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.
It’s Not A Saltshaker 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.
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 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.
It was time to go.
I walked outside to wait for you.
You were picking me up for a picnic
and I was delighted I’d be with you.
You didn’t talk about
your AIDS diagnosis —
mysterious letters I didn’t comprehend.
What was that, anyway?
Instead you were just you,
which was everything — the perfect man.
Your laughter, your wit, your exuberance
kept me smiling and, as always, adoring you.
It was time to go.
You picked up your picnic blanket.
You carefully folded it
and handed it to me.
“Here. Take it.
I won’t be needing it anymore.”
That’s how you told me.
It was time to go.
(In loving memory of Richard-Michel Paris)
Vivian Imperiale uses poetry to process her emotions and to pay ongoing tribute to the Love of her Life who died in 1985 in the AIDS Epidemic.
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.
In hot suburban Florida
in an old, sandy bungalow
my father used to
measure my height on the doorframe
If we left the honey out
roaches would come
a bee drove his stinger into my arm—
that kind of summer visit
my baby brother—
learning to talk
my father tuning in
to area news
amid rows of Miller cans in the TV room
dad sold home alarms back then
drove us around
with a gun in the glovebox
I used to look for love in the gifts I gave him—
paisley ties and cologne
I wrote confrontations from 31,000 feet above
only to ball them up at sea level
enter the string of wrong
me, a war girlfriend
waiting by the phone
I am older now, a mother
I can see inside the dollhouse:
The marble queen pothos—that glossy, leathery, heart-shaped vine that grew up in my mother’s home—cascades down my banister. Devil’s ivy, they call it, because it is un-killable.
Dad falls off a low ladder
Son learns how to surf
Son builds castles from old boxes
Sails boats of old and worn shoes
A native of New Orleans, Megan Brown feels most at home near water. Her writing has been published in the Social Science Quarterly, East Bay Times, and 580 Split. In 2008, her short memoir about her campaign work in Nevada earned an Honorable Mention in the America’s Funniest Humor Writing Contest.
Sarah A. Smith
Sarah A. Smith works with ink on paper to create scenes that feature animals and nature. Often, her inspiration comes from antiques and objects in museums like this one, “Tiger and Hen,” drawn from a design on a 17th century huqqa base which is in the collection of the Asian Art Museum of San Francisco.
Seventeen glasses, full to the brim –
coffee, orange juice, milk, some water to drink.
They took so long to finish their breakfast,
Not that they wanted them to last.
Seventeen kisses, or sighs from Dad and Mom;
Don’t be late, come home by five o’clock.
Let’s plan tonight for our weekend getaway,
or maybe let’s watch some movie, so we better stay.
Seventeen rides going to school –
Busy cars, buses, or walking on foot.
Smiles were greeted, bags lain on desks,
Phones were barred, though they still check their texts.
Seventeen steps, walking in his boots
to reach Building 12, the mad boy took.
Shooting his AR-15 everywhere he aimed his fire –
Imploding from inside he took his ire.
Seventeen calls, or more the students made;
Smoke everywhere, what’s happening, for heavens’ sake!
Tears, cries, and bloodshed sprawled on the floor.
Who even let this guy enter the door?
Seventeen dreams, cut without warning.
On this day the sun at the park stopped shining.
Fernando Rosal Gonzalez
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.
My photographic journey started six years ago when I took my first photography class at CCSF. This course ignited my passion for making pictures and creating something with my camera. It has become a way of expressing myself.
Spirals enthrall her.
She draws them in notebooks,
coil upon coil, twisting glyphs
about the page.
She sports a tattoo choker.
In this she finds comfort and beauty.
A loving vine about her neck turns her morning glory blue.
She re-enacts vestigial memories of a liquid time:
An umbilical cord slowly constricts;
her heart languishes
with each thrust.
She bears straps about her legs,
spiral rotators to twist in-turned hips, and inserts
that only allow for clunky shoes, an imposition most unartistic.
She howls in protest, hangs from me in anger, arms encircling my waist,
counters my legs with thick brick feet, pulling me
over, pinning me, craving the intolerable
constraint of love.
She snakes yarn about her arms,
winds the wool around her legs, circles
her trunk, all around until – wrapped like a grub
in a cocoon — she trips around the room,
delighted with the oddity.
She’s eight and knows constraint,
winds it decoratively about her body.
Dictating the confines of ability and rules, she turns . . .
the choker into
Erika Dyquisto works as an adjunct professor at City College of San Francisco and San Francisco State University. She cherishes the moments of (human) itarian metaphysical power that carefully chosen words can create, however brief those moments may be.
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. Her background includes fashion and jewelry design. Ana’s current work is inspired by her desire to celebrate female artists across the globe.
How you danced with rainbow scarves
one in your hand, the other draped
across your bare shoulders
You made a tutu from violet shorts
curtsied for the camera
your red lipstick never fades.
You wrote the lyrics of your disease
Desire still trembling from fingertips
caress of a sunflower on your cheek
Sitting on the steps at the Washington march
You pulled back a sleeve, pale arm, held
the interferon laced syringe, poked
a needle into thinning veins. You, who named us
Mainstream Exiles, vagabonds, cast out of homes,
queer kids singing poetry on any empty corner
and abstract art projected onto flat buildings at night
We stole storefronts from their owners
Teeth chattering cold, but cheap
We were shadows, running to tape our words
on telephone polls on unlit streets. Your pretty boy face
returns as the exiled ones roam
and enter bars where you once sat
in dark rooms, illuminated by one disco ball
sequins, raw sex, edged in hidden alleys
back doors, the snap of fingers, attention
puckered lips, swaying hips, and the rough red spots
of disease. Coming out at twilight, a candlelight vigil
Haunting echoes of a conch shell summons
all who have laid in death’s bed
morphine induced dreams, fists raised
How the banner unfurls, blanketing us
Fingers pressed to lips, heads bowed
Not as supplicants, as dancers waiting
For the music’s crescendo.
Carla Schick was in the political queer arts group, Mainstream Exiles, in the early 1980’s. Their poetry is published in Sinister Wisdom, A Gathering of the Tribes, Suisun Review and Earth’s Daughters, and they received first place in the Barbara Mandigo Kelly Peace Poetry Contest.
My name is Desi Pena. I am 23 years old and enjoy skateboarding, making skate videos, photography and writing. Follow my Instagram @desip_
Currents move unselfishly.
Lapping at the shores of our consciousness
Repainting memories now faded
from strained expectations
but it is a gift
A taste of what true love is
of the heartaches measured in the waves
watch as the sea moves
in conjunction with the wind
they are kind lovers to one another
like the rib I’ve sought over lifetimes
It is a gift
the innocence of dreaming
the act of creationism from a childlike heart,
sewing the purest seeds of destiny and home.
So I listen to the sounds of forgotten pictures
Lapping at the shores of my consciousness
repainting the memory of my own dreams
– tiny masterpieces of life
I believed would be mine one day –
and I feel the hope well
the source of my good
the kindest parts
that I’d covered up for protection.
And in my mind
I drink from this well
A treasure I had once lost the location of
the origin of what my love languages look
like in flesh and spirit.
And I’m happily transformed by the attention paid to the lovers,
and my own deepest desires,
of a life consisting of intoxicatingly
waves and wind.
R. Shawntez Jackson
R. Shawntez Jackson is a native of the Eastbay. He is an award winning poet, playwright, spoken word artist, actor, educator and father of Wordsi2i.org. He is described as a vivid story-teller creatively framing and displaying some of the best and worst details of relationships, religion and sexuality.
S. M. Murphy
S. M. Murphy is a multidisciplinary artist inspired by the grotesque and macabre. His murals and artwork have been shown on the walls and in galleries of Sacramento and San Francisco, including both M5Art’s Art Hotel and Art Street projects.