nights were forest with foliage too dense
to let in the light of moon and stars –
and days were savannah   prairie   steppe –

glory and danger in strangeness of mountain
and sea and river – survival was tracking
the flock to the watering hole –

herd upwind and sun in their eyes –
fruit and grain foraged when chance allowed –
and there was no time but hunger’s clock –

no inheritance but instinct   experience and blood –
and the tasks that there were   were tasks for all
and rewards that there were   were rewards for all

and life was vivid   sacred and short
and we did not know to call it outdoors
when there were no doors   no in   no out


Mike Farren’s pamphlets are: Pierrot and his Mother (Templar), All of the Moons (Yaffle) and Smithereens (4Word). He won the Saltaire Festival and Ilkley Literature Festival poetry prizes in 2020 and was ‘canto’ winner for Poem of the North (2018).