February Poetry of the Streets

The war on poverty's just begun:/ yet two steps forward, four steps back./ The losers? City corners stun./ The war on poverty's just begun?/ Yet safety nets are holey or none —/ anyone care to really keep track?/ The poverty war is just begun —/ two steps forward, four steps back.

War on Poverty

by Claire J. Baker

The war on poverty’s just begun:

yet two steps forward, four steps back.

The losers? City corners stun.

The war on poverty’s just begun?

Yet safety nets are holey or none —

anyone care to really keep track?

The poverty war is just begun —

two steps forward, four steps back.



Evicted Couple in Cheap Hotel

by George Wynn

“You forgot to buy milk!”

he removes his beat up shoes

shoves out his pants pockets—empty

sits down in a blue chair


She shivers in her robe

the old one he hates to see her wear

he eyes the hot plate

at least the smell of

freshly made coffee is inviting


She pours and hands him

a cup of black coffee


Let’s not think about tomorrow

he says or the day after


Or the day beyond that, she says




What Is Enough?

by Joan Clair

I rescue two plants from the garbage

and give them a home,

feel more at home.

I rescue a toy rabbit from the garbage

and give it a home,

feel more at home.

I buy a homeless woman a shopping

cart.  It meets a need,

but doesn’t take her off the street.

Still, I feel more peace.

None of this seems like much,

but what is enough?

I do my best

with what comes to me.


“How can it be that it is not a news item when

an elderly homeless person dies of exposure, 

but is it news when the stock market

loses two points?” — Pope Francis


In the middle of a busy sidewalk, a homeless woman exists in stark isolation, unseen and unnoticed in the middle of crowds of people.




(for the Albany Bulb Dwellers)

by Claire J. Baker

“To be or

not to be?”


There is no question!


Getting Out Time

by George Wynn

Robbie wrote: People often say I have no regrets.

But me, Robbie tensed his black pen,

I have many regrets.

The principal one being the night of

supposedly easy money

with the image glued to my vision

of frightened bank tellers and customers

then my hands clasped behind my head

and all those years

of cellblock journal writing

and being scared at eighteen

of all the threats: “We will

turn you out girlie.”


Now I am finally getting out to a halfway house

and I am quietly hopeful

through the gap in my big pearly front teeth

and the reel of the

night of easy money

never escapes me.

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.