Photo of building in Detroit (johnstonimages.com)‘I Grieve Bleak Streets’ and Other MLK Day Poetry by James A. Tweedie The Society January 17, 2022 Culture, Poetry 31 Comments . I Grieve Bleak Streets I grieve bleak streets where handguns reign in terror Daring inner-city residents To duck and cover. Life used to be fairer Years ago, when mayors and presidents, Police, and everybody else refused To tolerate a minor misdemeanor, And those who broke the law were not excused From prosecution. Neighborhoods were cleaner Then, and safer. Children rode their bikes At night, played stickball and most likely knew The folks next door by name. Now no one likes The way things are today—with men in blue Defunded and considered out of fashion; While perps and thugs are treated with compassion. . . We Shall Overcome Systemic racism is nothing new With slavery, Jim Crow, and Tuskegee, Internment camps, the “Protocols,” the “Jew,” The “Yellow Peril,” “Wetbacks,” Wounded Knee. As well as anti-immigration rules Towards Irish and Italian immigrants With urban ghettos, segregated schools, And project housing, slums and tenements. Both BLM and CRT suggest Our racist past will never go away, And true enough, though we have done our best, Such attitudes still live with us today. Yet neither movement points us where to go; Indeed, so far they’ve made the problem worse. And though it’s tempting to embrace the show In place of blessing, each invokes a curse. Instead, with MLK, we have a dream That love and justice triumph in the end. That from God’s mountain-top a rolling stream Of righteousness at long-last will descend. As long as racist hate pollutes the air Unalienable rights are worth the fight. Impassioned hope is stronger than despair And by God’s grace, someday we’ll get it right. . . Derricka Patrick 29-Years Old—RIP January 12, 2022 Derricka Patrick was shot and killed last Wednesday night While sitting in her car, parked on a South-Side street In Englewood. There didn’t seem to be a fight, Just two men in a car who turned her into meat. Surveillance video showed they just walked up to her With handguns drawn and calmly shot her “multiple times Throughout her body,” the Medical Examiner Explained. Her death just one of many routine crimes That plague Chicago every day throughout the year— Including last year’s seven hundred ninety-seven Homicides. Will anybody shed a tear For Derricka who died in hell this side of heaven? When Martin Luther King was shot folks everywhere Shed tears of grief while singing, “We shall overcome.” When Derrickas are shot, does anybody really care? Or do we simply write them off as inner-city scum? . . James A. Tweedie is a retired pastor living in Long Beach, Washington. He has written and published six novels, one collection of short stories, and three collections of poetry including Mostly Sonnets, all with Dunecrest Press. His poems have been published nationally and internationally in The Lyric, Poetry Salzburg (Austria) Review, California Quarterly, Asses of Parnassus, Lighten Up Online, Better than Starbucks, WestWard Quarterly, Society of Classical Poets, and The Chained Muse. NOTE TO READERS: If you enjoyed this poem or other content, please consider making a donation to the Society of Classical Poets. NOTE TO POETS: The Society considers this page, where your poetry resides, to be your residence as well, where you may invite family, friends, and others to visit. Feel free to treat this page as your home and remove anyone here who disrespects you. Simply send an email to email@example.com. Put “Remove Comment” in the subject line and list which comments you would like removed. The Society does not endorse any views expressed in individual poems or comments and reserves the right to remove any comments to maintain the decorum of this website and the integrity of the Society. Please see our Comments Policy here. CODEC News:Share this:Click to share on Twitter (Opens in new window)Click to share on Facebook (Opens in new window)Click to print (Opens in new window)Click to share on LinkedIn (Opens in new window)Click to share on WhatsApp (Opens in new window)Click to email this to a friend (Opens in new window)Click to share on Pinterest (Opens in new window) 31 Responses Paul Freeman January 17, 2022 Wow! A whole raft of styles and tones in these three poems. I read the Derricka Patrick article. You did a fine job memorialising her and transforming what’s known of the shooting into poetry. Thanks for the reads, James. Reply James A. Tweedie January 17, 2022 Thank you, Paul. For those who might be interested, here’s the link to the article that angered and compelled me to write the Derricka poem last week–an article since updated with a reworded headline and the addition of this small paragraph: “Patrick was a hairdresser. She was pregnant when she was shot dead, and she leaves behind a daughter. ” https://chicago.cbslocal.com/2022/01/13/englewood-parked-car-woman-shot-dead/ Reply Brian Yapko January 17, 2022 James, all three of these fine poems aim straight for the heart and succeed admirably. They also spell out truths which are painful but must be confronted. Thank you for the Derricka Patrick story which was new to me. With you, I pray that “someday we’ll get it right.” Reply Cheryl Corey January 17, 2022 There’s a lot happening in these poems – a kind of stark, in-your-face realism. “Derricka” is very gritty. You’ve done an excellent job with this trio. Reply Peter Hartley January 17, 2022 James, superbly well written all three of these but so, so sad. You touch on many of the things that constitute a grievous malaise in society today on both sides of the Atlantic, how neighbourhoods no longer cohere and people don’t even know the names of their neighbours any more. It reminds me forcibly of my own neighbours opposite me who ignored Dina when severe illness forced her into a wheelchair and who had no idea, exactly a year later, that she had even died. And is there any chance that I would have heard of so-called scum like Derricka Patrick had I not read your poem? Not a chance. And how awful it is that you have to describe offences as “routine crimes.” They are never routine for the victim, as you implicitly tell us in those very words. Your poetry is always technically highly accomplished and these are no exception. “I Grieve Bleak Streets” is well-titled, we all know of places that give the picture you describe in these poems. Well done! Reply C.B. Anderson January 17, 2022 If MLK, James, had had a nightmare instead of a dream, he might have seen something a bit like the world we have today. Reply Susan Jarvis Bryant January 17, 2022 James, great writing… apart from the misspelling of rein in “I Grieve Bleak Streets” (great title). Handguns cannot reign… criminals pulling the trigger do though. In the absence of law enforcement for those lesser than, ordinary folk have to step up in order to defend themselves and survive. That’s why the second amendment is so important. As a person of British origin, who was totally opposed to guns 11 years ago, I’m sure my British kin will not understand. But, I live in the US now and have come to respect the history and the constitution. Also, BLM and CRT don’t “suggest”… “Our racist past will never go away” – they are making sure it won’t by creating a new underclass STILL judged on skin tone… a setback MLK would be appalled at. BLM and CRT offer the complete antithesis to Dr. King’s beautiful dream. Reply Brian Yapko January 17, 2022 I admire your poems but I have to agree with Susan on this calling out of BLM and CRT. I find the organization itself and the “theory” it relies upon (“manifesto” would be more accurate) to be affirmatively destructive and deeply cynical in its willingness to exploit — nay, depend upon and engender — racial division. But your poem is right. The very existence of BLM and CRT guarantees that racism will not disappear — because they themselves will perpetuate it. MLK is turning over in his grave. Reply James A. Tweedie January 17, 2022 Susan, I agree that the word “suggest” is a bit weak but I believe that is more than compensated for by my use of the “cursed” to illustrate the destructive impact these two movements are having on American society. I did not misspell the word “reign” for the context is clear: handguns do not “rein in terror” but “reign/rule”, insofar as a criminal with a handgun pointed in your direction “reigns (ie. rules over you) in terror (ie. by terrorizing you and your neighborhood. (I do understand that a lawful citizen (or law officer) might well “rein-in” terror by confronting criminal violence by means of a legally-owned and legally-carried handgun, but that was not the intent of the phrase in question). As for guns, I also agree that stray self-directed guns don’t kill (or reign over or “rein-in” terror) people any more than a stray self-directed car mowed down people participating in the Waukesha Christmas parade. I admit to abbreviating the phrase to accommodate the limits of the pentameter line but, given the context of inner-city lawlessness I expected that the implied intent would have been clear to most people . . . an intent clearly and pointedly described and articulated in the final poem with the phrase, “. . . (two men) just walked up to her With handguns drawn and calmly shot her . . .” In any case, I am pleased that your comment spurred me to clarify and expand on my thoughts. Reply Adam Wasem January 17, 2022 What a beautiful natural flow you’ve achieved in “Derricka Patrick.” I’ve never written a full hexameter poem, having always had a subtle fear of seeming too “wordy, ” but you may have just showed me how. Thanks for that. Those of us still sane in Chicago (there aren’t many of us left) are all too aware of these thousands of shootings every year–so many they’re just statistics, sadly, until one happens to someone you know. Even more frustrating is the left-wing idiocy that the sane know will only worsen the problem, but which enjoys such overwhelming support that opposing it is pointless. Reply James A. Tweedie January 17, 2022 Adam, Thanks for the plug for hexameter. It can be stodgy when each line is forced to end line by line. By using enjambment I broke it up so as to make it read almost like prose—reflecting the tone of the newspaper article that moved me to write it. I wish you and the city of Chicago a 2022 that is both safer and saner than the year that (fortunately) is no longer with us. Reply David Watt January 18, 2022 Your three poems beautifully highlight the perpetuation of racism, the madness of defunding police, and in “Derricka Patrick”, the human cost of rampant lawlessness. The creeps promoting police defunding stay safe behind their walls, while the general community bear the cost. Reply Bret Mantyk January 18, 2022 Structurally, these are clearly written by experienced poets. But the content misses the mark. It suggests that cities would be safer if there were more police without explaining how they got that way in the first place. How the system is set up to punish the poor. There is overwhelming data that shows how racism has on average kept people of color poor from hiring to incarceration to policing to residential zoning. BLM only tries to show these discrepancies. As for CRT well, funny how nobody can give any real examples of it indoctrinating our children or whatever (lol). I like the rhythm of Derricka Patrick. Nice flow. Reply Paul Freeman January 19, 2022 Well put, Bret. Redlining has been, and still is, a major reason for spiralling poverty in inner cities. If you’ve no way up, no way out, what can that frustration do to you. Reply Mike Bryant January 19, 2022 https://www.americanthinker.com/articles/2014/04/the_poverty_hoax.html Mike Bryant January 19, 2022 Sincerity: if you can fake it, you’ve got it made. – Daniel Schorr James A. Tweedie January 18, 2022 Thank you for your comment, Bret. I do not oppose CRT as one way (among others) of seeking new insight into understanding and addressing social and cultural issues about race and systemic racism. Indeed, I have found it helpful in rethinking my own understanding of privilege as a white male. My objection is when it is lifted up as THE lens through which we all must view and understand and interpret and judge ourselves, our society, our history and the world in general. When used in this way it becomes an “ism” that sets itself against and above other socio-political viewpoints and becomes a wedge that divides rather than unites. As a social tool it is useful. As a doctrinal world view (which is how it has been introduced and implemented into public education as the solution du jour) it has shown itself to be politically partisan, racially divisive, and socially regressive. I do not find it helpful when it is asserted that the crisis of violence in Chicago (for example) and the resulting homicides which are overwhelmingly Black on Black and overwhelmingly involve Black males in their 20s (or younger)—and the socio-economic disfunction in these communities—is to be blamed on our national legacies of slavery, Jim Crow, White male privilege, systemic racism, or police brutality. While these are issues needing to be addressed, this approach ignores the core systemic problems related to the disintegration and resulting dysfunction of inner-city Black communities, the near extinction of two-parent Black families, and the waning influence of the Black Church as a unifying social/moral foundation. Until CRT and BLM make the disfunction and disintegration of inner-city Black communities their primary concern and give as much attention to the thousands of Derrickas as they do the relatively small numbers of George Floyds and the bug-bear issue of voter suppression they will, in regards to the inner-city Black Lives that really Matter, be irrelevant. And the $10+ billion that BLM raised in 2020-2021 will have been wasted on empty, angry, divisive, racist rhetoric that will do nothing to improve the life of a single person, Black, white or otherwise in Chicago or anywhere else. Black lives matter to me. Derricka matters to me. That’s why I wrote the poems. And if someone (not you, Bret) wants to write me off as an unenlightened, ignorant, deplorable, racist rube because I don’t embrace BLM or CRT. . . well . . . that will do nothing to make the world a better place, either. Reply Bret Mantyk January 18, 2022 You mention Chicago as your example of CRT. How specifically was it applied? Can you give the school district? do you have a link to evidence of how the CRT manifested? Did the teacher use it? Was it part of their curriculum? All you mention as you example is black-on-black violence (itself a racist term) in Chicago which has nothing to do with CRT. The definition of CRT is roughly: “an academic concept where the core idea is that race is a social construct, and that racism is not merely the product of individual bias or prejudice, but also something embedded in legal systems and policies.” Have you heard another, insidious, definition? Could you share what it is? If you believe that its not applied that way in practice, can you give some real life examples of it? I’m game to exchange resources with you on CRT, BLM if you like. We can review and comment on them. (I’ve learned a lot this way lol. Maybe you will too.) Reply Evan Mantyk January 18, 2022 Dear Jim, thank you for the poem! Thank you for explanation and thank you for having the patience to respond to my older brother (a neighbor of Dr. Salemi’s in Brooklyn in fact). I remember when I was at the University of Michigan’s English Department clenching my teeth through something akin to CRT. The message (not so veiled under the surface but almost impossible to prove without a doubt) was white men, especially Americans, are always bad, others are always good and have been oppressed by society and that is the only narrative that matters. Anything that followed a different narrative would have been dangerous. I sucked it up, bit my tongue, and got an A, but was definitely not interested in a master’s program that continued that shallow nonsense. To me, it was the very epitome of what I am realizing is the illiberal liberals, and it has only metastasized since then. The loss of moral values, the traditional family, and the belief in a great and good higher power (not the government) are indeed the real issues. https://www.theepochtimes.com/how-the-left-became-illiberal-liel-leibovitz-on-a-new-coalition-of-the-politically-homeless_4193666.html Reply Bret Mantyk January 19, 2022 You clearly have done your research on CRT and we seem to have some common ground on it. The issue is that you said CRT has “shown itself to be politically partisan, racially divisive, and socially regressive” still without providing evidence. Your article on the 21 day equity challenge just recounts parents reactions to it without even describing what it is. Here’s a link to the challenge. This all seems reasonable to me. I’m curious which “days” you have an issue with. We can discuss. https://unitedwaysem.org/about-us/equity-and-inclusion/21-day-equity-challenge/ You bring up the 1619 Project but you don’t say what your issue with it is. Which ideas don’t you agree with? You ask why, then, is there such an uproar over CRT if i claim it’s not an issue. The reason is right wing media is creating an issue where there is none. i direct you to mr. Rufo: https://nymag.com/intelligencer/2021/07/christopher-rufo-and-the-critical-race-theory-moral-panic.html Interesting the other article you sent almost exclusively references his articles. This I believe is partly why you’re not able to speak about specific issues you have with CRT. If you’d like to pull out one of these Rufo references to discuss in detail, i’m all for it. On Chicago (and I might have misinterpreted what you said) but it sounds like you believe CRT is the cause of urban violence and not system and institutional racism which still exists today. This is interesting considering that are reams of studies showing how racism affects black communities right now, but nothing about CRT with such an affect. So if you have some evidence of that, i’d love to see it. And yes Evan is my baby brother lol : ) I hope to continue to dig deeper into your articles and mine with you. But if not, I wish you all the best. Reply James A. Tweedie January 18, 2022 Bret, I am not a expert on CRT although I am familiar with its academic origins and foundational principles. Here is a brief summary: (CRT is) a legal theory that started in the early 1970s, after the civil rights movement, that comes mostly out of graduate and law school work,” said Sam Rocha, a professor of education philosophy at the University of British Columbia in Vancouver, who has studied and written on the subject. Critical race theory is primarily an academic legal framework centered on the idea that racism is systemic; that it’s embedded in institutions, culture, values and laws, and not just a manifestation of personal bigotry or animus. The theory holds that racial inequality, because of the country’s history of chattel slavery, Jim Crow and other overt racist practices such as redlining, continues to be seen in many facets of American society, including lower educational attainment and home ownership for minority communities, income inequality, and disproportionate arrest and incarceration rates for Black men. I would add that in the past decade CRT has wildly outgrown its legal roots and expanded its influence on nearly every other academic discipline including sociology, history, the humanities, and science. A short, non-academic article written to help white Roman Catholics understand “What Critical Race Theory is—and is Not” unintentionally points out some of the confusion and misunderstandings currently revolving around this subject. In one place the article mentions how parents and conservative leaders who are trying to ban CRT from public education have a misunderstanding of what CRT is. One of the key “misunderstandings is that CRT is being taught in public schools. I can cite a multitude of sources who have stated that “CRT is not taught in elementary schools” in Virginia or anywhere else. My first thought is this: If it is not being taught, then why is there an uproar over banning it? In the above-cited article one of the cited proponents of CRT states that “”CRT is taught to law students and sometimes to graduate students. It’s not taught in elementary schools.” The above cited Sam Rocha adds to this thought by asserting that: “ . . . (C)ritical race theory has shortcomings when it’s used outside of its legal academic context. “Critical race theory is designed to analyze the law, so anything that’s not law or policy or really close to something like a statute, it’s not really an appropriate object of investigation,” he said. “So at the end of the day, critical race theory is a sophisticated tool of analysis of legal harms,” This supports my previous SCP comment which is not critical of CRT as an applied research theory but IS critical of its non-academic use in public education when it is used as a vehicle for educators to use its paradigms as a basis for injecting partisan sociological/political points of view into their curriculum. For example, asking elementary school students to self-identify by race and subsequently to self-identify as oppressed and oppressors. https://media4.manhattan-institute.org/sites/default/files/copland-crt-legislation.pdf For example, (among many other things) encouraging students to participate in support of Black Lives Matter demonstrations as part of a “21 Day Equity Challenge” that began with a CRT-based course for teachers in a Michigan school district that was expanded into an elective class for students. https://themichiganstar.com/2022/01/12/crt-in-schools-farmington-michigan-parents-protest-21-day-equity-challenge-school-board-meeting/ For example, introducing the flawed, questionable, refuted and or at the very least, controversial claims of the “1619 Project” into public education curriculum. According to Northwestern University, the “Project” boasted that in 2019 its 1619 Project Curriculum was being used in over 4,500 public schools. There is no question that CRT formed the foundation for this project. As far as Chicago goes, I could cite dozens of original CRT sources which claim (as you do) that systemic racism endemic to white supremist oppressors (with roots still drawing from the legacies of slavery and Jim Crow) have systematically created legal, social, and economic policies that have suppressed the rights and opportunities of African American people and are directly responsible for the disproportionate levels of poverty, high educational failure, low-employment opportunities, rampant drug abuse, and the breakdown of two-parent families in inner-city Black neighborhoods—policies, when accompanied by inequities in law enforcement and rates of incarceration have (some say “intentionally”) created the conditions in which violence and crime have uniquely thrived in inner-city Black neighborhoods. Such thought progressions are endemic these days and are largely supported by CRT theory and promulgated by BLM leaders. I find it remarkable that given this widely-disseminated world-view you would need to ask me to justify and support my comment that “I do not find it helpful when it is asserted that the crisis of violence in Chicago (for example) . . . is to be blamed on our national legacies of slavery, Jim Crow, White male privilege, systemic racism, or police brutality.” I did not write these poems in order to argue or persuade or debate but only to express my feelings and, to a lesser degree, my opinions on the race relations in general and more specifically in Chicago. And I am only offering these extended comments as a courtesy in response to your repeated requests for a response. To be honest, I never looked past your first name and wasn’t aware of your relationship to Evan until he brought it up in his comment/response. For me, that is of no interest. If you and I cannot agree on anything else, we can probably agree with my belief that 90% of what I know I learned from listening to other people. I am glad for this exchange of thought and wish you only the best. Reply Huckleberry January 19, 2022 These bleak streets where misery looks down upon us, where we are born and raised and tethered to our suffering, where life and light turn dark before our sorrows, where the wind blows away hope like ashes on a breeze, these bleak streets where memories are not friendly, where equality is one sided and justice is blind, where life is over before it’s begun, where hollow words have failed to save us. Reply James A. Tweedie January 19, 2022 Huckleberry, Your painful words evoke despair and utter hopelessness. Is there no way out for those who aspire for something better? I once had the opportunity to offer a safe house and a new life for a weeping teenage prostitute in Los Angeles. After considering the offer for two hours she turned it down and chose to go back to her pimp (who was waiting outside the room) and a way of life that she hated. Her spirit had been crushed crushed to the point where she was No longer capable of stepping outside of the “comfort” of her cage even when the door was open. Someone once said that hell has no need for walls, for those who dwell there have lost the will to leave. Proverbs 29:18 puts it this way: “Where there is no vision, the people perish.” Your words expose what I can only describe as an existential inner-city culture of collective ennui—bleak streets from which (in reference to Sartre) there is no exit—bleak streets where (in reference to Beckett) Godot never shows up. I feel only profound sadness. Reply James A. Tweedie January 19, 2022 Bret, I have enjoyed this exchange of thoughts and ideas. It has served its purpose. I do not wish to enter an endless merry-go-round of Q & A which is where such conversations invariably lead. My interest is not in “proving” anything. I think Huckleberry’s comment is more to the point as to where my interest lies. I will say, however, that I have no idea where you came up with the idea that I claimed that CRT was responsible for the inner-city violence in Chicago. My point re Chicago was that the CRT paradigm has led many people (including you, apparently) to blame everyone around the edges (systemic racism/white supremacy) without facing up to and addressing the actual needs of bleeding communities where hope can only be restored by a swift and determined purge of those who engage in violence (and yes, this violence is disproportionately perpetrated by young Black males who need to be arrested and locked up as far as possible away from the neighborhoods they are terrorizing); job creation through the creation of economic zones to encourage investments in places like Garfield Park and South-side; advanced educational opportunities for those students who want something better than they have (AP classes/charter schools for high achievement students); support for community sports programs including tax support/incentives for community NGO programs of all kinds, both secular and religious . . . In short, to rebuild a culture of hope in communities that have lost all hope–to raise up and bring together the parents, youth, and everyone else who wants things to be better than they are–to raise up an army of local people who will, as a majority, march for and demand nothing short than for a lawful peace to descend on their neighborhoods and in the spirit of Dr. King, ask anybody and everybody–white, Black, Brown, Asian–who shares that vision to join them. Do this systematically with some of the $10+ billion that BLM has accumulated, moving the project from city to city–to Chicago, to Detroit, to St. Louis, to Philadelphia and reclaim the Black and other marginal neighborhoods for a cultural renaissance. Look forward, not backwards. Build for the future instead of tearing down the present. Replace nightmares with dreams, despair with hope. Stop the rioting. And try to remember that the etymological root of the word, “protest” is NOT to speak AGAINST something but to speak FOR something–to be PRO-something rather than being CON-everything. The former approach will make a difference. The other simply leads us to more of the same, or worse. If CRT and BLM will stand up and take the lead in such things they will be a blessing to the communities and the people they claim to care about and who they claim to represent. But until I see them walk the walk instead of talking the talk–until I see them getting their hands and clothes dirty by working with city-wide and neighborhood leaders and actually making a tangible difference for the people who are suffering, they will be nothing more than noise leading to a dead end. Where’s the vision! I want to see a vision! I want people to stand on the mountain top and see the promised land! I want to raise up and support people of good character and I want them to succeed and I want to save those who want to be saved. Those are the voices I want to hear on the evening and cable news and social media. Abraham Lincoln said he defeats his enemies by making them his friends. If American power and supremacy is held by white males, and corrupt police officers, then it works against the interests of marginalized communities to demonize, mock, and destroy them. Instead, those are the very people who should be recruited to the cause! For the truth of the matter is that the vast majority of white Americans–along with Rodney King–want everybody to “get along” with everyone else–for justice to be equitable and fair–for streets to be safe, not only in their neighborhoods, but in everybody’s neighborhood. As Dr. King proved, when given a chance and when challenged by moral righteousness, America will stand up and do the right thing. Enough talk. Redirect anger into love of neighbor. Redirect division towards common cause and cooperation. Damn the politics of partisanship and do something to breathe life back into our inner cities–even if it is by taking back one block at a time. I’m angry. But I’m standing in line waiting to love. And I am not without hope. Done. Reply Bret Mantyk January 20, 2022 Ok then it was my mistake that you blamed CRT for the problems in Chicago. It sounds like you don’t have any specific issues with how CRT is applied, so maybe your statement that its “politically partisan, racially divisive, and socially regressive” was just a projection of what others think? I’m not clear, but maybe thats point of your piece. you seem to expect a lot from CRT (though not an organization) and BLM. And thats great. But the idea that these concepts are saying that all white people are racist and dangerous and false. And as you confirmed…there really isn’t evidence of that anyway. And I agree with your sentiments in your last post. Keep pushing forward. Never abandon hope. Reply Tamara Beryl Latham January 20, 2022 Dear James, Your three poems are exceptional and I particularly enjoyed the sonnet, “I Grieve Bleak Streets.” I tend to agree with Susan’s analysis of your poetry, but with respect to the content in your last quatrain of the sonnet below: “Then, and safer. Children rode their bikes At night, played stickball and most likely knew The folks next door by name. Now no one likes The way things are today—with men in blue.” I don’t agree. The police are damned if they do and damned if they don’t. If they clamp down on crime they are accused of being racist; yet, when something happens in a crime-ridden neighborhood the first ones who are called are the police. Let’s be honest, police are now fearful of even going into those crime-ridden neighborhoods when there is an emergency, because they know they will be accused of racism once they apprehend the perpetrator and as a result they lose their hard-earned pension. The solution to this problem must be achieved by input from both groups, black and white. There’s no other way out. Obama once said if I had a son, he would look like Trayvon Martin, but he was tongueless when it came to any input from him on Kate Steinle. This, in my opinion, was wrong, especially coming from the President of the United States, since it was his job to represent all the people. There is way too much bias in this country and for that reason things will never be as they once were. Keep writing! 🙂 Reply James A. Tweedie January 21, 2022 Tamara, Many thanks for taking the time to respond to my poems with a comment. Actually, I agree with every word you have written. Which is why (in abbreviated poetic constraints) I wrote that, “No one likes the way things are today . . .” By that I include “progressives” who have tried (sometimes successfully) to defund the police and reform our justice system (including removing the necessity for bail) in response to what they see as systemic racism. These progressive folks are clearly not happy with the way things are today. But, far more important, I was referring to the inner-city Black communities themselves, which surveys have consistently shown that the people who live there want MORE police presence, not less. Those who live in the disintegrating free-fire zones are the ones who are the least happy with the way things are today. Despite the reality that many of the have had bad experiences with offensive officers, and despite the fact that they want rogue/racist cops purged from the ranks, despite all that, they support good cops and want to see more of them, not less. Given the legal liabilities and restraints being placed on police and the merry-go-round bail-less release fiasco and the no-prosecution mentality of DAs, the reduction of felonies to misdemeanors, etc. it is no surprise that major city police departments are now so critically understaffed that they have been forced to pull homicide investigators off of cases and reassign them to patrol duty, leaving cities like Chicago (in 2020) solving less than half (45%) of homicide cases, meaning that killers were either unidentified or uncharged/prosecuted in over 400 homicides that year–murderers who are still roaming Chicago streets and neighborhoods. My guess is that they are probably the only people who are happy with the status quo and will probably vote for progressive candidates in the Fall to keep law enforcement as weak and disabled as possible for as long as possible. All the best. And, yes, I plan to keep on writing. Reply Mia January 24, 2022 Your poems are not only excellent but are also full of wisdom. In addition, I think there is so much empathy in your poetry that I can tell you genuinely care. There are so many great poems on this site that although I read them all, cannot seem to be able to comment on all of them very well. But in my defence I am recovering from covid, at home with just home remedies to help and it has not been very pleasant. What has helped me enormously though is reading all the great poems on SCP. Congratulations James and all the great poets here and of course Evan for a wonderful poetry site. Reply James A. Tweedie January 29, 2022 Mia, I just discovered your comment. Thank you for your kind words for me, for Evan and for the SCP. I wish you well on your recovery. Several of us who post regularly have suffered through it although in my case (fortunately) I experienced it as being somewhere between a cold and a touch of flu.; Once again, all the best. Reply C.B. Anderson January 26, 2022 I’m not sure whether I liked your poems or your comments better, James, but for damn sure I wouldn’t want one without the other. You make things so clear that I’ve become addicted to getting a dose of you every two weeks or so. Please oblige me. Reply James A. Tweedie January 29, 2022 Thank you, C.B. From henceforth I shall attempt to construct my comments as poetry so you will no longer have to face the dilemma of whether to prefer one over the other. My comments, neither cogent nor profound; Yet when poetically adverbed and nouned They still make not a whit of sense although They sound as if they SHOULD mean something now. Reply Leave a Reply to Tamara Beryl Latham Cancel ReplyYour email address will not be published.CommentName* Email* Website Notify me of follow-up comments by email. Notify me of new posts by email. Δ This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.