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Police Week poem: Between the Monsters and the Weak

Poet Michael Marks pens a moving tribute to the men and women of law enforcement

And maybe just remind the few, if ill of us they speak, that we are all that stands between the monsters and the weak. (1).jpg

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By Michael Marks

In 2000 I wrote a simple poem called “A Soldier’s Christmas” with no idea how it would change my life. At the time it seemed like nothing more than a few small words to thank the men and women who served around the world to protect my nation, my hometown and my family.

The response to that poem was beyond overwhelming. I’ve received letters from service members, or their parents or children. YouTube renditions have amassed literally millions of views, and productions have been created by some of the most wonderful, generous and loving patriots like Michael Martin Murphey, Joe Cantafio and Thom Richards, to name just a few.

Schools included “A Soldier’s Christmas” and some of my subsequent poems in patriotic productions and in countless support missions to benefit troops and their families. I could not be more humbled.

In 2006 I wrote another military-themed poem called “Reporting from the Front,” which brought the second unexpected surprise of this journey. The poem closed with the lines “And maybe just remind the few, if ill of us they speak, that we are all that stands between the monsters and the weak.”

That sentence caught fire through the law enforcement community and now appears on everything from coffee mugs and bumper stickers to T-shirts and hoodies. I saw a photo of an officer who had it inked across his forearm. That one took my breath away.

Since I wrote “Reporting from the Front,” I have long thought I should pen the “blue version” – a tribute written specifically for the men and women of law enforcement, whom I love so dearly. Given the state of today’s public discourse, I thought that the time had come to do so, for whatever small measure of thanks these words might convey.

To my brothers and sisters in blue, stay safe and God bless; this one is for you.

Between the monsters and the weak

In silent rows of blue and gold they stood beneath the rain
that fell to earth like angel’s tears amid the sad refrain.
Amazing Grace, how sweet the sound, the notes hung on the air,
a last goodbye, a muffled cry, a word of whispered prayer.

And as beneath the flag I go to take my final rest,
my duty done, I leave you one, a lingering request.
To raise a glass in memory of all the good I’ve done;
To now and then tell stories of the races that I won.

Go start with all the bad guys – ones we lost and ones we caught,
of derring-do, heroics too, the battles that we fought.
But then recall with laughter all the mishaps we created,
the flubs and goofs, the pranks and spoofs, their telling oft-inflated.

But given time let stories turn to things that really mattered,
the ones we served who need us most, the broken and the battered.
Those who call in fear of violent spouse or muggers on the street,
and those stranded on a highway in a night of snow and sleet.

Don’t feel the need to mention all the burdens that we carried,
the awful sights and sounds and smells, the echoes we keep buried.
That’s just the price we pay to be the ones who charge the fray,
to rush into the worst of times when others run away.

It doesn’t matter when or where, it matters not the danger,
We race as though to help a friend when called on by a stranger.
And maybe just remind the few, if ill of us they speak,
that we are all that stands between the monsters and the weak.

— Michael Marks, October 2021

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About the author

Michael Marks has been a lifelong supporter of law enforcement, emergency responders and the US Armed Forces. He was a contributor to the language that became the Law Enforcement Officer’s Safety Act (HR218), and his poems have been published or professionally produced in a number of radio and live-performance venues, to include being featured in Michael Martin Murphey’’s “Cowboy Christmas” tour. His writing remains driven by the desire to remind the world of the safety we all enjoy thanks to the service of a dedicated few.