san francisco peace and hope

Chapter 3: CONFLICT
“If we have no peace, it is because we have forgotten that we belong to each other.” Mother Teresa

Empty City Street
Manhattan morning
Lowered East Side
Until it all begins again

Aaron B. Jackson


Roxanne Worthington, Grave Hands, Photograph

While You Can

Don't be afraid
don't look for signs.
you will arrive
just after the explosion,
waving your arms through
the light-struck dust.
I'm the ash that coats your tongue,
makes you cough
and cough. No,
I can't stay quiet tonight
on the street made of words.
Soon I will pass through you
like hair through a comb.
Love me while you can,
before the hot air crumbles
like sand; love me like
the black and white sky

Erica Goss


Ana, I have learned to see
the mountain rising behind
you bearing the scars

of your ruined city, Havana, the sun-struck
panes of your grandmother's window,
staining her hair with their reds

and purples. It smokes with the fever
of burning flesh from mid-night
roundups in the prisons of Moncado.

During a time without mercy
or compassion, Ana, your hands
have cradled children and dreams;

Your country's history rages inside you
and the flight of birds.
You and I have learned how power

sprouts like kudzu, drowning
the tender fields. Speaking of this
across the table where the hours

pause over tea, our words
become grass springing back
defiant flowers.

Marguerite G. Bouvard

Shira Toren, Time to Go, Venetian Plaster, Graphite, pigment on Canvas

The black cat made a path in the snow
Up the hill, where green apples (trees) grow
Years of Joy, Rivers and Lakes. 
It's time to go now
It's time to go now
_A_ Cross route 22 & restart
Safe in my drawer
Better together
My love, My love
love My, Love My.



“engrossed with things that baffle”
Rosmarie Waldrop

“It’s a beautiful day,” when what we need is rain.
Pass the salt.  Put out the cat.  Please.  Not now. 
But now is all there is.
Even a not is finite.  The knot
of human nature, “How could I
have done those things?”  Torture, rape, pillage,
the big “out there’s.”  Cover my mouth,
avert my eyes, trim my lawn, dump my garbage.
Tricks that crave decency, yes, there’s some in everyone.
But, age 9, I scratched that boy’s cheek,
grooves whiter than his skin
before pinpricks of blood
ventured into the cuts.
As I watched it gather red force,
the horror of what I’d done drummed
under my skin.  The heft of crime.  Over the line.
All because his puppyish devotion seemed weak.
I hope he didn’t go to war a decade later,
look into the eyes of someone who, momentarily,
seemed weaker than him.  Feel justified to shoot.

Grace Marie Grafton


that wove centuries
in its buildings and mosques
where people greeted each other
and dawn blessed
Sunni, Shiite and Christian,
Homs, the ancient city
of light and outstretched hands
where skeletons of buildings
teeter and nameless bodies
lie beneath the rubble
of darkness, where there is no
end, and conferences abroad are filled
with empty phrases as Jihadis
stream in who do not speak
the language -- yet a father
lifts a small child from the remains
of barrel bombs who survived,
and stands alone above the ruins
with their arms intertwined
in an embrace, where the self-proclaimed
killers can never vanquish love.

Marguerite G. Bouvard

William Castellana, Girls pushing Strollers / Lee Avenue - Williamsburg, Brooklyn, Photograph


Marooned in togetherness

Tethered by necessity,

Riled easily,

Split atoms returning

To a single nucleus

Of silent discord

Binding the roots.

Yvonne Jayne

More Than

A long, long time ago

some molecules stuck and made more of themselves.

This produced the soul.

Jenna Hailey


This is the playground
of the enemy's youth:
upturned graves and craters
to swim in when it rains.
Small children shake skulls
like rattles,
while older ones carve rifles
out of bone,
making what use of the time
given them.

Mark Osaki


His feet are cut.
His body's ready.
We wait for the women.

Hundreds rioted:
you can feel it in the air,
see it in the eyes.

Mary went with me.
Four thousand cheered.
It was sunny and

they played some psalms:
who will rise
against the evildoers?

Who will stand up for me?
The sun shining —
she doesn't have much left.

I made my way to her son
resting there.

Erica Goss


The Finding Spot

Piled beneath
the willows, human stash
this small wet evening

infant girls accumulate
like autumn leaves
and this will be

the finding spot
they talk about when asked
where they were born

oh to be wanted
here is where she rested
she was poor, she had

the smell of village cooking
in her hair
there was a note

but she could not read or write
girls are not allowed
to learn

some will stay in China
some will go to America
or Canada or Spain

some return
to the grass
in little boxes

Erica Goss


Saw a fog turn into angel's wings
heard sweet songs full of love
Peace on earth
Good will…

Saw a fog lift the sick into heaven's golden gate
Saw a fog end war…

Thousands of wild flowers grew
where poppies grow
saw a fog float on water parting the sea
and all the world came together
like feathers of fog floating into eternity

Saw a fog
Woke up
Angels at my feet

Vincent J. Tomeo

Evelyn Glaubman, Stop Violence, Mixed media


For J. Robert Oppenheimer

We are told that a demonstration
is not sufficient
and we believe it.

Too much has been invested for us
to recover from a fall now. After all,
science teaches that a man broken down
into his elements is hardly worth recycling.

Somewhere, the Creator sits at home
ill at ease and unsure,
stamping out the first cigarette
because already he sees a spot on his lung.

Here, we have witnessed pure creation.
Our eyes have the pallor of bones
bleached clean by unrelenting sun.
But we know too that elsewhere this desert's heat
can make the blood boil.

Mark Osaki


The wound doesn't yet know to heal
One friend feeds me up, black beans and yucca,
yams and chicken soup
Another's shouting poetry on the bridge
plummeting a cloud-steeped, valiant heart
in the cauldron of a needy world
Purple iris bursts the streets—
Even a busted pelvis will reach for the light
if you shine it right

Poetry keeps pushing back the falls with longing
Feeds itself then begs for more
Choreograph it with me!
Healer sisters, basket gatherers, dancers
of the proud and streetwise, tender, sassy
sidewalk-cracking iris!

Seize your breath the only song you get
Burn cedar bark on the trembling morning
You can hear me
getting our bones to laugh
Love each other back

© Mia Kirsi Stageberg



Beyond thoughtful language, a silent oath: 
beyond patient growth, a quickly-spent piracy.
Beyond decency, the princely sum:
beyond truth, a malicious slur. 
Voices clamor as if what was amiss had only just begun. 
9/11 vengeance: against wisdom, punishment pushed beyond
and toward a history of broken families and broken martyrs
and the film strip endlessly played  kill the infidels
and don't try to learn why they did it                  IF they did.
But, it's a tired old story: Homer and the Greeks, then
the turn of everyone else. Who's next: The Albanian hordes?

We are carved by madness, cut by ammo and burns of war: we
are abraded by bullets and battles: there's so much bluster and bluff.
The crowds with their: Rah! Rah! Rah!  We are the best!  
But there is something else: betrayal (and there's so much blood).
And: as far as option B?  A poet motions to an open door.  
But, then, the poem is drowned out by cries for revenge; 
now: it's rage against all the rest: as if the gentle people were 
plotting margins of defeat...or defeatism itself—as if they would,
by their acts, let life succeed.  Oh, breathe deeply, take it all in.
Oh: but still: what's the beast being hunted down by the curving river?
What beast? What river? What sea?  Tell me: where's the need?
Over in the market, the sale of bullets and babies; the sale
of guns and sugar: there's the mania and broken verses. 
The loud vow: slaughter; no salute toward flags of mercy.
Gathered fortunes piling up in the cities and harbors
and the fortune-teller says the solution has been paved over.
But the stock market's up, lumber is being sold
iron is being smelted; the mood turns toward more slaughter.
And there are still the killings of children by children
and there are lessons learned about what goes with munitions. 
And, only the vengeful voices believe everything is going so well.

Vince Storti

Elaine Drew, Taera, The Earth, Weeps for the 3 Warring Brothers
The earth weeps and prays as she watches the devastation wrought by 3 of the world's major religions.