Shhh (A Lyric Essay)
by M. A. Dennis
Did she just…?
It wasn’t loud, but I think I heard it directed to me:
“Shhh,” at a protest against homelessness in NYC,
A rally for housing on the steps of City Hall.
I repeat, a PROTEST, a rally for HOUSING.
So, if the fifth politician to come to the podium
Talks about how Park Slope, Brooklyn is doing their part
By building a new 450-bed homeless shelter
I’m going to let him hear it:
“Homes! Not Shelters!”
“If you can build 450 beds, you can build 450 apartments!”
“No New Shelters!”
“C’mon, no more shelters, stop playing games!”
And it was around that time, I strongly feel
She shushed me out the side of her mouth.
I know I’m there to represent
An organization that advocates for the homeless,
On official business if you will,
Calling for the passage of Intro “Twelve-Eleven”
(A housing bill introduced by Council Member Salamanca, Jr.)
And as such, I should maintain some level of decorum.
But this is a rally—a HOUSING rally
And I will SPEAK THE TRUTH.
If an elected official starts touting a plan
To build a new homeless shelter
Decorum be damned!
I wanted to tell her right then and there
What she could do with that “Shhh.”
But I didn’t,
Because we were in public
And I wanted to watch my mouth.