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

 

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

I’ll Be Quiet Now

Darlin’, you’re one in a million.

But statistics were never my scene –

Since the world’s pushin’ two hundred billion,

I’m sure that’s not what I mean!

‘Cause of you there’d be two hundred thousand

And that just cannot be right:

For no matter where I’d be a’browsin’,

There’d be several of you in my sight!

 

Perhaps you’re one in a billion –

There’d still be two hundred of you!

Or maybe just one per gazillion –

Statistics! I’ve had it with you!

Darlin’, I don’t seek another!

How could there be another you?

I’ll stop now and try to recover

From drownin’ in my well-meant stew!

 

Stephen Tomkins
16 May 2019
Somewhere between Sydney and Perth
(I was a passenger, ok?)

 

Hong Kong Style

Skyscrapers eagerly reach for the cloud,

Each new one trying to puncture the shroud –

Precariously perched on the side of a hill,

A balancing act of spectacular skill.

 

Inside the glittering towers of glass,

They labour in hope that their dreams come to pass.

Lower on down in the shimmering shops,

Luxury brands flaunt their exclusive chops.

 

Ubiquitous red and gold, gaudy to some,

Signals to all that the new year has come.

Clearly a festival bigger than big –

This year announcing the Year of the Pig.

 

Everyone seeking their own pot of gold

They hope comes their way before they’re too old.

Unique to Hong Kong? I see you now smile.

The answer is “no”, but they have their own style!

 

Stephen Tomkins
1 February 2019
Hong Kong

 

 

 

 

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

 

 

Too Soon

Trees still as statues

On carpets of grass.

Air barely moving

And flowers like glass.

 

A world scarcely breathing,

A moment serene.

In the silence, a healing,

An unceasing dream.

 

Then out of the aching

Blue dome up above,

The city descends

Like the slap of a glove,

 

Shoving the statues

And breaking the glass

And, far too soon,

This Eden must pass.

 

Stephen Tomkins
19/2/19
Perth

 

 

Music on the Radio

Highway traffic, moving slow.

No way round it, don’tcha know?

Music on the radio,

Won’t you make the traffic go?

 

Interrupting urgent ads,

Saving me from useless fads,

Music on the radio,

Can’t you make the traffic flow?

 

Fervent preaching sermonising,

Commentators patronising.

Music on the radio –

I know, I know, I know.

 

In the mornings, afternoons,

Endless talk by paid buffoons.

Music on the radio,

Please just make the workday go.

 

Stephen Tomkins
15 March 2019
Singapore

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

Guns

Check your egos at the door,

Leave your guns and, furthermore,

Make your way onto the floor –

There’s always room for just one more.

 

The gangsters and the rappers too

Will likely have more bling than you

But that won’t stop the funky beat

From whipping up a tasty treat.

 

‘Cause, in the end, who really cares

Just who submits to stupid dares?

We’re all here to have some fun –

For that, you will not need a gun.

 

Stephen Tomkins
18 January 2019
Sydney

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