The Surrounded, 2014                                                                                      —Craig Santos Perez
                                                  to my wife

Surrounded by our midwife and doula, you labor
in bed, at home, pushing our daughter into the gravity

of this collapsing world. Surrounded by war and natural
disasters, 60 million people, just this year, were forcibly

displaced—half were children. Surrounded by fear
and threat, they sleep outside of train stations and closed

borders, on blankets in city squares, in the rough down
of grassy fields, or against foreign shores and the crowded

ocean floor. Or they don’t sleep at all because the attacks
happened at night, because nightmares are the ghosts

of shrapnel. I surround you and our daughter with pillows;
more than half of all border walls in the world have been built

since 2001. While we are surrounded by dangerous
climate thresholds, why do nations continue to fabricate

and fortify fence lines, when we should be making beds
and marking red lines to shelter the most vulnerable?

Why do nations continue to blanket us in military bases
and detention centers, when we should be blanketing

our children in genuine security. Surrounded by morning
light, I watch my family sleep. Please, don’t wake up yet.


Hush, Little Baby
(a geo-engineering lullaby)

Hush, little baby, don’t say a word,
Daddy’s gonna buy you an air filter,

And if greenhouse gas won
’t go away,
Daddy’s gonna buy you aerosol spray,

And if the atmosphere won
’t cool,
Daddy’s gonna buy you rocket fuel,

And if colonizing Mars doesn’t succeed,
Daddy’s gonna buy you sulfate seeds,

And if those reflective clouds disappear,
Daddy’s gonna buy you space mirrors,

And if those mirrors don
’t deflect the sun,
Daddy’s gonna buy you mineral dust,

And if that dust won
’t heal the ocean,
Daddy’s gonna buy you a floating island,

And if that man-made island drowns,
ll still be the sweetest little baby in town.


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Craig Santos Perez is a native Chamorro from the Pacific Island of Guam. His poetry has appeared in The Eco-Poetry Anthology, the journal Ecopoetics, and the environmental justice issue of Poetry Magazine. He organized a panel on “Pacific Eco-Poetics” at the Berkeley Ecopoetics Conference (2012), and he’s co-editing an anthology on the same topic. He’s an associate professor at the University of Hawaiʻi, Mānoa, where he teaches courses on eco-poetry.  

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© 2016