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Unread 10-25-2021, 08:58 PM
Mark Stone Mark Stone is offline
Join Date: Apr 2010
Location: Ohio
Posts: 524
Default The Cops Are The Wall

The Cops Are The Wall

The cops are the wall that protects us from all
of the crime on the opposite side.
They apprehend thugs, who are sometimes on drugs.
That would leave you and me petrified.

The cops are not fascists whose job is to bash,
but they’re seen through a prism of hate.
If everyone could know that most cops are good,
we would see then the schism abate.

When a cop stops a guy, and the stop goes awry,
it’s the cop who the mayor besmirches.
When the activists spit on the cops, they will quit.
Into hell then the neighborhood lurches.

We also see cops who are loathe to make stops,
with response times as slow as a snail.
But why take the risk, when a quick stop and frisk
might result in dismissal or jail?

We see a steep climb in our violent crime.
First transgress. Then get bail. Then repeat.
A bright muzzle flash and a thunderous crack
will leave innocent blood on the street.

The family will mourn, adrift and forlorn,
and feel that they have been abandoned.
In despair, they will stare at a now-empty chair
...with rage as their drinking companion.

So support, and be true, to our heroes in blue.
That will bolster their esprit-de-corps.
Politicians who claim cops are always to blame--
vote them out! We must show them the door!
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Unread 10-25-2021, 09:47 PM
Yves S L Yves S L is offline
Join Date: Jul 2020
Location: London
Posts: 420

Hello Mark,

There are two basic issues, for me, with this verse.

[1] I feel like the phrasing is being constantly slightly distorted for the rhythm and meter, for example, "into hell then the neighborhood lurches".

[2] It reads, to me, like it is trying to explain what a cop is and does to a slow child, for example, "They apprehend thugs, who are sometimes on drugs./That would leave you and me petrified."

That is all folks!

Addendum: Ah, but the most fundamental issue for me , and perhaps a main cause of the above two issues, is that it seems to be attempting to counter a simplistic argument like "all cops are bad", so there is no depth to push against, and one gets a versified prolongation of the simple refutation of "not all cops are bad".

Last edited by Yves S L; 10-25-2021 at 09:51 PM.
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Unread 10-26-2021, 12:08 AM
A. Baez's Avatar
A. Baez A. Baez is offline
Join Date: May 2005
Location: Alexandria, VA, USA
Posts: 159

To me, this reads a bit like a children's rhyme and a bit like a jingoistic piece of propaganda. I detect a natural skill for light verse, but unfortunately, that skill feels rather misapplied here, as the message of this poem is just a bit too serious for that. I'd like to see the author decide firmly on either creating a serious defense of cops or a lighthearted romp on the subject, but this piece seems to teeter uncomfortably in between the two. Also, I agree with Yves' points.

Last edited by A. Baez; 10-26-2021 at 07:18 PM.
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Unread 10-26-2021, 03:51 AM
W T Clark W T Clark is offline
Join Date: May 2020
Location: England
Posts: 606

On a recent thread, there was a slight controversy over me telling a poet that I thought their poem was "pretty awful". Well, I don't think this poem deserves anything better. It's simplistically ignorant, and insulting; technically, it's a compound of incredibly obvious statements: "They apprehend thugs, who are sometimes on drugs." and forced rhyme: "into Hell then the neighbourhood lurches". The poem has clearly no idea what it is talking about, it's so simplified to be barely a poem.
Simon Armitage has said that a bad poem will often make the reader champion the thing the poem argues against. This makes me want to actually defund the police. Not defund the police, as in its actual sense, which many on the right are too lazy to understand, as in: reordering funds to train officers to deal with individuals with poor mental health; or reordering funds to assist communities economically: to deal with crime at the root-level: poverty. No, this poem actually makes me want to abolish the police. It's a compassionless heap of dust.

Someone said that if I didn't offer advice on how to improve a poem, then my critique would be as terrible as the poem itself. I don't think you can improve this. Throw it out. At least in your protest against university-fees the poem made some complex argument. This poem is downright insulting. Maybe spend a few hours sometime reading up about police violence and ways of combating it.

There is a website called The Society of Classical Poets, which is mostly a corrosive mass of racism, classism, transphobia, and anti-vax conspiracy theorists. This type of poem turns up on their almost every day. Please, rise above it.

Hope this helps.

Last edited by W T Clark; 10-26-2021 at 04:08 AM.
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Unread 10-26-2021, 05:48 AM
Julie Steiner Julie Steiner is offline
Join Date: Feb 2003
Location: San Diego, CA, USA
Posts: 7,383

Mark, I'm sure you won't be surprised that I disagree with the overall premise of the poem.

You might be very surprised that one of my sisters works for the Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department, though.

[Edited to say: I'll add a link to a recent article on the LASD as a separate post.]

I might find this besotted love poem to law enforcement slightly more persuasive if the Cara Knott Memorial Bridge weren't in my neighborhood. But it also doesn't help matters that the poem's tone is so childish, both in diction and in earnestly starry-eyed hero-worship, that it's hard to take seriously.

The poem equates all demands for accountability for bad cops with attacks on good cops. This is the same type of simplistic, all-or-nothing thinking that justified covering up the crimes of pedophile priests in the Catholic Church, by insisting that even if some of the rumors about bad behavior by priests turned out to have some element of truth, drawing any attention to those was disloyal because it would hurt the Church's reputation and reflect poorly on good, innocent priests, blah blah blah. So the bad clergy's crimes were whitewashed, with the knowledge and participation of some of the "good" clergy, and the abuse was allowed to continue for decades, impacting many more victims, and ultimately causing the far greater damage to the Church's moral authority than if the criminal priests had been sent to prison in the first place.

Let's not make that mistake again. Let's not confuse the misplaced loyalties of people whose top priority is to protect their errant colleagues and the reputation of the institution--rather than to protect the most vulnerable members of community they claim to serve--with actual goodness.

All law enforcement officers are human, and all humans have their moments of weakness. The peer pressure and vertical pressure for officers to have each other's backs, no matter what, both in and out of the field, is so strong within law enforcement that a truly independent commission on police practices is the only hope for justice being served when officers are accused of misconduct.

The following stanza has three problems, in my view:

     We also see cops who are loathe to make stops,
     with response times as slow as a snail.
     But why take the risk, when a quick stop and frisk
     might result in dismissal or jail?

First, this paragraph doesn't exactly support the portrait of courage you're trying to paint with the poem, Mark. A cop who deliberately isn't doing his or her job--whether because of sloth, bribe-taking, or cowardice about the consequences for doing the right thing--is not a "good" cop in any sense of the word "good." The community whose lives depend on these people deserves better than snail-slow response times by sworn officers who disregard the oath they took to "well and faithfully discharge the duties upon which I am about to enter" when they find it inconvenient.

Second, the data shows that stop and frisk policies are routinely implemented in a way that targets the young, the poor, and people of color, for no good reason other than that they are young, poor, or of color. Personally, I think it's a fine thing that officers have to think twice before harassing and intimidating people, without even any reasonable suspicion of wrongdoing. Hooray for the Fourth Amendment! (Which, BTW, most police oaths require sworn officers to uphold, too, as part of the U.S. Constitution.)

I suspect that your nostalgia for stop and frisk policies might be different if the police in your neighborhood had been taking frequent opportunities to grope your groin with little pretext.

Third, L1 of this stanza should use the adjective "loath," meaning reluctant or unwilling, rather than the verb "loathe," meaning to hate. ​

The poem's melodramatic portrait of a police officer's grieving family, driven to drink because they feel they're being denied their share of public pity, seems based more on imagination than on true feeling.

No need to address these points--I'm just giving my impressions. Do with them as you will.

Last edited by Julie Steiner; 10-26-2021 at 11:57 AM.
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Unread 10-26-2021, 08:05 AM
Rick Mullin's Avatar
Rick Mullin Rick Mullin is offline
Join Date: Feb 2007
Location: Northern New Jersey
Posts: 8,366

Hi Mark,

I'll come in on this as well. It's bad technically--

It starts off with flat out Dr. Seuss ballad meter, but by the end of the second stanza, we see that it isn't sustained.

If everyone could know that most cops are good,
we would see then the schism abate.

Syntax is contorted beyond the Seussean standard of humor (which needs to hit the mark relentlessly in order to make the poem work).

As for what the poem... says? A total failure. Of far greater concern is the prison industrial complex and mass incarceration of black men. Certainly there are good cops and we rely on police, etc. But this poem plays into the dichotomy of absolutes to the extent that I just don't give it a second thought. It doesn't convince, and it fails to provoke.

Generally, also, I believe that:

Politics and art don't mix
as art gives way to politics.

The worst thing that could happen is sometimes success.

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Unread 10-26-2021, 08:57 AM
John Riley John Riley is offline
Join Date: Aug 2007
Location: North Carolina
Posts: 4,993

I have to say there is a coherency here. Have a stupid, simplistic idea you write a stupid, simplistic poem. Is this another one to read at your Young Repubs meeting or wherever you read this stuff? I'm sure they'll like it. As others have pointed out, this is deeply and truly horrible. It's laughable, actually. Why do you post this here? You know it'll please your intended audience. Isn't that all you want? Because a poem of this quality will only be savaged here. I don't understand.
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Unread 10-26-2021, 09:15 AM
Max Goodman Max Goodman is offline
Join Date: Sep 2004
Location: Sunnyvale, CA
Posts: 1,981

Hi, Mark,

The things I could point out to help improve this poem, I've helped you with on earlier poems. You've thanked me, for instance, for pointing out that the meter of earlier work relied on ignoring the natural stresses of words and phrases. But you don't seem interested in applying this to later work.

I share John's bafflement about the purpose of continued posting here.
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Unread 10-26-2021, 10:03 AM
Orwn Acra Orwn Acra is offline
Join Date: Nov 2005
Location: NYC
Posts: 2,177

It will 100% be accepted by The Society of Classical Poets, should you choose to send it to them.
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Unread 10-26-2021, 11:10 AM
Roger Slater Roger Slater is offline
Join Date: Jun 2001
Location: New York
Posts: 15,597

I think you should expand on the title. Maybe "The Cops Are The Wall . . . And Mexico Will Pay For It!"
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