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?

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.