A Little Perspective, Please

Seeing myself quite so dead on the bed 

Has certainly changed my perspective. 

“Take care of your health” is what I’d always said, 

But it turns out my heart was defective.

It’s a little too late for such drastic resorts,

Still they zapped me with 10,000 volts.

Though I’m grateful they’re thinking such positive thoughts,

I’m now just a bucket of bolts.

“Death comes to us all” as old sayings contend

Though he shows us such open contempt.

Some struggle and fight making bitter their end

As if fighting will make them exempt.

Now, I must say farewell as I start to ascend –

I’ll soon have such stories to tell.

A cool summer breeze whispers, “Welcome, old friend”,

So I feel now that all will be well.

Stephen Tomkins

25 June 2017

Hong Kong

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Hammer Drill

Unearthly drills, and hammers too,
Roam the world just like I do.
At the same hotels, they stay
And follow when I move away.

No matter when I choose to rest,
That’s the time they think it best
To hammer, drill and grind away,
And so, awake I have to stay.

At last, I reach that special place
Where, off my skull, now slides my face.
Bombs may burst beside my head
But I’ll sleep on just like the dead.

Stephen Tomkins
14 March 2017
Hong Kong

Lest We Forget

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Row upon row, the crosses stand,
An army on parade,
Tended now by gentler hand
‘Neath verdant palisade.

Like silent sentinels, the trees
Stand guard here day and night
Though now only the bees
And vengeful magpies keep the fight.

No Sergeant-Major’s voice is heard,
No bugle call to battle.
The sound of leaves, by breezes stirred,
The call of distant cattle.

Baptised by mud and blood and sweat,
They heard their country’s call.
Waved off by crowds who then forget
And never see them fall.

From battle’s fertile fields, they’re borne
With honour to this place.
That we’ve not learned their lesson
Means yet more will meet their fate.

Though the lucky ones return,
It’s clear they’re never quite the same.
They, too, have paid a heavy price
Despite the victory claim.

Stephen Tomkins
3 April 2017
Sydney

Photo credit:
journalstar.com

The Miracle Factory

Open all hours and open each day,
The Miracle Factory beavers away.
The Miracle Workers all wear special clothes
And speak their own language that no one else knows
With monitors, pumps and needles and tubes
And other cool gizmos that only they use,
Conduct arcane rituals from far distant lands
Attended by quizzing and laying-on of hands.

The Miracle Seekers, reluctant, attend
The Miracle Factory and hope they can mend
All kinds of ailments and injuries too,
In full expectation that they’ll all pull through.
But sadly, though, sometimes this isn’t the case,
And this is a thing that we’ll all have to face.
Still, in denial, we’d much rather stay –
In awe of the Factory that beavers away.

Stephen Tomkins
19 March 2017
Sydney

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

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:
Pinterest

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:
wallpaperup.com

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

Time Traveller

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TV scenes flash on the screen of my mind
As I slowly start to relax and unwind.
Sweet frangipani has scented the air
And palm trees wave spindly hands in the air.
Sky’s perfect canvas of crimson and blue
Is brushed by cotton ball clouds drifting through.
Waters of turquoise and deep blue most royal
Inspire the timid and lovers most loyal.
A constant parade of those seeking the sun,
They come in their mobs and their twos and their ones.

And though I may seem altogether right here,
I’m split largely in between time zones, I fear.
Lost in a fog of my sacrificed sleep,
My body clock chimes with a resonance deep.
Tomorrow, I’ll once more be up in the air,
Leaving behind the poor Earthlings their cares.
Soon enough, though, I’ll be back on the ground
And by the real world I will once more be found –
The visions of places and people I’ve seen
Will seem little more than a half-faded dream.

Stephen Tomkins
29 September 2016
Honolulu