I will suppose, in the spirit world, a grade of spirits of the lowest order, composed of murderers, robbers, thieves, adulterers, drunkards, and persons ignorant, uncultivated, &c., who are in prison… Such spirits, if they could communicate, would not tell you of the resurrection or any of the Gospel truths, for they know nothing about them. …

What, then, could you get from them? Why, common chit chat in which there would be a mixture of truth, and of error and mistakes, in mingled confusion…

Parley P. Pratt, “Spiritual Communication”, Journal of Discourses Vol. 1, April 7, 1853

Season One

Between the laughs—

(hijacking in particular),
shootings and bombings,
gang violence,
racial and ethnic strife
(between and within),
homophobia with career consequences,
labor disputes, infrastructure held hostage,
immigration (but you tell me
if that’s a good thing or a bad thing),
qualified women sidelined by boys clubs,
good kids born to absent parents and present crime
(growing up to be like parents, good kids),
suspects shooting cops, cops shooting suspects…

Killer crying over his TV dinner:
“Cuz that’s the way it is,
and there ain’t anything
you can do about it.”

—between the laughs.

Poet’s Notes:

The above poem draws imagery and a direct quote from Season One of Barney Miller. The sitcom, which ran from 1975 to 1982, follows the misadventures of a detective squad in New York City.

Image by vadimguzhva, iStock