Tom Waits has always been an advocate for the homeless, whether in songs like “On the Nickel”—a beautiful ballad from Heartattack and Vine about Los Angeles’ Fifth St.—or in lending a song to the soundtrack of Streetwise, a 1984 documentary about homeless teenagers in Seattle. Most recently, he penned the sympathetic ode “Cold Water,” from Mule Variations, a lovely and sad song in the voice of a homeless teenager.
Today, Waits has announced a 12-page poetry chapbook titled Seeds on Hard Ground. A “long, lyrical ballad in the voice of those who walked, fell, or were pushed to the margins of society,” Seeds on Hard Ground is being printed in a limited edition of 1,000 copies.
When I was born
My folks wept at my beauty
I was the package that all
Their good luck came in
I was bright and shining, magnetic
Am I just something that got eaten
By the gods
Am I only just the bag
That it came in
Here’s the thing: Waits is donating all proceeds from the book to Redwood Empire Food Bank in Santa Rosa, Sonoma County Homeless Referral Services, and the Family Support Center in Santa Rosa. Hell yeah, Tom!
I just ordered my copy, and with shipping, presale for the book comes to about $34.00. It ships on Feb. 22. You can order your copy here, but make sure to do it quick – they won’t last long.
UPDATE 1-15: It’s only been two days and a second edition is already sold out, too.