san francisco peace and hope

Chapter 4: THE JOURNEY
"My favorite thing is to go where I've never been." Diane Arbus

He Was Waiting

for the meaning of life
and perhaps would be
waiting for some time
to come. In the mean-

time, he fed the pigeons
on his lunch hour down-
town, right in the center
of thingsā€”this is how

God witnessed him:
an ordinary man with
no urge to kill any-
thing, not even time.

John Rowe

Ishtar-Lhotus Zeviar, Transitory, photograph of my footprints , computer texting
Like the waters (and other elements) that we are made of, someday we all will evaporate. But ripple effects can last for who knows how many eternities?

Seize The Day

The moment is a thin ledge
for mindhold to grasp.  Too often,
thought slides back into ectoplasmic
clutch of memories; falls forward
into aspirationĀ“s twinkling starfield.
Work to widen the ledge,
make the present a place to linger in comfort
unobsessed with front or back doors.

Lark Burns de Beltran


The Old Man Walks

The old man walks
slow and stuttering
down the gravel lane
but he never stops
the fences and houses
on to hills and trees
He won’t return
home until sundown.
It might rain.

Thomas McCarthy


Christina Maile, Bonfires of Autumn, Litho ink on archival paper

A Wrong Turn

At the 15 mph curve in the
oil fields north of Coalinga where
asphalt dissolves to yellow sand
three coyotes slip across the road
trotting from the prickly bunch grass
to the raspy resinous sagebrush
from the sunlight to the shade
among the thick twisting pipes
shiny or rusted or busted
great iron rhythm monsters
dipping stingers into drill holes
the earth itself puckered here
in a rolling flowing caldera
crumpling where the end begins
and a road-killed skunk hectored
by squabbling indifferent crows
offering cynical commentary
while the coyotes simply vanish.

Thomas McCarthy


Wing Walk

Sometimes it is easier to do things
the more difficult they seem to be
than to do things easily within one's reach.

So imagine me in a circus afraid of heights,
an aloof ropewalker high above the audience
staring into tangible space, or better,

back in the 1920s on a barnstorming tour,
a wing walker aloft whipped by the wind
yet steadied by his look into the evening light,

always that pervasive, rapturous light
that beautifies and develops us.
Which is why when I walk on a wing of hope

and face the formidable wind of forces
beyond my control, I long to reach, to reach,
to take one more step that I might fall

into the envelope of the unfolding horizon
and that it would hold me, unspent and cherished
in that purse of uncommon radiance.

Jeff Burt

Jacqueline Sferra Rada, Solitude, Pastel on paper


Road Blocked

block roads
that used to lead to Eden,
a place where we once talked.

Detour signs ignored
I speed across the graveled lane
onto sticky tar
spittling off the tires
and dare to claim my space.

High on this deck
in the Berkeley hills
we sip a glass of Chardonnay
watch the day turn gold
beyond the Golden Gate

and talk.

Cherise Wyneken


The Locksmith Speaks

Most clients angrily ask, “Hey, what took you so long?”
but are exceedingly grateful the moment the lock clicks open.

All their short dramas, emotions run in and out with the tide,
from one person or one city to the next.

The moon passes over the desert.
Time erodes pictographs and peoples.

I like to spend my free time with waterfalls,
and yucca, wild birds and butterflies.

Sometimes I write poems like this in the sand
for Swainson's hawks and coyotes.

What I mean is no matter how long they talk,
or how precisely they explain,

or how forcefully convincing they get,
I rarely find words to free men from themselves.

Scott T. Starbuck  


Susan Jokelson; Collage, Untitled


no more the errant guest

days of rain
glide under the bridge
an older me
whom failures relinquish 
rain-fed acolyte
a follower of rivers

evening arrives
from far away
perhaps as far
as from inside
and darkness falls

Daryl Nielsen


Weaving My Way Through Raindrops

Lifted by the lack of rain
Clouds not dampening
Yesterday excused my absence
Withdrawn, I wet boned
Found my way through small paths
Where rain had less fallen
Small, I squoze through
Tap dancing around
I adore small, to find
The place between the sounds
Clouding out reason
In the dark exchange
Darkness, when I shrink
Leaping from raindrop to each
Before they hit the earth
Up and out of reach
Where the sounds are monarch whispers
Blinking raindrops around
Leap to leap, where clouds are within
I am small. Aren’t we all
Finding our way, noise, clouds
Leaping, small on drops
Landing with a gentle plink.

Cynthia Wicks


The Art of Living in Doorways
No home over our heads
We sleep in doorways.
I lie awake and wrestle with darkness,
Study the stars and survey city streets.

A week without eggs sunnyside up
Leaves us gray and gloomy,
No home over our heads
We wrestle with darkness.

Sparrows sing with the sun,
“We’re getting high and rolling along.”
The art of turning hand-me-down words
Into song eludes us, but we are skilled
At collecting secondhand clothing.

The earth under our feet is full
Of fungi, worms and other miracles,
Yet death lurks around every corner.
No home over our heads,
We are experts at feeding dozens
With one crust of bread.

Sparrows teach us to sing to the sun.
We camp out in city parks
And study the art of pinning
Pants, shorts, socks and songs
On to a clothesline.

When the bus is too crowded to ride
We saddle up our dreams.
My one desire, to perch on a Paris
Rooftop and sing like Piaf.

Nancy Wakeman


the opening

he thought he was going to a city        going toward a city then        the landscape he navigated an index of memory and loss        hidden selves and memory’s loss        leaves opened        tiny green eyeless birds consuming the trees branches        yet they cast a maze on the air        a city between its coastline and wind-infested space        a space he thought that opened for him        a tide’s salty currents containing a shore          as thick as his blood a new moon turning        birds abandoned their web-shaped insignias in the mud        an alphabet of puzzling dichotomies        a city he thought he was going toward        inhabited among unwarranted consolations        a new moon’s imprisoned light        hot weather rain birds        the road dissolving behind him in early light        a city beside an ocean he thought        a distance to be negotiated        an opening up

Patrick Cahill

Judy Seidel, The Maze, Acrylic on paper