Poetry, August 2010

Resurrection/ by Claire J. Baker/ May you/ arrive at/ resurrection/ not by dying/ but by LIVING./ May the end/ begin a/ beginning.

A Toast to the Union

by Carol Denney

give me the working-class heroes who never think twice about lending a hand

give me the bars and bordellos and ladies who know the real worth of a man

give me the drunks and the junkies who know the true depth and the soul of desire

give me the rail-riding bums and the hoboes who sing to the stars by the fire

give me the losers and down-and-out underdogs buying each other a beer

give me the bankrupted nobodies giving salutes of good luck and good cheer

here’s to the truckers who fly across mountains on love songs and rubber and prayer

here’s to the workers who sing at the top of their lungs as if no one was there

 

Chorus: we belong, we belong, and the union between us is strong

we may be wrong here but yes we belong here this is our life and our land

no one can take it away if we make our shared paradise and we can

 

here’s to the felons, parolees and miscreants hollering Saturday night

here’s to the fry cooks in truckstops with breakfast at dawn making everything right

here’s to the misfit, the unhip who cannot put up with the sickening show

here’s to the kid who knows just what he did and when asked why just says

I don’t know

chase down the worst and I’ll tell you they’re first on the list of the people I love

show me the women who’ll slam their opinion down hard with no pearls and no glove

saddle me up with the liars and showmen whose stories go on until dawn

put me right next to the gamblers who bested the best and don’t care what they won

 

Chorus: we belong, we belong, and the union between us is strong

we may be wrong here but yes we belong here this is our life and our land

no one can take it away if we make our shared paradise and we can

 

here’s to the bartenders, waiters and waitresses hustling for nickels and dimes

here’s to the clear-headed hard-hearted heartbreakers pouring out songs with the wine

here’s to the suckers and slackers who bought the whole package and didn’t know why

here’s to the bums and the beggars who fail and keep railing at life till they die

here’s to fumblers, the blundering stumblers who never get picked for the game

here’s to the aimless, the nameless who shamelessly spit upon fortune and fame

here’s to the takers and fakers who shook up the dice and looked twice and then ran

here’s to the jagged old raggedy farts kicking dreams down the road like a can

 

Chorus: we belong, we belong, and the union between us is strong

we may be wrong here but yes we belong here this is our life and our land

no one can take it away if we make our shared paradise and we can

 

tell me the lies and the stories that tear my heart open as though they were mine

paint me the dreams and the paintings and make it so real I’m left speechless and blind

tear up the maps and the borders admit it we’re all here together today

we’re all unrepentant and this is our sentence and damn it get out of our way

 

Chorus: we belong, we belong, and the union between us is strong

we may be wrong here but yes we belong here this is our life and our land

no one can take it away if we make our shared paradise and we can

Discarded

by Sue Ellen Pector

Spiraling line of
tall men, huddled in
coats, await bread.
Light and shadow
prisms of powerlessness.
discarded men
lost hungry afraid,
no one hears
your swallowed rage.
Inspired by “Breadline 1935” by Iver Rose from the July 2010 Street Spirit

 

View from the Pavement

By George Wynn

Seven days a week
a senior lays out
on a Market Street
corner under a
sign post
in a winter coat
no matter hot or cold.
food and money
and clothes bold
people give him
to survive
while checking
up on him
to see if
he’s still alive.

 

Walked by Jesus

by John Perry

I walked by Jesus
last night.
He was wearing
a grimy T-shirt
grease-stained chinos
and a worn out
pair of sneakers
with a broken lace.

He stood alone
On Fourth Street
where it crosses Mission.
And looked at me
with longing eyes.
His dirty arms
extended toward me
in a sient plea.

Suffering there;
for sins
not his own,
for rejection
He did not deserve,
an outcast
even from his own people.

Standing there
day after day
with outstretched hands;
He offers each passer-by
purpose,
love,
and hope.

As I drop a couple bucks
into his cup,
I wonder
how many of us
just pass on by.

Sleeping Cart Hobos

by George Wynn

I see them sitting
in the rain
on a Golden Gate
park bench
with other old men
shoes and socks
by their side
stretching their
callused toes.
Not a single
grimace from
the pain.
These are the
tough ones.
They have not
lost their way
despite what
society may say.

 

A Street Spirit vendor

by Maureen Hartmann

A young man was sitting on Sunday
with neat piles
of the March and April issues
near Harrison and Grand where
the Cathedral of Christ the Light
is located.
He was dressed in neat casual clothing.
I told him to save the newspapers
for other customers.
I promised him a dollar,
but could only find change for
85 cents in my purse.
He put out his cupped hand and
accepted it gratefully like a gentleman.

 

“Wet Night on Sutter Street” “Wet Night on Sutter Street” by Christine Hanlon, oil on canvas, 20” by 32 1/3”

“Wet Night on Sutter Street”
Painting by Christine Hanlon, oil on canvas, 20” by 32 1/3”

 

After A Painting

“Wet Night on Sutter Street”

by Claire J. Baker

A worn umbrella just in case,
but this night there’s no downpour.
In size to shield the legs or face
a worn umbrella blown or placed
near a sleeper bracing to brace
for routing from store-front door.
An old umbrella, just in case.
But this night there’s no downpour.

After a Painting “Wet Night on Sutter Street” Painting by Christine Hanlon, oil on canvas, 20” by 32 1/3”

 

Peace of Mind

by George Wynn

Peace of Mind
by George Wynn
When he gets there
he knows he will
feel just right
Poncho clad
trekking along
El Camino Real.

He finds the cemeteries
up on the hill
give him the will to continue
They are as peaceful as
the sight of his mother
praying to the Virgin Mary
No shelter honcho
scolding: “Thou shalt
not do this and that
and that,” making
his nerves ever so brittle.

Lush green grass
takes time to grow
Somehow little by
little he will rebuild
his life.

 

Spills Humans

by Sue Ellen Pector

Severed from its foundation
gripped by a monster,
the tenement house spills humans.
Slivered moon observes.
War mongering capitalism,
your deadly might dwarfs
tall buildings.

Inspired by “The Hand That Takes” by Eric Drooker from July 2010 Street Spirit

 

AGELESS WILL

By George Wynn

Up on Cathedral Hill
survivors in tattered clothes
— some given up for dead —
pray and feast on
tuna fish sandwiches
cornbread and coffee
and move on
with ageless will
under a black cloud.

 

LIVING ON THE FRINGE OF CAPITALISM

By Buford Buntin

The short, muscular man says,

“I been tryin’ to get a place
for us, but my sweetie says
it don’t matter.  She’s comin’
out here from Ft. Lauderdale.”

He stands talking to friends
from his place two spots
in front of me in the Glide line.

“She’s gonna bring her
sleeping bag to lie beside me,
in the park, maybe.
Where I been sleeping,
the gate’s locked &
nobody can get in,
& if I want to get out,
I can climb the fence.”

We continue on,
as he and his handsome
orange San Francisco
Giants jersey
gleam a little  even
on this cool foggy day.

His face, filled with joy,
turns toward the front
of the line.

 

OUT OF THE FOG

By George Wynn

He never heard
her say good-bye
she just went abroad
what suffering
what pain
It was a freezing
San Francisco morning
on top of the
unbearable memory

He pats his dog and reflects:
he tried the bottle
and God Almighty
but still felt lost

In her eyes
he felt fulfilled
So now in a
silent Nob Hill alley
he draws portraits of her
She comes again
in the fog
and the sun
comes out.

 

From a Young Street Poet

by Claire J. Baker

Though I’m poor & look like hell
the full moon nourished by
reflected sun, finds me and
feeds my wayward spirit well.
I’ve the moon, I can’t complain.
The moon is never mean
to poets. And to wash the
night air clean, there’s wind & rain.

 

In Downtown San francisco

by Claire J. Baker

The Transamerica building
designed to bend & flex
in earthquakes — all that
golden shimmer & angular shape
swaying, settling back down:
if only the same
for street people
swaying under the earthquakes
of their lives.

 

in our America

by Sue Ellen Pector

Clothed in pristine flags of stars, they craft
utensils of starvation, hammers of poverty,
welcome-mats of homelessness.
in our America,
haughty captains of capital
curse the open-palmed,
tear-stained, hungry.

 

Stopping

by Joan Clair

i stop for the sacred which has stopped for me

in the form of a flower or a tree

or a homeless person on the street.

in the unknowable Mystery,

 

 

She Sends Silent Hope

by Sue Ellen Pector

homeless in the snow
two men, one dog
beneath the bridge.
A small girl, awake past bedtime,
watches through her window.
nestled in blankets, she sends silent hope
to the dog far below,
beside the men huddled at a steel drum’s fire.
Sensing her hope, the dog looks
up at her glowing warm window and howls.
icicles drip from a shed’s roof and
the girl dreams.

Inspired by “Under Bridges” by Eric Drooker from the July issue of Street Spirit

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TENNIS SHOES

by Claire J. Baker

We saved your tennis shoes —
faded blue, run-over sides,
worn rubber peeling off.
White paint flecks the blue
like crushed stars. We finger
the tread. you were not
a winner on the tennis courts
or the court of last resort.
now you are taken.
We place on your pillow
these battered sneakers
from your last summer.

 

 

Stockton Tunnel Letter Writer

by George Wynn

I don’t know
his name or where
he was from
His speeding pen
on blue paper
tablet in
Stockton Tunnel
sparked my curiosity
and when he
looked up at me
with exhausted eye
after midnight
and said, “I
knew right away
when I walked
out on her, I’d
screwed up,”
I understood
the narrative
of his life.

 

Warped

by Sue Ellen Pector

No safe place to live,
how many homeless humans die
while the housed avert gazes,
tossing a coin or two.

Fear has so warped people that
they birth bombs even
as they refuse to house humans.

 

 

the dispractice of heaven

by Randy Fingland

never bestowed
a Cadillac
on a stranger
because what
I really have
to share is questionable
since I’m without
financial resources

but there’s reason
to believe
I deserve the air I breathe
the water I drink
& there’s no question
this food is mine
if I’m willing to settle
for what I can get —
I’m not complaining
(or am I?) —

where I’ve arrived
in this dispossession
is to trust no  longer
dreams that betterment
awaits but today
is as good as it is

 

The Rush-Around

by Joan Clair

“The faster we go, the more we leave ourselves behind…. We are too ‘busy’ to be human.” — Joan Chittister

If someone has not a minute to spare
of their busyness life, beware.
Retreat to where you meet Supreme Being.

Don’t feel worthless through lives on the run,
gusts of wind rushing past your life’s sound,
the sight of you given the rush-around.

If you’re homeless and on the street,
don’t take the rush-around personally.
The “busyness bodies” are full of hot air;
they’ll answer the phone,
then have no time to spare.
Give them a dial tone.
Don’t feel alone.

Homeless, or homed,
the Supreme Being is never rushed,
never above the humble caller.
Be aware.

 

The Way

by Sue Ellen Pector

Antidote despair, shimmering moon.

Beam blessings to me, ancestors,
that my path may be illumined
by your wisdom, love and guidance.

May good omens greet me,
allies blaze trails to my door.

May dogsong enlighten my life.

Let peace show me the way in this dark.

Resurrection

by Claire J. Baker

May you
arrive at
resurrection
not by dying
but by LIVING.
May the end
begin a
beginning.

 

A SHORT LIFE

(anyone you know?)

by Claire J. baker

He believed in clouds
of gliding from gold
to gray to white —

believed in raindrops
on wing tips
glittering like stars.

He flew above us, carving
the blue into pieces
we might more easily ply.

Like a bird he lived
a short life. But, world,
what he could see so high.

 

Who’s Extinct?

by Randy Fingland

privatization =
corporatization =
degradation =
globalization =
genocidization =
profitization =
chemicalization =
civilization checkmate =
planet reconstructs =
military-industrial complex death

 

 

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.