The World Before This One

By Alejandro Escudé

The student with down syndrome shuffles
beneath the leaden sky. His teacher beside him as he slips past.
The judges are toy bedouins. Their opinions a pack of gum.
One sits at the foot of a clock tower, thumbing papers.
Another judge’s heart is a mental scream. Illness is the seam.
Fitting puzzle pieces, rolling dice, shuffling cards. The world before
this one, like a well-oiled merry-go-round. Flash of Timothy Geithner.
On the fingertips of the young, loss, loss in the spittle on their mouths.
A month ago, it cost you nothing. You moved toward the broken,
now the broken moves toward you fast as wreckage in a riptide.
You, the god at the center, a bobbing mass of wet wood beams.
Your hair a twirling hash of poetic superstructure.
An arms-length sufficient enough to pierce the clouds.
Something you’d never say aloud. Only this ominous place
accepts the recesses of the living. Flash of Neil Armstrong.
At 1 a.m. channel surfing yields Bible-like revelations.
Singular imagery: Doc Holliday, Oprah Winfrey,
The Thompson Twins. The beautiful brunette selling crunch-
machines, the box that can turn a salad into a salad.
Flash of Bernie Sanders. Flash of The Teflon Don.
George Reeves as Superman, whistle-flying as he flies
in the space around the eyes, where the fantasy grows.

Alejandro Escudé’s first book of poems, My Earthbound Eye, was published in September 2013. He holds a master’s degree in creative writing from UC Davis and teaches English. Originally from Argentina, Alejandro lives in Los Angeles with his wife and two children. Find more at