Production Line

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Life’s factory conveyor-belt never will stop.
It races along and then suddenly drops,
Rolls under and hurries right back to the start –
To all things indifferent and lacking a heart.
We start when we land on the belt with a thump,
Well may we cry since from then on we jump.
Following orders as soon as we wake,
It’s chaos and frantic – no wonder we ache

To stop that betrayer-belt just for a while,
To regain our sanity, pause for a smile.
If in denial we didn’t persist,
The shadows we’re chasing would cease and desist.
And though the assayer-belt rolls on apace,
Reaching the end, we drop off without trace.
We only arrive there when our time is done,
Resistance is futile – it can’t be outrun!

Stephen Tomkins
15 November 2015
Perth

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Don’t Give Up

No matter the storms that you’re facing,
Nor the westerly gales.
No matter whose hand on the tiller,
Nor the wind in your sails.
Keep your eyes fixed on the North Star,
And remember the tales
Of those who sailed here before you
And, though their memory pales,
The demons they faced then no stranger
Than the ones you face now.
So breathe deep, set your face and
Take your place at the bow.

Stephen Tomkins
1 September 2016
Singapore

Okay! You’ve Made Your (Power)Point!

 

The import of this meeting overrated cannot be.
I am a little nervous but that’s just ‘tween you and me!
For suitable attire, my whole wardrobe I have scoured.
My new bowtie analysis has left me quite empowered!

I stride into the meeting room, exuding style and poise,
My large piccolo latte shows I’m not one of the boys!
I open up my MacBook, shine the Apple in their eyes,
Confident they’ll all be fooled by my complete disguise!

I funnel feedback down the line, cascading here and there,
The conversation’s now offline – they haven’t got a prayer!
My (Power)Point is made so well they dare not ask a question –
But if they did, I’d beat them down with my raw condescension!

They show their slides, I smile and nod and grant them my approval –
But all the while, I’m plotting my new Boss’ sad removal!
Today, the Emperor’s brand new clothes are still the height of fashion –
It’s great to see them worn so well, with pride and so much passion!

Stephen Tomkins
23 March 2016
Sydney

Office life

Photo credits;

blog.injetwholesale.com.au
dreamstime.com

Two Cats and a Tom

I have now decided to branch into short stories as well as my poetry. This post is my first foray into that style. I hope you enjoy it. 🙂

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Two Cats and a Tom

The waitress led me to a table by the window in the bar on the top floor of my luxury hotel, overlooking Hong Kong’s magnificent harbour. The constellation of coloured lights winked as I sat and ordered a drink. As luck would have it, at the next table sat two Cats and a Tom.

“Puh-leeaase”, said the Tom. “Gravy train, gravy train”.

I wondered what language he was speaking.

“He’s had his snout in the trough for years”, replied Cat 1.

Ahh! Here was a language I understood. The Cats were fashionably dressed with tasteful jewellery and makeup while the Tom was casually dressed with his hair smothered in “product”. I doubt that it could have moved even if the super-typhoon off the coast had appeared in the bar. While the trio sat still, their tails whipped back and forth (as is the way with cats) to indicate their minds were working overtime.

Cat 2 interrupted her grooming to mumble something, at which the others nodded sagely as if something profound had just been said.

In the far corner of the bar, the pianist began playing and the singer began yowling off key. There was no doubt I was tired but I began to wonder if I’d walked into some private bar for felines. My fears were confirmed as the conversation continued.

“He had no idea when he worked on the line,” (this was not a reference to the Internet) continued Cat 1. “So he moved into management as soon as he could.”

My eyes had now adjusted to the half-light and I could make out the painted claws gleaming and clearly ready for action.

Cat 2 now made another contribution, “I was there when a passenger had a heart attack and John (not his real name) went into meltdown. I had to take over while he pretended to direct the action. He got an Excel award and I got nothing! Hello! I was there too!”

“Typical!”, replied the Cat 1.

“Would you care for another champagne?”, asked the Tom.

“Ooonnnee stip closerrrr”, shrieked the singer in the background. Somehow the glass appeared unaffected.

“Oh yes!”, purred the Cats.

A whip of the Tom’s lustrous tail was sufficient to bring the waiter. “Three more champagnes please,” said the Tom. He continued, “We used to do shuttles to New York. They were sooo tiring.”

I must have missed the connection.

Cat 2 replied, “Just about everyone from my initial course has got an Excel award but I haven’t yet. I don’t understand why.”

“But the most tiring of all,” moaned the Tom to no one in particular, “were the Mumbai shuttles. They were shockers.”

Cat 1 now entered her own orbit. “I can’t wait to get back to Tokyo. Being downtown is so much better than being out near the airport.”

“I have leeerrrrved yoooouuuu!” droned the singer. Another patron burst into enraptured applause. I was uncertain as to whether he had enjoyed the song or was simply relieved it had finished.

As I quickly drained my glass, it occurred to me that I was glad that the motivation for those who care for me inflight had so much to do with my wellbeing. Cats might fly! Another day in paradise.

 

Stephen Tomkins
8 July 2016
Hong Kong

Photo credit:
johnlund.com

 

 

Prison Bus

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Off to work once again, the pre-dawn steely grey.
Off to work once again, like the rest, need my pay.
We Prison Bus inmates, united, we sway
As, to God-in-the-screen, those awake seem to pray.

The colourful ladies and dull, greyish men,
Our routine repeating all over again.
Brothers-in-arms and our Sisters here too,
We still have no clue just who’s who in the zoo.

The gun-metal sky has now melted away
As delicate blues and pinks welcome the day.
No bars on the windows, unnumbered my shirt,
It’s only my outlook I need to convert.

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The scene that inspired the poem, taken on my iPhone.

Stephen Tomkins
2 March 2016
Sydney

Prison bus photo credit:
istockphoto.com

Update On The Current Situation

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In light of the current situation,
I’m here to provide some information.
The rumour mill’s been running hot
But most of it’s not worth a jot!

Our bottom line will not be dented!
Our office space is newly rented!
We must uphold our company creed
So we can meet the customers’ need!

You’re worried and I understand,
But these tough times just were not planned.
We all must take our share of pain.
There’s really no one here to blame!

And so, you see, then, that is why
I’ve descended from on high.
You know that I would not be lying!
There’s little use in sitting, crying.

I hope, your doubts, I have allayed.
I’m sure, this week, you should get paid.
Thanks but I’ll be quite ok.
If things get bad, I’ll slip away.

So stand together, worthy band!
I knew that you would understand!
Together we can turn things round!
You know, I like the way I sound!

Stephen Tomkins
5 June 2014