society

Free Form Poetry

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A Game

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,

to win.

–C. L. Swinney (c) 2017

He’s there when you look away.

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He’s There When You Look Away

 

In a pool of his own urine he sleeps,

homeless, scared, and lacking food or shelter.

Then along comes the law, this sight he weeps.

People turn away, all helter-skelter,

while the rest of us throw most of our scraps

away, cast long and menacing sharp glares.

For what? What does your heart see as he naps?

Your soul and heart should burn wild like flares.

Pretending he is not there, no answer,

but strife. Remember he is still a man.

Most fought to protect and came home with cancer.

Some fraud, not he, looking for an open hand

and I’ll be damned if I didn’t get involved

while you sit there…a conscious un-evolved.

(c) C.L.Swinney 2016

free form poetry

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Policing a Community

A salty policeman struggles to hold a

stranger’s hand. Spirited skateboard park

meetings force him from the comfort

of a cruiser along an uneven path through

downtown streets- wearing muddy boots

that crush his aspirations. They can

manage the stress, but where trust once

existed media stripped completely away. Recall

when police risked their lives for “strangers,” yet

you knew them and they knew you, back when the

word “neighborhood” held meaning. You’d call us

during an emergency and wouldn’t dare to ask

me to raise your kids or scare them straight for you.

Civil disputes between childish adults tear

at the very foundation of our society.

Yes, we’re wired for scary things: to

hunt active shooters, protect the innocent,

and enforce the law- no matter how antique.

But, integration hoping to crush robots lies

in another galaxy. Handle your human problems

and we’ll chase then confront evil, head-on,

so you can pretend it does not exist.

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What I Saw Before It Was Too Late

Normally clear eyes sting then blur.

Pedestrians scamper dodging siren echoes

smashing off buildings. Radio waves disappear,

my head flutters with life’s thoughts:

the dog needs her teeth pulled, my

wife is mad at me, the kids

start school soon, my cover car

is miles away…Calm down, you’ve

got a matter of minutes to save her.

She’s trapped in a burning vehicle

and I’m queasy. I’m there, she is not.

Tiny hair stand up on the back

of my neck. Is someone in

the shadows? What the…boom! It’s

over for me. A second Boom!

It’s over for him. Two

dead bodies, no answers, no purpose.

4-27-14 Compassionate Cops?

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4-27-14 Compassionate Cops?

I seem to be having a tough time getting my brothers and sisters in law enforcement to submit work regarding the compassionate side of what we do and how we live. I can’t let this concept go to the wayside; however, and have decided to put my own work up in a serialized fashion. That is, when I see compassion or feel compassionate about something, I’ll post it on this page on my blog.  Among  all the other stuff in my life I can’t guarantee this will be regular, but I’ll do my best to keep this thing alive 🙂

The most recent thing I can recall is members of the San Mateo County Sheriff’s Office conducting a fundraiser event for Special Olympics. Many people in the general public who are not fans of law enforcement believe officers “just do these events to keep a decent public image.” Not true. The men and women I see volunteering hundreds of hours of time for planning, preparing, soliciting, and running these events is overwhelming. They do it because they are kind people, and feel the need to help others. It’s why they wear a badge and swear to protect society. It runs through our blood, an insatiable thirst to do good for others, particularly for those who may not be able to to it for themselves, or those who need a tiny bit of assistance.

Men and women wearing a badge are ordinary people just like everyone else. Many of them have children with special needs, debilitating diseases, or huge obstacles to overcome. They cry and stress out just like you. We’re not any better than the next person, we’ve just chosen a profession that is highly visible and overly scrutinized. All that we can ask is that society is a fair to us as we are to them every time we show up to a call. Nothing more, nothing less. Law enforcement, in my eyes, is the social glue that keeps society together and allows cohesion to form among all members of society. We aren’t looking for handouts or freebies. Our primary mission is to serve and protect, but it would sure feel great to believe we are on the same playing field as the rest of society.

Thanks and God Bless,

C. L. Swinney

When Murder Became Acceptable.

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When Murder Became Acceptable:

While driving in to work today I heard a radio host talk about how Beyonce “murdered” a song while performing at the Grammy’s. I almost missed the term completely, but I caught myself shaking my head and frankly shocked. The host, who happened to be an African American female, proceeded to explain how well Beyonce performed, and instead of using any number of perfectly acceptable terms to describe a musical performance, the host chose “murdered.” Right after that a vehicle with black paint, black rims, tinted windows, black emblems, and zero chrome passed me and I recalled people calling this style, “Murdered Out.” Again, I was shocked. Then I wondered how we’ve gone so far away from traditional values and family that we feel it’s okay to use a word like “murder” to represent good things or material objects? And I wondered if we’ve gone so far off the deep end that the color or ethnic group (African American) has been associated to such a negative word?  Would it be acceptable for me, a white person, to say Beyonce “murdered” something without causing an outcry?  It just doesn’t feel right, regardless of my ethnicity.

I can’t help but think the media, video games, and the lack of strong families has allowed people to think it’s perfectly okay to use such a powerful term inappropriately. I think most people would agree that media reports mostly violence, video games are all about violence, and families with single parents, or abusive parents, tend to become fractured and provide little moral support for our growing children.  Likewise, these same families expect the schools to raise THEIR children, which obviously is a complete disconnect from true family values.

You guys know what I do. I see dead bodies and investigate homicides. The overwhelming number of my cases are murders. That means someone willingly took another person’s life.  The families and friends of the victim would be crushed to hear someone using the same term used to describe their world falling apart when discussing something positive or material. When I have to talk to the family or friends of the deceased, I try everything I can to make the reality of losing a loved one less painful…it rarely works.  I can’t bring their loved one back. I take their sadness and use it to inspire me to work long hours, miss family events, and do whatever I have to to find the murderer. It helps with closure, but time must pass.

So my point is this, let’s get away from using the term “Murder” inappropriately.  In a perfect world, I wish we could get away from even having to use the word at all. It’s unacceptable, disturbing, and hurtful for the people who’ve experienced such grief and tragedy.  I’d be interested in seeing what some of my African American friends think about this.  If the term is somehow associated to the color black or African Americans, is it okay to associate a vehicle that’s all black to the words “murdered out?” Or use it to describe African American artists-performers-singers-actors? If so, why? Educate me on what you think. It bothers me, and I’m white. But for now, my hope is people will think before they speak and choose better words to articulate themselves.

C.L.Swinney