Bay writes

WRITERS ISSUE: The winners of our first LIT123 contest

WRITERS We asked Guardian readers to contribute stories or poems that reflected their Bay Area experiences. The catch? Each entry had to be exactly 123 words. So many excellent submissions poured in. Unfortunately, we could only pick 10 winners, which are printed below. The writers will receive a gift certificate to Books, Inc.


Her fantasy

revolved around how wonderful it would be to die in an

earthquake that killed her at the exact moment

she was looking up at the shelves in the Macy's women's department.

The handbags were being swept into the air and

were floating down towards her. A

set of Moschinos fell like giant colorful raindrops

and her hands were extended towards them, like a desiccated cave-woman about to


the end of a drought. This moment

would be captured as her afterlife when a glass sliver

slipped between her eye and eyelid and gracefully penetrated her brain. She wanted the perfection

of the leather satchels, which she had no hope of ever owning, to eclipse all


other moments of her life.

— Hunter Stern


i take the book you made out for coffee, walk along clay until it crests over hyde and i can smile again, weave past grace cathedral, 40s and shorts on the swing set and i fall in love with you at Front Porch drinking drinks with kumquats and rum, flicks of salt disappearing, lips pressed to mason jars, wrappers leftover from japanese candy, 111 minna, some girl's gold necklace, lamp light reflecting, gray goose and art galleries, thick throated and insecure, while north beach vomits strip clubs and boutiques, scares away hipsters, and at 3am i make a home for you in the space between my breasts, mismatched fabrics hanging over head, cork board alley smiles and

what's your name again?

— Gabrielle Toft


I slip on my pants like a fireman, quick, with practiced determination. I careen my head toward the window. Watch daybreak bang the gray sky back. The closed Bay Bridge arches towards darkness, towards Frisco. I have never seen it without cars lights.

I shuck the sheets off you.

Up, I demand, a drill sergeant.

I snap my bra on, twist it around. I can smell myself, fecund, moist pits. Nervous like a mother. I hate myself.

I ball my shirt up; hurl it at you.

You look up.


I'm going to be a mom, I spit. Taste the implication on my tongue.

You hoist yourself up.

Where you going?

To bike that bridge. What can they do? They can't stop me

— Tomas Moniz


Pick a hill. Jump between vantage points. You can spring the entire city, like a kinged checker, or a queen. Morphing like Mad Magazine, folding corners B to A, bending time.

A pharmacy goes BBQ. Sushi boats drift through your unconscious. You got dragged aboard, then woke with a craving. Across, in that park: you've tasted heartbreak, and smelled funny dancing, and shot hoops with crumpled resumes, and been winded by a jog.

The city gasps for air just before rush hour, after running all day, breathing hard. Cue the fog. Now it's dim: the 'Sco does twister yoga, or the funky gargoyle, gone buck or cupcakin'. A sushi float parades the bay, always revolving, barely perceptible; you're on board, and circling too.

— Joe Cervelin


Mother wanted me to be the dentist to the stars. I wanted to be the next Hemingway. Mother insisted writers were alkies and wife abusers. I could write prescriptions. Graduated NYU Dental in 1959. Only mention that Al Pacino and John Travolta were patients because I'm a namedropper. For the next 20 years, I inhaled tons of toxic mercury vapors, was bombarded with enough stray radiation and nitrous oxide to turn my toenails and my mien black.