Previously on Spirit Prison Sitcom


But behold, an awful death cometh upon the wicked; for they die as to things pertaining to things of righteousness; for they are unclean, and no unclean thing can inherit the kingdom of God; but they are cast out, and consigned to partake of the fruits of their labors or their works, which have been evil; and they drink the dregs of a bitter cup.

The Book of Mormon, Alma 40:26

Between the laughs—

Worst-case hurricane scenarios?
Smallpox threat? Err on
the side of fear. Homophobia?
When in doubt, blame nurture.
“Oh god, I wanna be somebody!”
In the mouth of two or three wit—
What do you mean nobody saw anything?

Sometimes we laugh; sometimes we vote.
Be werewolves who carry swine flu.
See apocalypse as a fresh start.
A pension for your thoughts?
Multiple piercings, one for each
flickering identity—the city’s tinsel.
Did you eat the brownies too?

Here come the late ‘70s. LOL!

Sure hope the smog covers up
the graffiti. Smoke tips off the blind.
“Don’t ever marry a sex goddess.”
A suicide pact simmers
like fish heads on a hot plate.
Men discourage wives from working
and daughters from becoming wives—
so many bullets in their feet.

The little man howls;
the big man moonlights.
A priest gets into trouble.
…no, not that way.
The Russians are meddling.
…no, not with that.
When in doubt, send ’em to Bellevue.
Strikes? Cutbacks? Robberies?
Don’t take ’em personally, lady

—between the laughs.


Poet’s Notes:

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

Image of Al Capone’s prison cell by hsvbooth on Pixabay.