You Think You Know Saipan

A poem by Zeno Deleon Guerrero Jr.

You think you know but you have no idea what Saipan is.
You landlocked leviathans see Saipan as nothing more than a vacation getaway
You in America see my family as backwards and gullible
You view us through archaic lenses;
Only seeing a place ridden with huts that have no Wi-Fi
I remember visiting your clamorous concrete jungles once.
“You speak good English”
“What tribe are you from?”
You think you know but you have no idea what Saipan is.
Saipan is my heart, my home.
A place overflowing with love
It’s unlike anywhere else
Only in Saipan will entire families gather every Sunday for happy hour
On the beach watching the tide rise and fall.
The ocean slowly absorbing the light around us
Uncles surrounding the smoky grill
Cooking mountains of ribs, hot dogs, and steaks
“Bring this to the table lahi-hu”
Aunties seated together sharing sweet drinks and sweet gossip
“Dalai girl, you’re kaduku!”
Cousins splashing and diving in serene cerulean waters.
Grandparents playing card games under a palm tree.
Did you amen si Auntie Juanit?”
Only in Saipan will there be waves of red rice, kelaguen, and titiyas
Just waiting to be devoured
But you, you don’t see us like that.
Attached to your archaic lenses
Your ignorance blinds you.
Its burning white light
What you fail to see is that
We are human beings
Just like you
Your problems are our problems.
Our problems are your problems.
Our politicians sweep cash into invisible pockets.
Drugs haunt our streets like ghosts.
Our ocean rises like a wall trapping us in our own homes
However, despite all that
Saipan isn’t just another paradise to dive into.
It isn’t just another city crawling with crises.
Saipan is home – a place to laugh, to cry, to love.

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