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 Voice, White Stag, Ambush 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.)