Storm Tracking / Cockroach Ode

Craig Santos Perez

/, Issue 02, Poetry/Storm Tracking / Cockroach Ode
Storm Tracking / Cockroach Ode 2017-12-29T23:12:08+00:00

Project Description

Storm Tracking

This is when the warm ocean gives birth to a cyclone—
This is when we give a human name to a thing we can’t control—
This is when wind triggers warning system
& rain echoes violent refrain—
This is when evacuation is another word for shelter
& debris is another word for home—
This is when we hold our children close and whisper:
don’t be scared, we won’t let go
This is when flood waters whisper: let go
This is when survivors become drone footage & social media—
This is when disaster trauma attracts tourism—
This is when the world finally sees us:
only after the eye of a storm sees us—
This is when we chant: we will overcome
This is when we fundraise and benefit concert—
This is when corporations promise green development
and politicians siphon aid and investment—
This is when disaster justifies another military coup—
This is when we migrate with or without dignity—
This is when remittance becomes another word for family—
This is when we wish we could give more—
This is when looking for bodies becomes prayer,
when counting bodies becomes prayer,
when counting donations becomes prayer,
when counting days until the next storm becomes prayer—
This is when our sea of vulnerable islands
becomes an archipelago of prayer—

Cockroach Ode

My oldest memory is waking up
to a cockroach staring at me. It

doesn’t move as I reach with
my toddler fingers and clutch

its dark body. When I bite down
it hisses—legs and wings fluttering.

Have you ever seen a decapitated
cockroach scurry? Dirty migrants,

refugees, poor black and brown
hordes, hopeless to exterminate.

Poems about cockroaches reveal
survival secrets: find warmth,

potable water, leftovers; be social,
migratory, resilient; have a fuck-you,

will-to-thrive, there-are-too-many-
of-us attitude; avoid the violent light

of human eyes. They say the end
is near when rising seas threaten

cockroach populations because
they can’t swim. But don’t worry:

they’re the first terrestrial beings
to birth in space. They’re pre-Jurassic,

post-nuclear, post-human,
post-glacial. I can still remember

its antennae searching my tongue
for the foul saliva of extinction.

Blessed be the cockroaches, for they
shall inherit the warming earth.

Craig Santos Perez

Craig Santos Perez is a native Chamorro poet from the Pacific Island of Guam. He is the author of four books, most recently from unincorporated territory [lukao] (Omnidawn, 2017). His third book, from unincorporated territory [guma’] won the American Book Award. He teaches at the University of Hawaiʻi, Mānoa.

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