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

This Crazy World

Down the road where the Buffalo grow and the grasses roam the field,

I know a place to hide my face and keep my heart concealed.

‘Tis there I meet my wandering feet and once more feel I’m whole;

I eat my fill of daffodil and rest my aching soul.

Once more I leave, my plans conceive, and venture through the world

And in the street, though people meet, too swiftly, lives are whirled.

From time to time, above the grime, inflated egos fly

Unchecked by thought, and though unsought, opinions pierce the sky.

Fact and tact make no impact as feelings are lampooned

And beating hearts can play no part and, deftly, are harpooned.

But through it all, I hear the call of the grasses’ joyful glee,

With Buffalo herds, though quite absurd, all growing straight and free.

Once I get there, abandon care, and knit my holey heart,

Then once I’m joined, I’ll gird my loins and make another start.

 

Stephen Tomkins

22 July 2016

Hong Kong

 

Ocean Voyage

Buoyant and beautiful, fragile and fraught,

A life floats on by, it’s yours to be caught.

Focus we can on disasters in store

And stay tied up tight still secure on the shore.

Or venture instead on the unyielding sea

And batten the hatches, but just as needs be

Lest on bright sunny days when there’s nary a swell,

We, in our imaginings, live still in hell.

Storms we’ll encounter, we know that for sure,

But wipe off the salt and then come back for more.

The storms are essential: they help us to see

The days in between for the joy they can be.

 

Stephen Tomkins
24 August 2016
Melbourne

Mosquito Est Morte! (An Opera in the Making!)

Once my life was so tranquilo
With my hundred sweet bambinos,
Now I’m cryin’ all the time
Because there’s only ninety-nine!
The hand of God (or so it seemed)
Smacked my son and now he’s creamed!

How I tried that hand to veto!
Oh! That heartless huge bandito!
Pay, he will, for murderous deeds:
It’s he I’ll see for my next feed!
But to him I’m incognito
So I’ll leave one huge graffito!

Then he’ll rue his evil crime –
Justice truly is quite blind!
Though my heart will not be healed,
This criminal won’t be concealed!
My banner on his arm unfurled:
“One Less Mosquito in the World!”

Stephen Tomkins
9 August 2016
Manila

Was I Ever Really Here?

I fixed up the mess that’s my side of the bed,
Including the dent that was left by my head.
But when she wakes up, it will seem just as though
No one had slept there.

In the food court, I sat down and ate
And when I was done, I then packed up my plate.
So when I walked out it was really as though
No one had been there.

From what was my desk, I cleaned out my stuff
Even wiping off the dust and the fluff.
Come Monday, it will be just as though
No one had worked there.

So, one day, when cross the river I go,
And though for a few, it may be a blow,
But when they look back, will it be as though
I’d never been there?

Stephen Tomkins
23 June 2016
Sydney