Poems in June

First of poems in June
Last of poems in June

I don’t think there is a better time to create and share art than during experiences of mass tragedy and unbearable violence. Developing and spending time with beautiful works is a necessary distraction from constantly viewing injustices, and this collection of poems in June is exactly that for me. Whereas last month’s edition focused mostly on one’s relationship (or lack of) with religion, these poems in June reflect the brutality we are seeing in real time every day (with a few directly connecting to police violence). “All Souls Procession” by Brandon Shimoda was written after the poet attended a protest against injustice where the police were openly and ironically welcomed and thanked. I think this piece specifically is one of the more important of my poems in June because there are dozens of recent instances in which people are applauding cops for kneeling during Black Lives Matter protests or hugging protesters. Even though the demonstrations were started because George Floyd was murdered by a Minneapolis cop, somehow some protesters are willing to welcome and embrace other cops for doing the bare minimum right before teargassing or beating the shit out of protesters. Tori Derricotte’s “Not Forgotten” seems especially timely as it illustrates how quickly the world may forget people who pass, but the ones who love them never do. While we are all fighting for George Floyd, it’s important to recognize the 11+ people who have been murdered by cops during the protests, and while they won’t receive as much, if any, international attention, their lives still matter to their loved ones. “For One Dead” by Helen Dimos is a healing piece that creates the fantasy of a hurting person being protected and restored by others. Restoration isn’t always one person’s sole responsibility, and having people around who lift each other up is essential. “For Saundra” by Nikki Giovanni is almost an antithesis to my claim that poems in June can be a “necessary distraction” or a beautiful interruption in the constant barrage of despair. Giovanni explains how not every moment can be made exquisite and that sometimes resistance and revolution are more important. The last of my poems in June is Javier Zamora’s “Dancing in Buses.” This piece is impeccable in that Zamora braids enslavement with normal day-to-day experiences like grocery shopping and outright police violence. How the poet separates the two stanzas with the second being direct instructions on how to behave in the presence of imminent death is outstanding.

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