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

 

Tags: , , , , , , , , , ,

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.