Previously on Spirit Prison Sitcom


“…how easy it is to wander into strange paths and become lost! How quickly we are bound in the chains of sin spoken of by Lehi to his rebellious sons. …If we choose to break the law, we may be put in prison, where our agency is so limited that we cannot choose where we go, who we see, or what we do. Spirit prison is very much like that.”

Elder Robert D. Hales, General Conference Address, April 2006

Between the laughs—

“Not me! Not me!”
Hey, pal! At least the fire was friendly.
Need a cockroach squashed?
God’ll be right there.
Chemical spillage?
Tough. The bosses got lawyers.

I put my buddy three feet under. Couldn’t afford six.
Life ain’t like it is on TV. Lucky for TV.
Funny thing. Climate being what it is,
we might be heading into the next ice age.

…about as likely as the captain taking a bribe.

Maybe the nudists are onto something…
Maybe we shouldn’t write anybody off…
Maybe we’re one homemade atomic bomb
away from nothing else mattering… maybe?
Maybe we’re all just couch-hopping through life…
Maybe all marriages are arranged… by ghosts?
Maybe we’re all ODing on prepared sugar…
Maybe in 1978 spousal rape was a new thing…

…probably not.

Unwanted characters get evicted. Even nice ones.
Being good at real estate isn’t being good at human.
Sometimes the job hobbles you. But god forbid
the old lady ever regrets the young woman.

“You were lovely.”

In the city,
in the precinct, in the squad room,
in the cage, you’re being held; the whole world’s a mom
and pop shop; we ain’t gonna get hired anywhere else; never mind the UFO reports or the imminent collapse of the global economy; yeah, we might wind up trying to score medical marijuana for glaucoma; or we might get hired to fold the emperor’s new clothes. Just… don’t despair.
Lots of luck going around these days.

—between the laughs.


Poet’s Notes:

The above poem draws imagery and direct quotes from Season 4 of Barney Miller. The sitcom, which ran from 1975 to 1982, follows the misadventures of a detective squad in New York City.