New poem:

To make it our battle (based on a prose reflection by Lee Burkett, "Walking my dog while the battle rages")

The water from my tap smells like mildew
on oily rags.
When I drink it there is a moment when
I have to tell myself to swallow
or I will spit it out.

I boil water for my coffee
to get rid of the taste.

Every morning I take Duff for a long walk.
It’s cloudy and rainy today,
but through the clouds and rain
I can feel the Earth warming as the sun comes up.

I can smell the odor of the water treatment facility
a few blocks from where I live.
An aggressive smell, somewhat sweet,

like artificial fruit.

We don’t own our water.
It was bought
and now it’s sold back to us.

I know neighbors who don’t talk to each other anymore.
Some people got a couple thousand dollars,
some hundreds of thousands.

They put in a pipeline about two years ago.
It runs right under Stillwater Dam.
It crosses route 171 and then winds up a steep hill.

The trees, all clear cut and hauled away.

There was lots of talk about jobs,
until the pipeline moved far enough away
that they started replacing our locals
with other locals.

During my walk this morning with Duff
I think about what’s going on at Standing Ridge Sioux Reservation.

Harassed, intimidated, maced, gassed,
shot at with rubber bullets, dragged away from prayer ceremonies,
their teepees and tents pulled down. . .

All because they are trying to protect the water.

How rarely our government prosecutes crimes committed by the wealthy.

Standing Rock? I talk to my neighbors. They say:
That’s a long way off.

They’re just trying to make it through another week
on less than minimum-wage jobs.

We walk past a big puddle that forms in the alley behind my house when it rains.
I stand there this morning, as I have many times before
and watch the puddles percolate from the gas
seeping through the Earth.

If you listen closely, they pop
with a happy sort of sound.

I guess we missed our chance when they came to frack.
When they laid the pipeline,
we missed our chance

to make it our battle.