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Monday, March 12, 2018


by Alejandro Escudé

The victorious strike by teachers in West Virginia did not only result in a long overdue pay raise. With the exuberance of a nine-day teach-in, the teachers and their supporters have taught the nation a compelling lesson on the historical role of a true resistance. Taking to the streets, picketing on the sidewalks, and charging into the Capitol itself, the strike turned the public commons into a counter space for “we the people.” One by one, the roughly 20,000 teachers in West Virginia essentially forced lawmakers – and the nation – to stop our daily routine and address the growing education crisis on the terms of those most devoted to ensuring the best outcomes for our children: our teachers. —The Guardian, March 10, 2018

The teachers are digging for coal;
They pour out of the mines, dark-drenched,
Unimpressed by the earth’s time tables,
The maps colored outside the lines.
They are heading home from the mines.

The teachers have received the cables
That mark their pay; their fists are clenched
Even grading papers, their precious ore
A losing industry. As the work clock chimes
Apocalypse, for health they pay the fines.

The teachers breathe fumes of a Stygian shoal
As they sail on—confused, wrecked and bled,
Their career an entanglement of labels.
Of their day’s take nothing survives.
They’re servants to the ironies and declines.

Like prophets, they cluster countless Babels,
Their clothes contain the prints of our kindred.
Yet, where gratitude should be, there’s a hole.
A relentless grind, their minds like stripped mines,
For expenses overdue, for quarrying lives.

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.