Trigger Warnings

Trigger Warning: This article may trigger depression among readers of literature:

A New Poem by Neeli Cherkovski

For Larry Eigner

he used a giant saw
and begin to do a job
on the boards, sawdust flying everywhere
until the green earth turned brown
and the yellow leaves trimmed in
a red border, we read between the lines
because in the empty space he revealed
simple flight of a hummingbird= in the Spanish garden
and demonstrated concentric rings of power

the great poet did not speak as other men do
he had palsy from a difficult birth
he spent many days on a glass-enclosed patio
and from that vantage-point
birds and bees and sycamore trees
mountains and mindful meadows
came into focus

the orange sky looked like
crinkled paper, the giraffe went down
and the lion fell onto the savannah’s floor

winter a fallen leaf, pressed between
Helen and a fleet of ships, small
thin bouquet, you’d think of pleasure
and never truly understand the patience
he practiced, winter’s blue arm, long
summer nights, twilight bird. he rarely wrote
“finch” or “sparrow,” most the word “bird”
sufficed, he spoke in a difficult tongue, his
words precise, he saw into and outside of
common objects and wore a ring of the inevitable

like most magicians he spoke
our names in secret, he re-arranged
limestone ribs of the sky and shook demonic
rain until it snowed – Massachusetts is
always “in for it,” you see the poet
watching the ice, keen to observe the idea
of a frozen sky

“From the Sustaining Air” was
his first ideal you might say “an ideal”
to keep his frame intact, we stood
in the memorial park one afternoon
and said goodbye to a revolutionary
traditional man who shook
the boundaries, form light bird
shadowing fear of dying our rueful
page, a page turner, our words

E. L. Doctorow Dies at 84

Thursdays at Readers Poetry Series: Heather Bourbeau & James Tracy

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. For a full line-up and more information please visit our website at

Proceeds from our bookstores benefit the San Francisco Public Library

On July 30th we are excited to have  Heather Bourbeau & James Tracy read!

maxresdefaultTracy is the co-author of Hillbilly Nationalists, Urban Race Rebels and Black Power and the author of Dispatches Against Displacement: Field Notes From San Francisco’s Housing Wars. He is an adjunct Instructor at City College and works at Community Housing Partnership. He is currently trying to rediscover poetry, and is a former member of the Molotov Mouths Outspoken Word Troupe.

old crow and new crow

old crow and new crow

sit on a fence

old crow says they nearly

clipped my wings

new crow chirps

i still sing


old crow and new crow

fly across the field

old crow says

i almost was a thing of the past

new crow nods

we’re built to last


old crow and new crow

perch on razor wire

old crow says

they marched against me

new crow laughs

they still do but

i’m much more tricky


08d922cHeather Bourbeau is a writer, living in Berkeley. Her poetry has been published in AlimentumThe Citron ReviewOpen CityBoston Literary MagazineCleaverThe Fabulistsparkle + blink, Tupelo Press and Work. Her piece “Hopscotch” was just nominated for a Pushcart Prize. She was a finalist for the Randall Jarrell Poetry Prize, a Tupelo Press 30/30 poet, and the winner of the Pisk! Poetry Slam. Her journalism has appeared in The EconomistThe Financial TimesForeign AffairsForeign Policy and The New York Times. She was a contributing writer to the New York Times bestseller, Not On Our Watch: A Mission to End Genocide in Darfur and Beyond with Don Cheadle and John Prendergast. She has worked with various United Nations agencies, including the UN peacekeeping mission in Liberia and UNICEF Somalia. Her first collection of poetry, Daily Palm Castings, profiles people in overlooked professions.

You can check out some of Heather’s work here:

“How to talk to a former warlord” in The Missing Slate

“The Toast” published in 100 Word Story

“Five Pieces of Micro Fiction” in Citron Review –


Letters to Myself: Alan Blackman

PastedGraphic-6-copyAlan Blackman has had a long and storied career, as an artist, calligrapher, typeface designer for Adobe, lettering arts instructor, and three years working for the U.S. Post Office at San Francisco’s Rincon Annex. By his own account, however, his most significant work isLetters to Myself.

Letters to Myself was a personal project first undertaken by Blackman in 1968. His then 11-year old son Stephen lived across the bay in Berkeley, east of San Francisco.

Through his work in the postal service, Blackman became familiar with “first day covers,” letters affixed with a stamp on its first day of release and mailed from the city from which the stamp originated. Each such letter is stamped with the cancellation FIRST DAY OF ISSUE, as well as the date and city of origin.

For every letter that Blackman sent to his son, he sent a similar one to himself. Using the stamp design as a starting point, he hand-addressed the letter in beautifully colored calligraphic design, each cover compatible or related to the design of the stamp. Over the years, his calligraphic envelopes became more elaborate and theme oriented.

Read more »

Authors Rise Up Against Amazon


Lovely new poem by Neeli Cherkovski

This is a little longer than most poems we post but I’m sure you’ll find it worthwhile. –BJS






some place he is   over nature     subjugated


he wears a clown’s costume

balances ten tea cups


air is pure   unfettered


yet rages


a truck rages down the Grapevine

twisted       ruined       plants drowning

in corn syrup         trucker belches

pulls off to the siding

eyes filled     mist clamors


Tule fog elk              no more water


dead High Sierras              trucker tries

to live

in harmony   the sky rings


a Google map   (perhaps)     island republics

crammed         to live

one’s life surrounded by the South Pacific


work the clutch

get ready to slide


hot damn!


see the wings     open wide


to make use of hitherto unspoken areas

unknown arrangements     proper nouns, oh


Odysseus but not as you know him


when he came like a thunderbolt

now useless


is a fact fable   great stone monoliths

formed into sections        moon pours down

through open throat of a stone


today on the freeway


a thousand reasons


turn back

enjoy an entire aria


melodious Monk prevails


these hours

woven into fine patterns where the mind

wishes for a body    hot blood


blood racing to the brief encounter


passing the ice cream factory and San Francisco International



or two years more or less

blond hair fell on shoulders

of the older man

in fog-strewn night      wishing a star had come

near enough to stuff it in a shoulder bag




strength one feels in knowing

hand is bent

over a stiff cloud


sunlight before what       whatever traffic flows

and floods


doors slam shut this window bars your movement


school boys little girls


an elderly crossing guard

from World War One       ninety feet tall


he tells us about the murdered boys

and witches

on tractors

in the field


then he dies and we buy

little purple flowers


you know the children had no choice


to quell the storm       Ruben kills a bird

rips open the body


he says this is the heart


leave time alone    for once in your life


nothing here but the soldier

in a closet

upstairs, he hangs like

a linen jacket


do you know death by his first name?



we hang


in the closet

next to the linen jacket


of body bags         so much for


a sparrow on the windowsill


beginning to see

what only you can see


a stranger on a tractor down Valencia Street




buried in a museum


the road narrows into a path

past white washed sea side villas

and humbler houses


through a bramble

into a caldera of rocks


as if it had been pre-ordained


the tufa fields      a lunar-like landscape


invisible eye


ripping the web

beginning to see

till the lemon tree offers only the most delicious



only the finest wisdom




tomorrow will be better


snow banked at 2,500 feet


stop the car and go there

to make snowballs

throw them at the sun

and see what happens


to envision

and to understand     beginning

of comprehension


how often the door will open

onto a vista

of unexpected occasions


wait until the silos

are emptied of what they store


Vesuvius was nothing


it rained on that day

tramping in mud


why can’t they build

a metal walkway


or see how music lives

on the branches

many trees





dripping forest

of glass


on the land   somebody has to




the lost rose        sun light   on close


splinters a log


over the distant ridge


stripped of redwoods


reverberating over meadow and arroyo


one eagle


then a simple crow


the usual ocean breeze


winging it


diplomacy fails

and out come


a few gray clouds mist up on the log


some bugs


everywhere silent silos


as we prepare to vanish


no more days or weeks


no need for latitude


will the birds be wise


and not disappear


the winged truth a rueful truth


has no mercy

for the trucker or the


people in charge


beauty    a robin


the bird chirps




inside of us


Amazon = Standard Oil?

imagesJeff Bezos as John D. Rockefeller. Interesting…

Ted Cruz, NYT, and Amazon

Bulk sales have been around forever. Remember “The Road Less Travelled?”

More Amazon News

Enforcing antitrust laws? What a quaint idea.