Poem of the Day - Archive - July 2020


Blues for Malcolm X
by Al Young


When I decided to go hear you speak
that week, it was Oakland, it was way out
west, it was long before Blue Tooth tech,
it was youth, way beck before the truth
got put on commission. I was older
than the early Sixties, younger than the rain.

It was when a café colleague declined
my invitation for her to join me to catch you
that I got it right. She was white.
She declined. She declared: “No, you go.
I don’t think he’ll like me very much.”
My political black friends- none of them
had the time, either. I took the bus.

To bust the chops of the integrationists-
your mission exactly. You carried it out
with charisma and charm. For dignity
and equality you spoke. “I love all black,
brown, red and yellow people, “ you said
at the close of your spellbinding talk.
Then you blew us kisses. This is memory.

Now the very government that shot you
down for dead has made you postage,
stampable, sendable, official at last.
Does this surprise you? Official history
-a snake that hisses, a snake that hushes-
smoothes you out, burnishes. I still prefer
the kids who called you Malcolm Ten.

They didn’t know where to hide you, so
They put you on a stamp. With Booker T.,
Who wouldn’t sit with Woodrow Wilson
And the first Lady at his White House Dinner,
You wanted us to separate and split.
And that was it: You, Malcolm X, would fix
The system with the ballot or the bullet
May these blues clarify your red position.


View Al Young's work in the Library catalog


For Stephen Kopel
by Cesar Love


If I could rhyme like a mockingbird
If I could pun like a stripper who never once blushed

If I could harness that invisible wave
A wave something like the space-time continuum
But beyond calculus, beyond probability

A wave morphing quarks and quasars into verbs and nouns
A wave sometimes corkscrew, on occasion paisley
A wave often curveball, now and then knuckleball

Perhaps if I had a window seat on a satellite
Maybe if I had a spaceship in my garage
Then I could cameo at open mics across the galaxy
Then I might be a shaman of words like Stephen Kopel
But alas, I have no spaceship
Still, I am grateful this comet crossed my path


View Cesar Love's work in the Library catalog

Video: Cesar Love at the San Francisco Public Library


The Lesson
(June 1, 2020)
by Craig Santos Perez


what if

the pandemic

is trying

to teach us

how to




View Craig Santos Perez's work in the Library catalog


Teachings of moss
by Jenny Davis


Today I attended talks
by a panel of sidewalk mosses
They said surviving
in places not meant for us
sometimes looks like fitting in
but that our bodies can also
make those structures visible
Sometimes it means making these
spaces a little bit more comfortable
for the next generations
whose roots will
be strong enough to tear it all
down from the ground up
and sometimes it means being
willing to be turned over ourselves
in the process. Becoming a part
of something new in the process
        webbing for fungal networks
We do not need to fight for the barren
structures around us just because
we have never had the chance
to taste deep soil


Video: Jenny Davis at the San Francisco Public Library


June 2020
by Abena Songbird


This path I walk is cloaked in silence
as masked we witness this merciless patch smother our smiles
My wolf teeth are hurting/grinding and gnashing
chomp on this - it hurts to digest life
speak no evil/ though there is so much
The heart is heavy with the weight of consequences, choices I had no part in
our every dawn is eclipsed as is the consciousness of the sun
my closest friend…
a blinding Corona bores into our pupils
sucking the very air from our lungs
burning to memory echoes of history
of blankets baked in pox
from bat to market – this path is a tattoo
marked by mass graves in Brazil
New York’s refrigerated trucks of corpses
The new snake - a ventilator’s hiss pounds out a rhythm
fester from its bite is frothing anger – an impossible weight of collective rage and grief
missing and murdered Native women, Black and Brown murders in the streets, this virus is killing us
 the poor are dying, the old and vulnerable are toppling
Bad Cops emboldened by the cuckoo tweet of presidential spew – ‘White Power’
Like a nerve agent cutting a wide swath of destruction/ the Donald is the new Agent Orange
The earth rumbles, supporting this heavy weight…it shifts
fear is palpable
I don’t know if I can ever make another poem
I don’t know if I can ever sing another song

Impossible breath
slowed down to 16 rpm now sped to 78 rpm
climates in quandary…crisis/ breath erratic, no breath – “I can’t Breathe”…
dams bursting an explosion of tears
blue smoke peppers the streets
hails of rubber bullets
rivers of black and brown blood
a chorus of injustices rise behind the patches swarming
the choir is stronger with combined voices/yet we must remember, not to drown each of our solos
What evokes calm?  Ceremony
What evokes calm?  Ritual
the quill, the beads, the drum, the song we take up
A steady rope of weave
Sweet grass/umbilical
one true thing/ a tap root
something eternal
ancestral ties
night gardens spring up = tobacco in the four corners
where is the Victory?
Rise up the Natural World!
microscopic detail – luna moths, salamanders return
herds of deer
mark the path /the spiral fractual
Pods of dolphin claim Venice canal
Mountain sheep storm through London town
A mountain lion struts through Embarcadero in San Francisco unheeded
as it was their place/ struggling to renew
as we struggle to survive


by Kimi Sugioka


Let the moon interrupt
the sun
till tides cleanse
this empire
of sons and fathers
whose fortunes rest
on the skulls
and bones
of the ravaged,
conquered and

Let fire ebb from coals of rain
and loose the fragrance of cedar
and sage to
bare the seam of
morning to the
hem of night
to ignite in us
the audacious tenacity
of the ancestors who
earned and won
our continuance

Cover the face with earth
Twine life
with death,
that one remembers
the other in all
acts and intentions

Bloody the ax
to exact
humility from hubris

Summon the kestrel and
the dove
that they may
nest and procreate
within this crown of thorns

Let the moon interrupt
the sun’s momentum
till the tides cleanse
this siege of degeneration

May all beings
flex the muscle of love
and tend to the wounds
of the world


View Kimi Sugioka's work in the Library catalog

Video: Kimi Sugioka at the San Francisco Public Library


by Benjamin Bacsierra


Amor is the root
Seed is the root
Dirt is the root
Root is the root

The Bean is born

The frontline emerges
Out of

Coffee Indio
Concrete Indio
From the Bean
In the jungle
To the streets
In the city
The Bean
Holds its head

Beans are good for you
Protein makes you strong
Builds muscle
They are clean
From the ground

Beans are
The Beans in
Jack and the Beanstalk

Don’t you know it is
Not an insult but
An Honor
To be a


View Benjamin Bacsierra's work in the Library catalog


(inspired by the Music of Erik Jekabson)
by Avotcja


I was asleep
Secure & comfortably asleep
Dreaming of peace & love
By a mirage of unity & togetherness
Dancing away demons of war & hate In what I thought was a
Land of plenty In what I’d been taught was the land of the free
Then I opened my eyes
Was slapped in the face
By a wide awake nightmare
A senseless, suicidal madness
A world of selfishness Insatiable gluttony & rampant homelessness
Created by
Masters of fantasy
So used to
Dealing from their deck of unfulfillable promises
That they can no longer feel anything real I opened my eyes
And found myself sadly looking at
Those who are empty inside
And seem to think they can fill their emptiness
With all kinds of pretty things & tons of money &
More & more money & the newest prettier things
And all I could do is cry
Cry for those blindly drunk on greed as I write
And smile as another
Poem is born
A Poem About all the beauty the greedy can no longer see I believe If we
Artists could only bottle our tears
No one would ever die of thirst
Our tears would become unifying melodies
Creative love filled organic harmonious medicine
And we… an inspiring army of creativity Just might be able to Heal the World… one note at a time


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“My Angels Must Be Very Strong”
by Val Ibarra


my angels must be very strong
‘cause no one sits next to me
on a loading bus
until it becomes
a last option

I wonder why

I check the width of my thigh
and it doesn’t overlap
my clothes and body are clean
my hair may be a bit of a trap
but my sunglasses paint me cool
it’s true

But why wouldn’t you
sit with me
if I look aloof
and I’m not glued
to my handheld tool

Why am I left
to sit alone
like a loon
swimming in unlikely elbow room


by Dee Allen


Most Black men
In the U.S.A. have
An oppressor’s leather boot
Applied to their necks.

George Floyd
Died untimely
With the knee of
Police repression on his.

George Floyd
Complained of
The knee’s pressure, restricting his oxygen.
He couldn’t breathe—we couldn’t breathe.

Derek Chauvin
Never respected the life he
Detained with his leg. His partner watched,
Took notes on how lynching’s done.

George Floyd
Died on
A Monday.
From another’s power-madness.

George Floyd
Was avenged on
A Thursday.
With fire.

Derek Chauvin
Has plenty to answer for.

One cop’s career for
One defenceless Black life. A well-deserved gift
                          from karma.

The only good
Cop shop existing
Is the one
Laying in ashes.

W: 5.30.2020
[ For George Floyd—1973 – 2020. ]


View Dee Allen's work in the Library catalog

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by Ramona Webb

Dedicated to my father Wallace H. Webb and my Great Uncle Lewis Howard Latimer


“When I die my soul will be a star
Way up high but close to where you are
When I die my soul will be a star
Way up high but guiding you afar”
(-Lewis Howard Latimer)

For My Father:

When my father was dying a restless light swam about his tongue
Soft glow of the soul swirling in a death rattle alerting us to the newness on its way

The light at the end of the first darkness is birth
The light at the end of the last darkness is death

The light in my family is a generational gift
I feel the genius of the light
It is in my veins, my mother put it there

Lewis Howard Latimer invented the first permanent carbon filament of the light bulb patent number 247,097 on August 13, 1881 for years the electric light bulb carried his initials L.H.L.

For Uncle Lewis:

We descendants of the light hold it close cast it about the world
filling black hearts with pride
We are the light bearers casting light into the the unknown and unseen clearing the way to a certain truth about the brilliance in blackness

It guides the hand of a poet unsung
A still guiding light
It was the light of the radio and the vision that followed that stopped me in hurricane Katrina
Saved my life 20 minutes from a bridge that would have lead to a certain death
Like a lighthouse of the soul , spirit turned me round
After the storm it was the light I missed most
Like a somber moon
Like a daydream held captive in the eye of chaos


When cancer rolled up my fathers chest and sung a deep breath
It was a fallen darkness picked from the night sky a blanket of stars and silver linings his gaze fixed on through the window while waiting to cross
And when the moment came
And moment did come
I watched the light escape in his eyes

The moment of graceful ascension is like a heart beat held in sweetness A sudden bloom in February A sassafras kiss A weeping willows waving goodbye in the distance Eyes that smile without sadness and the arrival home follows the light

The Light:

Uncle Lewis
The constellations of Star lead your parents Rebecca and George Latimer to
run freedom down
Run north from Virginia to Massachusetts
and run over
and run through
and run beyond
and run haa
and run haaa
and run haaaa
to give birth to you
to give birth to the light that would illuminate the world


When I die my soul will be a star
Way up high but close to where you are
When I die my soul will also be a star
Way up high but guiding generations to come from afar


July 4, 2018
by Peter Kline


              “We do not have a policy of separating families at the border.  Period.”
               Secretary of Homeland Security Kirstjen Nielsen

The families assembled here are waiting.
We’ve been told the spectacle will soon begin.
Somewhere on the horizon a man with a button
will press it when the light feels right to him.

Shudder and Ah: the dismembered threads of rainbows
stitch the past to the future, again, again.
Then a pause.  The silence is reloaded.
Smoke settles on the neapolitan.



by c. Shem Korngold 2020


my simulacra do not
fit inside your letterboxes

my emoticons do not
reflect your pixelations

my unhinged front doors
skulk around the edges of your
banquet hall campaign dinners

my forest floor mycelia
often appear bemused by your
chewing gum stained sidewalks

my earthworms
thrash about In your
cracked concrete rain puddles

my good hair
when oiled up and shining
sublimates your disdainful glances

my itinerant amalgamations
interpolate your purposefully designed

my inner crunchy Beavis
feels simultaneously repulsed by
and drawn to your

my market driven cycles of therapeutic release
get tripped up at every turn
by your swarms of deep data driven drone hordes
3D-Nano-printing endless piles of Neo-Freudian desires
every time I risk it
and step out from under the protective shield
of my inner sanctum

my adverse childhood experience survival maps
pair exquisitely
with your trauma triggered psychotic interludes

my heart dreams
clouded over by probable coronary artery bypass surgeries
ache for your
laparoscopically removed gallbladder insights

my inner sense of nothingness
smelling of ozone and tobacco
desperately needs a hug
from your indignant sense of self righteousness
red wine
and heat
rising in waves

I give it a good practiced throw
and my kidney stone
skips 19 times across
to the farther shore
of your steaming pool of bile

my awkward approximations
of antiquated analogue interfaces
are not quite capable of successfully coupling with your
carefully crafted drop down menus of
indefinitely recombinable mood textures
but the resultant ripples of distortion and static
can be surprisingly genuine

my melancholy personifications of
condemned 20th century brick tenements
harsh the swoony buzz of your
with incredible walk score

my rootless cosmopolitan nonchalance
unnerves your hard fought provincial sense of
well rootedness

the fanning cracks
in the corners of my rose colored sunglasses
reveal infinitely recurring fractals
of your harsh realities

and like a cunning linguist
caught in somebody else’s
glass bead game

I revel in the gratuitous pleasures
of submerging myself in the staccato rhythms
of a crumbling empire’s lingua franca
steeped in the street creoles of creative resistance
at the bottoms of the turtle stacks

I talk my smack
drink my coffee black
no cream
no sugar
put a little bit of cinnamon in it
or maybe lace me up with some of that Similac


Quarantine Poem #5
by Nazelah Jamison


my brain is devouring itself
savory simmering obsessive thoughts
spiced with anxiety and
salty resentments
in a thick frustrating stew
it is the perfect recipe for insanity
my most frequent conversations lately
are with inanimate objects:
the walls, my laptop
minor characters in the horror sci-fi books
and movies i regularly ingest
i plea with them to run, fight
look behind them, stay out of shadows
as i dwell in my very own stephen king universe
my neighbors have become masked marauders
we cross the street from each other and
avoid eye contact
a tickle in my throat in public is illegal
physical affection is lethal
and i literally cannot show my face
at my local grocery store
it is just as well
there is plenty of paranoia and ice cream
at my house
a cabinet full of conspiracy theories
a stale package of hope
in the back of my freezer
and an endless feast of gray matter
for me and the ravenous
post-apocalypse zombies
when they inevitably arrive



by A.D. Winans


As a child I thrilled
To the railroad trains
Riding out of the badlands
Not knowing they were owned
By robber barons
I watched the Cavalry charge
The Indian villages like Attila the Hun
Believing Custer a hero and
Sitting Bull a savage
Not taught in school about the
Deadly smallpox plague
Diseased blankets traded Indians
For title to their land
A secret plot to murder an entire nation
Generations of ripped-off cultures
Gather in the museum of history
Dolphins die in tuna fishermen's nets
While pelican eggs refuse to hatch
Victim of man’s greed and waste
As the blistered hands
Of faceless migrant workers
Reach out for a token of respect
Only to find death in pesticide laded food
The tools of revolution laid aside
Rusting from affluence and false security
The dreams of thousands upon thousands
Of brave warriors lay buried in unmarked graves
No historical monument will make mention of them
Their children buried in graves so small
Their parents wear them in their hearts like
An anchor weighed to the tip of their tongue
I slip back in time
I’m driving down Highway One where California fertile hills wink at me
Giant trees and seashore merge as one
Cloud banks ride the horizon like
Red Cloud rode the plains
In search of the last buffalo
Sweet mango's and watermelon wine
Sweet as cotton candy
Stuck to the roots of my tongue
Fed my youth nourished my spirit
The poem the language in my soul
Your body indented against mine
Hot as an iron pressed to a garment
Youthful hunger that knew no bounds
Feasted like a condemned man
Devouring his last meal
The way Eskimos used to swallow
The tears of the dying
To keep the one gone with them


View A.D. Winans's work in the Library catalog


Pink Moon Remembers Lebanon’s Lost Daughters
by Cassandra Rockwood Rice Ganem

*There are two italicized, loosely translated poem excerpts in this piece that come from the Temple Hymns of Enhuduanna, the first known poet in human existence (23rd Century BC)
*Sections XIV and XV were featured online in April at www.dearquarantinediary.com


I see the orphan image
and wonder if I’ll ever get there, Saida.
Phonetically like ‘oar’ and ‘fan’,
we moved through water,
we rise like the wind.

I hear the fatherland returns
again and again like a phoenix,
burnt and rebuilt at least seven times.
Haven’t I overcome so much without you?
Is it enough to prove my strain?

Lebanon, phoenix-land
where prophets once sat beneath Cedars
drinking clay-fermented wine,

where mosques and churches
sleep on same streets.
But here, I’m only one of your children deprived,
equivalent to two young animals who have lost
their mother, now running in different directions.

Or three uncovered birds,
refused some protection
from the storm.

I am a first line (as of a paragraph)
separated from text and appearing
at the bottom of a column.

Because what are [we] called if [they] leave ?
What are we called if we leave?
What are they called if they leave?

Are our names thrown violently in sand?
Inhabited like hermit crab shells?
Only worn as a house robe is (when naked)?

—I have been named
—I have his name
—He gave it to me when I was born

:now see how everyone knows
I belong to him: I belong to Mount Lebanon—
life-breath roused,
oar moving through thick air
of the unnamed, now mobilized.
Ancient Phoenicians knew the power of language.
Ancient princesses knew:
        your princess [this] princess of Silence
        when she speaks heaven shakes,
        open-mouthed she roars.

A great bird folds his wings,
on one knee, he waits,
exit sign flashing,
cucumber iris full of mint,
mouth of pomegranate,
language of seeds hard to excavate.

If the river holds names
then there is no water
for departed ones.

So I put the oar in air
and nothing happens.
The child is born, her parents wrap her in palms, name her:
She is mine. My daughter. My child. My baby.
She has his name. Name. Name. Name. Surname.
See how each word is a bright red petal?
Her botany is identifiable.

In Arab cultures the nisba (نسبة) is the name of the ancestral tribe,
following a family through generations:

When we have lost our [homeland(s)],
When we are deprived our [name(s)],
when we are severed our [parent(s)]:

There is no related text.

—I am a familial subgenre,
—I am a side street or alley,
—I don’t even make it on the map.

Whose eyes are slanting back at me?
I search the window of a goat’s eye,
long to walk the temple of Astarte,
or look for him in Merwah wine,
yearn to listen to shells on the banks of the Mediterranean.
This is the physics of desertion.
Orphan means:
Can I tie my cut rope to you?
Can I fit my puzzle piece to yours?
Might I wet and crosshatch the clay?
Might I fit the slip for bonding?

I scrape off scar and scab
to make a place for place and namesake to enter,
re-opening, and always being wet enough
to take a stranger, because who else is there?

Severance from father—severed culture.
As one thing cleaves from another, one loss loses another.
A chip off the oldest blocks, one third of a world away:
—Distance around the world: 24,901 miles.
—Distance from San Francisco to a struggling Beirut: 7,281 miles.
—Distance from my father’s heart to mine:  
Aleph-naught with no bijective function.
There is no one-to-one and no number for this,
no relatedness to find the center of one billion times,
no eternity to prove.

The orphan hides behind the pupil.
The orphan is the opposite of infinity.
The orphan is a black hole
pulling so much that even light is pulled.
With an oar moving into the wind,
as from the force of a fan propelled,

We are the only true form of human flotation.
Undefinable by laws of physics,

this distance I feel
standing next to a woman

holding her father’s name,
held in fingers lightly since birth like a fig,

sweetened with the honey-musk
of her shepherd family.

The same distance I feel
when I map the fathom length

from fingertip-to-fingertip
across continent to sea to continent to sea.

           So, from your skin of bricks
           on the rim of the holy hill,
           green as mountains,
           you determine fates,
          whirlpool spins in your river,
          blowing whirlwinds
         spawn from your glance,
         what comes in cannot be equaled,
         what goes out never ceases          

Father, I’m treading water,
come take this oar

and place a palm in my hand.
Or even just a pit.
Something to keep my mind off the no land in sight.

Bees surround her face now, drink nectar
from beads of sweat on her crown,

you rest your heads, one by one,  
on her chest without observation.

Amulet of citrus in April, thistle
and honeydew in June, her scrawl

is found on the Cedar trees, leaves of juniper,
crystalline etchings in natural sugar.

Violent winds rouse red earth as she hurls
herself in rivers of vermillion hues.

And we’ll take back our grape leaves
to wrap the rice in,
and tobacco for our water pipes,
wheat fields spanning feral as her Arab hair.

Voiceless Jezebel looks on with olivine eyes,
moving through water, and over the once blue seas,
where man had sailed and returned
to scorn her gifts as lies,
feed her to dogs and demon kings,

because when a woman held power,
her command was,
Above all, worship nature.
And he decided this was the worst possible sin.

We hear her tonight, as cars go still on every curb,
covered with a blanket of pollen and seed pods.

The churches are empty now, darlings,
towering buildings go vacant and dim.

Across a month without a sour haze
that hides the stars, we can hear her

speak her true name.
On these evenings so free that the moon
once again listens to the night birds’

songs and lone sounds rising in the wind,
like the deserted Oud player,
and the lost daughter of Mount Lebanon,
they strum and sing,

We’ll not forget,
Shukran, Shukran, Shukran

شكران, شكران, شكران 



In Other News
(Clyde Always, 2020)


These times have thrown me deep in thought
if ever such a crisis brought
so large a load to carry;
a virus like a slow garrotte
would make the bravest wary.

But any man whose blood is red
ought never quaver low in dread
or prove his belly yellow;
undoubtedly, a wise man said:
"I'll call no coward 'fellow.'"

From Boston to the Last Frontier,
I urge my countrymen to hear:
by birth, our valiance sworn! It's
a shameful thing to live in fear--
wait, what's this?  --mmmurder hornets??



I’m Feeling
by Stephen Kopel


So Euclidean,                                       I want to conduct
                                                            a choir of angles
So beneficent,                                      I’m ready to polish
                                                            scales on several
                                                            rainbow trout caught
                                                            last night
So motivated,                                       I intend to fill in
                                                            the Cumberland Gap
So powerful,                                         I could straighten
                                                            Amtrak’s tracks
So gentle,                                             I’m inclined to hitch
                                                            a ride on dandelions
                                                            across the fruited plain
So clearheaded,                                    I feel scanned
                                                            and laminated
 (Stephen Kopel, More Picnic Poetry 2018)


View Stephen Kopel's work in the Library catalog

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I was driving
by Wendy Rose


when I saw him.
Call him winter.
On the side of the highway,
call him a whisper or a hum
or the beating of
a mountain's heart.
Call him a ruby
frozen in the snow,
call him a story
melting from
your mouth.


View Wendy Rose's work in the Library catalog


by Sara Biel


I surface
Breach watery daze of dawn
Cringe deeper
Nestle into a nest of wolves
Thoughts scatter
A pattern of white caps
Do these marks mean anything to you?

My heart falls open
A vulnerable atlas
Archive of failure
Of rocky tumbles
Washed in ruminating waves

I come unmoored
Wander the lacy vacancy
At the core of my bones
Visit secrets I keep from myself
Memories I banished before
They were breathed into being
I float the endless looping hallways
My thoughts echo
Distant sound of windows breaking

I regret the time I’ve lost to this maze
Doubt seductive as a riptide
A legacy that leaves me
Twisted still
With too many words
No sound to set them sail

There are small moments
I come up for air
Slapped awake by the view from
This damp shadow

How long have I been dancing?
Whose blood stains my shoes?



the last Friday at Sam Jordan’s
by Greg Pond


it was the last Friday
before the closing of Sam’s
a live funk band
played Pass The Peas
another plate of fried chicken
and round of drinks, please
stay for the last jam session
starting at eleven
as another black landmark
closes its doors forever
after decades of Bayview presence
the people came from near and far
some casual, some dressed to impress
by Muni, Uber and shooting star
pressing their bodies against the bar
and each other like the fine sister
and her mister (a cool brother)
trying to order rum and coke,
gin with tonic water
you know, this oughta be
the beginning of any other weekend
in the city of St. Francis but instead
it’s last call, last stand
last chance to toast, maybe dance
at this, the last Friday bash at Sam’s
(who, in case you didn’t know
was a navy vet-prize fighter-
community activist and first black
to run for mayor in San Francisco)
now, i hadn’t plan to stay too long
but then decided to hang
for a few more songs
just so i could pay
my last respects to Sam
though Sam’s been dead
for several thousand days
his spirit lingers on a side street
that continues to bear his name
lined with double-parked cars
an homage to the closing of
San Francisco’s oldest
black-owned bar and grill

i wonder if Sam were here still
would he sit silent and tame
while so many blacks folks
are forced to flee
Hunter’s Point to end up
lost on the streets
or across the bay
and once they’re gone
they’re gone to stay?
maybe it’s just as well
Sam’s not here to see
how quiet the night’s become
by end of day
the doors are now closed
the whiskey congregation
will meet no more
for gatherings of laughter
and southern-style plates
but years of memories
will forever remain
in a special place
near the corner
of 3 rd Street &
Sam Jordan’s Way


Video: Greg Pond at the San Francisco Public Library


Palace of Fine Arts
by Denise Low


Arches in the reflection pool don’t show
in the photograph of David, sweet baby,

gone now, dissolved into a future without columns
but instead escarpments up coastal ranges

beyond the camera’s view. We squint at someone’s lens
while behind us, under the Beaux-Arts dome,

friezes show Nemean lion heads frozen in roars.
Naked centaurs rear in desperate contortions.

These portraits hewn in stone last longer than Roman
centurions and longer than milk teeth.

David turned into a statue of a real man, fleshed.
His laugh is written in water, printed in silver tones.


View Denise Low's work in the Library catalog


What Not To Do...
(an unfinished poem) 
by Michael Warr  (as of June 18, 2020)

Breathe:  Eric Garner (choked)
Sell  (loosies)
Resist  (to) (death)
Stare:  Lamont Hunt (shot.)
(back of head)
Make:  Akai Gurley (a jarring sound) (shot.)
Walk:  Rekia Boyd (shot.)
(back of head) 
Stand:  Amadou Diallo (in vestibule) (after walking)
Carry  (wallet)
Loiter  (shot.)
Look  (out of place) (forty-one. fired.)
Act  (suspicious) (nineteen. bullets. kill.)
Walk:  Terence Crutcher  (hands in air)
Appear  (intoxicated)
Have  (a “very hollow look”) (shot.)
(in back)
Drive:  Samuel DuBose (without)
(license plate) (shot.)
(in head)
Drive:  Sean Reed (while live streaming)
Run  (shot.) (while streaming)
Drive:  Walter Scott (with broken taillight) (shot.)
(in back)
Move:  Kendra James (into driver seat) (after driver arrested)
(shot.) (in head)
Sit:  Jordan Edwards (unarmed in car) (shot.) (with rifle)
Reverse:  Diante Yarber (suddenly) (behind wheel)
(thirty. bullets. fired. ten. kill.)
Park:  Tanya Haggerthy (on side of road)
Talk  (on cell) (on side of road)
(shot.) (on side of road)
Drive:  Philando Castile (with broken brake lights)
Carry  (legal firearm)
Tell  (you have a gun)
Shout  (not reaching for gun) (shot.) (five. bullets.)
(two. to. heart.)
Sit:  Donta Dawson (quietly)
(in car) (engine) (idling)
Raise  (left hand) (“abruptly”) (shot.)
(in eye)
“Evade”:  Michael Dean (shot. in. temple.)
(at traffic light)
Crawl:  Daniel Shaver (toward officers) (as instructed)
Pull  (loose gym shorts) (too suddenly)
Beg  (not to be shot) (shot.) (anyway)
Fail:  Korryn Gaines (to appear) (in) (traffic court) (shot.)
(in standoff)
Approach:  Oscar Grant (the police)
Beg  (not to shoot)
Kneel  (shot.) (anyway)
(in back)
Fail:  Sandra Bland (to signal) (too uppity)
(arrested) (found hanging in cell)
Run:  Dominique White (shot.)
(in back)
Face:  Michael Brown (the police)
(shot.) (six. bullets) (two. to. head.)
Sell:  Alton Sterling (DVDs) (in parking lot)
(shot.) (in. chest.)
(and back)
Carry  (illegal .38 in pocket) (shot.)
(in back)
Carry:  Anthony Lamar Smith (planted weapon) (shot.) (five. bullets.)
Carry:  Tamir Rice (toy gun) (shot.) (near navel) 
Carry:  Cameron Tillman (iPhone in the dark) (BB gun in hand) (shot.)
(with. real. bullets.)
Carry  (“perceived” weapon) (eight. bullets.)
Carry:  Rumain Brisbon (prescription bottle) (shot.) (two. bullets. to. torso.)
Carry:  Laquan McDonald “knife in the middle of the road:” (shot.)
(sixteen. bullets.)
Carry:  Miles Hall (five-foot metal gardening rod)
Behave  (erratically)
Have (schizoaffective disorder) (shot.)
Carry:  Steven Demarco Taylor (baseball bat)
Have  (a manic episode) (shot.)
(at Walmart)
Not carry:  Keith Lamont Scott (a gun) (when told to drop it)
“Drop”:  Kajuan Raye (a gun) (“found” three months later) (shot.)
(in back.)
Point:  Saheed Vassell (a metal pipe) (shot.) (ten. bullets.)
Try:  Brendon Glenn (to stand) (shot.)
Ramble:  Adam Trammell (naked in hallway) (tased to death)
Be  (“loud or obnoxious”) (shot.)
(in back)
Be:  Natasha McKenna (schizophrenic)
Be  (shackled) (in custody)
Be  (stunned) (50,000-volts) (to death)
Be:  Tanisha Anderson (bipolar)(head slammed to pavement)
Be:  Michelle Shirley (bipolar) (while driving erratically)
(30. bullets. 8. to. chest. back. and. arms.)
Be:  Shereese Francis (off meds) (suffocated.) (four. police. bodies.)
(on bed)
Be:  Aaron Campbell (suicidal) (no gun in possession) (shot.)
Be:  Yvette Smith (“armed”) (when not armed) (shot.) (on front porch)
Be:  Mike Brown Jr. (“too large”) (same height as shooter) (shot.)
(six. bullets.) (two. to. head.)
Be:  John Crawford (an “imminent threat”)
Shop  (for Walmart air rifle) (at Walmart)
Carry (Walmart air rifle) (at Walmart)
Talk  (on cell phone while shopping) (at Walmart)
(shot.) (with. real. bullets.) (at Walmart)
Be:  Tony McCade (a suspect)
Move (“consistent with using a firearm”) (shot.)
Be:  Terrance Franklin (a suspect) (shot.) (five. bullets. to. head)
Pose:  Ezell Ford (an “immediate threat”) (shot.)
(while schizophrenic)
“Display:”  Manuel Loggins Jr. (a “mean expression”) (shot.)
(in front of daughters)
Call:  Charleena Lyles (the police) (while mentally ill) (shot.)
(seven. bullets.)
Fit:  Jordan Baker (“the description”) (shot.)
Flee:  Freddie Gray (“unprovoked”) (spine severed) (in custody)
Run:  Tashii Brown (choked) (to) (death)
Run:  Stephon Clark (through grandmother’s yard)
Carry (cell phone) (shot.)
(twenty. bullets. fired.) (six. hit.) (primarily)
(in back)
Run: Chinedu Okobi (in traffic) (unarmed) (tasered)
(to) (death)
Run:  Walter Scott (shot.)
(in back)
Jog:  Ahmaud Arbery (shot. two. shotgun. bullets.)
(while chased)
Play:  Atatiana Jefferson (Call of Duty) (in bedroom)
(8-year old Zion watching.) (shot.)
Sleep:  Alyana Jones (one. bullet. to. seven-year. old. head.)
(on couch)
Sleep:  Breonna Taylor (shot. eight. bullets.)
(in bed)
Sleep:  Rayshard Brooks (behind wheel at Wendy’s)
Flee  (pointing dead taser)  (shot. two. bullets.)
(in back)
(day before daughter’s eight birthday)


(I have been updating this poem with the names of unarmed black people killed by the police for years. Still, this poem only reflects a small percentage of those killed. I will continue to add names of the innocent until the killings stop.)


View Michael Warr's work in the Library catalog


Stop Calling- (the poLice)
By tiny - 


Stop Calling
Stop Stalling
Stop Talking while more Black Suns are fallen
No I mean Stop enabling and Kolonizing
a system that kills
more than it does anything else
with roots in the original Lie of Discovery and theft
Meant to CONfuse our already CONfused mindSets

Got us all believing that numbers like 911 mean housed people are safe from us houseless- that witesAndLites are safe in their own embedded desire for wealth-hoarding wite-ness

that continuing to buy & evict,  foreclose, sweep, and kick - makes anyone safe from myths
About how to be safe and what is the way to handle fear and danger everyday
In a place already stolen
A land already rife with murderous lies that keep getting told and told

That Was set up to Shoot, Kill every Black, Brown or poor person in their way
Was locked in to support fear
so more protected classes could steal
And more of us could end up in their jail cels

These are the legacies of the Stealing Fathers And the Kop-callers
And the way to unlink the shooting from PoLice
Is for you to stop and think
Why am I calling-
And how did I begin to believe safety ever meant dialing
leading to the death of more black, brown and poor daughters and Suns.


Video: Tiny at the San Francisco Public Library


Sophia: Grieving
by Kai Sugioka-Stone


The echo of your "fuck you's" down 18th
The vicious slap of your vans against their cement
the screaming at the wind.

Dolores ran through us
and we threw our tiny legs in second-dividing anger down the metal slide
did I mention we screamed at the wind

the setting oracle of sun across the shaded, welcoming, cool playground

we ate her cats;
Oreos and Bubbles
for breakfast, lunch, and dinner,
and the fourth dessert
flipping them onto firm mattresses
making them into flapjacks
Losing every landing
And all nine lives.

A we were suffocated by guerrero
in its bars lost to time
its murals lost to high end restaurants
and its people lost to pavement
we opened our mouths
and our lungs
in a storm
were devoured by the tiny bubbles of air.

The pigeon we covered in tiny dry leaves
next to the wooden boat
and ascended with a shoebox
to be taken away by animal control with love
what piece of your heart
did its wings take away?


Video: Kai Sugioka-Stone at the San Francisco Public Library


by Karen Llagas


You are going to a country
where you can have      a human shape

without being       such and so you
must first      promise.  It’s a simple

enough premise.       Learn the phrase
a human is here,   it means more

than your name.      You ask
is there anything
we can be   but human?    

This country is home
to forest      guardians,    
       duendes,     shape

Tao po:         repeat it, accent
on the last syllable.

What you say, who you say it to,
opens doors:  tao po.

You will announce       you’re a person
outside       someone’s gate,

what the visited       will hear
before     they let you in.  

Our country          is a beauty mark
on the Pacific’s cheek.

Everyone you’ll meet
would have said it:
the dirt poor,          the dirt wealthy.

The paramilitary says it      then  waits
for the targeted        to open their door.

Claim your tongue, no matter
how flawed.      You must

shape shift again,
again and again.


View Karen Llagas's work in the Library catalog


My Mother Remembers
   Hafsstadt Labor Camp
by Gail Newman


We walked, every morning, through the town,
while it was still dark—so the people could not see,
and could say later they did not know.

We were skinny, barefoot or in torn shoes,
walking on stones and in dirt to the factory
where we fit metal parts into little holes.

Piece by piece, bending our heads down to the work,
we put the wrong part in the wrong hole,
so the guns would not fire.

Then we walked back through the town,
the smell of bread and meat in the street.   
After we were locked in at night,

two hundred women and girls,
the guard gone until morning, we were left
together, sitting and talking like home.

I told stories from books I had read,
Anne of Green Gables

    If I wasn’t a human girl, I think I’d like to be a bee and live among the flowers.  

I remembered the words,
and told the stories
until we forgot where we were,

      Well, that is another hope gone.

leaning together on cots,

       My life is a perfect graveyard of buried hopes.

until soldiers threw stones
at the window, yelling, Come out.              
Come out. The war is over!


From Blood Memory 2020

View Gail Newman's work in the Library catalog


hay(na)ku: for stephanie
by Melinda Luisa de Jesús


it felt so far away now
it’s marked us irrevocably in sorrow
one down, but how many more?


six feet apart six feet under
full fathom five if we’re still
alive — this is our sea change:
to remember to witness to mourn


View Melinda Luisa de Jesús's work in the Library catalog


SNAKE POEM / a CENTO after “Snake Poems” by Francisco X. Alarcon
by Christine No


Come sister, Nightfall draws—
First, cross yourself     
Watch:            Even the dead are dancing
The whole scene: wound, blood, ribs
copal— the blessed kiss
When Jesus can’t hear me,
A Yellow Woman, I look to
La Virgen / tells me to be more serpentine:
Renewal shall protect you
Each precious dawn:  a landscape of flowers
Each morning another
Future: walk bare faced, naked
May rattlesnakes guide you
May you step lightly
In return          
            do not forget this
Each ceremonial mile
Display the body compacted How undoing  
the length of your esophagus unfolds a
to your mouth: now, a dry river bed
a delta, bared teeth—
Where you waited, so polite—                       How too long for
Water, while
The season for rain                             While Sister, asleep
Now behind us—
The year turns / we swallow dreams / heavy sink
Uncoiled spines into sand—       
—How the desert snake prays, a nocturne
blind cipher for boulders
Come precious dawn,
Sister, dance—
The flowers
A landscape of rattlesnakes
All snakes
A field of flowers
All fields
A prayer for water
A plea for the parched
Sister, dance—
:Rumba! Bomba! Bolero!
Como Volar—
Every ceremonial mile
Kickdirt, rise
Open, Dear Sky
The parched, forgiven
Your frantic dervish
Your remnants

Your wake—


Video: Christine No at the San Francisco Public Library


Dharma Zoom
by Gail Mitchell


Not much makes sense to me right now a pretty dress a blue sky
They both feel like treasures from some other life
The sun through the window lifts my spirit the voice of my grandchildren reminds me that here is where we are needed
I watched from a screen as my grand-daughter played with her Buddha’s taking them on hikes and picnics having them lay down with each other Each has a name Hotai is Mama Queen the netsuke are twin brothers named Leo and Sam and the other bronze Buddha is Beet queen We shared a meal she had piazza while my purple cabbage salad had a companion of half a cup of Chana Masala an ounce of Manchego Cheese and 10 olives. We breathed together once she looked up from her play and said, Grandma where are you I had looked away focused on yet another screen We breathed together and she told me that her Buddha’s had to meditate daily twice a day it was good for them


View Gail Mitchell's work in the Library catalog

Video: Gail Mitchell at the San Francisco Public Library


by Richard Sanderell


The wheel turns rotation diminishes as fear grabs hold.
Streets vacant dotted by two legged! Great unease in world as well Empire USA! Finds itself filed with dread, panic, grabbing some to the very core of madness. I’ve practiced social distancing most of my life with exceptions if I felt there might be a human being before me. More fear in the land of the brave where bravery left before it could be disappointed! Things are happening just depends what conspiracies evolve, devolve! Some never shattered, battered others recognize these times just a continual! After all of USA’S killing people for what the other has where fear, anger, sadness reigns daily. Fear’s finally landed USA! Now we’ll find what the rich really have as if we didn’t know! We know who’ll be in front lines of hurt when finding themselves there! Will there be help? The beats goes on as Mother turns rounding the sun. Moon shines down where smells of fears rise instead of the joy of life all should feel! Separate the drums as they play together African, Indigenous heart beats not letting them forget their humanity. Dance with the Tunisian-French woman in the street singing like Anima Annabi! Remind us of what life should be instead of what corporate mines mind! Beats so people hear Release! Beast slain as beats releases our own hypocrisies! Breathe!...Release!!


Video: Richard Sanderell at the San Francisco Public Library