The Fence

At the Community Center

We gathered together

At the appointed date and time.

The workings and bounds were explained,

Sides matched as evenly we could.

The sky was steel grey, occasionally loosing rain

This game was going to be good.


Two opposing teams of six,

Kids aged ten to thirty,

Placed their flags, in plain(ish) sight,

On two opposing hills.

The line was the road, gravel winding down between,

Bordered in the center by ditches and old fencing

On one side some trees, low shrubs, vines, and weeds

Threy, and I, and our band had Horse Hill, and

They, the enemy, from Orchard Hill to the gravel lot.


The game began. Slowly at first, testing defenses. And then


What strategy! What chaos! Feints and distractions!

What speed! What courage! Captures and rescues!


I recall, I was crouched

In a ditch, on enemy soil.

Scouting. An opening.

A sagging fence, grown over with grass.

I stood. I sprinted. I sprang!


And was flung back with all the force that had carried me forward.

Four feet at least, I flew through the air!

I didn’t feel the landing, I sat and I stared

In astonishment, in puzzlement. I was close to despair!

Where was logic? where was physics? How could this be!

What alien force changed my trajectory?


But I stared and I squinted and at last I saw.

Barbed wire unrusted, grey steel on grey sky.

To remind me of that terror, that wonder, that awe.

I still bear a scar on my inner right thigh.



At the time I felt no pain, saw no blood, played on.

But I will never forget the feeling I felt that time

When because of a fence, the world made no sense,

And for a brief instant, confounded my mind.




One Comment

  1. Danny Pres says:

    Your use of imagery is great. I played capture the flag a lot when I used to go to summer camp and you described the game really well. The first half of the poem has a lot of telling and no showing while the second half excels in showing and not telling. I think the last line in the fifth stanza uses a really useful set of alliteration “I stood. I sprinted. I sprang” and the stanza before that really picks up speed and moves the poem along with the action. However, I personally don’t think that the first stanza is quite as useful to the poem as a whole. Without it, you still establish what is going on and the setting. In the second stanza, it was unclear to me it “Threy” is the name of a friend of the speaker or just a typo of the word “they”? There are also a couple of spots there is capitalization for every line even when the thought is just a continuation of the previous line.

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