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

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Choices

School-Choice-HQ

Long ago, I’d come to dread

The choices looming up ahead.

Now the intersection’s clear,

The day of reckoning is here.

Soon there’ll be no turning back,

Once I choose the narrow track.

Steep and winding it will be

But it’s the only one for me.

When I pass around the bend,

I’ll not see you again, my friend.

Let no one your decision make –

For only you the path can take.

 

Stephen Tomkins

17 July 2018

Shanghai

Gone Too Soon

Though we try to understand,

The flowers say it best:

A life in full-bloom plucked away

And hastened to its rest.

 

Straining to articulate,

In vain we seek a voice.

So, we resort to hugs and tears,

As if we had a choice.

 

To void the Reaper’s deathly grin,

We focus on a life –

Thankful for a life well-lived,

It still cuts like a knife.

 

Stephen Tomkins
11 September 2018
Sydney

Take a Chance

I’ve got your back, you’ve got mine –

Lived that way, life would be fine.

But sadly, that’s not how it works

Though that could be one of life’s sweet perks.

 

We view each other with grim suspicion,

Relying on some weird intuition.

Instead of giving each other a chance,

We engage in some kind of deadly dance.

 

You know, we might just be surprised,

Our neighbourly opinion might be revised.

We might find ourselves a brand-new friend –

One on whom we can depend.

 

And isn’t that what we truly seek,

As from behind our wall we peek?

Lower the drawbridge, the portcullis raise.

Watch the sun break through the haze.

 

Stephen Tomkins
26 July 2018
Sydney

 

 

New Year

On New Year’s Eve

We celebrate,

Our vocal cords

We lubricate.

On New Year’s Day

We hibernate

And, when we rise,

We medicate.

 

And so begins

A brand-new year,

Awash with wine

And kegs of beer.

It’s like we want

To purge the stain

Of every previous

New Year’s pain.

 

Fireworks

There may well be,

Though if we

Could truly see,

We’d understand

A year’s not new

Unless there’s change

In me and you.

Stephen Tomkins
12 February 2018
Shanghai

 

 

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

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