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Poets of Franklin County

‘The Fence’ by Lesléa Newman

FILE - In this undated file photo Matthew Shepard, 22, is shown. Republican Rep. Virginia Foxx said Thursday, April 30, 2009 she made a poor choice of words when she called the infamous murder of Shepard  a "hoax" to justify passing hate crimes bills. Shepard was beaten, burned and tied to a wooden ranch fence near Laramie, Wyo., Wednesday, Oct. 7, 1998, reportedly for being openly gay.  (AP Photo/File) ** NO SALES **

FILE - In this undated file photo Matthew Shepard, 22, is shown. Republican Rep. Virginia Foxx said Thursday, April 30, 2009 she made a poor choice of words when she called the infamous murder of Shepard a "hoax" to justify passing hate crimes bills. Shepard was beaten, burned and tied to a wooden ranch fence near Laramie, Wyo., Wednesday, Oct. 7, 1998, reportedly for being openly gay. (AP Photo/File) ** NO SALES **

THE FENCE (that night)

I held him all night long

He was heavy as a broken heart

Tears fell from his unblinking eyes

He was dead weight yet he kept breathing

He was heavy as a broken heart

His own heart wouldn’t stop beating

He was dead weight yet he kept breathing

His face streaked with moonlight and blood

His own heart wouldn’t stop beating

The cold wind wouldn’t stop blowing

His face streaked with moonlight and blood

I tightened my grip and held on

The cold wind wouldn’t stop blowing

We were out on the prairie alone

I tightened my grip and held on

I saw what was done to this child

We were out on the prairie alone

Their truck was the last thing he saw

I saw what was done to this child

I cradled him just like a mother

Their truck was the last thing he saw

Tears fell from his unblinking eyes

I cradled him just like a mother

I held him all night long

— Lesléa Newman

From OCTOBER MOURNING: A SONG FOR MATTHEW SHEPARD. Copyright © 2012 by Lesléa Newman. Reproduced by permission of the publisher, Candlewick Press, Somerville, MA.

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Almost 16 years ago, two young men convinced a third to leave the bar where they’d all been drinking and get into a truck with them. They then drove him out to a remote spot on the high plains above Laramie, Wyo., pistol-whipped and beat him, stole his wallet and shoes and left him tied to a buck-rail fence, where … 0

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