A Toast to the Union

by Carol Denney
give me the working-class heroes who never think twice about lending a hand
give me the bars and bordellos and ladies who know the real worth of a man
give me the drunks and the junkies who know the true depth and the soul of desire
give me the rail-riding bums and the hoboes who sing to the stars by the fire
give me the losers and down-and-out underdogs buying each other a beer
give me the bankrupted nobodies giving salutes of good luck and good cheer
here’s to the truckers who fly across mountains on love songs and rubber and prayer
here’s to the workers who sing at the top of their lungs as if no one was there
Chorus: we belong, we belong, and the union between us is strong
we may be wrong here but yes we belong here this is our life and our land
no one can take it away if we make our shared paradise and we can
here’s to the felons, parolees and miscreants hollering Saturday night
here’s to the fry cooks in truckstops with breakfast at dawn making everything right
here’s to the misfit, the unhip who cannot put up with the sickening show
here’s to the kid who knows just what he did and when asked why just says
I don’t know
chase down the worst and I’ll tell you they’re first on the list of the people I love
show me the women who’ll slam their opinion down hard with no pearls and no glove
saddle me up with the liars and showmen whose stories go on until dawn
put me right next to the gamblers who bested the best and don’t care what they won
Chorus: we belong, we belong, and the union between us is strong
we may be wrong here but yes we belong here this is our life and our land
no one can take it away if we make our shared paradise and we can
here’s to the bartenders, waiters and waitresses hustling for nickels and dimes
here’s to the clear-headed hard-hearted heartbreakers pouring out songs with the wine
here’s to the suckers and slackers who bought the whole package and didn’t know why
here’s to the bums and the beggars who fail and keep railing at life till they die
here’s to fumblers, the blundering stumblers who never get picked for the game
here’s to the aimless, the nameless who shamelessly spit upon fortune and fame
here’s to the takers and fakers who shook up the dice and looked twice and then ran
here’s to the jagged old raggedy farts kicking dreams down the road like a can
Chorus: we belong, we belong, and the union between us is strong
we may be wrong here but yes we belong here this is our life and our land
no one can take it away if we make our shared paradise and we can
tell me the lies and the stories that tear my heart open as though they were mine
paint me the dreams and the paintings and make it so real I’m left speechless and blind
tear up the maps and the borders admit it we’re all here together today
we’re all unrepentant and this is our sentence and damn it get out of our way
Chorus: we belong, we belong, and the union between us is strong
we may be wrong here but yes we belong here this is our life and our land
no one can take it away if we make our shared paradise and we can


by Sue Ellen Pector
Spiraling line of
tall men, huddled in
coats, await bread.
Light and shadow
prisms of powerlessness.
discarded men
lost hungry afraid,
no one hears
your swallowed rage.
Inspired by “Breadline 1935” by Iver Rose from the July 2010 Street Spirit

View from the Pavement

By George Wynn
Seven days a week
a senior lays out
on a Market Street
corner under a
sign post
in a winter coat
no matter hot or cold.
food and money
and clothes bold
people give him
to survive
while checking
up on him
to see if
he’s still alive.

Walked by Jesus

by John Perry
I walked by Jesus
last night.
He was wearing
a grimy T-shirt
grease-stained chinos
and a worn out
pair of sneakers
with a broken lace.
He stood alone
On Fourth Street
where it crosses Mission.
And looked at me
with longing eyes.
His dirty arms
extended toward me
in a sient plea.
Suffering there;
for sins
not his own,
for rejection
He did not deserve,
an outcast
even from his own people.
Standing there
day after day
with outstretched hands;
He offers each passer-by
and hope.
As I drop a couple bucks
into his cup,
I wonder
how many of us
just pass on by.

Sleeping Cart Hobos

by George Wynn
I see them sitting
in the rain
on a Golden Gate
park bench
with other old men
shoes and socks
by their side
stretching their
callused toes.
Not a single
grimace from
the pain.
These are the
tough ones.
They have not
lost their way
despite what
society may say.

A Street Spirit vendor

by Maureen Hartmann
A young man was sitting on Sunday
with neat piles
of the March and April issues
near Harrison and Grand where
the Cathedral of Christ the Light
is located.
He was dressed in neat casual clothing.
I told him to save the newspapers
for other customers.
I promised him a dollar,
but could only find change for
85 cents in my purse.
He put out his cupped hand and
accepted it gratefully like a gentleman.

“Wet Night on Sutter Street” “Wet Night on Sutter Street” by Christine Hanlon, oil on canvas, 20” by 32 1/3”
“Wet Night on Sutter Street”
Painting by Christine Hanlon, oil on canvas, 20” by 32 1/3”


After A Painting

“Wet Night on Sutter Street”
by Claire J. Baker
A worn umbrella just in case,
but this night there’s no downpour.
In size to shield the legs or face
a worn umbrella blown or placed
near a sleeper bracing to brace
for routing from store-front door.
An old umbrella, just in case.
But this night there’s no downpour.
After a Painting “Wet Night on Sutter Street” Painting by Christine Hanlon, oil on canvas, 20” by 32 1/3”

Peace of Mind

by George Wynn
Peace of Mind
by George Wynn
When he gets there
he knows he will
feel just right
Poncho clad
trekking along
El Camino Real.
He finds the cemeteries
up on the hill
give him the will to continue
They are as peaceful as
the sight of his mother
praying to the Virgin Mary
No shelter honcho
scolding: “Thou shalt
not do this and that
and that,” making
his nerves ever so brittle.
Lush green grass
takes time to grow
Somehow little by
little he will rebuild
his life.

Spills Humans

by Sue Ellen Pector
Severed from its foundation
gripped by a monster,
the tenement house spills humans.
Slivered moon observes.
War mongering capitalism,
your deadly might dwarfs
tall buildings.

Inspired by “The Hand That Takes” by Eric Drooker from July 2010 Street Spirit



By George Wynn
Up on Cathedral Hill
survivors in tattered clothes
— some given up for dead —
pray and feast on
tuna fish sandwiches
cornbread and coffee
and move on
with ageless will
under a black cloud.


By Buford Buntin
The short, muscular man says,
“I been tryin’ to get a place
for us, but my sweetie says
it don’t matter.  She’s comin’
out here from Ft. Lauderdale.”
He stands talking to friends
from his place two spots
in front of me in the Glide line.
“She’s gonna bring her
sleeping bag to lie beside me,
in the park, maybe.
Where I been sleeping,
the gate’s locked &
nobody can get in,
& if I want to get out,
I can climb the fence.”
We continue on,
as he and his handsome
orange San Francisco
Giants jersey
gleam a little  even
on this cool foggy day.
His face, filled with joy,
turns toward the front
of the line.


By George Wynn
He never heard
her say good-bye
she just went abroad
what suffering
what pain
It was a freezing
San Francisco morning
on top of the
unbearable memory
He pats his dog and reflects:
he tried the bottle
and God Almighty
but still felt lost
In her eyes
he felt fulfilled
So now in a
silent Nob Hill alley
he draws portraits of her
She comes again
in the fog
and the sun
comes out.

From a Young Street Poet

by Claire J. Baker
Though I’m poor & look like hell
the full moon nourished by
reflected sun, finds me and
feeds my wayward spirit well.
I’ve the moon, I can’t complain.
The moon is never mean
to poets. And to wash the
night air clean, there’s wind & rain.

In Downtown San francisco

by Claire J. Baker
The Transamerica building
designed to bend & flex
in earthquakes — all that
golden shimmer & angular shape
swaying, settling back down:
if only the same
for street people
swaying under the earthquakes
of their lives.

in our America

by Sue Ellen Pector
Clothed in pristine flags of stars, they craft
utensils of starvation, hammers of poverty,
welcome-mats of homelessness.
in our America,
haughty captains of capital
curse the open-palmed,
tear-stained, hungry.


by Joan Clair
i stop for the sacred which has stopped for me
in the form of a flower or a tree
or a homeless person on the street.
in the unknowable Mystery,

She Sends Silent Hope

by Sue Ellen Pector
homeless in the snow
two men, one dog
beneath the bridge.
A small girl, awake past bedtime,
watches through her window.
nestled in blankets, she sends silent hope
to the dog far below,
beside the men huddled at a steel drum’s fire.
Sensing her hope, the dog looks
up at her glowing warm window and howls.
icicles drip from a shed’s roof and
the girl dreams.
Inspired by “Under Bridges” by Eric Drooker from the July issue of Street Spirit


by Claire J. Baker
We saved your tennis shoes —
faded blue, run-over sides,
worn rubber peeling off.
White paint flecks the blue
like crushed stars. We finger
the tread. you were not
a winner on the tennis courts
or the court of last resort.
now you are taken.
We place on your pillow
these battered sneakers
from your last summer.

Stockton Tunnel Letter Writer

by George Wynn
I don’t know
his name or where
he was from
His speeding pen
on blue paper
tablet in
Stockton Tunnel
sparked my curiosity
and when he
looked up at me
with exhausted eye
after midnight
and said, “I
knew right away
when I walked
out on her, I’d
screwed up,”
I understood
the narrative
of his life.


by Sue Ellen Pector
No safe place to live,
how many homeless humans die
while the housed avert gazes,
tossing a coin or two.
Fear has so warped people that
they birth bombs even
as they refuse to house humans.

the dispractice of heaven

by Randy Fingland
never bestowed
a Cadillac
on a stranger
because what
I really have
to share is questionable
since I’m without
financial resources
but there’s reason
to believe
I deserve the air I breathe
the water I drink
& there’s no question
this food is mine
if I’m willing to settle
for what I can get —
I’m not complaining
(or am I?) —
where I’ve arrived
in this dispossession
is to trust no  longer
dreams that betterment
awaits but today
is as good as it is

The Rush-Around

by Joan Clair
“The faster we go, the more we leave ourselves behind…. We are too ‘busy’ to be human.” — Joan Chittister
If someone has not a minute to spare
of their busyness life, beware.
Retreat to where you meet Supreme Being.
Don’t feel worthless through lives on the run,
gusts of wind rushing past your life’s sound,
the sight of you given the rush-around.
If you’re homeless and on the street,
don’t take the rush-around personally.
The “busyness bodies” are full of hot air;
they’ll answer the phone,
then have no time to spare.
Give them a dial tone.
Don’t feel alone.
Homeless, or homed,
the Supreme Being is never rushed,
never above the humble caller.
Be aware.

The Way

by Sue Ellen Pector
Antidote despair, shimmering moon.
Beam blessings to me, ancestors,
that my path may be illumined
by your wisdom, love and guidance.
May good omens greet me,
allies blaze trails to my door.
May dogsong enlighten my life.
Let peace show me the way in this dark.


by Claire J. Baker
May you
arrive at
not by dying
but by LIVING.
May the end
begin a


(anyone you know?)
by Claire J. baker
He believed in clouds
of gliding from gold
to gray to white —
believed in raindrops
on wing tips
glittering like stars.
He flew above us, carving
the blue into pieces
we might more easily ply.
Like a bird he lived
a short life. But, world,
what he could see so high.

Who’s Extinct?

by Randy Fingland
privatization =
corporatization =
degradation =
globalization =
genocidization =
profitization =
chemicalization =
civilization checkmate =
planet reconstructs =
military-industrial complex death