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The Poet, the Police, and the Spirit of the Sixties

“There was going to be a big demonstration the next day — people throwing things and stuff. Everybody was angry and I was just as angry as anybody else, but I was a pacifist and besides, if I threw anything, I’d probably hit my foot.” — Julia Vinograd

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Three Generations

One day a child was laid in my arms/ My first born, a daughter who looked like me,/ Who showed me unconditional love,/ This was a beautiful new experience/ To have a daughter,/ I was changed to my core … I was transformed/ I became somebody’s mama.

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The Survival of Poetry in the Face of Repression; Poetry, March 2011

  Since I am the voice of a violet, crushed by soldiers’ boots, I write poems… Russian poets in gulags, Jewish poets in death camps, African-American poets, women poets, gay and lesbian poets, have all faced cultures determined to suppress their voices. by Mary Meriam  poem is a monument to selfhood. A poem uses the […]

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February Poetry of the Streets

Judy Jones took this photograph of Mother Teresa’s Chapel in San Francisco. She writes: “In the picture I took, Angelic Supernatural Light flows from it! Her tiny chapels go beyond race religions age time location ... Unconditional love and Thanksgiving for our breath of life!”

Filing in, one by one,/ as if into an ark/ of loneliness, out of the rain/ the shelter, its gray/ emptiness anchored/ the bottom by green cots/ arranged in rows, boots/ tucked under, men asleep,/ rocked on the surface/ of watery dreams by a/ great storm never to end.

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January Poetry of the Streets

A homeless woman sets up a lonely camp on the side of the road in Santa Cruz.

Outside our window/ We spot on a rain-stripped/ eucalyptus trunk/ colors we’ve never seen,/ before: shades of yellow,/ gold, lime green, tan./ A homeless woman/ stripped of an easy life/ also reveals colors/ when we pause long, enough to sense and see.

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Poetry, April 2011

“Here We Are: Praising God and Serving One Another.” Art by Leon Kennedy

LENT 2011

(Spring Renewal)

by Maureen Hartmann

This year there have been
uprisings of the grassroots
against oppressive governments,
like Wisconsin, Egypt, Libya, Tunisia.
The protests are signs
of a growth in consciousness.
A maturation, like a small amount
of yeast in dough for a large loaf,
spreads throughout the Earth.
This year the grassroots implant,
even in many deaths,
seeds of hope and renewal.

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When Even the Sky Hurts

Berkeley poet Julia Vinograd.

Review by Mary Meriam “The writing of a poem is also the act of taking a stand against the sadness.” y homeless sister once dreamily said that she would like a wardrobe, a closet full of nice clothes. Clothes are a home for our bodies. Clothes broadcast to others where we stand in the world. […]

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Poetry, May 2011

“Here We Are: Praising God and Serving One Another.” Art by Leon Kennedy

The Hungriest People /

Song by Carol Denney/

the hungriest people in this town/
aren’t starving in the street/
they sit in fancy restaurants/
and worry what to eat/
the poorest people in this town/
without a single doubt/
conspire at boardroom tables/
how to drive poor people out/

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December Poetry of the Spirit

This poet connects/ the one word “gather”/ with the Quaker faith/ as in geese gather/ at lake’s edge before/ the V-flight south,/ as in snowflakes gather,/ mounded on roof tops/ before the downward slide,/ as in two homeless men/ gather around a steam vent/ on a city sidewalk.

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Berkeley shelter closes

The closure of the largest homeless shelter in Berkeley leaves many with nowhere to go

Writing for the Street Spirit: My 17 Year Journey

Writing for Street Spirit has awakened in me a sense of responsibility toward others. Street Spirit is a way for people silenced by big money and big media to have a voice.

Animal Friends: A Saving Grace for Homeless People

“I wrapped her in my jacket and promised I’d never let anybody hurt her again. And that’s my promise to her for the rest of her life. In my mind she’s a little angel that saved me as much as I saved her.”

A Testament to Street Spirit’s Justice Journalism

The game was rigged against the poor, but I will always relish the fact that Street Spirit took on the Oakland mayor and city council for their perverse assault on homeless recyclers. For me, that was hallowed ground. I will never regret the fact that we did not surrender that ground.

Tragic Death of Oakland Tenant Mary Jesus

Being evicted felt like the end of her life. As a disabled woman, she saw nothing ahead but a destitute life on the streets. She told a friend, “If I’m evicted tomorrow, I have no choice but to kill myself. I have no resources, no savings, no money, and nowhere to go.”

They Left Him to Die Like a Tramp on the Street

Life is sacred. It is not just an economic statistic when someone suffers and dies on the streets of our nation. It is some mother’s son, or daughter. It is a human being made in the image of God. It is a desecration of the sacred when that life is torn down.