The Front Yard

The Front Yard

A Poem by Jared Kardos


When I was only a small child,

My mom would always say,

“You and your friend can play

In the house and in the back,

But never, ever, go play in the front yard.”


I could never understand why.

It’s all hard soil with grass growing from it,

The only difference is where they are,

Why can’t I play in the front yard?

“It’s just too dangerous,” she said,

And then I’d go next door to play.


One day I was with Ronny at his house,

Even though Mom said never to go there,

Playing Power Rangers in his back yard,

Bumping into and crashing into my enemies

The Puddy Fighters and Lord Zed and rogue toy trucks.


“Come on, man, let’s play in the front yard,” Ronny said,

Nah, I’m cool here.

“We’ll have more room for the Zord battle!”

We shouldn’t go in the front yard.

“Why not?”


“’Cause what?”

‘Cause…my mom said it was dangerous.

He laughs and snorts, slapping me on the back.

“Come on, man, nothing can go wrong in the front yard.

My older brother’s sits on the porch all the time and he’ll protect us.

I’ve seen him and his friends and they’re just like the Power Rangers,

Fighting together against other Power Rangers.

They’re clothes are…kinda different, but they’re so cool, man.

You have nothing to worry about.”


We go into the Front Yard,

Wide open space, nothing but the fence keeping the outside world away.

We imagine that we’re thousands of feet tall,

Me, five robot dinosaurs combined into a single fighting force,

Him, a gruesome monster with tentacles and claws.

We grapple and fight, imagining the shots of spark whenever we connect.


Mom jumps out of the house and screams out my name,

“Dinner’s ready! Get the he—get off that front yard!”

I groaned, inches away from slaying my enemy, and leap over the fence.

I stopped at the curb, looked to my left and my right, and crossed the street,

Walking faster when I saw the rusty convertible turn the corner.


I didn’t really hear it, but felt it:

A thunderous pop, like a firecracker.

Another pop.

And another.

And another.

Mom grabbed me and started dragging me away.

I looked to see it was aimed for Ronny’s house.

Mom pushes me through the door before I can see.


Mom nearly shoved her spaghetti into my mouth to get me to eat,

Trying to distract me from the policemen all over the street.

Distract me from the screaming mother.

Distract me from the small body put into a gray bag.


The next day, my teacher told the class that Ronny was dead.

She couldn’t explain how.

Whether it was to keep us innocent or because she didn’t want to see it, I still don’t know.


After school, I waited for Mom to pick me up,

And when she pulled up and I jumped in her Jeep,

I looked into her tired, bloodshot eyes and ask,

“Why? Why did Ronnie die?”

Mom, deciding it would hurt more to lie,

Told me the truth,

That Ronnie’s brother wasn’t a Power Ranger, but something else,

And that was why I should have never been there.


She drove all the way home and walked inside and started crying,

For the child that died and her child that lived,

And I finally understood the difference

Between the back yard and the Front Yard.

© 2008 Jared Kardos

Author's Note

Jared Kardos
Based on a real event--though I moved "Ronny" to be across the street when I only saw him at school.

My Review

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Times are sure different from when I was a kid (though it gets harder and harder each year to think that far back). This is a good write, draws the reader into its story - and tells the story without being heavily graphic or too vague. The words carry their weight well. I have one nit to mention -- in your line:

I groaned, inches away from slaying my enemy, and leap over the fence.

You changed verb tense - not sure if you meant to. I think (and this is just opinion) it would be more correct to say:

I groaned, inched away from slaying my enemy, and leapt over the fence.

Posted 6 Years Ago

This was really good but really sad that this is the life of so many children. It kind of reminds me of why I wrote my poem Through Their Eyes... there are so many things this generation of children see and hear that they never should have, forcing them to grow up too soon and lose their innocence and love of life.

Overall very well written but somehow I think it would have been better in story form since there as no real rhyme or flow to it and it sounded more like a story... Really great write.


Posted 13 Years Ago

Well. It's so damn pathetic that we live in a society where parents have to worry about that kind of s**t.

Posted 14 Years Ago

I think it's a good poem all the way around and puts a good messege out there. Mothers do know what they talk about, i also had to learn the hard way. thanks for sharing.

Posted 14 Years Ago

Wow, this is so personal, and the suspense was built up so much I couldn't imagine what that could have been like for a child that age, to go through all of that. I am speechless, thanks for the read.

Posted 14 Years Ago

How horrible. I wouldn't change a thing. Nicely written.

Posted 14 Years Ago

this was a powerful piece. especially the very end. the feeling in it is good, but i would change some of the dialogue to make it a) more powerful and b) flow better.
but overall, an amazing poem.

Posted 14 Years Ago

1 of 1 people found this review constructive.

The poem is so so sad and so unfortuanetly real.
It reminded me of The Backyardigans in the beginning, the cartoon..I thought it was going to be light hearted , but i was very wrong.. it was real life.

I see nothing wrong with your writing , I say well done.

A poem with a lesson.


Posted 14 Years Ago

1 of 1 people found this review constructive.

Oh my what a interesting and frietening story... unfortunately so true today though... Excellant piece.

Posted 14 Years Ago

1 of 1 people found this review constructive.

oh how horrible for that little child in the story, for his friend to die to gang violence... or the innocence of youth not thinking anything will happen to them in the front yard...
this was an amazing piece of writing... sad, but powerful...

Posted 14 Years Ago

1 of 1 people found this review constructive.

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11 Reviews
Added on February 9, 2008


Jared Kardos
Jared Kardos

Avondale, AZ

A long time ago, in a galaxy far, far away...well, actually it was the twilight of 1988 and in a hospital in Phoenix, I just wanted to add some mystique, so sue me. Anyway, in.. more..


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