I Love Traffic

In silken threads of silver hue,
The clouds drift by as if to view
The chaos raging here below
As to and fro we madly go,
Changing lanes with gritted teeth
And miss by inches sudden grief
To save a second, maybe two
And meet again just down the queue.
Perhaps we should just take a breath?
It’s better than an on-time death.

Stephen Tomkins
21 June 2016
Sydney

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Freshly Squeezed

Squeeze an orange, leave behind
A fragrant shell of pulp and rind.
Life’s pulping plant achieves the same
As juice pours swiftly down the drain.
It seems there is no fragrance left,
This cheerless world is life bereft.
And, sucked inside our vacuum phones,
Together, we’re all here alone.

Stephen Tomkins
20 May 2016
Sydney

Play Nicely with the Other Children

A new preschool recently opened across the road from me. Thinking about enrolling my youngest child, I asked if I could sit in for a morning to see if I would be comfortable leaving my son there. “Sure”, came the ready reply from the professional-looking Principal.

Over the next hour or so, the place filled up quickly with bright-eyed two- to five-year-olds. The first formal activity was Show and Tell. This will be illuminating, thought I.

Maria was the first to stand. “I brought in a set of Daddy’s old knuckles”, she said, proudly displaying a worn set of knuckle-dusters.

“Aren’t they illegal?” I murmured to the teacher.

“No. They’re ok in this State,” she replied. “She’s not going to use them anyway….”

Next was Alphonse. I thought my surprise for the day had passed. I was wrong. Three-year-old Alphonse whipped out a hunting knife, beaming from ear to ear.

“Isn’t that…..” I began.

“No. It’s ok in this State. He’s hardly likely to use it on anyone, though, is he?” she countered.

I gave her a very doubtful look which she happily ignored.

Miriam now took centre stage with her Grandfather’s Luger which, she proudly informed us, he had taken from a dead German officer during the war.

I cautiously rose to my feet.

“Don’t worry”, said the teacher, laying a comforting hand on my arm. “It’s so old I doubt it even works. In any case, guns don’t kill, people do. And Miriam doesn’t look like a killer, does she?”

Miriam gave me a disarming smile.

“I suppose…”

“That’s nothing,” boomed little Joshua, as he staggered to the front, desperately trying to carry an M-16 assault rifle.

“Oh, come on!” I exclaimed.

The teacher could see where I was heading and cut me off. “They are perfectly legal in this State!” she pronounced. “And we do insist on the standard magazines rather than the oversize ones. Anyway, guns don’t…”

“I know, I know,” I replied.

For some reason, I was not feeling particularly comfortable at the thought of my three-year-old immersed in such a culture.

I lay awake that night trying to make sense of it all. Suddenly, it was all crystal clear: fists don’t punch – people do. Knives don’t stab – people do. Guns don’t kill – people do. Nuclear weapons don’t destroy the planet for centuries to come – people do. The solution is simple – ban people!

Not me, of course, I’m perfectly rational. If you disagree with that, then you clearly have a problem. So, I’m afraid, you will be banned.

 

Stephen Tomkins

19 July 2016

Sydney

Two Cats and a Tom

I have now decided to branch into short stories as well as my poetry. This post is my first foray into that style. I hope you enjoy it. 🙂

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Two Cats and a Tom

The waitress led me to a table by the window in the bar on the top floor of my luxury hotel, overlooking Hong Kong’s magnificent harbour. The constellation of coloured lights winked as I sat and ordered a drink. As luck would have it, at the next table sat two Cats and a Tom.

“Puh-leeaase”, said the Tom. “Gravy train, gravy train”.

I wondered what language he was speaking.

“He’s had his snout in the trough for years”, replied Cat 1.

Ahh! Here was a language I understood. The Cats were fashionably dressed with tasteful jewellery and makeup while the Tom was casually dressed with his hair smothered in “product”. I doubt that it could have moved even if the super-typhoon off the coast had appeared in the bar. While the trio sat still, their tails whipped back and forth (as is the way with cats) to indicate their minds were working overtime.

Cat 2 interrupted her grooming to mumble something, at which the others nodded sagely as if something profound had just been said.

In the far corner of the bar, the pianist began playing and the singer began yowling off key. There was no doubt I was tired but I began to wonder if I’d walked into some private bar for felines. My fears were confirmed as the conversation continued.

“He had no idea when he worked on the line,” (this was not a reference to the Internet) continued Cat 1. “So he moved into management as soon as he could.”

My eyes had now adjusted to the half-light and I could make out the painted claws gleaming and clearly ready for action.

Cat 2 now made another contribution, “I was there when a passenger had a heart attack and John (not his real name) went into meltdown. I had to take over while he pretended to direct the action. He got an Excel award and I got nothing! Hello! I was there too!”

“Typical!”, replied the Cat 1.

“Would you care for another champagne?”, asked the Tom.

“Ooonnnee stip closerrrr”, shrieked the singer in the background. Somehow the glass appeared unaffected.

“Oh yes!”, purred the Cats.

A whip of the Tom’s lustrous tail was sufficient to bring the waiter. “Three more champagnes please,” said the Tom. He continued, “We used to do shuttles to New York. They were sooo tiring.”

I must have missed the connection.

Cat 2 replied, “Just about everyone from my initial course has got an Excel award but I haven’t yet. I don’t understand why.”

“But the most tiring of all,” moaned the Tom to no one in particular, “were the Mumbai shuttles. They were shockers.”

Cat 1 now entered her own orbit. “I can’t wait to get back to Tokyo. Being downtown is so much better than being out near the airport.”

“I have leeerrrrved yoooouuuu!” droned the singer. Another patron burst into enraptured applause. I was uncertain as to whether he had enjoyed the song or was simply relieved it had finished.

As I quickly drained my glass, it occurred to me that I was glad that the motivation for those who care for me inflight had so much to do with my wellbeing. Cats might fly! Another day in paradise.

 

Stephen Tomkins
8 July 2016
Hong Kong

Photo credit:
johnlund.com

 

 

Who Needs Feelings Anyway?

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So, how do I feel?
Well, where do I start?
For many long years
I’ve kept chains on my heart.
Those feelings kept captive
Would flow just like blood,
If freed, I’m afraid
I’d just drown in the flood.

The chains and their locks
Are maintained with great care.
It’s really much safer
If feelings stay there.
And though I may yearn
Now to share them with you,
I’ve been burned before
Though they said they’d be true.

Words may be knives –
They’re heard once and are gone,
But feelings remain
And the wounds linger long.
So am I a coward
Or merely pragmatic?
I’m fragile right now –
Could you be diplomatic?

Stephen Tomkins
1 May 2016
Hong Kong

Photo credit:
giphy.com