Chris Santiago

[Island Beginning with a Half-Remembered Line of Carlos Bulosan]


we grew into manhood with thoughtless

music in our ears

music that vanished the moment

it ended

there was no way to retain it

to keep the ear from going


you had to pay for it each time

until they grew rich & full of spite

for the few who could remember

they found ways to single us out

tests & probabilities

the brain’s wet code mapped

like the Pacific

we were rounded

up to protect their market share

raised in isolation

dark & dumb & pitchless

but there were chance strains of music

sills & scavengers

sweepers in the wrong yard


overheard & blooming

the wild child into wunderkind



Chris Santiago is the author of Tula, selected by A. Van Jordan as the winner of the 2016 Lindquist & Vennum Poetry Prize and published by Milkweed Editions. The recipient of fellowships from Kundiman and the Mellon Foundation/ACLS, and a Finalist for the Minnesota Book Award, he received his Ph.D. from the University of Southern California and teaches literature and creative writing at the University of St. Thomas.

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