Gouache and ink on A3 paper. An abstract riff on the Standing Rock Thunderbird tattoo. Skimming a few sources on the historic victory, subsequent losses, and counterterrorism tactics used to defeat activists gives a good summary of what is going on in North Dakota.
“What Is Going On in North Dakota”
“My attention has been focused elsewhere, so this is a serious question: what is going on in North Dakota and why should I care?”—A Facebook friend on Standing Rock in November 2016. I wrote this poem then in response, and hoped it would improve with time. Like the news it did not, but appears online anyway.
Oil barons building one more pipeline
crossed the wrong Indians and river, in time
threatening the clean water of mil’s.
Spills are common. Protestor injuries, too.
Yell about that and the suits will want to talk to you.
But that’s only the badness. What about, well,
the sadness? That no one can know about every train wreck?
They’re coming too fast. We’re playing with a stacked deck.
It’s not just propaganda and not knowing who to trust.
It’s the strip-mining of our attention—yet pay attention we must.