It’s hard to admit. But I spend most of my time
watching Kyra Sedgewick as deputy chief Brenda Lee Johnson
streaming into my phone on HBO Max.
She’s so bossy and smart with her big red lips
and big breasts under tight tanks in primary colors.
Her looks aren’t important to the team. At first
they hated her and might have joined in jealous
Commander Taylor’s complaint about her arrogance,
instead they all threatened to quit if she got fired.
in every single episode, three quarters in
she gets a faraway look in her eye, and cries out:
The dress! The date! The car!
At that precise moment she sees, beyond the shadow of a doubt
who did it. And it was never the boyfriend, the cousin, the wife
who’d looked so guilty for the first 20 minutes.
No, it was someone likeable who actually
becomes even more likable as they inevitably confess to
Deputy Chief Brenda Lee Johnson.
Is it her southern sing-song politeness? Her sweater sets
covering delightful curves with matching shades?
Her sweet smiles, sympathetically, misdirecting them
offering lesser charges in exchange
for trusting the police.
“Mercy killing?” she suggests.
They envision community service:
serving cookies, raking leaves.
We watch them explain that the guy ruined everything:
planted rat shit in Dad’s restaurant, got a gang to recruit the baseball prodigy,
threatened to reveal Pastor’s fake cancer
to the entire church community.
Brenda Lee listens with her head tilted to one side.
blond curls falling softly round her neck
murmuring melodious Georgia sounds, till
the moment they confess.
Leaping from her chair she screams MURDER in their face,
“You can spend the next 120 years in jail!”
Huge buff guys, 14-year-old kids, Blonde Bimbos all stutter
“What, what, what are you saying… Murder?… But
…I just explained.”
as if they are 3 years old and can’t fathom they will get
time out for boppin’ Billy on the head
even if he did call them poopyface.
As if life had left them untouched, vulnerable to any
soft spoken woman with kind eyes and smooth skin who
happens along in a police station.
As if they had never, ever watched TV.
Deputy Chief Brenda Lee Johnson is able to subdue
every single human in LA, but when her sick cat dies
We see her sweat through t-shirts
due to early menopause.
She pulls them off, breasts rise above her tight, flat abs, we wonder
maybe early menopause is not so bad.
Agent Howard (Fritz) of the FBI,
proposes in the doctor’s office
after hearing the news from a young
S Epatha Merkerson.
Diamond ring in hand, he’s on one knee.
“Deep down your an old-fashioned girl Brenda Lee”
Brenda will never have to juggle priority murders with babies
who always think that they are the priority. She won’t lose those abs,
wake 5 times a night and, find herself forced to choose between
birthday parties and murders scenes
(we know which one would win).
She remains covered with love by her ex-boyfriend boss, her FBI fiancé,
her elderly, devoted parents,
Clay and Willie May, who admit without a moment’s hesitation
that she is their favorite child. She has a purpose. She knows she’s the best.
The big smile and breasts are unimportant.
She has them, but couldn’t care less.
She doesn’t care about me,
but she would care a lot if I got murdered
in a high profile, very bloody, priority kind of way.
She would lie to everybody, my kids, her team, even Chief Pope
if it meant closing the case. She would not stop thinking about me
until she found the murderer,
then she would forget me entirely.
Seems narcissistic, but she’s a murder artist.
Her work is her deepest attachment to the world.
I wish I could be like that, detached and connected at the same time.
I wish I could believe my art,
the expression of my true self, justified my life.
Brenda Lee has no doubt
she’s a bloody planet worth revolving around.
She doesn’t worry about race, class or gender.
All she needs to know is
nobody wants to get murdered.
She once told a whiny LA gang member
“I may not know your world but I know ballistics!”,
and then proved it wasn’t him
(it was his Dad) that did it.
She will join an autopsy with glee, re-enacting it all
on the blood-spattered floor of the morgue.
Imagining herself the vic, waiting for the gleam, because it’s coming
in all its magnificence, the moment when she sees…
I’m so unlike Brenda Lee, maybe that’s why
I like to have her in my pocket, continually streaming in my ears.
Even on my bike I can hear her
through the cords of my old-fashioned apple buds
that physically plug
with that singular flat attachment.
Just like Brenda stays attached to Willie May in Georgia
through a special telephone that Fritz is not allowed
to touch, lest her parents discover that Brenda, 40,
is living in sin. Nobody cares if I’m living in sin,
or living alone with only my dog for company.
I lost my abs, got up five times a night and went
to all the birthday parties. Nobody cares about that either.
I’m no brilliant red comet streaming through the sky
followed by sparkling fiancés, victims’ families, elite
priority murder teams worshipping the way I close.
No, I walk alone, through Prospect Park with no eyes on me
but the dog. He follows me all around the house too and whines
if I put him in my room, so I can eat dinner in peace.
His devotion reminds me of Fritz,
but Fritz actually turns me on (even through the tiny screen) and my dog,
thank god, does not, though he is the only warm body around.
His love also has limits. When ears perk up I clutch
the leash. Like Brenda Lee, the thought of blood excites him.
I know full well he’d bolt me for a squirrel, cat or rat.