Sharon Coleman

Sharon Coleman is a fifth-generation Northern Californian. She writes for Poetry Flash, co-curates the reading series Lyrics & Dirges, and co-directs the Berkeley Poetry Festival. She’s the author of a chapbook, Half Circle, and a book of micro-fiction, Paris Blinks. Her poetry and fiction appear in several publications, including Your Impossible VoiceWhite StagAmbush Review. She’s been nominated twice for a Pushcart and once for a micro award for blink fiction. She received a scholarship from the Luso-American Foundation to attend the Disquiet Literary Conference in Lisbon and was a finalist for the Jane Underwood poetry prize. Sharon grew up in San Mateo and is now based in Berkeley.

Poems on Belonging

LAUREL CREEK/ARROYO DE LOS LAURELES

	windless nights
cricketsong     
        opens ears      
past tvs
	to rhythms      
                          once folding
rancho de las pulgas

        into evening harmonics
californios            
	and costanoans

who survived missions    
          		exhaled tired
into deepening cobalt
     	crowning oaks and figs

	before contact
                     	ramaytush kept clear
        fields around freshwater
			           to catch deer
        who lowered
                                   lips to stream
        laurels and chestnuts 
                                   willow-bowed homes
                   bent towards
      			           its wide banks 
	
	warm evenings
               	the selfsame cricketsong        
        hints hillsdale boulevard’s curves       
                        follow a creekbend
        behind houses—
                   slow waters carve
                   against concrete
                   channels
		       narrowing          
	            below streets
                       in measures  
	               of earthtime


SOURCES

the map won’t show
	more
than two blue lines 
	cupping steep terrain—
one flows east         
	along the steep northern 
slope, yankee-named 
	for a sugar haul
another stream seeps 
	from wary ghosts 
of the county’s 
	poor farm rubble
of the unmarked
	ssalson town
this east bend snakes 
	round the southern side
flows through laurel roots 
	into its twin
just before fernwood street

	the creek     a confluence
increased by drainage
	a pipe extends 
from library grounds
	old french crique 
with krik old norse  
	maybe middle dutch kreke
unknown ultimate origin
	whatever flows
into words so fluently
	sourced by unmapped
springs trickling 
	through embankments
of pixels and ink

Copyright © 2022 by Sharon Coleman. These poems were presented at the 2022 National Poetry Month Celebration sponsored by San Mateo Public Library and the City of San Mateo. Used with permission of the author.

Notes: Sharon Coleman was born and raised in the City of San Mateo, in San Mateo County. Her father, Richard H. Coleman, was the City Planner who worked hard to create the Downtown Plan. Prior to revitalization efforts in 1972, B-Street had a number of dive-bars. Mr. Coleman included mix-use—which was rare for a downtown and attracted many businesses—and planned for high density apartment living with shopping and restaurants in walking distance. He also supported the renovation of San Mateo’s historic train station. (Built in 1863, the station was the midpoint on the San Francisco to San Jose railroad. It witnessed many historical events including the visit of President Theodore Roosevelt, who came through town by train in 1909.)