Based on ‘Words’ by Tadeusz Różewicz

(translated from the Polish by Bill Johnston)

Published by archipelago books (New York, 2007)


Herds are rounded up

treated as fodder

for innocent smiles

reduced to mere patties

sold by a clown


macerated with machined steel

compressed into packets


conveniently for



distant forests

have been cleared

reduced to pasture

for consumers

who know not this work



disposed of

through the human gut

‘though residual traces lie in wait

still living


converted blood

converted bone

converted to something

else we use up

converted from living

creatures to



n.b. NaPoWriMo 2021 Button with white background Day 5 take a poem and convert its shape and sound into something of your own, using the first letter of each line from the original to start your own poem. I have taken the shape of a poem and used it as a template for my own, but using my own first letters. Not the original prompt, but as with all prompts, a starting point, not a proscriptive set of rules, (for me…). Also the original poem is not out online for you to cross reference, as far as I can find, sorry.



CLP (05/04/2021)


Light spreads into the night

First movement

Swooping from the highest crown

Black shiny crow

Floats nonchalantly to ground

Stretches wings

Lands with a bounce

Moves into a walk

Tilts its head to have look

Arrogant creature

Taint of the dark

What’s there to eat

In Milton Park?


n.b. Mornings are noticeably getter lighter now, but the weather is too cool for sparrows, or blackbirds to announce the dawn. The first bird call this morning was a three-part drawn out caw of a crow. A bird happy to move in the early light of day before shadows form.

Crows are jostling for nesting positions in tree tops now. Despite the incoming series of storms that disrupt their building, crows are busy collecting twigs to weave nests before tree foliage arrives. Fascinating.


CLP 13/02/2020

Come On…Come On…

We’d watched and learned

Our noses pink from unseasonal warmth

Through April and May

How the farmer

Pulled stubborn lambs from the ewe

Revived the still-born with vigorous shakes

Rubbing orphans with the bloody mess birth makes

Sneaking them close, out of mother’s view

So she would stand and suckle two

Even though she had borne just one


Through new nettles we stepped

To gather up the nervous flock

To face down the boisterous lambs

Turning them towards their baa’ing mums

As they tried to twist and leap by

Running at us down the hill

Like gangs of children freed from school

And then later in the summer

You with strong maternal craft

Led the old sheep back to the barn

Without the need to catch her young


Daily moving, feeding and watering chickens

Removing victims of the fox

Returning together on the quad

Then in the orchard you sat with bottles

Feeding Daisy-Mae and the others

Naming animals, though not encouraged

Made morning and evening special

As blossom turned to small hard fruit

You happily fed your woolly babies


We watched the herd of fifty-six

Clear each fresh meadow of the sheep

To ensure that they would get the best

One day you stepped into their heavy midst

To rescue the little one enclosed by the cattle

He so curious, you so brave

No nonsense, firm and swiftly done

You saved him from the hefty hooves

Set him down and let him run


We watched and learned

Our skin weathered

By the wind and rain of mid-summer

To prepare the cows’ route

From field to field along the hedges

Along the electrified lines

We opened gates and stood well back

Leaving them their safe space

Then called them on and let them run

Down the hill and on between the posts

They could sense the fresh pasture in the air

On their sloppy, bubbled, rough tongues

They chased each other to the new grazing

In breath-taking leaps and thundering charge


In our first summer of such work

We grew fitter, stronger, closer

Until winter’s dark advance cast doubt

Separation leaving us scratched, stung and shocked

But the gate is open; has never closed

I cannot drive you where you will not go

But call as softly as I can

“Come on…Come on…”

That you might is yours to choose


CLP 27/12/2019

The Three Little Pigs

Pig 1: “Look guys

If we keep a low profile

All the heat will be on the cows”


Pig 2: “Methane producing flatulants!”


Pig 3: “I thought they were ruminants?”


Pig 1: “No, that’s the owls.

They do all the thinking.”


n.b. The methane producing capacity of cows is not as serious as it has been promoted, so I understand.

The whole question of climate change and bovine methane output is a distraction from the generation of air pollution from motor vehicles. The carcinogenic properties of diesel smuts have been masked for years. Turning attention to farm animals and the farming industry takes focus from burning fossil fuels. I am not saying agriculture is perfect, but when it comes to poisonous gas production we have to look at automobiles, aircraft and shipping.

Who started this? Where did the media get the story about cattle and methane? Who funded the ‘studies’?

CLP 06/12/2019


Two Doves

Pure white at first light

Flicker in the grey, rise up

From emptied pasture


n.b. Where two Devon Red cows had been seen each morning, (until this Wednesday), usually scratching at the wire protecting the young tree, a pair of doves were sitting. I saw them alight their perch and fly up into the dawn. They reminded me of the last of the cattle that once grazed here at Thornfalcon.

CLP 13/09/2019