by Mike Johnson

From the porch you can see the encroaching wildness
coming over the fence in our backyard.
Some of the verdant wads are Virginia creeper, honeysuckle, blackberry,
poison ivy, poison oak,
some is
no-freaking idea but may still break the fence boards with its heft.
It’s beyond trimming back.
I can hack at this thicket wall and try to tame it, but it’s always there
coming through the cracks between the boards.

We had this fence put up the first week we lived here,
erected by a handier friend and his brother.
We planted the fence within a property easement
that we were supposed
to maintain and keep clear.
It’s basically an overgrown ditch that stays full of standing water year-round
and is home to untold flesh-eating bacteria and mosquito larvae.

It’s a jungle, the heart of darkness,
and from our first enhancement as property owners,
we violated the deed
and our neglect and oversight allowed this
habitat to

With the fence, we try to keep things in and out.
Wild critters big and small come to the tall, factory-treated wooden border
and try to vault over, hoping to sink their teeth
and pincers and mandibles into
the sweet spoiled hides of our dogs
who charge the fence when we let them out and bark madly
at the alien noises coming from the other side.

I quit drinking for 14 months
to feel the straight and narrow…
built a fence of sobriety and beat back my own issues
that were coming over the
I eventually got tired of it and dipped back in,
feeling finally in control.
The first buzz brought back the inner voice,
the dirty dark self that seems to float up on a high booze tide,
my horse-whispered, domestic side welcomed him home.

Beyond the woods is the highway.
It brings weary commuters and vacationers to and from
sun blasted beach homes that are anchored temporarily
into the shifting dunes of vanishing islands.
From our yard
you can hear the faint thrum
of the traffic and it always gives
any sedentary moment
a nimbus of motion, a blur,
a reminder that this too is impermanent
and that the highway beyond
the mowed yard and the fence and the patch of woods
will be beachfront in a dozen generations.

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