Journalism In Verse


they bring their bulldozers and drills and paid permits, we bring our feathers and lei and shells and canoes [AUDIO]

in Environment by



in solidarity with Standing Rock Sioux Tribe and all peoples protecting the waters of this earth


becuz our bodies are 60 percent water

becuz my wife labored for 24 hours through wave contractions

becuz our sweat is mostly water and salt

becuz she breathed and breathed and breathed

becuz our lungs are 80 percent water

becuz water broke forth from her body

becuz amniotic fluid is 90 percent water

becuz our daughter crowned like a coral island

becuz our blue planet is 70 percent water

becuz some say water came from an asteroid

becuz some say the ocean formed within the earth from the beginning

becuz water broke forth from shifting tectonic plates

becuz we say our gods created water

becuz no human has found a way to safely create water

becuz we wage war over gods and waters

becuz we sign the UN Convention on the Laws of the Sea

becuz 200 nautical miles from the this coastline is an exclusive economic zone

becuz only 3 percent of global water is fresh

becuz we can’t desalinate the entire ocean

becuz we proclaim water a human right

becuz we grant bodies of water rights to personhood

becuz my daughter loves playing in the ocean

becuz we will walk an average of four miles a day to gather clean water and carry it home

becuz my wife says the Hawaiian word for wealth, waiwai, comes from their word for water, wai

becuz corporations steal and bottle our waters

becuz sugar, pineapple, corn, soy, and gmo plantations divert our waters

becuz concentrated animal feeding operations consume our waters

becuz they use 660 gallons of water to make one hamburger

becuz pesticides, chemicals, oil, weapons, and waste poison our waters

becuz we say stop, you are hurting our ancestors

becuz they say we thought this was a wasteland

becuz we say stop, keep it in the ground

becuz they unearth bones and fossil fuels

becuz we say stop, water is sacred

becuz they say we thought water was a commodity

becuz we say stop the desecration

becuz they say we thought you were vanishing

becuz we call ourselves protectors and water warriors

becuz they call us savage and primitive

becuz we bring our feathers and lei and shells and canoes and totems

becuz they bring their bulldozers and drills and paid permits

becuz we bring our treaties and UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples

becuz they bring their banks and politicians and lawyers

becuz we bring our songs and prayers and ceremonies

becuz they bring their barking dogs and private militia and national guard

becuz we bring all our relations and all our generations

becuz our blood is 90 percent water

becuz someday my daughter will ask me where the ocean ends

becuz we will point to the dilating horizon

becuz our eyes are 95 percent water

becuz we will tell her that the ocean has no end

becuz we will tell her that the ocean rises and is carried by the sky

becuz we will tell her that the ocean blesses the mountains with rain

becuz we will tell her that the rain feeds lakes and reservoirs

becuz we will tell her that the water flows into the Missouri River

becuz we will tell her that water connects us to our cousins at Standing Rock

becuz we will tell her about their sacred stone of a mother and child

becuz we will tell her that the Sioux are still there, breathing

becuz our hearts are 75 percent water

becuz i will whisper to her, while she is sleeping, hanom hanom hanom, my people’s word for

water, so that in her dreams water will call her home


Craig Santos Perez is a native Chamoru (Chamorro) from the Pacific Island of Guåhan/Guam. He is the co-founder of Ala Press and author of three collections of poetry, most recently from unincorporated territory [guma’]. He was the winner of the 2011 PEN Center USA Literary Award for Poetry. He is director of the Creative Writing program and an assistant professor of English at the University of Hawai’i, Manoa.

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