Crickets and All
by Mark Walling

    They think it's bad in the city,
    tell them to come out here. Cars fly
    by a hundred miles an hour
    and my kids in the yard. I wire
    the gate, but you can't be sure,
    so I laid seven big stones across
    the road. First one hit them
    sounded like it knocked the front
    end out. They slowed down.

    That ain't the half of it.
    We been ripped off, twice.
    None of us was home, thank God,
    but they took it all, even the kids'
    Fisher Price tape recorder.
    Sheriff looks but it's a big county.
    Insurance didn't pay half the cost,
    then raised our rates. Country
    folks turning into bad risks,
    he said. I told him what I
    thought. He sent me a check,
    then a bill.

    Last week, I look out
    and see this nut with a shaky
    hand and a gun in our yard,
    screaming. We got neighbors
    cooking drugs and he thought our
    house was theirs. I hid the kids,
    locked the door, waited on the couch
    with a .12 gauge. He went away.

    Now I make sure little Josh and Samantha
    are in before sundown. We wait
    for Daddy who tends the calves after
    eight hours at the tire plant.
    We eat, wash, watch TV, then try to hear
    the crickets in the midst of it all.

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