Standing Rock

very well, he said,
we will let you
demand your place.
it’s only fair to let you
ask.

very well, he said,
we’ll provide one too —
go and live on the gravel,
the wide banks of rounded stones
around the stream, the part
that floods with ice
in spring — rush of water
so cold your heart and lungs
may stop when it comes.

very well, he said,
you may also
name those places. call them
home or exile, it matters not
to us. if we need them, though,
expect them to be
renamed once taken
and don’t imagine the fishing
will remain in your hands
either.

very well, we said,
we shall do all those things,
even the heinous ones, even
the deadly ones; we will call
the gravel home, exile, death-
land, life-line, whatever is needed.
we will own our place regardless
of your threats and we will own
it all very well indeed

and when you come
to take what is ours
we will stand upon it
and hold it and even if you wipe us
with oil and fire, even if you
starve us or take the very water
itself from us, we will remain.
we will become
the rocks that sting your feet
and the names
you cannot forget, the names

that will come unbidden
to your children’s tongues
as they look at you cringing
before them, the clouds
rising from pyres
and scorched earth,
the names they will cry out to you
when they ask you 
what you said and did
to make this.

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About Tony Brown

A poet with a history in slam, lots of publications; my personal poetry and a little bit of daily life and opinions. Read the page called "About..." for the details. View all posts by Tony Brown

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