Marc Beaudin on the Shovel Rights Movement

The Shovel Rights Knock Knock Joke


for Mike Cloud Devine

“We defend the right of the shovel to not dig its own grave.”

                                                                        –Mike Cloud Devine

We hold this truth to be self-evident:

That we are endowed by the Universal and Cosmic Dance of Creation,

by the Eternal song on the lips of the Mother of all that’s green except money,

by Odin who hung himself from the World Tree to wrench the Runes from the hands of      the Nameless & bring us poetry,

by the simple fact of our existence,

we are endowed with certain unalienable rights

that among these are Life, Liberty & the pursuit of not Happiness, but True Bliss

& more than that–


We have the right to a star-filled night sky,

a sunset unscarred by smog & contrails,

& a horizon free of smokestacks, reactors and radio towers


We have the right to mud between our toes,

snowflakes on our tongues,

& Spring-drunk air in our lungs


We have the right to our rivers & aquifers

free of pipelines,

our minds free of corpraganda,

& our airwaves free of hate


We have the right to dance awkwardly, to sing out of tune,

to make fools of ourselves & be politically obscure,

to think globally & act up,

to make a mockery of all that is holy,

& to hold sacred the most ridiculous forms of tomfooleric shenanigans


We have the right to use words like “tomfooleric” in our poems


We have the right to work or not work,

to do work that does not turn us into robots

or zombies or products or hazardous waste sites


To do work that brings beauty & comfort & pride & illumination

& to stop work anytime the streets need the vote of our bodies & voices


We have the right to our shovels,

to use them to dig potatoes, firepits or graves for tyrants

to build sand castles where no king is welcome

to bang them together & call it music,

to lay them down and call it a strike,

to raise them up & call it revolution,

to drive them into the ground & call it

“Knock, Knock?”

“Who’s there?”


“Chickens who?”

“Chickens coming home to roost.”

Marc Beaudin is the author of The Moon Cracks Open: A Field Guide to the Birds and co-owner of Elk River Books in Livingston, Montana. He can be reached at

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