The Comfortable and the Cold

We still have the highest/ percentage of homeless/ people per population/of any city in the nation/ It's 2013 and still / the drained and pained/ unhoused battalions/ of brokenhearted shopping cart/ soldiers come and go

the children are gone

by Randy Fingland

negotiations
guarantee ceasefires
but the burning continues
the rainforests
the icecaps
scorched smiles branded
on dead infant faces
unreported on conglomerate TV
everywhere the hunger
of the impoverished
who die young
for the same reason

 

Scapegoats

by Joan Clair

“Their transgressions, even all their sins…he shall put upon the head of the goat and shall send him away into the wilderness.” — Leviticus

I feel the weight of collective sin in the soup
kitchen, not to be escaped on the crushed
shoulders of those eating silently there,
eating the lie they have nothing to share,
a bread so heavy it hasn’t the leaven
to lift their souls to a new haven.
I smell wafts of scapegoats in the air.
And there are those who would do more
than allow a few to feed
the bodies and souls of those in need.
To solve the plight of those they want unseen
they’d drive them entirely out of sight
from their solitary ghettos
into the wilderness
bearing all our sins.

 

San Francisco History

by George Wynn

San Franciscans dance to the tune
of “Homelessness by the Bay”
on the retro jukebox
with their eyes closed:
in spite of all City Hall’s
boasts and toasts
we still have the highest
percentage of homeless
people per population
of any city in the nation

It’s 2013 and still
the drained and pained
unhoused battalions
of brokenhearted
shopping cart
soldiers come and go

It’s still the same old song
with very little
being done about the wrong

 

Jesus Is Watching

by Judy Joy Jones

money changers
money lenders
beware

one day Jesus will return
and those who did nothing
to help the dying poor
will try and hide

but their doors will be barred
and all their money burned

in return for their
hearts of stone
that allowed
the poorest of the poor
to starve before their eyes

money changers
money lenders
beware

A man sleeps on a bench at Oakland City Hall Plaza, one of the thousands of homeless people in the East Bay. Tome Lowe photo

 

Is It a Crime?

by Claire J. Baker

Is it a crime not to be rich?
Is it a crime to fall into chasms?
A crime that brain synapses misfire,
shock one into depression?
Shouldn’t work places be made
more safe and places to work
more available?
One gets ill, disabled, beaten up,
goofy from being scoffed/ignored.
Is sensitivity, too, a crime?

Oliver Wendell Holmes wrote:
“Build thee more stately mansions
O my soul.” Surely the emphasis
is on SOUL.

 

In Praise of Older Hungry Women

by George Wynn

In my San Francisco of the 1950s
older ladies wore gloves
shopping at the Emporium

Now we see on Market Street
older ladies with outstretched palms
and worn-out clothes with cardboard
“give what you can” calling cards
in front of them reminding us of
Dorothea Lange’s ruined women
of the Great Depression

If you and I enter a trance
to escape the image of
their present circumstance
and go back in time we might see
young dreamy faces even after
a hard day’s work on the factory line
or young hearts sore but full of fight
after a long day of blows on
a post-war picket line

Who knows, we just might get a
true picture of their elegance

 

lepers of the usa

by Judy Joy Jones

would you sit by me
if I had no home
or have me colonized away
a “leper” of the usa

would you take me
in your arms and weep
if you found
an untouchable like me
murdered on your streets

would you come
to the city morgue
to collect my no name ashes
one of society’s throwaways

“see I have carved you
out of the palm of my hand
you are precious to me”

must have been written
for someone else
not the lower caste like me

tonight if I’m lucky I’ll die
and won’t be a piece
of garbage beneath your feet
that no one wants to see

would you sit by me
if I had no home
or have me colonized away
a “leper” of the usa
untouchable

 

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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.