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The Tenderloin: A Haiku

Updated on March 13, 2016

Piss abounds, ingrained

Demented zombies scream out

I am still human



What comes to mind when you hear the word "tenderloin"? Omnivorous out-of-towners likely envision cuts of beef, but anyone familiar with San Francisco pictures the more unsavory facts of life: drugs, prostitution, and poverty. Though home to more than 3,500 children, the 'loin hosts about 80 registered sex offenders and remains one of the most crime-ridden areas of the City, housing seven out of ten of its most violent plots. The district's most recent marketing efforts highlight that it's home to some of SF's most historic buildings - that it also houses the most parolees in the City is conveniently omitted.

Is the Tenderloin dangerous? Yes. Will you see things that will make you uncomfortable? Without a doubt. Its gritty, squalid blocks feature junkies in varying states of sobriety, the mentally ill, and the impoverished - the City's "untouchables". Obscured by undesirable characteristics, they incite disdain and we avoid them. And we avoid the Tenderloin. But what if we stopped to think about how they might have arrived at their current station in life? What if we saw them as what they are - human beings with real human problems - and stopped judging them?


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    • Michelle Warner profile image

      Michelle Warner 3 years ago from Charlottesville, Virginia

      The words 'tender' and 'loin' speak to the vulnerabilities of not only the location, but of the individual's condition. Very sad. Wish that was a labeled button - but I suppose that sorrow can be beautiful.

    • Marina Lazarevic profile image

      Marina 5 years ago from San Francisco, CA

      Just stumbled upon this little Hub of art. I agree with Simone that it captures how I feel about the TL. I make it a point to smile or say hi, particularly to people who directly communicate with me. There's crime in every city, and often times it's a direct cause of poverty. People tend to overemphasize the effect of crime, but ignore its root cause. Great poem!

    • profile image

      danielabram 5 years ago

      Amazing haiku. You have an inspiration.

    • Matt Wells profile image

      Matt Wells 6 years ago


    • Simone Smith profile image

      Simone Haruko Smith 6 years ago from San Francisco

      Really, really loved this. I've never read a haiku before and been like... "YES!! This is EXACTLY how I feel!" but I guess there's a first time for everything!

      It's far too easy to unfairly judge ANY unfamiliar neighborhood. I really appreciate any call to think twice about jumping to conclusions!

    • jhamann profile image

      Jamie Lee Hamann 6 years ago from Reno NV

      A part of San Fransico I was not familiar with. Knowing that these areas exsist helps me to appreciate what I have more. I love how you were able to fit this huge problem into a small Haiku.

    • Lord De Cross profile image

      Joseph De Cross 6 years ago

      Good point Camille! To let you know that in Argentina, similar underclass humanity abound. On the outskirts of Cali Colombia, they will be found..piranha like robbers that will leave you shaking all aver the ground. But like you said, there is a story behind these people, and all they have left is facing a Jungle of their own.