Poem: The Siren's Wail
It is the one sound you hear from the first day on the job to the last day of your police career – and beyond
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 Billy Thomas, who began his police career in 1981 and retired in 2000.
"I wrote this partly based on my own experiences in going through a very dark period of depression, alcoholism and PTSD," said Billy. "The wailing of the sirens follows us through our careers, from start (the rush of responding to hot calls, fellow officers responding to help us out of bad situations) to finish (being laid to rest with honors, or being stripped of the honor due to death by suicide). They also represent the current trend of hate and violence toward this nation's police."
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THE SIREN’S WAIL
The sirens they wail, they're calling to me,
They make me yearn for who I’m supposed to be.
I want to be the man dressed all in blue,
To make a difference, to see justice through.
I will be honorable, I will be brave,
I will remain steadfast, and will never cave.
I will shine my badge, and polish my boots,
And perform my duties, and always do good.
The sirens are wailing, and I’m moving fast,
For I’ve just been dispatched to a fatal crash.
A heroin overdose, a domestic fight,
And a sick child who did not survive the night.
The sirens wail, they’re coming to help,
I’m on the ground with a suspect who’s fighting like hell.
The ambulance is coming, taking patients away,
They stabilized the man that I had just saved.
But something has changed, work is no longer fun,
Seems I’m always in trouble for even good things I have done.
The courts are too lenient, and prison is a joke,
Releasing the bad guys to re-victimize folks.
My leaders don’t care, support me they won’t,
Throwing me to the wolves, I feel so alone.
I really need help now, the demons arrived,
But I can’t ask for help, or I could be fired.
Or worse I may end up being attacked,
My law enforcement family may all turn their backs.
I can’t take the risk, so I stuff down the pain,
And suffer in silence, no hope can I gain.
The sirens they wail, they’re chilling my soul,
My whole body is trembling, they’re taking their toll.
I’m so tired of fighting these demons I fear,
I want it to end, the life I held so dear.
The things that I’ve done, the things that I’ve seen,
The smells in my nostrils from horrific scenes.
The images haunt me, they won’t leave my head,
The innocent victims, still alive and the dead.
I can’t take this darkness when nightmares I fight,
Though demons attack me, I cannot take flight.
I scream out in terror, as the night creatures poke
I am suffocating, an invisible hand chokes.
I see all the victims that I could not help,
I see battered bodies where bloodied they fell.
I hear tires screeching, I hear the cars crash,
I smell the blood running, mixed with oil in the grass.
I sit on the floor, my gun in my mouth,
I contemplate leaving, taking the “easy” way out.
I won’t pull the trigger, I am too afraid,
I won’t go to Heaven, earth-bound I will stay.
Retirement has come, and I think I’m free,
But the past still haunts me, it won’t let me be.
My blue family’s gone, we’ve all grown apart,
All alone I exist, with my broken heart.
The sirens they wail, they’re sounding for me,
For I am gone now, I have ceased to be.
The cars in procession, a long line of lights,
The blue and reds flash, it’s a beautiful sight.
They gather in the stadium, nice things they now say,
About forgotten memories and the games that we played.
Amazing Grace echoes, first one then more pipes,
The tears are a-falling from everyone’s eyes.
And now we stand, at the side of my grave,
The flag is presented as the light begins to fade.
A twenty-one gun salute is fired in the air,
Sadness overwhelming, it’s too much to bear.
They lower my coffin, into the damp ground,
I’ve finally found freedom, I’m no longer bound.
From me no more tears, finally done with my cryin’,
Never more will I hear the wail of a siren.
If you or someone you know is experiencing symptoms of depression or PTSD, here are some resources to assist: