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?

Resurrection of the Poor People’s Campaign

Rev. Barber told the activists gathered in the nation’s capital that by demonstrating in solidarity with poor people, they had become a link in the long history of people who fought for justice.

Hate Crime Laws Needed to Protect the Homeless

As homelessness becomes more visible, people living on the streets are targeted for bullying, assaults, harassment and even murders.

Life Is A Precious Gift: Mother Teresa’s House in Washington

We will never know how many huge pots of soup Jacob lifted with the sisters into trucks, to take to the homeless in the park. We will never know how many diseased bodies he fed, held and bathed, and the number of tears he dried in the early morning hours.

Mother Teresa’s Gift of Love in San Francisco

She took home with her the men who had only a few days left to live and were suffering the most, and tenderly cared for them around the clock. I am certain some of the people I was meeting were angels, whose job was to make certain no soul died alone and unloved.

My Back Pages: A Song for Miss Kay

She softly sings the soul anthem “Stand By Me.” It is a song for Miss Kay, a song for all of us. Her life, with its music and joy, followed by a downward slide into homelessness and death, tells us something deeper than words about the human condition.

My Back Pages: Kerry’s Kids, An Undying Dream

Oakland pediatrician Dr. Karen Kruger said, “Kerry’s death was so sudden and seemingly purposeless and shocking that I think there was a need for people that loved her to carry on her memory in a way that she would look down on from her cloud and be happy about.”