Mary Ann Wright — Saint of the Poor

by Judy Joy Jones

Mother Mary Ann Wright
Saint of the Poor
slept sitting up all night
so she could feel
the suffering
of the homeless
all over earth’s shores
Hearing God’s call
to take blankets
food and clothes
to the homeless
on the streets
in the darkest nights
Mary Ann Wright did go
How many souls
she fed and clothed
the world will never know
but her love for the poor
lives on through eternity
and her saint’s halo
forever glows
Mother Mary Ann Wright
Saint of the Poor
sheltering the homeless
in her loving arms
she was the mother
they had never known
sent by God alone

Upcountry from Delano

Farm Workers March to Sacramento

by Thanasis Maskaleris

The offenses of Mammon are legion
but greatest is the offense against the vine —
this is to offend, to wound the heart of both Dionysos and Christ.
Here, under the banners and the burned faces,
I see the simple strength of Zapata
and the complex mind of revolution —
the undying vine protesting in human form.
But beyond this march of wrath that Cesar Chavez leads,
I discern only the immense sleep of the nation’s conscience —
the dreams of self-righteousness that manufacture bombs
and break up the demonstrations of life…

Desperate & Daring

by Claire J. Baker

In rough California hills
an orange tent glares
among chaparral,
native grasses,
wild roses, sage —
an exclamation point
at the end of someone’s
year-long fruitless search
for affordable housing,
a job?

Orange Nylon

by Claire J. Baker

Someone lives
in our neighborhood,
orange nylon tent
nearly hidden
in cemetery canyon.
(I won’t tell!)
A real person
falling back
for awhile
before, hopefully
as fate would have it
moving forward?

A mural of Mother Mary Ann Wright of Oakland enshrines her as a local heroine.


Shopping Carts

by Joan Clair

It is an art
to keep one’s life together
in a shopping cart,
to be a consumer in reverse
shopping, storeless, in the universe.
It is an art
to live within the means and meaning
of a shopping cart,
outside the many rooms
of those who, overconsumed,
throw marketing excess out in rage,
screaming at the lack of meaning
stuffing their lives with waste
standing in the way of simply being.
I am amazed at some homeless elders’
carts, blankets and clothes in neat folds,
layers of grace in intricate space,
an orderly humbleness
so out of step with sanctified numbness
that one could fall apart outraged
at those who order homelessness away—
those who could discover on their knees
in prayer and praise a reason to believe
before essentials bare as these
of those who live with dignity.
Organized disgrace,
crimes of legalized hate
may take the carts of the homeless away
but cannot separate them from god
whose home is in their heart
with or without a shopping cart.


by Mary Rudge

I desperately look for your face
among the homeless
and hungry.
I cannot find you.
I will feed this one,
I will take this one home,
in your name.
When I said I was searching for you
they asked: which ward do you
want to see?
What Multiple Sclerosis looks like?
What it looks like to be dying?
Have you seen AIDS? Schizophrenia?
turns like a flower toward the sun
toward love
like you, delicate around the mouth
with violet shadows,
everywhere I look.
Do people slip through the slats in
picket fences, the slats in hospital
beds? Become lost in trees?
Has anyone fallen past the Pacific Rim?
Is any poem I hold
strong enough for a lifeline?