Unexpected

I walked past Fortress Hill station
In a dull, grey Hong Kong today
And found the ghost of my father
Had been following all the way.
And when I turned to face him
He vanished in the crowd,
While I just stood there gasping,
Fighting my way free of his shroud.

But he’d opened a door to the past
That wasn’t so easy to close,
And I was left with a yearning
His presence had once more imposed.
He’d never been easy to talk to,
Though I’d dearly love to have tried,
So I was faced with no option
But to find somewhere private and cry.

Stephen Tomkins
6 March 2018
Hong Kong

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Words

English is my talky choice.

For that I use my talky voice.

For those whose English not so good,

I hope I can be understood.

My English good I think it is.

You see, I am a language whiz.

 

Laugh you can at my mistakes!

You should maybe give me breaks.

I speak the language six or seven.

I try to learn some more, eleven.

How many speak you? Two or three?

Just the one? That was once me.

 

Stephen Tomkins
2 November 2017
Perth

It’s Not Too Late

O God, forgive us for the pain we cause,
For self-indulgence and unjust laws,
For seeking vengeance and Holy Wars,
For theft and crimes without recourse.

O God, forgive us for the lies we tell,
The self-deception and lives we sell
That give us here a glimpse of Hell,
As trees of Truth we blithely fell.

O God, forgive us for losing sight
Of all that’s good and true and right,
For thinking we can rule with might,
Condemning each to endless night.

For who but ourselves do we deceive
And, those we claim to love, bereave?
Yet, though the damage may be done,
The road to healing’s just begun.

Stephen Tomkins
11 April 2017
Sydney

Everyone Else Can See It!

Whether you’re here or near or far,

Wherever you go, then there you are.

Around the corner or ‘cross the sea,

From yourself you cannot flee,

And though you try all kinds of things –

People, places and gaudy rings –

You might as well just save your wealth

Instead please fix your mental health.

 

Stephen Tomkins
29 October 2016
Singapore

It’s Just a Book

“It’s just a book!” he spat at me,
Contempt dripped from his eyes.
Appalled I was as I looked back,
No words would come but sighs.
I wanted to explain to him
The pages and the binding
Are nothing but a neat disguise
For a universe in hiding.

Like a magic carpet, let the words
Convey you to a world
Unique to every reader
As its secrets are unfurled.

And at the end, if you
Should feel a tear or two descending,
Let no one else convince you
That your manhood here is ending.
If touched you’ve been or moved
Or felt some kind of revelation,
You’ll know your heart is still unharmed
By life’s great conflagration.

Stephen Tomkins
13 May 2017
Jakarta

 

I’m Hearing Voices

stop-noise

They tell me that I am alive.
They tell me that I’m fit to drive,
That maybe I should send a text,
That in the phone queue I’ll be next.

They say that this is good for me,
That I should go and hug a tree,
That I should watch this TV show,
That, really, I should up and go.

This special will not last for long,
That I should buy this brand new song,
That nothing’s right and nothing’s wrong.
Ignore the weak and laud the strong.

They tell me all I ought to do:
‘But to your own self remain true.’
So who’d have thought I’d come to dread
The voices raging in my head?

For God’s sake turn the volume down
Lest the voices bid me drown!
So for myself, perhaps, I’ll think
And drag myself back from the brink.

Stephen Tomkins
20 October 2016
Sydney

Happy

happy-face-adobestock_65597478-2017.jpg;w=630

“People make you happy” said the Wise Man once to me.
“Things create more problems, always was and thus shall be.”
Profound, prophetic words spoke he – at least that’s what I thought,
But as my life progressed, I found that wisdom came to nought.

Things are neither good nor bad, it’s what we use them for:
They can be used to kill or to relieve a tiresome chore.
People, on the other hand, are often good and bad
And very often people are the ones who make you sad.

Things will either work or not and sometimes seem capricious
And, though sometimes they’ll drive us mad, they never are malicious.
People kill and people steal and people lie and cheat,
And peoples sometimes treat you like you’re just a slab of meat.

Yet people are the ones who can give life its greatest meaning;
So confused am I that I’m not sure which way I’m leaning.
But if you have been blessed and found good people in your life,
Then look for nothing more, my friend, you’ll only find more strife.

Stephen Tomkins
6 March 2017
Perth

Photo credit: happy face AdobeStock_65597478 2017

The Gift

winnerGraphic

A lottery ticket’s of no use to me
Though a million or two would be nice.
For were I to win, it just wouldn’t be fair
Since luck would have favoured me twice.

What had I done to deserve my first win?
Nothing I know of, it’s true.
Taken for granted for so many years,
My prize I’ll now point out to you.

Born in Australia, to parents sincere,
They clothed, fed and raised me in peace.
How could I perceive my good fortune so young
When granted by chance or caprice?

If born somewhere else, of a different race,
Perhaps I would not have survived.
Instead, though I whine, take for granted my time,
Grateful, I should be, I thrived.

And though I’m still wary of those diff’rent to me,
To prejudge them, I have no right.
For I could so easily be where they are
And day would be unending night.

Stephen Tomkins
8 June 2017
Melbourne

Photo credit: nhlottery.com

 

The Power of the Shower

shower-vworif

When darkness falls
Although the sun shines brightly,
When troubles come
And weigh my spirit down,
Then I recall
You wait there in the silence.
I turn the tap
And watch relief rain down.

Your steaming jets
Will wash away my anger,
Your clouds of steam
Revive my weary dreams.
I linger long
Despite the drought impending
And my wife’s
Shrill icy shower screams.

I once was strong
But now am pleasant-smelling,
My hair was lank
And shines now like the sun.
If we could dwell
Forever in your torrents,
I guess our work
Would never be begun.

Your gentle rain
Lifts away my burdens,
Your soothing splash
Erases all my fears.
I need no more
To drink away my sorrows,
The water flows
Although I’m in arrears.

Stephen Tomkins
19 May 2017
Singapore

 If desired, can also be sung to the tune of “You Raise Me Up”, sung by Josh Groban et al.

Photo credit: baychoicebariatrics.com

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