fiction · poetry · Uncategorized

Notes for Ferguson

“You fail calling this eternal

You’ve mistaken its strength

It was mine, that moment

The temporary terror


The aged wood

An ephemeral condition”



Time flows backwards

As we walk it not the woods

We imagine the past and in imagining we make it untrue

Vergessen. Ferguson

It was true

The sun danced through the trees

The leaves stuck to his shoe

The ground was hard and frosty when he lay down to sleep


We sit in the quiet

We ask how it started

He pokes the stick in the fire

“The world just unraveled”

Was it the politics we ask

And he laughs but doesn’t answer

“Did you start the protest?”

And he said no


“If there had been a place to stop”

He says quietly

“I would have stopped

But they kept changing the rules”



For I was there

in the woods

Behind our bungalow tavern,

the forest

Welcome to this story

Welcome to this bungalow

Where we live

And behind us

The woods

Where I lived

with Ferguson

for I was there


Here Where he first fled

With a few men

And lived and built an army

And I was part of that army

That defeated the guardsmen

and saved our liberty


Behind s the woods, the forest

Where he hid with a few men and

Lived , like a primitive  and created warriors

That could defeat an army of tanks

and helicopters and missles


And this is our story, for I was there when many homes

Shared this land

Where many families lived

our bungalow tavern

And is now alone

At the edge of the woods, forest


More than seventeen years

Since the guard came to arrest him

And fifteen years since

A night, like this night, chill wet and windy

When he crossed the canal

And thirteen since he went south


Perhaps I should tell you about crossing the canal first

Though it was not the thing that came first

I can tell you about the man

For he was not first a warrior

Bu lived quiet and wealthy with his family


Or I can tell you of the battle of the yards

Which started a revolution

He started  and finished this revolution

And if the leaders have failed in so many ways since then

We should thank him that they had any chance at all


Or I could tell you how he built his army, how he kept alive in the snows of the first year, in the forest. But you understand fatest and believe best

About crossing the canal

Because it was a night like this

With no moon

And the damp of autumn

And volatile wind

When he crossed he canal


Winter was promised

Like it comes now

Food was uncertain

And many more mouths

Our position was one of constant movement

We fought skirmishes

Which were almost practice



As the guard kept arrogantly attacking us

Held our position but could neither improve it or defeat them

We were not an army

That night not yet

We felt brave that we held them

But vergeson knew

They would wear us down

and the cold would finish us off


Quiet you fools

He says in urgent whisper

Stay out of the water

If you get wet, you won’t be warm or dry

For a long time

And the water makes noise


The canal is balck slab in the moonless night

It has little current

And might be a road

In these  days without light


The boats are there, parallel to the bank, under the brush

I am shore crew  2 of us per boat We wait for the first wave to arrive,

I tied the rope to the back of the boat. They quietly suddenly  mass

into 10 boats go

almost 100 men.

, I steady it as they get on. I look at a face, it is grim. These are the most exposed, Ferusson says, the first to land. I think I may look onto a dead man.


I hand him a pole and pantomime

push across the canal,

but with a finger to my lips to tell him to keep the silence.

I show him the rope colied in the front of the boat


I pantomime pulling. He knows the plan. The men are loaded.

I see tall Fergussen push the first boat with a pole and the crew putting gpole into the water. There is little spashing but any at all seems to shake the night itself


to push to give  poles to first crew move quietly across

In one movement if they cross at once

Ferguson’s plan slow and with pole quiet, no oars

I ld onto my rope and See him watching as the boats move staggered to the other side.


Several boats empty quietly

Till one man slips falls into the water

Making more nosie as he recovers and pulls himself out.

All movement stops.  We all take cover

Boats are pulled to the banks and under brush

And we wait, as per contingency, knowing the first wave is completely exposed, some boats still witing

We listen then

The wind relieves the terrible silence

But masks what is to be heard.

We wait too long and every motion seems premature

I’m crouched behind the bushes.


Finally he gives the signall and they finish unloading,

I ge the signal and pull the boat back to my side

Tempted to hurry knowing uneven pulls bring noise.

The next wave masses asquietly ad the first. They load and the first group begins to drag them across uses it’s rope to pull them across

Then next to pull with ropes from either side





Leaves move and all there are are leaves

Mud is hidden and visible

Boots softly combine

make a din that no one can hear


but vergessen tells us is not quiet

we are all aware

trying out our bravery

considering when we might choose cowardice


and the sun splinters and we move

we always move


the first days were the longest

we came one by one

few were at the fight

in the yards

when fergeesen made the guardsmen run

a few were hurt and two killed

but there were few who followed him to the forest


so we built a troop

one by one and he told us what to do

we kept moving, we buried what we used

god we buried everything


.           The water was cold and Anderson was careful not to step in it.  He did not want a wet boot that would remain wet a day or more. He held onto a supple branch and leaned forward until the boat got close enough. He stepped up and over the side and only when he was sure he was in did he bring his other foot aboard.

“Careful.” He said in a loud whisper. “You don’t want wet feet.” His words broke the silence, broke his own order. But no one else said a word.

All down the canal, the scene was being repeated. Groups were readying to cross. 18 assorted boats, most 9 or 12 foot long skiffs but  a couple larger, capable of taking 20 men the 200 yards from one bank to the other. These were closest to his own, the boat farthest east and the first to go.

Anderson couldn’t have asked for better conditions. While cold, normal for November, the clouds were high and the quarter moon provided just enough light to form dull shadows. Each boat was to be about 100 yards apart. When a group saw the boat to the east get to the halfway point of the canal, they would push off.  There would be no more than two boats in the water at once. They would reconnoiter at the center of the line, in the densest part of the woods. A second group would come after the bulk of the troops had secured a camp. The were at a location inland, instructed to wait a half hour and if there was no gun fire to move into place to meet for the second crossing. They were his best fighters, A Platoon. Finally there were some supplies and support, kids and old men, who would come last.  Almost 1200 would come across.

The choice of who to leave to the second and third crossings was one of those tactical decisions that required him to guess rather than know which was the best course of action. There was little he had read about describing this kind of decision making in battle. His gut feeling was that if ambushed, the first groups would be all but wiped out so it would be best to leave the “A”s intact to fight again. They were also by far the most independent of his people.  If all went well, chances are they would be able to cross too. This was tempered by the thought that the longer the operation went on the more likely it was to be detected.

Similarly, he had thought his own crossing. He could go at the beginning, in the middle or at the last.  The immediate question was when was it most dangerous. There was the possibility of detection at the first, the unknown aspect of the crossing, but also the exposure that came with time. But that, like most things, had to be subordinated to the issue of leadership. In fact while he thought about what was the safest course, there was really no decision when it came right down to it.

He watched for his son on the bridge. Erik at 11 and smallish was safe from being shot at, probably, and if caught, would probably avoid any severe interrogation. Anderson sometimes wished he would be captured. He carried a small painter’s tarp that he was to unfurl and drop off the bridge as the signal.  His confidence in the boy had grown in the past weeks. He had stopped whining and had taken on more and more complicated tasks. He had lost weight, like everyone, but whereas he was once a chubby kid he was now physically capable to keep up with the troops. He was more responsible, his father trusted him more than some of the men. Anderson was proud of his son. But every good thing the boy did reminded him of his brother Erhard.

He waited for the signal. He wanted it to come but it wasn’t time yet. The wind blew the last of the leaves around. They would need more blankets. It was going to get colder soon. Their world was going to change again. They had used the forest preserves as their home for 7 months. The leaves gave visual and audio cover. Not only would bare trees increase visibility, the snow would leaves tracks. The woods were extensive, but also proximate to residential areas, which he guessed early on made it difficult for them to use some of their bigger their weaponry. This dictated tactics.



The fight was over at about 6:30, after dark had fallen. He ordered a pull back, knowing they had inflicted damage and given them another set back. He thought about the possibility of moving forward; he judged there were only a handful of troops ion front of them. He wanted their weapons and their ammunition and he wanted them. The were converting troops at high rates now and those not interested had value too. They were turned over to the newspapers in the small towns where they could be interviewed before the authorities could arrive. They would tell the story of the capture, their treatment, usually a statement from Anderson pinned to their backs. HE thought for a minute about going forward but felt content to give the order to fall back. The fire died as they did so and so he knew they were scared and happy to escape. He thereby knew he could have taken them.

The groups pulled back and scattered by procedure, fanning back and away form the battle  and after a half mile turning left. After another ½ mile they looked for shelter/  This was by all means approximate, but kept them both spread sufficiently  apart and yet close.


His route brought him very near a house. A man named Carl was in his band and he said this was a cooperative house. He sent him ahead and Carl said it was okay to use the  basement. He sent boys out to check with the other groups. The two closest were invited to stay as well. But the two on the frthest left off the line were not found. The bed was small in spare bedroom

In the corner of the dank basement. He was tired and had not heard from several groups he began to think and plan about how to double back, who should go, what they would do if they ahad been attacked and what they would do if they had been captured. He checked the inventory list of who had what information and equipment.  When he thought he had these things settled, he planned the tactics for the next morning. They needed to laterally reconnoiter, to take damage reports and deal with injuries. The policy had been established to take both dead and seriously wounded to local homes, friendly if possible, but to homes nonetheless and leave them there, wherer they could be processed un whatever may come. The decision to leave a man was one of the hardest to make on several level. First it meant that a man might be captured or turned in. They often begged not to be ‘doorstepped’ and made it feel like a betrayal. He could lose a soldier but often be setting them up for torture. Rumor was out that torture was now being used, mostly by the covert operatives, not the official channels. Finally he thought it weas terrible for morale to separate anybody from the group. Cohesion and continuity were there own virtues. Doorstepping someone was a reaffirmation of their vulnerability.


They were broken into bands and his group slept in His hips hurt all the time; there was not have the flesh to support him on hard surface and the so he slept on his back and poorly. His snoring was legendary without adding to his legend. He offered it first to his son who said no and offered it back to him. Another example of his selflessness. And the rest of the men would not take it either. He stayed up and planned.

With notoriety came offers to sleep in beds. He did it only once.

that could be detected from the air. The internet had broken down but they were always promising to get it back up.




Notes for the battle


Necessary to find the food and ammunition additional supplies

Winter is coming

The enemy is distracted, the middlers wars are not going well


When I see him I see him in the dark by the dark water, in December, before, when, before when we celebrated Christmas. We are at the canal. He is talking about crossing the canal.  It is cold and moonless and it is just the two of use tomorrow would be a perfect night, moonless, for crossing the canal. He tapped me on the shoulder and said to come to the canal. I did not know what would happen that night but I was happy to go because he asked me.  I did not know what would happen the next day and the day after that but I was happy he knew me and happy he asked me to go to the canal.


It is cold and moonless and we walk through the wood silently. We pass through the perimeter and head south. The brush is dry and brittle and while it hardly slows, in the dark it scratches my face and pokes my eyes. I do not wish to fall behind, I want him to think of me as an adequate companion  or guard or whatever I was.


We call the th emiddlers first you know, he called them that first. He knew them welll because he was just like them, one of them a wealthy man though he said he was not, an important man and he said he was not. He was the mayor of a town on the edge of the woods and a trstee of the preserve.


When I see him I see him  in the dark by the water, in December, before, when, before when we celebrated Christmas. We are crossing the canal.  It is cold and moonless a perfect night to move troops, men and boys and not an army yet though soon he tells us and soon we will be. He boats are spaced the troops are staged. He waits for his son on the bridge to wave and we wait for his order. We take care not to step in the water or say a word.


We are anxious but desperate to be in battle, to show him that we are ready and apt and show the middling mob we can do these things. We wait our turn to cross in the cold. We have been attacked and retreated and ran and he tells us that is finished.  In two days we will attack and we fight a battle. prevail. We can fight an army, a once great army and show them they are wrong and kill them in the cold and watch them bleed in the snow and but we will look in them in the eye and convert them, too. And do it because we are right and because we are the new army and because he is our leader.

His orders are clear and he will give the signal. The boats stolen and borrowed will ferry across 3000 men. The woods across are dark and while we have moved through out the woods we have not seen the otherside of the canal. He sees me and smiles but does not break his own order but his look tells me he has read my mind as he reads all our minds and he knows my fears of the forest ahead. But if he says we should go, I will go. His opinion is stronger than anything I could believe. He is the hero of the battle of Parkside, the man who lead us and is now the leader of the rebellion. He is forever tthe first man to say to the no. I always think he is right.





When I see him I see him at the canal, in December, before, when, before when we celebrated Christmas. He is crossing the canal



When I see him I see him  crossing the canal, in December, before, when, before when we celebrated Christmas. He is crossing the canal against the advice of the men he trusts. He has convinced, through his tranquility, his council, men who should be enemies who believe none of the same things but they believe him. We have no navy not an army yet though soon he tells us and soon we will be.


We will find boats and rafts and cross the canal at the new moon. We  march the men through the woods for 2 days and attack the garrison at La Grange. If we move quickly, cover our tracks and attack at once with a strong force, we will take the position and all the supplies. It will require discipline that is new to many and it requires the movements of a professional force.  It is risky, it is aggressive, but we simply must. The other leader then talk of supplies, of how low and bullets too, blankets and where to get more and how to keep warm with the cold weather coming.


Z allows them to discuss the how of the winter, staying alive and defending ourselves. Buttran, who brought many men and who many wanted to follow at the beginning, describes the uncertainty of the crossing, the hike and the assault. Seward, who believes in the land, wants to move deeper into the forest and build shelters. I watch Z, and I think others do too. He is here by the fire and can hear the words, but his certainty has put him someplace else. He stares at the ground listening and I know that he has determined the course.


The plan I described will not be easy he said to them. Shall we, wait here in the cold? We are safer here to be sure and  we know the land and how to defend it, The supplies may support us. Deer may last until the spring. Men should have more than meat but it can keep them alive. Gout will kill only me. Blankets will be enough if it doesn’t become too cold. Bullets are low, how many attacks could we withstand. But these are all issues for debate and I think these are not the things that will determine our fate. I know I have asked your patience and you have granted me that. We have acquired and trained the men, not an army yet though it may soon be. But men can retreat for only so long. And either we become an army or no. If we Winter here we may survive but we will not have a force to fight. Men will leave. Many, most could rejoin the middle. Some will. We are all here to fight for our country, to bring it back. Fighting will make men stay. Supplies will give us choices. Victory brings volunteers and the love of the people. Boldness will bring converts. We will have an army and we will be able to fight.


HE spoke these words there was nothing but silence. There was no interruption. Regulars came and listened, he felt no need for secrecy and he feared no dissent. Some pulled close for he spoke clearly but softly. There was no plea there was no exhortation. But when he was finished it was obvious. Buttran, who brought many men and who many wanted to follow at the beginning, was the only one to speak. But when he opened his mouth he was no longer Z.s rival. He was lieutenant to the general.  For it was obvious to him. He said , “How should we do it?”



I joined them three days after Parkside, much to my constant disappointment. I was a young man, I am not as old as I seem now. I was a young man and I didn’t understand why the guard would come to our town. I knew his name he was mayor but I didn’t know him at all. I had a sense that the there was something wrong, that the world was changing but the idea of a battle never occurred to me. I was at home and listened and would not leave. He fought them with about 50 men from the town hall to his own home, finally defeating the company but not before his own house was destroyed. I sat home and listened to the battle. That cowardice drove me to the woods. But the words and the story were on everyone’s lips

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