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Poetry of the Streets

How can we be housed and sleep at night/ when our brothers have no homes?/ How can we be housed and sleep at night/ when our sisters sleep on stones?/ What happened to the home we shared inside God’s heart?/ Whatever drove that home to vacancy drove us apart.

“Church” Art by Jonathan Burstein


“Heaven’s Doors”

by Judy Joy Jones

when the spirit of life

takes hold of

my well-worn soul


art and music pour out

and i am transported

into heaven’s doors


spreading the

glory of god most high

all over earth’s shores




by Joan Clair

How can we be housed

and sleep at night

when our brothers have no homes?

How can we be housed

and sleep at night

when our sisters sleep on stones?

What happened to the home

we shared inside God’s heart?

Whatever drove that home to vacancy

drove us apart.




by Joan Clair

It’s hard to find any place

in the world that wants you.

Maybe that’s why when I see

people pushing shopping carts

on the streets,

injured birds,

neglected animals,

and children crying

to miles of indifference,

I care.



Overpass 4th of July

by Carol Denney

there’s a walking path

under the overpass

where the freeway

sounds like a river

and the hot barbecue

on the 4th of July

sizzles and smokes

amid spokes and sprockets

tents and pockets

of laughter

a man sweeping out

his spotless home

wishes you well

the purest independence



Soul Searching Soldier

by Carol Denney

soul searching soldier

tell us how you manage

it’s so hard of late

in this town with

no head no heart

no hope skittering down

the kite line

just the sky

in this town with

no plan no conscience

no threat from the street

building muscle

just the sky

just the ordinary angel

offering food

or the soft harbor of a smile

just the catastrophic clown

creating a stray connection

to a moment of perfect peace

or perfect shelter

from a heart

however temporary

just life street

just life rhythm

of the moment

soul searching wanderer

you are welcome here

story or none

we love the stories you have

and we love

the stories you make up

we love you if you say nothing

you are our mothers

you are our fathers

you are our family

and our souls



Stop Victimizing The Homeless

by Claire J. Baker

Over those who live half-dead

stop launching into overkill!

Trying to sleep on cement, no bed,

these thousands less alive than dead,

struggle to get an inch ahead,

not complaining, seldom shrill.

Attacking those who live half-dead

is freaking into OVERKILL.




by Joan Clair

Bundled, her face red with cold,

she stands by her shopping cart,

full of neat folds

of blankets and clothes,

and beams rays of gratitude

as if I gave her a fortune

instead of three quarters.


Is God this grateful when we give up

a tiny bit of selfishness,

keeping so much more than giving.

Could our creator be this humble.




Night Story

by Claire J. Baker

Here’s to the father who took

his small child on evening walks

They sat on a hilltop boulder

watching the sky darken

woods in the valley darken

their held hands darken


This child grew into the heroine

who crawled one night

without flashlight or stars

deep into a mine shaft

to rescue three boys

from rising river waters.



Mother and Daughter on the Streets

by Claire J. Baker

The mother often prays

over her daughter’s disability —

handicapped but alive.


Neither can work for pay.

Their full-time occupation?

Helping each other survive.


At night on urban streets

they always cling, look inward

while trying to “look out.”

“Flowers” Art by Jonathan Burstein


More Than Folklore

(A plea on behalf of the homeless)

by Claire J. Baker

In the Solomon Islands

trees too large to ax

are felled by natives yelling

to “kill” the tree’s spirit.


Considering these facts

as not exaggeration or lie,

when someone yells at us

our spirits partly die.



Homeless Leaves

by Joan Clair

In the cities the leaves

in autumn and in winter

have few forest floors

on which to fall.

Leaves in perfect forms

and colors of the Lord

are swept away

from the paved streets

as if they never belonged

to the earth at all

or to a tree.


In the city parks

in autumn and in winter

homeless humans in perfect forms

and colors of the Lord

seek what’s left of forest floors

on which to rest.

“Fallen” humans find homes

among the fallen leaves,

among the trees of the Living Spirit;

hiding, hidden, from those

who sweep humans and leaves away.




by Chey Simmons

That’s somebody’s daughter, someone’s sister.

Mister, you’ve taken and robbed

someone of their innocence.



Love & Loss

by Chey Simmons

I regret not calling my great grandmother

It hurts just knowing I can’t call her

She’s gone

and I feel so helpless.



Love & Hate

by Chey Simmons

It’s not in me to hate.

However, my strong dislike for racism

might come off as hate.

It’s not in me to hate, to have it on my plate

is too much to take, so I throw it away.

Only love

Can drive out hate, and that

I’ll demonstrate, cause it’s in me to love not


My heart has been broken

Yet, still I don’t hate. I love despite the pain

love brings.



Seeing the Beauty

by Tajah Zion

People hate when they’re bored, unhappy, and most of all insecure. I find myself hating the most when I see something in someone I strive to be. Instead of empowering each other, human beings find it easier to hate. Recently, I noticed that I, myself, find it easier to hate. I noticed I tend to pick people apart, or focus on their flaws instead of realizing their beauty. I can stop being this way by silencing my thoughts on someone and waiting for them to show me who they are. It’s easy for people to not like you when you are negative and rude. Ever since I started to love and not hate, I see the beauty in everything.


We Can Soar

by Claire J. Baker

Should a star

fall into our hands

we need not place it

back into the sky.


If we must break new

ground, why not start

with the land

on which we stand.


If we feel we are

on our way, though we

haven’t moved an inch

we are on our way.


Fellow travelers,

we don’t have to fly

a hundred miles

to know we can soar.



I Like To Believe…

by Claire J. Baker

stray dogs adopt and

stay beside the homeless

to warm them, soothe them,

bark sharply to fend off harm.



Wear the Poem if It Fits

by Claire J. Baker

To you, who say you are only

a grain of sand lost and lonely

on the city shore, I wish

the ocean’s salted scent and roar.


When caught in caves where shadows

hide, I wish you push and pull

of tide, sun rolling in on a wave

washing your image bright and brave,


a gull’s white wings

where courage clings.


I wish for you a cove

where you will give and receive love.



someday I won’t hear

by Judy Jones

someday I won’t hear

homeless people

pushing grocery carts

down the streets

and rummaging thru

garbage cans


someday I won’t hear

their shrieks and moans

in the darkest nights

driving me insane

soakin’ in my every pore


yes someday I’ll be free

when every man woman and child

has a home

and no one dies hungry sick and alone

on cold concrete streets


and that day is comin’ so soon

Berkeley shelter closes

The closure of the largest homeless shelter in Berkeley leaves many with nowhere to go

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.