The Department of Truth

You don’t know we exist
But, I gently insist,
We can change your whole view of the world.
We have been here for years,
With your hopes and your fears,
While our spin on the news is unfurled.

Through social media too,
We have been here for you,
So you’ll be in no doubt what to think.
We don’t want you to stress,
There’s no need for duress,
We can update your views in a blink.

Though our opinions we spread,
Once they’re seen, heard, or read,
They’re accepted by most to be fact.
And if you should disagree,
You’ll get no help from me,
With the Truth, I’ve long made a pact.

Stephen Tomkins
20 January 2017
Singapore

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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

Play Nicely with the Other Children

A new preschool recently opened across the road from me. Thinking about enrolling my youngest child, I asked if I could sit in for a morning to see if I would be comfortable leaving my son there. “Sure”, came the ready reply from the professional-looking Principal.

Over the next hour or so, the place filled up quickly with bright-eyed two- to five-year-olds. The first formal activity was Show and Tell. This will be illuminating, thought I.

Maria was the first to stand. “I brought in a set of Daddy’s old knuckles”, she said, proudly displaying a worn set of knuckle-dusters.

“Aren’t they illegal?” I murmured to the teacher.

“No. They’re ok in this State,” she replied. “She’s not going to use them anyway….”

Next was Alphonse. I thought my surprise for the day had passed. I was wrong. Three-year-old Alphonse whipped out a hunting knife, beaming from ear to ear.

“Isn’t that…..” I began.

“No. It’s ok in this State. He’s hardly likely to use it on anyone, though, is he?” she countered.

I gave her a very doubtful look which she happily ignored.

Miriam now took centre stage with her Grandfather’s Luger which, she proudly informed us, he had taken from a dead German officer during the war.

I cautiously rose to my feet.

“Don’t worry”, said the teacher, laying a comforting hand on my arm. “It’s so old I doubt it even works. In any case, guns don’t kill, people do. And Miriam doesn’t look like a killer, does she?”

Miriam gave me a disarming smile.

“I suppose…”

“That’s nothing,” boomed little Joshua, as he staggered to the front, desperately trying to carry an M-16 assault rifle.

“Oh, come on!” I exclaimed.

The teacher could see where I was heading and cut me off. “They are perfectly legal in this State!” she pronounced. “And we do insist on the standard magazines rather than the oversize ones. Anyway, guns don’t…”

“I know, I know,” I replied.

For some reason, I was not feeling particularly comfortable at the thought of my three-year-old immersed in such a culture.

I lay awake that night trying to make sense of it all. Suddenly, it was all crystal clear: fists don’t punch – people do. Knives don’t stab – people do. Guns don’t kill – people do. Nuclear weapons don’t destroy the planet for centuries to come – people do. The solution is simple – ban people!

Not me, of course, I’m perfectly rational. If you disagree with that, then you clearly have a problem. So, I’m afraid, you will be banned.

 

Stephen Tomkins

19 July 2016

Sydney

Winners Are Whiners

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Doubters may just doubt and the haters may just hate,
But if you don’t get this right, I may have to litigate.
Excuses can be made and those waivers may be signed,
And legal advocation I may even have declined.
But now I have a lawyer and a famous one at that,
So if you don’t settle soon, we’ll do more than have a chat.
The High Court’s now the venue and it shouldn’t take too long:
You see, it really doesn’t matter whether you’ve been in the wrong,
‘Cos my lawyer’s a performer and she charges by the minute
So I may just be the loser even if my side should win it!

Stephen Tomkins
22 December 2015
Sydney

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