Retired policeman publishes poems dedicated to wife

Sometimes they were scrawled on loose-leaf notebook paper. Others were written on the back of police watch sheets or on Baltimore police stationery.

But the poems Lawerence E. Mize Sr. brought home show what he was contemplating during long midnight patrol shifts in West Baltimore: how much he loved his wife, Sandy.


Now Mize has published these poems and others in a slim volume titled "Thoughts of You: Poems on Life, Love, and Family."

In the introduction to his book, the Southwest Baltimore native describes the first time he ever saw Sandy, who lived across the street, while she was playing badminton with her sister. He wrote that he knew then she would be his wife.


He recalls in his first poem his anxiety, as a young police officer, over asking the 17-year-old out on a date. Mize would ride by the restaurant where Sandy worked in the afternoons and wave until he finally gathered the courage one day to come in and ask her if she needed a ride home.

"Then as if to put an end to my plight,/I saw your face and took a chance that night. My heart cried out, my mind raced madly./What if you wouldn't, but then you might."

"I didn't really [need a ride], but I told him yes," she said during an interview in their Linthicum home.

Mize started writing poems to Sandy soon after they started dating. He gave her the first one in 1972 for her 18th birthday along with a record — "Lay Your Head on My Shoulder," they said.

He continued to express his love in words after their marriage the following year and through the childhood of their two sons. Though they often worked opposite shifts, Mize would hand her the poems when he got home or leave them on the kitchen table for her to find.

Mize had a simple explanation for why he wrote the poems: "I love my wife," he said.

"He's very romantic and emotional," Sandy Mize said.

His wife said the regular reminders of his affection meant a lot to her. The two fell in love quickly and were never separated, they said. But the poems did not prevent all disagreements in their 38 years of marriage, especially because they both acknowledge being strong-willed. "We're no different than any other couple," she said. "People have to work through their problems."


Part of his motivation to express his feelings may stem from his family history. Mize said he was 10 years old when his father left his family.

"I could never ever leave my family," he said. "That made me more determined to work through tough times."

But his writing took a darker turn in the early 1980s. Mize had left Mergenthaler Vocational-Technical High School in the 11th grade to join the Army and served as a combat medic in Vietnam in 1967 and 1968. He started to wake up in cold sweats due to nightmares, and a doctor recommended that he write down what he was thinking. "They helped me get rid of my ghosts from Vietnam," he said.

He self-published two books: "Tortured Soul" in 1997 and "Dead Man Calling" in 2002.

The love poems and letters, however, stayed in a stapled packet tucked into the back of a photo album, which he always planned to return to, someday. "I always though I'd have time to do those," he said.

Mize retired from the Baltimore Police Department in 1999 as a sergeant, after nearly three decades on the force. "The switch went off one day," he said. "Twenty-nine years was enough for anybody." He then became a bailiff in Baltimore District Court.


"Someday" arrived finally arrived when he was affected by coronary heart disease in 2009. "I wound up going into the hospital and came out with three stents," he said. "It kind of woke me up and shook me up."

He kept composing even through his illness, writing "Code Blue" while lying on the gurney.

"I figured if I was ever going to do anything nice for my wife, now was the time to do it, while I was still alive," Mize said.

"It's my way of letting her know, 'thanks for putting up with me all these years,'" he said with a shaky voice, one of several occasions Mize choked up while describing the history of his book.

Since the surgery, the 61-year-old has made some life changes, including taking up cycling. The couple also enjoys watching reality television, taking cruises and spending time with their two sons and two grandsons.

But Mize continues to write as he always did, jotting down lines as they come to him on steno notebooks stashed all over the house. When Mize finishes a poem — usually four or five rhyming stanzas — he goes to his computer on his desk in the basement to type them up. He has also posted some on the poetry website


Mize first learned about Tate Publishing through an advertisement on the poetry website. In exchange for a payment of $3,800, the Mizes said they have been able to publish the book as well as make use of Tate's marketing resources. The company has set up book signings at coffee shops in the Baltimore area.

The book is available on and Barnes & Noble's website for $9.99.

His friends and colleagues say they have benefited from his talents as a listener and a writer.

Michael Roselle, a former police officer who also now works as a bailiff, recalled telling Mize about the death of a friend and sent him the link to a memorial Web page that had been created to honor him.

"The next day, he came in and had a beautiful poem" about the friend, said Roselle, 64.

Roselle, a Brooklyn Park resident, said he always admired MIze's talent, which he saw when they were on the police force together.


"We all think beautiful things, but he can think them and put them down on paper," Roselle said. "He puts on paper what we wish we could."