Ese Louie…
       Chale, call me “Diamonds,” man!
	       —José Montoya

He shined shoes
as a boy for movie money,
& I imagined how

a shinebox might fit
under the theater’s seat
the way it fit decades

later when I saw it
in that dark beneath
my grandparent’s old,

sunken spring-bed.
Later bulldozed,
the Phoenix theater

must have looked
like those pre-war
cinemas mostly lost

now but documented
in the photographs
of Hiroshi Sugimoto

—for which the artist
placed his large-
format camera

in the last rows
of spring-shut seats
below ornate

& baroque sconces
where he then

left the camera’s
aperture open
for a full feature.

It is what we see
of stars—all endings
& untouchable

beginnings: images,
characters, & plot
gone & only white light

left. The cedar box
housing brushes,
rags, & tins of polish

had its hinged latch
& the handle that
also cradled a shoe.

My foot’s never
touched it, but I wonder
which brush inside

might brush back,
against the grain,
one of those photos

to extend the wet
finger of projection
over a boy, who looks

up toward the screen
like he looked
up from a shine.

Or is the figure
to borrow from that
other invention?

Could I carve open
a pinhole in the shinebox
for its storehouse

of inverted images?
—as if revolutions were that
simple an apparatus

of optics to have
the shiner ascend there
to what shines.

Copyright © 2019 Brandon Som. This poem originally appeared in Poetry Northwest, Winter & Spring 2019. Used with permission of the author.