for the river

5something a.m., maybe closer to 6
sky still dark, fog dropped in patches along road
five of us car-packed, waking and joking
and when mo (or is it isaak) say in absentia
i say that would be a great band name
and they’d never have to show up
to their shows
and if i had to put it on a graph or pie chart

i’d say we spend at least 50% of our journey
deep rumbling morning laughs
there are also jokes about
britney spears making a statement
with the bright orange cargo pants in the
genie in a bottle video

the water is life signs
strung on a line in front of the river
and then
the sun coming up over the water
pink-orange rising
as dottie and i stand track-side
to watch the light move

king of wishful thinking lyrics
spilling out of a car of characters
including a woman in a giraffe costume
as they stumble out the opened doors
towards sunrise
the sheriff cars and security cars gathered
in the early morning around the backhoe
which three people are locked to
which means it is rendered
unusable which means
a victory in the quiet unfolding of the day
which lasts for at least three hours


24 million gallons a day someone says
about the amount of fracked oil
that will be (if the pipeline is installed)
running underneath the mississippi
i was stationed in guam he says
in the go-around about where we’re fromand what brings us
to this shore of the mississippi that is
being drilled under
in order to lay pipe
for the dakota access line
and we took out sacred trees
and now, i’m here to make whatever right i can –
i’ve been on the other side

the ornithologist
who reads aloud the list of over 25 birds
that depend on this river
these waters
some of them year-round
some of them migratory
and how the list sounds like a poemwhich it is
just like the river
just like the sweat rising on the surface
of our limbs under the startling-hot sun
just like the shape of the pelicans’ beaks
jutting out in front of them
just like the silence up above
where the backhoe and drill have been stilled
because of the people locked to the machinery
the arc of the moral universe is long
frank from the des moines catholic worker quotes mlk
but it bends towards justice

i dressed up for the river/water i say
when several someones comment
on my coniferous tree/blue sky leggings
and blingy neckerchief

how we cheer when the
grinding drilling machine sounds on site
come to a halt
when the water defenders cross the fence
and therefore the operation
has to be shut down
(osha rules, if someone without safety gear is on site
it must shut down)



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