A Kingdom of Walls

1 September 2013

The walls have ears
but it isn’t enough
just to hear. They think
if one listens, he, too, must take
his turn to speak

so they decide to grow
mouths for celebrating
the proliferation of their kind:
chain-link fences that separate
your lawn from mine
pink-painted railings that keep
the cars in line
agave hedges that deter
stray animals and thieves
or even picketers who convince
the unwary to fall in.

And when the walls wish to sleep
they simply hiss shush-shush
to the labandera waking her children
for a breakfast of salt, muck and grass;
the man who curses
as his wallet is snatched;
the builders banging away
at new sheet iron homes—
Oh, even the bustling slums
the walls have trained, shut up
and when someone tries to climb over
telltale mouths just click their tongues
and the police rain down ready.
Thus, the walled world lies content,
forbidding, no one may speak,
no one may pass.

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