A reading from Harry Fagel, the poet-cop


Sergeant Harry Fagel has seen things you can’t forget, like a ten-inch serrated Rambo-style knife plunged into a woman’s vagina and left inside to bleed her to death.

He’s seen the hookers, the homeless, all the things that we know go bump in the night on downtown streets and in hotel rooms, parked cars and suburban track homes. He’s been a Metro cop specializing in vice (prostitution), narcotics, robbery and homicide for 15 years and has lived in Vegas for 40 years, his whole life.

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"Vegas Part 7" by Harry Fagel

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"Jay-sahn's Deli" by Harry Fagel

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"Doo Doo" by Harry Fagel

He looks hardcore, hulking like a WWF wrestler with a shaved head, often packing guns under his off-duty t-shirt. He looks like he could kick your ass. But Harry is a poet, a lover of the arts and culture and Vegas, a family man with a powderpuff heart.

“People see a poet as this soft sensitive liberal writer that sits in a room somewhere and writes poetry, but that’s not what poetry is,” says Fagel. “Poetry is a visceral representation of passion and emotion and life. In the job that I do I see a lot of things that are burdening to the heart; they are heavy on the heart. Poetry is a way to help myself release those things for myself and help myself to understand the pain that we experience in this world.

I go back to the ancient times of the shogunate when they had these guys that worked for the shogun. They were warriors, but they also created poetry and created architecture and did things that balanced out the violent, visceral side of what they do.”

Fagel, the modern shogun warrior, will be performing his poetry at First Friday tonight at 8:30 p.m. as part of Operation Desert Word Storm! (6 p.m.-10 p.m.). On the Showmobile Stage at California and Casino Center, Fagel will be joined by two-time National Individual Poetry Slam Winner Anis Mojgani, Alaskan fiddling poet Ken Waldman, traditional Hawaiian musician and surf bard Gary Haleamau, African-influenced storytelling group Modern Griot, India-born poetess Mani Rao, hyper-literate indie-rock act Big Friendly Corporation, The Killers saxophonist and fiction writer Tommy Marth and Zeitgeist Press publisher and poet Bruce Isaacson.

Fagel has published two book of poems, Street Talk and Undercover, free verse riddled with swear words and pungent with sex and drugs. In December he is releasing the CD Word Murder, a stab-you-in-the-heart combination of the spoken word and music of local rock band The Vermin with saxophonist of Tommy Marth of The Killers.

Downtown by Harry Fagel (from Undercover)

The freaks around here

Multiply like rabbits on ecstasy

Bouncing and bubbling from gutter to gutter

Whacked out on anything found

Kill you for a dollar

Fuck you for twenty

Take you to hell or heaven

Your choice for cash or


Some mutter endlessly

Litany of devil speak spilling from glass pipe burned lips

Others speak inward

Eyes ricocheting from nowhere to noplace

All backs bent from weight of suffering

No one truly erect

Buttressed against unseen winds that blow in from psychic black


Rippling dime store clothes

Black with sadness

The air is a sellers market

Dope bazaar

Puss bazaar

Alcohol the only legal tender here

Poured eagerly and forever past smitten faces

Desperation is a smog

Tangible and credible and poisonous

Hanging around Downtown like a rancid cowl

The tourists stare into tragic mirrors

Seeing only themselves or neon light reflected

Passing grief with nary a glance

Distracted by dollar beer and free coffee shop food exchanged for


They are victims occasionally

But not as often as crime tv would have one believe

Instead most of the rot is turned inward

Poor slashing poor

Hungry starving hungry

Tiny drams unfolding with the rhythmic heartbeat that is

Las Vegas

Sirens echoing slightly washed out from helicopter backwash

Maybe an ambulance wails or perhaps it’s just another shocking



Jennifer Grafiada

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