Park Bench Tales and other writings

Thoughts and writings reflecting the poet within and the activist


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The Pebble

The Pebble

The walk beside the beach at dawn so oft refreshed

Then there was the sound that he loved the best

As each wave came rolling in from the sea

Then crashed upon the pebbled shore

Pebbles rolling back and forth without harmony

Seemingly a beach in disarray

Whilst slowly grinding to a smoother form before

They take their rounded shape upon the beach

Then other opportunities are within reach

A multitude of shape and colour from which to choose

An ebbing tide still so there is no time to lose

The selection made and the pack has been filled

Some smaller ones to be turned and milled

Slowly until they may be polished for a ring

Whilst the larger ones a different pleasure can bring

The palette of acrylics with brushes does await

A selection of the best with which the message can be written

Painted on the surface to lie beside the gate

Set where it can be seen and never hidden

The message that is of promise and of hope

Retrieved that morning from the pebble slope

Each passer-by may now pause and smile

For the message says ‘Just walk the extra mile’

Copyright: David Hopcroft September 2020


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The Wood carver’s Love

The Wood Carver’s Love

His eyes roamed eagerly over the fallen form

There was beauty still to be revealed within his mind

Freshly cut and felled to now lie still upon the lawn

Cuts began to form as his project was designed

The chainsaw kicked into life and now the great cuts were made

Sawdust scattered upon the grass as her outline was revealed

A short break as he took his tea beneath the chestnut’s shade

Then further cuts exposed the form his mind concealed

Now the roughness of her surface was smoothed by plane

Checks made to ensure her legs were even as she stood

Her beauty to be further shown as to his hand the chisel came

Chips gouged out to reveal a face within the wood

From the bench the form of Our Lady arose

Rough hewn at first then her finer features exposed

The smile upon her lips and her shapely nose

Where would this craftsmanship be reposed

Our Lady for his lady was his clear intent

His love for her shown by the tools he used

Where she might sit in rest and content

Nature’s fallen trunk exposed but not abused

The bench before her cottage doth now stand

Her body seated as in her journal she will write

The pen moving carefully and slowly in her hand

A fallen trunk reused for her delight

Copyright: David Hopcroft October 2020


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The Churchyard

The Churchyard

The bell hangs silent now within the valley

Lichens encrust the iron that was cast in ages past

No longer will it echo across the valley to the hills

Heavy slate tiles upon the roof are overgrown with moss

The stonework has gone untended through the years

Silence now not hymns lingers in the oaken pews

The pulpit now the home to insects and covered in dust

Safety fencing now seals off the building from worshippers

A fading picture being painted of a faded past

Fresh gravestones can still be seen beyond the lych gate

The only sign of activity that still remains

Where congregations were gathered for two hundred years

Beyond the yew tree lies the double grave

Where meadow flowers are left free to grow

A resting place for two who loved the countryside

To now lie peacefully beneath the earth

Nearby a home where their last years were spent

The gardens of the great house where they could sit and talk

The hills around where they might take short walks

Until the separation as life ebbed and took its course

Those final years that he then spent alone

Children and grandchildren the visitors to his cosy home

As he studied from his bible on each day

Seeking out a truth to guide him on his way

I believe that beneath the turf of the sod

There lies a man whose life was to try and walk with God

Copyright: David Hopcroft September 2020


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The Rabbits who built an Ark

The rabbits who built an ark

Henry and Jamal had first noticed the frequency

When the burrows in the warren became temporary streams

So they had all moved to a hillside acting sensibly

Until Precious the witch-rabbit had one of her dreams

‘The world as we know it will end’ she exclaimed

‘Does that mean moving again?’ the rabbits complained

Without knowledge the rabbits were left in confusion

So they sent for Anika a soothsayer of repute

Who drank of a potion to create an illusion

Her answer they hoped would settle all dispute

‘Floods would continue’ she explained with ease

The answer it seemed was to build a great ark

For the Big Creatures had gotten some strange disease

Their brains were leading them into the dark

But up spoke a dissenter called Donald the Grump

Who said she was a fake and always telling lies

And he banged on the ground with a great thump

You could see he was angry from the red in his eyes

The ‘experts’ he said were part of the Deep Rabbit State

He was so sure he deciphered the message in Rabbit Anon

All that they really needed was another flood gate

Then the threat he knew would vanish and be gone

Now Henry and Jamal had listened to Anika with intent

Ignoring the unceasing ranting of Donald the Grump

For they could comprehend what the soothsayer meant

Whilst Donald started screaming they should get a big pump

That was the day when it started to rain

Hour after hour and then day and night

Henry and Jamal sawed and hammered in earnest

Whilst Donald stood by and proclaimed their work was in vain

They’d wake up tomorrow and the sun would be bright

They’d soon be complaining it was hot as a furnace

The ark was soon finished and started to float

Supplies of carrots and lettuce loaded to the boat

The rabbits clambered aboard as the waters continued to rise

Donald sat on a large hump and continued to deride

At last the ark was ready and sailed on its way

Full of rabbits sailing west with a song

They never heard of Donald again and sometimes would pray

That he might be saved and admit he was wrong

The ark bobbed around on the water for days on end

Until coming to rest as the waters receded

The earth turned green again the Big Creatures were gone

There was healing ahead and the earth would slowly mend

As the rabbits worked together to do what was needed

The meek were the inheritors and Donald had been wrong

Copyright: David Hopcroft August 2020


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Messages

Messages

When you awaken to the sunshine in the morning

And you are feeling good in every way

There’s a purpose He gives us in His calling

To spread a little cheerfulness each day

Why not whistle when you take a morning walk

Call out a greeting to others as you pass by

There is always someone who might like to talk

Give them a few minutes and leave them on a high

Should you meet someone looking saddened and forlorn

Remember there’s a message about going the extra mile

Say a few kind words to cheer them on this morn

See how much better they are feeling with that smile

Why not sing the songs you love on the way to work

Wind the window down and let the notes float in the air

Those lines might lift the passer-by who was hurt

To fill them with a joy and drive away despair

Stop by the thrift shop for a little browse around

The dollar that you spend might make another’s day

Reminding you that in your heart love can abound

Your kindness may help others cast care away

The journey we take depends on the messages we send

Do we radiate with happiness or are we always glum

Can you find His beauty in your life without end

A place where you are always standing in the sun

Copyright: David Hopcroft August 2020


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Thankfulness

Thankfulness

I can only live my life in thankfulness

Of all the gifts that I have received

The friends who guided me away from loneliness

A thankfulness where I am not deceived

Too often I listen to those who moan and groan

As if the end of the world were happening today

But there is only laughter and a smile in my home

A medicine to cast such negativity away

I can go down by the canal for a morning walk

Watch how the regal swans are spending their day

Stop every now and then to exchange small talk

Just enough to cast those cares away

I see the beauty of the cherry blossom on the tree

The magic as the fronds of the fern uncurl

Bright painted canal boats whose occupants call out to me

To leave me feeling happy and I take a twirl

I’m here and I’m alive and who could want for more

The life that He has given me I cannot measure

I’m so thankful to have seen beyond the shore

To have enjoyed all that He has shown me with such pleasure

Don’t let life be a burden that weighs you down

Don’t spend a life thinking of what might have been

Why walk upon the earth with a permanent frown

There is so much to discover and it need not be a dream

Copyright: David Hopcroft August 2020


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Hold that beat

Hold that beat

Play those notes strike a chord and move those feet

There’s a place reserved for you upon the floor

Step out with a partner awaken from the dreamy sleep

Hold them tight and firm don’t clutch the straw

Move together now as if there were but one

Press together with the music thigh to thigh

The moon is rising now where the sun has shone

Lean back and show your skills gaze to the sky

Let the drum play out the beating of your heart

Feel the hand pressing on your back

Bodies sliding across the floor just making art

A merging of two continents white and black

Feel that heat when pressing breast to chest

The softness of a movement cheek to cheek

As the dance unfolds let the meaning be undressed

Keep that movement flowing slick and sleek

Let the rhythm change build up the rising heat

Push me pull me turn me as you wish with delight

Bend me backwards let my head fall to your feet

Feel the promise that has been waiting for the night

Let lovers make their movements as passion rises

Play those notes strike the chord and move the feet

Lead on in the dance the night has more surprises

Passion is in the dance Conductor hold that beat

Copyright: David Hopcroft August 2020


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Finding God

Finding God

Some find His presence when they sing out loud

Or when they bow their heads in prayer within the church

For others He is there when the candle wick becomes the flame

Or when the preacher inspires with meaning in the address

How wonderful it is when we find Him there

And then take His teaching out beyond the doors

Building His kingdom with foundation in our own community

Others may find a presence in those sacred groves

A desire to be with others and with so much to share

The power of His message can change a life

A message that can both rescue and inspire

Some unexpectedly find their Godliness inside

Helping when they see the homeless on the street

That part of us that when a disaster strikes

Tells us we must reach out to meet the need

I believe He watches too as we march

With our requests that all work to create a better world

We find God when we find love for our fellow beings

And come to know Him when we express that love

In our actions every single hour of the day

The joy in giving of our time for others

To mold his kingdom know that we are the clay

That joins the hands of sisters and of brothers

Copyright: David Hopcroft August 2020


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On the wearing of masks

The Mask You Never See

There’s a mask you never see a cloak of invisibility

That separates an elite from the likes of you and me

A mask of pretence that talks about health

Whilst inwardly is counting up the dollars of their wealth

The mask that talks of equal opportunity

As they send their children off to private schools

Leaving so many to suffer from austerity

The mask that disguises that they make all the rules

The mask that pretends there is no discrimination

Proclaiming that the world is now colour blind

Pretending that all children can have an equal education

Whilst Ivy League Schools are waiting for the offspring of their kind

The mask that writes about how they closed the gender gap

So that women could enjoy upward mobility

Meaning equality is when the secretary sits on his lap

Though she did get an assistant to help make the tea

There’s a mask that makes the claim we all have democracy

The same mask that tries to exclude black voters from the list

Where old male and white are still the established autocracy

Pretending to wear a velvet glove but they rule with iron fist

Let us strip away the masks so that we can stand alone

Always willing to challenge those who seek to prevent change

There are millions like us and we shall not stand on our own

The objective to strip off the mask is no longer out of range

Copyright: David Hopcroft August 2020


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Windy Day: An unwritten sermon

Windy Day: An unwritten sermon

The slender willow bends to take the strain

An apparent fragility that hides a greater strength

As in bending with the wind it seems to yield

Yet still remains so firmly rooted in the ground

As I watch its beauty swaying to and fro

Thirty feet or more that has withstood the storms

Carrying a message for you and I

Beyond the embankment stands the oak

A sturdy trunk that has stood ninety years or more

Refusing to yield to the storms and gales

A symbol of defiance that will not move

Yet the branches heavy in leaf take the force

In not yielding to this force some may be broken

Like the willow the oak may have spoken

With some shedding of the leaves with each gust

Occasionally a branch torn falls to the ground

Whilst the trunk remains to see out further years

I can feel the air against my face cutting me

As I struggle to make headway in this wind

Remembering the pine forest that once stood

Until the wind cut through like a scythe

Leaving a swathe as each pulled a neighbour down

The shallow roots offering little against the wind

Could it be that the willow is the wisest of them all

Growing tall and yet so firmly rooted in the ground

Or the oak that sheds a branch to retain the inner strength

What if the roots of pines become intertwined

Supporting each other to give a greater deeper strength

Whichever tree we might choose for our lives

Faith must have firm roots to take the strain

Copyright: David Hopcroft August 2020