I Asked the Lord in Prayer

by Judy Joy Jones

l asked the lord in prayer
why people are
begging for food
I thought god’s goodness
was for everyone
and the lord
answered me
the poorest of the poor
count on you and me
to be their voice hands and feet
and when we give until it hurts
the poorest of the poor
will be no more
the day will come
when everyone will have
food shelter and medical care
the lord then opened
heaven’s doors
and angels tenderly dried
the tears of the poor
all over earth’s shores
and thus the lord
said to me
the homeless will no longer be
when we share
with those in need


by Claire J. Baker

While flags flew
at half mast
for Nelson Mandela,
five Bay Area
homeless died


by Claire J. Baker

Here’s to all
personal, universal
that after they
peak and pass
live on as stardust.

Native Daughter

by George Wynn

How do you define your self-worth
when no one cares about you
in the city of your birth
and labels you homeless whether
you are or are not?
And you want to scream
“Why do you hate me
I am not an expatriate
I am your native daughter
whether I sleep in your world
by the Top of the Mark
or whether I have fallen
onto a lonely and dark
street near ATT Park?”

Street Spirit

by Carla Koop

He sits on a crate, six feet away.
Orange stripes beam from his polo shirt.
A small black pack rests at his foot,
zipped up tight. He lifts his shirt to scratch.
Bright white fabric tumbles out like a secret.
I peer at him sideways behind brown shades
my coffee cup a bollard between us.
Sun glares down on his bare face,
which crumples, like the newspapers under his arm.
His close-cropped hair glistens like fertile soil.
His question, always the same, hangs in the air.
Spare change for the homeless?
He mouths his mantra quietly, a prayer
not really meant for passersby.
He fingers his wad of papers like a rosary
while the news of the day marches on.
My sympathy rises and falls
like swells on the ocean.
He stoops to clear trash from the street:
What a worthy, working man!
The guy next to me eyes his phone, ambles
away: If the rich don’t give, why should I?
A woman drops a bill and business card in his hand:
So many resources for people like him!
An Asian man, balancing groceries, gives him
chocolate and a smile: He’s giving, so should I!
Mostly they bustle by, eager for coffee
or the next errand on this Sunday.
His question lies like a stray rock on the sidewalk.
Rising, I cross the hard white walk
put 50 cents in his palm, take a worn paper
and begin to read the news.

empty lunch bucket brigade

by Randy Fingland

from out of the would work
the unemployed were born
would do a job, but can’t
there are no jobs, no hiring signs
the bottom current of the labor
pool has dried up, is drifting sand
along a canal designed to
pinch out as many as can
from getting even 2 meals a day

Minus Decent Housing

by George Wynn

I see new people with
no place to go
stand in line at St. Anthony’s
they wear thrift store clothes
A crippled man says, “It’s been all
downhill since the Ellis Act
that’s a sad fact
seems like the City doesn’t care
it’s getting worse and worse
each year.”

Strolling Downtown, Winter Evening

by Claire J. Baker

Stopped at a red light
we heard and saw in shadows
an army vet who made
odd whelps, weird hand signs.
Maybe in his winter plight
he summoned God who
(God, help him)
surely would come that night.

For Meals Only

by George Wynn

I hear the beauty of
homeless men
laughing after a
church meal
They are
so manly
so real
The church people
only sit down
to eat after the
homeless men leave

Genocide of the Poor

by Judy Joy Jones

we must never
accept seeing
one homeless man
dying on the street
we must not allow
our minds to tolerate
the hideous holocaust
before our eyes
of the poorest of the poor
no human can survive
forced to live
in filth and shame
as we walk by
we all see
the holocaust
growing larger
each day
and must find ways
to feed house
and clothe
our people
dying on the streets
genocide of the poor
will end
because of you and me
who saw and acted in haste
to help our brothers and sisters
in need

Poor and Old in the Company of Beautiful Language

by George Wynn

They say the old poet from Baltimore
has no future in the City by the Bay
Forget Cable Car land
they say go back to Maryland
He has no place to live
and is tired of making a plan
for a place for the night
and somewhere cheap to dine
and sore all along the spine
when luck strikes out
By day to get by
he does phone surveys
by night he lives with the company
of boyhood hero Edgar Allan Poe
The gleam in his eye says somehow
things gonna be all right

the right to sit stand

by Randy Fingland

is the crowd
outdoors tonight
because there’s no roof
available — even a tent
there’s a certain
resemblance to no room
at the inn — but the measure
is there’s no stable
no manger
no automatic answer
to why who is here tonight
under the streetlight
or not, no shuteye
in answer to what
the future recalls
of the sleeping under
bridges laws

American-Style War

by Claire J. Baker

Attack, kill, conquer,
shamble ancient cities,
make a mess of mosques,
schools, hospitals.
Survey buildings bombed,
infrastructure zapped;
casualties on either side.
Rebuild, restore, move on
bones of a despot tucked
in dusty rucksacks.
Soon new ranks of homeless:
maimed, stress-disordered,
pill-popping Jack & Jill
Armstrongs, good soldiers
shipped back, not needed!

Revised Power Anthem

(Nonviolent movements for change)

by Claire J. Baker

All power to the people
but not the negatives in power —
those atop a steeple.
Power to the real people
the ones becoming feeble
from lack of food each hour.
Power, please, to striving people,
skip over the negatives in power.

“Father If It Be Thy Will.” Art by Rodney Bell


The Novelist

by George Wynn

Before they turn out
the shelter lights
pad and pen in hand
he daydreams he’s young
and has the literary style
the publishers like
and his novel has
what it takes to
get their attention
and they say
“Sign here
and let’s do
a novel every
three years”
and he sits down
every night
and writes,
writes, writes.
It’s the most
thing in his life.

Creating Wealth for Only Self

by Judy Joy Jones

Today I awakened
to a brand new world
laid out before me
like a brilliant jewel
it was a world where
no one was hungry
or in pain
all were working
towards their
highest dreams
with no thoughts
of personal gain
wisdom had replaced
man’s ignorance greed and fear
as all could clearly see
creating wealth
for only self
brings wars famine
misery and pain
all people were united
for a second in time
to create new worlds
for all people to shine
and as personal collections
of vast wealth vanished
so did wars and famine
today I awakened to a new world
laid out before me
like a jewel
where not one person
suffered in poverty
wisdom prevailed
greed was gone
wars ceased
our new world
was created
with one heartbeat
societies of yesterday
where only a few had
and never shared
were remembered
as the saddest moments
of our entire history
Today I awakened
to a bright new world
laid out before me
like a brilliant jewel!

quid pro quo for all

by Randy Fingland

must welcome
the select many
who choose to
erect mindsets to keep
the cold & wet away
from enjoyment
of a good night’s sleep
on public land
put there
for the public’s use

The Old Footsteps

by George Wynn

There’s a glimpse of
Civic Center sun
but this is the time
of darkness for him
His caterpillar fingers
strum his white guitar
in the San Francisco summer
and yearn for the sight of
down home players
and to hear the
old footsteps of
Hank, Charlie, and Frank
and the tapping of their feet
to the Beale Street Blues
When the weather was good
they’d leave Tennessee
for Washington D.C
and wander to Vancouver B.C
and down the coast
to old Mexico
His guitar case
lies quiet except
the clink clank
of a quarter or two
Now the sun
has gone
and it’s time
to move on
down the line.

Last Reverie Along the California Coast

by George Wynn

Rafael is sitting in a small cafe
in Monterey unable to eat
reading Cannery Row
and reflecting upon
rolling up his sleeves for
six years on hot tar roofs
being cooped up
in a noisy Tenderloin
hotel room studying Ingles
on nights he can’t sleep
and hearing the despair
of daily beggars on
morning streets
He stares out the window
right now he’s imagining tomorrow:
hills rolling down the
Monterey peninsula
cypress tress and pine trees
the sun caressing each
blade of grass
He lets out a big breath
and thinks to himself
the money was great
but now he feels his fate
is to return to the Yucatan
from where he was called
to support his wife and children and
buy land for his Maya familia
They will be beekeepers
and spoon honey on hot tortillas
and drink tea in la manana
He knows he won’t be
back to El Norte
Rafael can’t face it anymore
he took his licks
crossing the Tex-Mex
frontera twice
he learned there
is a hell
This instant he’s craving
precious moments of privacy
along the California coast
staring at his sore
callused hands fingering
John Steinbeck’s words

The Woods

by Joanna Bragen

so densely packed
pushing through
I am met
unsteady footing
poison leaves
I don’t know if I have ever
been so lost
too dark
to see in front of me
and I definitely don’t want
to look back
smothered so strongly
I am starting to feel insanity
I push on all night
knowing that the
wrong path
could be even worse
one foot in front of the other
I try to stay the course
darkness finally leaves
making my trip
a little more clear
and I thank God
my light
is finally feeling near
she calls to me to approach
I stumble one last time
but I’ve always known
how to pick myself up
and I carry on
I reach her
feeling warmer
in her glow
my rock
her positivity
takes control
I am finally out of this nightmare
so lost I thought I may never
make it back
but my story has
a happy ending
and I’ve made it through
yet another attack

The Meadow

by Claire J. Baker

Viewed from afar
the grass appears
to grow evenly.
Closer view reveals
stems with not the same
lean, same green
as they weave
through the meadow.
Slanting unique ways
offshoot pioneers
lend lavender shadows
enhancing depth,
variations on a theme
for the entire meadow.