Author: Clarissa Mendiola

Clarissa Mendiola is a Chamoru woman who was raised in California. Through segmented essays and poetry, her work explores ideas of cultural identity and ethnic purity via memory, myth, oral and written history, and the ways in which all of these things work toward or against the overarching question – what does it mean to be Chamoru? Her lineage includes the Santos family of Talofofo (Familian Manok) the Mendiola family of Barrigada. She has an MFA in Writing from California College of Arts and currently lives in San Francisco where she thinks, writes, and dreams about Guahan.

Hyperacusis & Epilogue & Vestibulum


let me tell you how
what is lost, amplifies.

a dead ear


whir, whistle, pur made
bedfellow for high octave shrill.

later, we arrive at
abstract diagnosis. the mays
and may nots, the
onomatopoeic results.

streets may dress benevolently
however dishonest the wardrobe or


what the ear is meant to hear:

the wood chipper, drill bit, bus
stop, the crumbled cement, the steaming
milk, the battle crack –

what weapon to kill what is dead already,
it with its exaggerated
gravity: the brain’s mis-
interpreted message.

as if the ear is a limb:
           tourniquet finishes what virus begins.

as if the ear is an amputated limb:
           to feel that tingling as phantom sound.

to taste the hum. to touch the drone.
           to smell at all, rather

                                 to hear, flatly.


let me tell you of an
aural history –

women in black wail five
note melodies, that
rumbling monotone of a slow train

the gourd’s only string settles on
perfectly empty stomach – the music men
fast for holy dissonance.

and battle recordings amidst country
ballads, comic wit, jazz pianos –
set a beach on fire.

the filth of bodies draped on hot sand –
now, score in crescendo

still, we

           kantan chamorita

back and forth of bird
call, ruffled feathers
disparaged into quiet

this is how we come to know
the narrative of silence

and sonic evolution.


an image cuts at every glance. chest wound seen from the inside. somehow its refusal to surface on the skin gives permission to kill invisibly. the child is rolled into ill-advised surgery with not even a bruise to show. but there is so much movement in the portrayal. crosses dance away at mid-frequency and back together in low. this means: we are deaf to treble clef and melody. to feel only the vibrations of a stand-up bass. or to sing only in staccato! returning to the image (again) the jab punch of loss and loss and loss. so the promise of quiet lures. to the forest, the woods, in the jungle, on the beach, such dumb desires – to hear so little and yearn for less. this world is louder than you think – too much loud for even a half-sense. losing it heightens the tolerance for pain. a numb limb tickles. the rest absorbs what it refuses.