The longtime poet’s voice soared and dove as he performed his piece.
The poet, a golden badge and a pair of captain’s bars pinned to his tan uniform, spoke of good and evil, of hatred and terror. He also spoke of heroism in the face of impossible circumstances from everyday people and from those who wear uniforms like him.
Heads poked around the corner of the Metropolitan Police Department headquarters lobby on Thursday morning as they listened to Capt. Harry Fagel recite his poem, “The Route,” which he wrote after the Oct. 1, 2017, mass shooting on the Strip.
His poem was inscribed on a roughly 48-by-20-inch cloth scroll, which was revealed by the LVMPD Foundation and the Nevada School of the Arts. The school’s president, Patrick Duffy, commissioned the piece, and Tennessee calligrapher Janet Kasper spent 58 hours working on it.
It will remain at Metro headquarters through the beginning of next year, after which the scroll may tour the valley, the country and, perhaps, the world, LVMPD Foundation President Tom Kovach said.
“So that no one ever forgets what happened on 1 October, 2017, and so that we here in Las Vegas can share with the world the incredible talent of Capt. Fagel and the amazing work that the men and women of the Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Department do each and every day,” Kovach said.
“Rejoice,” the last word of Fagel’s poem, is critical, he said.
“No matter what someone else does to our resolve, our humanity has to come through at the end,” Fagel said after his reading. “We as people, together, can overcome anything dark and evil out there, but we have to have that resiliency and that resolve to rejoice even in the face of bad things and adversity.”
Metro Detective Darryl McDonald’s “58 Rose” sculpture, a metal bouquet of 58 roses representing each of those killed, also was on display inside of the lobby at 400 S. Martin Luther King Blvd.
Poetry is cathartic, especially when viewing the world through an officer’s eyes, Fagel said.
Yet the shooting affected him differently than other traumatic events, he said. He was working the Route 91 Harvest festival as part of the command staff the night of the shooting.
Returning to the Strip for first time afterward proved an overwhelming emotional experience, Fagel said.
“I was just rocked by it,” he said.
The poem, which he was asked to write for Law Enforcement Appreciation Day this past January, provided an avenue to process the emotions of that night. The poem explores the horror of the mass shooting, which killed 58 and injured hundreds others.
“There’s a lot of very visceral pain in that poem. It’s not — it doesn’t sugarcoat it,” Fagel said.
But it’s important to confront the evil while also seeking to emphasize the good, he said.
He wishes that those who come to see his poem on the scroll find hope and remember to love those closest to them. Keep moving forward, he said.
“There’s always a light at the end of the tunnel. There’s always a better day coming,” Fagel said. “Don’t let go of that.”