Gene Olson

Rookie (1970 / Saskatchewan, Canada)

A Wasted Youth - Poem by Gene Olson

The call came in early in the morning
I was dreaming of my love, so distant and untouchable
From flowers and singing birds and bubbling brooks my consciousness was ripped
By the sound of the tones ringing from the fire phone

From a sleepy daze to scrambling confusion
Trying to hear the voice while I find the front of my boxers in the dark
I dress; boxers, socks, pants and shirt hastily pulled on
Out the door in a rush, hoping everything is on outside out

The dispatcher said that the police really need us
But send five men only for the situation is quite touchy
As always, I am first to arrive at the hall
I throw on my gear and get ready to drive

The question kept nagging at me
Why only five, what could be the problem?
Surely no there were no flames or bent car frames
Perhaps they simply needed our help to get in a door

As we arrive at the scene we are lead down that path
I will never forget the solemn look on the cops’ faces
When I stopped and asked them
What are we going to see at the end of these paces?

A young man, they said, no more, no less
I’d better warn my guys, I know it would be best
Joe, guard the truck for you have a young son
John, bring the ladder, there may be a knot to be undone

As we clamored down the slope
To get under the bridge
I steeled myself for the sight that I knew awaited
Over my lips passed a prayer for the strength that I needed

Now, I’ve seen the deceased on many occasions
But I was not prepared for what my eyes saw
The cop’s deceit was complete
‘Twas a boy not a MAN, at the end of that loosely tied strand

On the outside I was the consummate professional
But inside my soul was weeping
He was just a kid, what could have been so bad
Why didn’t someone notice what was happening?

It got increasingly harder to keep my composure
As we waited for the arrival of the investigator
My thoughts were with the boy of barely thirteen
What was his life like to have run out of choices?

Two cops were talking, and I overheard
“At least he is in peace now”
But I saw no peace in that reflection
Just sorrow; deep, binding sorrow

Finally, the time came
To do what we were called for
It had seemed like an eternity
And I just wanted to be done with this place

No more pretending to be strong
No more glances to satisfy the inherent morbid curiosity
No more creaking of the rope…Oh, how it will come to haunt me
No more wondering who and why

“Just cut it” said the cop
“And let him dropp to the ground”
Horrified and enraged I almost cracked
I hurried to be there below when the rope was cut

The image will be burned into my mind for eternity
As he fell in slow motion
Down…down…down…Into my waiting arms
Like a container full of emptiness

My soul reached out
But there was nothing there
An empty husk
A barren desert

What is the meaning of life?
Did he find what he was looking for?
In my mind of minds I will never understand
In my heart of hearts I will always wonder why

Later that evening, as I curled up in bed
I thought the tears would flow
I tried to dropp my walls and open up the floodgates
But as I lay there nothing happened

All that came forth was the image of him
Right through my arms…
And into eternity

Comments about A Wasted Youth by Gene Olson

  • (8/2/2006 1:19:00 AM)

    wow this is one of the best poems i've ever read
    sorry you had to go through that
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  • (7/30/2006 4:10:00 AM)

    Gene...Very strong and emotionally charged piece...I too have been there and questioned why a number of times. I've come to the conclusion that there really is no answer to my query...and as warped as it seems...usually now when I ask myself that question...I also answer myself with...why not..
    I hope you find peace in dealing with the morbid side of our work that we have to deal with... You're bio says that you enjoy cling to that which you hold dear, and savor every morsel of life, to it's fullest.
    Excellent poem!
    (Report) Reply

  • (7/28/2006 11:55:00 AM)

    No matter how many times one uses a ligature knife, when it's a child who is being cut free the facade cracks and the human inside is exposed to all the raw emotion and deep, deep sadness. I'm sorry you had to go through this and I hope that this poem is a form of exorcism for you, although the image will stay with you forever. Gene, this is a sensitively handled poem, written by a real human being.

    Fran xxx
    (Report) Reply

  • (7/28/2006 4:36:00 AM)

    Gene, I figure it was important for you to write this indeed, and you did so in consummate professional style just as you clearly handled an overwhelmingly traumatic situation and one completely outside your control. One of the hazards of the job... one of the reasons why so few would have the emotional strength to cope with it. I hope writing this has indeed been something of an exorcism for you. I admire you hugely, as I admire this finely penned, deeply personal piece. t x (Report) Reply

  • (7/28/2006 3:47:00 AM)

    Good poem Gene. Liked 'Right through my arms and into eternity'. Thank you. (Report) Reply

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Poem Submitted: Friday, July 28, 2006

Poem Edited: Thursday, August 19, 2010

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