The Underground

Following a Deep Green Resistance workshop, led by Derrick Jensen and Lierre Keith.


An intensive on taking down civilization
bouncing off firewalls and barbed wire
for three days
and losing
I walk into the woods
The trees take me
by bite
Late May green shines
on all the stories told so far
& our questions
braiding into silence
Generations of humans
splitting atoms
splitting eves
Budding trees hypnotize the high prairie sky
full of daylight
hiding flowers of starfields for later
and — (you * especially you * know this) —
we need a different ending

Empty your pockets of impossible wishes
this culture won't shift without a shove
And i’ve hidden my longing
to hand myself over to this land that's learned me so well
Carbon-based primitive
in a silicon world
But i can name green unfurling kites
of willow, dogwood, alder, aspen
memory coded by spaces and shapes
head stuffed full patterns, rituals
revolutionary strategies
tactics of the underground
Be the fulcrum, the pivot
and the fuse

and I wanted to be your servant, Life
I been keening a spiral song
junkyard dog orbiting a rusting stake
wearing a circle track
at the end of a steel chain
till i drop the rusting links 
over the grass all worn away
rush into the fray
sword drawn

It's a time of thick cocoons stretched like bats
hung between flowering sticks
heavy with spring-thumping life
and i can feel my tail stronger now
My heart wants escape from the real world
my guts the guts of an animal
stare at
the worms working free
Sun beats on a thrillion sticky strands of ten thousand chrysalises
ready to hatch out and eat chokecherry leaves
who are ready to die to be part of this miracle.

And i was ready to die already
but no such luck, sucked back with
so much work to do
Caterpillar rises to devour what she can reach
What can i reach?
Arms and heart extended
tiniest toeholds calling me to act
What physics of devotion to bring
which furious silver waters
down like who's blessing?

The three teachers split us into groups,
posed simple questions
How To Stop Them, in many iterations
and off we were sent to midwife answers
(so sure of our minds' power to find answers)
Blasted down from heights
we laddered our unhinged minds to climb
girders of imagination, scaffolds of daring
our hugest unmasked urgencies
beating a clock inside and outside
our fragile bodies

And nothing.
Nothing to stop them
and the world dies all day long while we reach to stop them
—creatures, land-bases, air, watersheds die
For three days we reached, flinging our spirits
high as we could
& got hung up there
part of me
up there dangling still
and forever.

Today i’m reaching alone
Testing the lever of my own arm and heart
saying Us and meaning it
these trees, this river and me are Us
and it’s time to get serious
Cos i been sideways in this world too long––
A greenhouse isn't a garden.
A garden isn't a rainforest.
Unquiet inside as leaves
I go underground in my mind
crawling through darkness, practice pivots in my cells
be a winch, an assassin, a silent vapor
Wanna throw the night around my shoulders
throw myself over the loudest rapids of May
yell my life out in one long call
not knowing if what returns is an answer
or an echo

Moving out, pollen on the winds
from a workshop that shattered certainty
detonating this next level of struggle
wrapped inside a prayer for magic
Moving out to defend
geranium, butterfly, bear
new spring leaves in every forest

Thorns on roses glitter
skyscraper of mountain
dares me in vast verticality
to stop them
Tower of trees vibrating messages in code
to pass along, not alone
Stop Them.
Coded explosives
viruses uncoil
hurricanes roar through the nests
Stop them! Stop them! Stop them!
Just blood pushing against thought
How many years? How many decades?
How much will be left
when we finally decide?

My heart turning over and over in the spring-somersaulted air
The how is harder now, the fear more meat
pit of questions shoveled in with brutal details
History and the future converged in that room
a faint current connects us still
like being stuck to an electric fence
neither able to let go nor hold on
simply present
to be ancestors
of a world where martyr means witness
to take our future place among the incoherent buds
felled in summer drifts beneath the ancient sun

I catch sight of the question limping behind us —
Was it worth it —
the torn-open veins, the brutalized hearts—
one drop of my blood the crimson dew on every blade of sprouting grass
And I would trade my life for any tree in the forest
so much safety in our world that safety's become the source of danger
universities teach the unified theory of nothing
our hopeful youth crawl through those doors 
emerge contaminated
greedy, indebted & numb
completing that journey
begun with one

By the awakened river
broken spruce sprouts a new crawl of trunk
pumps out cerise nipples of cones
breath stacked in stones
It’s all code i crack between aging teeth
Moss waits years to exhale
and begin again
I step into the form of fighter
familiar archetype
like river, chrysalis, evergreen
Life’s a rolling explosion
if you're awake
truth smashes into you like an iceberg
and even if your heart's built like a Mayan pyramid
you go down
Haunted by lost things with false stories whispering
i want.. i want..
I bed down most night, satisfied with this life
while the lichens lie down
in defiance of gravity
How to press into home like that
heart-first to stone?
Mother, lover, lie down with me like this
tap coded victory stories out of my bark
let it flow like maple syrup into pails
squeeze me till it all comes out sweet
and true

Building warrior culture
with buds of books
with spring words, summer words
to keep the people warm in winter
Give me my Muse
and a passion that does not pass
this is my chance
to climb through the flames till i am the fire
smooth as a tube to listen through
what old land is calling?
Decipher messages of ancestors
not necessarily mine
a chorus of voices asking—
How far down can one person reach
from the edge of too late
towards the luminous bones
of some dreamt-of

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