Unemployed workers in front of shack with Christmas tree, East 12th Street, New York, New York: photo by Russell Lee, January 1938 (Farm Security Administration/Office of War Information Collection, Library of Congress)
Shoppers rush past frozen images unseen,
In bright synthetics Sierra skiers ski
Through snowdead woods on blurred storewindow TV.
In the forest it is cold. How can it be
Colder in the cities? Street people crouched
Under Amoeba’s protective arcade mouth
Such big round starving O’s: oxygen balloons
Lifting off to perfect freedom, no strings --
A pity they can’t float off in them.
Peace, brother. I can spare the buck or pass it.
Just breathing commits one to everything --
To life -- which can’t be purchased on this street
Where ravenous as sheer presence Christmas lights
Up human appetites for guilty pleasures.
Mendicant begging outside supermarket entrance: photo by Anna Kaiser, 6 September 2011
Amoeba Music storefront, Telegraph Avenue, Berkeley: photo by efo, 13 December 2008
Food line at the Yonge Street Mission, 381 Yonge Street, Toronto: photographer unknown, 1930s (Yonge Street Mission)
Toronto street sleeper: photo by Andy Burgess, 20 December 2009
Children sleeping in Mulberry Street, New York City: photo by Jacob Riis (1849-1914), 1890; image by Dark Attsios, 18 December 2011
University Avenue, Berkeley, at night: photo by Whyzee, February 2008
Very little town of Bethlehem (El Cerrito, California): photo by efo, 18 December 2011