Wick Court Farms

Here is just a selection of poems that children staying at Wick Court, Farms for City Children, wrote during a series of residencies I did there. All of the writers were year 4, 5 or 6 and almost all of these pieces were written sitting out in fields or in barns, so that the animals and landscapes the children were responding to were right there. Reading them again, I remember these moments, the excitement of watching the children delight in creating words that really reflected their experience.

Click the poem titles to reveal or hide the poems

Shearing

A sheep, like a dirty raincloud,

Sits uncomfortably

Squashed between the shearer’s knees,

Her fin face floating

Not quite a part of her, somehow.


The electric bee buzz of the clippers

Bites into her greasy belly wool,

Sweeps up and over her popped out thigh.

The fleece falls like pearly cake mix,

The underneath is creamy, pale as yoghourt.


Up the rib cage, along the back,

In long arcs like rainbows,

Gently around the delicate neck

The clippers slice old from new.


The sheep’s eyes stare

Wide as an owl’s.

She vaguely remembers this feeling

Of lightness and of cooler skin;

It means juicy grass and sunshine


And now it’s finished.

She leaps onto her stick like legs

And pointy ballerina toes

To find she’s nude, naked,

Almost human in her pink skin.

Horses

Brown and black and white

They’re such a beautiful sight.


Dark as ebony, dark as night,

Chestnut brown as bright as light.


Silky manes and legs so straight,

And necks that curve over the gate.

The Power of Boars

Pink and wobbly, shaking like bells,

The boar’s balls hold the start of life.

He struggles up onto the sow’s straight back,

Finds the place and pushes inside,

Then stumbles off, his job done.


Inside, the tiny sperm swim and swim.

They thrash their tails and race

Until they reach the finish –

A planet, a moon, a sun,

A round heaven.

Just one bursts through the membrane-

The winner braking the tape.

It merges, mixes, melts and melds

Triggering a dance of cells.

They split and multiply into eternal variety,

And a whole new life.

Which Came First?

Paper white, with a scatter-pattern like sand grains:

A thousand thousand pin prick pores,

That let in air for life.


Listen, what can you hear?

A voice – so small – calling to say

‘I’m ready, I think’;

A tapping like an ant knocking on a window.


Look, what do you see?

An uneven trapdoor opens,

The another, and another and another,

Like an explorers track around a pale Earth…

Suddenly, this world is ready to split!


An exausted chick, limp as a drunken man,

Wet and hopeless, flops down to sleep

Between the cracked halves.

The Rarest Cows

Brown like shiney conkers,

Smooth as melted chocolate,

With a creamy coloured stripe

From the middle of their back

To the end of their tails.

Sharp horns on their heads

Like a new crescent moon,

Swishing tails, and swinging udders.

But fifty years ago

They nearly went extinct.

Lost forever, gone from the world.

But lovely ladies at Wick Court Farm

Alex and Ella kept them on:

In Winter it was freezing cold

But in the cowshed warm as toast

And semlt of hay and Summer

In the Spring the cows came out to graze

They ran and jumped and played.

In the Summer when the grass was long

Gloucesters swished their tails and shook their heads.

In Autumn, when the Severn swelled

It was time to go to market

Melon coloured Double Gloucester,

And single Gloucesters like the moon.

Change of Seasons

Almost the last clover flower sits under the apple tree,

Pink, like my baby sister’s shoes.

One buttercup reminds me of butter sinking into toast.


A pig that takes its time, walks over the grass

With a giant bowling-ball belly.

Its skin is dull pink –

A colour – soft and comforting- but wouldn’t catch your eye..


A fallen leaf holds colours that I can’t describe:

Colours that haven’t got a name;

Colours that make me feel – Oh I hesitate to think!

But they show beauty in all ways.


Other leaves are simply brown –

Light and dark.

Dark like a shadow on a feather,

Or a shadow that follows you.

Dark like night and sleep.


Mistletoe like no other,

With helicopter leaves up above

Looking down on me, small down below.

They’re green as grass, that sprouts so fast,

And the sad green of death,

That can never be turned around,

But their white berries, will light up at Christmastime.

Sitting in the Orchard Field

Sitting in the Orchard Field,

On my left hand side the chickens run around,

On my right hand side, just five steps away,

Is a patch of poo like dried up chocolate

A line of sheep walks a diagonal,

And romantic trees breeze straight up to the sky,

Their orange leaves show the season’s changing.


There’s zig-zag bark on the broken tree,

And in the barn,

On a scruffy bale of hay

A cockerel stands gracefully,

Clucking with magical colours, saying

‘I am the best!’

The hens take no notice;

They just walk about, scratching, drinking,

Chit-chatting, pook-pooking.

Their feathers are soft and smooth,

Black and white and grey.

This feels special, I’ve never seen chickens like this before.

They run around the orchard field,

Making me feel free.

Hens in the Bard

The warm straw feels cosy, and up on the bales it’s safe –

We have a good view of all the animals that use as prey.

It’s nice to be huddled up, to feel warm,

To feel we’re not alone.


We preen our feathers to keep them clean and tidy.

We chat and relax,

We snooze and nap.

Gradually more and more friends come to join us –

Black and white ones,

Brown and green ones,

Little one, big ones,

Hens and cockerels and pullets,

All together to make a big chicken family.

As I Pass By

High up in the tree there are apples,

Big and red and green.

They look juicy, but I can’t reach them,

They run away from me.


The leaves are turning,

Sunset orange, stop light red,

Calm purple and custard-trifle yellow.

Blackberries shine in the hedgerows

Ripe and ready to bake in a crumble.


In the grass there are yellow dashes

As the blades decay.

Sheep, the colour of milky tea, with curved horns

Run about on skinny, bendy legs.


A marmalade chicken ducks its head to drink

A rain cloud chicken pecks the ground.

Two husbands fight over one wife amongst the bales.


Out under the trees colourful rainbow leaves fall;

As I pass by, I think of my memories.

Today

Today we saw horses, the colours of chestnut and night,

And a cow with horns sharp as knives.

Today we saw chickens that walked like Egyptians,

And their hieroglyphics.


There were rams with horns and cute little lambs.

Piglets the size of a cola bottle

With huge flappy ears over their eyes,

And dark blotches, as if

They had been flicked with paint.

Sweety Pie Chicks

Batik of sunshine and stone,

Feet sliced and cut, shaped like stars.

Eyes like round and shiny pencil ends.

Beaks like slithers of lemon peel

Mixed in the palm of your hand

Until you feel the cold prickle of small claws

And the soft fluffiness of baby feathers.

Out in the Field

A branch charges like a rhino’s horn.

There are leaves, striped like a zebra’s back,

And a pear, squashed and spotted like sunrise and clouds.


Grass slants like italics across the horizon,

Chickens chat and gossip,

And an alarm clock cockerel goes off in the barn.


Twigs and branches catch a wicked shape of sky,

Bending over like a witch,

And leaves fall, diving, waving to the ground, like dolphins.


Fruits in the bushes flex like flamingos’ beaks,

Blades of grass sway back and forth in the breeze

And birds’ voices echo on people’s ears.