san francisco peace and hope

"Only connect!." E. M. Forster, Howards End

Slitting the Cushions

Lying in this soft bed,
in this soft suburb, in this soft city,
I want to punch through it, to find
the jagged edges and sharp points
to jab myself awake.

Today were the Paris attacks,
And I wanted to feel outrage and grief
But instead, I could only ask:

What do I do with the rest of my life?

I wonder how many of us lie in our soft beds,
encased in a soft suburb, silently jabbing
our wounds and scars?

I had my fill of outrage and grief,
but have grown tired of the numbness
that protected me for a time.

Now I crave thin blades to slit smothering
soft tissue and membranes of memory,
so that this world is not cushioned by
my disbelief.

Claire Ibarra

My Voice

What calls to me is my own voice
          rhythmic, strong, and clear
It comes from the center
          of my soul
like a Buddhist bell
          rung in my belly
like a blue jay squawking
          in my ear
like an insistent phone
          I can't put on hold

Sometimes I can't hear it
          amidst the din of living
other people's clamoring tongues
          chainsaws, leaf blowers
                 boom boxes, garbage trucks
The detritus of a civilization
          that has lost the concept
                 of the silent broom

Sometimes I can't hear it
          amongst the opera of media
                 the barrage of news
the whip of the radio, the yip of the TV
          or even my lover's quiet demands

Sometimes it leaves town
          on a freight train
                 screeches out of sight
and is gone for days, for months
          only to return later
a whipped puppy, looking for a home
          a clear bell, a touchstone
                 a name

Judy Wells


Poor people are not icebergs,
calved in great thunder,
but flakes of snow evaporating
or melting into an anonymous current,
whispered into life, as if a secret
that history will not record.

Everywhere I hear their whispers,
teachers breathing a sigh of relief
when one child surpasses the magic mark
to where the bureaucratic matrix
chalks the calculus of a child,
burkas ruffling in the wind,
Bread breaking at the communion table,
mellifluous tongues in talk,
as the bus churns asphalt
in Cairo, Darfur, Tikrit, South Boston,
Kingston, Tunis, San Salvador, here.

Jeff Burt

Helene Mukhtar, Strangers in the Night, 2015, acrylic paint on canvas


Tears for peace
Run down the face of humanity
Crying wounds of hate
Seek impossible escape

When the light of the soul
Clenches the darkness of barbaric ways
Tears for peace
Run down the face of humanity

Oh sweet world
Gift of life and mind
Remove evil teachings from the eyes of humankind
Lift us from the dust of earth
Return us from the heavenly skies
Embrace the call to oneness
In the sharing of eternal life

Tears for peace
Run down the face of humanity
Down the face of humanity
Run tears of peace
Tears for peace
Peace for tears
Tears for peace
Peace or tears

James Berkowitz


("We're all in this together, alone."
                      - Lily Tomlin)

A greeting.
From India.
And since it is always "now" for them there,
as it is always "now" for everyone, everywhere
(though some of us more aware of it
than others),
they, in India, greet each other with
not a hello, nor a good-bye
not "time"
"The Light within me
  honors, greets, salutes
  the Light within you."
And since,
"I know just how you feel."
 has been banished
                       the language of compassion,
I say to you, this morning, my grieving friend:
"The grief within me
 the grief within you."
 Putting us equally upon
 the immeasureable scales of.....
 This solitude,
 on the other side of the fence,
 the broken-hearted wooden or stone country fence,
 throws, tosses some light 
 An oil lamp in a window appears.

Iris E. (C.M.K.)


in this country, one is made of slogans,
as would be candidates garner
space in the media, traveling throughout
the country to create fear

of what they call "the other."
Then there is a young
Muslim woman Mona Haydar
who set up an "ask a Muslim" stand

on a Cambridge street offering
free coffee and a doughnut
to passersby who want to know
about her faith. She opened the door

to love, reached out beyond
the boundaries we set up
and the slogans, that bombard us
to draw upon fear, hatred

and misunderstanding.
Opening that door, a young woman
showed us how one person
with a giving heart can make

the world a better place where
we can move beyond our differences
and rejoice together, understanding
the true meaning of life.

Marguerite G. Bouvard


We use the word marginalized for the
How many more quiver in the sentence,
resisting the dark call of white space?
the quickly glossed over,
pondering the adjusted edge?
those who look for magnetic nouns
and electric verbs to draw towards us,
connectors of, and, and nevertheless
to the binding or a paragraph
woven back into our body copy.

Jeff Burt

Green Man

Somewhere in the deep, dark brown,
your roots embrace me in the loam,
rising with my heart to sun,
though dreaming in the dark and dim.

My green face shoots forth twigs and leaves
from gnarled and weathered rings of wood,
tossed to ground by storm and wind,
and rotting, surged to leaves again.

Every year I settle deep
and no one tills me to rebound,
the time for winter and for spring
respiring with the mist and moon.

I swallow whole the height of green
to whirl with dying color to the ground,
and in the circle dance you dream
translucent in the heart of me.

David Walter Robertson

I Have a Dream

I have a dream
that every child's heroes will be revered
not for war or sport, but thought.

I have a dream
that children of every faith and race
will embrace the extended hand of words.

I have a dream
that every child will know
the glory and majesty of language.

I have a dream
that children hearing empty words
will ask why.

I have a dream
that a poet will fill AT&T Park,
the cheering heard in halls of state.

I have a dream
that ideas will exceed the force
of bullet, bomb and blade.

David Olsen


A phrase softly coalesces,
gathering with the slowness of dreams.
I wake to layered intricacy,
slipping with my grasp,
tracing circularity

that fades to the light of day,
expanding ripples lapping
moment after moment,
clasped within lustrous sheen;

growing to notice
long enough
to follow the pauses,
opalescence by opalescence,

to open to the shining
city with no other gate,
held in my losing
any reflection
but yours.

David Walter Robertson


Silent feet
pass me by.
Some stop,
a breath of light
piercing the long night.
Some come to stay
through a hard winter,
blooming into white

Fiery yellow branches of autumn
shade my reservoir―
luminous water.
Morning rays slip through my fingers
like the shadows of foreign travelers
moving across the evening.
Rings on a tree
trace my daybreak
and nightfall,
illuminating our brief meetings.

I receive each person
and every new season
into naked hands
as if they were a gift
to carry with me.
All become my body—
the colors of my skin
creases on my forehead
the light in my eyes
the flesh of my heart.

Toshi Washizu


There are moments
when byways lead us
to peace, to hope --
advents of adventure,
a taste of a wider life.
And we are on our way.

We arrive at mystical trees,
cornfields grown as musical
as a hundred songbirds.
From a million cocoons
monarch butterflies emerge,
meld with sunset and sunrise --
luminous moments when
love surrounds us,
holds us up.

Claire J. Baker

Natica Angilly, Heartistry 


Life pulse source, gives a beat, wakes our
designs to take poetic shape, sculpting
our perfect place. This place where
each of us claims a space—
and time as our own.

Each of us as a living poem,
lives our gifts in this same universe,
the shared universe—the one that
we all call home.

We take the challenge of our
significance and try history to
make our difference. Rhythms are
offered to move our circle. We dance.
We warm up our band to orchestrate,
reach out, give a hand,
and hold together in the same mystery.

In this gift of a universe we all
call our own, we are dancing together
and never alone.

Natica Angilly