All Souls Procession

A cop almost fell off 
his motorcycle. 

He was 
amid the colorful   floral skeletal 
commemorations of life, 
entertaining the children 
waiting for the procession to come down 

He swerved his vehicle, 
almost tipped over. 

everywhere   clowns, 
evil horse energy 
in the pits of their eyes,   dark stele in the alcoves 
of their hearts,

children,   souls 
in a vault

oversaturating the memorial

If he had fallen
would the children have gotten up? 

Who would have been the first 
to help?

the police 
the perverts of death.


Copyright © 2020 by Brandon Shimoda. Originally published in Poem-a-Day on June 3, 2020 by the Academy of American Poets.

About this Poem

“The day after Trump's inauguration, there was, down the street from where I live in Tucson, Arizona—as there was all over the country—a protest. As it was starting, a person on the microphone thanked several groups of people. Among those who received the most voluminous and heartfelt thanks was the local police department. It seemed, in that moment, that the police were not only being exempted from the forms and agents of oppression against which people were protesting, but that they were being welcomed, as guardians, onto the side of protest. This poem was written a year later, at a different event: Tucson's All Souls Procession, where I again observed people's warm interactions with the local police—and the police's playful interactions, in turn—this time on the occasion of a different memorialization, and of a different kind of death.”
Brandon Shimoda