Lest We Forget

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Row upon row, the crosses stand,
An army on parade,
Tended now by gentler hand
‘Neath verdant palisade.

Like silent sentinels, the trees
Stand guard here day and night
Though now only the bees
And vengeful magpies keep the fight.

No Sergeant-Major’s voice is heard,
No bugle call to battle.
The sound of leaves, by breezes stirred,
The call of distant cattle.

Baptised by mud and blood and sweat,
They heard their country’s call.
Waved off by crowds who then forget
And never see them fall.

From battle’s fertile fields, they’re borne
With honour to this place.
That we’ve not learned their lesson
Means yet more will meet their fate.

Though the lucky ones return,
It’s clear they’re never quite the same.
They, too, have paid a heavy price
Despite the victory claim.

Stephen Tomkins
3 April 2017
Sydney

Photo credit:
journalstar.com

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The Miracle Factory

Open all hours and open each day,
The Miracle Factory beavers away.
The Miracle Workers all wear special clothes
And speak their own language that no one else knows
With monitors, pumps and needles and tubes
And other cool gizmos that only they use,
Conduct arcane rituals from far distant lands
Attended by quizzing and laying-on of hands.

The Miracle Seekers, reluctant, attend
The Miracle Factory and hope they can mend
All kinds of ailments and injuries too,
In full expectation that they’ll all pull through.
But sadly, though, sometimes this isn’t the case,
And this is a thing that we’ll all have to face.
Still, in denial, we’d much rather stay –
In awe of the Factory that beavers away.

Stephen Tomkins
19 March 2017
Sydney

Brothers in Harm

In peacetime, I wouldn’t be seen dead with these others;
In wartime, I’d lay down my life for these brothers.
Not that long ago, we were mere babes-in-arms
Of mothers who saw nothing but for our charms.

Wherein lies the fault between enemy and friend?
Who must I kill and who should I defend?
Hatred is something not innate but learned –
A paradox when claiming “For peace we all yearn.”

At Boot Camp, they mould a most disparate group
Into a bonded and brotherly troop.
So, were you here then, you’d now be on my side,
But since you were not, I should kill you with pride.

Is the answer in language or your uniform?
Or maybe appearance or where you were born?
I’d rather not do this but since you’ll kill me,
I’ll kill in a heartbeat to keep us all free.

Stephen Tomkins
22 November 2016
Sydney

At a Loss

The fragile petals now will fall.
The leaves, of course, fell first of all.
And through it all she sits there still,
Living yet, against her will.

Her husband bravely does his best,
Including now a feeble jest.
She cried and cried, her tears now dried,
Since the day her baby died.

If only this, if I’d done that,
The self-destructive mental chat
Continues on inside her head
And fills her husband with such dread.

He prays she simply needs more time
To learn to deal with such a crime.
For now, he mourns not one but two:
The baby’s one, his wife now too.

Stephen Tomkins
14 January 2017
Sydney

Red Balloon

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I float through the world like a big red balloon –

Drifting and dreaming and bumping along,

Borne on the currents of breeze and monsoon,

Collecting experiences, none right nor wrong.

Behind and below me, there trails my long string,

If you want my attention, then give it a tug,

But don’t get excited, I don’t plan a thing

‘Cause I live for the moment, a kiss or a hug.

If I’m floating off, you can drag me your way

And I’ll happily follow along for a while

Till a zephyr distracts me and I’m borne away.

But don’t be upset, I’ll depart with a smile.

The winds are so fickle, I may soon return

From brand new adventures with tall tales to tell.

At some point, perhaps, for a home I may yearn:

Only love will entice me off this carousel.

 

Stephen Tomkins
19 October 2016
Sydney

Photo credit:
Pinterest

The Sweetest Thing

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The sun has packed up and gone home for the night,
Leaving behind a soft silvery light.
The sea has now dressed in a purplish blue,
And clouds are all lilac to fit in there too.
A heavenly breeze whispers subtle deceit,
Caressing away the day’s tropical heat.
But while my surroundings idyllic may be,
I remember that nothing in life comes for free –
Except the free-given love of that someone,
Unearned, undeserved, moulding two into one.

Stephen Tomkins
29 September 2016
Honolulu

Photo credit:
wallpaperup.com

Production Line

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Life’s factory conveyor-belt never will stop.
It races along and then suddenly drops,
Rolls under and hurries right back to the start –
To all things indifferent and lacking a heart.
We start when we land on the belt with a thump,
Well may we cry since from then on we jump.
Following orders as soon as we wake,
It’s chaos and frantic – no wonder we ache

To stop that betrayer-belt just for a while,
To regain our sanity, pause for a smile.
If in denial we didn’t persist,
The shadows we’re chasing would cease and desist.
And though the assayer-belt rolls on apace,
Reaching the end, we drop off without trace.
We only arrive there when our time is done,
Resistance is futile – it can’t be outrun!

Stephen Tomkins
15 November 2015
Perth

Time Traveller

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TV scenes flash on the screen of my mind
As I slowly start to relax and unwind.
Sweet frangipani has scented the air
And palm trees wave spindly hands in the air.
Sky’s perfect canvas of crimson and blue
Is brushed by cotton ball clouds drifting through.
Waters of turquoise and deep blue most royal
Inspire the timid and lovers most loyal.
A constant parade of those seeking the sun,
They come in their mobs and their twos and their ones.

And though I may seem altogether right here,
I’m split largely in between time zones, I fear.
Lost in a fog of my sacrificed sleep,
My body clock chimes with a resonance deep.
Tomorrow, I’ll once more be up in the air,
Leaving behind the poor Earthlings their cares.
Soon enough, though, I’ll be back on the ground
And by the real world I will once more be found –
The visions of places and people I’ve seen
Will seem little more than a half-faded dream.

Stephen Tomkins
29 September 2016
Honolulu

Happy Anniversary!

Life is what happens to you while you’re busy making other plans.
– John Lennon et al.

We had made it! We’d reached twenty-five years of marriage! My wife, co-conspirator, leading lady, best friend, confidante, advisor, instructor, superior officer, lover, patient and long-suffering companion, and bride and I were still together despite everything life had thrown at us! And that we’d thrown at each other!

In this day and age, that’s quite an achievement.

To celebrate this momentous event, I had organised a few days, away without the kids, in Adelaide – a place Monica, my wife, had never visited. We managed to escape from home without any major disasters. The flight to Adelaide was pleasant and uneventful. We were picked up promptly at the airport by the limousine I had arranged and taken to our hotel where we were upgraded to a luxury room for no additional cost.

Things were proceeding better than I had hoped.

The gift I had ordered online arrived intact and was as lovely as advertised – and arrived on time! She was suitably surprised.

We spent a lovely afternoon exploring Glenelg, by the beach.

On our return to the hotel, we were both a little weary so we decided to have a light meal from room service. We had booked a car for the next day to go wandering through the Adelaide hills. What could possibly go wrong after such a wonderful start?

Food poisoning, that’s what. Monica spent the night back and forth to the bathroom and the next day, our twenty-fifth anniversary, clutching a bowl, a towel and hovering near the bathroom. I spent the day tending to my poor bride’s needs. There was little I could do really.

It struck me that this is exactly what marriage is like. Beyond the glitz and dreamy-eyed romance of the early days together and the hype of the wedding day, marriage is just life, but in larger font. You make your plans, dream about what you will do together and then reality steps in.

It’s how you deal with derailments, disappointments, pleasant surprises and other unexpected eventualities that will determine the success or otherwise of a marriage. Or, indeed, a life.

Stephen Tomkins
27 April 2017
Sydney

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