Paying Attention in San Francisco

I want to try a little exercise in distillation … I’m going to make ten statements that are true about my experiences traveling around my city.  Then tomorrow I will choose a word or phrase from each and, I hope, make a poem… or maybe a short little essay. Why?  Because it’s the weekend, I’m alone, and I want to write.  It’s all about carving away what I don’t need, which, when you think about it, comes in handy in the many nooks and crannies of our lives.


  •  I breathe more deeply when I walk close to the Pacific ocean – it happens by itself –  my sore feet sinking happily into the damp sand, my lungs drinking in the salty air.
  • Bright green parrots who are local rock stars here in San Francisco feast on dark red plums in the early morning sunlight, their feathers shining brilliantly from the top of Russian Hill.
  • There’s an ice cream store older than me at the top of a hill where tourists in shorts and sneakers congregate during the days of summer, and I can’t be angry that they block my way because I can remember the joys of eating strawberry sherbet on a sugar cone.
  • I look out at the pelicans flying like miniature aircraft in perfect formation, and Peaches the dog bounces and cavorts after the fat grey seagulls who are almost her size.
  • There’s a storekeeper on Polk Street who puts out beautiful fruit this time of year, every morning the perfect peaches, plums, berries, and brilliant limes, and there’s something in his coal dark eyes that tells me he’s Turkish, and knowing that opens my heart to the estrangement of immigrants.
  • There are so many timeless old houses in this city, statuesque and lady like Victorians and Edwardians … and then there are the corny pink moustaches on the dashboards of the innocuous little hybrid cars driven by Uber and Lyft — a sign of our impatient and self absorbed times.
  • A heavy set dark skinned homeless man sleeps in the petite,manicured Allyn park surrounded by fancy apartment buildings and Alfa Romeos, it seems it is his home these days, and on the weekends he turns on the sprinklers to keep the grass a luscious green for people and dogs alike.
  • In summer the day begins with fluffy blanket-like clouds arriving off the coast and the moaning song of fog horns, and if you look carefully you can see it glide and swoosh through the streets, bathing the houses, cars, and young fathers carrying their babies in soft pouches.
  • I sit down on a bench at the dog park and engage in conversation about everything from parrots to politics, celebrating the clever wild animals living in our city, and trying to find some comfort and sense amidst the unfathomable disharmony of the people who wish us to vote for them.
  • There’s a food place called Outerlands, built of re-purposed woods and metals, it is appropriately “out there” by the dark grey ocean, and it serves an amazing dish called “eggs in jail,” hands-down the strangest and best egg dish I’ve ever tasted.

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