Standing Rock Water Protectors


The Missouri River is the longest river in America.
It flows into the Mississippi near Fergussen
where Black Lives Matter was born
It flows past New Orleans
where Hurricane Katrina gave white supremacist authorities a chance
to jail poor people of color in Satan’s stadium & shoot them on the streets.
Same river flows into the Atlantic Ocean
where 500 years ago, European explorers detonated colonialism
on the heels of the witch hunts, 9 million women tortured
to clear the way for capitalism, christianity, progress
Flows through the slave trade, the destruction of 98% of the indigenous people who lived.
Histories flow together like rivers and pipelines.
Victors forget how they got their spoils
but the de-spoiled remember.
Water remembers.

Prayer, she said through wind-whipped hair, is simple.  
We say Help me.  We say Thank you.
And off she blew—a Navaho electron fairy
towards the front lines of Dakota prairie pipeline wars.

Before there was Facebook
Deep-Time people sent out drum stories
Ancestors of these same horses whinnied
the sky was bluer and the smoke rising stronger then
in this place where the invaders shot them down.

My room today’s a flowing confluence coming
thru this screen beamed from Facebook Hill
at Standing Rock
where they’re indigenizing media with digital smoke signals.
Their songs so sure and vast that
clearly they belong to a mountain,
a river, a forest, some ancient thing
born of a steadying desire
to pray.
It’s simple, she said
Help me.  Thank you.

capitalism’s rivers braided with pipelines, it’s the end of an era
Where live feeds story-tell prophesies,
and luminous banners read
Black Snake Kills!  Defend the Sacred, No DAPL!
Now on the tail of hottest summer on record
on the final thrashings of dinosaurs
enlightened practice says — Cut off the snakes’ heads!
The whole world is watching.
We say it together: Help me.  We say thank you.

Elders sit in chairs
while warriors gallop round the endless body of the wind.
Spirit drums and human voices rise,
make ageless love to the air, Protectors —
Water is life.
Histories flow together.

And I’m safe, for now, white, but haunted by history.
I sit here, dreaming peace inside a roomfull of snakes,
flaming arrows sending across the distance.
And I’m watching them— the raised fists, the tanks & teargas, the babies
Mni Wichoni. Water is life.
That blue blue Dakota sky.
Shadow of sun shines thru a hoop drum.
The painted faces, the feathers and rattles, the calm, beautiful horses
Ceremony broadcast over a bandwidth of wind and eagles.

They sing with their eyes closed in a snowstorm, feet massage the earth.
My own protected heart reaches for that song
prayers bounced like basketballs, echoing
my bones the rattle, my heart the drum.
Outdistancing everything with the language of earth and water, fire and air
Great Mystery of living rivers-forests-oceans,
a fierce rudder, a blade.
My arms raised with theirs, closing the distances
towards unacknowledged existences
that fill the universe.
Prayer, a net tossed over all there is.
Together, one weave, we say the words—
Help me.  We say Thank you

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