How Did I Wind Up Here?

In days gone by, we’d wind our clocks

And they’d respond with ticks and tocks.

Nowadays, there is no need:

The sun or battery does the deed.

I wondered what the reason was

And figured it may be because,

Instead, we wind ourselves up tight,

And text and email through the night.

Instagram and Snapchat too,

Facebook – what’s life without you?

We live in fear of missing out,

Post our meals and goings out.

Perhaps with less time spent on screens,

Our lives could very well then seem

A lot more real, fulfilling too.

You see, that’s why I’m here with you.

 

Stephen Tomkins
12 August 2016
Sydney

Hamburger Hill

Hamburger Hill is my target tonight

And the thought of my mission just fills me with fright.

At the top of the ridge, I will rendezvous there

With my contact whose blue eyes and long, brunette hair

Disarm in an instant with effortless ease,

A hint of her perfume floats soft on the breeze.

Despite the attraction, we’ve work here to do:

It’s time that huge ammo dump finally blew.

We slip down the hill and dissolve in the dark.

It may seem like fun but this isn’t a lark.

Explosive and fuse are the tools of my trade –

You don’t last for long if you don’t make the grade.

Many the friend who’s been captured or killed;

You’re better off dead if they start with their drills.

A pat on the back and a day or two’s leave

Is the best I can hope for, there’s no time to grieve.

The cost of this victory, if one day it comes,

Can never be counted – see what I’ve become!

Stephen Tomkins

3 August 2016

Melbourne

So, How Are You?

 

She sat alone on a seat at the bar,

Her legs crossed and rhythmically swinging.

She glanced one more time her watch and then jumped,

As the phone in her hand started ringing.

 

The radiant smile on her face lit the room,

A snapshot of ecstasy captured.

But nothing remains the same for too long,

Especially a moment enraptured.

 

Her face then fell with an audible crack,

The phone became quite unstable.

The tears welled up and spilled down her crushed face

And formed a small pool on the table.

 

How quickly a world can change for someone,

Without warning or solace or season.

The fool who now seems a bit short on the phone

May just have a very good reason.

 

Stephen Tomkins
21 June 2016
Sydney

photo credit: 2.bp.blogspot.com

Hail the King!

He knows what is what

And he knows who is who

And, if you’re not careful,

He’ll do who to you!

‘Cos by putting you down

He can build himself up

So he’ll offer a refill

From his poisoned cup.

 

He walks down the hallway

All strutty and cool.

It’s clear to all passing

He’s nobody’s fool.

Opinions don’t matter

When he is around –

Each word that he utters

Is clearly profound.

 

But past castle parapet

And his thick walls,

Behind the array

Of his huge cannon balls,

Enter the Throne room

And you’ll find the King –

He’s just a lost boy

And not wearing a thing!

 

Stephen Tomkins
5 October 2016
Perth

Deeper

Two eyes, a nose, a mouth and chin
Set in endless shades of skin.
So different and yet still the same,
Each mix a chance genetic game.

And though I look a bit like you,
We may not share a common view
But still we both laugh, smile and cry,
Feel tired and hurt, with teary eye.

Yet so important are our looks,
The subject fills a million books.
The shape of my nose, the shade of my skin –
Really? Must judgement here begin?

Stephen Tomkins
5 July 2016
Sydney

Bourbon Dolphin

bourbon-dolphin5

Mum said when I turned fourteen years,
She’d put aside maternal fears
And I could go to work with Dad –
My dream, a dream so long I’ve had.
My Dad’s the Captain of a ship,
And I’m to go on his next trip.
Excited? Yes! You bet I am!
At last I feel just like a man!

Dad’s ship supports the North Sea rigs:
Supplies them, moves them, helps them dig.
He shows me the survival suits,
All in one piece, complete with boots.
We check the vests and radio;
The lines are in! Away we go!
I’m so excited I could burst;
Mum always seems to fear the worst!

Soon a massive chain’s aboard
And, on the bridge, no one is bored!
The work continues through the night.
By late next day something’s not right.
The ship tilts sharply to the left,
Then rights itself –  we all draw breath.
Suddenly, it’s on its side,
I’m on my back and terrified.

The ship continues over now,
We’re on the bridge but upside down!
Dad pulls me close and hugs me tight
And says it all will be alright.
The water takes my breath away –
It has such force, we can but pray.
The last thing that I ever hear
Is Dad’s love whispered in my ear.

Stephen Tomkins
23 December 2016
Perth

Author’s note: On April 12, 2007, the Bourbon Dolphin, an Anchor Handling Tug Supply Vessel, capsized while working in the North Sea. The ship sank three days later. Aboard were Captain Oddne Remøy and his fourteen-year-old son, David, who was on work experience. They were among the eight persons who lost their lives that day.

While based on media coverage of the event and the official accident report, the above is a fictitious account of what may have happened. Above all, this poem is a tribute to those who lost their lives.

The Festering Season

It’s the Festering Season all over again:

A most joyous time for all women and men.

Passed a whole year has for old wounds to mend

And breed the good will that such healing attends.

 

But old wounds are good wounds and this time of year

Is perfect for festering with wine and with beer.

A thought may be thought but it’s best not unleashed

Unless thought right through, lest the tension’s increased.

 

Still, why spoil the fireworks of family and friends –

So skilfully opening those old wounds again?

So, sit back, enjoy this year’s floor-show and dinner.

Just stay on the sidelines and you’ll be a winner.

 

Stephen Tomkins

10 December 2016

Singapore