The Fate of the Land


The Burtons meant business.

No hobby farming for them.

They felled trees, cleared many acres,

restored the early nineteenth century farm house.

They fixed up the barn, fenced the fields,

stocked up with cows, pigs, geese and chickens.

The family mutt was told he was now a working dog.

The father swotted up on his milking.

The kids argued over who’d be first up

and out the door to collect the eggs.

They went through their life savings in a year.


They sold out, at a loss, to a local developer.

No one knows the fate of the livestock.

The new owner’s mantra was “subdivide.”

He drew up plans for a housing estate,

rushed them through a half-awake council.

What was once farm was now eight raised ranches

on a road called Fanner Avenue that led into a cul-de-sac.

But the market was on a downswing.

Those new homes sat like wallflowers at a dance

for two years before the bank foreclosed.

They couldn’t sell the damn things either.

That subdivision was a total write-off.

Someone finally had the idea to raze all the buildings

and grow apples.

It remained nothing more than an idea.

The raised ranches became prime targets for the local vandals.

Two were torched. No arrests were made.

It was as if that very block of hard-luck land

couldn’t get arrested.

The consensus was that it would be better

to let the woods reclaim all they had lost.

No one listened to some woman’s side for a Rocky and Bullwinklc themed amusement park.

Joe Burton, now divorced, drove out there once

from his new place in the city,

stopped for a moment to pay his respects.

He wasn’t even sure if he was actually looking

at the right patch of land.

Luckily, memory’s no surveyor.

It’s no farmer either.


by John Grey  |

John Grey

John Grey is an Australian poet, US resident. Recently published in New Plains Review, South Carolina Review, Gargoyle and Silkworm work upcoming in Big Muddy Review, Cape Rock and Spoon River Poetry Review.