Poetry / November 2011 (Issue 15)

Two Poems

by Chris Santiago

Drinking with Christopher Doyle

"If you get one image per film that actually works, it's better than average."
                Christopher Doyle, on In the Mood for Love

He's drunk on a starlet's skin
or just drunk:
                   her long-throated

luster, coif
struck by streetlights that haven't yet

been lit.
             Magic hour
proves filmmakers see better than say; but I

have nothing better
       and nod toward the Hong Kong skyline
at the beginning of another century.
                          The dress

is what makes him come
back into focus—all colours he declares

have cultural baggage
by ice and exile

             and some ounces I can't read
but roll right off his tongue.

He is fluency and whiteness;
I have the colour
                      but not the language.

         is what we have in common
                      and a crossed path
of sheen and shoulders—bar stools;

humidity and loneliness
           which he solves the way the ocean
tries to solve the Midwest: by spilling

his secrets—under-
painting; gauze; a fingertip of Vaseline.

He's got a deep bag of tricks
but the best one's to wait—
                                              even buildings
in the International Style are flushed
as if they'd spent the day
                                    making love.


Invisible, except
In tire rims, polished shoes,

Mirrors for blind curves.
They smash it all: the vending glass,

Bullet train windows, light's
Lewd geometry, all that shines.

So you track them by ear.
They devour sound:

Sock shuffle, soap-slick, tips
On dry palms—it's all crushed

Inside, like a black hole,
An inverted music box. A path's left

Where everything's hushed, the men
Pacing, pavement shimmer-crackling...

I'm making tea, a penance.
The cups are the lids

Of my dream-eyes: in the glaze I can see
The underside of a girl's lip.

She'll rise and run
Up the river, as far as she can,

Beside the reflection she can't kill—
The water shatters but heals.
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