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Tuesday, May 30, 2023


by Susan Vespoli

with a nod to Catherine Pierce’s protest poems

“Fuck Authority” by Dan Colen, 2006, Oil on found painting

In protest I watch eight cops 
unload from their SUV, then strut
past me, a small granny with teal luggage 
waiting at the airport for a ride. 
In protest I say Beefcake. 
Fitted khaki pants and black polo 
shirts decaled with the word Police. 
Guns strapped to each man’s thigh 
with dark bands. In protest I say garter belts. 
In protest I say (in my head) I know 
what you did to my son. I saw the body 
cam. In protest, I glare. Puffed out chests 
and cocky swagger. In protest I say 
Mr. America patrol. I say rooster 

and remember the one that attacked 
my granddaughter at the peacock park. 
We thought it was a soft striped hen 
with a red mohawk until it high-kicked
its claws into her scalp. Blood spurted 
as she shrieked. In protest I say pull it in, 
dudes. Fold those football-player-sized egos
into cloth napkins at a memorial service. 
In protest I say humble. I say karma. I say
apologize. I want to scream, you don’t scare me, 
but remember my other kid saying, watch out, Mom. 
You’re gonna get yourself in trouble. In protest 
I say fuck Superman. I say fuck cultural authority. 
I bow down to sky, birds, dogs, poems, and peace.

Susan Vespoli lives in Phoenix, Arizona where she continues to write toward finding some sort of justice for her son, Adam Vespoli, who was shot and killed by police on March 12, 2022.