“Homeless Improvement”


Men gather by the downtown shelter, smoke,

watch life roll by.


I cross the street to the city’s newest condos.


A basic unit

– 1 bedroom apartment a quarter of a million dollars –

features panoramic windows,

designer kitchen cabinets,

granite countertops


oak hardwood floors,

“but not real oak,” the lady admits

when I repeat my question.


She leads me through the grand lobby. My eyes

follow her dyed hair as she introduces the pool, the sauna,

and the empty, landscaped terrace.

“Our standards have been elevated,” she says,

as though explaining modern life

to a Neanderthal.


Back by the Mission I watch my steps,

avoid spittle,

cigarette butts.



(Editor’s note: poet Shai Ben-Shalom, an Israeli-born biologist, examines current events in the Blacklock’s tradition each and every Sunday)

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