“Convict Game” by Alejandro Escudé

Alejandro Escudé


It’s not a lion,
The sun over the Serengeti,
And the rifle has not saved the free world.
The criminal is caught, yes.
But do you recall the human pyramids
In Abu Ghraib?
The shelter of the human of world
Is the human world.
One can’t slice morality like a birthday cake,
A piece for each officer.
Dogs to the front, like Egyptian statues,
Their lean snouts,
Having sniffed him out in the forests of Pennsylvania.
I mean the fugitive
Shot a mother in cold blood.
But every single photograph is a bloody act.
They belie the intrigue of the moment.
Ghosts sometimes appear at the edge of them.
Some from the Civil War,
Bearded, from both North and South.
This September, I thought of the World Trade planes.
The video of the first jet gutting the north tower
Like a long, silver fish.
This murderer stood as the photo was taken
Restrained by a trooper in fatigues.
The first shot of him caught
More like a war photo, in heavy brush.
Though he was no Che Guevara in Bolivia
Waiting for his swift sentence.
Later he stands as if dead. Suicide-like.
While an officer, uniform-dressed, holds the phone up
Like a proud father at prom.
There’s no name for a dehumanizing act
Despite the human animal that stands
Wrecked among a cadre of heroes.
He is a mangy possum,
A rat, a worm sliced in half.
Arrested. Cut. Self-mutilated. Bruised.
One can hear the dogs’ nails
Clicking on the concrete
When it’s quiet enough for the snap.

from Poets Respond
September 17, 2023


Alejandro Escudé: “It’s difficult to say what prompted this poem. I think it was a gross and immoral miscalculation to take a group photo with this escaped convict. I think it made me ponder about the phenomenon of group photos in general. How there’s usually an ulterior motive for the photo and for the subsequent posting of that photo.” (web)

Rattle Logo