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Saturday, September 12, 2015


by Alejandro Escudé

Young black man jailed since April for alleged $5 theft found dead in cell. Jamycheal Mitchell, 24, had been held in Virginia jail without bail for nearly four months, accused of stealing a Mountain Dew, Snickers bar and a Zebra Cake. —The Guardian, August 28, 2015

No bed for the sick young man
who stole a bottle of Mountain Dew,
a Snickers bar and a Zebra Cake worth
a total of $5 from a 7-Eleven,

the young man found dead in
his jail cell, his emaciated body melting
like an ice sculpture on the floor.

One official said it was hard to tell
who was in charge of the young man,
losing muscle mass, deteriorating
like a city after a colossal hurricane.

It’s always hard to tell who’s in charge.
Blame is a language with its own structure,
Saussure’s signifier and signified.

I too, who also serve the masses,
might’ve refused the bed, let him die,
peering at the numbers crawling
over my screen like undeterrable ants.

In the cell, he had a mattress, a toilet,
a sink, a shelf and a slit-like window
from where he wore out his mind
rotating realities like a reversible coat.

Alejandro Escudé published his first full-length collection of poems, My Earthbound Eye, in September 2013. He holds a master’s degree in creative writing from UC Davis and teaches high school English. Originally from Argentina, Alejandro lives in Los Angeles with his wife and two children.