by Vince Gotera

The famed seven hills of San Francisco are actually myriad: hills and steep slopes everywhere in the seven-mile by seven-mile square of the city. Sidewalks that are stairways. Trees and houses clinging to ground that cant seemingly at 45°, climbing upward to starry skies. Small ethnic neighborhoods sprinkled around—Russian, Italian, Chinatown, the Black community of Fillmore Street, the Hispanic Mission District, Gay Castro—and the Haight Ashbury, the diverse, integrated neighborhood where I grew up before the hippies came. Downtown, in the Financial District, when I was a teenager, they built a new peak: the Transamerica Pyramid, tallest building in the city, vaulting up to the sky like the seven hills, a new eighth wonder to rival the world-famous towers of the Golden Gate Bridge. What a marvel, what a miracle, the city was in my childhood. Don’t call it Frisco. Native-born San Franciscans just say, The City. Living now thousands of miles away in snow country, I miss my hometown. Such deep richness and largeness of culture and utter beauty. San Francisco.

steep hills, The City—
pyramid skyscraper glows
in my child mind’s eye

PHOTO: Transamerica Pyramid, San Francisco, California, by Caleb George on Unsplash.  Designed by architect William Pereira, the 48-story building stands at 853 feet. When completed in 1972, it was the eighth-tallest building in the world.

NOTE FROM THE AUTHOR: Not really a traveling poem, but rather an “at-home” poem about San Francisco and especially the landmark Transamerica Pyramid.


ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Vince Gotera is a Professor of English at the University of Northern Iowa, where he served as Editor of the North American Review (2000-2016). He was also Editor of Star*Line, the print journal of the Science Fiction and Fantasy Poetry Association (2017-2020). His poetry collections include Dragonfly, Ghost Wars, Fighting Kite, The Coolest Month, and the upcoming Pacific Crossing. Recent poems appeared in the journals Abyss & Apex, Altered Reality Magazine, Crab Orchard Review, Dreams & Nightmares, Ekphrastic Review, Philippines Graphic (Philippines), Rosebud, Stone Canoe, and the anthologies Multiverse (UK) and Hay(na)ku 15. He blogs at The Man with the Blue Guitar.