sifted bones

Pine Cone

Crimson bleeds
on her clean pink jumper,
like Poppies in October,
the Plath poem
which has nothing to do with poppies,
the wounded woman’s
heart a watercolor seeping.

Fresh ruby drops
just as we were ready to go home,
declaring a reminder
that everything is not normal, everything
is not as it should be, but the portals are open
the veins are still alert,
as the nurse removes the plastic tubing dangling from the crook of her arm,
a thief tapping into a pot of gold
striking it rich before her veins collapse.

I want to slide inside
a pair of Emily‘s flannel pajamas,
slip into my bed and pretend that everything
will be fine,
that she will be here
to create art with me in my retirement
in her little downstairs studio,
with gelli plates
squeezing tubes of fine gold acrylic
rolling, watching it smear and shine
translucent spreading
onto every inch of plain paper.

Snuggling beside her
in the hospital bed feeling her beating
heart, holding
her hand and we are laughing
at Jim Carrey impugning god in Bruce Almighty
when she asks me quietly,
Do you know whether you want to be cremated or what?
Emily who has organized everything
down to the intimate
notes she has kept for 20 years,
then carefully hand bound into a creative atlas
to celebrate a life,
has not prepared her burial plans.
She is leaving
that up to us to spread
her sifted bones.

Diana Feiger grew up in Sandwich, Kent, UK and moved to the Bay Area in 1986. She finds inspiration in nature and from the miraculous and mundane aspects of life. Small moments and phrases can capture the imagination.

Happy Pine Cone, Charcoal Drawing by Travis Yallup

Travis Yallup is a contemporary realist who lives and works in San Francisco. He has studied art at various colleges and universities over the past eleven years and has developed a preference for drawing and painting in a variety of mediums. His  focus usually comes from life, photos, and collages and he often draws an inspiration from influences such as Andrew Wyeth and Vija Celmins.

This Morning

Karman ghia parked by streetlamp and building

I went for taro,

custard, and red bean

buns. Shrieks above

from an argument

broke my somnolence;

a gull defended the cross

it perched on from

a circling raven’s

assault. The vanquished

raven landed and

sulked. Do I call it

augury, score a win

for yang, or remember

Jeffers, who wrote, “it is bitter earnestness

that makes beauty; the mind

knows grown adult”?


Jason Syzdlik studied poetry at City College of San Francisco.


Karman ghia parked by streetlamp and building
KARMAGIA, illustration by Joshua Yule

Joshua Yule  has actively been producing artwork including print, screen printing, illustrations, and digital illustrations for the likes of many local Bay area bands for almost two decades.

“my new friend”

“my new friend”

don’t follow me like that
with your sleazy saunter
and those toned (bone-d) twigs
wobbling wedges
dollbaby dress
hippie handbag
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
silent, insistent
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.

Children Forever Dream, Victor Bhatti

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.

Embryonic Drums 

I need to pasture this plain

but have no water supply,

no aqueous piping to advance the drink 


that last river to cross

in the bloodvein of bone-filled alleys

where bibles and knives

lay used and worn 


hummingbirds careen in plein air,

flip, then flop,

land in a grove of latticed leaves

their journeys immense 


a jigsaw of cracks

beneath my feet

show intricate veins on stones

that map the wandering mountains 


a bony little fist of flowers

in a smoke of moon

ignite the petaled sky 


whirlwinds tousle my hair,

over the barn weathervanes

spin like pinwheels

brooms lose straw 


clouds crash together

in cool combo

the notes of chords

like embryonic drums

beat through the woods 


bursts of raindrops

like marbles from a sack

soak undertow roots

the waters of floods

cyclone through the streets

the parched land

comes to an end

Written By: Gloria Keeley

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.

Copy of spitblossoms_spring_Visual Art

Art Title: Spring

Artist: Spitblossoms

CCSF student, Bay Area born and Tijuana-raised, Spitblossoms is a visual artist and successful musician who has always found joy and meaning in realizing his artistic visions and sharing with a community of artists. For Spitblossoms, art is a meditation, release, source of pride and sustenance that helps him perfect his vision, overcome hardship, and continue to push forward to achieve his goals and dreams.

For My Iranians

Rest in power to the 176 beautiful human beings that were taken from Mother Earth too quickly, on January 8, 2020, shortly after taking off from Tehran International Airport for Ukraine. Thinking of all of you, your family, and your loved ones.

People in Iran will literally give you the clothes off their back. No exaggeration.
“Ghabel nadareh.” [It’s no big deal.]
“Biya, tokhmeh bokhor.” [Come here, eat some nuts.]
“Gherdoo barat shekastam, biya azizeh delam.” [I’ve broken some walnuts for you to eat, come here my darling.]
You are a guest in Iran, always.
Iranians compete for who pays the bill. Fights ensue. Names called. From the outside, it looks like a misunderstanding, a fight, even. For us, it’s a deep show of care. We call it “Taarof”.
When Iranians walk in front of you, they will always, all ways, apologize.
“Goal poshtooroo nadareh.” [A flower has no front or back.]
The hospitality, the poetic warmth, the generosity; engrained into the very fabric of the culture. Neighbors know one another here. They talk all the time. A guest stops by my grandfather’s house, just to say hello—brings flowers, sweets, dinner—salam, chetori? hello, how are you? I heard your grand-daughter was in town. Bebakhsheed keh zoodtar nayamadam. My apologies for not stopping by sooner. I wish you health, happiness and joy.
“Hameen.” [That’s all.]
For me, it’s everything.
I remember my Haji Baba crying
As I picked up my suitcase and headed for the door
Tehran airport the final destination
He tells me
Bebaksheed ageh keh vaghteh khoobi nadaashtee.
I’m sorry if you didn’t have a good time.
Tears pool quickly fall from his eyes
Hot raindrops
I kneel down, one knee, embrace him
Feel the hot mass
Azizam, cherah meegee bebasheed? Kheili kosh gozasht eenja.
My dear, why are you apologizing? I had a wonderful time here.
He tells me “Azizeh delam, areh, areh, areh.” [My darling, yes, yes, yes.]

For My Iranians by Ladi Khoddam-Khorasani

Ladan (Ladi) Khoddam-Khorasani, known by her friends and loved ones as Ladi, is an Iranian American womxn poet, story-teller, advocate, and life-long student. Ladi’s writing is mostly fueled by mint and cardamom coffee, dark chocolate, and spontaneous dance parties in her kitchen. Her writing focuses on the power of the human spirit; kindness as a necessary ingredient for intentional living; and the resiliency of community. She currently works as a public health advocate for youth experiencing homelessness in San Francisco, and is always looking for ways to connect community to the healing power of the arts.  You can find her at IG: ladifuggindadi and/or Twitter: lkhoddam.

Spring 2020 Print Edition

Spring 2020 Print Edition

Every year, Forum staff looks forward to receiving the printed issue. Despite the potentially wider reach of online publication, the printed edition translates the individual visions of the contributors, literary and visual art staff, and the visual media team into a collective work of art.
As of August 9th, we still do not know when the Visual Media team will have access to the printing facilities we need, and as soon as we have more information to share, we will post it here. We will also notify contributors directly when the Spring 2020 print edition is available.

To request your contributor copy or preorder additional copies, please fill out this form:

Forum Spring 2020 Orders

You may also use this form if you are seeking back issues of Forum, though we will not be able to fulfill your request until we have access to CCSF facilities.

Renaming This Life – Anita Kline

This is not a march she says.
This is a walk, each step a prayer.
Her words a kind reminder in the voice of the ancestors
who knew the earth as Mother, the sky as Father.

This re-emerging language of native friends
who spot a sinuous cloud crossing the face of Grandmother Moon
and call it Protective Serpent.

This re-imagined way with words—
pipe evoking peace, not bombs,
relative relaxing the moment of greeting,
kin or stranger, no matter from where or from whom.

All were welcomed to Standing Rock,
home for months to water protectors, sacred-site defenders,
indigenous people converging from every forgotten place.

Dakota, Lakota, Sioux, and more-than-enough-more names
to make this the largest gathering of native nations
for over a hundred years.

Irresistible, this call to come together, drum together,
sing, cook, circle together on land now also of burying together
old animosities.

Irrepressible, the visions. New ways of being together
on land long consecrated by ceremony,
then violently desecrated by greed, misnamed as need.

Water is sacred they teach us. Ancient wisdom,
calling into question all doing done in the name of destiny,
in the name of progress, in the name of resources,
in the name of mine, in the name of My God!

Anita Kline
Poetry came late to Anita’s life as she moved into retirement from her job as a social worker at SF General Hospital. “Renaming this Life” arose from transforming encounters with Older Writers at the Bernal Heights Library and with indigenous activists working to heal the planet in the face of ecological devastation.

Clearing Storm in Yosemite
Constance Louie-Handelman

Constance Louie-Handelman
Constance Louie-Handelman completed her A.A. degree at CCSF in 1973. Now retired as a clinical psychologist, she has returned to CCSF 2019 spring semester with a focus on digital photography.

For Kindness – Kati Spitz

To know having
You must first have lost
Walked past the grocery store carts full of food
While counting the pennies in your pocket
To buy eggs you hope will keep everyone full for the rest of the week
To appreciate a Thanksgiving table
Piled high with green bean casserole
First you must
Have gone to bed hungry
There’s no Joy in having
First having lost
You cannot know the fresh squeezed joy of birth
Until you have held someone’s hand
While they slipped away from this world and into the next
There’s no love without grief
No joy without sorrow
No ecstasy without pain
To know the breath of life truly
You must have felt the hot burn in your lungs
While you sink below the waves
Watching the sunlight shimmer and streak through the blue grey water
There is no with
Until there has been

Kati Spitz
Kati Spitz is a painter, writer, and pastry chef living in San Francisco.

Lost in the Cosmos
Acrylic on Canvas
Michelle Engeldinger

Michelle Engeldinger
This piece, titled “Lost in the Cosmos,” is inspired by space. There is something so dark and mysterious but also beautiful about the depths of the universe, which is what I hope to convey through this piece.

Unrequited Heart Athletics – Helen Dannenberg

O.K. Heart
It’s time to shape up
It’s over now, ended
Stop hurting
Stop aching
Let Ms. Brain earn her keep and
Direct the show
Let go dependence
Loosen need away
Figure out how to tame the
Fanged lion of loneliness
Keep that bopping beat
Ms. Brain gets organized
Skin Cells
Try Amnesia
Ms. Brain cast that net wide
Fill that need for one to one

Helen Dannenberg
Helen Dannenberg used spoken word in her choreography. She has done poetry with Sally Saunders and currently Older Writers Lab (OWL).

rose ancienne
pen and ink
veronique fleming

veronique fleming
veronique fleming is a local sketchbook artist currently living on the island of alameda. “I draw to tune into a deeper sense of calm. It is a way to practice being internal, allowing my attention to focus completely in the present moment through whatever is being created on the page.”