GOOD COP, BAD COP
"Your mother doesn't want another cat,"
I tell my children, shrugging helplessly
when they ask if we can't get another.
A look of pleading fills their eyes,
but they already know the answer.
It's been two years since Grover died,
our sweet ancient tabby.
Nothing I can do about it, my mute defense.
I recall the last five years of Grover's life,
curled in a corner, struggling to his feet,
the pills I forced down his throat every morning,
turds we stepped on in the dark,
puddles of urine and vomit on the floor.
My father was distant when I was a kid,
deep in the concerns of his research
like an explorer in a cave with a flashlight—
permissive, lenient to his children,
leaving discipline to his wife.
Slogging through the muck of parenting,
sleeves rolled up, Mom laid down the law,
set the curfews, spelled out the consequences.
Charles reads "Good Cop, Bad Cop":
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Charles confesses: "In Humboldt's Gift, Saul Bellow discusses the concept of the 'contrast gainer', the member of a couple who looks good by comparison with his or her mate. The same principle is at work in the 'good cop, bad cop' police interrogation strategy, one cop appearing sympathetic in contrast to the other. The same dynamic often applies between parents, one kinder, more understanding than the other. They also say that grandparents can seem good-coppish—tolerant, indulgent—in contrast to parents. Think of the contrast between Bernie and Hillary, n'est-ce pas?"
The Potomac, an online literary journal, and is the Prose Editor for BrickHouse Books in Baltimore, Maryland, where he lives. His latest book is a poetry collection called Mata Hari: Eye of the Day, published by Apprentice House (Loyola University).