John Murillo

Enter the Dragon

                                 —Los Angeles, California, 1976


For me, the movie starts with a black man
Leaping into an orbit of badges, tiny moons


Catching the sheen of his perfect black afro.
Arc kicks, karate chops, and thirty cops


On their backs. It starts with the swagger,
The cool lean into the leather front seat


Of the black and white he takes off in.
Deep hallelujahs of moviegoers drown


Out the wah wah guitar. Salt & butter
High-fives, Right on, brother! and Daddy


Glowing so bright he can light the screen
All by himself. This is how it goes down.


Friday night and my father drives us
Home from the late show, two heroes


Cadillacking across King Boulevard.
In the car‟s dark cab, we jab and clutch,


Jim Kelly and Bruce Lee with popcorn
Breath, and almost miss the lights flashing


In the cracked side mirror. I know what’s
Under the seat, but when the uniforms


Approach from the rear quarter panel,
When the fat one leans so far into my father’s


Window I can smell his long day’s work,
When my father—this John Henry of a man—


Hides his hammer, doesn’t buck, tucks away
His baritone, license and registration shaking as if


Showing a bathroom pass to a grade school
Principal, I learn the difference between cinema


And city, between the moviehouse cheers
Of old men and the silence that gets us home.




“Enter the Dragon” was first published in Columbia Poetry Review, No. 22, Sp. ’09, and appears in Up Jump the Boogie (Cypher Books, 2010).