Ricky Baker

roots of child neglect,

contort Ricky Baker’s feet,

strong hands cut safe paths.

(haiku inspired by Taika Waititi’s 2016 film, Hunt for the Wilderpeople)

How do the Ricky Bakers of the world keep from stumbling over the roots of child neglect? They are the refuse of an adult world that has failed them. Those young whose parents cannot care for them often end up juggled around the foster care system, their only possessions fitting in the bags they carry. Many of these children end up filling the cells in juvenile detention centers. Those who end up in child prison face suicide rates and rates of adult incarceration that dwarf those of their peers in the general population. The problem impacts minority children disproportionately. As a society, we allow them to trip over the tangled mess that grows from poverty, and then we lock them away when they fall.

Hunt for the Wilderpeople, directed and adapted by Taika Waititi from the Barry Crump novel, Wild Pork and Watercress, explores the question with the perfect mix of quirky humor, adventure in the gorgeous New Zealand bush and pointed social commentary. The movie follows Hec (Sam Neill) and Ricky (Julian Dennison) into the wilderness to flee a child welfare officer (Rachel House) determined to place Ricky in juvenile detention through a police response that escalates out of control. This is a wonderful film that gives voice to the kind of love it takes to rescue a child and change a life. It also reflects the inept and often ridiculous response we as a human family make toward those children in desperate need of our understanding and help.

In 2016, a first edition of my novel, The Legend of the Lumenstones, was selected for children in a juvenile detention center to foster creative expression and encourage them to develop their unique gifts, a theme of the book. One girl found so much inspiration in the book that she took it with her when she successfully transitioned into foster care and used it for a school presentation for her new classmates. She continues to explore her gifts in art and writing. For me, that experience served as a catalyst to pursue a project geared toward raising money to fund art programs for children in her situation. I began with a few free verse poems telling their stories, then I watched Ricky Baker.

I love the diminutive haiku. In Hunt for the Wilderpeople, Ricky Baker forms them prolifically. His 5-7-5 beat dance of words and his determined spirit to survive inspired the theme that grew into A Haiku for Ricky Baker, a compilation of my poetry dedicated to the troubled youth of this world. All the proceeds from the sales of this book go to fund art programs for at-risk children. Please consider supporting this project today.




Words and Photography ©2017 Tanya Cliff ~ to contact me

Entry posted in haiku & filmBookmark the permalink.

25 thoughts on “Ricky Baker

  1. Well said, dear Tanya. In my volunteer efforts with homeless working families, for the hard hearted legislators, I ask them to bypass their erroneous feelings toward the adults and think of the kids. If we can break the cycle of homelessness, we can alter the course for the children. A key data point is a homeless child has a greater propensity to be a homeless adult than a child with a home.

    We can make multi-generational differences by helping foster kids, homeless kids and kids in poverty. Plus, by helping, we are paying ourselves a psychic income that means a great deal.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Thank you, Keith! You made excellent points. Children don’t have any say as to what conditions they are born into. It’s up to us to think past our own biases and get busy helping. They are OUR children.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. My favorite part of the comment was: “You made excellent points.”
        There are so many Ricky Bakers out there who need our help.
        Glad to have friends like you on WP who think so too!

        Liked by 1 person

      1. You are welcome, Tanya. We dodged the worst of the snow. The Cape got a foot, but northwest of Boston was maybe 6 inches, which is nothing for this area. Easy snow blowing tomorrow morning.

        Liked by 1 person

  2. “We reach them one at a time with love, patience and a steady hand.” This is how I tried to teach and this is how it should be. Speaking of the weather, -23C here this morning. Brrrr! But “I’ve got my love to keep me warm.”

    Liked by 1 person

    1. It is easy to be overwhelmed thinking about the world’s problems. Solutions come in small bits delivered by caring hands. I would have loved to sit in your class; but in many ways, I do!
      Stay warm…
      It’s cold here too. I’m curling up by my fireplace. Best to you and Clare!

      Liked by 1 person

      1. People didn’t ever sit in my classes: they hopped about like macro-grasshoppers. That was all part of the fun. “Solutions come in small bits delivered by caring hands.” Beautiful, and oh so true. We change the world, one life, one dream, at a time. Nos da (Goodnight, in Welsh).

        Liked by 1 person

      2. It was always fun and I never lost the joy of meeting minds and encouraging them to develop. I try to avoid the word ‘teaching’. I was never a ‘teacher’ in that sense. It’s impossible to ‘teach’ poetry and culture and the deeper inner meanings that come with true understanding. One can ‘lead’, ‘guide’, or ‘prompt’, but those aren’t the right words either. Never mind … I’ll find the right word one day …

        Liked by 1 person

  3. Mostly, I feel quite helpless to do anything but keep myself off the streets. But I have joined with a group of quilters that make quilts and pillowcases so foster children and families in safe houses can at least have that for themselves. We also buy and donate socks and underwear in all sizes to give them. It’s such a little thing but it’s better than doing nothing. Sometimes we help, sometimes we fail to help. But we can’t stop trying.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I think that is a beautiful thing to do! We underestimate the power of all the little things we do. All those little things add up to big impacts, if we just keep at it. I can’t sew to save my life. In my mind, a quilt is a HUGE and meaningful gift! Good for you! Thank you so much for sharing. It inspires other people to do what they can.😊

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Thank you! It’s a little part of what I can do. I agree with you, too. A lot of those people volunteering and making a difference in the world are too busy to make much noise about it. The Ricky Bakers of the world need those people desperately.

        Liked by 1 person

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