san francisco peace and hope

Chapter 2: CONFLICT
“Be kind, for everyone you meet is fighting a hard battle." Plato 


Light tempers mountain to a will
that morning accepts, diffusing knife points
of ledge

or the quilt which once rivaled sunrise
brazen stripes, cocooned
generations, now muted, threadbare.

They say earth regenerates in a disaster.
Perhaps you know which god answers
to the hammered out.

Kit Kennedy

Antonio Puri, Narcissist, 72" X 72", mirrors, acrylics, inks, beads, rice paper, and gel medium on canvas


Ghost story

The boy with the Nigerian mother says he is scared to go home,
afraid his mother will give him up to the system again.
Being on the streets is better than foster care because
at least you can make a family where everyone is like you.
You get to choose your family, he tells me; it doesn’t choose you.
You are stuck with your real family.

I ask him, “Aren’t you afraid of the other gangs?  Aren’t you afraid of getting killed?”

He looks out from under long lashes that curve toward heaven, toward God.
“Afraid of death?  The boy I was died years ago.  His ghost came back with a gun.”

Susan Gabrielle


Yossi Vardan, Pain, Plaster, patina


First Mars and Thor
Mayhem and hammer-wielder
El Cid and Iron Kaiser Karl
Sherman the Horse and
Patton the Tank
Cannon Man and 
Fodder of the nation.

The terms are announced:
five of every seven goats slashed
one of three bushels of
wheat and corn burned
rubies buried in brass trunks
bottles of cognac
poured in the sea.

A finger's twitch could put an end
to terms of light, torched
documents could smoke like hangman's
rope and burst into flame
like the grail in hot coals,
children buried in sawdust,
green divisions in 
the dark streets

blinking back fear.

Michael Shorb


America First and American Eagle
poetry by John Curl


Ode to Oaktown

I wired my sorrows into Klieg lights and let them shine all over Oakland,
city of Black Panthers and Hells Angels and General Strikes,
driving from the Bronx in a green Toyota Corolla searching.

Was it freedom, or a film I wanted to make something of myself,
took refuge in Oakland's Lake Merritt, caught breadcrumbs and fish,
a wayfarer dressed in boots and dreams of Fifth Avenue Peace Parades

to a West Coast of two-story buildings and pastel houses
and summers where the sun did not bother to get up until noon.
Okay, I said to myself, you have to begin somewhere.  That was my beginning.

Oakland Raiders won the Super Bowl.
I sailed a stroller around Lake Merritt and through her Garden Center,
past houses with calla lilies that hugged grey gas meters

even though they were ugly. Oakland took off her clothes slowly
like a woman who wants to know she is loved. I followed her trail in Joaquin Miller
filled with monkey flowers and second growth redwoods,

nuggets of neighborhoods and librarians, the Oakland Museum
surrounded by a moat of golden koi where children entered into culture,
art, and people who hung on walls together.

Let me park my car one last time and walk to the Paramount,
remember old hotels and faded curtains stuck on brass rings,
where restaurants and condos have become the hope of a business community
that wishes for homicides to fade like fog,
a place I've come to know with gunshots and fireworks,
the way my history has been pressed into a new release.

Lenore Weiss


Judy Seidel, Universe, Acrylic on hot-pressed watercolor paper



Just when we thought
we could get things rolling
again, with the old invisible hand 
guiding us along and our stocks
gaining traction and our popularity
on key web sites assured,
comes this rainy day with
Iraqs thought abandoned jumping
from cliffs along the ocean,
smashing the hoods of our BMWs,
clogging the road forward
with bitter steel and broken concrete,
we all sit here, immobilized
by the plans of fools,
going slow through ruins,
all the while the old slave’s song
by the waters of babylon
running through my mind
and there we wept
when we remembered 

Michael Shorb


Line Of Offense: Washington -- Baghdad

whole fences of lightning
spill over the hills
of course I want to believe
the word is the world
but translations go so awry
and spies roam the libraries
Ken Saffran


Believe it or Not Marvin R. Hiemstra
painting by Damaris Ruiz


(for Robert Dillman, from Iraq)
I could tell you so much more,
but that is for another day.
We barely knew what was in store.
My story's brief but there's much more
of glory and of senseless gore --
wanting to leave and wanting to stay.
My friends, excuse, I'd give you more.

But that is for another day.

© Claire J. Baker


sorry world

© Squeak Carnwath 2004, Sorry World, Cotton Jacquard tapestry
View additional work at Magnolia Editions

Don't Bounce a Mirrored Ball!
Beg the soldiers to forget
that flashy trick step
                                              of Death
in the innocent eyes
of a third year poetry student
the soldiers are about to kill.
Beg the soldiers to remember
the smooth trick step
                                              of Life
blissful in a disco with soldiers
from every single country
on the mirrored ball we cling to.

Marvin R. Hiemstra


Today I came across
a black plastic bag
so meticulously folded

into the origami version
of a crow it could only
have been an accident.

Its makeshift wings
fluttered  in a soft wind
on an inverted sky

of pliant grass alongside
Sunset: yellow patches
of late summer grass

interleaved with the season’s
greener demarcations.
Off to the side a monarch

with a clipped wing
flitted its seven-day reign
over a scattering

of pinecones.
the mechanism I seek

to make everything
go as planned.
This brings to mind

the question
of yesterday’s crows.
Not so much a murder

as a misdemeanor of them.
The way one’s three caws
resounded in the almost

stillness and seemed
to sustain the earth’s axis
as one of its brethren

fished out the entrails
of a possum baking
in the noonday sun.

Contingency’s myriad
flies us home:
sprouts wings where limbs

were forfeited to carry us
past the vagrant remains
of a life we could no longer

recognize if we tried.

© José Luis Gutiérrez


Damaris Ruiz, Birth 2, collage,mixed media, acrylic and oil paint 3X4ft


At the Foot of Mount Sinai

Not temple; not church; not mosque
                        but wall.
            Not roof
                        but sky
                        sun stars moons clouds rain.
            Not atrium; inner sanctum; altar; aisle
                        but walled circle
                        all sides equal
                        all beginnings endings
                        all welcome.
            Not doors; gates; windows
                        but spaces left to enter
                        one north one east one west one south.
            Not cedar; sandstone; marble; stressed concrete
                        but adobe alone and no higher.
            Not designed chosen won architected paid approved
                        but put
                        one each brick from every earth
                        by sweat consecrated
                        by one sun stroked.
            Not statues symbols carvings etchings mosaics
                        but earth by Who-Gives-Earth
                        bricks by even-who-has-nothing-other-to-give.
            Not services sacrifices rituals rites
                        but prayers by woman and man
                        kneeling standing lying sitting
                        whispering singing chanting shouting:
            Not raids bombings hostages heros  territories victories
                        but peace.

                                                                                    Judith S. Offer
                                                                                    from ONLY THE WORDS
                                                                                    Oakland, California, 1983


"When shall we learn that we are all related one to the other, that we are
all members of one body?"
— Helen Keller

"Give of your hands to serve and your hearts to love."
— Mother Teresa

"Even from a dark night songs of beauty can be born."
— Maryanne Radmacher-Hershey

"Love each other or perish."
— W.H. Auden

Submitted by Nasrin Naraghi, San Francisco, CA

In a New World

In a new world, lament languishes
fear no longer divides, and laughter splashes.

In a new world, power is not proudly proclaimed
anger is melted down; humility reveals a lighter touch;
vengeance withers, people built statues to forgiveness.

In a new world no one seeks what isn’t needed:
no one takes what they haven’t earned.

Voices direct peaceful resolution; laughter erupts;
freedom no longer lifts monuments to pretended faith
and rivers no longer flow to the other side of ghosts.

© Vince Storti


River Run

Jeannie Motherwell, River Run, Acrylic on canvas