Poem 269 ± February 28, 2016

Jacob Hardt
Tenderloin Prayer

Sometimes I wonder if heaven can hear me
I whisper my prayers into the sky, breathe the silence
await the word, but the only sound is something like
raindrops, divine tears touching everyone
everywhere sadness echoes through the land,
hate claims the heavy air like an evil, bloody fog
nightmares fill my lungs and the same damned demons
carry me from dreams into the light of day I wake up screaming
Across the rivers of the wealthy your children are dying of thirst
A mutant plague threads a quilt stretching longer than the most ancient rivers
twisting, bending, winding around gnarled victims then crushing them like play dough
the shapes of the shamed shunned undesirable
I am trapped here wearing the 21st century scarlet letters
lost in this maze of places, faces, some sad
some angry or confused, most just gone mad
from fear of things that hurt enough to hide
frightened children beneath the urine stained stairwells, jail cells,
stuck inside these tenderloin hotels. Now I’m wired taut and stung and
here on these tar stained tire-treaded streets people lie in rows
piano wires waiting to be struck for song or glory everybody wants more
Across the river the town crier cries two a.m. and all is well
But he’s another dope fiend! looking to heaven
and I wonder if god listens to prayers from the Tenderloin.


Jacob HardtJacob Hardt was born in Grand Junction, Colorado, but grew up on Santa Monica Boulevard  in LA and Polk Street in San Francisco. Working with the AIDS Office of the San Francisco Department of Public Health, Jacob spoke on behalf of the Wedge Program, the first HIV educational program in existence that brought people with AIDS into classrooms (the program ran form 1988 to 2002), and Health Initiatives for Youth (Hi-Fy), an agency that provides health workshops for at-risk youth throughout the San Francisco Bay Area (his poetry and photographs have appeared in Hi-Fy’s Reality Magazine). Jacob currently lives in New York City where he pursues writing, painting, and photography.

This poem is not previously published.