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City of Stairways: A Poet's Guide to San Francisco

City Of Stairways:
A Poet's Guide to San Francisco

Good travel writing not only tells you what you need to know, but describes the location with such sensory details that the reader feels the experience.

City of Stairways: A Poet's Field Guide to San Francisco, although a poetry collection, evokes a sensory experience so similar it must be good travel writing.

A product of the afterschool program WritersCorps, students write about seven neighborhoods of San Francisco, California. With maps detailing each poems origin, poetry and travel lovers alike can benefit from this field guide.

Here are some selections:

City of Stairways
Annie Yu

i live in a city of stairways
houses stack themselves
one on top of another
where hidden birds reveal themselves with song
cradled inside trees outside the library

circus city, city of sirens
waiting for the next time
the earth cracks open
and we all collide
steep city, homeless city
a fragile shell of a bus stop
frames a map that shows you are here
city of bookstores with creaking old floors rooftop gardens and worn laundry

where a man plays his accordian
a whimsy tune travels along winding streets
city of murals
that climb onto walls and brighten alleyways
splashes of color drip over billboards

we live in a city of wonders
a vibrant panorama from hill to hill
alongside the edge of the sea

 

Botanical Garden
Sandra Pulido

The apprentices of WritersCorps.
The apprentices of WritersCorp

I should get inspiration
from the garden I'm in.
The smell of flowers
so pure
as a child in an unknown world.

The innocence of Mother Nature
is so fragile as a dry leaf that breaks with
touch.
I wonder if flowers can fall in love
just like I have fallen in love with the scent of
roses.

Different ways to choose from
they all take you to the same place.

The sun is hiding
yet it feels warm between trees', leaves', and
flowers'
perfumes.
Here, peace feels like it's everywhere.
If you sit quietly and just listen to nature
talking to you, it feels like you belong here.

 

San Francisco skyline
San Francisco skyline

Fisherman's Wharf
Indiana Pehlivanova

The wharves are smothered with fog
as unusual as the pigeons
nestled among wet rocks
the grin of a worn-out man
worn out
like ancient clock towers

His beats
submerge into the bay,
aim for the smoke-colored benches
and back into his bent
drummer sticks

Everything is brand new
and old at the same time


In Twenty Years
Marcella Ortiz

I hope the scent of carne asada
stains this air so in twenty years
they can still smell the aroma, which arouses
my taste buds and feeds my hunger

Neighborhood maps mark out the birthplace of each poem, perfect for a dreamy wander through San Francisco.
Neighborhood maps mark out the birthplace of each poem, perfect for a dreamy wander through San Francisco

I hope this paint
stays, over-coated with clear gloss
stays intact for days to come
so in twenty years they can see the paint
which opened me up to the world
with a freely flowing hand
I was a newborn
daughter of creation

I hope the back door, they never fix
so they learn how to raise their voice
worthy for a Muni bus
learn how to step down and push
hard enough

I hope these stoops never leave
so young'uns can sit and give birth
to after-school epiphanies just like me
watch the sun rise
smoke a cigarette for the first time

I hope these botanicas can remain
with their broken-down doors and dusted-over windows
a hundred candles lit with our prayers
I hope in twenty years our prayers
will not be blown out for another cafe

City of Stairways celebrates San Francisco's neighborhoods.
City of Stairways celebrates San Francisco's neighborhoods.

I hope in twenty years
you see baggy jeans, slicked-back
hair hooded beings, golden skin of the Mission
hope they can experience this city
just like me

 

The Bridge
Nicole Zatarain Rivera

The Bridge...
a story in which men spend their days on a long
journey
building an important monument
a monument that extends 1.7 miles and into
the heart of San Franciscans today
sharing conversations and stories, which are
still being told all over the world.

The Bridge...
a beautiful sight, especially last night
while the city illuminated clear and bright
despite the little fog, the image of the
Golden Gate
seemed flawless I never wanted the sun to come back up
I wanted it to be an endless night of stairs and
golden red light.

The Bridge...
driving or walking, still feels like a ride
reach over and put your hands on the
suspension
close your eyes and listen carefully, you can
almost hear the acceleration in the tires
the vibration that never seems to quite expire
and the wind blowing in from the ocean
caressing your skin
giving me chills so invigorating the hairs on my
body stood still.

The Bridge...
1.7 miles of imagination
imagining the time and place this piece of art
was even thought of
imagining the types of conversation and jokes
that were held
and still to this day shared
imagining the feeling they all got once they
were all done.

 

Buy this book from Amazon:

City of Stairways: a Poet's Field Guide to San Francisco  

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sarah



Sarah Cavicchi
is a graduate of the University of Massachusetts and an editorial assistant for GoNOMAD. She writes our daily Travel News Notes blog.

Read Sarah Cavicchi's story: Ayutthaya, Thailand: Exploring An Ancient Siamese City

 

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