from understory



for my wife, nālani

and our unborn daughter, kaikainaliʻi




We cannot think of a time that is oceanless

Or of an ocean not littered with wastage


—T.S. Eliot from “The Dry Salvages”




nālani is

drinking a


glass of

filtered tap                           Brita Pitcher Plastic Water Filtration $24.99

                                                           4-pack replacement filters $24.99

water when

she first


feels kaikainali’i



from fukushima

litters the


beaches of




is watching


an online

documentary about


home birth—

part of


a comb,

corner of


a crate,

piece of


bottle cap—

nālani is


craving raw

fish eat                                 ʻahi pokē : $17.99 per lb at Safeway in Mānoa


fish that

eat plastic


derived from

oil, absorbed


into tissue—

the doctors


recommend we

schedule a



you cut


open the

bellies of


large fish

and birds


you will

find the


bristles of

[our] tooth-



body births


plastic never

completely dissolves—


because amniotic

fluid is


ninety percent

water hanom


hanom hanom




Craig Santos Perez is a native Chamoru from the Pacific Island of Guåhan (Guam). He is the co-founder of Ala Press, co-star of the poetry album Undercurrent (2011), and author of three collections of poetry: from unincorporated territory [hacha] (2008) from unincorporated territory [saina] (2010), and from unincorporated territory [guma’] (2014). He is an Associate Professor and the Director of the Creative Writing Program in the English Department at the University of Hawai’i, Mānoa.





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  1. Pingback: Issue Eleven, 2015 | Matter

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