Archives for posts with tag: San Francisco

doggie-diner
Doggie Diner, Geary and Arguello, 1969
by Vince Gotera

Out of San Francisco night, the cool fog’s
gray fingers caressing hills and houses,
in chef’s hat and bowtie, the smiling Dog,
ten-foot-tall dachshund’s head in fiberglass.

Tina, my first real high school girlfriend,
and I entered through the shiny glass doors,
holding hands, both in hippie leathers, suede
vests and floppy hats, bellbottom cords.

It smelled like hog heaven, grease-laden air,
scents of amber-gold fries and sizzling thick
burgers, the sharp tang of cole slaw vinegar.
We ordered dogs slathered in chili with pickles

and mustard. The world was copacetic. Above
the diner, the Dog slowly turned, glowing like love.

PHOTO: Doggie Diner, San Francisco (1960s).

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NOTE FROM THE AUTHOR: The Doggie Diner is the iconic San Francisco restaurant chain, open from 1948 to 1986. Since it’s now gone, the Doggie Diner is a pleasant, nostalgic memory for anyone who grew up in The City during those years. Each diner had a sign rotating above the building, a huge grinning dog’s head in a bow tie and chef’s hat. In the documentary Doggie Diner History, someone who lived near a Doggie Diner as a child recalls how the dog head “helped me navigate my way home, like a big doggie-shaped lighthouse.” A 1985 photo by Roy Kaltschmidt titled “Doggie Diner — San Francisco Zoo,” captures this warm sentiment.¶ In the poem, I try to convey this sunny aura along with the optimistic tenor of the ’60s, the feeling among the young that everything and anything was possible. Remember that San Francisco’s Haight-Ashbury district was the epicenter of the Hippie movement. Although that positive ambience pervades the poem, I allude to the Vietnam war, even though it’s not really present to the teenaged couple: I use the phrase “the world,” which was what American soldiers in Vietnam called America. There was “the ’Nam” and there was “the world,” a romanticized paradise. So, although the speaker and his girlfriend feel all is “copacetic,” it’s really not, and they will soon, very soon, grow up into a world of harsh realities. But for now, in the “now” of the poem, life is wonderful. Happiness is a spicy chili dog, and the Doggie Diner is a kind of heaven.

AUTHOR PHOTO CAPTION: My senior photo in the high school yearbook.

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Vince Gotera is Editor Emeritus at the North American Review and professor of English at the University of Northern Iowa, where he teaches creative writing and American literature. His poetry collections include Dragonfly, Ghost Wars, Fighting Kite, and the forthcoming Pacific Crossing. Recent poems appear in The American Journal of Poetry, Eunoia Review, Star*Line, Altered Reality Magazine, Spirit’s Tincture, Crow Hollow 19, and the anthologies A Prince Tribute, Delirious: A Poetic Celebration of Prince, and Lupine Lunes, as well as the textbook Composing Poetry. Vince blogs at The Man with the Blue Guitar.

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Paul Fericano is a poet, satirist, social activist and San Francisco native. His poetry and prose have appeared in publications and media outlets in the U.S. and abroad since 1971, including The Realist, The New York Quarterly, Krokodil (Moscow) and Charlie Hebdo (Paris). He is a recipient of the Prix de Voltaire (France) and the Ambrose Bierce Prize (San Francisco).

Ellaraine Lockie is a widely published and awarded author of poetry, nonfiction books and essays. Her newest collection, Love Me Tender in Midlife, has been released as an internal chapbook in IDES from Silver Birch Press. Ellaraine teaches poetry workshops, frequently judges poetry contests and serves as Poetry Editor for the lifestyles magazine, Lilipoh.

Art Beck’s poetry and essays have appeared in a wide range of literary journals, including Alaska Quarterly, OR, Artful Dodge, and Translation Review. His several collections of poetry and poetry translations include Luxorius Opera Omnia, a Duet for Sitar and Trombone (Otis College, Seismicity Editions), which was awarded the 2013 Northern California Book award for poetry in translation.

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Paul Fericano is a San Francisco native and author of several books of poetry and satire, including The One Minute President (w/Elio Ligi / Poor Souls Press, 1984) and five collections of poems. His latest, The Hollywood Catechism (Silver Birch Press, 2015), was a National Book Award nominee. Paul is the editor of YU News Service and author of A Room With A Pew, a blog on clergy abuse issues and the healing process.

George Guida is the Brooklyn-born author of seven books, including The Pope Stories and Other Tales of Troubled Times (Bordighera Press, 2012) and four collections of poems, including his latest two, Pugilistic (WordTech Editions, 2015) and The Sleeping Gulf (Bordighera Press, 2015) George teaches literature and writing at New York City College of Technology, and co-edits 2 Bridges Review.

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birdandbeckett Paul Fericano, author of The Hollywood Catechism (Silver Birch Press, March 2015) will read from his poetry collection on Sunday, July 19th, at Bird and Beckett Books and Records, 653 Chernery Street, San Francisco. For details, visit birdbeckett.com.

SF-Fillmore-St
Living with Geology
by Phyllis Klein

You prayed it wouldn’t be the big one.
Is it over? Your body is tight.
You peer out at the fractured world
from under the bed that didn’t collapse.
Out the window that didn’t break
the dogs howl. The air isn’t the same,
though you can’t say why.
It is stillness after something profound.
And there they are, howling again, an aftershock.

You check yourself, no broken bones,
but your head’s shook up. You rise to see what,
besides your peace of mind, has been rattled.

You smell for gas, note broken glass, refrigerator
door ajar, a mess of food spilled on the floor.
When you moved here it was paradise, palm trees,
headlands, a bay filled with sails, no tornadoes, no snow.

This wasn’t the punch kind, delivered by a subterranean fist.
This one, more lurch, then twist, and then the crashing starts.

You sit on the floor with the books, the overturned lamp,
the ceiling dust. There are cracks on the walls that will stay that way.

NOTE FROM THE AUTHOR: I love living in Northern California in spite of the fact that the earthquake risk hangs in the back of my consciousness. My first earthquake experience was in Ann Arbor, Michigan, and couldn’t figure out why things were gently trembling. Since moving west in 1984, I have been through enough to know that the house could fall. It’s been quite awhile since the last one, and my emergency supply of water has expired. (There’ usually a run on the preparedness stuff right after the stronger ones.) It was interesting to write about what it’s like at the time, and a reminder about how the cracks remain.

PHOTOGRAPH: “Filmore Street at Broadway” (San Francisco, California) by Phyllis Klein.

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR/PHOTOGRAPHER: Phyllis is a California transplant from New York via Michigan. Visit her at phyllisklein.com.

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A POEM FOR DADA DAY AT THE PLACE APRIL 1, 1958
by Jack Spicer

I
The bartender
Has eyes the color of ripe apricots
Easy to please as a cash register he
Enjoys art and good jokes.
Squish
Goes the painting
Squirt
Goes the poem
He
We
Laugh.

II
It is not easy to remember that other people died
besides Dylan Thomas and Charlie Parker
Died looking for beauty in the world of the
bartender
This person, that person, this person, that person
died looking for beauty
Even the bartender died

III
Dante blew his nose
And his nose came off in his hand
Rimbaud broke his throat
Trying to cough
Dada is not funny
It is a serious assault
On art
Because art
Can be enjoyed by the bartender.

IV
The bartender is not the United States
Or the intellectual
Or the bartender
He is every bastard that does not cry
When he reads this poem.

SOURCE: Poetry (July/August 2008)

PHOTO: “Blabbermouth Night, an open reading and forum, at The Place” by C.R. Snyder, ALL RIGHTS RESERVED.

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Jack Spicer (1925–1965) was a poet often identified with the San Francisco Renaissance — the name given to the emergence of writers and artists in the Bay Area at the end of WWII. In 2009, My Vocabulary Did This to Me: The Collected Poetry of Jack Spicer won the American Book Award for poetry.

ABOUT DADA: Dada is a movement that began in Zurich, Switzerland, in 1916 at the Cabaret Voltaire. Its founders struck upon this essentially nonsense word to embody a playful and nihilistic spirit alive among European visual artists and writers during and immediately after World War I. They salvaged a sense of freedom from the cultural and moral instability that followed the war, and embraced both “everything and nothing” in their desire to “sweep, sweep clean,” as Tristan Tzara wrote in his Dadaist Manifesto in 1920. In visual arts, this enterprise took the form of collage and juxtaposition of unrelated objects, as in the work of French artist Marcel Duchamp. T.S. Eliot’s and Ezra Pound’s allusive, often syntactically and imagistically fractured poems of this era reflect a Dadaist influence. Dadaism gave rise to surrealism. (SOURCE: poetryfoundation.org.) To read more about Dadaism, visit wikipedia.org.

ABOUT THE PLACE: Between 1955 and 1959, The Place at 1564 Grant Street was at the center of San Francisco’s Beat culture — a bohemian bar managed by Knute Stiles and Leo Krekorian. In a 1986 interview published in North Beach Magazine, Krekorian, known as the “Grandfather of the Beats,” explained some of what was special about The Place: “When Jack Kerouac wrote On the Road people started hitchhiking to San Francisco from all over the country, even from foreign countries, and their first stop was The Place. They walked in with the luggage and I usually let them park their stuff a few days until they got squared away.” (Read more of this essay by Mark Schwartz & Art Peterson, originally published in The Semaphore #181, Fall 2007 at foundsf.org.)

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rain poem
by A.D. Winans

the storm
lets up

the birds
take flight

neighbors dog
sheds water

drops in
sprinkler rhythm

a cavalry
of children

magically appear
in rainbow splendor

sun peeks
from clouds

smell of fall
in the air

PHOTO: “Rainbow Over the Golden Gate” by Ei Katsumata. Prints available at fineartamerica.com.

Visit A.D. Winans at his website to learn more about his poetry and poetry collections.

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THE CHANGING LIGHT
by Lawrence Ferlinghetti

The changing light
at San Francisco
is none of your East Coast light
none of your
pearly light of Paris
The light of San Francisco
is a sea light
an island light
And the light of fog
blanketing the hills
drifting in at night
through the Golden Gate
to lie on the city at dawn
And then the halcyon late mornings
after the  fog burns off
and the sun paints white houses
with the sea light of Greece
with sharp clean shadows
making the town look like
it had just been painted

But the wind comes up at four o’clock
sweeping the hills

And then the veil of light of early evening

And then another scrim
when the new night fog
floats in
And in that vale of light
the city drifts
anchorless upon the ocean

SOURCE: “The Changing Light” appears in Lawrence Ferlinghetti‘s collection How to Paint Sunlight: Lyric Poems & Others (1997-2000) (New Directions Publishing, 2001), available at Amazon.com.

PHOTO: TheBrockenInAGlory

Jack Kerouac reads his poem “San Francisco Scene” from the CD Readings by Jack Kerouac on the Beat Generation, available at Amazon.com.

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“It seemed like a matter of minutes when we began rolling in the foothills before Oakland and suddenly reached a height and saw stretched out ahead of us the fabulous white city of San Francisco on her eleven mystic hills with the blue Pacific and its advancing wall of potato-patch fog beyond, and smoke and goldenness in the late afternoon of time.” JACK KEROUAC, On the Road

Photo: Sunset Magazine, ALL RIGHTS RESERVED