Category: poem

A World We Can Explore

A couple of weeks ago, a group of us from Wakey LitFest went to Wakefield WordFest’s display in the WX building. We talked to lots of the visiting children about what they could see in the space around them – with an enchanted forest, a giant inflatable whale and a bunch of activities, there was a lot to choose from –  and I turned their ideas into a poem. 

Child. 
You run through the world,
Barely taking a moment to stop 
To look  and see - 
A wandering deer, a pile of books
All things at home in these woods.  
You step so fast over a strange seesaw.
Oblivious to how out of place these things are.

And yet you see well
As you explore, following animal tracks,
Eyes glued to the floor 
You slow - 
And see the creeping autumn red
Making its way from the peaks of the leaves
To the green at their heart. 
You stand still and count the acorns, 
Seven you can see from here. 

You take note, and hurry off to explore, 
To find more. 
Armed with a compass you cannot use
And a machete to carve through the grass.
(Machete is the name you gave
To the penknife you nicked from your dad.) 

You emerge to the seaside 
With glorious glistening sea licking at the sand.
You stand - for a moment - and watch
As it dances in, prepared to reabsorb
The sandcastles glamorously adorned 
With shells borrowed from the tide. 

You explore on, 
Plunging into the ocean, 
Passing a stray leaf being battered on the shore, 
Beyond the swimmers you dive down, 
To meet the fish. 
You’re leaving sharks and dolphins in your wake, 
As you escape the land behind. 

You discover a supermarket in the depths, 
Catering - as a speciality - to the mermaids in the sea.
Mundane to them but you feel glee 
As you swim amongst the shelves filled
With fish for food and dancing crabs. 

Child, this is our world to explore, 
Tell me what you see. 

Droplets by Korben Ferguson

This piece of poetry was written by Korben after a recent period of sombre weather. It was an attempt to push themselves out of their comfort zone to get more used to poetry as opposed to their more common writing method of prose. The piece was intended to capture the feeling of losing a significant other in whatever form that takes, either through death, a breakup, or simply having to endure a long distance relationship: as such this poem should be taken with a trigger warning for anyone who may have lost a partner one way or another and may still be affected.

Droplets,
Watch as they drip.
Watch as they race down the window,
As fast as my heart paces.

My soul is soothed,
As I turn to you.
A warmth rushes over me
as I curl into your arms:
I am home.

As the droplets continue to roll,
I whisper: "I love you."
And I am met with the calming
comforting echo of your reply...

Droplets,
Watch as they drip.
Watch as they race down my face,
As fast as my heart paces.

My soul is pained,
As I search for you now.
The cold settles over me
as I curl into the duvet we shared:
I am homesick.

As the droplets continue to roll,
I whisper: "I love you."
And I am met with silence.

An Attic View By Elizabeth Sykes

I wrote this poem as part of a course about 18 months ago. The challenge was to base a poem on the view from the nearest window. Mine was a skylight. 


An Attic View

I treat windows as mirrors

I see only sky.

An open patch of grey on grey

The sound of blinding light

An arrow pointing right

Beside, around, above me.

It is a sign,

A godsent omen

Of the hollow empty feeling

The cabin in my chest.

How much of that is loneliness.

How much just me?

I fill it anyway I can

With birds and words and tea.

The sunken coffee smell

Connects me to you

With a white trail, a straight cloud scar

Slashed the cheek of silver in broken two.

When I was in my falsest form

I would fly the metal bird

Up high, cased in recycled air

My corpse against the window,

Aching to get out, be there.

Instead I watch from down below,

Reaping what some others sow.

My bones are aching but to grow.

Growth is the flying feeling.

forgive by olli watkins

The following poem, titled ‘forgive,’ is a poem I first wrote in my early teens, that I recently decided to revisit. I think in the time I’ve been away from the poem, my views on forgiveness as a whole have changed- I no longer think forgiveness is a necessity or a right, and I really wanted that viewpoint to be portrayed in the poem.

forgive


im just standing here in the rain,
small collections of molecules
sinking deep into my pores,
reminding me of could’ve-beens
and have-beens
and might’ve-beens.
all is not lost,
but all is certainly not forgiven.

im just standing by your doorstep,
trying to repent of my sins,
to purify the ground
and stop my own tyranny,
tyranny caused by you but
made by me.
all is not lost,
but all is certainly not forgiven.

im just sitting on the curb,
in some blind attempt to
make the downpour
wash away my wrong-doing,
allow salt to create equilibrium
and re-establish balance.
all is not lost,
but all is certainly not forgiven

im just sinking into the ground,
hard stones digging into my palms,
fresh blood spotting the pavement,
a reminder of my presence here
and wounds inflicted.
penance and mercy.
all is not lost, 
but all is certainly not forgiven.

Decoy Birds

Amy Winder is a writer (and wearer of many other hats) from Wakefield. In her day job, she puts her maths degree to great use as a freelance copywriter. She uses storytelling as a tool to explain or further understand complex concepts, and this is a recurring theme in her work. Amy produces a podcast series – Who Came Before –  in which guests explain the figures and stories from history which have inspired them in their work, hobbies, studies or other areas of their life.

The following piece of writing and commentary is based on Wakefield Museums display “A World Of Good” and was inspired by a workshop held in partnership between Wakefield Litfest and the museum.

I carved into wood a beacon for your attention. Shaped it fat and round; a bird full of meat. I made it perfect, intricate details far too fine for your distant eye. Hours of work went into distracting your attention. 

I acknowledge that a lot of that was pointless. I learnt from people who are more powerful than myself that it takes surprisingly little to manipulate a person. They have it down to an art; directing our squabbles towards each other. I can’t fight a giant, but I can best a poacher. 

Oh, my decoy birds are an art of their own! I paint their feathers with the finest of brushes, each barb highlighted in its own perfect colour. I make them tempting for you. You awful trophy hunters.

Yes, I am aware of the hours I spent on a single bird. Hours which could be utilised speaking up, explaining and listening. I could push for a bigger vision, for a better world. Yet I am focused on my garden, my safe haven for something small.

Still I wait, ready for the shot to ring out as you bullet homes in on my beautiful decoy bird. Your weapon serves as an alarm, so I can chase you down. 

I know that you, cruel poacher, do not live in the same world as me. Are you really in search of a trophy or are you only hungry? 

I cannot know. For the sake of my conscience I can only hope. I must do what I can where I can. And each decoy shot is at least another bird saved. Another nightingale left free to sing. 

I take action, and I can only hope others do the same. We cannot fight a giant on our own. 

The story of Waterton creating decoy birds so he could spot and chase off poachers is one that struck me as whimsical, noble and hypocritical all at the same time. A man who created taxidermied animals from other continents, Waterton didn’t seem to realise the striking similarities between his actions in South America and the actions of poachers on his land. Beyond that, privileged as he was, I don’t think Waterton – a wealthy naturalist, explorer and from a family who owned slave plantations – was the best judge of whether the poaching on his land was simply a blood sport or if it was an important source of food for people who were hungry. 

The creation of a nature reserve is an amazing thing. I believe that the preservation of wildlife and especially of creatures whose environment that we as humans have damaged, is a responsibility of humanity. However, I believe that there exists a lot of nuance in the actions of Waterton and of his poachers. 

Nuance is a word that I come back to quite a lot. It’s perhaps more important than ever in modern climate activism, where disabled people are losing the accessibility of plastic straws, where the rise of eco fashion means some people are struggling to afford second hand clothes, where public transport is impractical outside of major cities. Even at its most straightforward, sustainable options are often more expensive, more time consuming and less accessible than their alternatives. 

This doesn’t mean that we shouldn’t try, simply that it’s important to acknowledge that having sustainable options is a privilege that not everyone shares. For me, that means while I am taking advantage of the sustainable choices I am able to make, I must also listen to and amplify the voices of those people who cannot afford to make the environment such a priority. Climate activism cannot exist in a vacuum and by making the structural, cultural and political changes necessary to empower people to participate, the journey towards a sustainable society can only be made faster. 

I don’t have access to the thought process of Waterton and he certainly didn’t have access to the myriad of resources, ideas and information that we do today. The UK’s first nature reserve is a great achievement, but still I cannot help but wonder what more Waterton could have achieved in union with his poachers. 

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