The Rime of the Modern Mariner

Bill Watt de Heck
Sank right up to his neck
And, furthermore,
He was quite far from shore.
His life vest he’d left
In that old, rocky cleft –
He was Bill,
The hard-pleasin’ dill.

Bill’s luck was good,
And though he understood
That his chances were fading
(No chance of him wading),
He felt God on his side,
And he still had his pride!
He was Bill,
The hard-pleasin’ dill.

Out further he floated,
By a lifeguard was noted,
A chopper dispatched,
His location it matched.
They lowered a swimmer
But Bill viewed this dimmer –
He was Bill,
The hard-pleasin’ dill.

The closer he moved,
The more Bill disapproved.
“Wrap this round your chest
And hold on to my vest.”
Bill said with a sigh,
“I’m not that kind of guy!”
He was Bill,
The hard-pleasin’ dill.

On he proceeded,
The shoreline receded.
Some dolphins swam by,
With their all-knowing eye,
“Feel free to climb on”
But Bill bade them gone –
He was Bill,
The hard-pleasin’ dill.

A fish boat arrived,
Glad to find Bill alive.
Of his adventure they knew,
To his rescue they flew.
“I’m still not regrettin’
That I won’t climb no nettin’!”
He was Bill,
The hard-pleasin’ dill.

Bill finally found land
At St John’s, Newfoundland.
By then he was frozen –
‘Twas the fate he had chosen.
They laid him to rest
On a hill facing west –
He was Bill,
The hard-pleasin’ dill.

With this cautionary tale,
They began to regale
All the fishers, well-wishers
And seafoody dishers
Lest his madness recurred
And sure rescue demurred –
He was Bill,
The hard-pleasin’ dill.

Stephen Tomkins
30 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

 

 

Payday

empty-pockets-2-390x285

Aghast I was that there should be

No pay this week ‘spite guarantee.

To see the Boss with cap in hand,

My speech rehearsed, my answers planned,

“Good morning, Sir”, said I and bowed.

I made my speech (I felt quite proud).

He looked me up, he looked me down,

And said, “What’s this, you silly clown?

You think I care when you get paid?

Just go away!” I felt betrayed!

I’d dearly love to punch his face

But that would simply bring disgrace.

And, since I’ve mouths that must be fed,

I turned around, my face bright red.

I humbly walked back through the door

To join the other working poor.

Stephen Tomkins
8 March 2018
Perth

Photo credit: TheJournal.ie

You’ve Got A Friend

When you’re down and feeling low,
When life deals you a savage blow,
You know you can depend on me –
My services are all for free.
Just call my name and I’ll be there.
So, you’ll never need despair.

But please don’t call when I’m at work –
My boss would simply go berserk!
And once I get the kids to bed,
(Their baths all done, their stories read)
As long as you live in my town,
You can be sure I’ll be around!

I’m sorry I can’t linger long.
For though your sorrow may be strong,
Tomorrow I’ve an early start –
Let’s quickly mend your broken heart.
And though I seem a part-time friend,
At least my selfie can attend.

Stephen Tomkins
2 April 2018
Perth

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

 

 

Here In This Moment

Here in this moment,

Your eyes fixed on mine,

All my defences

Have swiftly declined.

You breathe in my heart

And my soul with such ease

That I simply sit there

As all my limbs freeze.

I long to say something

But can’t find the words

To tell you I love you

Lest I sound absurd.

 

Here in this moment,

Your eyes fixed on mine,

You simply decode me,

As I sit, resigned.

Then you smile and laugh

And once more I can breathe,

No longer afraid

That you’d get up and leave.

I know I’m unworthy

Of a love such as yours,

So I’ll do all I can

To see it endures.

 

Stephen Tomkins

27 February 2018

Singapore

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

Normal

I must be normal

‘Cause I’m me –

I’m not so sure about you.

I’m nearly normal as can be

No matter what I do.

 

In my defence,

It’s common sense,

(If there’s still such a thing)

Normal changes day by day,

Though to it, still, we cling.

 

What is normal?

What is not?

What does the word now mean?

Who decides

And, satisfied,

Proclaims it on our screens?

 

Stephen Tomkins

6 December 2017

Perth