Wendy Carlisle The 2River View, 7.1 (Fall 2002)


1. About The Set

The stars on the patio overlooking the river cost
thousands of dollars
but I can’t complain, I have you under the ristras,

drinking margaritas from
those wide glasses with saguaro stems
and I’m almost holding your arm

while your animal smell burns in my head
until I have to move
so I step you along the footpath, the trees vivid

with last light, the Tower Life building,
argoned in green while vacationers rattle those Cornhusker hats
with the yellow ears that suggest

boozy picnics, past lives
and toss off one-liners, wild under the shower
of pearl bulbs lighting up in the cypress

like ribs in an umbrella, extras jubilant
on the vaperetti, Texas-drunks in tan Stetsons,
Conjunto like I planned it. So what

if you’re a San Antonio hero who bowls
on Sunday while the dressed-up city prays.
I have to admit how little

I expect: neon, tequila,
the mostly cinematic dusk dissolved
to close-up: two faces, the fading light.

2. Another B Movie

On this reel: the desperate sunset, twinkle lights, a tracking shot along the manipulated river:

In the Excelsior Bar the accordion is a staggered heartbeat. The man who is not a hero grinds away on the dance floor. His face is buried in his partner’s neck. His movements are always a little off the beat.

These are images designed to show how the man keeps his heart out of the rhythm, out of the strings of peppers, the bullfight posters, the Jose Cuervo, keeps it safe from the neon and limes.

In the next reel: the man is on the riverbank, drunk, wearing a ten-gallon hat, talking about spares and strikes. On the soundtrack: the beating of a perpetual tourist heart. The film clarifies what happened in the Tex-Mex bar.

3. The Poem That Should Have Been A Movie

If it were a movie, the poem would be a show-off.
If it were a movie, the poem could picture lovers breathing.
If it were a movie, the poem might imagine how a heart hides out.

But the poem sadly knew it was a poem. Far away from the original dance floor, it ground its hips to Tejano music in some seedy dive. It two-stepped with a cast of cinematic Mexicans, loose women and misfits, then got drunk and sloppy and wandered out alone to the sidewalk where it lit up a cigarette. Later it strolled down to the water dressed in a modified suit of lights. The poem ended the evening with a boy from a family of bowlers. Only the accordion player noticed.

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