Thursdays at Readers: Cathleen Williams & Gary Hicks

Join us every Thursday at 6:30 p.m. in our Readers Bookstore Fort Mason for our weekly FREE poetry series!

Browse books and enjoy a glass of wine while listening to internationally acclaimed poets and artists such as Jonathan Richman, David Meltzer, Diane di Prima and California Poet Laureate Al Young. The series is curated by Friends’ Resident Poet Jack Hirschman.

Proceeds from our bookstores benefit the San Francisco Public Library.

This week’s featured poets: Cathleen Williams & Gary Hicks

Cathleen Williams is a civil rights lawyer and activist in the movement of homeless people that is rising across the nation, as well as in her home town of Sacramento. She has worked with the League of Revolutionaries For a New America since its inception, and is a founder of the Revolutionary Poets Brigade. In her poetry, she speaks to the astonishing courage and tenacity of our people, struggling with a dehumanizing and dying political system.

Gary Hicks has been writing poetry since 1983. His work is informed by…dictated by…his political and cultural activism of over fifty years. Hicks has been involved in activities advocating peace, justice, solidarity amongst people’s. Currently he is concerned with relationships between China and the US and is active in the US-China Peoples Friendship Associàtion. Hicks is also active in his tenant organization in Berkeley, where he lives.

In San Francisco
By Cathleen Williams

City of my birth

I walk along Chestnut Street

up the hill to the Art Institute

where Diego Rivera’s pale fresco

still glows from the shadows:

1931 —

“The Building of The City:”

human architectures

fine and sturdy

measured, shouldered, framed.


I turn away, return

to body and memory:

my mother, “instinctively left,”

my father

each driving into ruin

disease, alcohol,

how they bent their bows

as young archers

here in a city

of ringing wind.


SF the end of the line then

for sailors out of work

they crowd into muddy lots

at the foot of Russian Hill

the rough clothes, the caps,

and hungry

just as we are hungry now…

so resonant today

in our crisis of suffering


I walk on

to the fishing pier

where I used to write letters

to my first lover.

I lean over the cement barrier

and see at the end of a fisherman’s line

a gaping mouth

drawn from the bay

still drinking, still gulping

the moment onrushing


and then down, mottled, streaming

like a wet cat.


Without the capacity to believe

(so like love)

without the capacity to wait

(so like faith)

we have no way to bind ourselves

into a whole.


the perfect storms of february
by Gary Hicks

for wahd’i and sandra….and of course waldo

                                This land so rich in beauty
Has made countless heroes bow in homage.

                                                                         -Mao Zedong, “Snow”

these are the

days when w

the elders sit

in helplessness

snowed in

unable to leave

or out west

unable to return

anything but

love and solidarity

and either way

time to turn the

radio dial or

the computer

or insert a disk

of old school

jazz the new

stuff having no

feeling for how

cold it can get

and music in

the air we then



the miles

the inches

of snow

and sand

the degrees

of freezing and

heat we had

to endure in our

childhoods of

urban ghetto

refugee exile

nakba or

great migrations

we think of

this because

unlike the generations

before us we can’t

guarantee that

trudging through

the elements is

leading to anywhere

but more intense

bitter struggles

against disease

against war

against famine

against death

all spawning


viruses of

the apocalypse

not good things

to leave to

our children the

only sorry excuse

worth giving

being that we

raised them

gave them

smarts and skills

to tell the viruses

to go fuck

themselves and

the horses upon

which they

rode in the

talent to speak

these wishes

with the authority

which builds

mountain moving

multitudes to

build new realities

insisting upon

justice first then

peace at last

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