Defending Our Shores

by Graham Rowlands

Graham Rowlands

We'd had them, but continued to have them---
half a leg or arm of one of the boys
just disappearing through the gate
with his green tennis ball. Once
one of them tried to get away
with the gate chain just for the hell of it
I suppose & a couple of times I'd swear
I didn't turn the sprinkler off, or on.

Now, with a baby just about crawling
out there on the front lawn, you
tend to hear a hard ball hit for six
like a red traffic light. I do, anyway
when the boys had been warned & were
at it again with another one over the top
& this time threatened with parents (hopeless)
& cops (clear the throat, slag)
& for her trouble, she's told she's a fucking moron.
Now I don't think she's a fucking moron
or I wouldn't have married her
but I suppose he's entitled to his
even if it's illegal to express it
& No, she doesn't want to press charges.
I'm there the next time one dints the fence
& say Good afternoon ironically as possible
& they shift their game around the corner
where I'm looking for strength in numbers
& find a neighbour's picking me plums
& complaining about their language, such language.
The boy's father died a few weeks ago &
he's failed his driver's licence five times
now, but that doesn't excuse his language.
I'm worrying about our dinner parties
& wondering about five centimetre glass
when the ball lands at our feet. No one
comes looking. Stumps, obviously.

So there's nothing left to do but thank him
for his ridiculous bag of plums, thinking
if this country were ever invaded again
the boys would be old enough to fight

& would want to & would (the excitement)
& anyway, who'd want to entrust
the defence of our shores to
the literati or the intelligensia?

Last updated September 18, 2022