cover image From Unincorporated Territory [guma’]

From Unincorporated Territory [guma’]

Craig Santos Perez. Omnidawn (UPNE, dist.), $17.95 trade paper (88p) ISBN 978-1-890650-91-9

By turns cultural and ecological artifact, personal narrative, body count, and colonial (and resistance) document, Perez’s third collection advances a disturbing, fractured narrative using an impressively wide swath of poetic forms and techniques: prose sections are interrupted by domestic and patriotic language, interweaving the Japanese and American captures of Guam (the author’s birthplace) with the narrator’s personal history and the current wars in the Middle East: “My grandpa o saina struggles to tell his story. The US passed the Guam Meritorious Claims act... His eyes become saltmemories thread fathoms of water. He looks at his empty hands to pledge allegiance.” Wiry, short-lined verse is collaged with Chamorro (a threatened Malayo-Polynesian language) and public comments from Draft Environmental Impact Statements in Guam. The names of Guamanian soldiers killed in action in current U.S. military operations, year by year, stand out against the circumstances of their deaths: “[U.S. Army Sgt. Iosiwo Uruo died in Iraq of wounds suffered when his unit came under attack by enemy forces. He was 27.]” Amid this, Perez returns to the story of the Micronesian Kingfisher, an endangered species on Guam whose existing members are all descended from American-captured, captive-bred zoo birds: “-of trespass—[i sihek]// when land is/ caged [we]// -of theft—[i sihek]// are caged within/ our disappearance.” This is a haunting, forceful testament to a legacy of militarization, cultural hegemony, and resistance. (Apr.)