Beneath The Mask

I used to dream

Of lots of things,

The world and I,

It seemed, had wings.

But time has passed

In fits and starts

And I’ve been left

In broken parts.

For though I’ve tried

To do my best –

In many ways

I have been blessed –

I always feel

I should do more,

Should be more,

With myself, at war.

 

How can I know

I’ve done enough?

And so, I smile,

Maintain my bluff.

In private moments,

While in bed,

My private eyes

Hot tears will shed.

And in the dark,

I find I’m shaking

As my heart

Is softly breaking.

I reach across

To find she’s there

And know I’m loved

More than my share.

 

So I try

To move ahead

And face the things

I once would dread.

Worthy, I have

Never felt

And so, to others

I have knelt.

At long last,

I’ve come to know

That all of us

Put on a show.

Beneath the mask

We’re all the same:

We all feel just

A little lame.

 

Stephen Tomkins
9 June 2019
Wellington, NZ

 

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Hurry

I passed you on the street today –

You hurried on your worried way.

And though our eyes did never meet,

Hastened on by frantic feet,

I felt a kinship just the same –

It seems we play a common game.

 

We hurry here, we hasten there,

And speed ourselves toward despair.

The flowers here that bloom today

Will tomorrow fade away.

And today, with all its cares,

With all its likes and all its shares,

 

Will be repeated evermore,

As all our efforts bleed us poor.

So, take a breath, extend a smile,

Inhale the sunshine for a while.

Upon this earth, we linger not:

Pray, make the most of what you’ve got.

 

Stephen Tomkins
31 October 2019
Sydney

Just a Moment

A moment of grace

Descend on you now

And, lifting your burden,

I pray you unbow.

 

A moment of joy

Brings mist to the eyes.

May it bring you solace,

No need for disguise.

 

A moment of peace,

True peace may you feel.

May it never cease

And may your heart heal.

 

A moment of sorrow

For things that have passed.

Now let them all go

For little does last.

 

A moment of grief

For those we have lost.

Accept their departure

In spite of the cost.

 

 

This is the moment,

Now is the time.

A day for atonement

A moment sublime.

 

Stephen Tomkins
22 April 2019
Perth

 

 

A Heart

How easily the head can drown out a heart

And, certainly, life likes to play its own part.

Bills to be paid and things to be done –

No time to play nor walk in the sun.

 

Weeks can dissolve and months fade away

While, down in the trenches, we battle with days.

New Year, then Easter, then Christmas arrive,

While all we can do is fight to survive.

 

The heart is forgotten, but still it beats on

And, sometimes, we wonder just where we went wrong.

But this is all part of the fabric of life –

A heart’s done its job when you know you’re alive.

 

Stephen Tomkins
10 February 2019
Osaka

 

 

Uploaded

A torrent of memories

Falls from my mind,

Like a forest of leaves

By late-autumn defined.

They flash on the screen

Of my mind’s inner eye,

Evoking emotion,

A tear or a sigh.

 

Just why they appear

At this moment in time,

I cannot explain –

There’s no reason nor rhyme.

All I can say is:

I wish you were here.

This never occurs

When I know you are near.

 

Stephen Tomkins
26 January 2019
Auckland

Unkind

He wakes in the morning and opens the blinds,

Hoping for answers that he never finds.

Yet, deep down, he knows that it’s all in his mind,

In spite of the pain to which he’s resigned.

 

If he could but count the well-meaning advice

That unfailingly makes him feel worse in a trice,

He’d have run out of numbers a long time ago,

So, he smiles and continues to fight on alone.

 

He knows he has much to feel grateful about –

A black hole of nothingness sucks it all out.

To feel like a human, he desperately tries,

But all he can summon is deep, heartfelt sighs.

 

Still, life motors on and he knows this will pass –

Tears and pain and wounded feelings won’t last.

If, somehow, he can only bear these few hours,

He’ll rise from the mud and emerge from the showers.

 

Stephen Tomkins
1 January 2019
Osaka

So Different

For all of our difference,

So different we’re not.

Like gold in a furnace,

We melt in a pot:

As life burns away

The peripheral and trite,

Leaving behind

What’s important and right.

 

For when we’re boiled down,

We’re all nearly the same –

For where you were born,

You’re not really to blame.

The things we all hope for,

The solace we seek,

Are the due of all people,

The bold and the meek.

Stephen Tomkins
28 August 2018
Sydney

Safe Now

Hush, my friend, you’re safe now,

And though the tears may fall,

Let it out – I will not judge,

You’ve gone beyond the call.

 

For while you may not understand,

You need to let it go.

Just one more breath is all you need,

One more and you will grow.

 

I’ve known your pain for so long now,

I’ve longed to ease your soul.

I’ve heard your cries deep in the night

And still you reached your goal.

 

Your sacrifice, unknown to most,

I know has cost you dear.

So, take my hand and let it go,

You’re always safe right here.

 

Stephen Tomkins
18 October 18
Sydney

Us and Them

I’m comfortable with you and me –

I’m not so sure about them.

They’re not from here, their clothes are strange,

They’re easy to condemn.

 

They speak some other language too –

I don’t know why they’re here!

And, what is worse, they’ve brought their kids!

Oh God, I need a beer!

 

Let’s banish them to somewhere else

And then we will be fine –

Though who is in and who is out’s

Not easy to define.

 

For not that long ago, you see,

My folks arrived here too.

Somehow, they made this place their home –

Perhaps some more can too?

 

Stephen Tomkins
30 October 18
Brisbane

Hello?

In the crowd but not of it,

I’m swept along like a leaf.

A floater, fleetingly feeling his way,

Unwittingly seeking relief.

 

I’m part of the crowd but aloof,

Out of hundreds, a singular cell.

Unnoticed, unheard, it’s all somehow absurd,

We each have a story to tell.

 

Vapourisation, some weird conflagration,

Should suddenly cause me to cease,

The crowd, though diminished, flows on to the finish,

Content with its version of peace.

 

Stephen Tomkins
7 October 2018
Osaka