How to Express the Golden Gate Homesick Blues

We’re coming to the end of National Poetry Month and I want to share a poem I wrote a few years ago in a poetry workshop. I was living in England at the time, feeling very homesick for San Francisco, as well as nostalgic for a time when I was more mobile than I am now.

So this was the result – the first poem I’d written since I was a child, in fact. For this collection of emotions, I found the process of writing a poem very cathartic.The location is the waterfront near to the base of the Golden Gate Bridge at Fort Point. For those of you who remember the scene in Vertigo where Kim Novak falls in the water – that’s where I’m talking about!

A.K. Andrew,,a writers notebook ,Golden Gate Bridge, Fort Point

Under the Golden Gate by A.K. Andrew

Fort Point

Ghosts of blue-bellies dash between chill, meagre quarters
Running up concrete steps
Running up the flag of
the Red Brick Fort
Alone facing the Pacific Ocean
Now nestled beneath rumbling red girders of the Bridge.
An Alliance of Gateway and Protector of
The City
Our City.

White foamy tentacles crash, split
Rusting chain links,
Goliath chain
Serving only to taunt, not protect
A leap to the rocks or giant watery mouth inviting in
it’s enormity, its moving depth beckoning.

Agonizing beauty surround once more
Pacific blasts tearing at hair and heart
A white rogue wave rises up
hitting crumbling brick, splashing me
Laughing still
we cycle home on the bays blue edge
warmed by love, vigour,

A.K. Andrew, Fort Point, Golden Gate Bridge,,a writers notebook

A.K. Andrew at Fort Point

Fort Point, Golden Gate Bridge,A.K Andrew, , a writers notebook

Fort Point under the Golden Gate Bridge by A.K Andrew

How do you feel about happy memories? Does it make you sad to think of them and wish that things were still the same, or do you feel fortunate to have had the good times to look back on? Perhaps you don’t like to dwell on the past at all, but prefer to look forward rather than back.

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Many Thanks!

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  1. Love it. Love the way it combines a real sense of place with the finely incised memories attached to that place. And I also appreciate and understand the way you feel an ownership of the city even though far away. It seems to me that Americans sing and write about places in the same as the Irish do, but I don’t think it has been a popular subject for English writers…or have I missed something? Are there just as many poems/songs etc celebrating an English village or urban landscape – an English equivelent of Sandburg’s Chicago or Sweet Home Alabama or Fort Point?
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    • Thanks so much Bridget. And I think you are absolutely right about Americans being attached to places in the same way the Irish are. I would constantly hear in the UK disbelief at what people just perceived as American blind patriotism, but I think a lot of situations are actually closer to what you are talking about i.e. love of place. The English aren’t as effusive in general I think is as much the issue as anything else – a generalisation of course – because despite the complaints about the weather etc. most Brits would not consider living anywhere else. And of course there are poems that have lines such as ‘Oh to be in England, now that spring is here etc. Thanks so much for your insightful comment:-)
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  2. What a lovely poem! I remember the first time I came to San Francisco (from Nevada) – I felt like Dorothy approaching the Emerald City. It was love at first sight and to this day, I never tire of watching the fog roll in.
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  3. I’ve never been to San Francisco but this definitely made me want to visit. I’ve moved around so much in my life, that there are many aspects of my earlier years that are firmly in the past. I think if I were to visit some places from my childhood, I would be filled with memories and nostalgia. I don’t really wish to go back into the past, but it is definitely nice to remember experiences that I had and how I felt at that time.
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    • It’s particularly strange to visit places from childhood, as they really don’t look the same for a myriad of reasons. Ive done it several times, but it’s good to remind ourselves of where we come from sometimes I think. And its certainly great to be able remember the good times with fondness.
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  4. The ratio of happy memories to not-so-happy memories in my life ‘leaves room for improvement’, shall we say, and (with the possible exception of the time shortly after getting my undergraduate degree) there really aren’t any periods in my past that I would want to revisit for more than an hour or two, so I will cast my vote for preferring to look forward rather than back.
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  5. A.K., I loved your poem. How you must have longed to return to San Francisco. And you did! I’m a forward looking person but I love to return to my storehouse of happy memories. Sometimes they involve people I’ve loved who are no longer with me. But that doesn’t mean I dwell on my sadness. It makes me feel better to remember the good times and some of their quirks that I laughed at then and can laugh at now.
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  6. I like your poem a lot. I lived in San Francisco for 10 years a long time ago and think back on that time and place often. What an amazing city. We were quite poor then but there were so many things to do there. The Golden Gate is one of the places to miss. I am glad for the memories.
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  7. I really don’t think too much about the past. Well, except for my social nightmares that I relive over and over again, tortured by the memories of my own failures in life. Wait… did I say that out loud?
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  8. I always feel happy for the memories, A.K. I feel that all our thoughts and memories are what makes us who we are today. Hopefully, we are happy with that product/entity, so we should cherish the memories that have brought us to that point. Cheers!
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