three magazines: The Moth, a top-notch Irish magazine, The Hoot Review, postcards from the literary dimension, and The Caterpillar, literary writing from adults for kids.


Alex enjoys some delicious treats provided by the ever-gracious C.

Today’s writing prompt is inspired by C’s presentation!

The Hoot Review publishes poetry and “microfiction” that can fit on a postcard– try your hand at writing short flash fiction or poetry that is 150 words or less!

the hoot review

A small sample of The Hoot postcards provided by C

Whenever you write a poem, story, take a picture, or create a piece of artwork based on these prompts, you can post it in the comments or submit it to submissions@forumccsf.org for consideration on the Forum Magazine Blog.

Make sure to follow all submission guidelines and in the subject line include “Writing Prompt Wednesday”. In the body of the email, please include the writing prompt you used for your piece.