I’m Hearing Voices

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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

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Web of Deceit

 

The Webmaster spends all day in his web
And lingers there still when he heads off to bed.
He’s constantly adding or fixing up strands –
Incredible what he can do without hands!
Like moths to a flame, we’re all drawn to his skill
But when we get stuck, he moves in for the kill.

Go near to one link and all will be fine,
Go near to another, and then, by design,
After the Webmaster hacks you to shreds,
He’ll leave you to hang there on old webbish threads.
And though you may think that he’s there to assist,
There’s really no point in attempts to resist.

The Server’s another who plays his own games:
Impassive, unreachable, serves us, he claims.
Protocols, scripts and his own endless jargon,
If allowed to logon we must think it’s a bargain!
All pretence of freedom is just a sick joke:
Make the wrong move and your cash turns to smoke!

The Webmaster, though, is the one we must heed
And live by his opaque and meaningless creed.
With eight bulbous eyes and his striped, hairy legs,
He’ll have you for breakfast and savour the dregs.
You never know when he’ll get more hunger pangs,
So I suggest you stay alert for his fangs!

Stephen Tomkins
7 November 2015
Shanghai

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Magnificent Isolation

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Temple of unearthly white,
Shining beacon in the night,
Moth-like, drawing towards the light,
Seeking icons, black or white.

High Priests robed in royal blue,
Welcome neophytes in too.
Throngs of faithful join the queue,
Latest offerings on debut.

A gentle chant can soon be heard,
Mouthed by fervent convert nerd.
Refrain then joined by zealous herd,
Unrelenting, undeterred:

“iPhone, iPhone, Glorious iPhone!
How I long to make you my phone!
Without you, I’ll be trapped on my own!
Deign, in me, to make your new home!”

The Trinity greets my awe-struck faze,
On entering this most Holy maze,
As iPhone, iPad, iMacs blaze.
A young Priest meets my earnest gaze:

Wearing glasses, oh so Hipster,
And designer jeans by Ripster,
(“Borrowed” from her older sister),
Words pour forth at speeds that blister!

Fleeing from her siren call,
I promptly hit the glassy wall,
And barely manage not to fall,
Running, bleeding, through the mall.

Members of this brazen sect
Are very easy to detect.
“Friends”, by thousands, they confect
With lives that barely intersect.

Educated by Wikipedia,
YouTube and by social media,
Oblivious to the world exterior,
Desperate lest they feel inferior.

Pallid faces float by, serene,
Music fuelling the machine.
Eyes glued to the heavenly screen,
Every message must be seen.

The sun is shining bright today,
Flowers blooming, birds at play.
On their minds, it fails to weigh,
But that, to them, is quite okay!

Stephen Tomkins
27 May 2014

CONFESSION:
The author owns an iPhone, iPhone, Glorious iPhone……

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The Puppeteer

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My life, it seems, is not my own.
This freedom-thing is overblown.
You may not realise you’re the same.
You see, it’s all a little game.

I feel just like a marionette:
So pull one string, I pirouette.
Pull another, just for fun,
I break into a steady run.

You may think this is quite amusing
But it’s you that I’m accusing.
Every time my telephone rings,
I have to stop doing other things.

And every time that I get emailed,
Texted, tweeted, I am derailed.
So, dear Reader, never fear.
It’s you! You are my Puppeteer!

Stephen Tomkins
3 June 2014

The Airbus Rap

By Stephen Tomkins
29 March 2014

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For those who don’t speak chic Français,
My footnotes might help ease the way!

Yo! You fools! I’m Stevie T!
I’ve got a message so listen to me!
That Boeing Crew just gives us crap,
That’s why I made “The Airbus Rap”.

They seem to think they’re the only ones
Who can fly a plane – they’re all Top Guns!
We Airbus guys, though, know the truth.
We’ve done our testing, got the proof!

With trusty sidestick at my side,
That Normal Law[1] gives one sweet ride.
We’re autothrusting up and down,
Trimming’s[2] for fools! You crazy clowns!

Triple Click[3]! Triple Click! Yeah! What I say!
A Cavalry Charge[4] and I’m away!
With autopilot now disconnected,
My flying skills are resurrected.

Wrestling Fifi[5]? No! No! No!
You’ll come unstuck, that’s not the go!
With sweet caress, you’ve got to treat her.
Trust me now – not trying to preach ya!

Airbus loves its acronyms
So learn them all or you’ll seem dim.
The AADs[6] the place to start;
Get moving now and learn them by heart!

Sometimes Airbus can be unkind
But don’t you pay it any mind.
She says some things I won’t repeat
As wheels and runway gently meet.

The Boeing guys still seem to grapple
With Fly By Wire stuff made by Apple,
And even though that’s not quite right,
The concept still gives them a fright.

They see our flight deck, start to frown
But who would want it painted brown[7]?
We eat our meals off sliding tables[8].
Our flight controls don’t need no cables!

By FMAs[9], we live and die.
Without them, Fifi wouldn’t fly.
A daily litany of them we pray;
It’s another language! No cliché!

Which brings me to my favourite part
(And that includes cool autostart!)
By phase of flight she changes screens!
I’ve yet to find out what that means!

Mon Dieu! I can’t believe the time!
To go on so long! It’s just a crime!
By Airbus cleverness, we’re inspired!
We hope by now, you’re not too tired.

You Boeing dudes are still our friends
And here’s how you can make amends:
Stop talking ‘bout your moving sticks[10]
Defect to Airbus! Quick! Quick! Quick!

To those who’ve not yet seen the light:
Give ‘Bus a go, it’s quite alright!

[1] The normal operating system for Airbus Fly By Wire (FBW) flight controls.
[2] Manual trimming of the elevators (when in manual flight) is required on Boeing but done automatically on Airbus.
[3] The warning sound made when a flight mode changes automatically to a more basic mode.
[4] The warning sound made when the autopilot disengages.
[5] An affectionate (?) name given to Airbus aircraft.
[6] AAD is an acronym for Airbus Abbreviation Dictionary – 91 pages of funky acronyms!
[7] Boeing flight decks were, for some time, painted in “pleasing tones of brown” while Airbus flight decks are grey.
[8] Airbus aircraft have retractable tables in front of the pilots, made possible by the absence of large control columns (which Boeing retains) between the pilots’ legs.
[9] FMA is an acronym for Flight Mode Annunciator/Annunciation
[10] Moving thrust levers (when autothrottle/autothrust is engaged) is a major and contentious point of difference between the two manufacturers.

Mighty Otis!

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Mighty Otis! God of Lifts!
By your power, we skywards shift.
To office workers, you’re a gift!
Daily we give thanks!

Inside your halls, we press your numbers,
Lighting up, we still can slumber.
Without you, up the stairs we’d lumber,
Puffing, sweating ranks!

Once inside, we face your altar.
Auto-doors will never falter.
If they did, stay calm we oughta!
‘Long as we stay up!

Safe at work, we do ignore you.
Secretly, we do adore you.
Come knock-off time, we do implore you:
Please to hurry up!

Down the shaft, we start to plummet,
Falling quickly from the summit,
Trying hard now not to vomit!
Where’d my stomach go?

Ensconced inside your cage we fall.
At every floor we seem to call.
There’s no room left here for you all!
A-waiting you must go!

Safe at ground, there’s disbelief:
Once more, we’ve avoided grief.
Thank you, Otis! Sweet relief!
Homeward we can go!

Mighty Otis! You’re the best!
Way ahead of all the rest!
Schindler’s lift can’t pass your test!
Daily we give thanks!

Stephen Tomkins
2 April 2014

(Note: To avoid confusion, Otis and Schindler are two manufacturers of elevators or lifts.)

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My Digital World

All through the day and then the night
I downloaded a megabyte.
“A megabyte?” I hear you say
And shake your head in sad dismay.
“You must have gotten more than that!”
And so I would but for my cat.

She frequently attacks the mouse
And drags my Mac around the house,
Through the halls and down the stairs,
Over books and under chairs.

Despite the damage caused by this,
The keyboard is her place of bliss,
And there she likes to sleep and purr
While excess downloads, I incur.

I scratch my head and then disable
Wifi modem and the cable.
Sadly, though, I soon forget
The 3G network and my pet.

In haste, I call my ISP,
With phone in hand and cup of tea.
Naturally, though, I’m put on hold
And sitting there, it soon grows cold.

I start to laugh and soon feel better
And decide I’d rather send a letter.

Stephen Tomkins
3 March 2014

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My cat, Mia. She’s not as innocent as she looks!