HITTING A HOMER
Long ago, a man named Homer made up a very long poem that told the story of one of the great events in the history of his people -- the Greeks. That event was the Trojan War. His poem, which came to be known as The Iliad, tells the story of one of their heroes -- a man named Achilles -- and his famous deeds.
A long poem that tells a heroic tale is called an epic. Many nations have an epic that tells the story of how they came to be. Usually, the story is told as the adventure of a national hero who comes to epitomize the qualities that the people most admire in themselves as a nation. The Romans had Aeneas. The Irish Cuchulain. In India he was Rama. For the French there was Roland. And the Spaniards had El Cid.
There are men and women alive today whose deeds would make good epics, if epic poetry had not gone out of style. If only it were war and not epics that have gone out of style!
Mr. Constantine headed a spectacular anti-drug operation in Buffalo, New York in August 1992. Because he did such a great job and because Buffalo is his home town, you may agree with many of his fans that he deserves, at the very least, this mini-epic that tells of how he came to its rescue when the city was besieged. I'll bet the people of Troy would have appreciated an intervention like that! Instead, they learned to look a gift horse in the mouth -- very closely.
Homer wrote a second epic starring a very different hero. Achilles, you see, loved making war. Apparently, it was the only thing he was good at and really enjoyed, although I hear he played poker and golf between battles. The hero of the other epic, a man named Odysseus, had a different set of priorities altogether.
After ten years of war, Odysseus reminded the Greeks that they all had families and responsibilities back home. "Enough is enough," he said. Then he came up with the bold and imaginative idea that ended the war. Almost everyone knows the story of The Trojan Horse. Poor Odysseus, though. It took him another ten long, difficult, but unforgettably adventurous years to get home and he found the place in quite a mess when he got there.
I won't say any more. You'll have to read the book.
But consider this: The war on drugs as we know it today has already lasted three times longer that the Trojan War. Enough is enough! Wouldn't you agree?
So let's hope that someday, somewhere, and sooner rather than later, we will find a hero to show us the way to win the struggle against illegal drugs, violence and intolerance once and for all.
Now that would be a home run.
TOM'S HOME RUN
Now, from law enforcement lore;
From Buffalo, on Erie's shore,
A tale about our Troopers fearless
And Constantine, their leader peerless.
It's long ago he pulled up roots,
Put his feet in Trooper's boots
And set out in the world to rise.
To those who knew him, no surprise,
His star was rising, bright, ascendant.
They knew he'd end up Superintendent.
But, in his heart, he never forgot
From where he came, that humble spot.
This Trooper with the surname royal
To home and birthplace, fastly loyal.
Even now, Tom's biggest thrills
Are winning touchdowns by the Bills.
There came a time when our environs
Grew filled with gunfire, lights and sirens.
Fights and hold-ups, shakedowns, lootings,
Burglaries and drive-by shootings.
Appeared in town a crowd of thugs.
Appeared on streets a plague of drugs.
Then gangs arrived, pulled out the stops,
Announced to all: "We're hunting cops."
The city cops put up a fight
From street to street both day and night.
With all their might, each woman and man
Together made determined stand.
No way would they accept defeat.
But every time they cleared a street
Of misfits who were dealing "crack",
A day would pass, they'd slink right back.
Came the Sheriff to the fray.
We looked to him to save the day.
He, of himself, gave good account;
As we'd expect the county mount'.
He swept the streets and greased the rails
That slid those miscreants to jail
In numbers soon that grew so big
He'd filled to overflow the brig!
But, though they worked and did their best;
Breaking records for arrests;
Though arms grew tired from throwing books;
The streets were still awash with crooks.
Yes, things were looking pretty dark,
When, in the East, there blazed a spark.
When hope had dwindled down to zero,
Came to our aid our hometown hero.
Came into view that Long, Gray Line
And out in front, Tom Constantine.
He'd on his face, a fearsome frown
To see this stuff in his home town.
They rallied 'round each woman and man.
They strategized and drew a plan.
Then off they charged -- a surging wave
Of cops all stern, determined, brave.
There's Tom, out front, hard set his jaw.
Determined to uphold the law,
End disorder, restore the peace
Or else, he's not the State Police.
So launched they a humongous raid
That swept the streets and promenades.
Soon all the druggies from their stupors
Awoke up to their ears in Troopers.
And everywhere the dealers looked,
They saw their kind were getting booked.
Our cops chased down each street and alley
All tentacles of Cartel Cali.
'Cause folks, no force on earth can stop
The fury of an Irish cop
Who truly, badly takes offense
At those who prey on innocents.
As quick begun, so fast it ended.
The operation's now suspended.
The jails are full and courts so busy
Stenographers are getting dizzy.
Expect, at least, now for a time
A sharp decrease in rates of crime.
Success, though, cops know doesn't last.
They've learned that lesson in the past.
You don't know why they don't get tired,
Throw in the towel, get retired.
What keeps a Trooper's heart afire?
And what's the thing these deeds inspires?
Our Troopers come from every place.
They're of both genders and every race.
Think of it. Yes, contemplate --
They're from each township in the State.
They're more than sworn to keep the peace.
They're our community police.
Like Tom, each one of them would go
To rescue his own Buffalo.
Poem by Terry O'Neill.
Copyright 2000 by Constantine's Circus, Inc.
Questions? E-mail Us!
CONSTANTINE'S CIRCUS, INC.
PO Box 7223
Albany, NY 12224-0223