“House Calls” by Alejandro Escudé

Alejandro Escudé


All I see are tongues licking walls made of tongues
Over streets of tongues watched by tongue cameras
And tongue satellites; a lot of you’s but no people,
Just dressed-up you’s in masks, masks on the ground
Swirling in the wind, picked up like pollen seeds;
As a kid we called it the personal computer, and
I remember going to a class put on by IBM.
The teacher was a man with an afro and a big tie
Wearing a name tag that read IBM above his name;
I hadn’t heard the word enter used so much
In my life before. “Then, you hit enter,” he’d say.
I sat there in my boy body, clacking the keys and
He’d smile down at me and say: “You got it, Alex.”
And I’d feel so good about myself for entering
Those big green characters into that screen, as if
Something were happening besides blackmail
Banter one hears these days, tongues and tongues
And tongues—the attacks, tank tongues, missile
Tongues, brutal, anonymous, tongues encircling
Dr. Fauci, dragging him down into a quicksand
Of tongues, and he, the good doctor showing up
At everyone’s door with a leather bag, a stethoscope.
And every window is New Jersey in the eighties,
His green Fairmont parked out front, and sunlight
Forms patches on the walls in the shape of poetry.

from Poets Respond
June 6, 2021


Alejandro Escudé: “In this poem, Doctor Anthony Fauci drives a green Ford Fairmont, and he’s also an amalgam of Anthony Fauci and William Carlos Williams. He makes house calls and he is swallowed up by a Charybdis of tongues. Why is he swallowed up? Because that’s what happens when people scrutinize your perfectly innocent emails looking for a ‘smoking gun.’ Nobody knows what happened in that lab. Maybe there is no lab. Maybe it’s just a cover for a money laundering operation. Or maybe it’s a lab doing good work on behalf of humanity. Whatever the case, the instructor who led a class on how to operate that clunky IBM machine that afternoon in the basement of an electronics store on Santa Monica Boulevard was a wonderful man and made an impression on me.” (web)

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