My front yard chain linked fence,
The handle that rarely comes down
Is seen from the dirt easement
Of our redwood-paneled house.
The grey wall keeps our dogs from going out
The strays, and coyotes from coming in,
Makes our house look residential.
The concrete, and boulder embedded wall
Just outside our living room screen door
Holds the hills embankment up so
Ice plant, bottlebrush, and yuccas can
Keep ground during winter rains, while
Sucking septic spills from our family
Of seven’s leach lines, but never all of it.
Rusty barbed wire wrapped
Twice around each red painted metal post
Lining the south yard behind fruitless
Grape bushes. Four taut lines across
And a fifth un-barbed, electrified line
Keep the Jackson’s cows from crossing,
Our football games bloody with cussing.
Tarred railroad ties, buried as posts,
Then hulled for fitting four by eight boards,
Hold the Kinley’s horses, some chickens in and,
Mr. Kinley, his lasso, and my father’s weight
While they decide what to plant, when to harvest,
What to raise, when to slaughter, the setting
Sun keeps their eyes from staring straight.
Used haywire wrapped around old pallets,
Tied side by side to square off space
For the pigs to roll in their shit,
To shield the sun from their pink skin.
They scratch against each splintered board,
Sometimes gnaw a sliver off but
Never get out, until their dying day.