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Poem: I Can’t Sleep Tonight…Again

A veteran officer recounts the memory of a call that haunts him as he tries to sleep



Calling all police poets! Police1’s poetry column highlights some of the inspirational, moving and funny poems authored by our readers.

This poem is by Lieutenant Max Nowinsky who wrote it shortly after he responded to an accident involving a juvenile pedestrian who suffered serious injuries.

“I was off duty from the police department at the time, however, I am also a volunteer deputy chief with the fire department,” Max said. “I have 23 years of public safety experience, 23 in the fire service and 19 in law enforcement. This poem was written after I gave up on my efforts to go to bed. I think the victim’s age and the signs and symptoms of injury he was displaying (classic head and spinal cord injury indicators) had an effect on my ability to ‘just move on.’ Writing is often an outlet to clear an overactive mind and these words flowed onto paper seamlessly. Getting these words out of my head and onto paper certainly helped to ease my anxiety a bit, and allow me to settle down and eventually fall asleep.”

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I Can’t Sleep Tonight…Again

It’s 10:30 pm and instead of laying down in my bed
I’m fighting to get these thoughts out of my head

I’m tired, but I can’t sleep tonight

Just before 9, while some were watching T.V., or eating dinner, or preparing for bed
I was on the side of the road, kneeling down, holding his head

The rain was falling, the flashing lights burst through the darkness
The people standing around were shouting, trying to help him regain consciousness

For a moment his eyes opened, and he gave me a stare
I called him by name, even though I could tell he wasn’t there

The ambulance arrived quickly and within minutes they were gone
A load-n-go situation because the Golden Hour really isn’t that long

As I write this I wonder, will he live or will he die
I know there was nothing more I could do, but there isn’t any comfort in “try”

When the helpers are helpless, what should we do?
Have a drink, say a prayer? When I figure that out, I’ll share it with you

Until then, I can’t sleep tonight…again

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