A new chap book by Tom Waits, called “Seeds on Hard Ground”, is being released this month to help raise money for homeless services and a food bank in the northern California county where Waits and his family live. All of the book’s proceeds are being donated to the Redwood Empire Food Bank, as well as Sonoma County’s Homeless Referral Services and Family Support Center.

The writing in “Seeds on Hard Ground” was inspired by Michael O’Brien’s photographic portraits of homeless people. The images that Waits evokes are visceral, poetic and resonant. This is a person who clearly remembers what it felt like to be poor and downtrodden, and Waits is able to concisely convey that pain with just  a handful of well chosen words.

Here is a brief excerpt from the unreleased book:

The cars thunder past

As I stick out my thumb

I am just waiting for

My good luck to come


I am homeless

But I am moving

I am homeless

But I am moving

Maybe I’ll take the hound down

Maybe I’ll take the hound

Where the grass is green

And the barn is red

Where the wind makes

The trees look like hula girls

Maybe I’ll take the hound down

Maybe I’ll take the hound


My dog stayed with me

Even on the streets of Manhattan

See, Fido it means faithful

in Latin


I am the king of something

Yes indeed

I’m the king of the road

I’m the king of the weeds

King of the alley

King of the dirt

King of the doorway

King of the sidewalk

King of the hurt

I’m the bursting bubble

My crown is my hat


The limited first edition sold out immediately last week, before it has even been released. A second limited edition of the publication will be released by Anti Records on February 28th.