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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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

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

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

Arise!

Taken for granted and filled with misgiving,
Life is for loving, for living, forgiving.
Though, through the years, the bright lights may be dimming
And, at the end, all those tears may be brimming,
We still, day by day, live a life worth the struggle
Till the Reaper appears and, with love, bursts our bubble.
The choice, then, is ours: to choose life or demise.
‘Tis human to weep, but love bids us arise.

Stephen Tomkins
29 February 2016
Sydney