Journalism In Verse


At Marshall County High School

in Gun Violence/U.S. by

Instead of only bells, a popping started
near nine—the pain, a bright red handkerchief
that wasn’t across the girl’s face. I hope never
to hear the sound of it at the high school where I teach.
But I’ve imagined it. You look to the windows first,
though you probably won’t be anywhere close
to them. You imagine a thick rope tightly secured
to a desk leg—but you can’t bring a rope to school
and the desk is likely too light to support more than one
student at a time. Would I hurry down first? The thought
of my own son and daughter fatherless, unbearable.
Would I simply shove them out of the way? Or,
would I be like the saintly ones in Kentucky, today,
who tried to scoop as many students as they could into
their rooms. Authorities, again, hope to find a motive.
But motives are hardly trenchant. One student said
he climbed the fence and ran through the forest with others.
I can see them—like multicolored smears, clutching phones,
screaming, shadows beholden to gravity. One might lose
an arm and he already designated “special needs.”
A victim of tragedian days, now a silent, uprooted plant.
I’d just run very fast, though I’d help whomever I could.
Gone are the sometime fantasies one has of fighting—
of snatching the gun from his gluey hands and either
talking him down, or transforming one eye into a hole.


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.

Photo by Inbal Marilli.

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