Craig Santos Perez
A Rainbow After the Massacre
I take my daughter to the park :: boys play
baseball :: girls hopscotch :: parents watch
from beneath trees :: they say this is a normal
Sunday :: hours earlier, 50 people were murdered
at a night club in Orlando, Florida :: the killer
armed with a legal assault rifle :: they say this
is a normal Sunday in America :: a country
where being lesbian, gay, bi, trans, or two-spirit
is deemed abnormal :: where using the bathroom
aligned with your gender is abnormal :: where same
-sex marriage is abnormal :: where being latinx,
black, or muslim is abnormal :: where gun control
is abnormal :: without warning :: grey clouds
empty their rounds of rain :: we seek shelter
in a country where everything normal polices
our families, bodies, desires, and futures ::
where everything normal erects walls between
those we embrace and those we exclude :: the sun
returns :: we continue our games :: yet all I want
is to hug my friends :: feel their pulse :: say
thank you :: for being in our lives :: for showing us
that queer is not against nature, but is nature itself
dancing beyond borders :: singing beyond difference ::
loving beyond hate :: thank you for showing us how fear
can become pride :: how a kiss can become the erotic
language of hope :: I carry my daughter home :: a rainbow
arcs across the valley :: may it touch everywhere into music ::
Dear Marvel Comics
If you ever create a comic book
about Chamorro Superheroes,
begin with an ocean blue splash
page, captioned: “origin story.”
In the center: devils aboard
beastly galleons collide in waves
with islanders on agile canoes.
In the background, a tropical
island on fire; swords and crosses
piercing the trade winds. Turn
the page: draw brown bodies
capsized. Zoom into their wounds,
now infected by a strange disease,
captioned: “Christianity” or “Empire.”
Zoom out: show Chamorros still
breathing and, at the same time,
vanishing. Next page: Chamorros
struggling to control their new
ability to disappear and re-appear.
Don’t call it genocide. Instead,
caption: “As generations passed,
the remaining population learned
to master their powerful magic.”
On the following pages, illustrate
a tier of panels: 1) Chamorros
vanishing into a mission church;
2) Chamorros vanishing into foreign
names and bloodlines; 3) Chamorros
vanishing behind American barbed
wire fences; 4) Chamorros vanishing
into American schools; 5) Chamorro
tongues vanishing into English;
6) Chamorros vanishing into caves
when Japanese warships arrive;
7) Chamorros vanishing into blue
passports; 8) Chamorros vanishing
when hotels and tourists arrive;
9) Chamorros vanishing into military
uniforms; 10) Chamorros vanishing
into cancer, diabetes, and hospitals;
11) Chamorros vanishing into airplanes,
into a distant continent. After, fill
the gutters of every page with red ink.
Now turn to the last page, this page,
draw us, still here because our true
superpower isn’t our vanishing,
but our survival. And isn’t that
Before the Flood
O Leonardo Wilhelm DiCaprio, your mischievous yet angelic face makes climate change much
less inconvenient to look at.
You were only 26 years old when you chaired Earth Day in 2000 and asked Bill Clinton: “Do
you think [America] can eventually become a role model?”
That same year, I watched your film, The Beach, and learned that off-grid hippie communes are
not role models.
When you killed the shark, I cried for the shark.
I read an article about a wild New Year’s eve party you hosted in St. Bart on a rented,
$400,000-a-week super yacht, named “The Paraffin.”
The word, “paraffin,” refers to a kind of oil derived from shale.
Movie film is derived from petroleum.
When the once-in-a-millennium flood comes, will Leo’s Yacht replace Noah’s Ark?
Every New Year’s eve, I re-watch the Titanic. This year I interpreted the Titanic as a climate
change revenge narrative.
The actual Titanic was four times the size of the Paraffin.
When the rich people drowned, I didn’t cry. Let them drink salt water.
Thank you for raising millions of dollars for the environment at an art auction in which you told
the attendees; “Bid as if the fate of the planet depended on us.”
I love that your parents hung a Bosch painting above your crib and that you gave a Bosch book
to Pope Francis.
If Bosch were alive today, he would paint a triptych titled: “The Garden of Celebrity Delights.”
Someday, I want to visit the island off the coast of Belize that you bought to build a sustainable,
eco-luxury resort and multi-million-dollar estate homes.
The National Geographic rectangle in the right corner of the screen is so distracting.
Rupert Murdoch recently bought National Geographic.
I can’t tell the difference between climate change activism and climate change tourism.
I also can’t tell the difference between this documentary and an advertisement for The Revenant.
How inconvenient that you had to travel to the southern tip of this planet just to film snow!
When you killed the bear, I cried for the bear.
When the white settlers were killed, I didn’t cry. Let them eat dirt.
Is it just me, or are the native extras in the Revenant the same native extras in Before the Flood?
What is the carbon footprint of a Hollywood blockbuster?
If I were to review your documentary, it would read: “The White Savior-Protagonist re-discovers
his humanity by trying to save the vulnerable species of the earth, who are the perfect
supporting cast in this inspiring survival drama on the sinking set of the Anthropocene.
In the end, the White Savior-Protagonist finally wins his first Oscar for Best Actor in a
Leading Role in the hottest year of recorded history.”
Craig Santos Perez is a native Chamorro from the Pacific Island of Guam. He is the author of four collections of poetry and two spoken word albums, and the co-editor of three anthologies of Pacific literature. He teaches creative writing and eco-poetry at the University of Hawaiʻi, Manoa.