They barely rest, heads bowed, eyes begging.
Their whole body flinching in the heat,
front legs kneeling to the monotony.
They heave against the sagging fence
which marks the boundary between
those who have and those who haven’t.
They sleep with one eye twitching sideways,
guarding their peninsula. Even in winter,
they keep apart. For summer they are shaven,
exposing every scar and tidal stretch mark
of their scrawny-thug legs, brick heads,
swollen-barrel bellies like pendulums.
In frustration, they wrench clumps
from the root, tear them out grinning,
crack ribs like roots, fracture bone-like branches.
You can see the fleas vault, maggots squirming,
as they itch their bites into the perimeter,
leaving white truce-wool waving in the wire.
Numbers tattooed on their backs, mouths stung,
chins bleeding, they step back then hurl themselves
headfirst, the three smallest bully one big,
thump his side, try to face him,
waiting for the first sign of weakness,
which comes in a limp, a lopsided step.
Hastily they lug themselves on top,
slam it in, thrusting pointlessly, then rush
to the next one, furious and impatient.