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Safe Ground
Safe Ground
Safe Ground
Photos are from Safe Ground, a homeless
encampment in Sacramento, California.
From left to right: Safe Ground
demonstration at city hall; police carting
off homeless people’s belongings in
truck; police at the camp.
On July 1, 2009, a group of homeless campers and supporters began to resist Sacramento’s arrests of homeless people for sleeping anywhere, whether camping on private ground with the consent of the owner, or on public property. The City cannot enforce this ordinance. It makes no sense.

The dusk feels reluctant, this evening in August
six o’clock at the campsite sifts down like dust

and the long distance buses of the Amador line
rumble to the cement barn that is their home.

We hear a night freight cross the steep embankment
at the end of the street, each metal panel

each steel coupling & wheel grinding & abrading
while the drowsy voices of homeless campers

talk about arrests & what the police are likely to do
whether they’ll break down the tents or not:

“you will be handcuffed for your own protection.”
We discuss the holding cells, the separation

relaxed in our borrowed chairs under the sumac trees
that found this unwanted ground, fast growing

their leaves like fronds offering free shade
to anyone below.

Before dawn they raided.
They took everyone & all the signs of their life.

— Cathleen Williams

Cathleen Williams is active in the struggle against homelessness and she is a member of the Revolutionary Poets Brigade

Please forward my mail to New Orleans, Atlantic
I mean
New Atlantis, Louisiana
I mean
That graveyard we abandoned where survivors were left to scavenge for scraps in the aftermath of levee damage
But 3 years later we pull 700 billion out of our
I wanna learn government magic
How to turn streetcars into surfboards
How to bury every dream in the muddy streets of the 9th ward
How to steal from people so poor they couldn’t even afford to evacuate when they were WARNED about the storm
Tell me
Is it still wrong to bite the hand that feeds me if that hand forces bullshit down my umbilical chord

All over the world, children were being born into snow globes of hope
While others were dying in the Super Dome but that’s not what they showed
I was told THOSE people murdered and stole
When the truth was my fellow kings and queens were using their thrones as boats to float above the city they called home
And I learned that the hard way
Riding the metaphorical waves of a poet that drank that rain
I think I finally went sane at the front doors of
I’ll take the 504 over the 405 any day
So I’m leaving LA the city for LA the state
Goodbye, Angels
Hello, Saints

— CeCe CuzaHoward
CeCe CuzaHoward

The working man
Lends body, energy and time
For the comfort of another class.
Cities pieced together gradually
And maintained by the hour
For another’s gratification.

For basic survival.
Such are the lives of trade-unionists,
Service workers

And souls with far less.

Buses scoured of stickers and graffiti
From front to back.
Brooms sweep city streets of debris.
Bags of rubbish hauled off from hospital bins,
Disposed of with the quickness.
Thankless tasks any other worker would refuse
Carried out

For scraps
Flung from the table of “Human Services”.

The desperate
Would fight the desperate tooth and claw
Over scraps
If their pockets
And stomachs stay empty.

Why subsist on scraps
When a full dinner plate is more tantalizing
And worth fighting for?
W: 6.25.09
For Larry Lattimore — 1951-2009,
of P.O.W.E.R./S.F. Living Wage Coalition

— Dee Allen
Poor Magazine


This article originated in the People's Tribune
PO Box 3524, Chicago, IL 60654, 773-486-3551,
Feel free to reproduce unless marked as copyrighted.
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