The Street Cop’s Choice

Thanks for coming home to help me choose.
I know my kids will always have my back.
Today was rough. By now you’ve seen the News—
Such blatant lies! They’ve tied me to the rack.
And we still have to see if this guy sues.

What kills me is I did my duty right.
That bastard had already robbed a shop
And wounded three. Then as the perp took flight
He raised his gun and aimed it at a cop.
So my best judgment was to shoot on sight.

I’m glad I got him. There were lives at stake.
The bullet pierced his leg and nothing worse.
He’ll be discharged with just a minor ache.
But now he claims I used excessive force.
Was I supposed to guess his gun was fake?

And what about the injury I got
When he refused arrest and punched my eye?
The bastard shouted “All police should rot!”
But I’m the one the liberals decry.
And now the Bureau’s put me on the spot.

As of today: administrative leave.
I’m pretty sure their woke investigation
Will ban me from the field without reprieve.
I’m sick at heart and burning with frustration
Knowing it’s the felon they believe.

I’ve practiced law enforcement thirty years—
Arrested killers, psychos dealing meth;
I’ve rescued victims, dried a lake of tears.
I even managed through your mother’s death.
I’m not afraid of hate-filled racist sneers.

I’m just disgusted that to stoke dissension
My honor’s slandered by a leftist mob.
They want me fired—not just a suspension.
My instinct says to fight hard for my job.
But if I lose, I jeopardize my pension.

The HR person wants to know today.
I love my job. There’s nothing I regret
And yet the Bureau’s pushing me away.
A life of service they too soon forget.
So help me choose. Should I resign or stay?




a pantoum

You should be doing time!
Defunding the police
Courts death and endless crime,
With zero hope of peace.

Defunding the police
“To make our nation fairer”
With zero hope of peace?
A senseless leftist error.

“To make our nation fairer”
You foster mass confusion.
A senseless leftist error—
An anarchist’s delusion.

You foster mass confusion
As traitor to the state.
An anarchist’s delusion,
Your act of spiteful hate!

As traitor to the state
You should be doing time.
Your act of spiteful hate
Courts death and endless crime.



The Advantages of Political Connections

a triolet

We live our lives as we see fit.
You’ll never see us rot in jail.
Our high-placed friends will see to it
We live our lives as we see fit.
Too bad for you: no cash, no shit.
You’ll never qualify for bail.
We live our lives as we see fit.
You’ll never see us. Rot in jail.



A Cup of Joe

Thanks, buddy. You’re a good man to propose
To buy me coffee, maybe grab a bite.
No one asks me Shall we meet at Joe’s?
I work too late. When I get home it’s night.

Plus people lately—they look down on me.
I know that it’s the uniform and gun.
Such hypocrites! When crooks are on a spree
These same folks rush to dial 9-1-1.

They have no inkling what I think and do.
I’ve got two kids—a mortgage and a wife.
Those jerks who shout “defund” don’t have a clue
How hard I work. The loss of sleep. The strife…

My best friend died last week. A highway crash
Caused by a fleeing felon. Please excuse
Me if I… Sorry. I’ll be fine. That trash
Was caught. A public hanging’s what I’d choose.

My injuries. Friends killed. To be in danger
Every single day. I hurt and grieve
Like every friend you know. I’m not some stranger!
Defund us? They’re the ones who ought to leave.



Brian Yapko is a lawyer who also writes poetry. He lives in Santa Fe, New Mexico.

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32 Responses

  1. Paul Freeman

    Thanks for the reads, Brian. The police are indeed often painted as villains due to the actions of a few fellow officers.

    Funnily enough, I watched the first Harry Callahan film last night, made in 1971. It grittily explores many of the topics you’ve touched on.

    • Brian Yapko

      Thank you, Paul. Most are indeed painted very unfairly. Having represented police officers I know this with certainty. As for “Dirty Harry” — Clint Eastwood is fantastic! And your comment has certainly, um, made my day!

  2. Russel Winick

    Brian – this is great, hard-hitting work. I’ll bet police departments around the country would love to have it.

    • Brian Yapko

      Thank you very much, Russel. I would be honored if police departments read and appreciated my small tribute to them. Our first responders should know that most of us believe in them and that they have our support.

  3. Roy E. Peterson

    Right on the nose, Brian! We must stop the insanity that has replaced good with evil, deplores apprehension of violent criminal felons, praises and marches for the unworthy, and removes our first line of defenders!

    • Brian Yapko

      Roy, thank you for your comment. I could not agree with you more! Stopping the insanity sounds like a tall order but I believe it can be done.

  4. jd

    I agree with all the above, Brian.
    You did a great job speaking for the good
    ones who no doubt outnumber the baddies,
    despite what the media would have us believe.

    • Brian Yapko

      Thank you very much, JD. The media cannot be relied on for objectivity. Too many of its members have a malign agenda

  5. Margaret Coats

    Common (not vulgar) language characterizes all these poems; even the pantoum, which is the most formal of the pieces, begins and ends with the idiomatic expression “doing time.” This helps give the impression that the police are ordinary persons entrusted with dangerous work that is not enough appreciated. “The Street Cop’s Choice” runs through numerous issues just as they might run through the mind of an individual in his stressful situation, spilling it all out to an adult child come home to support his father. The last line reveals his choice. With “stay” as the last word, unexpected after all the reasons given against staying, we understand the tenacious bravery that has kept this man on duty. Doing a second reading for clarity confirms this judgment of his character.

    Of these poems, the pantoum is my favorite because it makes such good use of the form. There is abundant rollover of thought and syntax in the repeated lines. The repetends change context and introduce variation in ideas. This takes a lot of work, and makes the poem read quickly and smoothly. Very well done!

    • Brian Yapko

      Dear Margaret, thank you very much indeed for your careful reading. I wondered how my “street” language would be received and I am most pleased that you accepted it as common rather than vulgar. A good number of the poems that I write are “in character” as it were. I find this gives more emotional interest in the speaker’s situation, but it also requires me to use language suitable to the character. These decisions may affect the rhyme — especially if the speaker is not educated or is impaired, and it may even affect the choice of structure as well, all to suit the character of the speaker. So it is sometimes important when reading to differentiate between the speaker’s vocabulary and that of the poet. That means when my speaker is a street cop he’s likely to use the salty language I selected. And, in the triolet, since my speaker is a conscienceless convicted felon, his language is quite likely to lapse into profanity.

      As for the character of the Street Cop — you nailed it. He is a man of great commitment and honor. He is far more wounded by the treatment he has received at the hands of the media, the public and his own superiors than he was by the perpetrator he arrested. But such men do not crumble easily and I think his decision to stay and fight is a foregone — if subtle — conclusion. I’m glad you spotted that in the final word.

      Thank you also for your appreciation of the pantoum. Yes, it was tricky so I’m glad you feel that it works. It really is a peculiar form which, to my thinking, is not terribly versatile. But every so often — especially with subject matter that involves circular reasoning — it comes in handy.

      As always, thank you again for your carefully considered comments. Your “very well done” means a lot to me.

  6. Joseph S. Salemi

    It’s not just the defunding of the police and the shackling of police procedure for dealing with crime that is the problem. Has everyone forgotten that George Soros and his Open Society Foundation has provided almost limitless funds for the stinking thugs in BLM and Antifa, and that he was instrumental in electing a pack of D.A.s nationwide who are deliberately refusing to prosecute an entire range of criminal activities? Or that the “woke” Democrats who now control New York State have made it impossible to impose bail on many violent offenders who are arrested?

    If you vote the Democratic ticket, you’re either stupid or a criminal.

    • Brian Yapko

      Joseph, what you say is spot-on. My hope with this quartet of poems was to let the police who protect us daily know that they are supported. But there are many additional forms of poison which adversely affect law enforcement in this country and, as a lawyer myself, I am thoroughly disgusted by D.A.s who are soft on crime and who give these fraudulent anarchist organizations a wink and a nod. As for Soros, don’t get me started. There are few wretchedly destructive people on the face of this planet who leave me more infuriated. When all accounts are settled, he will have much to answer for.

    • Adam Wasem

      What’s most telling to me, Joseph, when contemplating Soros’ motives, is the knowledge that he made his billions on a massive short trade against the English pound. Since putting that awareness and my understanding of his “philanthropy” together, I’ve always just assumed his strategy in America has been to buy up and manipulate as many useful idiot leftists as possible here to bring about a collapse of American society, and with it, the dollar, so he can make even more billions.

      • Joseph S. Salemi

        Yes, that is possible, but keep in mind that Soros comes from an Esperantist background, and the Esperanto language cult has always had as a major political motive the unification of all humanity into a common herd under vaguely socialist auspices. Soros is certainly a criminal financial speculator who deserves the gallows for his actions, but something much deeper than the love for money is driving him.

    • Adam Wasem

      I never underestimate a bankster’s love of money–being the root of all evil and all. I do agree that socialism is very much his preferred flavor of fascism, both because he believes it is the easiest sell to Americans of all the permutations of collectivist fascism, and also because he believes his oligarch status will be much easier to protect in the future American Socialist Government as one of the Party’s founding and sustaining members.

  7. Susan Jarvis Bryant

    Brian, what a magnificent array of fine poetry on display! I particularly like the way you have used form to highlight a subject that blights our crumbling society.

    Very well done on the pantoum and triolet front – the repetition works splendidly. It gets the appalling message across with a powerful voice. For me, the pantoum is one of the hardest forms. In “Defunded”, I admire the way the repeated lines have a subtle change in meaning throughout. I can tell you sweated the details. The triolet form is becoming a firm favorite of mine. ” The Advantages of Political Connections” shows exactly why. What a great form for bringing something significant to attention. Your triolet makes the case with poetic punch that has a potent impact… excellent repeating lines!

    “The Street Cop’s Choice” and “A Cup of Joe” showcase your ability to step into the another’s shoes and bring the human touch and an immediacy to the issue with heartfelt narrative. What better way to understand a dilemma than through the eyes of the one living it every day? I like the way you highlight the obvious perils (the very nature of the job) together with the danger of on-the-spot decision making, and the savage consequences of those decisions. I agree with Russel – police departments around the country would love your poems. They speak for law enforcement everywhere with a voice of understanding and gratitude… a rare attitude these days.

    Brian, thank you very much for your poetry, your honesty, and your bravery.

    • Brian Yapko

      Susan, I treasure your comments because you so thoroughly understand both my poetic choices and the conscience behind them. Thank you for that! I’m grateful for your appreciation of the pantoum and triolet. This was my first triolet and I’m pleased that it works for you. The pantoum still strikes me as a peculiar form which can be difficult to make sense of. In a way I see it as the poetic equivalent of a canon or round in music. It can be effective but has a rather narrow range of uses. But they can indeed hammer the message home.

      I’m especially pleased with your critique of the two first-person narrative poems. In my capacity as a lawyer I have had many, many contacts with police officers as plaintiffs, as defendants, as witnesses. I have never met a single one who I considered dishonorable. To the contrary, if people recognized the ideals of these men and women and the sacrifices they make daily they would be utterly humbled. I’m grateful if my poems have made people even a little bit more aware of that and I hope that members of law enforcement get the chance to know that they are appreciated, whether it’s with my poems or with a simple “thank you for your service” at the local coffee shop.

      Thank you again, Susan!

  8. Brian Yapko

    A general comment to those reading this quartet of poems:

    As I was preparing these poems for submission a major crime incident occurred here in Santa Fe. A woman claimed to be kidnapped, stole a vehicle and caused a chase the wrong way on the freeway causing a fatal crash. Two men died. The first was a Santa Fe police officer who was 43 years old and left behind and wife and two teenage sons. The second was a retired firefighter. The woman’s kidnapping claim turned out to be a hoax. She had made the same claim as she stole vehicles twice before and had been released for lack of evidence. An addict, she was high on methamphetamine. She has now been charged with two counts of first-degree murder along with multiple lesser crimes. She tried to smuggle meth into the prison where she is now being held.

    1000 people attended the funeral of the fallen officer, another 500 attended the funeral of the fallen firefighter.

  9. Adam Wasem

    I really liked “The Street Cop’s Choice,” and “The Advantages of Political Connections.” Was there ever a period more pertinently put? The most tragic irony of the defund garbage, at least for the urban poor the limousine liberals claim to champion, is that the end result is skyrocketing crime in their neighborhoods. Here in Chicago the murder rate is up nearly 50% from the pre-Floyd days; in Minneapolis, ground zero for the post-Floyd insanity, the murder rate is up almost 120%.

    • Brian Yapko

      Thank you very much, Adam. I agree with you fully about the “limousine liberals” who actually face no consequences from their misguided attempts at social engineering. Crime is up everywhere. I don’t know the stats here in New Mexico but there’s a terrible practice of catch-and-release of dangerous felons — released because the money isn’t there to prosecute them in a timely way or to keep them in prison. Santa Fe is doing okay, more or less, but nearby Albuquerque — not so much. One good thing though is that in New Mexico first responders are very much respected. The “defund the police” movement has had little to no traction here.

  10. C.B. Anderson

    One of the things that makes your poems so readable, Brian, is that, even in longer forms, you never lose your way technically or thematically. With these, of course, it is helpful if the reader is sympathetic to the sentiments you espouse. I share your reservations about the pantoum — yours was one of the few I have ever really enjoyed.

    • Brian Yapko

      Thank you, C.B., for your generous words. I always appreciating hearing your views on my work. I do realize that my subject matter and sympathies may sometimes court some controversy but that’s the fantastic thing about the Society of Classical Poets and its tradition of allowing poets to speak their minds. As for the pantoum, I’m glad we’re on the same page regarding the pantoum form. That makes your enjoyment of “Defunded” that much sweeter!

  11. Shaun C. Duncan

    I’m sure there’s been an absolute torrent of crude and awful slam poetry written against the police in the past couple of years. It’s nice to take in a more considered view, expressed in quality verse. Thanks.

    • Brian Yapko

      Thank you very much, Shaun. I’m sure you’re right about slam poetry. I’m just glad that there are those like yourself who encourage poetic support for our first responders. I hope other poets will also offer such support. It is my view that those who protect and serve and risk their lives daily — and now risk lawsuits and administrative actions and public revilement to boot — deserve our praise, gratitude and continuing encouragement.

    • Margaret Coats

      Brian, you are right about the encouragement needed and very welcome when it is received. You suggest the offer of a cup of coffee, and I’m sure an officer would appreciate that even if he’s not in a position to accept at the time. I have to tell you about a few friends of mine who decided to organize a public demonstration of support for police. They paid for one professionally produced banner, and invited others to come with homemade signs. One little boy had a small sign that said, “Honk for the cops!” That produced so much noise that a police cruiser drove by the busy intersection to see what was going on, and gave the kid thumbs up. As the demonstrators (about 15 of them) were leaving after their planned two-hour stint, the city chief of police drove up and told them every officer on duty had heard about what they did over police radio. He said it heightened morale so much that he would not mind seeing a demonstration every month. They have returned several times.

      • Brian Yapko

        This is a wonderful story, Margaret, and I hope it’s a trend that is seen in cities across the country. When it comes to morale, every little bit helps. Thank you for sharing this.

  12. David Watt

    Brian, your four poems tell it exactly how it is, and do so with style.
    I’m so glad this trend to devalue police hasn’t made inroads here. Although recently a policeman was acquitted for shooting an aboriginal man, following pre-trial comments by high officials pre-supposing a guilty outcome.

    • Brian Yapko

      Thank you very much, David. I hope Australia continues to respect its first responders and I hope that political ideology can be kept out of the courtroom in both of our countries! Police officers should never be reduced to being political scapegoats and sacrificial lambs as they have been since the George Floyd incident here.


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