Pretty Fences speaks to neighbors and boundaries, tensions and bonds - including a transient home next door (When they moved they took their fence with them) and clashing between closed but inner facing garage doors separated by an alley: mine and the KKK headquarters (Indianapolis, IN).
Just Upward Looking
For several years, the margins of an alley with face-to-face garage doors carried much more weight than our double-lot fenced in front yard. Such space offered my one hundred pound black Lab/German Shepard mix much freedom from his previous confining cable run. I began to rely on him as a protector and enabler. After four years of front yard freedom, the Shepherd guardian in him proved effective when he jumped the fence in my defense. Animal Control detained my beautiful guardian for several weeks.
In response, that week our wall went up. Six-foot high panels fully enclosed the small backyard. Beneath the dirt and grass, a one thousand pound concrete barrier sealed the parameter and imprisoned my protector. No digging out! No jumping over! Just upward looking. Behind fences neighborly conversations ceased, for awhile.
NEIGHBORING UNITED KNIGHTS KKK
An alleyway separated us—that and their garage door, same blue as the sky. The roof of this garage projected toward the sky as if to signal powers above, similar to the peaking white-cloaked hoods used to conceal their identities. Colonial tunes often retreated from the garage, as did members to recruit the new comers. Our arrival to the neighborhood opened the garage door for a day.
“The neighborhood is cleaning up!” greeted a young clan member. “Used to be rough ‘round here. It’s more white now than it’s been in years. Did you see we have a body shop in the garage? We can do ya some good work cheap if you need it.”
The Head Dragon eyed us as if sizing our ‘costume’ measurements with an unoiled jointed measuring stick. Uneasy about eye contact, my direction drifted toward the interior east wall of the garage to four letters sprayed red with paint, “KKKK”.
I NEED TO SEE YOUR LIPS SPEAK
(DID YOU SAY)
ARTIFICE IS PRETTY?
Behind fences neighborly conversations ceased, for awhile. Observing the effect of connected boundaries, my west neighbor, Permanent-Pat, provoked our boundary often, lofting questions over the fence like, “Are fences pretty?” he mumbled one day. I wasn’t sure if he was speaking to me or to someone on his side, but I bounced back, “Sorry Pat, I need to see your lips speak, did you say, artifice is pretty?” Peeking his eyes over, Pat rephrased, “Fences, do they protect, or are they just a false front for effect … pretty fences?”
“Well, I grew up without fences but neighbors were far way. As a child I felt isolated and lonely, I would play loner games and role-play. I’d holler and pretend to be Tarzan, and since nobody could hear me it’s as though it never really happened – like the tree in the forest paradox. As an adult surrounded by fences, I still feel the distance. It’s noisy distance though. Have you ever heard that a Bullroarer is the sound of distance?”
“Yeah, and the cattle guard is paid hourly,” Pat added.
THE DARK SIDE WE NEVER SEE WHEN IT IS IN OUR MOUTH
“My mother helped me wrap my tooth in cotton we collected from a neighboring farm. Then I couldn’t see my tooth and couldn’t think about anything except wondering what the dark side looked like, you know the side we never see when it is in our mouth. And then the tooth had to go under my pillow, which further distanced it from me. So I tried to stay awake to unwrap my tooth for the tooth fairy. But I missed her.”
WE ALL BEGAN WITHOUT BONES IN OUR BODY
Stare long and you’ll turn to stone. This I grew up wishing. In sleep people were statues. I could study their frozen expressions like a photo. I could mock them back. I could pose them poking their own eyes… She didn’t see it that way. To her I was competing and maybe staring back. But I was the laundry basket holding all that is worn and soiled, trying to make my way to the washer: to erase the evidence and mend each day. Only my needle could not hold thread. The eye was too small. Such needles were better suited for plucking splinters from little fingers and palms.
I WONDER IF ALL THAT HUNCHING INSIDE THE PLAYHOUSE CHANGED ME?
My escape was to the playhouse down the hill between the house and a gully. It was built of raw lumber, including the swing seats, so splinters were a part of play, daily. The slide was made of a metal sheet that would stain our pants gray when sliding down, so we would protect our pants by sitting on a towel. The steps loosened over time and eventually only one did not flip over, so we learned to balance our weight on the supporting two-by-fours that framed the incline. The shingles were attached using a nail gun, and the nails punched through the ceiling over one-inch deep, exposing our heads to sharp nail tips. I wonder if all that hunching inside the playhouse changed me?
INVERTED VERSUS VERSIONS & BROKEN HEADLIGHT GLASS
When I was born the only picture taken of me was an inking impression of my feet. When I was five I passed through a mirror and saw the whole world in reverse. The clock at 3 o'clock was an E. 9 became a P. And 6 a d. But I was dyslexic. I always thought the d was a b, and all the furry animals inside the mirror thought I was funny. I liked the mirror. It helped me relate with others. It helped me read. It helped me see. One day I realized that I would never get to see my own face. At least I would never see my face like other people do. It would always be flat and opposite from what other's see. How unfair! But maybe it allows us to live with ourselves. I wonder if identical twins like themselves. At least they have each other. I knew a photographer who spent her whole life taking pictures that she never saw outside of the viewfinder of her camera. It wasn't until after her death that her photos were discovered, and everyone except her saw what she saw - except what she saw was either upside down and flat or the real face of someone who to her was not flat.
IF WE ADDED HEAVY METALS TO OUR INK (bRONZE WITH STARS & ACORNS)
I wonder whose graffiti will outlast us? I wonder … if we added heavy metals to our ink would it never fade even when the cardboard degrades … Sometimes I think I should make a stamp out of it, but then the replication and repetition and exactness of my mark Is predictable and boring. That’s worse than perfect to some: If boring is not having anything to show or to tell. And no expression. Or reaction. Or relation.
Bronze doors of the ancient Roman senate (Curia Hostilia) taken from the Roman forum and restored and placed in 1660 in the Lateran Basilica de San Giovanni (Rome, Italy).
THEY ARE GIVEN EVERYTHING THEY NEED, EVEN A SALT BLOCK
Once I heard a bellowing cow from a distance, so I ventured toward the distressing sound to find her standing at the cattle guard. I looked around, fearing she lost her calf on the other side. But that little doggie was just scared by the dark bottomless shadows below and won’t cross. I wondered if cows could balance the rungs and cross, what type of barrier would replace it? And then someone told me that painting black and white stripes on pavement would work equal to cattle guards, but paint wouldn't stick to a dirt or gravel road. Besides, instinct would lend some reason to stay inside the fence. Being afraid of the space between is a means to survive. Maybe they are just content where they are. Grazing cattle, domesticated and all, don’t have to hunt for survival. They are given everything they need, even a salt block.
GOLD WHITE / BLACK BLUE
take me out | ugh | ah
i think it's black and blue | can i have some ice
that steel heel hit me right in the eye
gold and white | black and blue
ice! ahh ooh | what? Yeah!
i kicked myself with these gold boots right in the eye
the white it's actually reflector - at night you'll see me
gold and white | black and blue
what do you think? it still works.
no i can only see in black and white
oh black and gold
oh black and blue
yeah you can't see me at all
won't be long I can't see you
11th place! wow! i'll just pin it right here.
WITHOUT EYES IT CANNOT SEE ME
You see this doll head is shattered
It makes great sound but is no longer pretty
Without eyes it cannot see me
It’s hair is hollow inside
It no longer throws like a ball
(a matte of curly blond plastic hair)
Reminds me of a mini tumbleweed
But when she throws it, It just stays
It might roll but won’t bounce
And definitely won’t tumble
But if I step on it without shoes I will surly tumble
PRETTY FENCES (MIRROR MILK & DOPPELGANGERS
Many squatters settled in during the months prior to the fence builder’s presence. In and out, up and down, back and forth.
Wavering. Wandering. Shifting. Hiding. Offering.
Soon after the fence was built, the neighbor disappeared along with the Head Dragon of the KKK Klan and the inhabitants of their headquarters located directly behind my home. The FBI takedown reported it as a Dog Fighting Ring gone down.