The Mycelium Undercommon

The Mycelium Undercommon


The Mycelium Undercommon
After George Ella Lyons

I’m from the black red chestnut oak
bitternut pignut hagbark
black red sugar silver
maple walnut paw
paw paw paw paw

White oak, white oak

I am from occupied land
where the Miami and Delaware
and Potawatomi and Shawnee

are past present and future stewards

I am from an occupied land
which whiteness pretends it can own

I am from land which cannot be owned

From the wolves that howled these hills
Their exhalations like specters metastasizing
in morning’s black limitless open

I am from the sheerly possible, from the
always morphing and shifting and flowing
from the impossible made from nowhere

from between in betweens betweenness

I am from the feet
that steeped this loamy clay long
before it was settled w chains
and concrete and electric
that stuttered across wires
w shoelaces dangling
worn down Chucks

From y’all
because it expands gender
and yins and you you you
Always you

From the tabbys that maunder
6th street sidewalks sideways
mewing for hands

From the alleys and backroads
and every queer liminal zone
that allows new earths come rise

From the hands I’ve nearly held
every time I’ve bought figs

From the sky, goddamn the ineffable sky

From the lungs that gave back to the cedars
and the bluff that flows with creeks clear
as stars exploding and the river dog
who presses their cheek into yrs tenderly
on a day you wanted to die

From bodies that return to soil
riding underground rivers and sinkholes
back home

From the river otters whittling sassafras
with their seething chompers
smiling as they slither downstream

From future old growth forests
teeming w ancient molecules

From the same water
in which the wooly mammoth
also bathed
That sustained us both
our bodies our lungs our eyes
slick with wetness like car tires
spinning and the great blue herons
singing w the river in twilight
and the sandhill cranes
and the praying mantises
unfurling from nests
like self-standing calculators

I am from the leaves
that fell into the crick
that bloom bright just before they die
not a firework but a bleeding
an offering to the soil
which is everything

From the red elm roots holding hands
in the mycelium undercommon
despite being stumped

To the mushroom
spores in the night air
glowing like fairies

I am from them and they from I

The coyote running through the cemetery
in broad daylight making eye contact
w me over their shoulder before
jumping down into the street
like off a cliff

And the sycamore leaves which
I almost just called hands
which you placed over my eyes
which helped me see the Earth better

From the futures we create in this Now

I am from the nonlinear we of time

I am from not myself

I am made from this Earth

I am from this Earth

I am this Earth

Where I’m From

Where I’m From


I am in Southern Oregon,
But I am from a long way from here
I come from Angles, Scots, 
Britons, jutes,
A little Roma, a little Moor.

I was pried up 
from where I was born 
my footsteps are scattered 
across nations—
across continents.

And now here. Oregon. 
Jackson County. Rogue Valley. 
The applegate. 
Land of the Takelma. 
Landscape of the Shasta.

A breadbasket. Pioneered, 
log cut, farm cut land 
bearded by forest,
planted with cannabis, 
grapes, and pears. 

I am from Southern Oregon. 
A red heart district 
with the water of the Rogue 
and Umpqua rivers 
as blue as anywhere 
you’d find it. 

My heart, my lungs expand 
Breathing in the cool 
autumn air, 
and the smoke 
and the ash 
of 20 years of drought.

Sonoran Desert Song

Sonoran Desert Song


Sing desert’s season of California poppies
sunrise yellow and holding up cups of blood orange light
on Yaqui and Tohono O’odham lands. 
Sing penstemon’s hot pink lipstick blooms,
lucent waxy aloe, stunted lupine singing the blues,
greasewood’s yellow flowers verdins consume,
month of mating butterflies and white-winged doves. 
Sing new desert hares and bobcat kits
mewling in our neighbor’s eaves.  Sing
cholla cactus, ocotillo’s sudden green,
sing vermillion flycatcher wings
before heat’s warriors run amok and fire
eats ponderosas and mesquites.  
Sing the births of black-chinned hummingbirds
in the drought-stricken eucalyptus tree. 
Sing coyote’s tail teasing our dog wild through chain link fence.
Sing desert surviving drought, all human greed.
Sing saguaro flowers going to flesh red fruit
doves, bats, and javelinas will eat.

Where I’m From, Marilla Park

Where I’m From, Marilla Park


Three, four, five of us
Come here twice a week
To build and mend trails
Pathways to a pool, a playground, tennis courts
But to, and for most who come this way
An end and a meandering means, both
We swing polaskis, slide shovels into dirt
To level tilted ground
Spread woodchips to turn surfaces soft
For running shoes and boots
For bicycle tires and dogs paws.
Saw the trunks of fallen cedars into steps
Which descend from the wood’s east end.
A staircase to the splendor and starkness of the seasons
Our true state motto 
Wild, wonderful, and wounded.
Our mountains beheaded
Our bedrock fractured
Our rivers poisoned with misconceptions of progress
Our work here is a way to hope
We come to these woods to see-
what can be
What must be
If we are still to be

For the Wolf at the Door

For the Wolf at the Door


While I type
         in she trots
                     out of open daylight,

a hundred pounds of girl wolf,
         her laser-gaze golden,
                     her soft ears half cocked.

When I lean down
         to rub muzzles with her,
                     sandgrains on her chin

give her away:
         She’s been
                    in the garden again,

devotedly burying bones
         or digging them up,
                     and now she’s smuggled

into the study
         with all its musty books
                     the stuff of fields and forests,

the odor of
         earth freshly stirred,
                     in a word

fertile ground!
         Bless you,
                     Lulu Garou,

You’ve done the work
         cut out for you.
                     Now let me do mine.

Poem of Place

Poem of Place


Nacido en el desierto vine a esta tierra
de los Ohlone en California,
esta bahía llamada San Francisco
por el hermano de todo.
¿Que les diría él a los alcatraces y a las grullas?
¿Haría amistad con la puma y el coyote?
¿Se compadecería del salmón?
¿Qué aprendería de la secoya y del roble?
¿De la serpentina en Monte Tamalpais?
¿De las aguas del Arroyo de las Fresas?
¿Apagaría los incendios de los bosques?

Born in the desert I came to this land
of the Ohlone in California,
this bay named San Francisco
for the brother of all.
What would he say to the pelicans & the egrets?
Would he befriend the cougar & the coyote?
Would he have pitied the salmon?
What would he learn from the redwood & the oak?
From the serpentine on Mt. Tamalpais?
From the waters of Strawberry Creek?
Would he have put out the fires of the forests?

Borderlands Childhood

Excerpts from Ghazal of a Borderlands Childhood


How Highway 83 scripts the pale grasslands at noon is home
Both driving the twists & arriving to silence & moon is home

Rattle of midnight machine guns across low hills Fort Huachuca
Bedroom window weaponized boyhood sonic booms are home

Windmill decants the aquifer in squeaks and rusted rotations
Threaded water from the faucet thirst weaving loom is home

The twisted cottonwood tree is older that the ghosts of Lochiel
Million green leaves glittering shredded Border Patrol costumes is home

Alison cups a hummingbird inside her slender prayered hands
The iridescent birdheart & the sister touch abloom is home

Standing in the checkout line deciding which language to use
No pos sí qué gusto en verte de verdad cómo estás tú is home

A deathmap a cartography of concertina unspooled across Organ Pipe
Felipe walked north through here towards a Mexica heirloom home

My children running small wordless & human through the purple arroyo sunset
White children singing this land is your land in classroom before I bring them home

The Where in My Belly

The Where in My Belly


Scientists say my brain and heart are seventy-three percent water,
they underestimate me. A small island, minisi, I emerged from 
Minnesota’s northern lakes, the where of Manooman wild rice in 
my belly, I am from boats and canoes, and kayaks, from tribal ghosts
who rise at dawn, dance like wisps of fog on water. My where is 
White Earth nation and White Pine forest. I grew up where math
was canasta, where we recited times tables while ice fishing at 
20 below. I am from old medicine barks and teas, from early, the air
damp with cedar, the crack of a myth, beaver tails on water, 
their echo now a warning to where, to where fish become
a percentage of mercury, become a poison statistic, to where 
copper mines back against a million blue acres of sacred boundary 
waters, a canoe aerial wilderness. I am from Nibi and Ogichidaakwe
women warriors and water protectors, from seed gatherers, the wet
where pulse in my belly whispers and repeats like the endless chant
of waves on ledgerock, waves on ledgerock, on ledgerock, on waves on water, 

Keepers of the Fire

Keepers of the Fire


The Potawatomi* once kept their fires
alive along these shores.
Now the fiery maples and sycamores light
the course of the Elkhart River wending its way through northern Indiana,
harboring dangerous bacteria from agricultural run-off
yet home to the muskrat, the great blue heron, and to my soul.
Flow, river, flow.
Flow justice to those who suffer because of polluted air and poisoned water.
Flow hope to those who fear it is too late to stop climate disaster.
Flow persistence to those who imagine and embody more sustainable ways to live.
Let us keep these fires—justice, hope, persistence–

*Potawatomi means “Keepers of the fire.”

Holy Ground

Holy Ground


…Trauma, and we’re also talking about the beauty of the land. And Lowndes County is extremely beautiful. You know, the trees, the animals, the insects. You know, I see the largest butterflies that I’ve ever seen, I’ve seen them in Lowndes County. And you see animals, even a bald eagle there. But the land itself has a story that has yet to be told about the trauma that has occurred, not only to its indigenous settlers who were there, who’ve probably been there since the beginning of Mother Earth, to the people that were brought there on the slave ships who intermarried and became part of the village that was built at Holy Ground. And Holy Ground is significant because it is so sacred that when you go there, you can hear the fish honoring the land by jumping out of the river. And I remember participating in a ceremony where we were not only honored by the fish but also by the birds that flew overhead. So. I think if we look at beauty and pain coexisting, we’ll find it at Holy Ground. In Alabama.