Free form poetry.

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Policing a Community


A salty policeman struggles to lift his hand

to the hand of a stranger.

Community meetings force him

from the comfort of a cruiser.

He walks along an uneven path

through downtown streets

leaving muddy boot prints,

each one crushing his aspirations.

Stress is part of the deal, but where trust once existed,

media has stripped completely away.

The pride once gained by risking our lives for strangers,

is gone. “Stranger” never meant what it does today,

like it did back in the day.

Back when “neighborhood” meant something.

Back when you didn’t ask police to raise your kid,

or scare them straight because they embarrassed you in public.

Back when civil disputes were handled by adults,

when simple things wouldn’t tear at the very foundation

of our society.

Yes, we’re wired for scary things.

Yes, we hunt active shooters

and run toward the gunfire… the evil you pretend

does not exist, that which looms in the back of your mind daily.

Why I risk everything for people who want me dead

is my own mystery. One for me to work out on my own.

My sisters and brothers will continue to protect the innocent,

enforce antiquated laws, and do what we can to crush

the stereotypes.

So we’re far from simple nuts and bolts,

robotic if you will. Strip away the badge and the gun.

Beneath the pain and suffering is a man or woman,

same as you. Nothing too fancy.

Beneath a ballistic vest and forty-pounds of accoutrements

we want the same thing, and we’re prepared to make

the ultimate sacrifice to obtain or provide it.

-C.L.Swinney (c) 2017

Badge Bunny

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Badge Bunny

Stranded alone, submerged within concrete walls,

amidst squabbling voices, it finally strikes

me that an ulterior motive is

at play. Instantly, a room choked

with bodies is nearly empty-it’s

just me and her. Gold strapped

around my finger tightens and becomes

too heavy to carry. Puppy-dog

eyes continuously bat and she flutters

closer. Lust in her eyes smacks

me in the face like a

two-by-four. I retreat, she

advances. I’d been warned before, but

my age and inexperience drowned the

cautionary, unbelievable tales. She’s up against

me now, gyrating, moaning, and whispering

unmentionable things. My face flushes. Slowly

her hand travels from my shoulder

toward my gun-belt. I take off

like a rocket, up through flights

of stairs, and find the door.

Clean, pure fresh air pierces my

skin. A gaggle of co-workers roar

and point as I flee to

my patrol car. Drenched in sweat,

I reach for the air conditioning

button, then look up to notice

a senior deputy shaking his head

at me. I’ve failed the initiation.

I’m not one of them. A

career shroud in speculation, based on

being honorable, with integrity, is my

punishment, what defines me with them.

-C.L.Swinney 2015