san francisco peace and hope

Chapter 6: JOURNEY
"Perhaps it is everywhere - on water and land." Walt Whitman, Leaves of Grass

Past, Future, Present

There is tree-shadow in the snow, a second branching. There is river's orange water like the many-branched ancestral map each of us carries on our back. We draw out of it our minerals and salts, the shape and nature of our brain, the eyes with which we see. Forward-gazing eyes that draw all that is behind us into the foreground we enter. Humans love the number line, love tomorrow, seek to leave the yesterdays, especially if they held pain or failure, but the names and combinations the ancestors fed into us inform the engines of our steps.

When there were dinosaurs, the human progenitor mammal was the size of a hamster. It wouldn't have even been able to perceive the dinosaur's size. Unless it climbed a tree the height of a giant sequoia and looked down not so very far. Presuming it had sight that could see much farther than a present-day hamster. My grandson wanted to see the elephants when I took him to the zoo. Their giant, careful legs. At five years old, he was interested in size. The way they stuff their mouths with hay. Their hidden lips. The way they bend their careful legs. How does an animal get away with being so big?

Between yesterday and tomorrow is today. Between 9 AM and 3 PM is noon. And yet the starlight is very old by the time we see it at 9 PM on a Thursday after we've cleared the dishes, put away the food we didn't eat, same as the food now in our digestive tracts, almost the same as it was when we put it in our mouths an hour and a half ago. But now we walk the night path before we lie in bed and dream of our dead. We walk to see, not exactly the same light our dead saw when they were alive and we had just begun. Do our grandchildren walk with us? Have we explained to them yet, how very aged is the starlight that shines now on our heads?

Grace Marie Grafton

Eleanor Leonne Bennett, Large Automation, Photograph

Headlights Tossed Forward

I live in a sketched out rusty truck world
alarm clock on the dashboard legs stretched out.
I am a coffee shop manager whores found on the road
hitch hiking to their next adventure.
My world is colored gray with half tones.
My tires are whitewalls half-flat and half rolling.
My world revolves around travels poverty my poems.
I cannot see forward the storms brewing adventures in my eyes.
Words flip-flop right to left window flapping in frozen fog.
The pace of winter nights confuses me.
I travel most of these black tar roads fender damaged, alone.
All earthly goods, tees and sweatshirts, old memories stuffed
in the back, old black quarter ton truck.
Begin, and end, headlights tossed forward.

Michael Lee Johnson

Dreaming of Inertia

The river rolls on
never questions its tendency to eddy
need to submerge
urge to transcend its banks.
In the slick mud chute otters turn and dive and turn again
locked in yin-yang embrace
keeping time with rapids.
Salmon swim upstream
dying to ascend the karmic wheel.
Inertia is not in their vocabulary.
Children chase tadpoles
clutch stout ropes to swing across wide channels.
Before philosophy
their feet knew they could never
enter the same river twice.
The river rolls on
dreaming of inertia.

Sandra Anfang


Walking up or down the staircase
Step by careful deliberate step
Where do you want to go from here?
In a spacious room with a big open book
The blank page, the journey begins
A hawk circles the before and after sky
Light imagines the dark, dark imagines the light
An idea is born out of an emptiness
Light imagines the dark, dark imagines the light
A hawk circles the before and after sky
The blank page, the journey begins
In a spacious room with a big open book
Where do you want to go from here?
Step by careful deliberate step
Walking up or down the staircase

John Rowe

Bruce Barton, Untitled

The Climb

The sunflower seeds
I bought mixed with nuts and raisins
for energy like the kind
Japhy Ryder concocted in Kerouac's The Dharma Bums
before the climb
spilled into the black chasm of my everyday
work bag of a particular designer's leather on sale
where I crammed proper
boots with loud square
heels that know how to pound a hollow polished floor
because it's more
what they hear before what they see
passing through the glass office door.

I swept out the mess with fingers the wind cracked
on the walk to the elevated train
in the ice-shrouded morning
I chewed the taste of wet branches
and sweet dead grapes.

At the end of an endless hallway
I see a door with a window framing
the open clouds tripping through the blue
where I long to mount
the waning moon.

Stephanie Laterza

Fantastic Journey

Beneath that which our minds think they know
Is a gift from beyond all that our senses can show
The dreams that dreams dream – on that other shore
All that which is beyond all that – and more
It's something of a presence an urge a whim nuance
A tug on the cosmic sleeve prompting you to take a chance
To follow a questing thought which becomes something to be sought
Perhaps a residential echo, piquing curiosity as you go with its flow
Perhaps it begins with a silent, well salted, sorrow,
A mental aside from your longing's shadow,
A ripple in your peace—a sense of sadness
A memory which you'll never, ever confess
Something from your own dark left to abide
In cold storage hidden for the sake of pride.

There's extraordinary grace – in such things
It's an intimate sense, through which thought takes wings
These become you, necessarily so – as each brings up others
To draw you in – to its mother and its mother's mother's mothers

Ah, and you can't help but look, listen and follow the flow
All the way back – wanting more, to completely be in the know
Till the tale's been told even if it takes many, many hours
Of acceptance, of trials and all the gifts in showers
So it's not just the path but all the sprouts that your journey has sown
Again and again, day in and out, they become you; they're what you own!

Dan Brady

Memory of the Lake

Going on about my way
in my mind walking
on a quiet road
hearing the sun lapping
in the waves
smelling the lake sparkling
it's what gets me through
the day.

Danny P. Barbare


drawing old hair silver
spoon in her mouth
polishing lines of armor
to ornament add turquoise,
coral to the fog of morning
point marks taken over
seeing the view through
multiplicity while reading
the shadows

Claudia Chapline

The Open Road

The road has always been open,
that turn in the road not taken,
maybe it was the one.

Many directions I could have gone,
North South East West
even up and down.
Aiming for conclusion,
ending at the center of things.

On target
red rings circling
a bird overhead

Moon setting over the bridge
soft glow of dusk
lighting the road
opening ahead.

Jane Rades


Windwolves race across the sky,
moonlight on their fur.
Skeletal trees stir as they pass,
sculptured evergreens on the mountain
send roots deeper into dormant earth.
Winter moon
spreads her silvery cloak
over all the dreaming stillness
as night creatures
follow their secret pathways in the dark.
Great white owl,
silently soaring, leavens the night
with her holy, oracular presence.

Far below,
winter life coheres,
distilled in the clarity of cold
to seeds of new becoming.

Sherri Rose-Walker
Copyright, January 5, 2015

Jennifer A. Powers, Slither, Photograph


We arrive
at mountain camp,
settle into our cabin
near a lush meadow
and small pond.

Tomorrow night,
rested, we'll wax
to a foam plate
a votive candle,
light the wick.,

set peace
afloat —
twin flames
vivid between
dark trees.

Claire J. Baker

A puzzlement

We sit side by side,
a couple courting,
quietly at ease
in our own, but,
willing to trade skins..
negotiate the tricky exchanges
of opinion, feelings, empathy

what I dream,
what I think
that must be true, and,
thus, of much consequence
in the fragile scroll of my own beliefs
could seem an absurd fiction
through the grey-green
eyes of my beloved

Eyes as windows open
to the kingdom of wisdom,
a place of mazes and mystery,
of tides, patience and healing

I am not magician nor thief,
my good sense floats at anchor
in her heart's harbor..
she is goddess/scamp whom I worship

Yes, a couple courting,
gently nudging all the puzzle's pieces
around the board - our existence -
filling unexpected voids into a unity
of compromise - cementing seams
with smiles and lovers' caulk

Stephen Kopel

The Surprise

On the other side of
that bright blue door
is a hallway that leads
to a room. Drawn to
one window there
I pull back the flaming
red curtains. Centered in
the lush green meadow view
a figure wearing a ripe purple robe
walks slowly toward the house.
How surprised I'll be when
we soon meet and I am
handed a gift. It doesn't matter
what it is, just how the act
of giving gently startles—
a sensation like a yellow butterfly
suddenly fluttering out from behind
the gray trunk of an old tree
into the light.

John Rowe

Karen Fitzgerald, Breathing Trees, oil with 23k gold on panel