Halloween in the Anthropocene, 2016
Darkness spills across the sky like an oil plume.
The moon reflects bleached coral. Tonight, let us
praise the sacrificed. Praise the souls of black
boys, enslaved by supply chains, who carry
bags of cacao under west African heat. “Trick
or treat, smell my feet, give me something good
to eat,” sings a girl dressed as a Disney princess.
Let us praise the souls of brown girls who sew
our clothes as fire unthreads sweatshops into
smoke and ash. “Trick or treat, smell my feet, give me
something good,” whisper kids disguised as ninjas.
Tonight, let us praise the souls of Asian children
who manufacture toys and tech until gravity sharpens
their bodies enough to cut through suicide nets.
“Trick or treat, smell my feet, give me,” shout boys
camouflaged as soldiers. Let us praise the souls
of veterans who salute with their guns because
only triggers will pull God into their ruined
temples. “Trick or treat, smell my feet,” chant kids
masquerading as cowboys and indians. Tonight,
let us praise the souls of native youth, whose eyes
are open-pit uranium mines, veins are poisoned
rivers, hearts are tar sands tailings ponds. “Trick
or treat,” says a boy dressed as the sun. Let us
praise El Niño, his growing pains, praise his mother,
the Ocean, who is dying in a warming bath of dead
fish and refugees. Tonight, let us raise our hands up,
and praise our mothers of asthma, mothers of
cancer clusters, mothers of miscarriage, pray for us,
because our costumes won’t hide the true cost
of our greed, praise our mothers of lost habitats,
mothers of fallout, mothers of extinction, pray
for us, because even tomorrow will be haunted—
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.