June Poetry of the Streets

“Mona Lisa of the Streets” I gave the woman a simple smile,/ some dollars, knowing not enough./ Her aura glowed: she once had style./ I gave the woman an open smile/ then plowed my way, single file/ holding tears, keeping the bluff./ I have Mona Lisa a knowing smile/ some dollars that were not enough.

"Faux Street Revisited." The viewpoint of a homeless woman sitting on the sidewalk as passers-by hurry past and ignore her. Painting by Christine Hanlon, oil on canvas


the homeless man’s blood soaked feet

by Judy Jones

i saw the homeless man

sitting in the street

and i went to him gently touching

his swollen blood soaked feet

washing them with my teardrops

and drying them with my hair


without a word his eyes said to me

all the sorrows his well worn soul

hath endured thru eternity


and i promised once again

to never sleep completely

while one person on earth

is homeless hungry

and dying alone


i saw the homeless man

sitting in the street


“Multitudinous Seas”

(for the deceased homeless)

by Claire J. Baker

What a midnight, what a dawn!

We hadn’t said Hello correctly

before more homeless sank, were gone

into midnight beyond the dawn —

another generation coming on

like ravaged boats upon the sea.

What a midnight, what a dawn —

how to say Goodbye correctly.


Crimes of Habit

by Dee Allen

(for Sarah Menefee)

It is unlawful to SIT

On statues

On hydrants

On curbs

On stone fences

Near fountains

City government declares

public property.


It is illegal to LIE

Down on stairs

On sidewalks

On park lawns

On bus stop benches

In doorways after business hours

City government considers such

public acts blight.


But where else can a world-weary

Body searching for a warm spot

Free from harassment go to

Liberate their feet? Momentarily

Liberate their shoulders & back

From the bearing weight of

Only possessions? What else can

They do when even

Prison-like shelters won’t let them



New police chief

Wants natural reflexes, habits

To be punitive crimes.





Genocide of the poorest of the poor

by Judy Jones

genocide of the poorest of the poor

in the USA

is happening before our eyes


armed guards hired

to keep starving people

from having food to eat

and keepin em

from being able

to sit or sleep


police keep them

walking all night

until they die on their feet


genocide of the poorest of the poor

is happening before our eyes

the homeless are

being tortured to death


without sleep food and homes

their spirits die

long before their bodies

meet their demise


history will remember

the genocide of the

poorest of the poor

in the USA

as the most vicious and brutal

this country will have ever known


genocide of the poorest of the poor

in the USA



by Claire J. Baker

What was it—booze, drugs, love gone

wrong, song gone sour, poisonous

servings of war, rotten sanity,

misbegotten Wall Street bankers,

holes in the human safety net

that you, lovely lady, handsome man,

retreated to the ghetto?


Sidewalks don’t converse

with each other or with you,

don’t restore footing when you fall,

quickly consider one dust, debris,

disgraceful, grime, a mess.

Man & woman once primed

for survival, now without a face.


Doesn’t Anybody Hear

by Judy Jones

doesn’t anybody hear

the cries screams and moans

of the homeless dying in our streets


i called the police

and they sent a squad

forcing the poor to move

or go to jail


i called the hospitals

and they said

no beds could be had

for those with no green cash


i called the churches

and heard their voice machines say

“please leave your name

number and we will get back

to you as soon as we can”


i called the organizations

who service those in need

and they told me

to call the mayor who

would take care of

them all


i called the president

but his office said

he was too busy

to take my call


doesn’t anybody care

doesn’t anybody see

human beings

eating out of garbage cans

left to die before our eyes


can’t you understand

it’s your child mother

father sister and brother

with the worm eaten bodies

you are trampling

on the streets


and it’s you and me

you and me

Mona Lisa of the Streets

by Claire J. Baker

I gave the woman a simple smile,

some dollars, knowing not enough.

Her aura glowed: she once had style.

I gave the woman an open smile

then plowed my way, single file

holding tears, keeping the bluff.

I gave Mona Lisa a knowing smile,

some dollars that were not enough.



by George Wynn

She stumbles

lays with wet leaves

feels the weight

of her heavy backpack


Yes, she’s afraid in the darkness

of Golden Gate Park

Yes, she has her freedom


Her family does not know her

even before they disown her

Mother and father accuse her

of being a bad daughter


She’s been on the move all day

police cracking down on sit/lie laws

she’s tired, oh so tired

big strong trunk of a tree her shelter

she removes her stack of Rumi

books for her pillow for the night

she reflects on the thought: I

like anyone who isn’t judgmental

she dreams of meeting

a man with a sweet soul.

Still Here

by George Wynn

Rain abates upon

cardboard box house

She reflects upon

sad fates

of close friends

Hands folded

in prayer:

Lord give me

strength to persevere

I’m the only

one still here.


to be alive

by Michael Leslie

bright far stars,

cool fall air,

pavement under trees

planted 100 years ago


by those long gone

bodies dissolved

into rocks

indians consider relatives.


u may be active

in your profession,

even well-known

but eventually we age.


mentioned in local

obituary —

doctors, housewives,

greatly missed.


they had to be

someone as

homeless ordinarily

aren’t mentioned!

The Mendicant Wonders

(almost outloud)

by Claire J. Baker

having survived the night,

how to reflect on his life

& not find a scrap of mirror

too dull or far too bright.


Last Visit

by Cassandra Dallett

It was a jailhouse visit

he says, one of many.

He’d been from county to the pen

Rita to Quentin, with no plans for change.

On this day the mother of his three kids

brought his daughter,

she was little still,

cherubic in pink, a cocoa cutie,

eyes giant brown, a wide melting smile.

Though he’d been running the streets

and paying the price all her life and before it,

she was Daddy’s girl.

The visit was through glass

a greasy telephone on either side.

The girl’s mom held her

put the receiver into her hand

she told Daddy she loved him

in small smiling words,

when she was done

her mom took the phone back.

His daughter stood on her own

examined the wall  separating her

from her father’s lap.

She couldn’t get around it,

her fingers pried into hard corners.

She could not touch, get close enough

for him to swing her little body up

and into his muscular embrace

to feel his kisses cover her face.

Frowning she started to pull at the steel counter

to bang on the shatterproof glass

when it did not give she began to scream

with her whole voice box she screamed

and screamed “I want my Daddy,

give me my Daddy, let my Daddy out!”

and no one could calm her

or get him out

of the box.


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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.