Read the introduction by guest editor Craig Santos Perez.


TALAYERU-HU

 

I am dancing
on the shore of pago bay
in a dress made of fishing wire and weights
while my grandpa
watched from his truck
a true talayeru
my talayeru
he had captured his sirena
with gentle hands
covered with kayus from a hard day's work
he undresses me from the mess of nets
and veil-like seaweed
how I longed to marry the ocean
his quiet laughs as I danced
crashed over me like waves
and when I was finally free of the talaya
he took my hand
lead me out to sea
and made me
a talayeru too

 

 


A Diasporic Nation

 

In the city.
they dance with bloody silhouettes
Shimmy around Chalk-like shadows
phantom hands
cold and lifeless
reach through cracks in sidewalks
cause you to stumble
to trip and lay where they once did
we often forget what lives have lied beneath us
what color death really looks like.
It's easy to forget once we're safe in our nice warm beds
And It's been said that the homeless know warmth like no other
In the memories of a lover
with arms that set you ablaze with a single graze
And eyes that could light a soul on fire
we stomp over the souls
the soles of our shoes
pound beats into their quiet hearts
pound feet into concrete and arteries
The click and clack of heels
red like bloody silhouettes on sidewalks
sound a lot like gun shots
the bass of a passing car falls heavy
like fathers
falling dead right before their sons
right before their sun rises in the morning.
Tomorrow.
They will follow in their daddy's footsteps
and who will sidestep their silhouettes
dance across sidewalks and chalk
and body bags.
who will listen to the fading of their heartbeats
no one seems to hear them
no one thinks anything of it
after all
there's nothing strange about dancing
in the city
and lately,
this city has become my island
and its a pity
that we've traded our chants for a chance to dance around bloody silhouettes
blinded by the lights of tourism
and when I look to the ocean
I can see our Saina
trying to navigate hotel lights like stars in the sky
skirting around our island
like leaves of coconut trees around the curves of our women
but this island has become unrecognizable
this is not the home they have left behind for us
it seems like the streets of Guahan
have become a series of crime scenes
in Tumon
hidden by buildings that scrape the stars out of the sky
there are lives lost in the pavement
and there are days
where it feels like pavement
is the only legacy we will leave behind for our children
in 100 years,
when all that is left of us will be dirt beneath stones
will our bones be quarried? our minerals extracted?
we are as much a part of this island as the volcano it rests upon
but do not think for a second
that our people will remain dormant while our home is torn at the seams
it seems like piece by piece Guahan
is being sold to the highest bidder
and I guess the reason I am so bitter
is because we are being robbed 600 acres of Chamoru Land Trust Territory
while nearly the same amount of Chamoru people are landless with no one to trust.
42 percent of the homeless population on our island are Chamoru
every night 536 indigenous lives turn bus stops into palaces
rest their heads on concrete mattresses
they carry entire kingdoms in shopping carts
Kings and Queens of a diasporic nation
displaced, dispersed, disappearing but never gone
they are reaching through cracks in sidewalks society made big enough for them to fall through
we only seem to notice them
when they stop us from dancing around the body bags they use as comforters the chalk they turn
into white picket fences
to them
you're not dancing in the city
you're dancing over memories
so when you stumble
when you trip and lay where they once did
it's impossible to forget
that your silhouette bleeds the same red
it's a little hard to imagine
that we can spare 600 acres of land
while our people are left empty handed.
in 100 years
will we still dance around sidewalks and chalk and body bags?
will anyone listen to the fading of our heartbeats?
will our bones still be quarried?
in 100 years
will we all be living in bus stop palaces
and sleeping on concrete mattresses
will we all be Kings and Queens
of a diasporic nation?

 


Nichole Rose Quintanilla (familian Lela and familian Orong) is a history and Chamoru studies major at the University of Guam. She is an apprentice weaver, spoken word artist, former events coordinator of the Sinangån-ta Spoken Word Youth Movement and an active advocate for the independence of Guam.

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