Unwanted and Under Attack in Their Own Country

Re-fancying our neighborhoods,/ we liquidate the poor./ They are not an asset to refinance for./ We cannot see the living assets/ beyond our “perfect garbage cans”/ collecting waste of the lifeless lives we lead,/ full of all the things we think we need.

the family unit during undeclared war(s)

by Randy Fingland

keep the orphans
but the orphan movements

on a palm-lined corridor
near Birla House in India
en route to a prayer meeting
a brown Hindu man shot dead
by a brown Hindu man

taking the air before dinner
on a balcony outside
room 306 at a motel in Memphis
a black Christian man gunned
down by a white Christian man

on a heavily trafficked trail
through Central American jungles
an activist nun & entourage
executed by unidentified military
personnel (probably raised
Catholic, CIA trained)

repeated demonstration of how much
nonviolent resistance
by the poor & powerless
is feared
by the armed & dangerous



by Joan Clair

Re-fancying our neighborhoods,
we liquidate the poor.
They are not an asset to refinance for.
We cannot see the living assets
beyond our “perfect garbage cans”
collecting waste of the lifeless lives
we lead,
full of all the things we think we need.
But we are all living assets of
One Investment,
all rings on the fingers of the divine.


Living and Not Learning

by George Wynn

In the summer fog
of Union Square a
graying olive-skinned woman
with babe in her arms who
is holding a big cup
smiles and whispers
thank you as a young
woman drops an Abe Lincoln

Out of the blue a
large well-dressed
woman approaches shouting,
“They’re not even homeless.
They’re gypsies.
You’ve been taken!”
“None of your business,”
says the young woman.
“Plus what’s all the fuss?
I enjoy giving. You are
so busy being selfish you
cannot enjoy life.”
The large woman shouts again,
“You’ve been taken. You’ll see.”

The young woman shakes her head
walks away crying to the wind.
“What is she thinking?”
She lets out a long deep breath
“Some people live and learn,
some people live and never learn.”


a desert with no oasis

by Randy Fingland

the new ploy
seems to be
to me
put the poor
on the run
keep them
without possibility
of a real home
of their own
to come back to

nowhere to be
yet still within
native geographical

now refugees
set to wander
in the country
of their nativity
in this case the U.S.A.


Supermarket Blues

by George Wynn

Day before, a gray-haired
lady shortchanged a nickel
at the supermarket
doesn’t say a thing

The next night
she returns to same supermarket
only having eaten corn flakes
and milk for breakfast
to buy a can of pinto beans
She’s the next to the last in line
all of a sudden she’s in a pickle
“One more penny,” says the checker
“Don’t have it,” she says
with pleading look
“That’s what it seems,” says the
checker. “Next customer!”
The lady turns to the man behind her
with a pleading look. He says nothing.

Outside face down her elbows sag
she stamps the ground “Ain’t right!”
Sighing she rubs her stomach
then closes her eyes and can’t
help but cry


Cardboard Box

by Joan Clair

A very old man, terribly bent over,
carries something in a large cardboard box.
As I get closer, I think he must be extremely elderly;
even one block must be a mountain to him.
How brave he is to carry such a burden in his old age!
Then he crosses the street to where I am,
and I see not an old man, but a man in his thirties.
His eyes are empty pools where water used to be.
Unlike a sea turtle, the box on his back
was not made to crawl into, in some grand design,
but a travesty so deep only God can see it clearly.
And I wonder, can there be peace in a world
where this so precious form, halfway to the ground,
carries a cardboard box home to nowhere?

Children at St. Mary’s Center in Oakland are sheltered by the massive puppet of Martin Luther King, Jr. created by seniors in loving tribute. Lydia Gans photo


ceiling the truth

by Randy Fingland

some dare call it
a housing crisis
because too many
houses are empty
not because too
many people are
without houses


no exit

by Randy Fingland

are inevitable
when there’s use
of gunpowder
backing any negotiation
whether a penny-ante
drug deal
or the charade
of winning indigenous
heads & hearts
while dressed in
bullet-proof vests



by Joan Clair

Tired, with a car broken in the shop,
getting off a bus, I find a shopping cart,
good to ease my back of packages
for several uphill blocks
after the driver chewed me out
for asking questions about directions.

What must it be like to daily seek a route
uphill and downhill with a heavy cart
and heart
in addition to bearing baggage
thrown by those unguided by compassion.


Respite on Mission Street

by George Wynn

His graying mane flows
his mustached face glows.
He’s a cross between a
Jack Kerouac wanderer
and a Samuel Beckett tramp.
He likes the anonymity and
bareness of cheap hotels
and torn curtains blowing
out the window evoking
no heartfelt emotions.
This week it’s his room,
next week another drifter’s.

He tells me, the desk clerk
here on Mission Street, that
he landed a temporary job
fixing rental car machines.
“This, my last week on the
job, I’m treating myself to
a week of privacy,” he says.
“Where you going after that?” I ask.
“It’s either the shelter or the street.
I’m saving up for my own place.
I’m too old to roam.”
“Good luck,” I say.
“Thanks,” he says walking slowly
up the rickety steps with his
head bowed.
I feel his pain as I do the countless
souls who pass through this
run down domain.



by Joanna Bragen

Does not only take
The weak and the old

It takes
The vibrant
The witty
The storyteller
The intelligent
The adventurer

In a flash

Here one day
Gone the next
I can’t believe
I’ll never see you again

When you should
Still be here
Where did you go?

People left behind
Trying to grasp
Trying to know
What to feel

Will I see you again?
When every thing is perfect
Where there is no sorrow
Does life begin again?

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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.