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The Young Poets of Youth Spirit Artworks

"I remember living on earth. I hated it. People didn't care about each other. It was hard living there. To tell the truth it wasn't really living — it was surviving. People only thought about greed and what they did not have. I'm glad I moved to Mars. I just wish I wasn't all alone."

Young artists from the East Bay stand proudly in front of the Grow Healthy mural they created with Youth Spirit Artworks.


Moved to Mars

by Comatli Venesuerez

I remember living on earth. I hated it. People didn’t care about or for each other. It was hard living there. To tell the truth it wasn’t really living — it was surviving. People only thought about greed and what they did not have. I’m glad I moved to Mars. I just wish I wasn’t all alone.



by Brandon Harris

I feel bad for this man. He was disabled too, on top of being attacked innocent. He didn’t do anything wrong. The people were very scary. Him in the house and getting pulled out. The fire at the prison. I feel very sad. Him hauled out of the burning prison and hung. So sad. Makes me think of my cousin in prison. Haven’t heard any news yet on what happened. No details at all.



by Will Vaughn

Who looks in the mirror, not like looking to see if there’s anything on your face or in your teeth. I’m saying who looks at the person staring back. Reflecting on all the stuff you’ve done over the years, all the people you’ve met. Reflecting on all your mistakes, all your rights and wrongs, all the dumb shit you’ve done and don’t regret. Who does that because I don’t.




by Maxx Bernard

I am the witch with the dreams. I am the fairy, the one with the mischief. The fishes, they live in the streams, the beings they smoke keef. Dreamscape, where the omens come true. The bees, they live in the hive. They stay around the water. They will always have the blues. The valley of death, the dystopia. The hills of life, the utopia.



by Emara Batool Shabir

Sell your soul,

peace of mind,

fruits and wardrobe for

fast and easy friends.


Yesterdays Today

by Will Vaughn

I’ve been frowning all day. My mom woke me up an hour before I actually had to go to school, just because. Plus my phone wasn’t even charging all night. Somehow it got unplugged. So I had to take my charger. As always my math teacher assigns a whole bunch of homework like we students don’t have 6 other classes that do the same. By this time I’m just ready to go home and listen to music for how many of the hours I have left of the day.


Define Your Own Sense Of Power

by Jelaya

I define my own sense of power by

opening my heart to help other people,

I feel powerful when I complete a task

I had worried about

If I work on a project, I make sure

I complete all requirements

Sense of power means to me

having control over your own

thoughts and actions


I Had to Leave

by Brandon Harris

I used to live in Oakland before.

Thompson Street. With two of my

uncles. Out there with my mom.

When I was a kid, I rode my bike

outside. I left Oakland because my

uncle was murdered there, in front

of my eyes. My other uncle was selling

drugs. I care about him, but I left

Oakland for Emeryville. My grandma

crying about her son … Wow.


My Mom

by Brandon Harris

My mom’s name is Monique Harris. She was born in Philadelphia and has one sister and a brother who died. She is disabled. She broke her two legs so she needs help here and there with certain tasks around the house. She can’t cook herself but she likes fish, broccoli and dessert. She is a happy person which I guess I am. She loves Prince and has a tattoo about him. My mom is Buddhist and goes to Buddhist churches and prays a lot. She is also an art teacher, which is kind of why I learned how to be an artist.


My Uncle

by Brandon Harris

My uncle he’s still alive. He wants me to watch out for my family. His birthday today. I need him to be okay in God’s hands, told me to watch out for all his loved ones and Him. My got three cousins. I need to look out for them. I need him here, if he’s not I’ll get in trouble. I pour beer or liquor for him. Listen to music all the time mostly tupac because of him holding me as a little kid.



by Comatli Venesuerez

What do I believe in?

I believe in hope, and I depend on hope,

let’s see how it goes.

I believe in aliens and

I hope I can learn to trust them.

I believe I could be educated by an alien.

All I can believe in is to hope for the best

and that the Virgin of Guadalupe

could wave a pan African flag and

a Mexican flag in my mom’s village

in sweet and simple Mexico.


Young artists paint the “Agua Es Vida” mural as part of Youth Spirit Artworks public art program.


A Sixth Sense

by Emara Batool Shabir

It has become a sixth sense

my existence in itself is power

When people say they are making power

for me it is walking, talking, being.

It comes from within

Where my lungs barricade themselves

My power lies in my fists for

bumping them

In my feet for moving them

In my neck and tongue

producing my voice

My power fills my body

Overtaking it until there is no more

me with my power.



Damn I Miss Ya

by Comatli Venesuerez

Some people always sing or whistle tunes

Some like to stomp and beat tables.

Too late in tables or beds

drain all the dreams that I can’t

approach, but leave the ones that

I can see in the day,

caffeine syllables I can read

I wonder if day dreams and memory

can be separate even when I’m blinded

by the street and moonlights ahead.

Try to sing, try to breathe, try to peep

Cuz damn I miss ya

It’s not the same to remember,

damn I miss ya.



by Will Vaughn

Stars always burn out, so why be one. Why shine? Who would want to sit in the sky all night? I would want to party, have fun, and live the short amount of life I have. I know I have a duty to attend but hey, every now and then I sneak away.


What Makes a Good Leader?

by Reggie Gentry, Angel Jesus Perez and Oni Vanderson

  1. Tactics for a wondrous individual: Silently standing not in the spotlight but in the underground. Pay for your lessons because they can bring you power.
  2. Make sure to give directions. You can make your work easier with organization. Good artwork is developed from passion & consider listening to suggestions.
  3. Don’t overthink: there’s too many tasks in hand. Delegate choices, it’s a short way that can feel long
  4. You shade me from the vile sun because your camaraderie is my elixir.



by Elias Gutierre

Riding with McLaren

Going so fast things look barren

Sort of like the Saharan

That cali sun shinin’ on me

Haters getting left in the dust

I go 0-60 in two point never

The world always feeling so heavy

But i don’t feel it

My house and mirror looking heavenly

Is this the life i dream of definitely

Relentlessly ungently

Looking at me so tentatively

As it becomes a burning desire

Feeling so strong ember a fire

I have no doubt i will be successful



by Elias Gutierre

Flying is fun it’s very pleasing

I can feel my body easing

The world had been holding

My creative singing

Behind my eyelids i feel then releasing

Slipping to a world where

Everything is possible

To a place where all my ideas spawn

It’s here that one conclusion is drawn

I don’t want to wake up


I Wish I Knew

by Laurel Richardson

It’s dark and the word blows through

the trees of the forest that I seem to

return to again and again.

Always the same place but still cold

and unfamiliar.

I see my friend standing a few

yards away, but as I get closer

she moves deeper into the forest.

I move faster and faster

until I’m running after her

but she seems to stop

she seems confused

frustrated confused maybe

and she says something to me

but I don’t catch it.

I wish I knew what she said

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.