A boy becomes a man.
Along the line,
life grabs him, rattles his innards
like a wooden roller coaster catapulting him into the jaws
of a treacherous society.
As this becomes clear, a reality,
a game if you will,
one he cannot win no matter the effort
or how sly he’s become, begins.
Only then does the risk
become the fuel to survive,
–C. L. Swinney (c) 2017
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
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
I can’t turn away, let my eyes drift with the sea.
The beauty, her complex levels,
her almost letting go completely,
yet close enough to be rescued pulls me deeper.
In the water, on land, wherever my weary heart travels,
she is there. Bubbles mingle with timeless boulders,
intertwined like new lovers, drawing me into the current.
My heart, a ship searching for land, and comfort,
somewhere to throw an anchor, somewhere to finally settle down,
swells. Today, right now, I’ve finally found the courage
to tell her how I feel.
(c) C. L. Swinney 2016
The air is clear up there, they said.
Big becomes small, drama left behind, they said.
But what of the terrified child,
the one who’s never done this before?
But what of the foreigner,
the one who needs deodorant, like right now?
But what of the business man,
the one who’s talking over the safety spiel?
But what of the obese man,
the one who’s rattling my brain with his walrus tongue?
But what of the distracted stewardess,
the one who’s hips slam my not-so-funny bone?
And closer to home, what of the two boys, the ones arguing
for technology with rolling eyes like Vegas slot machines?
Charlie Brown’s teacher mumbles something, then we descend.
Wheels search, then grab, pavement. I crave coffee. Its embrace
obliterates the lousy flight, and instantly I’m grounded once again.
C. L. Swinney (c) 2015