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Thursday, January 11, 2024


by Susan Vespoli

The New Verse News originally published several of the poems that appear in this collection:  "Before I Knew Adam Had Died,”  "My Ex-Husband Calls… ,"   … In Reverse,” “I Am Finally Handed… ,” “Under Investigation… ,” “Dear 2022,” “Poem for My Middle Finger.”

Do not speak of the loss or the case,” 
my lawyer’s email upon learning I sent copies
of One of Them Was Mine to President Biden,
Governor Hobbs, Senator Mark Kelly, 
Terry Gross, and a local NPR podcast host.
Dear tight strand of puka shells,
tiny beads and a flat silver OM sign,
my neck skin cinched.
Dear SHUT UP. Zipped lips.
Stage fright.    My mom’s, 
“Only say nice things.” 
Dear voice, found in my mid-forties
after a bout of cancer, the therapist
telling me later when I answered
FINE to every question, she knew
I had a lot of work to do. Dear Speak
the truth. Dear I can’t figure it out 
if I don’t write about it. Dear canceled 
poetry readings at Peregrine Bookstore
in Prescott and Changing Hands in Tempe.
Dear emotional eating, peanut M&Ms, kettle corn, 
asiago bagel, Voodoo Ranger IPA in an orange can. 
Dear “Do not speak of the loss or the case.”
Dear silenced.     Dear Adam, I am here 
to follow the thread to give you a voice. 

Susan Vespoli continues to write poems about the loss and the case, even though she wasn’t able to publicly share them for many months. She was finally able to read her book One of Them Was Mine about her son Adam's murder by a Phoenix police officer at Changing Hands Bookstore in Tempe on January 5, 2024, because the book's poems (and the ones from Blame It on the Serpent) were already in the hands of the cop’s lawyers who were using her poetry books as evidence against her son's value as a human being.