A Poem For the Anti-Homeless NIMBYs of Lents

The Lents Neighborhood Livability Association sent out a very bad poem on Christmas. Here is a poem in reply.

Hello and welcome back to Lady Things. The holiday season is usually a time when many of us are gathering with friends and family to partake in merriment and good cheer. Some people bake cookies. Some people go to church while others gather around and sing songs.

There were some people amidst all this holiday joy, specifically the Lents Neighborhood Livability Association, who thought that Christmas Eve would be the perfect time to send out a group email with a dull, evil little poem entitled "12 DAYS OF CHRISTMAS… LENTS" written by someone calling themselves "Lents Poet Laureate."

Former mayoral candidate, business owner and activist Sarah Iannarone shared screenshots of the email on her Twitter account. However, instead of being about geese and golden rings, the weird song/poem was about a proposed homeless shelter and the ills that the shelter would allegedly bring, such as used needles, gunshots and prostitution. From the song, or poem, or whatever:
"On the twelfth day of Christmas

My City sent to me

Twelve tweakers tweaking

Eleven crack pipe smokers

Ten junkies nodding

Nine ladies hooking

Eight mental defects

Seven beggars begging

Six stolen bikes

Five quarts of trail tea

Four piles of feces

Three midnight gunshots

Two hundred dirty needles

A homeless shelter down the street from me!"

Not only was this a mean-spirited thing to do on Jesus' birthday, "The Twelve Days of Christmas" is perhaps one of the most boring, repetitive songs ever. Also the verse "two hundred dirty needles" comes after "Three midnight gunshots" and "Four piles of feces," and that's not how the numbers or the song work because three and four are usually preceded by two, not two hundred.

Anyway, after reading the poem, I was inspired to try my hand at rewriting some poetry this week myself and sharing it with you. I decided to model my poem after Walt Whitman's "Pioneers! O Pioneers!" because I saw it in a TV commercial once and it sounded more interesting than "The Twelve Days of Christmas."

Don't worry though because my version is only three verses long and instead of being about pioneers it's about people who hate homeless shelters so much that they'd poison people's inboxes on Christmas Eve with a crap ballad. Here it is, I hope you like it.

Pioneers! O Pioneers!… NIMBY

Lady Things Poet Laureate

Come my red-faced children,
Follow well in order, get your hostile architecture ready;

Have you your Nest Cam? have you your Nextdoor username and password?

Pioneers! O pioneers!
For the homeless cannot tarry here,

They must march my darlings, we must bear the brunt of driving them further to the margins,

We the youthful, sinewy homeowners, all the rest of the property values on us depend,

Pioneers! O pioneers!
O you NIMBYS, Portland NIMBYS,

So impatient for your lattes, full of froth, full of generational wealth and bylaws,

Plain I see you Portland NIMBYS, see you tramping to ask for the manager,

Pioneers! O pioneers!

I don't know if you've ever read this particular Walt Whitman poem, but it's pretty long and I've subjected you to enough poetry for the week. Rewriting a beloved piece of literature into a spiteful little hate sonnet takes way more effort than I realized, so I'm glad I don't do this all the time.

If at any point in the next year you find yourself wanting to send out a group email with a mean song about how much you hate homeless people, maybe just don't. Take a walk or call a friend instead. Do anything except hit "Send" on your stupid poem. That's it for this week, thanks for stopping by.