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Jim Morrison and I Head to Standing Rock
by Lindsey Martin-Bowen

Dakota Pipeline, North Dakota

When clouds form an eagle above a red sun,
and the Flint Hills and dried-up wheat fields
beckon us onward, we head east and north—

beyond the Great Plains and the narrow lanes
to which we’d become accustomed—after spinning
across sand in our chase for California dreams

of peace and love, still uncaptured. Here, police
shoot pepper spray and water cannons at 30 of us.
Security guards unleash dogs that maim six,

one a small child. Still, we clutch signs—black
crosses against a blue sky, where cirrus clouds
hover then become black knots of rain.

We clasp hands with the Standing Rock Sioux,
pray with them in a circle, and I ask Jim
if he wants to risk getting arrested.

He shakes his head. “We’ll help. But this is their
Wounded Knee. It isn’t to be fought by you—by me.”
He pulls out three fifties to leave for munitions.

I nod to agree, it’s the natives’ call. Even if it’s for all
of us, they must win it in these unaligned times
when the eagle cloud rises high on the horizon.

Previously published in (Tittynope Zine 2017). Forthcoming in the author’s collection Cashing Checks with Jim Morrison (redbat books 2023).

PHOTO: Native Americans demonstrate against the Dakota Access Pipeline in May 2021 at the Standing Rock Reservation, which straddles the border of North Dakota and South Dakota. Learn more at standwithstandingrock.net.  Photo by Jolanda Kirpensteijn on Unsplash. 

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NOTE FROM THE AUTHOR: Years ago, when I (my persona) screamed down asphalt through mauve Kansas fields and the Flint Hills, rock shaman Jim Morrison crawled out of my car stereo while a yellow hornet on the windshield danced like a Kachina in a sand painting. It was magic. Perhaps. I still don’t know. Yet poems resulting from this encounter resulted in my third poetry book, CROSSING KANSAS with Jim Morrison. In it, Jim comes with me to find La Loba*, in hopes she’ll resurrect his bones. But the wolf woman refuses, and we go to Paris and the Père Lachaise Cemetery. There, Jim’s dark monument, wrought with graffiti, commemorates him. I’d thought this story had ended when I left him there. But I was wrong. He won’t leave me alone. He pushes into poems and ignoring his burial, often joins figures from everywhere—ancient Greece and Eleusinian mysteries, wild and wooly creatures in my “frenzies” poems, and post-modern philosophers. Even today, he whispers to me when I stare at a waffled, red-lace sky filled with popcorn clouds looming above our foothills.

*Wolf woman. Bone woman. According to Southwest legends (from various tribes and Mexican cultures), La Loba works with angels to gather bones of humans and wolves, then resurrect them. 

Photo of Jim Morrison, found in The Collected Works of Jim Morrison (June 2021). 

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Pushcart and Pulitzer nominee Lindsey Martin-Bowen’s fourth poetry collection, Where Water Meets the Rock (39 West Press 2017), contains a poem named an Honorable Mention in Writer’s Digest’s 85th Contest. Her third, CROSSING KANSAS with Jim Morrison, won Kansas Authors Club’s 2017 “Looks Like a Million” Contest, and was a finalist in the QuillsEdge Press 2015-2016 Contest. Her Inside Virgil’s Garage (Chatter House) was a runner-up in the 2015 Nelson Poetry Book Award. McClatchy Newspapers named her Standing on the Edge of the World  (Woodley Press) one of Ten Top Poetry Books of 2008. Her poems have appeared in New LettersI-70 ReviewThorny LocustFlint Hills ReviewSilver Birch Press, Amethyst ArsenicCoal City Review, Phantom Drift, Ekphrastic Review (Egyptian Challenge), The Same, Tittynope ZineBare Root Review, Rockhurst Review, Black Bear Review, 15 anthologies, and other lit zines. Three of her seven novels have been published. Poetry is her way of singing. She taught writing and literature at UMKC for 18 years, MCC-Longview, and teaches Criminal Law, Criminal Procedure, and other criminal justice classes for Blue Mountain Community College, Pendleton, Oregon. Visit her on Facebook and on Amazon.