Suburbia by Kevin Cadwallender

An individual has not started living

until he can rise above the narrow

confines of his individualistic concerns

to the broader concerns of all humanity.

                           

                            – Martin Luther King, Jr.

 

 

In a garden in suburbia

a man puts a fence around

his garden, he likes to sit

in his garden and watch

the wheels turning on the

outside world.

 

his garden is roughly square

next door’s garden is an oblong.

all the gardens in the street

are different shapes, different

things happen in each garden.

 

a new family have moved in

they are different too, they knock

down all fences and take over other

people’s gardens, ruining the street.

the police stop responding to

your calls as they have more

important things to do.

 

the nice single parent from two doors

down has asked if she can pitch a tent

on your lawn and you agree to this

and even take out takeaways for

the children. It’s not as if you can’t

afford it.

 

pretty soon all the street is camped

in your garden and the neighbours

who ruined it all are burning down

their own garden and throwing stones

at the people in yours.

 

soon there is nothing left to do but

leave the street and seek refuge in

neighbouring streets as your street

is unrecognisable now and just not safe.

 

the other streets have set up

a neighbourhood watch but it’s too late.

they don’t want problems like that

in their streets which are still safe.

the neighbourhood watch have gone

into your street to negotiate with the

family that has ruined it but they are

beaten up and don’t want anymore trouble.

 

you could raise an army with all your neighbours

and storm the street, recapture it but everyone is

hungry now and tired of living between streets

and anyway half of your numbers are children.

 

a prosperous street a few miles away

has offered you a place but you are trapped

between streets that won’t let you pass or let you in

and can’t decide what to do next, occasionally

they throw stones, some days food.

 

important people are talking about you

they all say it’s a crisis and look good

through the television shop window.

but none of them seem to make a decisive

move or sometimes they get a gang of lads

to throw stones at the people still in your street.

which is unrecognisable now and just not safe.