The June 2005 Edition of Street Spirit

A publication of the American Friends Service Committee


National AFSC AFSC Economic Justice BOSS Website



In this issue:

Court Upholds Legal Rights of Homeless People

Hunger Rises, Food Stamps Cut

National Hunger Survey

Union Busting in El Salvador

CEO Pay Rises, Worker Pay Shrinks

CEOs Scheme to Privatize Social Security

Dee's Story: The Stigma of Being Homeless

Bush's Chronic Homeless Plan

Pepperspray and Torture

How Earth Day Was Co-opted

St. Mary's Center

Life Stories of Homeless Seniors

Hodges Jones

Jose Querdo

Jeannette Hundley

James Jermany

Ken Minor

Lynn Hoberg

Social Justice in the East Bay

100 Teachings of Gandhi

June Poetry of the Streets

Students Poetry


May 2005

February 2005






Street Spirit is published by American Friends Service Committee.

All works are copyrighted by the authors.

The views expressed in Street Spirit are those of the individual authors alone, and not necessarily that of the American Friends Service Committee.


"Land of Plenty." Art by Tammy deGruchy, National Coalition for the Homeless

Poetry of the Streets

Fine Crystal
by Ralph Dranow

Music like fine crystal
On gritty streets:
Men dozing in doorways,
Shopping carts crammed with ragged treasures.
A blonde woman,
Collar bones like razor blades,
White arms gleaming with bracelets,
Bows her violin with sweeping strokes,
Gaunt body waltzing,
Pale eyes luminous
In the glistening morning.
She finishes, and I applaud,
Ask where she learned to play.
"I've been playing since I was six."
I've had some great teachers."
Her voice breathless,
A happy child's.
Her name is Sonya.
She asks for $20
For a new violin string.
I smile, hand her $2.
"God bless you."
She tucks the money inside her yellow dress,
Then begins a Chopin piece,
Closing her eyes,
Whirling about.

Later I find out
Sonya is dying of AIDS.

Street Teenagers Blocking the Sidewalk
by Julia Vinograd

One of them draws a chalk dragon on the sidewalk
with his blue green purple fingers.
His leather jacket's creaky as rusted armor
and the colors wound his knees.
People walk to their jobs avoiding the dragon's teeth.
His girl has blonde dreadlocks and her pet white rat
climbs in and out of her yellow silk sleeve.
Every time its pink eyes peer out
she leans down and whispers "boo" and the rat
scuttles back in and winds up clinging for dear life
to the side of her soft neck.
Her smile floats like a wished-on dandelion seed,
the next wind can blow it away.
Two grinning crouched guys drum on a garbage can,
their dirty ankles are slim as statues,
while a third guy kisses a wine bottle
and sometimes his mouth-harp.
He doesn't look at a bluejeaned redhead
who is dancing her heavy breasts at everone else.
When they get enough spare change
they'll make a dollar sign out of pennies.
They sit on the sidewalk, a plastic bag of day-old
pastries pushed from hip to warm hip.
They're blocking the sidewalk,
they're making building blocks of light and air
and then breathing on them. All fall down.
A passing little boy reaches pudgy fingers
for the rat's curling tail
and his mother drags him fiercely away,
scolding in a voice like breaking teacups.
The chalk dragon drinks spilt tea.
The wine bottle's empty.

The Beggar's Cup
by Husayn Sayfuddiyn

The autumn leaves beside my pillow
The frigid wind breaks upon the bleak sunless dawn
Beneath my weeping willow
Upon whose branches I hang upon
My frozen tears and hopeless dreams
Unheeded by the stampeding herd
By the withered bird fading in time's rush
From the green but now leafless bush
In my secluded camp
Called Beggar's Hideaway
Where the homeless paths are tramped
In the tall, uncut grass, my Hideaway
A feast for the stray dogs and rats
Until the crows and smell betrays me
And my Beggar's Cup that
Could not save me

supernatural sanctity
by Judy Jones

an old beggar
on the street did i see
pushing all he owned
in his ol' grocery cart home

weary swollen feet
hadn't a bite to eat

on the beggar's
grave will read
he led a life of
supernatural sanctity

by Judy Jones

a key
all that separates them and we

the poorest of the poor
on concrete streets
their blood doth pour

a key
all that separates them and we

a key
they do their 'crazy' on the streets
as we laugh and say
thank god it's them
and not me
not me

while we chosen ones
do our crazy behind closed doors
cuz we have a key

when we die
and go home to god
will we be offered
the key
that knows no lock

or will we be back
on earthshores
this time
with no door?

a key
all that separates them and we
a key

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Published by American Friends Service Committee

Editor : Terry Messman

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