Writers at the Movies: ‘A Letter to Claire Danes from a Fan in Manila’ by R. Zamora Linmark

Photo CC Ree Dexter @ Flickr

Manila. Photo CC Ree Dexter @ Flickr

A Letter to Claire Danes from a Fan in Manila

“The place just fucking smelled of cockroaches. There’s no sewage system in Manila,and people have nothing there. People with, like, no arms, no legs, no eyes, no teeth. We shot in a real psychiatric hospital…”
—Claire Danes to Premiere magazine

Dear Claire—
It is ghastly indeed: this city
crowded with cockroaches and people
who walk without legs, drive long
chrome-plated coffins without arms,
and stare imperiously at you
without eyes. Not to mention
squatters sleeping on stilts,
island panhandlers, again without arms
and legs, highway beggars,
again without eyes and hair,
and sidewalk dwellers whose walls
are painted with huge signs
reminding people not to dump trash,
piss, shit. By the way,
how was San Francisco? Are you now
back in the East, Boston or Manhattan,
that is? I am forever still in Manila,
writing you with much concern
because the City Mayor has called
an emergency meeting to ban
the showing of all your movies,
including Les Misérables. The papers
and glossy fashion magazines are
christening you “Unknown,” “Uncouth,”
“Uncultured,” “Unconscious.” Word
has it that Brooke Shields is here, too,
gambling at Heritage Casino on Roxas
with fishermen and politicians.
Is it true? Is she with André?
Are they still together? But
what you said about this city
of roaches and missing extremities
are bold impressions I cannot hold
against you, for first time travelers
from First World countries all undergo
cultural seizures here; tics
of the mind responsible for setting
off a series of generalizations
and assumptions about bugs,
blindness, and amputation. Not
excluded from this list are Filipinos
in America, like cousin Jennifer
from Daly City, Tito Bert in Wichita,
and Tita Joan in Pasadena. Claire,
I would like to invite you back
to Manila. Make another movie.
A romance, and not one filmed in a psycho
ward. Do it with Matt—Damon or
McConaughey or Broderick, but
preferably Dillon. Or Why not
Matt Mendoza, Manila’s own
achy-breaky heartthrob? And bring
with you, once more, your dollars,
your talent and, this time,
crutches and roach spray.


Hear the poet introduce and read this poem for the launch of Contrappasso: Writers at the Movies (April 10, 2015).



zamora linmark

R. ZAMORA LINMARK‘s latest poetry collection, Pop Verite, is forthcoming from Hanging Loose Press. He has just completed his third novel titled These Books Belong to Ken Z. He is the Distinguished Visiting Associate Professor in Creative Writing at University of Miami and is currently working on a sequel to his first novel Rolling The R’s which, in 2016, will be twenty years old.

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