Poetry, November 2010

Who Would Believe

by Claire J. Baker

Who would believe that all

week at a slick Senior Center

in a comfortable suburban town


seniors line up at 7:30 a.m.

for food-and-flower handouts

which begin at 9 a.m.?


City Dawning

by Claire J. Baker

A cold city bird can sit

unmolested atop a tower

waiting for city light & warmth,


but a shabby soul can’t rest

on a common city bench for

more than a common city hour.


From a Street Dreamer

by Claire J. Baker

Though hungry & depressed,

I drift and dream

hoping for a private gleam

of easy days, some scheme

secure & silently expressed,

as if I too were blessed

as much as any lucky man.

Every day I drift & dream

amazed that I still can.

Capitalism Devours Dreams

by Sue Ellen Pector

Your hair river waves,

each hand a redwood grove,

steady trunks, your fingers stretch tall.


Lost in budgeting, you stare numbly.

Capitalism devours dreams

you can’t quite taste.


Steadying trembling hands

at troubled brow, you inhale questions.

Slowly exhaling, you slip gently

into sleep,

the only place without hunger.

Inspired by artwork “Grief” by Tiffany Sankary in Street Spirit.


Will America Hold You?

by Sue Ellen Pector

Gazing up from the cold sidewalk,

knees trembling, you press your

feet together tightly for comfort.

The sign you hold says

you have HIV and are hungry.

With lonesome eyes and chilled hands,

tidy hair and thin jacket, you suffer.

Will America hold you?

Inspired by a photo by Robert L.Terrell from Street Spirit.

Trapped in the Realm of the Bureaucracy

by George Wynn

By end of pier

80-year-old man

sits on bench

staring at minute

hand of wrist watch

“Listen George: time

can’t go fast enough

for me.” He nods off

for ten minutes, wakes.

“I’m waiting and praying

for the big sleep.”

“What happened to

your application for

senior housing?”

“Trapped in the realm

of the bureaucracy.”

“Bastards,” I say

“Bastards!” I agree

he says pounding

fists on bench.



by George Wynn

Before the silver

bearded one with

clipboard falls asleep

he writes:

No one smiles here

everyone lost in thought

frustrated years of

waiting for a place

No one likes spending

the night here

This is the space

you go to when city

shelters make you sick

Who would ever want

to sleep on this asphalt without pity?

Who would not want

to leave for a room of their own?

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.

Joy in the Midst of Sorrow in Santa Maria Orphanage

This amazing priest not only housed 300 orphaned children from the streets of Mexico City, but he also took care of 20 homeless elders in his own house and started a home for children dying of AIDS. Father Norman also ran a soup kitchen that fed many people in the village.