April Poetry of the Streets

I found a haven where I can rest/ I found a haven, when in it, I feel blest./ It’s in a strange place though, surrounded by sounds/ of violence, sirens, people who are in need/ of a human touch of kindness./ Yes on this journey of homelessness/ I’ve found a place of Rest.

In Nightly Corners

by Claire J. Baker

I won’t stay long, dear world,

am merely passing through.

In nightly corners where I’m curled

won’t stay long, harsh world:

it rains & streets are pearled,

colors dark though eyes are blue.

Can’t stay here, wild world —

only passing through.

 

GANDHI’S BONES

by Claire J. Baker

must be glowing

like pearls

under candlelight

The awesome dear idea

of nonviolence

the natural cease & desist

of kindness coming from

every bone in one’s body

an irritation, then

the gorgeous glossing.

 

Remembering The Holocaust

by Claire J. Baker

Nazi guards engraved

a number on each

Jew’s wrist

like branding hides

of rounded-up cattle.

 

Then

long crowded boxcars,

little air,

no sanitation —

the numbers

imprisonment, lice, rats,

starvation,

sexual abuse,

inhumane experiments.

 

Finally

gas steamed from

showerheads —

bodies incinerated

in round-the-clock ovens

or naked bodies shoveled

into mass graves —

horrors photographed

into eternal infamy

while the “outside” world

mostly wore a mask!

In Jonathan Burstein’s painting, “Church,” a homeless man seeks a safe haven in the sanctuary of a church.

Haven

by Delaine Jones

I found a haven

where I can rest

I found a haven —

when in it,

I feel blest

 

It’s in a strange place though,

surrounded by sounds

of violence, sirens,

people who are in need

of a human touch

of kindness

 

Yes on this journey

of homelessness

I’ve found

a place of Rest.

 

Homeless

by Delaine Jones

Oh how I wish I had a home,

a place where I belong

where in it

all things I own

 

O how I wish I had a home,

where I would feel safe,

free to let me be me,

a place to invite

my family, my friends

a place to protect me

from the wind.

 

Oh how I wish I had a home

Home is where the heart is

they say,

and you wonder why

sometimes I’m happy,

sometimes I’m sad,

sometimes even mad.

 

Well it is because

my heart does not have a home

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Laura’s Law and the Danger of Forced Detention

“Art in Jail” by Jos Sances. Serigraph, Edition 120, 8 color, 22” x 30”“Art in Jail” by Jos Sances. Serigraph, Edition 120, 8 color, 22” x 30”

How much sweeter “Laura’s Law” sounds than Forced Detention or Treatment! Yet it all sounds an awful lot like the usual government arguments used to justify surveillance, control, invasion of privacy. Who is to say this new law won’t be used to punish and isolate the indigent and the ill?

How a Community Was Scattered to the Wind

Bulldozer.jpg Albany officials sent in bulldozers and haulers to demolish the homes and destroy the belongings of scores of homeless people at the Albany Bulb. Lydia Gans photo

At 4:30 a.m., the police came, 30 of them. Armed with assault rifles, they broke down our front gate, tore down the door to our living space and arrested us for lodging. Our home was destroyed, our puppy was taken to the pound and our possessions were scattered to the wind.

Oakland Gives Green Light to Massive Gentrification

Gentrify.jpg The proposed mixed-use infill development in Opportunity Area 2, along Oakland’s historic 7th Street commercial corridor. Poor people are conspicuously absent in this picture.

The West Oakland Specific Plan will target Opportunity Sites for redevelopment and maximum exploitation by wealthy developers. Low-income people need not apply, and have been abandoned to fend for themselves once this gentrification scheme gains traction. Prologis Inc. and California Capital Investment Group are spearheading this gentrification scheme.

Exposing the Untold History of Psychiatric Atrocities

Photo by R. Valentine Atkinson, reprinted from The History of Shock Treatment, by Leonard Roy Frank

Over its history, Street Spirit has published a series of in-depth reports on many different kinds of psychiatric abuses that have been carried out in the name of healing, yet often end up damaging and disabling people for life. In light of renewed calls for forced psychiatric detention under the guise of “helping the mentally ill,” we are collecting and re-publishing these stories in a new section “Psychiatric Abuses and Human Rights”. 

Laura’s Law Passed by S.F. Board of Supervisors

Shadows on the wall. A dance of liberation from dehumanization in locked psychiatric wards. Art by Tanya Temkin

“I really feel that if we move forward without full and adequate funding of our mental health system, this may be leading to a false hope of safety in our neighborhoods,” said Eric Mar. “And I worry that there’s a danger of further stigmatizing people with mental illness.”

The Artistic Vision of Charles Curtis Blackwell

His eyesight was severely damaged in an accident when he was young, yet Blackwell’s love for jazz and the blues shines through in his colorful paintings of musicians. To overcome the obstacle of his near-blindness, he stands extremely close to the canvas, his eyes only inches away from his brush strokes.