Submission Guidelines: Send unpublished poems in the body of an email (NO ATTACHMENTS) to nvneditor[at] No simultaneous submissions. Use "Verse News Submission" as the subject line. Send a brief bio. No payment. Authors retain all rights after 1st-time appearance here. Scroll down the right sidebar for the fine print.

Friday, September 30, 2022


by Susan Vespoli 

Three bullets pop from the back of my son’s head
shiny, bloodless, sailing up the barrel of a gun

that tucks itself into the holster at the hip
of a 25-year-old policeman who still dreams
of the person he shot 11 months earlier,
still jolts awake screaming,      I’m sorry!
My son, no longer dead, returns to the bus
and falls asleep, traveling to the previous morning          
at 6:00 a.m., where he and his unhoused comrades
slumber in the underpass tunnel by the freeway.
No thoughts of bullets enter his head. Cops who arrive

at daybreak look around, say, I’m sorry, do not tackle them, snicker,
arrest them for “sleeping in a public place.” Instead, they pass out blankets,
coffee, flyers for shelters; see the wheelchair, the crutches, the backpacks,

people shivering from the cold, not fear of the badge, the taunt, the violent
ego of those hired by taxpayers to be protectors, peacekeepers.

Susan Vespoli writes from Phoenix, AZ where she believes in the power of writing to heal. Before her son was killed in March 2022, she told him about the poems she wrote about him and addiction in their family. He was quiet and then turned to her and said, "If the poems can help others, then good."

Editor's Note: The New Verse News previously published two of long-time contributor Susan Vespoli's poems about the killing of her son by police: "Before I Knew Adam Had Died" and "My Ex-Husband Calls To Tell Me Our Son Has Been Shot By Police."