I am lately entranced by neo-noir,
The criminal mysteries of Europe
And the wilds of Canada and Britain.
There is rarely running, screaming
Or endless car chases through
London, Ottawa or Ystad,
Unlike the reckless pursuits
In Manhattan or L.A. streets.
These detectives don’t sashay
In long coats or wear black leather,
(Except for a couple).
They wake up hung over,
Like Wallander, or grieving
Like Perez from Fair Isle
And Matthias, self-exiled to Wales.
Bodies surface or are found
In gorgeous forests.
The detectives overcome depression
To quarrel with irrational superiors
(Who may themselves be guilty),
Yet they don’t yell like sergeants
In the gritty precincts of NYC.
They drive their Volvos through
Rolling fields of rye and rapeseed.
And even the mysterious quarries
Where bodies are found in Poland and Wales
Are beautiful—not like the junkyards
Of Barstow or east coast borderlands.
Some detectives are lucky, like Matthias,
In hiding in Hinterland.
He walks the shores of Aberstwyth
As Wallander does the fields of Malmo.
When suspects are caught, they aren’t beaten.
Their jails are neat and clean;
The prisoners get mattresses, pillows and TV!
The police question suspects casually,
As if they would rather be in bed.
The female cops are clever and quiet;
They rarely show their anger
When chided or ignored,
But carry on with dignity
And show the others
How work is really done.
At last, the assailant is charged,
Sun sets through the mist,
Sheep graze on manicured fields.
Village streets glow with low light
Reflected off rain-washed stone.
But despite the ambiance, people die
In weird ways: falling off of towers,
Shot while picnicking in costumes,
Lynched by a group of church goers
Floating past in a lake or river,
Or set on fire in a flowery field.
It’s as if the deaths are staged,
To match the serenity of the old world.
The slow machinations of justice
And drained eyes of the officers
Comfort me like a sedative
Always there, watching over their flock
As soothing as a soft, wool blanket
Hiding a frightened child.
When I am asleep, let
Matthias run along the cliff,
Let Wallander drink his wine
While Endeavour swoons to opera
And Cardinal stands in the birch grove,
All as semi-sedated sentinels
In the dusk or midnight sun.
I only ask that American blues
Take a page from these good constables
Across the sea or north of the border;
Imagine the settling peace
In the wide, new world,
If people of color were never smothered,
Or shot when carrying a phone
And people protesting were not gassed,
But spoken to with weary eyes
And a mind prompting peace officers
To listen, protect and serve.
There is something about the ****** mysteries of other countries than the U.S. In Canada, Great Britain and Sweden, for example, the police seem to hunt criminals in a relaxed, sometimes depressed way (Wallander!) that fascinates me...even mesmerizes me!