Now only a mild deterrent,
he is a retired cop,
stripped of his duty years ago,
who knows no other way.

He stands locked inside
the chicken wire among
the chickens, barking fruitlessly,
without passion—that’s gone.

And he will, if volition wins out,
run up to you and quietly bark
with half a heart,
like a tattered flag at half-mast.

In his daily exile to fields of green
he watches the pecking and shitting,
sees the swallows swoop low again,
recognizes another spring return.

Rather than ward off intruders,
he would love to arrive to you,
be stroked lovingly under the chin,
pretend this was not his lot in life.

Yet, he still fools those passers-by
who do not understand
his bravado, that routinized game he plays,
or the gentle petting for which he prays.