“Protest Song” by Timothy Liu

Timothy Liu


Do I have to
comfort you,

little ones?

The cancer
has spread

deep into

the country,
even beyond

the outlying

The Christian

god won’t bring

back coal.
And don’t you

think the air

is too full of it
already? You

can’t fight

the lower
wages across

the border,

and besides
this will mean

others will

have more
reasons to stay

on their own

side where we
know they

have always

belonged. Fear
not. This

is how we make

America great
again as, one

by one, million

dollar mansions
crumble into

an unforgiving

sea, not one
then, but two


as the borders
that have

been drawn

start to redraw

again, can’t

you smell
the fear inside

their blood

just before
it’s shed?

The pipeline

will not
go through,

not if

any of us
can help it.


the buffalo
gathered on

the horizon

if they aren’t
ready to


for they know
which side

we’re taking,

water cannon
fire be



be damned—

lobbed across
lands we hold

most sacred.

A man without
a soul-friend

is like a lake

no good
for bathing

nor drinking

so fear not,
little ones,

the ancestors

won’t leave us
the same way

shit jobs

have already
left them

holding on

to nothing
more than

a tiny

tract of earth

called home.

Poets Respond
December 1, 2016

[download audio]


Timothy Liu: “The protestors at Standing Rock have been given a deadline of December 5th to abandon their obstructing location. A friend of mine recently returned from the site, saying, ‘They pray 24/7 there, they never stop praying! Who are they praying too?’ My friend has doubts over the existence of a higher power but did his part anyway. I wrote this poem out of solidarity.” (website)

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