It took peeing on a stick
To confirm your place
Inside of me
But souls have a way
Of rushing through
Of superimposing on cells
Acting as platelets
All that to say
No stick could prove
I had two souls
For a short time only
It was proof for his eyes
As they scanned mine for you
Unable to see
What I already knew
Unable to feel the kind of joy
That comes from two
In one shattered home
Not one part of you was for him
And I knew that
As we used his cream
As a necessary ingredient
My body the mixing bowl
The oven and the gloves
My body the teeth that would eat
to continue the cycle of nourishment
it was cloud walking
knowing I was two
instead of the one
the world took me for
knowing I had this window
to walk stronger
until at two in the morning
you rushed out of me
as if you were running
from a broken home
and I couldn’t put you back
because I hadn’t become acquainted
with your form yet
you were too wet
too slippery to cup and hold
you were soaking in
the fucking bedsheet that
was decades old
and time seemed to
lose its mind
because it couldn’t comprehend
my love, I thought we had time
I thought I had time.
Charlie Amore is a Jamaican British Queer Non-Binary Writer. They were born and raised in South-London and currently live and work in San Francisco. They write about Queerness, Relationships, Trauma and grief – with trickles of humor. Their work is informed by personal experiences as they strongly believe in owning your story. Find them on Instagram: @wordsofcharl
“What are you doing?” Martin asked. He was a portly man with a bad combover, half-hidden behind an oversized city map.
His wife Dee waved him away, as if she was swatting away a bee or fly or some other pest she didn’t care for. She was short in stature, neither fat nor thin, but oddly shaped like a chemistry flask.
“Panhandling for bus fare. What’s it look like I’m doing? Excuse me do you know where–”
“Dee, stop, we look like tourists.”
“Oh you’re one to talk with that ridiculous looking thing.”
Martin grunted, wrestling with the map as he struggled to stretch it wider.
“Besides, we certainly aren’t from here, that’s for sure. Look at these people.”
They were coming off of a short set of steps onto a pathway in Bryant Park. A sea of grass was surrounded by a moat of slated concrete and gravel that crackled beneath the other pedestrians’ shoes. The pathway was littered with flimsy, forest green tables and chairs, occupied here and there with couples drinking overpriced coffees and families eating home made sandwiches. A troupe of street performers banged on bongo drums alongside men who danced fiercely for a semi-circle of easily captivated tourists, eager to soak up a less-than-authentic, real New York experience. A pair of college-aged women sunbathed topless on the grass, alongside other groups of young people grazing in the unseasonably warm March weather.
“Doesn’t mean we’ve got to look as naive as the lemmings,” he said, gesturing to the tourists engaged by the amateur street performers.
“Well what should we do Martin? Just pretend we know everything and hope our destination appears before us like friggin’ Narnia?”
“Relax! I know my way around well enough. Came here everyday for twenty-five yea–”
“And never once,” she interrupted, “deviated from the rigid routine of going from the train to the office, and then back again.”
“I sure do remember doing so, and you, bitterly complaining whenever I had a social engagement.”
“Oh sure you did, because when I think New York party animal, I think Martin out on the town, describing the evening as a social engagement. That’s why the Empire State Building is in the wrong place according to your map from 1986. Would you put that thing away already?”
He cleared his throat, “Just because this map is old doesn’t mean it’s not good.”
“The old map doesn’t bother me. The old man, on the other hand, too stingy to up the data plan a few bucks a month for an $800 phone does,” she shouted, waving her iPhone high in the air, like she was showing it off. “What do you know! Google Maps. Still…Not…Loading.”
“Do me a favor. Just stop. Just for today. And put your phone away for Christ’s sake. The bongo drummers could take off a week if they get their hands on that thing.”
“Don’t be ridiculous,” she rolled her eyes. “It’s New York. My phone costs about the same as three cups of coffee.”
“Fine, but don’t complain to me when they–when your phone is pilfered–Whoa.”
A greasy-haired teenage boy on a skateboard weaved his way between them.
“Sorry dudes!” he offered. He moved swiftly, and was long gone before they could respond.
Dee looked at the boy longingly, and started sobbing. Hard. Her shoulders moved up and down with each weep, and she hid her face within her hands. She seemed to get smaller as her body shook, like she was melting.
“Dee, it’s okay… You’re right. I’m sorry,” he came closer to her, and his hand hovered awkwardly above her moving shoulders. “I overreacted. Here I’ll put away the map. Let’s just compartmentalize until after we see him, okay?”
“It’s not that. What if- what if he won’t see us?” she stuttered, wiping her face, spreading her mascara everywhere.
“He asked us to come.” Martin pulled a handkerchief out of his breast pocket. “Here, you look like you just got out of a coal mine.”
“What-oh, thanks. But Martin, he asked us to come last time and changed his mind. Oh and we got lost then too. I don’t know about this, I’m starting to feel nauseous. Maybe we should go back,” she said, taking a step in the direction of Grand Central.
“What are you feeling nauseous about?”
“One doesn’t feel nauseous about something, Martin,” she quipped.
“The lady doth protest too much, me thinks.”
“Can you just not today?”
“Not be so goddamn pedantic, throwing around Shakespeare quotes!”
He chuckled, shaking his head.
A breeze ruffled the leaves on the park’s few trees. It wafted the stench of a man affected by homelessness, pushing a shopping cart full of trash–all his possessions. Policemen on horses examined the man, but seemed to regard him little to not at all. They trotted on.
The couple moved over a bit to let him pass, covering their noses.
“Why don’t we sit for a moment?” Martin suggested.
Dee nodded, trailing behind Martin like a shadow. He pulled out a seat for her first, dusting it off with his sleeve, regretting the loss of his handkerchief. It seemed that the trees had begun releasing pollen early this year, along with the premature warm weather. His once white sleeve now looked like it was covered in some sort of algae. He made a face similar to a toddler being confronted by a taxing piece of broccoli.
“We got lucky with the weather, not a bad day to be lost in New York, eh?” His eyes tried to find Dee’s, but she wasn’t looking at him. Her head was turned slightly, towards the direction of the dancers. Her eyes moved back and forth, like she was reading. One of the dancers, was doing something that Martin considered more along the lines of Olympian gymnastics than any sort of dancing he was acquainted with.
“It’s amazing a human being could move that way without cracking their head,” he commented, shaking his head.
“How can you be so cavalier?” she responded, still not making eye contact.
“How else would you like me to be?” he said, straightening up in his place, like a small child trying to stand taller to get a seat on a roller coaster they just didn’t measure up for.
“Damnit Martin.” She shook her head, finally focusing on him, tears welling in her eyes once again. “For so long, me and you both. We– we were so ignorant to what was going on, right under our roof!”
Her right arm was resting on the table. Martin reached out, cupping her hand within both of his.
“Dee, we’ve been over this. You’ve got to stop beating yourself up.”
“We could’ve done more!” she said, yanking her hand out of his.
“Don’t do that– accuse me, I’m not doing anything. The situation is upsetting. Reality is upsetting. Our son–” she trailed off, looking away, this time down at the ground.
“Even if we did more. Checked in more. Really pressed the question of things like how was your day today, all of the experts, the doctors agree, it’s not something people can easily know.”
“Jimmy seemed to think that better parents would have known.”
“Even if we were the world’s best parents, whatever that means, we couldn’t have known.”
“How do you know?”
“I don’t. You can never know what if, so why torture yourself?”
“So it doesn’t happen again.”
“You don’t know that!”
A family speaking in a language neither of them recognized stared at them as they walked by. The two groups did their best to avoid eye contact once they noticed each other.
Martin sighed, “It wasn’t a fair thing for Jimmy to write all that in the letter, to plant that idea that we were at fault. You have to forgive yourself even if the day never comes where he does.”
“You sound like Dr. Moskowitz.”
“Hey that Jew has had a few good points every now and then. And he better. If there’s any couple who single handedly bankrolled his second vacation home.”
“Shush!” she whispered, loudly, looking from left to right. “We’re in the city, there are so many of them here.”
“Oh come on, I didn’t mean anything by it. I like the doc. Honest!”
“Like bypassers would know that.” She shook her head.
“No one’s listening to us.” He frowned, and then began projecting, loudly, like a teenager playing the penis shouting game, “I am being serious! I really do like him!”
“Shhhh, okay, stop. You win,” she laughed, throwing her head back.
Martin seemed pleased with himself.
Dee said, “Please, you’ve never liked a doctor, ever. Our entire lives, it was easier to get Jimmy to mow the lawn then to get you in for your annual.” Her face fell and she sighed. “I don’t know if I’m ready for this.”
He smiled, and lifted her chin up with two fingers. “I’m not either, if I’m being completely honest.”
“And you’ve never admitted something like that,” she said, grasping his hand.
“That you’re afraid.”
“I’m not afraid,” he insisted, leaning back in his place.
“Okay,” she snorted.
“I’m not, I’m just not sure I’m ready.”
“I think we should decide,” she announced, rising from her spot. Martin followed.
“Well, no, I think we should go, I’m just not sure if I’m ready, ready. You know, psychologically.” He searched his pockets for his old map.
“No, no, no, I get that. We’re on the same page. I meant if we’re ever going to get there, we should probably decide if we’re going to ask for directions.”
“I suppose you’re right.”
“Hey–” he trailed off.
A man in a three piece suit holding a briefcase walked by. Dee got his attention with a quick wave.
“Excuse me sir, do you know which way’s Bellevue Hospital?”
Francesca enjoys reading and writing poetry and short fiction. In her spare time she enjoys hiking, walking dogs, and frolicking in the grassy knolls of Golden Gate Park. She is terrified of birds.
I am a tea drinker. I’m not fond of coffee. During the early part of my life I drank Orange Pekoe black tea. I had it with lemon. When I graduated from high school, I got a gift from my elderly neighbor – a fancy cup and saucer with painted yellow flowers and gold trim. The cup survived several moves, but eventually it got broken.
After I moved to San Francisco, I went to the Japanese tea garden in Golden Gate Park in the spring when cherry trees were in blossom. At the Tea House with purple wisteria hanging over the roof toward the pond I had green tea. It is important to drink it when it is fresh, because it becomes bitter if it sits too long.
In 1971 I moved to London, and in winter my English boyfriend took me to a country inn and it had snowed. The inn was several hundred years old. There we had “high tea” in a large cottage like building with a low ceiling. Tea came with trimmed cucumber sandwiches and scones with clotted cream and strawberry jam. Black tea was served with cream and sugar.
Jonathan, my English boyfriend, has been to Morocco before, but this time he took me with him. During our stay in Marrakesh, in the mornings we would go to the open air market where the food was prepared. We would get fresh doughnuts and take them to the tea stall, where we had mint tea. It was made by taking a handful of fresh mint, twisting it into a tall glass and pouring hot water over it. Brown sugar was chunked off a large cone and put into the tea. This was in autumn and all of the colorful harvest was in the market square.
In 1971 I was in Afghanistan when it was peaceful and ruled by the king. We would travel in the country on narrow roads, and would come upon three sided tea shacks and have tea. I remember one orange tea pot with white polka dots that was broken and put back together with big brass staples. Clear tea was first poured hot into and around thistle shaped glasses to sterilize it. This tea was thrown on the mud floor. The second glass of tea was for drinking. It was best to drink hot tea, because the water was boiled and therefore safe to drink. Tap water in third world countries is dangerous.
Sometimes in India I traveled by train. When the train stopped tea sellers would come to the train windows bringing tea in wood fired crude clay cups. The clay cups contained tea that would have smoky taste from firing. When we finished with the tea, a cup would be thrown out the window to break up on the roadbed for the train tracks. This was very ecological, leaving no trash on the tracks. In Northern India the traditional chai, Eastern name for tea, is made with milk and spiced with cardamom. This is a usual regional drink.
I traveled on to Nepal. At the outskirts of Katmandu there is a Monkey Temple. This is a large square white building with a sizable four-sided triangle on top painted with a large blue eye on each side. There was a concession stand that sold tea in disposable cups and snacks like a samosa, which is dough stuffed with spiced vegetables such as potatoes and peas. As I was sitting about to put a snack in my mouth, a furry paw with long claws snatched it right in front of my face. When looked into the monkey’s face fangs were bared. He took the snack and raced away, leaving me with only the tea.
In the fall of 1985 I traveled with a group of 19 friends via the anniversary tours. We went to Japan, the Soviet Union and Mongolia. We flew to Tokyo and went to the Society for the Preservation of Japanese Arts and Crafts. Since there were 19 of us, a traditional tea ceremony was performed for us in a small room with a painted scroll that usually depicts the season. There was also a flower arrangement and a charcoal cooker for hot water on a straw mat floor. A woman in kimono crawls toward the seated guest and proceeds to make tea for him. A fine powdered bright green tea and water are poured into a tea bowl and stirred with a fine bamboo whisk. The tea bowls are each individually made and many are kept for generations. Some are made in the following tradition: they are covered with paper when they are fired, so it makes an iridescent pattern that is unique to each one.
We took the bullet train to Yokohama where we boarded a ship that took us too Nakhodka, Russia (that was Soviet Union in 1985). We boarded the Trans-Siberian Railway train in an area that is called the Far East. We were in a car to ourselves with an English-speaking official guide. We traveled first class, but it was called “soft class”, and second class was called “hard class”, because they were classless communists. We were treated to beautiful fall colors as we went through and endless forest that went on for days. In each car there was a large tea maker called “samovar”, tea was available 24 hours a day. Black tea was served in tall glasses contained in a fancy metal cage like holder with a handle called “podstakannik”. Sometimes the wealthy had ones with a silver holder. 2 cubes of sugar were wrapped in paper showing the Trans-Siberian Railway. I brought some of them home to show my family and friends.
When we reached Lake Baikal, the deepest fresh water lake in the world, we transferred to a Mongolian train. We progressed to Ulaanbaatar, which is the capital of Mongolia. Third of the people there had high walls around their yards with a yurt inside. Our seven-story hotel, which was the tallest structure there, looked down upon the city. We went to a very old Tibetan style Buddhist temple in the fall with that seasons leaves in color, and we took photographs. The temple had sloping roofs that ended with sculptured animals. Next day it snowed, and we went back and took what looked like a winter scene of the same temple. In the Mongolian city museum we had tea. Blocks of large disks of tea in the far past were used as currency. The national drink is fermented mare’s milk. Next is tea mixed salt and butter, useful in high harsh Himalayan environment, because they need fat and salt in their diet.
After returning home to San Francisco in 1985 I continued to drink tea. I have a classic iron tea pot with a removable screen cup that is used in Japan. It is important to remove the tea once it is brewed, because it becomes bitter. Sometimes I make jasmine tea that has little fragrant flowers in the tea. Jasmine tea was created in China. Other times I drink Japanese tea that is made from roasted rice. Some of the rice grains pop like tiny popcorn. Sometimes roasted rice is mixed in with green tea when it is prepared. Currently I drink black tea with cream and sugar most of the time, which is a habit that I picked up in England.
B. Lynn Craig
I was born on March 9, 1942. My father was a beekeeper. I graduated from San Francisco State in 1976 cum laude. I worked as a social worker for the city for 10 years, did private counseling, worked on a doctorate in Human Sexuality, and was a professional dominatrix.
When we seek everything that we have lost,
Back traveling to old, but finding new.
Not knowing if those steps were worth the cost,
So slowly did Time shift our precious view.
Thine eyes do fail to see thy fated wrath,
As if the unknown would be obsolete.
The pain of loss brought by the aftermath,
That lovely sight so quickly gone–so sweet.
O Time doth grow, till all we know is true;
What has been lost by you is lost no more.
Till this inconstant stay like changing hue,
When all is done, Time doth ensure…restore.
When all is found, thou shalt hold true indeed,
All is returned: no more the need for greed.
Hi, I’m Gary and this is my first full semester at CCSF, and I plan on obtaining a degree related to mathematics. I would like to thank David Hereford who helped edit this, as this was my final project for his high school Shakespeare course.
Matt Luedke is pursuing a Creative Writing Certificate at CCSF. You can often find Matt either hiking, heading up a steep hill on his beloved sticker-covered hybrid bike in the easiest gear, or bundled up at one of SF’s cold beaches with a notebook and pen.
sting until the burn is the same as it’s always been
recognizable, mundane almost.
I fear I will become an immovable pillar of salt among the waves
cease to hear the drumbeat on the sand
become a woman who no longer needs a name,
just strong footing.
evaporate into the very body that is meant to carry me to comfort
become everywhere and nowhere
like salt amidst the tide
stinging when I mean only to collect myself and shelter another.
left with no one to hold me
with nothing to hold onto
there is no road
I’ve no proof of life here in the middle of the ocean.
among the thieving current that threatens my hold on myself that I must remember
that the women in my family are born of water
dripping in blue and brine.
dehydrate. rehydrate. rinse. repeat.
we allow men to claw for us
attempt to grab hold briefly
while we sink into murky waters unmoved.
I know have always known,
none of us are never not alone.
but we need to scream into eyes that are not our own
if only to feel heard to feign togetherness for a time
I find myself tossing in blue
always coming back to it
restless on land-
swollen and writhing.
readying the retch.
wretched release of dryness.
I am nervous that to expel anything
is to expose everything.
keep my contents within
me all water and secret belly.
breakfast behind my eyes
trying to escape
turning indigo to the attuned watcher
but no one sees no one plays the right tune.
so my hazel changes tone and my voice doesn’t tremble when I lie
I am okay.
just can’t taste anything anymore-
need to add salt
Katie Seifert is an Oakland-based writer and artist looking for the truths between the things we say. Her art focuses on the intersection of the beautiful and untamed, with an emphasis on the masks women are forced to wear each day. Her visual work can be seen at https://www.evilkittydesign.com/.
Nicole is a ceramic enthusiast from San Francisco. Her interest in art began as a child, and she began fully exploring ceramics in high school. Alongside art, she enjoys working with animals, crocheting, and writing.
We wrote a letter after he died
We made t-shirts as memorial
We began a social media campaign
We asked the murders to take an eye exam
We called our neighbors and formed a cop watch
No one heard us
Our efforts muted
We grew restless
We saw red
We had a sit-in
They heard us then
We were meet with the same force that took his life
“We are here to keep the peace”
Is what they said
As they pointed their pieces in our face & yelled
Henri Jacob is from Placerville, CA. Poetry found him at an early age but his work did not begin to truly flourish until he moved to San Francisco. Most of his poems are written in Alioto Park of the Mission District. He has published two chapbooks of poetry, Poesia Libre & Poetic Tremors.
Chiara Di Martino
Chiara Di Martino was born on January 17 1987 in Rome, Italy, where she spent also most of her life. Her passions have always been Poetry, Literature, and Art. Growing up, she put her dream to be an artist or writer on hold, choosing instead to become a Psychologist. In 2015, she moved to San Francisco to study English. Along the way, she decided to open herself-up following her old dream, joining City College’s Design Department.
My left foot is a perfectly fine 72-year-old foot, with slender toes, a slender ankle and a proportionately shaped calf. It has a low arch, but an arch nonetheless, so it can enjoy any shoe style. It is the best foot that I put forward.
Its counterpart has a completely fallen arch. So much so that it actually has developed a callus where the arch would be, if there was one. The arch fell down in 1980, when I picked up my sleeping infant from a playpen and saw stars. I had slipped a disc and pinched a nerve. I was in pain for a year. It was further injured a few years later during an unrelated surgical procedure when the lymph system was accidentally cut.
Because of the cut lymph system, the same poor right foot also became swollen ever after. The foot is flat, the toes are fat, the ankle is thick, and even the calf is out of shape. It cannot stand on tip-toes, run or jog. My daughter has always lovingly called it “Mommy pig foot.”
For several years, high heels worked better than flat shoes, because they actually held the arch up into position. Even though the feet would have liked to take a long walk once in a while wearing athletic shoes, they were both happy enough. Over the years, as the right foot falls more and more, balance becomes an issue, and they now need low, block-style heels. The left foot resents this restriction, as it has always enjoyed styling in high heels. If I had two left feet, perhaps I’d be a better dancer.
These feet of mine are a constant reminder of the dichotomy of life; mine anyway. I think I’m a prominently left-brained person; fairly organized and methodical. I wish I were right-brained though; more creative and freer.
Choice or decision? Choice is no reason, just choose. Decision is with reason. Left brain is decision, right brain is choice. Putting my left best foot forward makes me think that I’m holding something back besides my right foot. I fear that I’m blocking my creativity with my stubborn left brain, and ugly right foot.
I practice a daily writing exercise because I don’t trust myself to let my creativity flow however it will, without a metronome in 4/4 time.
This is my first submission to any publication. Audrey Ferber’s class in the OLAD program has changed my life from a political junkie to a creative writer. I am endlessly surprised at what comes out on the page as I discover my own voice.
As a Philippine-born visual artist, I continue to explore concepts of identity and of home through the lens of the Filipino diaspora. My work draws from Western art history, Filipino and American cultures, post-colonial life, and pop culture.