Previously on Spirit Prison Sitcom

But behold, these which thine eyes are upon shall perish in the floods; and behold, I will shut them up; a prison have I prepared for them.

Moses 7:38, The Pearl of Great Price

Between the laughs—

A big case, a missing man. Grown daughter
bereaved, absent father down the street.
Runaway spouses, dogfights in a warehouse.
Mail-order German mom wants to go home.
Cop accused of harassment—misunderstanding
so they say. A guy was in prison 30 years;
two weeks out, he misses prison. A detective,
20 years of service, brushes past a 14-year-old
loan shark. Squad room trashed for a 16-year-old
grudge. Black detective shot at by white cops
in blue—misunderstanding so they say. Radical
fugitive by the name of Who Cares Anymore.
“I am more sick than I am criminal.”
Christmastime—buddy ditched; wife reconciled.
All wayward souls placed elsewhere for their own
damn good. The lie detector makes a good guy
panic, while the wise guy aces his test.
The man pointing the gun is the one
saying to call ’em off. The hunk cop needs
to give the girl his apartment key already.
And the captain dons glasses.
The counterfeiter proves a most genuine fella.
An arsonist, his therapist, and three homeless
guys make for a fine open house. Never mind
the witness-protection guy—harmless; the strung-
out air traffic controller needs watching.
One night the cage is full of white collars
with a voodoo mother lurking outside.
Come, graveyard shift! Screw the bomb
threats and never mind the succubus.
Just always remember, this year
one of the guys really died

—between the laughs.

Poet’s Notes:

This poem draws on imagery and a quote from the classic sitcom Barney Miller. Running from 1975 to 1982, the show follows the misadventures of a squad of New York City detectives.

For a helpful approach to reading experimental poetry, try Forget the Poet. Love the Poem.

The featured image is by Bruce Emmerling from Pixabay.