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January Poetry of the Streets

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

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


homeless person

by Judy Joy Jones

one day in time

the homeless person

waiting in line

for food

will be you


so don’t close

ya heart to

ya brothers

dying in gutters


they are mirrors

of our soul’s

own greed




For the Homeless in San Jose

by Joan Clair

Isn’t there a city somewhere,

where people can live peacefully in tents

and not pay rent, and not be bent?

The light in the heart of a flower

shines more brilliantly than power.




Last Fragments from a

Panhandler’s Journal

by George Wynn

Forget the

word demoralized

if you want to

survive on Market Street.

Forget about where you

used to sleep

before you were broke.


Pray every day

your body doesn’t

let you down

big time when

light turns to night

and you huddle

in cold desolation.


Never stop to ask

did you get what

you wanted

from this life?


Enjoy the simple


the pen upon

paper brings you

and hopefully others.


god made visible

by Judy Joy Jones

can you really

put a soul in jail

for loving


does handcuffing

a 90 year old man

for feeding the poor

put his heart

behind bars


no i say

for to love

and be loved

is ours soul’s purpose


bars are made

by man’s fears


compassionate souls

such as he

are god’s tender mercy

made visible

through our own hands




Outside Our Window

by Claire J. Baker

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.






















No Passport Needed

by Claire J. Baker

Come, let us join

the multitudes

on the journey

toward peace.


We, the people,

motley, memorable,

poised, unprepared,

gay, and not so happy,

handicapped and holy,



yet all the same —

getting out of

our own way.


No tether, weather

or war shall deter

our journey,

our passage.


Peaceably we go,

peacefully we stay.




In The Thrift Shop

by Joan Clair

Lady 1 carries a golden purse

and a dollar bill,

asks Lady 2,

“Will you pay for my purse?”


Lady 2 turns around,

flips open her coat,

a price tag shows.

“Can’t pay for my own,” she says.


“The truth is we all live

in an economic system

that is heartless.” — Helen Keller




A Child’s View of Winter

by Mary Rudge


The sun in through my window when I

wake up makes me feel warm and loved.

I like to wake up and see sky.

But the old, old window broke, we could

not afford glass or someone to fix it.

We have found board and cardboard,

and sealed up the window hole,

because it is winter and we will be cold.

When I wake in the morning and see

darkness, still I know

to feel warm in my heart, to feel loved

because my mother and brother

found cardboard and board.

If we find enough cans extra to pay,

we can have a glass window again.



In winter we only heat one room.

We hang blankets over the doors and

put all our bedding on the floor and

sleep there, together in one warm room.

I like to hear our breath

in the dark, one family

helping each other keep warm.



Today by the thrift store

we said a prayer before we went in

that the saleslady would try to find

something she could mark down

with just a few loose threads or tear

or spot, someone had given

for the poor to buy.

Today mother said

let us put in our mind’s eye

the perfect sweater

with only a tiny unraveling

mother can fix

if we have enough money to buy.



My mother takes us to the library.

We love being warm.

All the colors of books,

words and pictures for free

are there for me,

bright light I can read in,

and the light in the mind.

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.