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PEACE and HOPE: Voices From San Francisco

In honor of the Inauguration of President Barack Obama, January 20, 2009: The Gettysburg Address


We answer the call
sung out in all ages.
We follow that call
which flows from moon to sun.

We are here, sparks of life,
poets of the call, its song.
We sing out our calling --
our song from one to all.

We sing in all voices --
sing with our rhythm, our form.
We come from many nations
-- a rush in our river of song.

We break into all silence --
sing praise in many names.
We are that truth, carry that light
-- we sing, we echo our call!

Richard Angilly



Friends leave messages
I want to use
not fall into the the trap
saving precious
for blind hands to sort/shuffle. Discard.

May I treat their words like silver
use often keep luster.

May we not lose courage or cower.

My love flew away this morning
later afternoon she reaches a city
its name the sound quail make.

Please, love fiercely.

©Kit Kennedy


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


When you walk to the edge of all the light you have
and take that first step into the darkness of the unknown,
you must believe one of two things will happen:

There will be something solid to stand upon,
or you will be taught how to fly
©Patrick Overton

© Jeannie Motherwell, Patricia Marie: Abyss, 2007, Acrylic & collage on canvas

When life smashes broadside
like in a sea-storm, we are
driven like waves,
dashed against rocks.
Sharks lunge, sting-rays sting,
crabs nibble to the bone,
seaweed tangles, pulls us
broken into the ocean.
As we sink,
we hope the storm is temporary,
an alien passage that will pass
by dawn. We ask,
can we pull ourselves together,
remember the rescuing force of love
as we struggle to surface,
resume our lives for good
for good?
(c) Claire J. Baker

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

© Squeak Carnwath 2004, Sorry World, Cotton Jacquard tapestry, 80" x 80"
Oakland, CA View additional work at Magnolia Editions

Ecclesiastes 3:1-8

"To everything there is a season
And a time to every purpose under the heaven:
A time to be born, and a time to die;
A time to plant, and a time to pluck up that which is planted;
A time to kill, and a time to heal;
A time to break down, and a time to build up;
A time to weep, and a time to laugh;
A time to mourn, and a time to dance;
A time to cast away stones, and a time to gather stones together;
A time to embrace, and a time to refrain from embracing;
A time to seek, and a time to lose;
A time to keep, and a time to cast away;
A time to rend, and a time to sew;
A time to keep silence, and a time to speak;
A time to love, and time to hate;
A time for war, and a time for peace."

Submitted by Nasrin Naraghi of Pacifica:

"When shall we learn that we are all related one to the other, that we are
all members of one body?"
-- Helen Keller

"Whatever doesn't kill me, makes me stronger."
-- Friedrich Wilhelm Nietzsche

"Give of your hands to serve and your hearts to love."
-- Mother Teresa

"Even from a dark night songs of beauty can be born."
--Maryanne Radmacher-Hershey

"Sometimes our light goes out
but is blown into flame by another human being.
Each of us owes deepest thanks to those
who have rekindled this light."
--Albert Schweitzer

"Love each other or perish."
-- W.H. Auden, poet

Elaine Drew, Oh! Little Town of Bethlehem, Water color, pen and ink. This is my plea for peace aimed at what I have come to think of as The Three Warring Brothers: Christianity, Islam, and Judaism.

Listening for Peace

No one sleeps alone.
We sleep with all who have
died in grievous wars
down countless ages.

God, what is so difficult
about pillow-soft care-
the same in any language-
there is always room

on the pillow. Lie beside us
& whisper peace. Whether we
sleep or talk all night, our
blood flow will be listening.

Surely, already you can
hear us listening,
shaking mountains
with our listening…

©Claire J. Baker

Iraq and Afghanistan War Casualities

The Iraq War is looming...today I saw this peace cloth in Berkeley, 3/17/03 Elizabeth

Line  Of  Offense: Washington -- Baghdad

whole fences of lightning
spill over the hills
of course I want to believe
the word is the world
but translations go so awry
and spies roam the libraries
 Ken Saffran, San Francisco, CA

Will You Still Grieve For Us? Frances Spencer

Knocking ice from the stone steps, a rasping
in bare branches like claws on a slate sky.
A few leaves curl to themselves, refuse to fall
until they are pushed out by the new buds,
which seems unlikely this dark time of year.
But Ecclesiastes says everything
in its season. A return of the light
brings warm days and new leaves, blossoms then fruit,
which, they say, does not fall far from the tree.
But if seeds sprout within a tree’s shadow
the saplings will surely be stunted
and voracious in the filtered sunlight.
This sonnet is for a past president
not even a tree. And aching to burn.
Ken Saffran

Here is a "sun power" sign in our neighborhood protesting the invasion of Iraq. 3/18/03 Elizabeth

Simple eons

Is the morning bettering?
Even in this mist
Who am I to ask for sun?
After thousands of years
Of rain in the jungles
Wind in the deserts
When will a child
Point to the sky and say
There are no more planes
hiding the sun today?

Susan Gangel

The Healing Wall ©Patrick Overton

A Haiku and a Poem

In the cleft of clover
Single dew drop gleams
All the sun's circle inside

In the rain...
In the rain
Everything is touched
Whether it will or not,
Likes or dislikes

Its clarity
Reflects everything
Bends all the light
Through its dropped lens

Catches the sun
In points
Which depend from branch or stem

It runs along
On everything
And cleans
Glistens and
Wrinkled...in streams
It gleams

Colored transparent
It has no viewpoint
Or every viewpoint
It has no location
Or every location

In the rain
We are all wet
No blessings are withheld
None are excepted from its care
Anyone can enjoy its freedom
To give
Everything to everyone
Endlessly providing
the wonder and grace of love

In the cleft of clover
Single dew drop gleams
All the sun's circle inside

Dan Brady

Evelyn Glaubman, Stop Violence and Hate, Mixed media painting

Looking Back ©Mary Rudge


of glass

mythic tentacles

suspend above
black mirror


what depth   what joy   to root

what is real?

what eye declares

a stirring
of ember & psalm

©Kit Kennedy

MOTTOS © Frances Spencer


You speak from that side of your mouth, I, from this. Maybe someday we'll meet in the middle. And share a kiss.

©Claire J. Baker, San Pablo, California-Added 2/21/03. From author's collection On Trails of Naming.


Taste the unnecessary tears
For all their bitterness
Your star will shine
For yet another charmed day

Your hands are birth’s most expressive things
Dancing in the air
They change words
Dancing on your tongue
In search of the roots they’ve grown from

Read the text of summer
Sing to me of how
The horizon drinks moonlight
And underlines the fated stars
Then tell me what demarcates the true golden age
For those disciples of crows amid the ruins yet to be

All subservient meanings and their considerations
Broke fingernails
Coming to terms on this account
They will fail much like our stone and steel
So that now
When the growing smoke
Which seeps into the promises our dreams are but an inkling of
Has us blinking back
We’ll understand
What we’ve missed
Oh yes we will
And we’ll all the better for it

Welcome, then
Taste the unnecessary tears!

Dan Brady

©Children at Peace, Frances Spencer, Albany, CA

Poem for Peace
Peace is an emblem
An emblem of life and love
It lives in kindness

Austen, 5th Grade
Cathedral School for Boys, San Francisco, CA
Credit: Poems for Peace

My children worry that the world is an evil, dangerous place.
And this is true.

But what is also true, and what I have told them, is that 99% of all the
billions of people on this planet are good.

They have good hearts and good souls.
They are weeping for all those lost, their families, and for our country--in
France and England and Russia and Japan they are weeping.
They are wanting and needing to help in any way they can.
They are standing in long lines to give blood.
They are sending money to any organization helping the victims and their
They are praying with all their hearts. And standing with candles in silent

Yes, I want my children to be cautious, but I want them not to lose faith in
their fellow beings and to know that the world is also place of great

©Susan Wight., Berkeley, CA

Peaceful Loon
Oh Loon with your eerie and intimidating calls
Hard to imagine you as a symbol of peace
But despite your first impression
You are in fact the very essence of peace
Spending your time calmly swimming
On a serene lake
Isn't that real meaning of the word
Being true to yourself
Having peace within
On a quiet calm lake

Dylan Prescott, Sun Valley, Idaho
The Community School, 9th Grade
Credit: Poems for Peace

make of night
a tree, millions
of branches
all at once
like bells chiming.
We have only
to listen
and listen.

©Claire J. Baker  

Seeds planted bring back the marsh replacing the driftwood sculptures in the mud flats,  Emeryville where Ohlone Indians piled oyster shells higher than a man’s head. Shell mounds. Stroll down Hollis past Ruby’s Café, a balmy evening where palm trees hold the last of Saturday’s sun. Am Track train moves slowly from the station all hiss and clack. Could be a movie reel of a time gone by but the public art is in geometric figures allowing imagination to set in. Teens wear low baggy jeans and hats backward, no saddle shoes or starched fresh shirts. Wooden family houses with small front porches, artist’s lofts with their high ceilings and huge long windows looking out on toddlers playing on Doyle Park slides with their parents nearby. Brothers practice on skate boards – 2’ by 4’s and cement blocks – the whirl of wheels and shouts when jumps tumble over. Teens hang out at Denny’s for sodas and kisses. Neighbors stand out on porches, exchange a bit of the news. Prop. 8 defeated and Mayor Dellum’s not running again. Later exhausted youngsters beg for cookies, mothers lock the garages, fathers pick up the tub toys. Almost quiet except the crows the size of small dogs cawing in the acacia trees. I walk through the underpass newly lit where bronze sculptures tell a story of everyday people, this town with its red-gold sunsets and shimmering shore, the egret gone to their grasses for the night. Now all the birds settle down. The shutter’s final click on night ready to pull up its covers while the paint chips in the sky offer their night light.

©Janell Moon


Oh you iridescent butterfly-winged day
Oh you day beyond dawn mist
beyond comet and night calling creatures
and those who even by rubbing their legs
make rhythmic notes
Oh you brilliant rose-surround day
of fingers and lips on harp or flute
lyrical poetry rolling from throats
Oh silk and bamboo day of stringed song
where colors breathed from all this fragrance
pulsate in the brain on a day
of dazzle of leaves of whirling molecules
that dance right through our dance
our lips and eyes
day like a second skin, extension of the senses,
day that will never come again Yes to you day
Yes to you day
whatever happens.

© Mary Rudge

Candlelight memorial tribute for victims of 9/11 at Hopkins and Sonoma in Berkeley, California. 9/20/01. Photograph by Philip Lewenthal

Newton's First Law Of Motion
is it possible
to find them
in what is today
rain turn to snow
      an avalanche of debris
a moment ago was
remarkably fragile steel
the image of security
reflected in glass
      so many lives
rising and falling
choosing to stay still
poured like gravity
onto brittle streets
this season of subtraction
light drains from trees
thin shadows touch
all we ever loved
wind has
the last word
Ken Saffran

I live miles away and have been moved to tears by what has happened. I wish everyone well and God bless. An Australian poet Nan Whitcomb wrote a beautiful poem about losing someone you love. I hope this can give anybody who needs it some comfort. Take care of yourselves. Julie Anthony of Perth, WA Australia

We do not have to rely
upon memories
to recapture the spirit
of those we have loved and lost-
they live within our souls
in some perfect sanctuary
which even death
cannot destroy.

Nan Whitcomb - Nanushka

© Jeannie Motherwell, Elegy 911: An American Tragedy, 2001, Collage, 18" x 24"

The abstract forms, with a heavy emphasis on black, inspired this homage to the tragedy on September 11, 2001.


Something shudders our dreams
like a great wing spanning
the past to the future,
it is more than it seems
this real unreality.

Out of all cultures it streams
its long feathers, its prizing beak,
it is more than a streak of
our consciousness.

"Wake, wake your mind, your heart
out of fire, you will never be
consumed. Look on me," cries
with wonderful ever-compelling cries,
the firebird. "I am here again and again,
see me, I show you eternity,"

©Mary Rudge

(September 2001)

A hummingbird hovered just above my head
as if my head some longed-for open flower.
My unexpected buddy for these moments—
seemingly bound for nearby honey gardens,
paused mid-flight, churning fan-like wings,
whirring my swirling fears past anthrax spores
and toppled towers, into bluer skies.
And all that iridescent warmth was mine.

As if this rainbow bird above my aura
sensed my withheld grief, he lowered, waited
by hovering, no reason I was sure of,
amazingly near, so complimentary
my tears released a momentary mist.
I either saw or dreamed this hummingbird,
this comma or apostrophe in time.
How often grief engenders loveliness.

©Claire J. Baker

9/13/01 Philip and I walked in this early morning to the candlelight memorial (at Hopkins and Sonoma) to say our prayers for the victims of September 11. Several beautiful bushes are standing amidst the candles at the memorial. The bushes all have cards with quotes written on them. Here is a photograph of one of the quotes.
-Elizabeth Hack

Soon after the tragedy, Julie Freestone of Richmond, California received the following email from her niece, Paula Newman of N.Y.C.

Down here in the village we were pretty much locked in for 3 days. No
transportation, no groceries - just the constant whine of the ambulances,
the roar of the war planes about and the hush of people walking about
aimlessly. We had to wear face masks to breathe and seal up the windows.
And yet, as I was offered numerous opportunities to leave town or the
neighborhood, I knew there was no place else I could be. I wanted this to be
in my face - to hear it, to breathe it, to taste it. And every day, hoards
of people would make their way over to the West Side Highway to stand for
hours on end to cheer the rescue workers, firemen & police as they drove by.
And for the first time in my life, I was standing in a crowd and not looking
over my shoulder to see who was behind, to make sure that I was safe. The
worst had happened and we were all united in our grief. Tonight at 7PM
block after block of people lined the streets holding candles for those lost,
holding American flags to boast who they were. And through all of this
horror I knew that the United States has never been more glorious. These
beautiful, loved people haven't died in vain - they've changed the face of
this nation, reminded people what it is to be an American, and why we should
wear it ever so proudly.


We nudge open a squeaky door
A large glowing room
where we come
a million ways alive.

Our windows let in wind & sun
From an uncharted ocean.
We are visionaries
-----draped in songs
---------that need no words.

©Claire J. Baker


What do we read in each other
beyond what we project?
Are we gifted in perusing personas,
gentle in lifting a mask?
Sensitive in visiting another’s
shadows, flowers, fortitude,
what may be withheld
or falsely said?
Do we dare read another’s pages
before we fully read,,
comprehend and weigh our own?

No answers needed. We are here
on earth at the same time,
our pages turning backward
and forward together.
Hello, fellow traveler.

©Claire J. Baker

Should a star
fall into our hands
we need not place it
back into the sky.
If we must break new
ground, why not start
with the land
on which we stand...
If we feel we are
on our way though we
haven't moved an inch,
we are on our way.
fellow traveler,
we don't have to fly
a million miles
to know we can soar.
©Claire J. Baker 

The horrible murder of innocents on September 11 left me desperately sad. The sadism of the attack, the subsequent use of biological warfare - to imagine the soul capable of such things confounds me.

And yet, to see heroism in the midst of disaster,to see the love and compassion shown to the victims fills my heart with hope.

This image is the best I can do for now to express my feelings. The end or the beginning? The sun goes down or rises? The infinite, obscured by clouds - the clouds themselves illuminated by powerful unseen light.

We will endure. We will yet again see the clear sky illuminated by the golden sun.
-Philip Lewenthal, Berkeley, CA 9/12/01

October Sparrows

Autumn sparrows sing through rain,
faint notes outside the window pane
songs that drift like shells to shore,
curve and float like whitecap roar.
Raising the window for wind’s refrain,
We shiver, but sparrows will sustain
a chirp, though drenched in greenwood lane.
Maple branches anchor their score.
Autumn sparrows,
in stormings may we too attain
a common bonding in our pain.
When skies fall low and showers pour
and floundering dreams have lost their oar,
may hopes restore while there remain
autumn sparrows.

©Claire J. Baker
(printed in SF Chronicle 10/14/01)

September 11, 2001

Out of the rubble of terrorist's aggression
emerge the heroes whose noble self-sacrifice
puts to shame villains whose vicious scheme
sought to disrupt a union misunderstood.

Our nation's metal, tested in the crucible,
reveals its will of iron, its heart of gold,
Strong and vigilant, the American people
with unflinching resolve, will prevail!

©Helen V. Malkerson

Reporters' Log: London explosions

Look After Them Then Turn to the Others, Disaster of Wars Series, Goya

©Mary Rudge


The flash-dance of fire
claims- flesh - hair -bone
I burn of passions and dreams
consumated by visions
the fire in mind, brain, soul,
the neural structure glowing lit
neon flashing messages
fireworks starbursts
in such heat
I create,
knowing process:
- - of flame, spark, ash, carbon,
-- -ember, smoke.
When fire has finished with me
danced me down to a molten pool
of sweat
on my chosen habitat, the dance floor
where the curtain rises and rises
again, -- like a great wing it lifts --
I rise again
even when all is ash
after the great and continuous fire
leaving the clean bone
the flesh purified, transformed,
still, the unburned heart remains
yet I will rise again
on this same stage or another
the curtain rises
like a great wing
my arms lift
like wings
this is how it is to be the

© Mary Rudge


Howling like a wolf on a Payne's gray night
The Phantom Engineer smiles with delight
As his cadmium yellow engine steams ahead
Along the mobius strip of the mind
As it slowly unwinds
And the long dark chain pulls tight
On the crimson colored gear
Firmly grasping remnants floating
Along the shoreline waiting
For the first light warming
After a long velveteen night
When Robespierre's smile vanished
Along with his Jacobin suit
Just in time for a final salute
To all that remains
Upon the last card dealt
In a game played out
From the Oregon coast
To a sniper's cruel hideout
Though the train cars keep rolling
Way beyond midnight
When quiet thoughts haunt
A little boy lost
Quietly counting tickets
Way beyond Dawn's cadmium fingers crawling
Across the new beginning repeating
Like so many times before
No need to press his face to the glass anymore
There will be no one coming home
Just phantoms scurrying about
Through nocturnal dreams
And midnight screams
Deep inside his mind
Where boutonnieres and engineers
Lay close to Van Gogh's paint box
Which swallowed up
All of the rainbow colors
And has given them all back to Dorothy
Searching for the way back
From such a long journey
Where the evening meets the light

© John Hertzberg

Cityscape, Acrylic on canvas, Michael Bless


Planes. Why is it always planes
that deal the dreadful blow?

Bright silver birds
Lumbering across the sky
On a calm Hawaiian morning
Brought terror to paradise
And changed the life we knew.

On a storm-tossed March
A shining winged arrow
Flung itself into a mountain
Ending beauty and joy
For some of us
For a long time.

And now again
Those birds of prey
Guided by unnatural intelligence
Turn upon the land that gave them birth
Wreaking destruction upon the innocent.

It is time to clip their wings.

©Genie Lester

"After 9/11" by Philip Lewenthal, Berkeley, CA

The Indoor Beachcomber
-- after September 11, 2001

by Deborah J. Shore

Only driftwood will fit my mood today.
Smooth, this child's skin
is whiskered against the grain,
mindlessly runs over my face.

Smooth, this child's skin
carried by spinning waves
mindlessly runs over my face,
these seas that crash and caress.

Carried by spinning waves,
now separate from them--
these seas that crash and caress--
it rests in my left hand.

Now separate from them,
seasoned by sun and storm,
it rests in my left hand.
It is lighter than this world.

Seasoned by sun and storm,
painted by a wandering script,
it is lighter than this world
so patiently traversed.

Painted by a wandering script,
the knotted cross-section of time
so patiently traversed
where three coarse splotches lie.

The knotted cross-section of time
is whiskered against the grain
where three coarse splotches lie.
Only driftwood will fit my mood today.

© Deborah J. Shore, 2001,
Credit: 11 September 2001, the Response of Poetry

out of
not needed
can be

©Claire J. Bake

The Archer Dan Brady

Middle of the Night

Full of love
sure in the darkness
surrounding her bed

all she needs to light her way
is an orange you left
on the kitchen table.

©Claire J. Baker
From author’s book on Trails of Naming, ©1999

Posted anonymously on a small square piece of paper put over a missing persons flyer at Grand Central Station's Memorial Wall:

Every morning
I see you
I miss you.
We never met.


-- for Ann

something peaceful about leaving
pebbles on the beach
how else will the petition be written
waves scattering sand & all that’s in it
never growing disheartened, thank god

safely home washing greens
one endearment flows into another
candles are lit
the best we can offer
tiny & intimate

©Kit Kennedy


She cuts into a plum
remembering fall colors
scrapes the pit
as if clearing debris
from a gravestone

She places
the pit on a separate plate
(for no particular reason)
then steps back
for conditions
to bring forth

©Kit Kennedy

Our boots need to dig into the earth,
  our fingers to unfold
    like leaves being born.
Our bodies need air, need rain,
  sun to untangle knots of pain.
Touch us, sky -- blue visitation
  drift of cloud.
Hold fast, hopes.
Be green-blooded stems when wind
  wears rough boots and kicks.
Dreams trees dream cut open
  apples of pain,
    find the juice sweet rain.
We would be shade, be shelter,
  be silent
    or whisper with our leaves.

©Claire J. Baker 

Maseta con Plantas by Jorges Spiropulo

EACH YEAR, MAY THERE BE FRUIT    for Nancy Keane, because she does

I want to believe in water
that it washes away only what is
necessary and treasures light
because it wants to

that I am of a tribe
who tills soil
would hand-carry seeds
when necessary.

©Kit Kennedy

For Least Terns --
peace and nest land, returned

Stepping through spring dew
in herb-fresh new day,
Least Terns of Alameda spread their wings,
joyful in peace land returned to them.
No more that horror of man-made
frankenstien-bird-like metal planes
that throbbed, zoomed, soared, roared
over cement the Least Terns knew covered
land tern-generations old.

Now Least Terns lay their eggs on obsolete
landing fields, let fledglings fly 
where once war-focused-men's flight patterns
cut sky.
Here Least Terns bed with sun
and free stars around them,
where they know they belong.
Song no more drowned by
roar and whoosh, thunder and tremble
of quaking earth, vibrations created by
engines, turbines, roll of wheeled
mechanical monsters over the fragile shells.
Those silver, artificial, fuel-streamed jet flight
fighters that gleamed past now are gone into
past history, air strips so quiet. And Least Terns
splash their feathers through dew in herb-fresh
mornings, spread wings celebrate peace lands,
Alameda, sanctuary, returned to them.

And turn quick eyes toward white sails
spread to winds of the quiet bay off the
island shore where war ships go no more,
spread their wings happy over
land returned.

©Mary Rudge

(Looking at the sea.) 
When we stand on a hilltop
and face a sunrise, we harbor
no concern over what or who else
we may become, or when, or if.
Every sunrise is a Great Now
that we, too, have risen
many times before -- that
rising again and again is
what life is all about.

©Claire J. Baker 

10/5/01 6:30 am This morning I walked again to the candlelight memorial at Sonoma and Hopkins in Berkeley. Have visited there many times since September 11. -Elizabeth

Better to light one small candle  
than to curse the darkness.  - Chinese Proverb 


We who are luminous,
are radiant,
are 90% light,
who know a fiery fusion that
makes stars, and suns,
whose flesh is compressed of
dancing atoms.

We chart an inner astronomy,
our nucleus, our energy,
without burning our eyes,
we see.

There is a crust of seasons that we wear.
Seeds sleep along the bones,
erupt, and bloom
in heats and darks responsive to our moon.
Flames loop and leap the arteries.
There is a crust of seasons in the womb.
Beyond our brightness,
our creation, cells
connect in constellations of our own.
We who are luminous.

© Mary Rudge

Peace and Hope: Voices from San Francisco was founded in September 2001. Submission is by invitation and permission has been granted by all the contributing poets and visual artists for publication of their work.

© Copyright, March 2011. All Rights Reserved.

"To find yourself, think for yourself." Socrates