Tom Bradley

A throaty airport van

Gives expectant birth to

A flight crew of black and gold and white

As they weave their way into

Tom Bradley

In the bustling dead of night.

 

Moaning steely birds

Circle high above,

Seeking respite and yet,

Constrained by forces unseen and unheard,

Flash their lights

In bold disdain –

A petulant display,

Both impressive and absurd.

 

All the while, surly uniforms,

Wearing their silent threats,

Corral the hapless voyagers

Through grim functionality into lines neverending,

Until they emerge

Into a bright carnival sideshow

Of excess and endless spending.

 

As lures for the prey,

The birds in their various plumages

Are reluctantly tolerated

But banished to distant piers,

Lest they deter the captives

From parting with their currency –

A farewell eliciting no tears.

 

Stephen Tomkins
3 November 2019
Los Angeles

In It For The Long Haul

From high above the heaving sea,

With iPad chart upon my knee,

I gaze into the endless sky

As cotton balls of life creep by.

The indications of our speed,

Created by our mighty steed,

Seem unrelated to the view

Of floating in the aching blue,

And yet the world drifts slowly by,

From pewter seas to mountains high.

In boundless tones of floating fire,

The sun at last deigns to retire.

The lights are dimmed, our eyes relax,

The stars are all turned up to max.

Glowing cities that pass below,

Like jewel-studded carpet on ebony snow,

Are milestones on a featureless road,

As we speak on in our acronym code.

Elastic hours speed up and slow down

Till the last frantic minutes as wheels meet the ground.

Stephen Tomkins
21 November 2019
Los Angeles

Modern Bird

Oh A380, mighty bird,

That you get airborne – quite absurd!

A thing of your enormous size

Should never from the ground arise.

 

Yet, from the ground, arise you do –

No problem for a bird like you.

Transporting us from here to there,

A block of units in the air.

 

Far greater than an albatross,

You stretch your mighty wings across

A football field or two or three,

As far as one can likely see.

 

Awash with fuel your wings may be

So you can soar across the sea,

But those inside would never know

Just what it is that makes you go.

 

No feathers, beak nor awkward feet,

You’ve wheels for when your flight’s complete.

Ungainly while you’re on the ground,

Once in the air, you’re quite profound.

 

Stephen Tomkins
21 June 2019
Sydney

Three Hundred and Six

Three hundred and six souls aboard tonight.

And so, begins the homeward flight.

An Asian departure, most often at night,

Means we arrive in the bright morning light.

 

So, while you’re asleep through the inky black night,

I’ll be up front with my screens and dimmed lights.

I’ve done this before – I’ve lost track of the times –

The time zones are etched on my face as fine lines.

 

So, sleep on at peace – I’ll be awake.

Thanks to the jetstream, we’ll land before eight.

The moon and the stars will sign on as crew,

Along with the people I work with for you.

 

Stephen Tomkins
30 October 2018
Brisbane

The Gift of Lift

 

Lift is a gift sent from Heaven above
To draw aircraft homeward with Heavenly love.
You’d like to float upward? Well, that just won’t work;
That lurk is for Angels – it’s kind of a perk.
So, bolt on your rotors or wings, if you will
And ready yourself for an unearthly thrill.
Bolt them on tightly for in them you must
Place all your hopes and your dreams and your trust.
Add some propulsion and balance the weight,
Four forces slow-dancing while out on a date.
Flirt with the clouds and then harness the breeze,
You’ll soon find yourself over rivers and seas.
And when you return to the earth with a bump,
You’ll never again be considered a grump.

Stephen Tomkins
20 October 2017
Sydney

All For Nought

Pushed back early, joined the queue,
Did all we could really do.
Flew all night, increased the speed,
Gently urged our noble steed.
Right course steered, the sun appeared,
At last the destination neared.
Commenced descent, the clouds were rent,
The bright approach lights heaven sent.
Touchdown nice, reverse applied,
Braked and airspeed slowly died.
A hint of satisfaction now
(Well, we could hardly take a bow!).
And then hit by a hammer blow –
No parking bay, so taxi slow!
After all we’d had to do
To get connecting passengers through!
We found a taxiway unused
And there we sat with more fuel used.
At least we weren’t the only ones
As fuel burned up in metric tonnes!
A selfish aircraft, so delayed,
Blocked the bay for which we’d paid.
At last, to push they finally asked,
In sweet relief, we briefly basked.
A false alarm: they’d closed the door
With some ground staff still on board!
Finally, they pushed and left
And ceased their terminal tenure theft!
At least the airport owner’s pleased,
With every inch of tarmac leased!

Stephen Tomkins
16 March 2017
Sydney

 No prizes for guessing which airport!

Time Traveller

IMG_0749

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

Sorry For Being Born

The-Overly-Excited

Arrive at airport, cap in hand.
My bags are packed, my travel planned.
“Oh! The glamour!” you may think
But I’ll be treated like I stink!

As airline staff on cheap staff travel,
All careful plans will now unravel.
So I approach the hallowed desk
Where staff may check-in at their risk.

Like an insect, I am viewed
And told to wait in voices rude.
In holding pen, we congregate
And hopefully await our fate.

In muted tones, we quiz each other
And try obliquely to discover
Just where we fit into the list –
My category must be higher than this!

At last they start to call some names,
And so begin the churlish games.
Those lucky few will get on board,
The rest of us will sit here, bored.

Like music to my weary ears,
I hear my name as chaos clears.
They take my bag, give me a pass,
And tell me, “Move your bloody arse!”

I sprint now to the Customs queue.
Amidst the throng, I wrestle through.
On my watch, I check the time –
My God! How long’s this frappin’ line!

Finally, I get on board,
Wedged between two giants! Lord!
So strong the scent of garlic is,
There’ll be no vampires here for years!

I’ll need no seatbelt come what may:
Restrained by blubber, I will stay.
Come meal-time, there’ll be nothing left.
Cheap travel is a wondrous gift!

JHJ

Stephen Tomkins
7 January 2016
Sydney

Photo credits:

http://www.businessworldtravel.com
theegyptiantraveler.blogspot.com
acollectionofmusings.wordpress.com

Oh! The Glamour!

Jet-lag-940x528

Awoke this morning with a mighty start,
Suspended in the inky void.
Tried to slow my racing heart,
My dreamless slumber now destroyed.

Reached for where I knew the lamp was,
Where I though it might have been,
Came up empty, hurt my hand ‘cause
There’s a wall where lamp had been.

Confusion, now, my brain has gripped,
I start to wonder where I am.
Veneer of smugness now has slipped,
Consult my mental diagram!

Roll across the bed and fall out,
Find myself upon the floor.
Why am I awake? A call-out?
Search around for bathroom door.

Find the bathroom. Find the light.
Of course! It’s slowly coming back!
Could it be time for my next flight?
‘Cause if it is, I’d better to pack!

Frantically, I quickly shower,
Dress and fill my useless bag;
Leave the room, descend the tower.
God! This life can be a drag!

Make my entrance to the lobby,
In uniform with cap in hand.
Hotel staff all look so snobby,
Crew has gone! Well, I’ll be damned!

‘Twas then I spied the lobby clock,
My heart then sank just like a stone.
It’s 2 am! Oh what a shock!
Of course, I really should have known!

Ten hours early, I am now –
A trial run, of course, I planned.
Vacate the lobby with a bow;
You frequent flyers understand!

Stephen Tomkins
13 July 2015
Shanghai.

time zone

Author’s note: I make no comment as to whether the above incident actually took place.

Night Flight

139-crescent-moon-background

A Cheshire Cat moon beams down from on high
And slowly sinks lower and lower in the sky;
His comforting smile rewarding my thoughts
While beset by machines with their ones and their noughts.

The blackest of seas swallows Cat and his smile
Like a red crescent whale diving deep for a while.
Pinpricks of light in an ebony veil
Disinterestedly shimmer, unchanging and pale.

Air hisses past like a rain-swollen stream,
While I seem suspended in a motionless dream.
Time passes by at a glacial pace.
The miles that we fly disappear without trace.

Bodiless voices speak on in my ears,
Silence again as the frequency clears.
A voice now beside me, my reverie breaks,
Suggesting a coffee to keep us awake.

The view from his window, no different to mine,
But does he perceive what I think is so fine?
The weather tonight is so clear and benign;
It’s not always like this when flying the Line!

Stephen Tomkins
11 July 2014