Officer Joe (My Day)

— Jim Russo

Let me tell you about my day

I usually walk for about two hours each day to get away from my computer

Today I decided to walk in the forest

I decided to take some new trails and yes I got lost

So four and a half hours later I was back at my car and boy do my feet hurt

I wanted to find the old growth redwoods in the forest

Wide trails became narrow trails used by horses but I did find five old growth redwood trees

All I could say when taking in their majesty was Magnifico, Magnifico, Magnifico

Something the early Spaniards might have said when first seeing these giant trees

The tops were way above the canopy showing new yellow green growth from our wet winter

The forest floor is covered with ferns, thick with green healthy ferns

I took a few new growth leaves from the base of the redwood

I crushed them in my fingers, putting my fingers under my nose, closing my eyes listening to the silence, the quiet, trying to put out of my mind the bad news of the last few weeks, the killings, being still only hearing the satin waters rolling and falling over smooth rocks far below

Smelling the redwoods vanes, the new life with eyes closed I remembered a friend I use to read with in San Francisco, a poet named Carlos Ramirez

One night when it was his turn to read, he said instead of reading a poem, he wanted to tell us about his day

Carlos was a teacher of young people and that day he was assigned playground supervisor, which he wasn’t particularly happy about

He noticed an older man hanging out in the school yard, so he went over to introduce himself

It turned out the old man was a retired SFPD, Officer Joe a man who never had a family, a man who was the beat-cop for thirty-five years in that neighborhood

He knew all the kids, their parents, their grandparents and all the merchants; he had walked those neighborhood streets and lived in the neighborhood for years

He was telling Carlos that he had bought and donated all the athletic equipment the kids were playing with in the playground and he came every afternoon to show the kids how to shoot a hook shot or how to play tetherball or pushed the little girls on the swings

Carlos was tearing up as he told this story reminding us of the good policemen in our lives, Officer Joe

While standing there in the forest listening to the silence, smelling those young redwood leaves

A thought occurred to me, which I want to assign to all of you listening to me right now, each day I ask you to; in conversations, in emails use the word PEACE three times each day

Thank you and the late Carlos thanks you too



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