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

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At a Loss

The fragile petals now will fall.
The leaves, of course, fell first of all.
And through it all she sits there still,
Living yet, against her will.

Her husband bravely does his best,
Including now a feeble jest.
She cried and cried, her tears now dried,
Since the day her baby died.

If only this, if I’d done that,
The self-destructive mental chat
Continues on inside her head
And fills her husband with such dread.

He prays she simply needs more time
To learn to deal with such a crime.
For now, he mourns not one but two:
The baby’s one, his wife now too.

Stephen Tomkins
14 January 2017
Sydney

Red Balloon

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I float through the world like a big red balloon –

Drifting and dreaming and bumping along,

Borne on the currents of breeze and monsoon,

Collecting experiences, none right nor wrong.

Behind and below me, there trails my long string,

If you want my attention, then give it a tug,

But don’t get excited, I don’t plan a thing

‘Cause I live for the moment, a kiss or a hug.

If I’m floating off, you can drag me your way

And I’ll happily follow along for a while

Till a zephyr distracts me and I’m borne away.

But don’t be upset, I’ll depart with a smile.

The winds are so fickle, I may soon return

From brand new adventures with tall tales to tell.

At some point, perhaps, for a home I may yearn:

Only love will entice me off this carousel.

 

Stephen Tomkins
19 October 2016
Sydney

Photo credit:
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The Sweetest Thing

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The sun has packed up and gone home for the night,
Leaving behind a soft silvery light.
The sea has now dressed in a purplish blue,
And clouds are all lilac to fit in there too.
A heavenly breeze whispers subtle deceit,
Caressing away the day’s tropical heat.
But while my surroundings idyllic may be,
I remember that nothing in life comes for free –
Except the free-given love of that someone,
Unearned, undeserved, moulding two into one.

Stephen Tomkins
29 September 2016
Honolulu

Photo credit:
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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

It Was I

‘Twas I who nailed you to the tree,
Mired in muck, unable to see.

‘Twas I who flayed your sinless back
With my shattered soul, sin-black.

‘Twas I who shaped your crown of thorns,
I, so lost, alone, forlorn.

‘Twas I who hurled abuse at you,
My own self-loathing, gladly spewed.

‘Twas I who lanced your heart divine,
In doing so, I’d broken mine.

And, through it all, you never ceased
To love and so my shame increased.

But when, at last, I too was crushed,
So gently to my aid you rushed.

How could I have been such a fool?
Ne’er again let my pride rule!

Stephen Tomkins
11 April 2016
Sydney

Deeper

Two eyes, a nose, a mouth and chin
Set in endless shades of skin.
So different and yet still the same,
Each mix a chance genetic game.

And though I look a bit like you,
We may not share a common view
But still we both laugh, smile and cry,
Feel tired and hurt, with teary eye.

Yet so important are our looks,
The subject fills a million books.
The shape of my nose, the shade of my skin –
Really? Must judgement here begin?

Stephen Tomkins
5 July 2016
Sydney

Was I Ever Really Here?

I fixed up the mess that’s my side of the bed,
Including the dent that was left by my head.
But when she wakes up, it will seem just as though
No one had slept there.

In the food court, I sat down and ate
And when I was done, I then packed up my plate.
So when I walked out it was really as though
No one had been there.

From what was my desk, I cleaned out my stuff
Even wiping off the dust and the fluff.
Come Monday, it will be just as though
No one had worked there.

So, one day, when cross the river I go,
And though for a few, it may be a blow,
But when they look back, will it be as though
I’d never been there?

Stephen Tomkins
23 June 2016
Sydney

God Bless This Little Boat!

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Like ships, we’re launched into the world

Before we’re really ready.

The ground that we seek solace from

Is never truly steady.

And so we float as best we can

And try to make our way,

And even have a little fun

Before we’re drenched in spray.

Stephen Tomkins
19 January 2016
Sydney

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Resistance Is Futile

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Slumber wakes inside her room,
Her soothing Siren song seducing,
Drawing me into the gloom,
The sweetest nothingness inducing.

Down into the void I fall,
Weightless in the inky dark.
It doesn’t frighten me at all –
Waiting for a dream to spark.

Once aflame, it rages on,
Sweeping me just where it will.
Abruptly, the inferno’s gone,
And, once again, the world is still.

Just how can sleep be so seductive,
Even when I do resist?
Succumb, I must, lest she’s destructive,
Ruling me with silken fist.

Stephen Tomkins
16 January 2016
Sydney

Photo credit:
lucien.uchicago.edu
sharperiron.org