October 3, 2021

Alejandro Escudé

MOON’S END

Maybe the moon should go.
I’ll stay up late to see it finally,
What? Break off like a lemon
Yanked from a branch, detach
Like a plug from a plug.
Maybe it’ll just fade away,
Pretending that it was never
Dependent on anyone else’s pull.
Don’t look at me like that!
I’m no fool. I know that wishing it
Away is the same as wishing
For my own end. The tides
Rolling me out toward the dark,
A castaway from existence.
I don’t understand the mathematics
Of its retreat, how the lasers
Read its distance, catch it on
The lies the moon tells our eyes,
It’s trick of romance. No dance,
Only the threat of loneliness.
What they say is true, the historians,
Imagine all that it has witnessed
Over the eons? Caesar’s collapse,
The powdered eruption of Towers,
Pinprick messiah hung, revolutions,
And finally the glint that floated
Down to its flank, settling spider-like
On a plain. When it goes, it goes
Ever outward, toward a space
That cannot resolve itself, the end
Of a love affair, a marriage
Between the living and the dead.

from Poets Respond
October 3, 2021

__________

Alejandro Escudé: “Would it be so bad? Watch the moon skip out of sight like a rock sailing over a lake. Imagine all the heartache we’d save ourselves. That forever tease up there, that tide tyrant, gone for good. I, for one, wouldn’t miss it. The death of the Apollo program doubts once and for all. The way it means so much and then doesn’t mean a thing. Ever noticed the moon on a desolate bright city night? It sits there, as if it were placed there by the chamber of commerce. Just another public art project. Ignored. Insignificant. Who needs the damn thing? Piece of cheese. Cheshire cat smile. Lurer of lovers. Fog ruiner. Haiku degenerate.” (web)

 

Alejandro Escudé will join us at the start of Rattlecast 112 before we move on to our main guest, Marissa Davis. Catch it live at 12pm EDT …

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June 6, 2021

Alejandro Escudé

HOUSE CALLS

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)

 

This week’s guest on the Rattlecast is Melissa Balmain—but first we’ll talk to Alejandro Escudé for Poets Respond Live. Join us at 8pm EDT on YouTube or Facebook!

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November 29, 2020

Alejandro Escudé

MARADONA IN BUENOS AIRES

He was a squat, curly-haired, pug-nosed man,
and he walked into the high-end asado restaurant
with five beautiful women and his manager,
the infamous Coppola, who father said, had led
Diego into “drogas.” I often wondered how
a man who could handle the pressure of a World Cup
could be led into drogas—but my father would
become enraged on this point, especially after Diego
laid in state at the Pink House, light blue and white
flags keeping the multitudes at a respectful distance
from the decrepit, bloated body of the soccer king.
I once approached the man himself, feigning I spoke
only English, so as to garner more respect, and
asked him, Coppola translated, to sign my used
airline ticket, a readable scrawl, and I went back
to our table, gave my father the ticket; he smiled
the forced smile of the ungrateful, and I took
another bite of a steak the size of South America.
There were poor faces pressed against the windows
of the restaurant, young men, boys, peeking in
to see Maradona, to ogle this ferocious little man
who was pressured into drogas, who scored a goal
with the hand of God to take the World Cup,
who single-handedly placed a backwater Italian town
centerstage, and who famously came from nothing,
de la nada, as if a man could come from nothing,
as if a player this great could ever be led to do
anything, to be anything less than boundless.

from Poets Respond
November 29, 2020

__________

Alejandro Escudé: “The death of Diego Armando Maradona is a momentous historical occasion for my home country of Argentina. He was a towering figure in the world of soccer, a true sports icon. His life was one of great controversy, his notorious behavior on and off the field, his battle with drug abuse, his strained relationships with close family, friends, owners, coaches, players, and fellow countrymen became legendary. It was a strange serendipitous night when I had the luck of meeting the soccer star. Yet, what I remember most was those arguably pathetic faces on the restaurant windows, crowding the panes to see Maradona. They were there the entire time my family and I were at the restaurant. Maradona was powerful and gifted and beloved by people all over the globe, especially those on the lowest rung of Western society.” (web)

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August 18, 2020

Alejandro Escudé

KAMALA HARRIS: U.S. SENATOR

My divorce mitigator
had an office across the street
from a Bed Bath & Beyond;
it was a huge store, and I thought of going there
the way one thinks of going
somewhere one happens to pass by
and never does because I needed to park
underneath a twenty story building
to meet my ex wife and this other woman
who we hired to file the divorce paperwork
and to suggest how we might split
amicably—and I remember, quite distinctly,
the way one remembers something
that was part curiosity and part pain,
my ex-wife pointing out the sign on the office
next door to the mitigator: Kamala Harris,
US Senator. It was such a plain
looking door, brown, as the floor was brown,
brown my feeling as my ex-wife noticed this.
I remember thinking how interesting
it was that she pointed it out, both of us
starstruck by a stupid brown door
with a name on it, the name of the woman
who had just faced down Joe Biden,
a woman who rented an office
on the seventh floor of this nondescript building
on Olympic Boulevard in Los Angeles
where I was meeting with a mitigator
and the woman I was married to
for seventeen years, who I had
two kids with, and who was now divorcing me
while simultaneously pointing out
the name on a door: Kamala Harris,
and the electric blue Tarantino sky
behind it all, and the bathroom
that was across the same hallway
for which you needed to ask for the key
and how I asked once and went in
and felt a tightness in my chest,
I thought I was having a heart attack
though I wasn’t, it was more an existential thing,
as in where am I and what is happening?
I needed to take a break from negotiating
the way politicians negotiate,
the way they bicker on bright stages
that are just stages and nothing more.

from Poets Respond
August 18, 2020

__________

Alejandro Escudé: “Life is surreal. There are these moments of divine yet absolutely useless premonition. Harris showed up in the tapestry of my life the way the poem describes. I’m cynical, so I think it means nothing. Will she become Vice President? I don’t know. But I do know that this incident occurred, and I remembered it when Biden chose Harris as his running mate.” (web)

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August 5, 2020

Alejandro Escudé

BED SHEETS (MOVING OUT AFTER SEPARATION)

I wanted my soul out of the house, too.
So, I took all my diaries—twenty or so,
from the past twenty years. And I slipped them
into the recycling bin. I took all my photos,
baby, childhood, adolescence, college years,
and trashed those, too. I took my blood pressure reader,
and I took the white carnival mask I bought in Venice.
I wasn’t going to leave myself at the house.
She offered me sheets for my bed. I took them 
to the new place then dumped them in the trash bin. 
She offered me the dog’s bed, and I accepted,
but it never even made it close to his food bowl.
I took my bicycle, the one that folds up to fit inside a car.
I was proud to buy it for myself. She didn’t understand 
the purchase. She looked at me, I remember this,
as if I’d acquired a reptile who we’d now have to feed
live mice and crickets. A bicycle so I could get in shape.
A fucking bicycle! Do you understand what I’m driving at?
She wanted my father to help her move out, too.
Her brother-in-law would be there, but they needed
my father’s truck. My father loved her like a daughter.
In many ways, he was just as hurt as me.
I lied and said my father couldn’t help. If she wanted 
the patio furniture then she’d have to figure out a way 
to haul it. The moon that night was a harvest moon.
Yellow. Smudged by leftover rain clouds or wind.
What the hell do I know about weather?

from Rattle #68, Summer 2020

__________

Alejandro Escudé: “I didn’t realize the importance of having engaged in a lifelong relationship with poetry until I needed it to survive. It’s an instrument, a companion instrument that nobody can take away from you. It’s also a form of insulation from the wasteland of the world where you can go when you need a break or a place to quietly contemplate and study the common absurdities of human experience. Every day, we face a wasteland. Sometimes, it’s an aggressive boss, an angry driver, a public or private injustice of some sort. Other times it’s a rampant disease altering our environment for an extended period of time. Whatever the case, poetry is there like a garden, welcoming us with its eternal shade and warmth and wisdom.” (web)

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June 14, 2020

Alejandro Escudé

MY BODY IS ANTIFA

There’s a city in my body
and its been barricaded, its walls
spray-painted, mural-full; less
a collection of neighborhoods
and more a labyrinth of walls
made of garnished elephants
so that the metropolis wobbles
and throbs. Belonging is its motto,
every citizen on his or her knees,
the only cars a caravan of bees
and no governor like a Macy’s
balloon pulled down a boulevard
by a team of black-clad troops.
My body is Antifa, and I stand
for language without the burden
of truth. I give you cracked hands,
tear-gassed eyes, and unidealized
love. No statues to view, killers
on horseback, young soldiers
marching to certain death,
dated clothes so bloody they
stand alone. Let me guide you
to the precinct where restraints
are scrapped like metal to forge
new human braces, cups, plates,
large shared spoons to pour
sick meat into glorious molds.

from Poets Respond
June 14, 2020

__________

Alejandro Escudé: “It’s time for a recreation. We all feel like tearing everything down and starting all over. I now that’s how I feel within my own body, where my spirit resides. The story of the protesters in Seattle who took over the Capitol Hill neighborhood made me think of Walt Whitman’s call for a greater democratic spirit in America and his symbol for that: the human body. Its sacredness, the way it cannot and shouldn’t be violated. Perhaps that’s the only real conflict there ever was.”

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October 6, 2019

Alejandro Escudé

HELLBENT

One could be strolling at the farmer’s market
In a foul mood—yet still shelling out cash
To buy heirloom tomatoes and prized beets
And some busybody is sure to take issue
With the tilt of your grin, hunched shoulders,
Your self-pity on display. Are they afraid?
“He’s becoming unhinged,” they write, they say.
Hellbent on destroying the anger in the man
And then the man inside the man. I was there,
Like Trump, mad as hell, victimized, trolled,
Scrutinized like a lab rat who refuses to eat
The cheese—I have fantasies of lighting up
A cigarette in my classroom, go scream at
The Principal, of letting them all see the results
Of a bitter, yet muted divorce. I, too, wish
To make friends with dictators, destroy
Those who speak the language as though it
Were made of flowers; my language, iron-fisted,
Uncontrolled, ruinous. Fuck the eternal press
Conference, I say. Even a bully can be bullied.
For years, I also wore my conflicts like a suit.
I wanted to force them to eat their own
Faces. I was a frightened, panicked brute.
So forgive me if I take offense when you
Call the President repugnant, aberrant,
Unhinged—as if there were a door to have
Been attached too, a house beyond the door
To love. My mood was as foul as the Leader
Of the Free Worlds’. I was repugnant,
Aberrant, and I, too, built a thousand walls.

from Poets Respond
October 6, 2019

__________

Alejandro Escudé: “I don’t like when press outlets like CNN jump all over Trump. I don’t like the guy, but something is wrong about the way some news agencies choose to discuss issues surrounding the President. The words they use betray a kind of uniformed thinking as well. They’re bullies bullying a bully. I usually don’t give a shit what happens to bullies, but I feel for anyone trapped in a kind of social jail–and at such an advanced age too! Aggression is ugly, and ugliness doesn’t just exist on one side of the political spectrum.” (web)

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