The May 2005 Edition of Street Spirit

A publication of the American Friends Service Committee


National AFSC AFSC Economic Justice BOSS Website



In this issue:

Someone's Sister: Homeless in the East Bay

A Young Mother Dreams of a Brighter Future

Legal Rights of Homeless People

Exposing Wal-Mart Empire

HUD Pulls a Disappearing Act

Devastating Cuts to Section 8

Civil Rights Gets on the Bus

UC Students Brutalized by Police

Activism for Economic Justice

Night of Humanity and Courage

Nonviolent Vigil for San Diego's Poorest

The Faithful Fools

Medical Pot in Santa Cruz

Poor Leonard's Almanack

Poetry of the Streets


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.

Poor Leonard's Almanack

Quotations and Original Thoughts by Leonard Roy Frank
Street Spirit May 2005


1. How can you worship a homeless man on Sunday and ignore one on Monday?
COALITION FOR THE HOMELESS, caption under a drawing of Jesus in a full-page ad, New York Times, 16 January 1994

2. Watching weary souls
The onslaught of poverty
Turns their eyes downward.

DENNIS OMOWALE CUTTEN, "Day and Night" (poem), Street Spirit, January 2003

3. How does it feel
To be without a home
Like a complete unknown
Like a rolling stone?

BOB DYLAN, "Like a Rolling Stone" (song), 1965

4. there is more than one way
to skin a light
from the eyes that shine
in a child's face

bring him into a world
at war with itself
set her in the street
amid warm walls of rubble

say this is your home
be glad you were born
now get busy
you've got a mouth to feed

RANDY FINGLAND, "self-sufficiency" (poem), Street Spirit, August 2003

5. One hundred and fifty seven homeless people died on the streets of San Francisco this year and, as the nights get longer and colder, the situation is bound to get worse. Thousands are being turned away from shelters every night. More and more people are being rousted while trying to find a safe place to sleep in parks or doorways; their meager belongings are confiscated and they are left with nowhere to go in this city that once prided itself on being humane and compassionate. We have gone, in the words of Father Kirk Ullery from Our Lady of Lourdes Catholic Church, "from the city that knows how, to the city that couldn't care less."
LYDIA GANS, "A Covenant of Compassion," Street Spirit, January 1999

6. Streets do not exist in civilized societies for the purpose of people sleeping there. Bedrooms are for sleeping. [The right to sleep on the streets] doesn't exist anywhere. The founding fathers never put that in the Constitution.
RUDOLPH W. GIULIANI (New York mayor), "After Attack, Giuliani Plans Crackdown on the Homeless," New York Times, 20 November 1999

7. You step over bodies to get to the gourmet food line.
ROBERT M. HAYES (NYC Coalition for the Homeless), on Grand Central Station's 400 to 500 homeless, quoted in New York Times, 2 February 1988

8. Winter has come.
In doorways, in alleys, at the top
Of church steps,
Under cardboard, under rag-blankets
Or, if lucky, in plastic sacks,
After another day of humiliation,
Sleeping, freezing,
Isolated, divided, penniless,
Jobless, wheezing, dirty
Skin wrapped around and cold bones
That's us, that's us in the USA,
Hard concrete, cold pillow,
Where fire? Where drink?
Damned stiffs in a drawer
Soon if, and who cares?

JACK HIRSCHMAN (poet), "Home" (poem), reprinted in Mike Weiss, "Dean of S.F.'s Marxist Poetry," San Francisco Chronicle, 20 March 2000

9. Foxes have holes, and birds of the air have nests; but the Son of man has nowhere to lay his head.
JESUS, Matthew 8:20 (Revised Standard Version)

10. In most of the traditional cultures of the world, homelessness would be impossible; first because of large protective kin systems, and second because homes were easily constructed from materials at hand. In America today we consider homelessness as a lack of shelter, not as a breakdown of community.
LYNN MARIA LAITALA (writer), "In the Aftermath of Empire," The Finnish American Reporter (Hancock, Michigan), 1992

11. Give me your tired, your poor,
Your huddled masses
yearning to breathe free.
The wretched refuse of your teeming shore,
Send these, the homeless, tempest-tossed, to me:
I lift my lamp beside the golden door.

EMMA LAZARUS (poet and writer), inscription on the Statue of Liberty, "The New Colossus," 1883

12. She's leaving home after living alone for so many years.
JOHN LENNON and PAUL McCARTNEY, "She's Leaving Home" (song), 1967

13. Night after night, they die.
Night after terrible night
they sigh themselves away
in dumpsters, in burnt buildings,
in the back seats of junked cars
on the far edge of your cities.
They crowd your bedrooms in the dark,
they huddle under your silk sheets,
unseen, they bend over each sleeper
and touch with bloodied palms
this face, that breast,
given the task by a god
who wants no one to forget.

PETER MARIN (writer), "The Coats: Boston," (poem) Street Spirit, December 2000

14. When told to move on
He answered,
I have more right
To be here
Than this sidewalk does.

DANIEL MARLIN, "When Told To Move On" (poem), Street Spirit, March 2004

15. Better to seek with never finding
Like the homeless,
lost wind, ever-moving;
Than to find one's place of fulfillment of dreams
To be a success with screams inside.

TIM MILLS, closing stanza, untitled poem, 8 August 1990, published in Michael A. Susko, editor, ("Tim Mills' Story"), Cry of the Invisible: Writings from the Homeless and Survivors of Psychiatric Hospitals, 1991

16. Clouds up ahead.
Dark underneath.
Looks like more rain.
Should've pulled that plastic bag
out of that last trash can
to keep the bread dry
I found on the bus bench.
Oh, well.
Just like 'Nam's bamboo prison.
Wet bread. One hell to another.

MISTER ED, "'Nam," Street Spirit, July 2002

17. What we have found in this country, and maybe we're more aware of it now, is one problem that we've had, even in the best of times, and that is the people who are sleeping on the grates, the homeless who are homeless, you might say, by choice.
RONALD REAGAN, 31 January 1984, quoted in Mark Green and Gail MacColl, "A Deficit of Economics," Reagan's Reign of Error: The Instant Nostalgia Edition, 1987

18. Living on the street,
under the bushes close up to the church
outside where the ground is
protected by frost,
they shelter themselves,
the ones who've lost.
The ones we've lost, but still our own,
our children, our sisters,
our brother's child.
Is anyone you've loved and known
without a home?
Is anyone without a home
someone you can love?

MARY RUDGE, closing verse, "Anyone You've Lost," Street Spirit, December 2003

19. For the homeless all ways wither like cut flowers.
NELLY SACHS (German-born Swedish poet and playwright), "World, Do Not Ask Those Snatched From Death," O the Chimneys, 1967

20. nowhere to lay my head
sometimes I wish I was dead
got the homeless blues

out in the rain
my heart numb with pain

empty life
filled with strife

nowhere to lay my head

hungry and cold
I'm sick and old

does He who marks each sparrow's fall
see me struggling here at all?

nowhere to lay my head
sometimes I wish I was dead

homeless blues
NANCY WARDER, "Jane's Homeless Blues" (poem), Street Spirit, January 2003

21. The lowly man, homeless and self-forgetful, with his message of peace, love and sympathy: the suffering, the agony, the tender words as life ebbed, the final despair: and the whole with the authority of supreme victory.
ALFRED NORTH WHITEHEAD (English mathematician and philosopher), Adventures of Ideas, 1933

22. counter to popular
reports, the war's
a failure:
it has not arrested
terrorist attacks
just before dawn
on the powerless
poor, the homeless,
women & children,
who were raised
by christians,
but now find
themselves camped
beside the main
stream in a
falsely labeled
land of plenty.

RANDY FINGLAND, "war on terrorism" (poem), Street Spirit, April 2002

23. It's like a long march
a forced journey
the Israelites crossing the desert -
so hot in the sun
you think you'll faint
so cold at dusk
you think you'll die
and the shelter miles away
and hours before it opens
and no sweaters for the kids
and all of them crying I want I want.

PETER MARIN, "The Babies: New Orleans" (poem), Street Spirit, March 1999

24. There can be no reasonable right to live on sidewalks. Society needs order, and hence has a right to a minimally civilized ambiance in public spaces. Regarding the homeless, this is not merely for aesthetic reasons because the anesthetic is not merely unappealing. It presents a spectacle of disorder and decay that becomes a contagion.
GEORGE F. WILL (journalist), "Homelessness: Sign of Decay on Urban Streets," Hartford Courant, 9 November 1987

25. O that I had wings like a dove!
I would fly away and be at rest;
truly, I would flee far away;
I would lodge in the wilderness;
I would hurry to find a shelter for myself
from the raging wind and tempest.

BIBLE, Psalms 55:6-8 (NRSV)

26. Homelessness is no crime, but it might as well be.

27. Necessity, dire necessity, is the constant companion of those who are homeless.

28. Feeling secure while being homeless is no more possible than staying dry while walking naked in the rain.

29. They need a hand; what they usually get is the finger.

30. Homeless in America
where everyone loves the underdog,
but not the loser
who's homeless in America.

Leonard Roy Frank is the editor of Random House Webster's Quotationary (20,000-plus quotes on 1,000-plus subjects). His "Frankly "column, which is distributed freely over the Internet on the first of the month, consists of 30-35 chronologically arranged quotes and original thoughts (mostly about current events) collected during the previous month. To get on the "Frankly Quoted" listserve, send your e-mail address to

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