So after asking our readers to let us know of books about or inspired by the Tenderloin in our post about Taste of Tenderloin, we received a few tips (keep sending them in!).

The first one is a poetry book titled Tenderloin Voices. The book is written by Oakland poet Ralph Dranow, a longtime volunteer with the Faithful Fools, a charitable organization on Hyde street at Turk. Here’s one of the poems collected in Tenderloin Voices, that a review calls an “excellent chronicle of the faces, voices, thoughts, feelings, and conditions of San Francisco’s Tenderloin homeless”:

St. Anthony’s Dining Room,
Yellow walls adorned with
Potted plants,
Murals of beaches, lakes, meadows.
A short, scrawny black man
With a twisted face
Sits down opposite me.
He peels open his shirt,
Gingerly fingering a bloody wound
On his right bicep,
Then stares at a long white scar
Across his stomach.
My breath is ragged.
“What happened?”
“Bullet wounds,” he mumbles.
After a pause,
“Who shot you?”
“I was in the way.”
Like he’s telling me the time,
Face blank.
“When I was in the hospital,
The guy sent me a card
Thanking me for not telling.”
I shake my head.
“That’s pretty cold.”
“Yeah, it is. The doctor
said, ‘One inch deeper,’ ”
He points to his stomach,
“And I’d be dead.”
He sighs, eyes fluttering shut,
Head drooping.
After a minute, I wake him up,
Tell him his food is getting cold.
He nods,
Takes a bite of mashed potato
and meat loaf casserole,
Then his head sinks again,
A flag at half mast.

Note: if you’re interested in purchasing Tenderloin Voices, for merely $5, contact Ralph Dranow at ralphdranow@yahoo.com