Before the supermarket spread its concrete length
along the street sunlight burnt gold over
Montgomery's yard.. a jungle in our dreams.
Where we fought battles over huts in the bamboo
or stalked others with Indian stealth through the long grass.

We saw old Man Montgomery,
mad with age, show his penis to the world
shouting of bananas in his liver spotted hands.
And found, here, a rat killed by a passing cat
and, seeing death, threw it onto Nigel's lawn.
To be found by angry parents becoming excuses
for our battles
fought with plums, rotten on the trees, clods of earth, and tears.

Across the lawn loomed the Norfolk Pine.
Its bottom branches climbed only by rope
hung against its red scuffed bark
and then the battled climb, level by level,
until the hard hauled final platform -
a guard house high above the street.

From here, armed with shanghais, we held the rooves to ransom -
Morton's General Store, Hammond's Dairy
and the butcher shop
(with its bloody sawdust and worn block
hacked with sharpened cleavers)
becoming targets for well aimed rocks.
Seiges heard only on crackled radio news
and in shared imaginations.

Yet, through all our sunlight days
Cannibals met Crusoes, Cowboys slaughtered Indians,
and Robin Hood, his Merry Men in tow, held up countless Sheriffs
Tarzan would never meet Jane
in Monty's jungle.

Alan Papprill

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