The September 2005 Edition of Street Spirit

A publication of the American Friends Service Committee


National AFSC AFSC Economic Justice BOSS Website



In this issue:

Alarming Rise in Hate Crimes

Wave of Murders of Homeless Are A Warning Sign

Bumfights: An Incitement to Hate Crimes

Hate, Violence and Death on Main Street USA

Brazil Murders of Homeless Go Unsolved

Social Security Is NOT in Crisis

Time for Health Care for All

Cindy Sheehan's Unanswerable Question

Lawsuit Against California Hotel

Tribute to the Love Lotus Gave

A Mother's Plea for Homeless Son

Poor Leonard's Almanack: Carl G. Jung

Sept. Poetry of the Streets


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.

Poetry of the Streets

by Claire J. Baker

There are roses
yellow and restful
growing among weeds
beside an empty cottage.
They peek unseen
but by me, a stray cat,
a lost city butterfly
which pollinates timidly.

A forsaken old woman
canes by, almost turns
toward the ragged plot,
almost sees gritty roses,
velvet baskets of gold
survive without care.
I walk away
to the tap of her cane.

Ubermensch in Berkeley
by Michael Creedon

Ubermensch in Berkeley,
he walks the avenues.
He wears a full-length leather coat
but the neon skeleton shows through.
He picks the bones of the homeless
and spits them on the ground.
The pigeons form a circle
and pic-pic-pic them from the dirt.

Ubermensch in Berkeley,
he feels not gravity.
He grins a leather
smirk at all the suffering.
He eats the dying deaf and other afflicted.
He relishes prosthetic limbs and glass eyes.
Sometimes he seems gone for awhile
but he always comes back again

Sometimes in an El Dorado
or maybe a Mercedes Benz --
he likes the leaden color silver --
it doesn't show the dents
and the spilled blood blends right in.
Ubermensch the savior,
he keeps the population strong.
They say that it's a good thing
when Ubermensch comes to town.

Slowly Towards the West
by Michael Creedon

I'm not afraid --
just a little scared sometimes.
What's to be afraid of?
Just everything, and I'm used to that.
I'm not drinking or acting crazy,
so hey! -- what's the big deal?

I don't think that the time's too soon
though we may be mostly
food for the moon.
Crossing the water is a great long haul,
going down Telegraph and all,
so I'm all snuggled down in my
Kansas City vest.
Moving slowly towards the West.

by Joan Clair

At least the nests are left alone,
abandoned homes in the bare trees.
When the birds left, they did go free.
No money making prospects here.
No "for rent" signs appear
for birds who need
a nest in which to rest and feed.
And no citation caused the flight
of birds from their nests late at night --
no "neighbors" calling the police,
forcing them to wake from sleep.
No one sounded an alarm
to move them on or bring them harm.
No officers patrolled their trees.

The river of blood
by Edvino Ugolini

The blood of innocent victims
Is still flowing slowly
Along the ancient banks
Of a river passing through
a suffering land
the water still filthy of blood
asks for justice
for a people
torn by history
and asks for those
who are still hoping
a future of peace and fraternity.

by Edvino Ugolini

We will block the low intents
To stop the cry of this people
We will reject the usurping hand
For this people can hold out his hand
In fraternal friendship
The only important thing
Which unifies in a perpetual exchange
Of experiences and archaic knowledge
Yes, we will block the low intents
To stop the cry of this people.

Instant Messaging
by Nance Wogan

60 years today
August 6th,
This very minute
Tea Time--4 p.m.
The Hiroshima bomb fell.

I turn off the t.v.
A cat who comes each morning
To sip fresh water from me
Wanders by
But sees me and in fear runs off.

I fill the bowl once more
And try NOT to block out the thirst,
The thirst of the Japanese survivors,
Or even worse, the ones too parched
to have made it.

Too burned to tell the tale
Or give the constant

Never again.

Parking Space
by Joan Clair

Who does the parking space belong to now?
Neighbor One who parked by the house
of Neighbor Two, making it hard for him
to get his car in and out of his space;
or Neighbor Two who complained about Neighbor One
and never got anywhere, never got him to move his car
or respect or honor his space in any way; never got justice.
What twist of fate created the present state
in which Neighbor Two, now homeless,
creeps into his parking space, under cover of darkness;
now on the other side of the law,
to park his car and sleep in it at night,
(a space which now could save his life)
avoiding the eyes of Neighbor One who still stalks around
and gobbles up other people's parking spaces
like they're all his ride on the roller coaster.

Let's Squat the Condos
A song by Carol Denney

they're putting up condos all over town
acres of condos bringing me down
tiny little condos no parking no pool
the condos are empty the shelters are full

let's squat the condos it's cheaper than rent
let's squat the condos that's where the housing went
that's why there are homeless and the housing trust fund's dry
they keep building condos that no one can buy

well, Chevron and Mobile and Shell Oil did great
putting gas stations on prime real estate
who'll buy land that's poisoned? well, I'll tell you who
the rich to build condos to try to sell to you

let's squat the condos it's cheaper than rent
let's squat the condos that's where the housing went
that's why there are homeless and the housing trust fund's dry
they keep building condos that no one can buy

we really need shelters and SROs too
we really need childcare and gardens to walk through
and places to gather so people can meet
but all we get are condos or living in the street

let's squat the condos it's cheaper than rent
let's squat the condos that's where the housing went
that's why there are homeless and the housing trust fund's dry
they keep building condos that no one can buy

they say economics is what it's all about
building low-cost housing just doesn't pencil out
well, I've got the answer my research has shown
if we squat the condos the poor will have a home

let's squat the condos it's cheaper than rent
let's squat the condos that's where the housing went
that's why there are homeless and the housing trust fund's dry
they keep building condos that no one can buy

by Husayn Sayfuddiyn

If it is aggressive,
If it kills,
Commits genocide,
Spreads depleted uranium
Bombs civilians
Pollutes the earth,
Exploits the poor, seniors, youth,
And lies, cheats and steals --
To be on the Level
you'd have to admit
It is the Devil!

The Bitter Side of Flatbroke
by Mary Meriam

Some people lead an easy life, from birth
to death, connected, pampered, lucky, rich,
convinced that smiling fate defines their worth,
quite safe and snug and settled in their niche.
I wonder why I can't be one of them.
If I had money, I'd have time to write
and read and socialize with any femme
or butch or in-between who came in sight.
Or spend my time alone or take a trip.
Then I could call my life a life and not
this constant jungle fight to get a sip
of water, find a place to rest, too hot,
too cold, too worried, hungry, lost, alone.
Perhaps someone will throw this dog a bone.

by Joan Clair

When I see her, I think, "How remarkable!"
An elderly Asian lady, less than five feet tall,
dressed in Kimono clothes,
with dignity in her bearing.

With a pole slung over her shoulder,
she looks like she is going fishing;
like an archetype in an ancient Asian painting
in which people all but disappear
in landscapes of mountains and trees --
tiny figures in nature.

But she's not going fishing; she's going canning.
And there's nothing natural about the landscape,
or her proportion to it, in which she stands out
for being poor.

I watch her pry open a garbage can
with her pole near a bus stop.
Some people waiting for the bus are staring.
"She can't be Chinese," one says with contempt.

by Claire J. Baker

She belly props
a book of poems
as if it were a candle.

Sunrise reaches bedroom
lace curtain, dangles
dust-pearls on paper grain.

A rainbow moves up
and down a hair strand
she holds to the light.

Last week she was
homeless -- this morning
a bedroom queen.

the clash of titans
by Randy Fingland

the pyrotechs are
working overtime
in life
to light up death
bursting in air
is no soft pillow
flag aflame or not
any night in the world
where bomb noise
becomes a welcome sound
because it momentarily
drowns out
the constant wailing
of street-homed children

The Bagel Baker
by Perfesser Mark Creek-Water

The bakers bake the bagels every day
The dumpster sits out back nearby the door
And what they do not sell, they throw away
A hundred thousand bagels, maybe more

Are people going hungry every night?
Or am I just a poor deluded fool?
I want to know what's wrong, and what is right
Of things they just don't talk about in school

I see this bagel dumpster locked up tight
With locks and bars and quarter-inch-thick steel
I peek: inside some bagels are in sight
If I be hungry, how you think I feel?

Now should I mention their address?
No, they know who they are, I guess

Three Little Sisters
by Jan Steckel

The three little Salazar sisters from Salinas
come crestfallen into my bedroom some nights,
all crying with rotted teeth and gum abscesses.
The younger two are California-born.
I give them antibiotics and
send them to a Medicaid dentist
so the infections won't spread to their jaw or brain.
For the eldest, eight years old, I can do nothing,
because she was born in Mexico
so doesn't qualify for Medicaid.
I prescribe extra medicine,
knowing the mother will split it
between all three little girls.
I send them out crying.
Night after night, I ask myself again,
what kind of country denies an eight-year-old girl
relief from that kind of pain
because she was born
on the wrong side of the border
from her sisters?

1515 Webster St,#303
Oakland, CA 94612Phone: (510) 238-8080, ext. 303

E-mail: Spirit

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