Idiot Box: ‘Except the Cops’

Except the Cops

I am not the first mystery you will ever solve.  An old Chandler novel, an unsigned note, page numbers circled in a telephone sequence.  These are the clues you use to track me down.  We have never met before you call evening L.A. time; it’s midnight here when you start to read.

By day you are Marlowe in a hundred dollar suit, fistful of manila folders, mouth creased long from frowning at crime scenes with heavy hands on skinny hips.  At night, you do not try to close me.  You just read & hang up when the chapter is through. Outside your window stray cats sing.  This you ignore. 

For 52 nights there’s a different crime in your voice.  Robbery and murder, rapes and lost dogs.  You do not need to unload all your grief on a stranger.  Chandler’s words are therapy enough for both of us.

On night 53, there is no goodbye.  You hang up, go out to your car, put your head in your hands, & weep.

– One of three Shield poems in the series, this one is, of course, about Dutch Wagenbach, with allusions to “Dragonchasers,” “Strays” and “Rap Payback.”

-I love Raymond Chandler.  The Long Goodbye is my favorite novel; a huge inspiration on The Big Rewind. (the original title, as some of you may remember, was No Awkward Goodbyes in homage).  The title comes from the novel’s last lines/mic drop; “I never saw any of them again. Except the cops.  No way has yet been invented to say goodbye to them.”  Boom, baby!

-This is the second poem I wrote referencing a character Jay Karnes plays; he’s also briefly mentioned (as Tyler Brennen) in “What We Talk About When We Talk About Michael Westen.”  I think he’s wonderful.


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