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Was there a moment of shock when it came to you?

A sharp intake, the rasping breath of realisation?

Or simply relief at surviving your rookie shifts,

Then boredom and danger cocktailed into queasy routine.


So you wanted to be a police officer.

Protect and serve; defend and provide for.

If it’s not changing the world, you said to yourself,

At least I’ll be putting the bad guys away.


Instead all you Blues were recruited to the war on drugs.

In designated neighbourhoods your new assignment is to enter

As many perps as possible into the judicial process, if only

For possession, leaving little time for traditional policing priorities


Such as catching killers. In these districts nine out of 10 killings

Now remain untried and unpunished, unless you count

The unlawful acts of recrimination which have all but replaced

The intervention of the state in the expectations of local people.


Of the three guys on the corner, you’re the only one

That ain’t got his own. Dealer knows his job. Users, too,

Have a particular role to play. But you’re the little lost boy

Whose dotted line went off in unexpected directions.


Within your ranks there’s a hard core who might have done it

Anyway, at any time. But the not knowing who you are,

Not exactly sure what or who you’re there for

Must have been a factor in some of your folks not knowing


How to react, therefore emptying the magazine as if that means

Rubbing out a few pages instead of tearing into the flesh and bone

Of a fellow human being. Who knows whether all those ID checks would have

Gone so badly wrong if the policeman’s lot had not been re-cast without telling him?