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?