Beyond Bars by students from 7MT6 @ MLC School These evocative, thought-‐provoking poems by young writers explore the tension between the need for animal conservation and the animals’ own desire for freedom.
M L C S c h o o l R o w l e y S t r e e t
"Good teaching is more a giving of right questions than a giving of right answers." -‐-‐Josef Albers
Through out the term year 7 have been exploring the wonders on animal poetry. By both writing and reading animal poems they have been on a poetry safari looking at lots of different types of poetry and poetry techniques. Though they have been working through a textbook to explore these techniques deeper, they have had amazing inspiration that has leaded them to write poetry that they never thought they could write. Year seven went to the zoo for inspiration for their final animal poem. After filling out a booklet about twelve different animals students were to sit in front of an animal and fully observe how the animal moved, looked and even breathed. This experience was amazing and most of the year experienced animals in a way they had never done before. They all truly absorbed the animals they were studying and had the opportunity to see through the eyes of the animal. They certainly had some laughs and some of the animals they saw may not have been fully appropriate for their age group. The poems these girls developed over the next lessons were amazing, they truly captured perfect images of the animals and conveyed emotion in a way most of them could have before only dreamed of. The next inspiration came in the form of already published poems and songs. Year seven had the opportunity to look through and analyse different songs and poems and figure out the different technique in these poems. The girls then went the next step further to figure out why these techniques have been applied and what the effect was of putting them in the poems. Some girls also did this as a class activity as well as doing it on their own. After looking through many poems year seven also got the chance to take lines from poems and turn them into work of their own. The poems developed were amazing. The year seven students had all these amazing opportunities due to the hard work and dedication of the teachers. With out there tireless effort and productive but sometimes negative advice, none of the work that the students did would have ever been so developed. The way these teachers gave their advice was amazingly constructive and the way they presented it was always leaving the student to find the answers, but giving them the way how to. This unit has definitely taken all the students on a journey about not only the techniques of animal poems, but also the essence in which they should be used. I.M Cover Photo http://www.flickr.com/photos/kyknoord/522833074/sizes/z/in/photostream/
It is hard to ‘teach’ poetry. Whilst some would argue that the essence of poetry lies in the skillful, learned application of established poetic techniques such as simile and metaphor, others would storm the literary barricades championing the need for complete freedom of expression without a slavish dependence upon established conventions. How can you do justice to a literary art form that is equally well represented by both of these views? Our approach was to develop awareness of poetic forms and techniques whilst providing opportunities for personal reflection and expression. Free writing techniques allowed students to contact the sometimes surprising contents of their subconscious which could then be shaped and nuanced into pleasing forms, without losing the essential truth of their experience. Whether a poem is a massive epic that rhymes and contains complex literary allusions or whether it is seventeen syllables long, the core factor in its success is that it remains true to the experience of the poet. If that truth connects with that of the reader, then we can say that the piece has significance. Many of the poems you read here are as expressive of adolescent concerns for freedoms and agency as much as they address the need to liberate animals from captivity. Some are very personal whilst others are playful with technique. All are based on direct experience of animals observed at an excursion to Taronga Zoo. One of our great inspirations was the work of the American poet, Mary Oliver whose reflective style helped develop the tone of their work. It is hoped that the sentiments expressed are able to connect with your own strivings and interests. It is with great pleasure that I make these poems available to readers. Steven Caldwell
I dance through the brown snow, The ice crunching under my paws. I hear the wind whistle with woeful wisdom, I feel the burn of the cold. I see the mountains in their white furs ahead, Standing tall and straight with dignity. I start to bound, and I follow the mountains. My tail aloft, I gallop forwards with the sun watching over me. The clouds that reflect my beige fur, Mud that reflects my brown spots. The rocks cluttered ahead, They’re a stain on flawless snow. I stop and my grey eyes gaze upwards, I skid along the ice and I halt. The smell of the Bharal, the blue sheep, So delicious and fresh. And then I see it, Bounding through the rocks. I, the snow leopard have found my prey. I bolt and I run, I climb and I scutter I dash up the rocks and I spy, But the Bharal sees me and he runs. He looks back at me almost as if he feels sorry for me. I’m still moving with the sheep infront, My paws surge forward, They push down on his hind and he collapses. He struggles but too late, I sink my teeth into his neck, The warm blood flows across my lips. The Bharal’s struggling stops, I feast.
I run through the trees and up the cliff, and jump. I skim over the fence and tumble down the other-‐side. I have made it I am free I start to walk but then someone notices me My walking pace turns into a run And soon my running turns into a sprint I run for my life. With 5 men on my tail I look ahead; my opponent stands its ground I speed up even more and leap I catch a glimpse of the glossy, glittering city But a net swoops over and I struggle and try to escape My orange tail covering my eyes The world outside that wall Colourful lights and tall glass buildings WHISH,WHAM,WHOP The colours whizzed in front of me Like a flock of rainbow lorikeets racing to their dinner I am taken back into captivity Back into the dark, dreary dungeon It’s been a month and I’m still In my small enclosure Eating my bamboo Hands pulling my furry tail I wish I could go back home I wish I were with my family.
Slippery, slimy, swift, slider Up in the air, I grab the fish Graceful, gifted, greedy, glider I swallow whole, my delectable dish Flapping flippers in a flash Swimming along the ocean floor Dutiful, delightful in a dash Seeing the seabed in a bore Wispy, wistful, wiry whiskers Slowly I stand up on one fin The crowd claps-‐like in a circus Careful not to take a spin Patiently, perfectly-‐I strike a pose Beyond the wall there is a door Nervously, neatly-‐with a ball on my nose I long to see that something more Strapping, strong with sturdy tail I crave to feel fresh growing grass I search and yearn but always fail I can never pass that see-‐through glass
The Glass Proves Weakness Senses awake Eyes like blades Teeth glistening Alpha ready to strike King of the jungle Flash, flash, flash. Wow, wow, wow. People? Alpha snarls Opportunity a waits Sly as the devil Approaches astute Closer, closer, closer SNAP Attempts but fails Something so feeble; extinguish alphas authority? Sheet of glass People jump but are not afraid. They have their protection they walk away alpha longing freedom Alpha sinks to his stance weak and overthrown King of the jungle no more
Lie in Wait If only I could understand what he wanted. How he felt, The sorrow he endured If only I could know, What made him happy? Why he kept his tangled, orange mane down, And never lifted his head. If only I knew why he refused to eat, The tender meat put in front of him. Why does he breath slowly and deeply as if lost in thought? What does he growl at under his breath? Reminiscent of something in his past? BOOM! The sound that almost broke his heart. If only I had known the reason he lay, Around all day, Lethargic and having lost all hope. If only I had known Why he wanted so desperately, To know future, Keeping his thoughts to himself, THAT was the wise old lion. If only I had known why he kept, A sharp eye on the outside of the cage, Waiting, anticipating his end.
Step, twirl, shuffle, jump. Do it right, or kick in rump. Claps rain down on me What happens after, they don’t see, One move wrong and anger flashes Whips are drawn, countless thrashes. There is no escape from pain, A daily battle to keep sane. Teeth are broken, claws pulled out, Red-‐hot rod, stabbed through snout. In a cage of depression, No knight to end my oppression. No reward for my daily chores, No relief or rest for my sores. Disease infected, never inspected, Already tiring, slowly dying. No reason for this type of madness A dark, black world, no shred of kindness. We will not last, we will die out, We’ll dance away our lives, no doubt. Barely what I used to be, All I loved was stripped from me. Does anyone know? Does anyone care? ‘Bout the unknown fate of a dancing bear.
An Otter’s Longing I wish I could see them again. The light blue sky, The sweet pouring rain, The yellow sand, The salt scented wind and That thunderous roar of the sea, Her polished sharp whiskers, Her brilliant black coat, That musky smell of the otter I long for, Life seems meaningless without him, His light, gentle voice, His gentle, black eyes, His long, shiny claws, The otter I long for: They were quick. They were strong. The invincible. We stood no chance against them. They then shot him, And took his body away. I stood helpless. I was nailed to the spot. That moment, and from then on, I was clinging onto nothing. A empty heart, A empty wish. A meaningless life. I heard a shot, and Before I know it, darkness enveloped me, Turning my life into an empty dream. But, there is hope in life. The silver lining to a cloud. I open up my eyes to a blue sky with transparent clouds.
The sun is shining brightly, and the birds are singing. The atmosphere I am in is bright, and is radiating happiness. But I am far from happy. But, there is hope in life. The silver lining to a cloud. Then there is a chance of hope. The invincible creatures open the gateway to my freedom, but I pause. They bring in a large metal box . What could it be? They open the door. Curiosity gets the better of me and I step closer. And out steps my beloved. Her polished sharp whiskers, Her brilliant black coat, The wish I was clinging onto all this time, Has finally come true.
A Seal Story Diving, head first Into the clear, clear water. Those eyes as sparkly as a star Glaze up into the blue, blue sky. Not a cloud Not a sound Just the bright sky. He looks down, The ice cubes are melting Global warming is coming. A rumble hits the snow, BOOM! In the dry land of Antarctica. He looks up HONK! A big white chunk of ice is coming. With a swish of a tail And a push with his flippers Off he goes! Gliding along at full speed. The place is coming apart. His home, his regular life gone He will have to find somewhere else to live But his true hearth will stay. Washing up onto the bay Tasmania, A place so different to him. Looking around Smelling Unfamiliar faces But are of the same of him Same whiskers, same tail, same face They are definitely his type. But how come he doesn’t know them? He thought that all of them had been died The weather is much warmer There is more fish than Antarctica He is not used to it. The days he spent shivering Are over. Now he will spend his days sweating Under the hot Australian Sun Forever.
Ocean Ballerina When I see a seal, I think of how it can forgive humanity for what we have done. As it stares at me with keen, friendly eyes, Before it gracefully dives into the water. Like an ice skater, It glides beneath the tranquil ocean waters. A lightning fast silhouette against the crystal blue. My train of thought is interrupted by the seal’s head bobbing up, No longer one with the sea. Suddenly, its grace is all but gone and is replaced, With clumsy movement. How can something so elegant in water be so awkward on land? It drags its giant, grey body towards me. A rhythm is formed as it drags itself forward and plops down. It looks up, It’s pureness and vulnerability openly displayed before me. If only it knew how much, It’s species suffered because of our ignorance. As it lumbers towards the water, I think how it could be the next victim of our unknown cruelty. With a backward glance, The seal jumps into the water, It’s well known, but dangerous home. I wonder if it would be more hesitant to dive in, If it knew that so many of it’s kind met a horrible end, In the same place it is swimming in, and has been swimming in it’s whole life.
Suddenly the serenity of the water is interrupted, By a giant grey mass as powerful as a rocket. The seal soars upward, as graceful as a ballerina.
Time, slows down, as, it, reaches, the peak,
of its, upward, journey. Everything speeds up again as it dives into the water.
With a flick of its tail it disappears once again beneath the waters I watch it swim away. I wish it luck and hope that it does not meet the same fate, That many seals just like it have met.
I have changed my spots for stripes I am a prisoner in this jail Only to be freed by the wardens key. I long for an escape From the prying eyes Watching my every move To return to a place private and to myself I stare through my bared window And look far out to the blue horizon That is interrupted by mountains capped with snow Cool and Crisp I yearn to be back home Where all is chilly and snowy The heat is weakening me Like the metal ball chained to my legs As I pace in my small jail cell I pine for wide-‐open spaces Far as the eye can see Freedom But most of all I ache for my family To be reunited once more And to be freed
Otter I slide into the pool of blue-‐green, Leaving no ripples at the surface, Swish, goes my tail, As it paints bubbles on my canvas, My canvas, the water, my home Like a torpedo I shot, The bubbles trail me, The bubbles rise up, to get away, Feeding the cool, moist air I flip, But I don’t feel my heart skip a beat. I twist, But the excitement is gone, Leaving only a dry stretched rag, Thrown in the sunlight, left to shrivel and shrink. That is me. I watch my fellow friends, And with envy I see, The only thing trapping them, Is the glass cage they are imprisoned in, Unlike me… Circling, circling, worrying every day, I know it is time, To be carried away, Cradled in bliss, Wrapped in peace, Following the calm, And I make it.
The roar of the waves The shrieks of the seagulls The crunch of sand Under his feet The whistle of wind, Swirling around The drum of distant thunder Ready to strike The salty smell of the wild sea The feel of the wind, Whipping across his whiskers The flying fish gracefully leaping Into the crisp air He stood there, hope on his face Day turned to night Sun turned to moon But no sign of anything His body tense, muscles straining He lifted himself up As high as he could To search for His long lost friend Like a wolf at night, Senses sharp, knife-‐like He crept forward Waves crashed next to him Threatening to suck him up He was left soaked
The Otter Whiskers drooping Matching his feelings Water dripped off Like thousands of crystals His brown grey coat All dull with grief Glistened with droplets Like the starry night He wished so bad A miracle will come Bring his friend back From the evil waters Two days passed He looked like a wreak The waves still mean Unforgiving waters Splattering around him His friend was his life He was part of him But he disappeared Into the water like a magnet His eyes fogged up Along with his realization That his friend His life Gone Cindy
Entertainers I watch them try. This is how I’ve grown up, I was born here In this cage, between these gates I was born into it all. Birds great and small Try to escape. The flap their wings with hope But it’s no use, They are to smart for us. I sit on a moist but sturdy branch, I watch as people come, As people go. Our whole lives are but a show to them. They don’t care, Why would them? I admit I was juvenile once, Sweeping, swooping, I soared through the sky.p0o But I grew up. I see water on the ground, I step over the puddle and look into it, My heart shaped face stares back at me. The background I see behind me is the one I have always seen, I have no other home. This is my life, I have no place in the outside world. This metal my cradle, Protecting me. From what I am not sure. The metal cracks, Then crumbles, The rusty pieces fall to my silver wing. A tense silence awaits, Then they all break free. But they will be back by dawn, I was.
Not as it seems Pouncing, ravenous lion, attacks the mere helpless Clawing through the harsh endeavours Preying on the souls of the weak Crunch, pop goes the leaves under his huge paws Powerful, unforgiving, Ripping through the shredded remains of the corpse Head held high in mighty victory… We assume. A roar for pride, or for help? Habitat lost to agriculture Soul, muffled in reconstruction, Modernization, or deterioration? If only we knew what you needed to survive If only we knew the power we had Drop goes your head Falling down with your hopes and family We see the lion pounce We hear the lion roar But do we feel the lion’s pain? Does he soar the sky with hopes on edge? Or simmer away, dreams lost? How to tell, that he want land It red fiery main, now a subtle dull grey, withering away its ferocious orange fur It hunched attack shoulders, now drooped It faced pace adrenalin in its running, now replaced by the sag of its limbs.
The Good Life ‘I’ve got the good life, It’s a warm and refreshing day, And love is blossoming.’ She looks around, Drops to the ground, And starts digging. This is my chance, I crawl over, And help her dig. Her fur is soft caramel, With chocolate zigzagging through, To meet with two black pearls. Her sharp claws touch mine, She sees me, And blood starts seeping from my paw. The Illusion is ruined, I lean my sorry back against a wall, And watch her wistfully. I stare at her gracefully arched back, As it straightens to watch, And warn the others. That’s when I saw it. The giant figure, And the giant Cyclops eye that flashed. The flash was blinding, But I strove to protect my pack, Whatever the cost. I stood to face my enemy, Eyes glaring, But all that came were more flashes. I flashed my teeth, And razor claws, But all that came were more flashes. The rest of the pack, Rose to back me up, But all that came were more flashes. It was hopeless… So I played dead. At least until the zookeeper came in with dinner.
The seal is shiny and sleek, It uses its flippers, as it doesn’t have feet. Seals can be trained to do stunning tricks, But too much fish can make them sick. As we wait for the seal to arrive, It suddenly comes out to us and dives. It balances balls upon on its nose, In many kinds of exotic shows. The seal uses its phenomenal sight, To ensure all tricks are performed quite right. The seal is talented and smart, And makes water look like works of art. With patterns of energetic swirls, And lots of stunning, liquid twirls.
The Snow leopard Can humans understand their lives Can we help them survive any longer If we leave them alone like the past Will their instincts be enough Their territory marked by a scratch Not a fence or roar can show them For they need to see just the signs Of other leopards prowling around Their silvery coats are lanterns In the dark cold winter nights Their soft warm fur protects them From icy wind and weather Padding across the snow and ice Without sound or disturbance they move Towards their prey and pounce No hesitation can be allowed Like ants being squished we hunt them For their fur and other expenses Not realising the damage to us When we break the chains in nature They are tamed then set free again They die and wither away Their instincts are useless now When they did not use them for living They are perfect little moons They are fading away like twilight Not needing us to survive We just need to leave them in peace In the mountains of Nepal They’re nature’s gift of beauty Once in great numbers they roamed Now they are scarce a sight Can we help them survive any longer Will our care save their species Or do we leave them alone from now So they live like snow leopards should.
Forefathers The awkward and outcast gorilla is many ways like us As such the way it stands half human It beats its chest to show power But when you look into his face You can see the arch conflict The conflict came when we the super race Clothed in our selfish kindness Ignored the cries and pleas of apes And succumbed to our desires We’ve forgotten that they were once like us Both of us were bearers of human etiquette Now that we’ve revolved The apes deserve the credit Because now days the super race parties all night And wakes up with a raging headache Many don’t know that gorillas are humans too-‐ They are special humans The last survivors of the old ways The sole bearers of humanity’s age-‐old secret. Their age too old to be counted Too stubborn to interact with technology I think the secret is based on something called harmony Though I’m not quite that sure Harmony seems a far-‐fetched term, as we’ve always been it all The apes aren’t happy with the super race Thinking we are some crazy lunatics Well let me say something first, Here are some of their characteristics Their chests rumbling like giant taiko drums The leaves screaming under the black sumo’s weight A chilling ROAAR gouges the air And all turn to face thy magnificent creature Vast green grounds full of black mammoths With muscular arms and a build of a bone-‐breaker They dominate the lush forests The trees rush past and the ground shakes As he angrily lunges at the unguarded intruder Breaking his neck to catch the eye of the lucky mistress A cradle of life, encircled with protective fathers Their stance so tall, rigidness ferments them all A keen eye looking out for mellow superborns One in view, great ape takes aim 23
His shoulders square up His thoughts fling angry knives at the intruder’s way He launches off his seat Teeth set in a menacing snarl He stops in front of his enemy And let’s out an angry AARRGGGH! The intruder goes flying backward His eyes wild with fear He leaves the apes’ fortified compound And agrees to never come again Beautiful words aren’t they now But we really mustn’t forget These foul-‐mouthed Neanderthals only mean well When they say-‐ “I’m ashamed of you, brother” They’re telling us to slow down And just appreciate our surroundings We need to re-‐learn how to hunt and think of our family The old way can be defined this way in our labels and categories Our scientific methods mean nothing to them Their simple ways are enviable for those lazy potato coaches Sleep, eat and drink are the only tasks in their day But I agree, yes, the world doesn’t have a time bomb on it These apes are very territorial I suspect that this was our fault in a way Driving them back to the brink of extinction They need to conserve their ancestry’s legacy Keep it alive and healthy One day our ancient ape friends may forgive us sinful folks Though I don’t think that this will happen In a lifetime of my own I am proud to call them my brother I am ready to call them my forefather My only craving now is to hear the naked truth Isha
Meerkats Meerkats Silent as the breeze Active as ants All cautious If only they knew All are active All but one That one that stands guard Watching the grass It sees it The lion hiding In the tall grass Waiting there It watches its prey Working about In the sun Now it is a game A waiting game Who goes first It stays there watching As the sun sets It still stays That ball of fire Setting itself
Then it goes It hunts them all down They all scatter Into holes Ever so silent Like they all are Still waiting Few were slaughtered there Many survived To live again They scatter upwards To start again To re-‐build This time more alert They are active All once more Silent as the breeze Active as ants All cautious All this is normal Its everyday They’re meerkats Selina
The Seal A seal swims a creature of elegance dives an example of what is right and pure leaps a monster of man catches A seal is stripped Skinned. What is a life that is not your own? What is your decision not made by you? A limp body operated by a weaker still mind As though a puppet master is expertly pulling your strings Limbs. A seal is like a gymnast It lands bars, land It balances beam, ball It dances captivates entrances. How is it that something with movement so free? From the heart, Is spirit shattered with no trace of what has been, left behind the curtains are closed but the show isn’t over An everlasting audience Or pressure for forever captivation and demand Why is it that perfection is demanded? Something, anything Is demanded And domination rules always Little do we know that perfection, was the original state. Before blindness ensued destruction of what was A seal
The mysteries that lie beneath me Was of the life that was before They unfolded the past and future Yet it holds darkness that must be revealed So dark that not even the most pure king could ever cure A portrait that once held my family together The smiles of such joy Torn apart by the depths of love The war that betrayed my people The darkness that remains hidden It’s still lurking, lurking… Eating the remains of fading love But death and life are fragments that cannot be explained Life is real Yet it is complicated Reality is a mirror that you can look into Yet not touch Once it happens, you cannot change it It is a reality beyond repair Life is like death, a baby imposter Yet it does not cry… The future that lies ahead Will be like a test of what one can hold
This is a selection of poems written by year seven students exploring empathy with animals.