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.

Poetry of the Streets

April Fools in Richmond

by Claire J. Baker

The Faithful Fools
come out of the hills
to live the flatland side;
they try hard not to falter,
and try not to hide;

it's sunny where
they walk today
casting off rumors and fears,
for people they see reveal
more smiles than tears.

Unlike the poor
the Fools are served
nourishing soup and bread;
their day will end at sundown
with feet of lead;

then bus up hills
to lovely homes
they go, no worse for wear:
viewpoints change with time
and timely care.

Felt in the Heart
by Brenda Lee Fowler

It's felt in the heart
It's felt in the soul
It seems like everything's under control
It feels so good
It feels so nice
It feels like everything is as
smooth as ice
But then one day
When it falls apart
That's when God will mend
your broken heart.

by Claire J. Baker

Out on cold streets among
silent cries of suffering --
the getting up only to fall,
or be pushed back down;

beyond neon buzz,
gutter papers,
foggy addresses
and fuzzy minds,

may each midnight you hear
the soothing baritone
drone of God.

by Joan Clair

"For He shall stand at the right hand of the needy, to save him from those who would oppress his soul." -- Psalm 109:31

Needy, the word is dirty;
one should not need.
The more unneedy one is,
the more one's value.
So when anyone needs,
be ready to leave,
be out the door.
Your possessed time
is worth so much more --
a royalty of minutes.
Be about your business busily,
an important person going some place,
on top of your never needy life,
or already there.

And whatever you do,
don't stop to smell the frail flowers of
loneliness, hunger, abandonment, need.
You are not a needy person.
You need not care.

A Parable
by Forrest Curo

This time
she came down
from the cross.

Bulldozer drivers
met the Torah and wept.

This time
in power she descended.

Not power of death and fear
but power of seeds erupting,
grace and life.

Death squad sadists
suffered compassion --
fell to the ground
and rose again.

Presidents repented
in filth and ashes before tv cameras.

All the world saw her
coming in clouds and glory.

Tanks fled
lone dissidents.
The censorious stared
in unmistakable lust.
We lukewarm
fell to our knees in shame.

She smiled down on all.
"Now, now, dears.
Run along and play."

Ladies & Gentlemen of the Streets
by Claire J. Baker

Where are you going
in the blur and cold?
What flowers of fog
bloom in your buttonholes?

Who do you love --
will you meet them
just around the corner?
They are looking for you,
looking and looking
for that is what love does.
And don't you, Ladies and
Gentlemen of the Streets,
ever forget.
Forget much, but not
food and shelter
which love provides.

A Banquet for the Homeless
by Claire J. Baker

happens mostly by chance.

The speaker w/great credentials
speaks on the essentials --
where to sleep, where to pee,
where best to get tossed
a few coins; where the City
is less likely to overturn
vats of soup; where bread
chunks, only a day old,
show no mold.

The menu?
A small bowl of soup,
a few peas and carrots
for color, a cornbread chunk
w/donated honey. And it's all
free, since no one has money.

Then back to the streets
to a bothersome case
of chest congestion and indigestion.

Fragments of War
by Edvino Ugolini

The hawk is flying
over the town.
The last heresy of mankind.
On the towers built
to divide the people
a banner which
reminds brotherhood
while in the far
the motors of
the war machine
are roaring.
Somebody is
preparing the final attack
and doesn't care of the injuries.
A land of ruins
and human rests
is the memory
of a strategy
serving sneaky interests.

They want to take the hope
they want to let us think
that the only way is making war
that the just law is
the law of the stronger one.
Death toys
to cancel thousands of lives
on anonymous tracks
like the trains to Auschwitz.




Your Soldiers, Your Lies
by Gerardo Gomez

So here we are
at the 2nd year anniversary
of the tragic inhuman war
where the ones
who have been affected
are the oppressed and the poor.

How many more innocent casualties
will it take
for our soldiers
to cover your lies
or should we just
get you hypnotized
and let people see
the devil in disguise
that conservative Americans
haven't realized.

Just because
you got away
with your fear politics
to win the election
you are not the one
to decide the direction
in which this country goes
and with my people's movement
we will show you
that globalization has got to go.

It all starts
with a left fist in the air
to show that we are tired
of living in a world of despair
cuz my people can't
continue to bear
the mistakes
that this country has yet to swear.

So, stop living in your world of greed
cuz in your own country
you got people in need
families to feed
people working their asses off
for miserable wages
that they receive
and its my people
that you deceive
but its their souls
that I'll retrieve
so that they can see
that all you have done
is stripped away
their dignity
and your government
will never invest money
to improve their communities
much less help them
get out of poverty
and end their daily calamity.

The Bones of the Homeless Will Return
by Judy Jones

The smells of clorox
drift thru the air
radios blare
as shopkeepers
try and strip bare
the tears fears and
blood of the millions of
homeless dying on our streets

But not even god can wipe clean
the souls of those
who saw and didn't heed
the screams of the homeless
dying on the streets

clorox and ammonia
filter thru the air
radios blare
trying to erase
the stench shrieks and moans
of humans living and dying
on concrete streets

one day in time
our own souls will be laid bare
and etched deeply inside will lie
the blood and cries
of those denied
one moment's peace
on earth's shores

no name ashes
pour from city morgue doors
moaning crying pleading
to deafened ears

"I am your mother father
sister and brother
couldn't you have
offered me your hand?"

clorox and ammonia
can never remove
from the eternal book of life
one tear
one drop of blood
of the homeless
who starved and died
on our cold concrete streets

In one flash
our soul's memories
will be laid bare
and god we and all shall see
the bones of the homeless
have returned to haunt
those with closed eyes

by Charlotte Tall Mountain

In nature,
I am neither rich nor poor,
Neither old or young
Modern or old-fashioned
My vestments, appropriate
to the heat or cool
Are indifferent to her
She doesn't care if I am
employed or idle
Whether I've paid my bills on time
Or if I will be the recipient
of a grand prize
I cannot impress her with my wit
But I feel she understands my pain
She offers me her bounty whether
I have earned her grace or not
So great is her wisdom
So huge her heart.

1515 Webster St,#303
Oakland, CA 94612Phone: (510) 238-8080, ext. 303

E-mail: Spirit

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Published by American Friends Service Committee

Editor : Terry Messman

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