Poetry September 2010

Hope’s nothing but right,/ like the justice of star shine/ on river breezing midnights....

Lost

by Sue Ellen Pector

Returning soldier, greeted

by bored indifference,

arm-crossed disdain,

nary a welcome for you.

 

Your strongest part, a metal leg,

standing in for the flesh and bone

you lost in a war you never understood.

 

Your dreams stolen.

Inspired by “GI Homecoming,” a painting by Sandow Birk in Street Spirit.

 

 

SLICK SATIN

by Jack Hirschman

The satin of BP’s slick

has killed millions of fish

and still it’s taxed shit-all,

and 11 exploded corpses

are bloodcrusted on its hands.

 

And don’t give me please

the scolding of the President.

He needs that fucking oil

for his drones and copters

to keep killing innocents abroad.

 

Let’s hear it for… statistics:

How many animals are murdered

in the poor and battered Gulf?

How many soldiers suicided

and overdosing in Afghanistan,

 

Iraqistan, Newyorkistan, Iranistan,

Sanfranciscistan. How many are

raising their knives to have done

with their humiliated lives

worth less than barrels of oil.

 

Or putting gun-barrels to brains

instead of making the BP rats

meet the most gigantic cats in

human history, licking our chops,

dying for ratatouille between our teeth.

 

Harder Than Might

by Sue Ellen Pector

I wish I could have sorted through

music that touched you,

clothing you touched,

photos you loved,

books that gave you joy and solace.

I wish harder than might can

that death had forgotten where you lived.

 

The Justice of Star Shine

by Sue Ellen Pector

All the world’s lost.

Magic begets pain, sharpens focus.

Hope’s nothing but right,

like the justice of star shine

on river breezing midnights.

Pushing Your World

by Sue Ellen Pector

Glowing with life,

a graceful mansion

bedecked with wintry cheer

and clusters of people.

 

The glitzy Christmas tree

surrounded by sturdy elms.

 

Homeless, you walk by,

pushing your world

in a shopping cart,

your gaze downward.

Layers of clothing protect you from

lonesome, hopeless loss.

Inspired by “Holiday Home Luke: 16:25,” a painting by Jos Sances in Street Spirit

Lost in Limbo

by Claire J. Baker

She tries to act nimble in Limbo

while falling through the Safety Net.

And now where will she go?!

Trying to act nimble in Limbo,

a player in the Show

of Life, she says she’ll “get it” yet.

She tries to act nimble in Limbo

but agencies cut the Safety Net.

 

The Leaving

by Claire J. Baker

Too many leave us silently —

what happened to Goodbye?

On streets, in rest homes we see

how people leave so silently,

will lock their door & keep the key,

weave a whisper or sigh…

Must people leave us silently —

what happened to Goodbye?

 

After Life on the Streets

by Claire J. Baker

How often, after we have passed,

our families make us angels, saints.

“Out at sea” we tried to cast

our anchors. After we have passed,

had roughly sailed in tempest blast,

our families lavish pretty paints

on shadows. After we have passed

they make us risen angels, saints.

 

Irony, in Capital Letters

by Claire J. Baker

The Tenderloin’s SRO

vs.

A Broadway play’s SRO.

Allow a sardonic depiction:

The Tenderloin offers

single dingy rooms

depressing, cramped

for a luckless occupant —

rented by day, week, month.

On NY’s Broadway, impressive

plays/musicals all sold out.

If one gets in, one stands

through the pricey performance.

But you can brag you attended!

Two vastly different SROs

in duplicate

Capital Letters.

 

Mark, the Streetwoman & Me

by Buford Buntin

He’s nice to her, buys her

MacDonald’s coffee as

he gets some chicken tenders

& french fries. I’m not hungry,

having eaten at Glide,

so I get nothing.

 

I’ve known him for several

years in a poetry group.

In this setting, he’s cocky

& sophisticated in a somehow

soft yet street-like way.

 

The woman goes to the bathroom

with her dog & stays a long time.

I look that way down prefab

hard plastic chair way several times

as other women open the bathroom

door but don’t go in. He & I agree

that the woman in the bathroom

is probably shooting up heroin.

 

She finally comes out

drinks a sip of coffee,

then leaves.

She’s probably in her

mid-thirties or so

but is missing teeth

on one side of her mouth

just to the left

of her front teeth.

 

The Walk to the Shelter

by George Wynn

The laid off

street cleaner

fought the army

in El Salvador

now he fights

for a shelter bed.

Between meals

at St. Anthony’s

and Glide he eats

big 99 cent tacos.

“It’s dangerous

in the shelter,” I say.

“I’ve known danger

all my life,” he says.

“I’ll be dead soon

if I stop taking my

medicine el doctor says.

Before I buried

mi madre she said

God would take care of me.

I’m still waiting

but I pray for everyone.”

“I will pray for

you tonight,” I say.

“Bueno my friend.

It’s seven I have to

get a bed. Buenas

noches amigo.

I hope to see you

again in the

taqueria.”

 

The Sadness of the Unhoused

by George Wynn

If you ever take a bus ride

in an upscale neighborhood

and hear the righteous

declaim negative images

of those much less fortunate

simply ask them before you depart:

“How many good days are there

in a month for the unhoused?”

“How many warm nights are there

in a month for the unhoused?”

 

Homeless in 2010

by George Wynn

Look where they lived

art deco benches were

the core of their

nocturnal sleep

Many a homeless veteran

who fought for the

American way

brought their ardours of

survival and their nightmare

narrative of war

to this gray 1939 fortress

which will be

demolished

 

Down the street

at the Interim

Transbay Terminal not

a single restroom built

Why? to keep homeless

people away

to remind the

vulnerable emotionally

and physically wounded

of the bureaucratic way. Homeless in 2010

by George Wynn

Look where they lived

art deco benches were

the core of their

nocturnal sleep

Many a homeless veteran

who fought for the

American way

brought their ardours of

survival and their nightmare

narrative of war

to this gray 1939 fortress

which will be

demolished

 

Down the street

at the Interim

Transbay Terminal not

a single restroom built

Why? to keep homeless

people away

to remind the

vulnerable emotionally

and physically wounded

of the bureaucratic way.

 

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.