Poetry Friday–Tent Parks…

Neighborhood Tent Park, © 2021 Michelle Kogan.

Happy Poetry Friday!

I’ve been thinking about folks living inside these Tents as they’ve been appearing around Chicago…


As cold creeps in
I’ve thought more and more
about folks in my
neighborhood Tent Park.
They popped up this summer,
and when temps were still tolerable
I’d see folks milling around.

As fall moved on
growing numbers of worn-colored
small wind-waving walls
became surrounded by
cold-air emptiness, and
by November’s end
barely a soul traipsed in sight…

I read our cities getting involved—
One cold November night
most residence were van-loaded
and delivered to our local armory,
for what? Form-filling first,
and maybe in 2-4 weeks
pandemic-induced housing…

But it’s cold out there
and these folks are cold…
I wonder would Tent Parks
have crept up if our
Pandemic hadn’t happened.
Regardless, how did we allow
so many folks to become homeless.

My local park is one of thirty-five
“homeless encampments” in Chicago
and there are more across our country.
Funds are earmarked for homeless,
but how can we get them into warm homes
PDQ, aren’t homes another inalienable right?
We all need warm homes…

Draft, © 2021 Michelle Kogan

From poking around in research about Tent Cities I found this report from 2014, it’s quite long but I thought I’d share it: The Rise of Tent Cities in the United States. Unfortunately in the U.S. I’m sure you’ll also find articles on local Tent Parks not far from you.

On a slightly lighter note…
Look what surprised me overnight…

showers respite on
december’s bleak day…

© 2021 Michelle Kogan

Cathy Mere is our host for this week’s Poetry Friday Roundup at her blog Merely Day By Day,
thanks for hosting Cathy!

About Michelle Kogan Art, Illustration, & Writing

Michelle Kogan is an artist, illustrator, instructor, and writer, creating colorful allegorical figure, flora and fauna paintings and children's illustrations, which have a sensitivity to endangered species, and the environment. She is an art instructor at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago and the Evanston Art Center and offers Plein Air Painting Workshops at nature venues in the Chicago area including the Lincoln Park Conservatory, Peggy Notebaert Nature Museum, and Lurie Gardens at Millennium Park. Visit her online Etsy Shop at: http://www.MichelleKoganFineArt.etsy.com and her website: http://www.michellekogan.com
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14 Responses to Poetry Friday–Tent Parks…

  1. Mary E. Cronin says:

    Beautiful, Michelle. Like all good poetry, your poem makes us stop, pause, wonder, think. Thank you!

  2. Dear Michelle, yay for amaryllis brightening the bleak. I recently read this Tent City article put out by NPS. https://www.nps.gov/semo/learn/historyculture/tent-city-story.htm Thanks for your poem. xo

  3. janicescully says:

    Michelle, thank you for that informative article on tent cities, reviewing, among other things the constitutional rights of individuals to shelter. Thanks for your poem and the bright amaryllis. I don’t have one this year, so I loved that you shared yours.

  4. lindabaie says:

    Yes, I was out with the family the other night & saw a new tent group that had popped up, Michelle. They are here in Denver, too. Thank you for writing about those in need. And, my amaryllis has bloomed, too, a light for us this holiday!

  5. Cathy says:

    Michelle, this poem brings pause. I cannot begin to imagine living in a tent in Chicago’s cold. You’ve shined a light on a problem that could use more attention. It was interesting that the reference was from 2014 – and, yet, here we are.

    I am adding this poem to my collection of mentors. It’s the perfect poem to remind students (and ourselves) that poetry can be about something important that is happening in our world.

    (And congrats on your amaryllis. Beautiful!)

  6. Elisabeth says:

    I love these lines in your first poem:
    “aren’t homes another inalienable right?
    We all need warm homes…”

    and your amaryllis and your haiku are a reminder that even as we humans struggle to figure out how to live together in equality and fairness, it is important to fill our souls with the moments of beauty life gives us.

  7. jama says:

    What a gorgeous amaryllis — just the shot of seasonal color we need!

    Thanks for your insightful, thoughtful poem about tent parks. There’s a homeless shelter not too far from our house (haven’t seen any tent parks yet) — very disheartening. It shouldn’t happen in “the richest country in the world.”

  8. haitiruth says:

    It’s so sad to think of people outside in the cold of Chicago! It’s bad enough when it happens here where it’s warm! Your amaryllis is beautiful. Ruth, thereisnosuchthingasagodforsakentown.blogspot.com

  9. Tim Kulp says:

    Thanks for sharing. I agree, everyone deserves a warm safe home. In a world that needs great ideas to solve great problems, let’s not waste a single person to cold, hopeless, homelessness. We need everyone to solve our big problems.

  10. bmagee10 says:

    Tent parks were prevalent in Tucson when we lived there (I’m sure more now post-pandemic or should I say, mid-pandemic?), but the weather is more bearable there in the winter. Incomprehensible that we as a society allow people to fall through the cracks. Thanks for the amaryllis pick me up at the end. 🙂

  11. macrush53 says:

    Two poems of contrast..the houseless with tents popping up and the respite of red in a flower blooming.
    I don’t know how we fix this problem. If you google Portland, you will see we are a sea of tents. Everywhere…along the freeway ramps. (someone was killed Saturday night because of a car)

  12. maryleehahn says:

    These tent cities are heartbreaking. Hubby and I do what we can, volunteering twice a week with our local resource center, which provides food bank support, as well as help with shelter. If everyone does a little perhaps we can make it add up to a lot.

  13. margaretsmn says:

    When my daughter lived in Chicago, she worked with getting housing for mentally ill homeless people. Such worthy work, but hard, as hard as a Chicago winter. It is such a complicated problem.

  14. cvarsalona says:

    Michelle, here in Northern Virginia, we are noticing that the homeless stand outside outdoor malls with signs hoping for money. They are veterans. It is so sad to see that people who served our country live such a hard life. I am not sure where these vets fo at the end of the day. Thank you for taking up the cause, writing another call-to-action poem and another poem on your beautiful amarlylis.

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