I Am Here, Let’s Go Home: Poems of San Francisco, of Earlier Times and Places
Outskirts Press (2021)
Reviewed by Amy Lignor for Reader Views (12/31)
I was so excited to open this collection of poems because I am a HUGE fan of San Francisco. From the cool cable cars to what I consider to be the best NFL team out there (and, no, Cowboys fans need not send me bad letters about this), San Francisco is a large part of my soul. So I have to say I was truly excited to immerse myself in the collection of this man, Wayne Luthi, who did an immaculate job of bringing to life “The Golden City.”
Split into two sections: “The San Francisco Poems” and, Part II, “Earlier Poems, Earlier Times,” Mr. Luthi offers up everything from the feelings and the “moods” of both the city and its people, to introducing some amazing historical sites, like the control towers of Thailand that were a prominent feature during the Vietnam War. The words were so filled with kindness and love, beauty and power that it was not a difficult task to even smell the scent of the flowers Mr. Luthi described.
Not only will you find true gems in this book, you will no doubt discover some of the loveliest stanzas ever written. To better understand, from only one poem focused on the city, came stanzas that I will truly never forget. From ‘canticles of recollection,’ the poet states: “I, the city, am the surf of changing images, the cloister of quiet faces that long for a deeper vision that is hidden like some undiscovered moon over an undressed sea.” That, as you can see, is power, emotion, honesty and beauty, and truly sounds like the city has written its very own memoir for the world to see.
In the same glorious work, along with the stunning aspects of San Francisco, ‘pops’ up a more somber side of things. “I am Victorian elegance, tenement shredded-curtain poverty, an unshaven mission line, a Bergdorf Goodman coat and the most delicate hint of crystal glass perfume. I sleep with my feet under a cardboard blanket in the doorway of the forgotten on the altar of brokenness.” Yet again, another stanza that “screams” at you, offers the visual to your mind that you cannot shake. You can see from just this one poem that we’re talking about a collection that is a true tribute coming from a person who most definitely has stared at every curve of the streets and buildings in San Francisco; every piece of tinted glass in the historical homes; and has been kind enough to share all of this with the rest of us. And those are literally only small parts of a poem that you must not miss out on.
Part II is another fantastic idea. The author is “rewriting” past poems; transforming them a bit in order to present them from a point of view that has been updated, transformed and deepened by the years and the experiences he’s had since the original penning. From Kentucky knolls to Anwar Sadat, Wayne Luthi has surprises that crop up page after page. He even describes himself and his focus from a work that first appeared in 1976 called, “the poet” who “…takes seed from the womb of life’s depressions and turns this grain to the vicious thick of gold honey by surrendering to the sting.”
Each offering is intimate; it is a way into the mind of a poet, a man, and a person who observes life and is able to present, in just a few words, the artistic quality that’s all over this world. But, in the end, the San Francisco “experience” is the most unforgettable treat you will ever have. Whether you are a lover of poetry or not, do not miss out on this one; it is a definite “5-star” read!