by Michael Novick


I live in the city of L.A. near Culver City’s environs

And any hour of every day, I am besieged by sirens.


Ambulances, paramedics, fire engines and cops —

each walk or bike ride I take, the wailing never stops.


When I try to cross the street, they go tearing through the light.

And when I try to go to sleep, they go screaming through the night.


For weeks in Europe with hardly a claxon, I enjoyed the quiet.

Back in the US, it was copters and choppers, like a war zone or a riot.


Squad cars racing down the block. flashing lights and siren blaring

give the lie to their claims of serving, protecting, or caring.


Their constant piercing presence is an assault upon our senses

to which fingers, plugs or ear-buds can offer no defenses.


And when I climb, and meditate, atop the highest nearby hill,

the howling sounds of sirens surround and hound me still.


The shrillness seems designed to trigger post-traumatic stress,

to transform quiet neighborhoods into an auditory mess.


Like Ferguson’s brazen cops chanting “Whose streets? Our streets!”

the sirens transform peaceful blocks into occupation beats.


Homes and stores that police sirens ceaselessly surround

become virtual prison cells behind intrusive walls of  sound.


The sirens sound a warning horn, a threat of further violence.

I’m working towards a better morn, a day with blessed silence,


Without teargas, gunshots, spying, when the sirens finally cease,

The day on which we finally can abolish the police.


Michael Novick is a member of the editorial and production crew of Change Links, an elected listener delegate to the KPFK Local Station Board, and editor and publisher of “Turning The Tide: Journal of Inter-communal Solidarity” from Anti-Racist Action-Los Angeles. His poetry has been published previously in Change Links, as well as in various anthologies. He is a board member of Interfaith Communities United for Justice and Peace (ICUJP).

Michael Novick (on right) with Lawrence Reyes and Chuck Anderson (center, now deceased)

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