Art Saved My Life

A sun worth of passion sparked in me my new life. It had meaning with the loss of my mom. I gained a new self. I started drawing a year later. I wanted to escape from my grief in high school. I was taught how to paint — colors became my best friend.

The young artists of Youth Spirit Artworks create a brightly colored banner of heart-shaped art.


Art Saved My Life

by Mary Stackiewicz

My mom died when I was 11. I had a choice to go down a road good or bad. I made a choice for my future good! I moved to Oakland with my aunt in July 2004.

Now in Oakland, surrounded by violence, hatred, and drugs, I needed to find a way to stay off the streets, so I started drawing Manga and Anime style. Marmalade Bay and Air Gear are the first Animes I was introduced to!

A sun worth of passion sparked in me my new life. It had meaning with the loss of my mom. I gained a new self. I started drawing a year after my move. I wanted to escape from my grief later in high school.

I was taught how to paint — colors became my best friend. My eyes opened in fashion class. It opened up my eyes to the multi-canvas world. I could use anything as a canvas, and I would. Later, being taught to spray paint, I found I was good at this, too. But, not great.

Now, I will pursue my goals, and one day I will be Great.

Art Saved My Life.



Money Smart

by Kal SB

They say the poorer the people, often the more generous.

It takes need, often, to learn Generosity.


Homeless man on the curb, beside my old car,

at the entrance to the freeway.

Wealthy man pulls up next to my old car, in a Mercedes.

Windows down. He scoffs to his friend:

“I can’t give my money away to EVERY homeless man I see.

I wouldn’t have this car, if I did!

You don’t get to where I am,

THROWING your money away like that.”


… Sounds just like my dad.


“I wouldn’t be able to keep this car,

If I gave all my money away willy-nilly.

I’d have to see it,” he adds, grinning complacently into the distance.


… But really, would that be

SUCH a HORRIBLE thing? I wonder to myself.


“You gotta be RESPONSIBLE, and put YOURSELF and YOUR

family FIRST,” he asserts, driving on by as the light turns.


I shake my head as he disappears.


Okay, Rugged Individualist Capitalist, with your TIGHT Tribal

mentality … So much for the Larger family of HUMANKIND.


I hand the homeless man a $20,

and then let off on my car’s ancient groaning brakes,

As he thanks me sincerely, tears in his eyes.

I nod. I feel his struggle.

And besides, I need to cut back on my weekly booze buying anyway.

My healthy loss, for his survival Gain.



Hurricane Katrina

by Brandon Harris

people lost homes like that. A lot of kids were lost. Grandmas and stuff. I don’t know how many houses torn down, I need to read all about that. I see people lost their life over that. I care about them.

People’s homes destroyed. How many died? How many alive? I don’t know. How many kids? How many adults? I listened to Jamie Foxx’s music. I see people’s kids in the music video. People hungry, help people. They need food over there. Me trying to help.



A Thou

by Will Vaughan

Broke cause hope is my only bank. Moms works 2 jobs and the cash flow is nothing but a ripple in a puddle. Broke cause my kin always fiends for their fix. Just broke.



Creatures of Flight

by Birdwatcher

The trees are beautiful. I want to take a walk. The birds pass from above and sit to watch. How many things have they seen? From their view… anything. I want to ask them things.

I saw a seagull take out a drowning pigeon from the ocean waves once .. Not sure if he was saving him or picking out his meal. Could have mistaken him for a fish I guess …

Anyway, the pigeon was fine.



My Power

by Miyu Shindo

My power is to change what is around me. It’s determined by whether or not I can reach into Every chest of Every person I encounter. I can grasp their souls and Leave a Little Piece of Me. Some sort of Indescribable Magic. Some sort of Change. Some sort of Compassion. The ability to Understand ME, depending on the situation. For them to hear me and Listen to what I am Truly meaning, not what They want to hear.

I want my Art to do this. I want Who I Am as a person and what I do day to day to do this as well … I want to inspire Everyone I meet Every day, no matter What our differences. I want to bring out passion and wonder and inspiration in Everyone’s hearts, and in doing so it will Reflect and Inspire ME, too.




by Will Vaughan

The sky is gray. Clouds surround me and my mind. Splashes of water in every footstep I take. Muddy Waters is the only artist in my playlist. Rain is the only person who speaks, the only thing I see, the only thing that be. Thank god for my nickname sunshine.



Rent Attention

by Incognito

Lies, Lies, Lies.

Masks, Masks, Masks.

The truth’s right under your nose.

It’s not about what’s hidden.

It’s not about what’s disguised.

It’s about you. YOU don’t know.




by emeka

Once, the moon shone within my

vision lies, insidious there was a mood

perceived blankly within my stare, and I’d learn

to glare in a way that brings me and level I

do not dwell, I live within a monsoon I call a

midnoons stare.



The Colors Of Our Flag

by Randall Longton

First, RED, the Color of the blood that Spills,

And Flows like a river thru the mountains and hills.

You can’t erase the Truth with a handful of pills,

Since everything we see, we seem to Kill.


The Constitution may as well be a Will,

To give up all your rights,

And we’ll send you a Bill,

for a debt so huge it’s unpaid Still!


Lookin’ at my city from the window sill,

People out of work cuz they closed the Mill.

It was a big Red building used to fly The Flag,

“U.S.A!!” I’m not inclined to brag,

because most of our history is a total drag!

Angry and Red, the First color of the Flag.


WHITE, That’s the next color most grand —

Unless you’re Black or Brown or weren’t born a Man.

Military, Industrial, That’s the plan. Complex?

Not really, if you understand

The Power Structure, as it Rapes the land.


Controlling the media with a silent hand,

“Tonite, White Police kill another black man!”

People get mad when the story ran,

on the 6 o’clock news, But it’s all a sham.

Put that officer on the stand!


But it ain’t no fight, Cuz the jury’s all White,

They hang on tight,

to immoral values they believe are right.

They still have a home, a place to sleep at night —

totally oblivious to the Homeless plight,

As they salute the flag with its stripes of White.


I’m almost thru, all that’s left is BLUE.

The color of the flag we can most relate to!

Cuz that’s how we feel when the day is thru —

Want to change the world, don’t know what to do.

People come together, Is what we need to do,

cuz you’re a lot like me,

And I’m JUST like You.

Everybody knows what we’ve been thru!


Blue is the color of The Junkie’s Vein,

nodding out in a box in the pourin’ rain,

Underneath the overpass tryin’ to numb the pain

Of a lifetime of struggle from the Ghetto to ‘Nam,

and he never talks about the things that went on.

A patriotic addict who served with pride,

back home and homeless, contemplatin’ suicide.

But he knows he can’t do it,

even though he gets blue,

As he stands with a sign

Watchin’ cars drive thru.


THESE are the COLORS of our FLAG.

It’s a LOT of people in Body Bags.

That’s why some might be inclined,

To take a knee and Reflect,

Instead of following Blind.


Young artists paint the Agua Es Vida mural as part of Youth Spirit Artworks public art program.




I’m scared of what happens next. Like where will I go, you know? Like why am I living? I’m not like suicide or anything if your thinking ima kill myself. I’m not. I jut fear I will be doing nothing. I have nothing to become. Nothing to look forward too. I feel that I’ve lost already.




by The Bard

The paint dries, storm clouds form in the sky.

A bus ride, time to look at life

Gaze and wonder… why?


A question which has no answer.

God knows, our each and every thought.

Even before we speak.


Hear here, feel the wind,

Hear the chimes dangling a moment of silence.

Christ Jesus moving in between it all,

All of life…

Will I Live To Be 30?

by Comatli Venesuerez

Will I live to be 30? Have 5 kids

And wear jeans that fit but I

Still wear a belt? Just jeans is

All that I wear, no shirt or shoes,

Like a mexican dad. Will my belt

Be used when I need to replace

The chain of a swing? Or used

When someone spills the ink

On my screen print project?




by Brandon Harris

Music makes me feel great.

Listening to my earphones.

Make me do work better.

Hip-hop all the time.

Ja Rule. Prize. Souljah Boy.

I also listen to lovesongs.

I like different music all the time.

I get so much more work done.

And I start dancing at BART stations.

Everybody look at me like I’m crazy.

But I don’t care.

Even if they keep looking.

I run out of the station, smiling.

“Haha! You can’t get me!”

Like hide and go seek.

I do this at Ed Roberts, too.

Everybody staring at me.

They disturb me, but not when

My earphones are on.

I like that music protects me.



YSA: What It Is for Me

by Brandon Harris

YSA. I was told about it by my teachers. They said it was a nonprofit organization that helps youth.

I met Sally who said, “Come in.” Right away, I knew I would like to do art. I had done it before in school, all kinds of art — drawing and painting. My style is abstract.

I come here five days a week. I have made friends here. If YSA wasn’t here, I would get a job at Target. I used to have a job at the movie theater. I told her the lease on the movie theater was up. So, Sally took me here up to full time. Now I have been here for years and stay here for the whole day.

If YSA didn’t exist, I would do art at home. It’s better here cause there are brothers and sisters, my friends. At home, I would not have art supplies. I had a teacher here named Victor, who would not have been able to help me if I worked at home.

In four years here, I have changed myself. The most important thing is how I can teach other kids art. YSA is important because it gives young people a chance to do art. It’s really good. It’s art!

Sally pumps me up. She is caring and loving. She makes dinner for us. She gives our stipends. She gives me a ride home sometimes. I would call her my hero. She is like a mom here to help us a lot, all the time. I’m her guy.



For Real

by Incognito

Problems, problems, problems, ahhh

They’re exhausting.

Wish I could push them off a cliff

and never hear about them again.



Funny Poem

by Comatli Venesuerez

I wish something would happen

Like if someone slipped on a

Marble and fell on a family

Picnic. What if the priest dropped

The slippery baby after it was

Baptized, and the after party

Still went on and the live

Band breaks the stage?



New Mural

by Brandon Harris

It’s a really good mural.

My friends were there,

Trying to do a whole lot.

I did a frog. Mountains. Water. Fishes. A goose.

Spraypaint. First time spray painting.

I did it Saturday and Sunday.

Drank a LOT of coffee.

Came back here and decorated a cup.

A deer on the mural, too.

They put our names on the mural.

It turned out good.

We might do the other side of the building…




by Brandon Harris

Relationship. I share parts of me, like, with my ex-girlfriend in high school. She was my first girlfriend at camp. Her looking at me as a strong, athletic guy. People I know and miss… we went to five years of high school with her and them. Freshman through senior year.

I see people out here are hurt in lots of ways. I see a guy talking about his lost girlfriend. I saw a girl whose boyfriend tried to hurt her and throw her in a dumpster. I have to protect her. Use my hands…. Stories make you vulnerable.



No More


I am not open to the yelling, but I’m used to it cuz I love you.


You tore me to pieces, never asking me why.

You stripped my layers, making me wish I was gone.

You made me tired from those constant put downs.

Mother, you’re a devil. You stripped so many layers.


I feel invisible from the pain you cause because you’re selfish.

That’s why I do not want to make up with you. You’re two-faced,

And I can’t bear to see your face anymore. No More.


I am used to the darkness that you drove me to.

To the edge, and pushed me away.

I say I can’t love you, but I love you.


And now I want to cry in happiness, that you’re gone.

… But that’s not true.

Because I love you, and these many tears I have shed for you,

But you don’t make it right.



Gay Flower

by Jay Hill

Growing up as a little boy I realized I was different from other boys because of my goals and sexuality. In my world I was taught being gay was wrong so I had to hide who I am for a very long time and even till this day I hide who I am and it saddens me. I don’t wanna be flower bud for the rest of my life, I wanna blossom and show off my pedals, shine through the sunlight and be free just like my colors. But in my world, you can’t be free or express yourself.



LiFE nOw

by Mark Yutt

It’s almost summer and I can’t wait. I don’t know if I want to travel, stay home, sleep, play video games or what. I most definitely will sleep though, I’ve been working hard in school and the projects they got me doing is crazy. Low key want to go to LA and see some family. I miss them down there also. I haven’t seen my cousins so yeah, summer’s looking pretty great this year.




by Comatli Venesuerez

The sun yelled at me, threw a shoe and told me to get out, threw my future Mexican dad jeans and burned it to ashes now I won’t live past 30. Now life is rained on and I lived past 30 watching people slip on black ice like it was a broadway musical. I will throw a snowball at the sun someday and call it rain dance.




by Brandon Harris

Him a famous boxer. Him talked trash about people. “Sting Like a Bee.” Him a heavyweight champ. Him think nobody beat him.

Him say, “I knock him out real quick” to whoever in the ring with him. Him say, “Float like a butterfly, sting like a bee.”

Him say to the other boxer, why you talk trash. On and on, him get pissed off. They fight.

Him can’t fight no more, cuz him dead.

A Life Consecrated to Compassion and Justice

On the bleak streets of the Tenderloin, a sister took a stand against inhumanity. Her solidarity was inspired by the beatitudes and consecrated to the poor.

The Invisible Natural Cathedral of People’s Park

Builders, please go away. Allow the beauty of an Invisible Natural Cathedral to remain, a living shrine of open space that gives refuge to all people.

Street Spirit Interview with Sister Bernie Galvin

This atrocity was happening in a very wealthy city. It was happening right under our noses. It was very visible. And there was not the united voice of the faith community speaking out. That was the spark of Religious Witness. From that moment, I knew what I had to do.

Interview with Sister Bernie Galvin, Part Two

“What’s forming in my mind is Jesus in the temple when he became angry at the unjust and very exclusive systems of society. That is the very reason that there are the poor and the marginalized. It is not enough just to provide food, clothing and housing.”

‘Such Is the Magic and Spirit of People’s Park’

The mayor has no understanding of the awful defeat the loss of People’s Park would be. No comprehension of the cost in lives and the sacrifices people have made for the Park’s ideals. So many still find it a refuge in a country needing a political and spiritual overhaul.

I Remember Who I Am

“And Now Where?” Lithograph by Rockwell Kent

By and by, I calm down. I meditate. I pray. It is a beautiful day. The sun is setting. I weave my way toward the spot where I sleep, where nobody knows where to find me. I look to the stars, and say my prayers to the God who believes in Me.