san francisco peace and hope

Chapter 5: ANCESTORS
"Every man is a quotation from all his ancestors." Ralph Waldo Emerson

Crying Sky Morning

The sky cried all night,
Must have had good reason,

To be so heavy with water
Seems like a burden.

But we all carry that burden,
Water is our soul and dimension,
We think we're so solid,
But soon as we're cut, punctured, breached,
Out we pour—
The very life of us.

It's a delicate balance,
To be liquid enough to flow,
Solid enough to stand,
Permeable enough
To let the air in
And out

Science has terms,
Formulas, phrases,
Chemistry biology physics
Noble fields, all
I bow to their genius—
Our genius—
Which can't be explained
Without the burden of rain,
And the impossibility
Of air breathing itself.

We are rain, walking
Storm, contained
Mountain, breathing
Ballasts of wind holding space against the storm,

Lightning and thunder are our cousins,
And the clouds cry our ancestors

Gary Turchin


Hidden in the hills
      fortifications to protect
the bay, the gateway,
      the city, the golden gate.
Hidden in the hills,
      since 1897,
earthwork ramparts
      continually advanced
past the war
      to end all wars,
empty ruins now,
      abandon spaces
from attacks
      that never came.
Hidden in the hills
      tunnels and pill boxes:
      San Francisco.

Duane L. Herrmann

Susan Jokelson, Carnac & Karnak, Collage-mixed media


Within a celestial grove the blossoms bloom
A temple in the midst of blossoms shades away the moon
besides the temple a goddess delicately bend
planting peach trees where she would care for and tend
picking sweet blossoms trading in for melancholy wine
O how she would drinks away sorrows near her faded golden shrine.

Yuan Chan

City Street Gods

A baseball cap
Perched on his dark hair
Nondescript common clothes
Like any other pair of jeans and T-shirt
Short and compact
Walking through the Mission
His territory stamped on brown skin

But the lines of his face
The set of his jaw
Shape of his eyes
Slope of his nose
Marked him as surely as
Ancient Aztec gods
Walking down a city street

Deborah K. Tash

Where Are Kings and Empires Now?

Romans once ruled the world.
They are much nicer folks
now that they have abandoned such pretensions,
grow fat, and eat pizza.

What a blessing to the rest of the world
if we would abandon our national pretensions.

Louie Crew Clay

"Man in the dark"

Brother made his mark
calling cousins
in the dark

Finish what you mean to do
no asking for assistance
one man standing in the dark

Hurling bricks
masked fighters
finish in Iraq

One man stands
calling forth
his brothers

Soldier hits his mark
reflections, shadows
only one man in the dark

Religion gone the way of buildings
soldier hits his mark
cousins finished off

What's left
standing in Iraq
women wailing in the dark

Jean Loura

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

Donald Gialanella, Samsara, Steel, glass, paint, plastic 


As time encircles and recycles itself,
mirror likenesses thicken and fog up.
If you have trouble finding yourself,
start looking elsewhere. The sky –
not only is it not the limit, it opens
and dares you to look up who you are.
Mountains and mountains and mountains
– they’re you. Great Lakes you take
to be out there someplace look like you,
splash and churn and shine like you.
The world beyond washed flesh is you.
Light dries your eyes; one blink can melt
illusion, dissolve the frame that says:
“I look at you and see no evidence of me.”

Al Young - © 2008 by Al Young

Taktsang, Bhutan

We carry them up, 900 metres above the valley –
10 cotton rectangles on a string, rolled like a scroll.

Through the glade filled with the bell's toll
marking each turn of a water-driven prayer wheel,

beneath the blushing rhododendron bushes,
along the edge of the precipice, and up

the final steps before shedding shoes
to enter the temple.

Bowing, we approach a monk
in saffron robes to bless our offering.

He murmurs a mantra, sprinkles holy water
over the colourful bundle.

Descending, we find the perfect unfurling place
to see the flags flutter in the wind,

free the message of peace
from wood-blocked letters

printed in a language known only
to my old, recycled soul.

Kathleen M. Quinlan

Salma Arastu, Remembrance of God brings peace to the hearts,
Arabic Calligraphy painting

Hawaiian Waterways and Arizona Byways

Water flow streams out
Never-minding direction just to forward
Not strait. Until veering left or right
By flaps within the current, no distraction
Guided by doors opening and closing
To channel where it might seek
Change this way of redirection
For cause unknown; unable to question
Just flow where it can, no mention of may-
Or ought. Just as water which moves
Where it is able. Ability granted and not overtaken
Passion with its gurgling froth passes
As its purpose to swell and merge
With all that goes. Stream into and through
Ways and wills, quiet and still and roaring into
A broader current, then narrow. Thinly trickle
Then slow to build into brook stream river bay
Then ocean and see. One among such currency
The currency that in each is an ocean
In a single drop. As well as a drop
Within our given sea. Why fight?
Guided so perfectly. Acceptance is the cure
Willingly. To go unknown turning
Into what is unseen. Blind we flow
Into liquid unity. Blind we flow
Into liquid unity.

Cynthia Wicks

Christina Maile, World History I, Polyester Plate Lithograph


i am a shimmering singing giantess. draped in seaweed silk my body
tattooed crusted indigo azure jet scarred. barnacle of the ancient
crushing depths. my breath billows. my unfathomable bulk majestic
mythic rare. I twist and turn my towering humped back. i am lithe
as a ballerina the frozen sea my stage. the music of my hulking sisters
booms through the waves summons the surface. ice floes bow
to my thundercloud head massive. the warm lagoon calls. I will not eat
again until the spring-pink soft-shelled shrimp.

Holly Wotherspoon

Summer Rain

in the wrapping paper
of grey clouds,
a calling card
of silver beads
on a chute of grass—
harmless patter
a shuffle on the pavement
an occasional trip-trap
coming down
at the same tempo
target practice
increasing in accuracy
until its velocity
becomes more insistent
a summer downpour
ahhing of earth
absorbing moisture
rain lashes
the ground
spills over in sobs
becoming the background
we live with

Lenore Weiss

Lone Mountain Cathedral

So I sit and contemplate the academia
at noon
The leaning heads of learning
over broken bread
in the Catholic college of knowledge
on Lone Mountain

The nuns have long since left
but the black gowns of forgotten priests
still whisper
in the shadowed niches
of the long halls

This monument of stone and cross
at the tip of the mountain
scans to the sea
beyond the stuccoed adobes of pastel white
like some gray haze of the future

The Catholic past has lots of power still
and even now
in the shrinking bag of the plastic present
I feel the pull
of centuries of knowledge
and the scent of incense
and candle smoke
the bended knee
and the clear flush

Floyd Salas


She cut her necklace
Freeing the pearls to return
Teardrops to the sea
The roaring waves
Fukashima is here
White caps
Thundering rain
Sea rising extension ladder
Diving for oysters

Claudia Chapline

Elizabeth Hack, Wave X10, Acrylic and ink on panel