Chris Santiago


Distance to a camel 
is but one form
of memory 

like the weight of aviaries 
dead lakes
cities without roads—.
Distance to the mule is work; 
for the horse it’s a kind
of detachment. 
Bulls use distance 
to careen and lash. 

For a gun it is an instant;
for the spider, crude conversion. 
To a tree, it’s a system 
of thought approaching 
                                                                   (Chapter 3, Section III)  

Reconnaissance and Security 

to uncover an enemy 
in the field set the field 
on fire                  follow 
the sound the 
rapture follow 
false maps
cities over-
run by feral dogs 
keep the exit close 
but keep your rifle 

                                                                   (Chapter 6, Section VII)  

From the Author: “Transportation” and “Reconnaisance and Security” are both from a larger erasure project, which uses The U.S. Marine Corps Small Wars Manual as its source. 

Chris Santiago is the author of Tula, selected by A. Van Jordan as the winner of the 2016 Lindquist & Vennum Prize for Poetry and published by Milkweed Editions. He’s received fellowships from the McKnight Foundation, Kundiman, and the Mellon Foundation/American Council of Learned Societies, and was a finalist for the 2017 Minnesota Book Award. He teaches creative writing and Asian American literature at the University of St. Thomas in St. Paul, Minnesota.