Between the Diagnosis and the Death

Below are a suite of poems from 2022 Fair Trade artists Craig Santos Perez and Declan Fry, Between the Diagnosis and the Death, which they worked on collaboratively across a span of places and time.

what fraction
of time
is memory

what fraction
of silence
is forgetting


Between the diagnosis and the death
lies permission, possibility of being:
a moment in which I disclose
myself, finally, as you might,
held between the world before it wakes

The waves cease, I do not hesitate to meet them,
balancing my body against the tide again.
Never open a window without first opening a door.
Prickled with rain, water spells out careless orbits.

Clarity Intermissions.png

Something in our snarled overlap invites clarity, and I

want to affirm
this beauty.

Urged to stop, wondering
at the odd density
of work, the eye skips, crosses plains:

A mandala. An invitation. Surveying
variegation, at each level, we sit, for a while,
before moving on.

[so I was listening to cassandra jenkins today
and reading the guardian]

Today i was archiving a review
Of the anthology Indigenous Literatures from Micronesia

A Spread Quilt Image.png

A spread quilt, silken, shadows
lengthen, resolve into shape. We lie here
casting around the remains
of the day, impressions of form, gathering life:

tiny entrails of leaves
teased by the wind, cast
on the pavement, the playgrounds,
the sleeplessness of being.

In deep time we count
We lose count in deep time
five mass-extinction events:
the mass of every extinction event:

Supermassive Black Hole.jpeg

What sleeps invisibly at the centre of things
determines all we see, as when,

yesterday, a globe of light lay captive
in the camera lens’ reflex.


Infinitude, like humility,
lies at the centre of our galaxy.

We cannot see
collapse, only know it is intent
on continuing.

Its share is everything.

Stark as Empty Hands.png

stark as empty hands
the tree without leaves
is the first image I grasp after leaving
my home to walk the streets at night,
to let go of the last remnants of the day,
whose light now takes new forms
like pulsing bulbs of flowers,
blossoming on sidewalks,
in offices and apartments,
Endless human fires.

tree bark whorled by fissure.png

The gradient of wood is slow, and knows
the work before we do. I press my thumbs to each corner,
ready to arrive

at the edge of things: which is to say, as a child
seeking out the trunk
of sweet bristled root

First Nations transnationalism is one of the great things First Nations artists are working through today. The Fair Trade project was a great opportunity to share knowledge across borders, to gain a sense of how First Nations art is something much larger than the colonial nation-state.

~ Declan Fry

Being in community with Declan increased my sense of international sovereignty and reciprocity.

~ Craig Santos Perez