Production Line


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


Okay! You’ve Made Your (Power)Point!


The import of this meeting overrated cannot be.
I am a little nervous but that’s just ‘tween you and me!
For suitable attire, my whole wardrobe I have scoured.
My new bowtie analysis has left me quite empowered!

I stride into the meeting room, exuding style and poise,
My large piccolo latte shows I’m not one of the boys!
I open up my MacBook, shine the Apple in their eyes,
Confident they’ll all be fooled by my complete disguise!

I funnel feedback down the line, cascading here and there,
The conversation’s now offline – they haven’t got a prayer!
My (Power)Point is made so well they dare not ask a question –
But if they did, I’d beat them down with my raw condescension!

They show their slides, I smile and nod and grant them my approval –
But all the while, I’m plotting my new Boss’ sad removal!
Today, the Emperor’s brand new clothes are still the height of fashion –
It’s great to see them worn so well, with pride and so much passion!

Stephen Tomkins
23 March 2016

Office life

Photo credits;

Two Cats and a Tom

I have now decided to branch into short stories as well as my poetry. This post is my first foray into that style. I hope you enjoy it. 🙂


Two Cats and a Tom

The waitress led me to a table by the window in the bar on the top floor of my luxury hotel, overlooking Hong Kong’s magnificent harbour. The constellation of coloured lights winked as I sat and ordered a drink. As luck would have it, at the next table sat two Cats and a Tom.

“Puh-leeaase”, said the Tom. “Gravy train, gravy train”.

I wondered what language he was speaking.

“He’s had his snout in the trough for years”, replied Cat 1.

Ahh! Here was a language I understood. The Cats were fashionably dressed with tasteful jewellery and makeup while the Tom was casually dressed with his hair smothered in “product”. I doubt that it could have moved even if the super-typhoon off the coast had appeared in the bar. While the trio sat still, their tails whipped back and forth (as is the way with cats) to indicate their minds were working overtime.

Cat 2 interrupted her grooming to mumble something, at which the others nodded sagely as if something profound had just been said.

In the far corner of the bar, the pianist began playing and the singer began yowling off key. There was no doubt I was tired but I began to wonder if I’d walked into some private bar for felines. My fears were confirmed as the conversation continued.

“He had no idea when he worked on the line,” (this was not a reference to the Internet) continued Cat 1. “So he moved into management as soon as he could.”

My eyes had now adjusted to the half-light and I could make out the painted claws gleaming and clearly ready for action.

Cat 2 now made another contribution, “I was there when a passenger had a heart attack and John (not his real name) went into meltdown. I had to take over while he pretended to direct the action. He got an Excel award and I got nothing! Hello! I was there too!”

“Typical!”, replied the Cat 1.

“Would you care for another champagne?”, asked the Tom.

“Ooonnnee stip closerrrr”, shrieked the singer in the background. Somehow the glass appeared unaffected.

“Oh yes!”, purred the Cats.

A whip of the Tom’s lustrous tail was sufficient to bring the waiter. “Three more champagnes please,” said the Tom. He continued, “We used to do shuttles to New York. They were sooo tiring.”

I must have missed the connection.

Cat 2 replied, “Just about everyone from my initial course has got an Excel award but I haven’t yet. I don’t understand why.”

“But the most tiring of all,” moaned the Tom to no one in particular, “were the Mumbai shuttles. They were shockers.”

Cat 1 now entered her own orbit. “I can’t wait to get back to Tokyo. Being downtown is so much better than being out near the airport.”

“I have leeerrrrved yoooouuuu!” droned the singer. Another patron burst into enraptured applause. I was uncertain as to whether he had enjoyed the song or was simply relieved it had finished.

As I quickly drained my glass, it occurred to me that I was glad that the motivation for those who care for me inflight had so much to do with my wellbeing. Cats might fly! Another day in paradise.


Stephen Tomkins
8 July 2016
Hong Kong

Photo credit:



Resistance Is Futile


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

Photo credit:

Sorry For Being Born


Arrive at airport, cap in hand.
My bags are packed, my travel planned.
“Oh! The glamour!” you may think
But I’ll be treated like I stink!

As airline staff on cheap staff travel,
All careful plans will now unravel.
So I approach the hallowed desk
Where staff may check-in at their risk.

Like an insect, I am viewed
And told to wait in voices rude.
In holding pen, we congregate
And hopefully await our fate.

In muted tones, we quiz each other
And try obliquely to discover
Just where we fit into the list –
My category must be higher than this!

At last they start to call some names,
And so begin the churlish games.
Those lucky few will get on board,
The rest of us will sit here, bored.

Like music to my weary ears,
I hear my name as chaos clears.
They take my bag, give me a pass,
And tell me, “Move your bloody arse!”

I sprint now to the Customs queue.
Amidst the throng, I wrestle through.
On my watch, I check the time –
My God! How long’s this frappin’ line!

Finally, I get on board,
Wedged between two giants! Lord!
So strong the scent of garlic is,
There’ll be no vampires here for years!

I’ll need no seatbelt come what may:
Restrained by blubber, I will stay.
Come meal-time, there’ll be nothing left.
Cheap travel is a wondrous gift!


Stephen Tomkins
7 January 2016

Photo credits:

Update On The Current Situation


In light of the current situation,
I’m here to provide some information.
The rumour mill’s been running hot
But most of it’s not worth a jot!

Our bottom line will not be dented!
Our office space is newly rented!
We must uphold our company creed
So we can meet the customers’ need!

You’re worried and I understand,
But these tough times just were not planned.
We all must take our share of pain.
There’s really no one here to blame!

And so, you see, then, that is why
I’ve descended from on high.
You know that I would not be lying!
There’s little use in sitting, crying.

I hope, your doubts, I have allayed.
I’m sure, this week, you should get paid.
Thanks but I’ll be quite ok.
If things get bad, I’ll slip away.

So stand together, worthy band!
I knew that you would understand!
Together we can turn things round!
You know, I like the way I sound!

Stephen Tomkins
5 June 2014

Ebb and Flow


High above my boots and laces,
Bobs my own head up and down.
Swimming in a sea of faces,
One by one, they wear a frown.

To a soundtrack I’m conferring
Flows the tide of dark commuters;
Seething mass, their faces blurring,
Rush to serve voracious suitors.

On the train, the kelp is swaying,
Standing up or sitting down,
Random rhythm they’re obeying,
Heedless of the music’s sound.

Glowing screens lead all by ear,
Once more we travel to and fro;
Isolated yet so near,
Protected by my audio.

Stephen Tomkins
30 June 2015

The Hive

Alarm clock beeps and we awake
Shower, dress and coffee take.
By bus or train or maybe drive,
The worker bees attend the Hive.

We swear allegiance at the gate
By swiping cards with face and date.
The Hive accepts and lets us in,
The working day can now begin.

We settle on our usual flower
Evenly spaced throughout the tower.
Collecting pollen is the task
The Queen of worker bees does ask.

But digital collection now does mean
The flower itself is rarely seen.
Cocooned inside our comfy Hive
The world outside can be denied.

A button press, the screen awakes
By which our Queen communicates.
With mousey clicks and chairy squeaks,
This is the way to us she speaks.

Beemail, buzzphones, meeting cells;
The honey from our Hive excels
But honey-making is so tough,
Those other hives keep playing rough.

The Queen bee tells us we must change
And, even though this seems quite strange,
She says to us she has a plan
To split the Hive throughout the land.

“A strategy is what we need,”
And to her buzzing all pay heed.
“A different one from what we had.
The worker bees have been so bad.”

The Queen herself is far too busy,
Buzzing around, she makes us dizzy.
Her generals gather us in groups
And pass her message to the troops.

“We need less workers”, they will say,
“Or get less honey if allowed to stay.”
The buzzing soon becomes intense
And troubled workers wander hence.

We feel we’ve heard all this before,
Throwing workers out the door.
We can’t recall that this then worked
But duties still cannot be shirked.

The Queen herself is sometimes seen
To speak to workers on the scene,
And while this is anticipated,
Little is communicated.

And so the workers clean their wings,
And into boxes, pack their things.
We say goodbye to friends we loved,
Some wish to leave and some get shoved.

They buzz away to another hive
And make more honey, 9 to 5.
The Queen, of course, will get to stay,
It seems she has an MBA.

Stephen Tomkins
27 March 2014

Time’s A-Wasting!


It’s been so long since I have slept,
It’s clear at sleeping, I’m inept.
I’ve laid in bed at night and wept
And round the darkened house I’ve crept.

If you’ll permit me to explain
And forgive my seeming to complain,
Please don’t regard me with disdain,
And be assured I’m not insane.

It all began some years ago,
When I was dealt a heavy blow.
Sleep was then an easy task
but now it’s an enormous ask.

I woke one morning quite refreshed
And took for granted nightly rest.
It seems my lack of gratitude
Erased my restful aptitude.

From that day forward to today,
I’ve, every night, been made to pay.
I refused to take it lying down,
But, over time, have been worn down.

Every treatment in the book
Is little more than gobbledygook.
I’ve tried them all and I can tell you
There are even some that would repel you.

I’ve jazzercised, been tranquillised,
And sleeping I have visualised,
Eaten lots and had some shots
And even been tied up in knots!

Meditation, incantation,
Frontal-lobely amputation,
Failed to yield a shortish nap!
I even found a sleeping app!

I gave up all forms of caffeine,
Retreated from the social scene,
Tried dancing and some French Champagne,
And even snorted cheap cocaine!

Sought a creepy Voodoo guy,
Who looked at me with watery eye,
“Relief you soon will come to know,
On me, your worldly goods bestow!”

I ran around and round the room,
Heard peaceful music in the gloom.
I starved myself and got so bored,
While all around me people snored!

I tried my doctor, said I’m ill,
But he just thought that I’m a dill,
Prescribed me several largish pills
And sent me frequent largish bills.

My sense of humour’s wearing thin,
I’ve tried to take it on the chin.
With enormous, bloodshot, saucer eyes,
I’ve slowly come to realise

That this whole sleep-thing’s overrated.
Its benefits can be debated.
I’m living proof that we don’t need
To yield to sleep’s voracious greed!

And though it still remains seductive,
At work, I’m now the most productive.
And while I may not have the looks,
I’ve loads of time for reading books!


Stephen Tomkins
1 June 2014

The Puppeteer


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