san francisco peace and hope

“When Time is spent, Eternity begins.” Helen Hunt Jackson


I'm thinking of heaven as a place
Where souls are shells with light in them
And they float as on a crowded shore
Not quite touching but moving closer
And farther away from each other.
If these souls could speak they would forgive
The brusque remark or deep betrayal
And once all the disregard for others
Was washed clean by salt and sand
They might recall a time
When they sat by the sea and drank beers.
Laughing with the children they made
This carefree hug and that smudgy kiss
Would swell the Long Island nights
Into mornings, whereupon the girls would walk
The edge off their evening, picking up a shell
Or two, saying this is a pretty one, let's listen
To what it says about love.

In memory of betty and joan
San Francisco, CA 2016

Susan Gangel

On his deathbed he could not drop his pencil

On his deathbed he could not drop his pencil
bought with his last shilling, some say
hoping to carve out one vision perfect
of how lovely this thin black world is
sketching right up to his last moment
to gasp and then die pencil in hand
his wife's tears sweetening his frantic lines
tablet paper curling across his knees.

But the angels interrupted him as only
they could with their foolish singing.
Angel-drunk, he paused to lift an ear
his pencil dangling over empty paper
when he'd seen an angel in every leaf.

No one heaven-sent stands any chance
against his brush-and-paint angels
or the mad prophets snarling in his head
of knives, treacheries, chains and pains
mixing his paints of light and deep dark.
No heavenly lyric can ever bring to life
his young lamb upon a new Spring morn.

Jealous multitudes singing furious loud
for beauty's toiler is dragging up to the gate
his great work hard put to an end
useful moments before the man himself.

Thomas McCarthy

Elaine Drew, The Gift, egg tempera

For No Reason a Blessing Comes

in purple, the paint
on the ledge after the rain
bruised and beautiful,
the small cracks sealed,
brimming with water

in white, brilliant and bleached,
the towel taking water,
the stark snowfall
so bright it closes eyes
and then we see

in copper, the skin of a man
who will love my daughter
long after my death,
all the fears and longings
of father placed at rest

in gray, the curling cues
of vapor above the coffee cup,
blanketed by bliss
lifted with the climbing helix
vanishing in the room

Jeff Burt

Carolyn WarmSun, Bridge, Acrylic on canvas


cathedral looms up from its portico
sound rising though colour-filled atmospheric
vaults echo breathing
ribs of pillars and arches
stone stone glass structuring
beams of light cross the gaps touching
paver candle shoulder pew
murmur of feet prayers pigeons dance
jackhammer slamming across the plaza
in the street trucks rumble the foundation
into the constant silence breathes
sounds layer my heart
valves open one and then one brushing
breath lungs open droop open
pipe organ valve flaps
a small gasp before the reed
engages air
the note takes flight
a large white bird soaring steadily
across the bars of light
down the heights of the nave nesting
near the chancel echo of feathers settling
there the crucifix
suspended a small stab of violence
seraphic saints and apostolic miracles surround
20-foot glass catechesis
sit down drop to your knees or leave
what can sustain this presence
and stand

Patrice Haan

As if, in Reply, Again 2

As if words would be sufficient in reply
I wax sentimental, with ancient tolls, spilling
doubts; visions of tested lives.

A friend lies in a bed, griping; grim and
groping about, as if he's just now finally seen
the big hurdle; the ending rapids, in the stream.

Outside, moving trucks; the flow of California—
those out-of-work people fleeing for their lives
(the rent now higher, for all the noise).

Dying in bed, this artist beyond canvases of colors
asking nothing from life, his hours without a brush
his last answers, anyone's guess.

I watch him slowly giving up (weary hours)
his fragments of telling, cast wasting, and empty
waiting, hope waning, beyond human sorrow and pride.

He wants to feel the sun one last time
(he doesn't want to hear my take on life); out
on the patio, I feel peaceful; I become silent

(as if to discover) a remainder of common commerce
where an agent sea laps upon a distant and foreign shore
well beyond a leaping passage we could no longer share.

Over the patio looms a California palm, a scraggly tree
beyond winter visions: dead leaves and bare limb scenes
as life—slowly ebbing, gotten over—so soon to be gone.

Vince Storti

The Day the World Was Supposed to End

The world never ends
Because it always begins again.
The Big Bang is but a burp in the Universe's digestive cycle.
You honestly think God is some mad scientist?
Filling test tubes and petri dishes?
Playing with exploding gasses?
Compacting them into snowballs of stars?
Flicking off dust into planets,
Which gravitate to moons?
That time is a watch, without a battery,
That ticks off our lives
Which is a tag team of generations evolving toward what exactly?
That space is something you can explore with robots and fools
And little shovels on the end of billion mile journeys?
You really think it's that simple?
Well, think again.
Better yet, breathe again.
In breath, out,
Out breath, in.
Note: The world just started again
soon as it ended
started again

Gary Turchin

When Nothing Is Left

We knew more names for love than "Dear Abby"
          the deep blue endless air
                    bent down to us – warmed our backs

That moment when nothing is left arrives
          your breath – sputtering towards song           stops
                    hands eager to touch                        stop

You fly off to travel with clouds
          I'm trapped in a monastic room
                    pictures of you in cheap frames

We never put love in bondage

I listen to midnight gossip of
          hip bone/knee bone/ thigh bone
                    louder than the word of the Lord

Stumble into sleep -- grasping a kitchen knife
          to cut myself free of dreams
                    that kick/bite/and buck

Wake to exercise to keep my heart in shape
          now that you're gone
                    who sees the shape of my heart?

I bow down to the butterfly that
          lives as long as a wing beat

Does it remember the cocoon/the worm?

Nancy Wakeman

Jeannie Motherwell, Mariana 2015, Acrylic on Claybord
© Copyright Jeannie Motherwell


We long to show you rainbows
pouring pastels off both ends,
hillside poppies opening
in morning light,
gulls gliding, diving, climbing,
riding curled peaks of ocean.

Here at home clouds linger
as creamy white as Calla lilies;
sunrise and sunset are color
not fire.
At dawn and dusk, see
lavender blue between tops
of redwood trees.

Good soldiers,
soon no more IED's
or night-raid explosions.

Stars over California ring bells
and phases of the moon
will herald whole new chapters
in your healing and recovery.

Safe again
  you can sleep
   on pillows as restful
    as peace doves filling the sky.

We pray for your safe return.

Claire J. Baker

Susan Jokelson, Fatal Shore, Collage-mixed media