The September 2006 Edition of Street Spirit

A publication of the American Friends Service Committee


National AFSC AFSC Economic Justice BOSS Website



In this issue:

Police Raids on Fresno Homeless

Memorial to Mary Who Died

New Orleans After Katrina

Troubles for the Berkeley Housing Authority

Link Between Foster Care and Homelessness

An Epidemic of Rising Poverty

Angel Behind Prison Bars

Blaming Street People for Cody's Demise

MASC Storage Lockers Offer New Help

Interview with Osha Neumann, Artist/Attorney

Resisting Unjust CEO Pay Rates

Liberation from Hell of Addiction

Poor Leonard's Almanack: On Social Change

Sept. Poetry of the Streets

Review of Jan Steckel's Poems


July 2006

June 2006

May 2006

April 2006

March 2006

February 2006

January 2006

November 2005

October 2005

September 2005

August 2005

July 2005

June 2005

May 2005

April 2005

March 2005

February 2005




Street Spirit is published by American Friends Service Committee.

All works are copyrighted by the authors.

The views expressed in Street Spirit are those of the individual authors alone, and not necessarily that of the American Friends Service Committee.

September Poetry of the Streets

A Man and a Scone
by Joan Clair

A man wearing lifeless clothes
sits in dark shadows against a wall.
He chews on a desolate-looking scone
without the relish of a dog for a bone
and asks for nothing, nothing at all.

These shadows surprise on a bright, sunny day
with brightly lit people going their way.
Who expects to see shadows of humans on stone
cast out of the light, cast out of their homes.

Did he ever have one, this darkly lit man?
Was he ever anywhere,
where a friend took his hand?

As the scone crumbles
it dissolves in his face
where nothing is left
of hope, not a trace.

by Joan Clair

It's hard to find any place
in the world that wants you.
Maybe that's why when I see
people pushing shopping carts
on the streets,
injured birds,
neglected animals,
and children crying
to miles of indifference,
I care.

Past Trouble
by Mary Meriam

Her suicide attempt was unsuccessful.
His father couldn't crush his chest

She survived decades of addictions.
He did his time in prison and moved on.

Her mother sunk her claws into her soul.
His relatives were slaughtered all at once.

Still walking, though wounded, we
Recognize each other's invisible arrows

Stuck in heart, back, heel, head, thigh.
But like a live arrow, with spirit force,

You shot at me a sign that said
Peace sister walking-wounded,

Let's laugh at pain, shake hands,
And dance.

She Lost Her Footing
by Mary Meriam

As we descended
pandemonium rose to meet us

my blood froze in its veins
and fled.

After months
I have written a sound:

Where is my sister
who once lived?

If I could have been the earth
instead of star-gazing...

But now I am the earth
for her, gentle, receiving.

by Mary Meriam

Young bird, lost, alone
Hunkered on dirt at dusk
Not hidden or hurt

Facing mighty gusts of wind
Too much for his tiny wings
Peers at me as I approach

A giant in his black-rimmed eyes
That show no fear, only the hard,
Cold fate of falling.

by Mary Meriam

Lying in bed, I turn out the lamp
and feel grateful for home.
Leaning on the oak this afternoon,
I heard water gurgling,
then realized it was sap rising
through this old wounded oak.
At least I'm still alive,
with covers over me, cold toes,
and memories on a quiet night.

Children of the Night
by Juanita J. Martin

They were brought to America, like the slaves of long ago;
some of them were as young as 12 years of age.
Their tender innocence became the sick pleasures of grown men.
They did not know the language or their rights as human beings.
Their very culture was in shock;
little ones are sacrificed for a few dollar bills, sometimes by their own relatives.
They cried alone in a sea of confusion and lustful eyes.
A woman before their time; they have seen life at its worst.
A slave to sin and shame; death can only spare them pain.
No kind strangers to save them; where can they go?
Time may not heal these wounds of iniquity.
As victims of society, their pleas for justice go unanswered,
for they are indigent castaways of another land.
Forced into a degenerate world of unscrupulous opportunists,
some reluctantly adjust to becoming children of the night.

Spirit of the Street
by Claire J. Baker

can you spare a
dime, a quarter, a buck?"
(You can't? Too busy? Too tired?)
"Bless you."

Why not
learn to be like
the homeless in spirit --
even to those who shun us,
have no time for us?

Life's Deepest Longing
by Judy Jones

Recently reading about the wealthy elderly woman in NYC, dying in squalor, I realized if we continue to allow before our eyes, our children's eyes, and god's eyes, people to eat out of garbage cans, and to live and die on concrete streets, can we really blame our children for allowing the same to happen to us?

I don't think we can. But if we all worked in our own unique ways to open hearts and minds to the people before us, starving and dying on the streets, couldn't that ripple of kindness carry over to all the people in our lives, including our aging parents, perhaps treating them gentler, with greater love and deep respect?

I watch children walk by homeless people with parents telling them to ignore them, when giving life to life is our deepest longing, and I wonder is this why there are so many wars raging on this planet?

But if one child sees their parents respecting life, offering a warm smile and aid to the homeless person before them, wouldn't the child's young impressionable mind be filled with the thought that life is sacred and giving is wonderful?

One day in time, will people look back on this period in history and ask how a world that called itself civilized allowed any person to die homeless and hungry?

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