“America Behind Glass” by Alejandro Escudé

Alejandro Escudé


Once, I told my son, you pay for credits
in college, but you must learn on your own.
Learning was locked up in a clear glass case.
I recall pressing the button at my university,
waiting for the lecturer to hand me the Derrida
deodorant or Foucault contraceptives.
I’d feel embarrassed of course, standing
in that forbidden aisle under bright lights.
I read Kerouac in the dormitory where there
was one chair in which to sit, the dining hall,
where they locked up the burgers, the dogs,
the meatloaf and mashed potatoes. Now,
they’ve got love locked up behind the glass
case of the internet. You click on the product
you want but no one comes with the key.
It’s so fun to look at it all behind the glass,
but quickly, no browsing, you’ve got
to know what you want! America itself
behind glass—with the toothpaste, lipstick,
detergent, razor blades, those bold colors,
oranges, reds, purples, blues. I’d like
to slow down enough to take a selfie
with the locked up store shelves, but
you’d never want to stand there too long.
So I’m not one to ring and wait—I’d rather
go without it, take my citizen sadness home,
stocked in the aisles inside my cranium,
somewhere between the democratic milk,
the highway of meats, the fruits of joy.

from Poets Respond
August 9, 2022


Alejandro Escudé: “I think the practice of secure store shelving is interesting because of the products themselves. They are things that human beings need to coexist. To me, this says a lot about capitalism as a general system of human organization. It says a lot about desire, consumption, beauty, survival, self esteem.” (web)

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