Song of the Tenderloin ... A Poem in Response to Bill Holland's Challenge
Song of the Tenderloin is dedicated to a friend and talented writer who wrote extraordinary prose and poetry about the homeless, their anguish, and their many talents hidden beneath layers of oppression, abuse and illness. He spent considerable time in San Francisco’s “The Tenderloin," district and came to know these people well -- both young and old. Tragically, he is no longer with us. I wanted to republish this in answer to Bill Holland’s challenge. The shadows of the Tenderloin are everywhere...in a world of back alleys and dumpsters, beneath windows and doors that are forever closed. I will never forget those haunted faces, and the people I met there who I still think about today.
Bill's challenge can be read by following this link:
A Writing Challenge: The Door to Nowhere
When you entered their homeland with ease and alone
they knew the young writer as one of their own.
You respected their distance yet shared in the pain
of the child from indifference that will always remain.
The longing for passage the youth never shows
as he drifts through the nightfields where his destiny knows…
The singer whose verse gently falls to the ground
where its echoes are muted by the ironweed’s sound;
When the time jester’s dance by illusion withholds
the fate of the image that the traveler unfolds;
And the mime of the teacher as his gestures portend
of the giant stone listeners and the dreams they defend.
The Tenderloin children still say your name…
those souls who lie huddled in our doorways of shame...
For they saw their reflection in the gift of your mind
when you wrote of their poetry the world left behind.
Poetry written and copyrighted by Genna East. All rights reserved.