The prompt for March 14, at Big Tent Poetry,,  was, “Stuck.” Due to an earlier prompt of “Courage,” at the Cloaked Monks March Challenge, I was reminded of times I’ve been stuck in uncomfortable circumstances.

by Mike Patrick

Flickr image by Allie's.Dad

Stuck behind a too-small tree,
watching the back wall
of a dirty, yellow house.

One door and three windows
are all there is to see.
My focus must be there.

A cold autumn wind
eats through my coat
and chills to the bone as the sun sets.

The blue steel barrel
of the shotgun
is so cold it makes my hands ache.

We know he’s in there,
we know he has a gun,
and he may not be alone.

Two hours of waiting
has become agony
to cold, cramping muscles.

The radio crackles,
“Everyone’s in position.
Go! Go! Go!”

Leaving cover,
we charge forward
and take down the door.

Two hours of waiting
flashes into two minutes
of heart-stopping terror.

Each hall, stairway and door
is a chokepoint
where death may wait

Even after we hear, “One is custody,”
every closet, crawlspace and attic
must be searched.

Slowly, we return to our cars
and shiver as we start them,
impatient for the heaters to warm up.

As quickly as it began, it was over.
We call it a good day.
Everyone will make it home tonight.

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23 Responses to MEMOIRS OF A COP

  1. Amazng the crazy shit you went through, now you can relax and enjoy life.

  2. A tense, deep piece. The anxiety oozes out of it.

  3. Powerful description, Mike, of a moment that could turn out to be the last. I so admire you men and women who protect and defend us.

  4. Laurie Kolp says:

    Had me on the edge of my seat, Mike… like “Silence of the Lambs”… very well done!

  5. nan says:

    The tension in this poem is palpable. I could almost feel the cold hands aching holding the metal barrel of the shot gun. Suspense and awareness – intense.

  6. versebender says:

    Wow…you captured the tension perfectly…was sweating a bit myself. Vb

  7. Good build-up of tension to match the narrative. The line breaks work to do that as well.

  8. pamela says:

    Mike, I must say this had me on the edge of my seat.
    Nicely written and I am glad you made it home.

  9. Tumblewords says:

    Strong and frightening – it happens with more frequency, it seems.

  10. vivinfrance says:

    This incredible poem could as well cover the March 16 Courage prompt.

  11. dani says:

    very well written. i have the utmost respect for anyone who risks their own lives for the safety of others.

  12. Tilly Bud says:

    I hope you know how much admiration ordinary people have for the work the police do.

  13. Kim Nelson says:

    I have never so appreciated the day-in, day-out of a cop as much as I do after reading this lean, concise, filled with detail piece. Poetic form does justice to the underlying emotional current in a way I would never have expected. Really good work.

    • Mike Patrick says:

      Thank you. This was a piece written from the heart, so the message was mostly serendipity. After reading your comment, I had to go back and read it again. They say, ‘write what you know,’ yet I’m always surprised at the outcome when I follow that advice.

  14. My heart is pounding. Such a dangerous job. Poetry helps, maybe?

  15. Cathy says:

    brilliantly written.

  16. Irene says:

    You’ve captured the suspense in the story so well. I’ve read your other poems about your life as a cop and as a father. Nice getting to know a bit of you.

  17. Kelly says:

    Wow. That was riveting. I need to remember this next time I start to complain about my cushy desk job!

  18. Judy Roney says:

    This is an amazing poem of suspense and true to life police who put their lives on the line. Incredible!

  19. deep and wise words.
    well done,

  20. ladynimue says:

    How difficult it must be to sit there and wait , not knowing what will be the outcome at the end of it !

    Salute you brave men !

  21. I agree! The suspense in this is perfectly conveyed! Thanks for giving us a window into moments most of us can only imagine.

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