Sleep On

streets2_led

Streetlamp vultures, seeking their prey,

Gaze on impassively right through the day.

When night falls, they shed their unnatural light

As the traffic rolls on in its hesitant flight.

 

But in the small hours, when the traffic has gone,

And the vultures might nap now their strange light has shone,

‘Tween moonset and sunrise, the street signs convene,

Reviewing the traffic lights’ usage of green.

 

As, once more, the Sun’s rays may threaten intrusion,

The street signs retreat in a hasty conclusion

And replant themselves like well cared-for plants,

As the traffic resumes like a column of ants.

 

Stephen Tomkins
21 August 2018
Sydney

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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

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

Everyone’s a Critic

Critics gonna criticise

No matter what you do

Until you get that special ‘name’

And then they’ll all love you.

So, do your best and publish

When you think the time is right,

‘Cos critics are proud owners

Of so much more bark than bite.

 

Stephen Tomkins
21 September 2018
Sydney

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

True Love

Jesus himself died to save us, it’s said.

He submitted so humbly, then rose from the dead.

If, in the world, there were no one but me,

Without hesitation, he’d embrace that tree.

 

Try as I might, I just can’t comprehend

For my sake, Our Lord would from Heaven descend

And, further, for me, to such suffering submit,

Considering me worthy of sin to acquit.

 

Beyond comprehension is such love divine

And yet, for the taking, such love can be mine.

He loves without scruples; He is love itself.

How could I have known I’d be blessed with such wealth?

 

Stephen Tomkins
8 October 2018
Osaka

Life Goes On

All through the almighty uproar and din,

He patiently waited for life to begin.

He studied and worked and did all that he should,

Did all that they told him, he yearned to be good.

 

And just when he thought he had earned his reward,

It was then that they cut his umbilical cord.

All that he was hissed right out through the hole

And blew him straight into a night black as coal.

 

But when he’d accepted he’d breathed his last breath,

They stopped up the hole and so saved him from death.

Once more, he began to do all that he should,

Do all that they told him, do more than he could.

 

The treadmill continued until he was old

And, hunched by the fire to ward off the cold,

He stared at the fire, entranced by the flames

Recalling his friends – he’d forgotten their names.

 

At last, he could see just how foolish he’d been,

Waiting each day for his life to begin –

His life had been rolling along the whole time.

In spite of the hardships, his life was just fine.

 

Stephen Tomkins
27 September 2018
Sydney

Hang On

The Pool of Smiles is empty now,

Its fountain has run dry.

The Lake of Tears is full somehow –

It makes me want to cry.

 

Products come with warnings now,

Sharp edges and small parts.

So, sign this full disclaimer vow,

Beware those sudden starts.

 

But life is so damn risky now –

No solace do they give.

The highs, the lows, the undertows,

It’s painful just to live.

 

What’s that? I hear a giggle now,

The sun peeps through the rain.

So, plough on through the vines and boughs,

There’s joy beyond the pain.

 

Stephen Tomkins
18 September 2018
Sydney

Wars

We talk of battles, we talk of wars;

We fight for each other, we fight for a cause.

And though we might wish to fight goblins or elves,

The real wars are those fought inside of ourselves.

 

Sometimes we don’t know that we’re fighting in there,

And sometimes we’re only too keenly aware –

And though all these battles aren’t fought with a gun,

The battles are real, and the war’s never won.

 

Sometimes, we will feel worn right down to the bone –

Just understand that you’re never alone.

Some battles we’ll win, and some may leave us bruised:

To fight on is the only way we’ll never lose.

 

Stephen Tomkins
11 August 2018
Sydney

The Rime of the Modern Mariner

Bill Watt de Heck
Sank right up to his neck
And, furthermore,
He was quite far from shore.
His life vest he’d left
In that old, rocky cleft –
He was Bill,
The hard-pleasin’ dill.

Bill’s luck was good,
And though he understood
That his chances were fading
(No chance of him wading),
He felt God on his side,
And he still had his pride!
He was Bill,
The hard-pleasin’ dill.

Out further he floated,
By a lifeguard was noted,
A chopper dispatched,
His location it matched.
They lowered a swimmer
But Bill viewed this dimmer –
He was Bill,
The hard-pleasin’ dill.

The closer he moved,
The more Bill disapproved.
“Wrap this round your chest
And hold on to my vest.”
Bill said with a sigh,
“I’m not that kind of guy!”
He was Bill,
The hard-pleasin’ dill.

On he proceeded,
The shoreline receded.
Some dolphins swam by,
With their all-knowing eye,
“Feel free to climb on”
But Bill bade them gone –
He was Bill,
The hard-pleasin’ dill.

A fish boat arrived,
Glad to find Bill alive.
Of his adventure they knew,
To his rescue they flew.
“I’m still not regrettin’
That I won’t climb no nettin’!”
He was Bill,
The hard-pleasin’ dill.

Bill finally found land
At St John’s, Newfoundland.
By then he was frozen –
‘Twas the fate he had chosen.
They laid him to rest
On a hill facing west –
He was Bill,
The hard-pleasin’ dill.

With this cautionary tale,
They began to regale
All the fishers, well-wishers
And seafoody dishers
Lest his madness recurred
And sure rescue demurred –
He was Bill,
The hard-pleasin’ dill.

Stephen Tomkins
30 August 2018
Sydney