The June 2006 Edition of Street Spirit

A publication of the American Friends Service Committee


National AFSC AFSC Economic Justice BOSS Website



In this issue:

From Prison to Priesthood

Interview with Father James Tramel

Protest Demands Housing for Poor Families

Oakland Judge Blocks Evictions

Fresno Police Demolish Tent Encampment

Extremists Call for Attacks on Immigrants

Unjust Senate Bill on Immigration

World Bank and IMF Face Crisis

Corporate Media Fail to Address Global Hunger

Raise Minimum Wage for All

The Journey of Charlotte Tall Mountain

Dying for Nixon, Dying for Bush

In Santa Cruz Dreams Come True

Tourists Ignore Kenya's Poverty

June Poetry of the Streets


May 2006

April 2006

March 2006

February 2006

January 2006

November 2005

October 2005

September 2005

August 2005

July 2005

June 2005

May 2005

April 2005

March 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.

June Poetry of the Streets

concrete street his deathbed
by Judy Jones

walkin down da street
saw man was dead
had no feet
looked unfed
concrete street his deathbed

walkin down da street
saw man was dead
po' ol' soul
black and blue
hearts broken in two

please lord please
take him home
on earth he died so alone

layin' down beside him
began to moan
why oh why
he have no home

nowhere to sleep but tomorrow
by Randy Fingland

they close the doors
to the parks early

bus stop benches are
targets for rousting

sidewalks bring on harsh
dreams of vulnerability

behind that hedge next
to the library is already taken

were I a dog no one
would raise an eyebrow
at my choice of space to rest

by Perry Terrell

Ten homeless people asked me for money
One day as I traveled to and fro
One man moved to another spot and
asked me twice
But I gave each person a dollar

I was looking for the thrift store that sells
clothes for a dollar each piece
I was accosted so many times
That I never made it there

I had only ten dollars and a Bart ticket
And was down to my last two dollars

As I exited the Bart station
On my way to the bus
I gave away my last two dollars

Then walked 8 blocks to my dwelling place

In the rain.

Prayer of the Farm Worker's Struggle
by Cesar E. Chavez, UFW founder

Show me the suffering of the
most miserable;
So I will know my people's plight.

Free me to pray for others;
For you are present in every person.

Help me take responsibility for my own
life; So that I can be free at last.

Grant me courage to serve others;
For in service there is true life.

Give me honesty and patience;
So that I can work with other workers.

Bring forth song and celebration;
So that the Spirit will be alive among us.

Let the Spirit flourish and grow;
So that we will never tire of the struggle.

Let us remember those who have died
for justice; For they have given us life.

Help us love even those who hate us;
So we can change the world.


Cesar E. Chavez (1927-1993) founded the United Farmer Workers movement. See the website of the Cesar Chavez Foundation:

We Are Those
by Elizabeth Ventura, 4th grade student

We are the busboy that cleans your mess,
the street cleaners,
the trashmen, the cooks,
though we have to kill ourselves
for a plate of food.
We are those who
clean your houses from top to bottom.
We are those who shine your cars,
those who plant and cut your lawn,
we are the painters, construction workers.
Here we are:
those that serve at your pleasure.
We grow tired but you just watch us pass.
When we're injured,
you don't help us.
And to thank us,
you sweep us up like trash in the street
take us off to jail and deport us.
You say we're illegal,
though we're equal in our rights.
We're the people united
who will never be defeated.
Somos... el pueblo unido
que jamas sera vencido!

by Claire J. Baker

In America, while
cattle were rounded up
shoved down shutes
to the slaughterhouse
numbers torn from ears

Nazi cattle cars were
crowded, stinking, hot.
The Jews were hungry, ill,
frightened; wrists would be
numbered & choices made.

Lest we forget.

Dots on the Horizon
(The children of Darfur)
by Claire J. Baker

Weak, holding hands, they walk
deep into the endless desert --
no parents, no home.

They lean away from the sun
not to be burned, blinded --
nothing to eat or drink.

Sand dunes dry their tears,
night hides their hunger.
Moonlight fingers bones.

Out of the Tunnel...
by Mary Perkins

Out of the tunnel walked three men, blinded by the bright light of the day. Two of the men were pushing a shopping cart over the large wooden tracks. One man trailed behind, his eyes overwhelmed by the light.

The tunnel was their home.

Inside the tunnel, where trains rushed by, daily, at all hours of the day and night, was their camp. The camp was their home.

The camp had foam mattresses soaked with filthy flood water in the winter. On the mattresses were blankets, pillows and clothing, all filthy. Near the mattresses were open boxes of food and clothing. Empty liquor bottles were everywhere.

In the camp lived a man with severe epilepsy and alcoholism, a man with braces on both legs, a woman who was alcoholic, and other people. The man with epilepsy has a wealthy father who had done nothing to help his son... his only living son.

The human beings whose lives are lived in this homeless camp, under a bridge, are some of the homeless, forgotten and ignored people in need in California.

They are representative of the homeless citizens we drive by, day after day, and ignore or pity, but do not help. Because we do not help them, their lives get worse.

These human beings are treated as if they are invisible-as if they do not really exist. These people live in a tunnel only five miles from one of the wealthiest communities in America.

The wealthy residents of this town drive right by this tunnel, see the people who live in it and who need someone's help, and they, to a person, do not help.

The homeless are treated as if their lives are of no consequence by others.

All lives have consequence. ALL lives matter.

Why does no one help to get these human beings out of the tunnel?

(Mary Perkins wrote to Street Spirit about this poem: "The man in the poem who has epilepsy and alcoholism is a man I met and helped to apply for food stamps, MediCal, SDI, SSI and other forms of governmental help. I witnessed the appalling living conditions that he and his friends were living in. His wealthy father, who lives in Cupertino, CA, refused to financially assist him and appeared to be entirely emotionally comfortable that his only living son was living under a bridge in Redwood City, CA. The son is now living at a homeless shelter in Redwood City because his story touched my heart and I chose to help him. The bigger question is: Why do so few people choose to help the homeless to get financial aid that they are entitled to?")

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