Blues for the Homeless

I am amazed at some homeless elders’ carts,/ blankets and clothes in neat folds,/ layers of grace in intricate space,/ Crimes of legalized hate,/ may take the carts of the homeless away/ but cannot separate them from God/ whose home is in their heart/ with or without a shopping cart.


(lyrics for unwritten blues)

by Claire J. Baker

The Liberty Bell is cracked
O Lord, the Bell is cracked
But we all goin’ forward
Ain’t no lookin’ back.

The Liberty Bell is shining
Near glowing in the dark
But we all feeding pigeons
A-sittin’ in the park.

We come from Highway 61
All the way to Philly.
We gotta play the blues
“lowdown shaking chilly.”

(After Street Spirit photo of Son House, blues great, at Liberty Bell)


From the Bus

by George Wynn

From the bus along Turk
I see a forlorn face
I knew from school
wearing patched up clothes
rolling a cigarette
standing in the Mission
Rescue line for a hot meal

Back then he would
dress so sharp
he was the big deal
playing the horn so sweet
making the church ladies weep
begging for more of the music treat

I wanted to jump off the bus
throw myself in his arms
saying, “hey man remember me?”
but then I thought for what it’s worth
perhaps his feelings are really hurt
him being an out-of-work exile who
never left San Francisco and has no
home on the streets where he was born


Shopping Cart

by Joan Clair

It is an art to keep one’s life together
in a shopping cart,
to be a consumer in reverse
shopping, storeless, in the universe.
It is an art to live within the means
and meaning of a shopping cart,
outside the many rooms
of those who, over consumed,
throw marketing excess out in rage,
screaming at the lack of meaning
stuffing their lives with waste,
standing in the way of simply being.
I am amazed at some homeless elders’ carts,
blankets and clothes in neat folds,
layers of grace in intricate space,
an orderly humbleness
so out of step with sanctified numbness
that one could fall apart outraged
at those who order homelessness away —
those who could discover on their knees,
in prayer and praise, a reason to believe
before essentials bare as these
of those who live with dignity.
Organized disgrace, crimes of legalized hate,
may take the carts of the homeless away
but cannot separate them from God
whose home is in their heart
with or without a shopping cart.


Street Gig

by Carol Denney

I play on the street today
in front of Coldwell Banker
unless it pours
the closer it gets
to Christmas
the more generous
shoppers become
if you wear
the right shoes
it’s a little sad
they love the
really bright colors
if you wear
the right shoes
you get paper
otherwise it’s
nickels and dimes

The incomparable Son House, one of the greatest of the legendary Mississippi Delta blues musicians, stands at the cracked Liberty Bell in Philadelphia. Photo by Dick Waterman



Left Untold

Haiku by Joan Clair

Blankets on the street,
sleeping bag against a wall
stories left untold.

Great Highway Dream

by George Wynn

All the anxiety of being
homeless and penniless
makes him tired
He drifts off to sleep
early on the sand dunes
the pelt of rain
upon his blanket and
face is something more
He imagines it to be a
hillside waterfall
near a monastery
and hall leading
to a room and bed
and prayer books

He wakes refreshed
it is time to leave the city
to hitch hike to permit
more space in his life
which lays before him
like Ocean Beach


In a Park’s Green

by Joan Clair

Three homeless men are asleep
on a sunny day in a park’s green
nearby small children on swings.
Nearby, their mother is watching —
not the homeless men,
but the children swinging.

Praise God for a little trust.
Praise God for the mother not seeing
the homeless men as threatening.
Praise God, the Mother of All,
for watching, embracing,
the children, their mother,
the homeless men —
all equal in the world of being,
reflected in a park’s green in sunlight.


Muir Woods

by Claire J. Baker

Breathing redwoods’ exhaled quiet
I view wild beauty
at ease among trunks,
twigs and streams.
Deep inside my being
I find home.

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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.