by Claire J. Baker

Am drawn to the painting
Absence” —
four hooded Afghani women,
before high mountains
and a ghostly cloud.
The grandmother cradles a dead
baby, snow-white. Its hand
strains toward heaven:
surely the white mountain-cloud
will envelop the baby, lift it
away from war, away from death.


Back From Iraq

by George Wynn

City buses roar by
drenching his Rimbaud
book of verses
taxis honk
expelling their curses
wet men bet and argue
over blitz chess
His ear fills up with cries
of “Why my son?”
a village mother pleading
with the man in command:
“What’s he done?”
Weary of pounding
San Francisco streets
where has he got to
go to get a job?
It’s cold out here!
is he going to be homeless
month after month?
He wants to run away
do something bold
maybe even reenlist
for Afghanistan

How Sad He Must Be

by George Wynn

When the flashbacks come
he goes off by himself
to Muir Woods to
see images he alone
must watch for endless
moments of torture and
when he comes home
his friends who have
not been to the war
laugh and talk but
he does not


Coming Home to Tickets

by George Wynn

Young bearded man
in wheelchair brushes teeth
in front of his books
cds, dvds on display over
white blanket near Market Street.
Stocky cop approaches
points to blanket, barks
“Gotta ticket you.”
Tapping toothbrush
on wheelchair bearded
man stares, “Why?”
“Illegal sales.”
“Give a soldier a break.”
“Cannot do,” cop says
handing him ticket,
eying another vendor
across the street.
Bearded man shakes
head over and over.
“Damn 6 years in
the Marines. 6 years
ready to die for Uncle Sam.”

Signs of Our Time

by Delaine Jones

A sign of the time,
a saying that is coined,
But oh how time and
Change have come.
A cell phone in every hand
people hurrying along
sidewalks now are houses
where people live, where they sleep,
out of garbage cans they eat.
People beautifully dressed
to the nines.
When evening comes,
they have no home
where they can dine.
Children are no longer cherished
as our future.
They are denied all essential resources.
Human Kind is no longer considered,
But Wall Street, the big guns
and money are worshiped.

“ABSENCE.” Painting by Jane Norling


Back to the

Vietnam War

by Claire J. Baker

My brother, Karl,
an engineer, stayed safe,
didn’t kill anybody.
His military service:
make precision bullets
& gun barrels.
Later, homeless-at-heart,
he drank his liver to death.


by Dee Allen

You sold yourself down the river
You sold your kind down the river
Brown-nose, kiss ass to impress
The bittersweet smell of success
You bow & scrape for the master
You jump through hoops for master
How much? Does it matter?
How high you climb
The proverbial (corporate) ladder
Why give up what’s true to you?
Why become what you despise?
Why give in & compete?
Why compromise?
Why compromise?
Why give up what’s true to you?
Why embrace the company’s lies?
Why give in & compete?
Why compromise?
Why compromise?

Hot Day in June

by George Wynn

Seagulls flying around
UN Plaza sprinklers
Children with happy
faces clapping hands
then bouncing on the ground
it’s a hot day in June
Up Market Street
the order’s been given
2 men in blue with
rolled-up sleeves
and low-slung gun belts
have made things clear:
Pack up and move on!
Four men with tough
half-century faces load up
their sleeping bag gear
The men in blue stare
at them with icebox vibes
Four men against the wall with
downcast faces stare at the ground
as if in a trance remembering a
similar shakedown earlier in the year
After they walk away with their
quality of life tickets
the men in blue smile and touch
their gun belts as if adding another
notch to their gun belt. They have
busted four poor men. They are
somebody. They are macho men

you can tell

by Michael Leslie

you can tell by the way
we silently pass
on the street, looking away
ignoring presence
unless intrigued by a hat,
shoes, scarves or beauty
that we distrust one another
& we’re gonna make it
completely on our own
except for our private
cast of characters
forever on cell phones.