We Stood on the Rock
A poem for those that fight with the Sioux, with water, at Standing Rock.
We Stood on the Rock
By Adebayo Akomolafe / bayoakomolafe.net
Nov 5, 2016

[For those who fight at Standing Rock]


We remember, we remember

Those sublime songs of Dakota

Rushing hooves of wild buffalo

Calloused tears and fragile fears

When we held ourselves as each other’s dears


When dancing water met with bovine oil

And siblings from afar came across the hill

We dug our heels deep in weary soil

One people who would not be still


Into these fields we staggered blue

As their tanks and rubber bullets slowed our paces

Phallic batons took their dreadful cue

From hooded men with hidden faces


They ordered us back and put up wires

They said they had come to make all things better

With jobs and dollars and ivory spires

The old promises of the wounded tinkerer


Black Snake must make his way, they said

Our lands were dead and mute

Their machines purred and thrummed and fed

On the very music they sought to refute


We knelt in stinging tears and cried

As yellow cranes sliced our mother red

A surgical operation to make abide

That which was never even dead


Their cameras turned away – our stories postponed

The dogs were set on us – our honour dethroned

The skies coughed with smoke – our visions abused

Our bodies were tallied – our power refused


So we poured a libation of limbs

And danced and laughed and swayed

We became like water, flowing defiant hymns

Unstable ghosts, form delayed


We could not be killed; we could not be set straight

We were a murmuration of unholy stirring

We were thick; we were many, and downright apostate

Every gesture was a perverse gathering


We were there to bleed, to shed old hides

To tell the tales of stone, prairie and Sioux

Our skins were a wordless prayer, a choir of haunting guides

When they struck our bodies we melted through


Their victory lay with utterly containing us,

In tired halos of their own making

But we held on to our kin, the open plains unctuous  

A victory nobler than winning


We knew the pollination songs of bees

We knew the sacredness of a handful of soil

We knew the nobility of water and trees

We knew their own eyes did not weep oil


Hand in hand we stood on the rock

Drunken children of returning water

We stood for daughters and sons not yet flocked

Their own happily ever after


Never forget, we urged ourselves as many suns set

Never forget! – our wounds yelled this anthem

Never forget this day when each other we met

To remember is to overcome


And we remember, we remember

Those sublime songs of Dakota

Rushing hooves of wild buffalo

Calloused tears and fragile fears

When we held ourselves as each other’s dears


When dancing water met with bovine oil

And siblings from afar came across the hill

We dug our heels deep in weary soil

One people who would not be still


Bayo Akomolafe

November 6, 2016

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We Stood on the Rock