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
I thought watching you
walk away would bring closure.
Clearly, I’m a fool.
Most of me wanted her to go.
Take the pieces of my soul she’d crushed.
What remained were emotions I
was not prepared for, nor wanted.
The door shut loudly this time,
confirming the ink had dried and this was final.
The view from the weathered window,
brought tears, but not the sad kind.
He waited there for her, younger and
what she wanted. My hands began to ball as
the fancy car roared away.
Minutes later the feeling returned,
and a wry smile danced across my face.
The beer is colder tonight, and the pizza has
anchovies. Not because I like them, but
because she never let me. And
when my appetite returns, I may just eat one.
C. L. Swinney (c) 2015