November 30, 2016 Poetry , POETRY / FICTION

AP photo



Alejandro Escudé






At the Richard Nixon Presidential Library

I take a photo of the puke-green phone

Nixon used to talk to the Apollo astronauts;

one of the extensions read Haldeman.

My children interact with an exhibit named

The White House Taping System, my girl

and my boy slam the red buttons that reveal

the hidden microphones in each room;

something about the Gap is explained

on an app we don’t bother downloading.

It’s 1968, and he’s just gotten elected.

If you squint, Nixon’s snarl could be

the new President-elect’s. The walls are

papered with protestors and soldiers, a row

of POW’s in pajamas then in the next

huge frame one of those same men opens

his arms for his daughter on a tarmac.

There’s so much that went wrong, so much

that can go wrong in every decade-breath

America takes. Napalm strikes lead

to a room with glass red and blue balloons

as if dropped from a ceiling, a white

skimmer hat with a ribbon: Nixon Now

More Than Ever—guess there’s always

a need for a Nixon, a strongman waving

two v-signs across the void of the universe

as the helicopter waits—which is there

as well, the original nut-brown upholstery,

the yellow swivel chair beside the couch

Kissinger sat on as they hovered over

the blinding whirlwind of the world.












Between huddled streets, tenements, lying

on the sidewalk, a pressure cooker like a poem

sits unread, except perhaps by the one who

first thinks it’s trash: a white bag like a cosmic

parachute trailing the round tin body, a cell phone

attached, a Rauschenberg combine, and wires

snipped and wooed with the care of a Banzai tree.

If you were to slide it across the concrete, it would

grate your ears, and you’d have your worst fears

to contend with, a muted clock inside your chest.

Yet, there’s a number you call, posted beside

graffiti glimpsed in subway stations—the voice

says, “Run!” The pressure cooker’s lid mirrors

the skyward angles of a building, out and in,

as if you too were defused, unable to explode.











Alejandro Escudé

Alejandro Escudé

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.

1 Comment

  1. r soos November 30, at 16:48

    superb - dud definitely has an ending worth reading toward. Thanks!


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