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

Raw

The sun is shining,

Breeze is warm.

The streets are busy,

That’s the norm.

But on the path,

A guy’s asleep.

His few belongings

In a heap.

 

The world continues,

Cars drive past.

And yet, for him,

The die is cast.

Somehow, he’s lost

This endless game.

Does anyone still

Know his name?

 

He had a mother,

Father too.

Where are they now,

His childhood crew?

He lives now

In a silent place –

Invisible,

Yet in disgrace.

 

How did he get here?

Where to go?

Does anyone

Still care or know?

So, what’s the answer?

What to do?

As I walk past,

I wish I knew.

 

Stephen Tomkins
5 March 2020
Los Angeles

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

 

 

Killing Time

Killing Time drawing

Time, you may know, is not a bad guy;

Sometimes he will tarry, sometimes he will fly.

He never forgets you not lets you slip by,

Remembers your birthday, though I’m not sure why.

 

When I spoke of wasting, I now must lament,

I simply assumed that you knew what I meant.

For sometimes, I’m sorry, but time must be killed

But not by machine gun – I don’t want him drilled!

 

For time is the one thing that everyone spends,

At work or at home or maybe with friends.

Like it or not, time will never sit still –

So, spend it or waste it, we’ve all time to kill.

 

Stephen Tomkins

21 January 2020

Melbourne

Up There

Today sat outside,

Tried to shutter my mind

From worries that whir

And from bothers that bind.

Looked to the heavens

And noticed the clouds,

Floating serenely,

An angelic crowd.

 

But as I observed them,

All borne by the breeze,

And wished I could join them,

Forget my unease,

‘Twas then that I spied it,

First glances proved false,

They each took their own path,

Their own unique course.

 

Spinning and stretching

Then fading away,

Combining, collapsing,

An endless display.

No different to us,

Or so it would seem –

Serene on the outside,

Their troubles unseen.

 

It may seem facetious

But I understood

A life worth the living

Can’t always be good.

Though whirling and wheeling

Like clouds in the air,

We all can come through

If we’ve someone to care.

 

Stephen Tomkins
3 January 2020
Singapore

Viral

4AD3B75D-CD1E-4325-A8FF-55E70A07C307

Not that long ago,

Going viral was good;

If something was clever

Or funny, you could.

 

Now going viral

Means you have the bug –

A milestone that will not

Be met with a hug.

 

So please keep your distance,

A mile will do fine,

I’d just rather not

Make your malady mine.

 

Stephen Tomkins
20 March 20
Socially distant in Sydney

Craving

Like verdant bumble bees hugging the trees,

A hive’s worth of leaves are abuzz on the breeze.

Saluting, inviting and bidding farewell,

They whisper a gentle, restorative spell.

 

Never intruding nor forcing their will,

They beckon us linger, they bid us be still,

For only in silence, will we hear them speak –

The trees know the leaves hold the solace we seek.

 

They live for a time and, when that time is done,

The breeze calls them home again, each one by one.

No need to be sorrowful, no need to mourn;

As fresh leaves appear, our souls too are reborn.

 

Stephen Tomkins
26 December 2019
Melbourne

Tom Bradley

A throaty airport van

Gives expectant birth to

A flight crew of black and gold and white

As they weave their way into

Tom Bradley

In the bustling dead of night.

 

Moaning steely birds

Circle high above,

Seeking respite and yet,

Constrained by forces unseen and unheard,

Flash their lights

In bold disdain –

A petulant display,

Both impressive and absurd.

 

All the while, surly uniforms,

Wearing their silent threats,

Corral the hapless voyagers

Through grim functionality into lines neverending,

Until they emerge

Into a bright carnival sideshow

Of excess and endless spending.

 

As lures for the prey,

The birds in their various plumages

Are reluctantly tolerated

But banished to distant piers,

Lest they deter the captives

From parting with their currency –

A farewell eliciting no tears.

 

Stephen Tomkins
3 November 2019
Los Angeles

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