Bay writes - Page 2

WRITERS ISSUE: The winners of our first LIT123 contest
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After my second wife left me, I fled to San Francisco. Bought a restored Victorian at 164-166 Castro with my cousin, Hal Slate. Hal owned the Cauldron bathhouse and sang in the Gay Men's Chorus. Hal lived upstairs and I was on the bottom.

— Dr. Stanley Finkelstein

THE SEAWALL

Just a cougar by the seawall. Summer, errr, autumn in the Sunset, she stole a boy from the surf shop. He literally lived in the surf shop.

Gawky girl, watched him get amateur tattoos. Watched him sell pot to Trouble. Bought him pizza. Bought a phone, learned to text.

Kisses and secrets pressed against the seawall. Realize: nothing is lost by getting older.

Ocean Beach is not made of fog, just ghost lovers and culture clashes. Wu Tang Clan and Elliott Smith. Office girls and Rastafarian skate rats. Wearing rings and gangsta players. Foodies and shysters.

She returns home with sand in her highlights and guilt on her sleeve. Then makes love with two men, one by the shore, one as a whore.

— Sadie Craft

NAILS

I always smell coffee when I cross the Bay Bridge.

Mom would point out the Hills Brothers building on the right. "Grandpa

used to work for them."

He kept nails in a red coffee tin. Every summer, my parents would send

me back to the city to live with my grandparents for a bit. He'd get me

to pull nails out of old planks and save the good ones.

Years later, my wife and I came to clear out their house. She rattled a

tin full of rusty nails.

"It's a real mess. I guess people who lived through the Depression saved

everything."

The old factory is gone, but I still smell coffee on the Embarcadero.

And think of honest work.

— Dominic Dela Cruz

A PAINFUL CASE

Outside of a Shattuck Laundromat a form appeared and paused. I could see just above the pages of my book a squat mass.

You like Joyce?

There waited a gray-haired wheelchairbound woman, her thin puppetlegs below a square, dense torso.

Yes.

She spoke about Finnegan's Wake, about her triptoirelandfathersdeathlovers53disabledlesbianconvertedjewsuicide

life —

conjuring Linnaeus to lift herself from the gelid human sea.

I politely cut her off.

There were three women alongside me folding laundry. A man watching clothes tumble behind a porthole. Two coeds umlike trying to use a machine. The TVfixed attendant stood folding underwear. Eight people in a small room and no one spoke to the other.

I turned my gaze toward the street vainly hoping to tell Shewhospoke

Iamalmostthirtyunemployeduneducatedconfused

my life.

— Carolyn Rae Allen

UNTITLED

Ice cream is my observation food.

I'm sitting on the curb by the Castro Station, watching a nighttime exodus of dapper gay couples and catching snatches of passerby dialogue between bites of an It's-It.

I listen to them talk about things I know nothing of, though I still strain to hear. Each person walking by, I realize as I munch, is their own story, their own person, and I feel a strange urge to follow them around.

Instead, I look up at the city lights and semi-starry sky, both of which frame a giant flapping flag, whose wind-aided whipping is just audible above the sounds of cars and people.

My snack drips, I wolf it down, and then descend into the station's glow. — — arim Quesada-Khoury

AN UPLIFT

There are people in this city whom even God does not love. I have spoken to many of them (phoning from the safety of my SOMA office) about diminished social services and life's decline. The most wretched of San Francisco's sick, discouraged, and deprived tell me they keep living for one reason alone: their pets. When every last lover's tolerant embrace has turned cold, dogs and cats do not waiver in their devotion.