Life Diminished

Where commuters once would surge,
Driven by a common urge,
Uneasy silence reigns instead,
Bound by an unspoken dread.

Deep within their fortress homes,
Guarded by their garden gnomes,
The people sit in disbelief,
United in a sudden grief.

All the plans and all the goals,
Shipwrecked on unbidden shoals,
And as the next wave hits the shore,
They’re broken up a little more.

In an outer ring of Hell,
The people, mostly, are all well,
And though he wishes no one ill,
It seems Death’s not yet had his fill.

So, they remain in limbo yet,
A vaccine not an even bet.
Authorities are clueless still
With re-election to fulfil.

Stephen Tomkins
28 October 2020
Sydney

The Guru

When the virus started,

The whole world was on the brink.

Didn’t like the sound of that,

Decided I should drink.

Started off with water,

Hoped I’d wash those germs away.

Then I made a bleachy mix

‘Cause He said, “That’s the way!”

 

Shone UV light down my throat,

Some other places too.

Ended up with nasty burns,

Oh! How I hate the loo!

This COVID thing continued on,

So lockdown lingered longer.

Despite my disinfectant shots,

I needed something stronger.

 

I shifted to pure alcohol,

It’s kind of like a cleaning.

It gave the saying “being smashed”

A new and nasty meaning.

When I regained my consciousness,

I felt quite close to death:

My pounding head, my nausea,

My slow and laboured breath.

 

Thought, “COVID can’t be worse than this!”

Although I wasn’t sure.

I grabbed my phone and felt relieved

‘Cause He had tweeted more.

“One day, just like a miracle,

It will have gone away.

‘Til then, I’ve done and awesome job –

That’s all there is to say!”

 

The Guru spoke and I paid heed

To all His learned words.

I quit my drinking

And then joined His vast, adoring herds.

 

Stephen Tomkins
7 May 2020
Sydney

Staying Current

“Good morning, Ladies and Gentlemen. This is your Captain speaking….”

It seems a lot longer than five weeks since I last made that announcement. In the time of the virus, we have all had to curtail our travel and a whole lot more, but for someone whose work is travel, it is a strange world indeed.

Like most of my colleagues, I have been stood down. Adjusting to an open-ended grounding hasn’t been easy. But I’ve come up with a few ways to try to keep things as normal as I can.

Firstly, and this is my favourite, I ensure I check my work emails multiple times a day and obsessively check that my manuals and charts are all up to date. You never know…

Then, every few days, I pack my bags, get into my uniform, and move to the spare room. I then unpack and socially-distance myself from everyone. I binge-watch Netflix and Stan, along with YouTube and so on. Maybe read a book. I call my family on WhatsApp just to stay connected.

Phase one complete.

Phase two. In the middle of the night, when everyone is asleep, I descend to the kitchen and prepare for flight. I arrange my pre-packaged meal and heat it in the microwave. My cutlery is removed from the freezer, as is my bread roll. I then sit in the dark, ensure some white noise is playing over my headphones, and enjoy my meal while staring into the dark nothingness, surrounded by as many screens as I can find, displaying rarely changing information. Ahh! Such bliss!

As the sun rises, I return to the spare room and attempt to sleep. When I awake, I call room service and order some breakfast. My wife (who has the patience of a saint) brings my food on a tray. I tip her generously and she leaves. But not before she gives me a look which is simply beyond description.

Stephen Tomkins
17 April 2020
Sydney