Park Bench Tales and other writings

Thoughts and writings reflecting the poet within and the activist


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Don’t Carry Your Life

Life is something that wriggles in diapers

That frequently need to be changed

A sweet smile beneath a white shawl

Memories to be treasured by all

So don’t carry a life like a burden upon your back

Letting it bend until you stoop and fall over your shoes

Crying out in pain, each day a stretching of the rack

Closing your eyes when there may be good news

Life is something that squeals with delight

Shrieks until you join in and laugh

It’s a sound with a melody all of its own

A dance and a jig when you’re never alone

So  stop living the life of a girl I once knew

Lost and uncertain that you want to be found

Sadness is a feeling that you’ve kept for yourself

To be alone with the dust on the very top shelf

Life is a roundabout travelling so fast

Leap on and leap off, it really is fun

Come share my swing let us fly to the sky

Joys come together when spirits are high

So why follow the map that never gets drawn

When you only walk backwards into the past

A solitary journey never leading to home

Walking so slowly that you may turn to stone

Now life that becomes your wildest dream

As you dance the years as the prettiest teen

Happiness to grasped, it’s there for the taking

Hold out your hand to find love in the making

Dark secrets shield the past that you’ve captured

To imprison yourself within a never-ending night

Don’t carry sealed passion all the way to the grave

Pick up that life, walk with me and be brave

 Be free of the curse and condemn the night wish

That keeps you from sleeping and hides the dream

Just lay your head gently into my arms

Let me kiss you so softly and succumb to your charms

David Hopcroft January 2011

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I can’t wait for your life

I want to be tickled

I want to be kissed

I want everything

My friends say that I’ve missed

So stop hanging around

Unless you’re ready

For life’s merry-go-round

Yeah

I just can’t wait

I want my  life now !

I want to be playful

I want to be free

I want to dance

Just want to be me

So don’t mess with my youth

If you’ve nothing but words

Because there’s only one truth

Yeah

I just can’t wait

I want my life now !

I want your body

Close-pressed to mine

I want to feel your heart

Beating in time

So quit writing out lines

You don’t know who I am

I think you’ve run out of time

Yeah

I just can’t wait

I want my life now

I want to be loved

I need a new broom

I want to get high

Shout out to the moon 

So quit all your talking

Saying it’s just too soon

I’m up and I’m walking

Yeah

I just can’t wait

I want my life now

So don’t stick around

Dreaming I’m your new muse

I’m quitting this town

With my travelling shoes

Live your life in the past

When you’ve turned to dust

You’re simply outclassed

Yeah

I’m just looking ahead

Living  a life now !

David Hopcroft  January 2011


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On the edge: Time Foreclosed

It is raining now

Water seeping into her matted hair

Sunshine was a long time ago

She had signed papers without care

As her children played in the yard

Of their dreams

She is pleading now

Her future lies beneath this subway

Hoping for dollar bills

The rooms had seemed so bright and gay

New furniture from her card

Promises of a future passed

‘Spare me some change mister’

Her eyes focus only on the passing feet

An odor of poverty in the air

Once she had neighbors in the street

A yard with grass to cut

Evenings spent on a swing

The green bottle by her side

Sliding slowly down the boundary lines

That some call class

She mutters some childhood rhymes

Her mind foreclosed

Like the rest of her life

Her world in a plastic bag

Now she nibbles on bread she found in a bin

Two ladies pass

See the bottle and chastise her for sin

Judging by the rotting rags

That cling to a dying body

Her children taken

I see the scars on her wrist from the shard

A hunched up body left alone

Last night she still dreamed of that yard

A broken dream

Interrupted by each patrol

We have left her there to die

Like the garbage put out on the sidewalk

Someone else will clear up

Do you wonder who she was? Do we ever talk?

Did you see her there?

Then pass quickly by like the rest

Copyright: David Hopcroft


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On the edge: Three cows and you get your child back

Deng’s story

Bright stars overhead

Lighting the night sky

Peace

Then the sound that I dread

Hooves in the night

Thundering hooves

Bringing hordes from the north

Murahaleen and mujahidin

Heaven’s door held open when they killed

Clouds of dust

The sound of gunfire

My mother and sisters

Fleeing

To the long grass in the fields

My father stands firm with his spear

The Kalashnikov scythes him in two

Dawn breaks

Our cattle and goats rounded up

I hide under a blanket

As our cooking pots are smashed

Clothes are taken and they find me

I think I am going to die

Our tukul is set alight

Flames leaping to the grass roof

Mud walls collapse

Our home has gone

Strangers take flaming torches to the fields

Screams of children drown the crackling flames

Choking

Mothers and children stumble from the inferno

To be herded

Tied by ropes to horses

I too am taken

Led away for the journey

I watch our crops burn

Now I sleep outside my master’s house

With a sack in case it rains

They beat me daily with a stick

Thrashing across my  chest

Branded on fire grate

But I cannot change

I look after their goats and cattle

Stolen from our village

Help them grow dura

I am fed on sorghum and millet husk

Okra is a dream

When I refuse  to work

My wrists are tied to my ankles

They hang me from an acacia tree

Until I submit

I saw my mother once

Washing clothes for her master

Sometimes I hear my sisters scream

As they are forced to yield in the night

Who bears their shame?

Their price to their master

Two chickens apiece

Some pay to get children back

I was lucky and ran away

Walking home

Along dry river beds

With thorns shredding my skin along the way

My village has gone

I am just another refugee

The world looked on then passed me by

The world looked on but nobody wept

Copyright: David Hopcroft


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Everything Changes

Sing for Kiku, be happy for Kiku, today is a new day

She skips to the river, splashes, sings loudly

Fills her can with water, but there’s no time to play

Calls greetings to the birds, dances away freely

She has waited, but now she knows it is time

Returns with fresh water; it is time to prepare

Orange blouse, green skirt, colors that shout

Blue anklets, blue bracelets, shiny braided black hair

So cheerful and gay; is there mischief about?

Could Tokoloshe be hiding somewhere?

Kiku is singing as she steps through the door

She follows the path with a purpose today

Footprints in the sand; she knows for sure

Makena and Mukondi are both on their way

They have waited so long, time for a cheer!

Beyond the village that lies in a sea of red sand

Stands a roof upon posts, a marvelous sight

Jomo and Makori are waiting, hand in hand

There’s great expectation, a sense of delight

Kiano stands tall, his face one great smile

He calls them by name, hands out pencils and books

A teacher, our school, our future is free!

Kiku holds her dream close, this is how it looks

She opens her eyes, then shrieks with glee

This time it’s for real; her dream has come true

Copyright: David Hopcroft


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On the edge: Animal

Skip skip to school

Singing along the path

One year that I finish

Then maybe I go study college

In city like friends

Men jump out in front of me

Drag me from path

Then beaten till agree to be soldier

Now use real gun

Prove myself strong warrior

Now I have food

Beat prisoner with butt

Kill prisoner with hoe

Then throw down deep well

I am now a soldier

Have big death necklace with killing beads

Big panga knife to cut neck

Drink blood like animal

Kill kill with knife

Or prisoner get to use knife

Commander train us to be fearless

Fight each other

Bang bang bang and my sister dead

Either she die or I die

Test to be soldier in army

Now I in army to fight

Fight like animal

Commander he take me

Give other girls to soldiers

He take me force me live as wife

Give me child

And nasty disease no go away

I steal to feed

Rice beans soda maize sorghum sugar

From my village

Let them starve

I am an animal

We raid my village in night

Father run out of hut with spear

Bang bang father dead

Bang bang mother dead

What have I done?

I am animal

How many I kill today?

You do not count, no time

Commander tell boy

Prove you soldier

Rape that women

Boy he refuse

Commander use club to kill him

Whirling bird overhead send fire down

Many soldiers body lie still

Bleeding and I have fear

Kill or be killed

But chance to escape is near

Sneak away when collecting water

I dream my village gone

All drowned in lakes of blood

Locusts with faces of my village

Blacken the sky and shut out sun

I walk in the desert on their skulls

Bury my head in sand

But always I hear their screams

Who take evil spirit from me?

Nobody go with me now

Where is my college?

Where is my life?

I do not want to be animal

Copyright: David Hopcroft


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Late Summer

The few dews now appear upon the grass

Glistening silver drops atop each leaf

Sun rising later and a darkening of the morn

Seeds ripening and fruit falling from the trees

Birds and insects busy themselves with the feast

Bumble bee and butterfly still seek the flowers

Whilst the scent of lavender is heavy in the air

Sunsets are painting pictures across the evening skies

A chilled breeze felt against the face

The first frost of autumn still awaited

Swifts and swallows congregate along the wires

A southern flight will soon begin

Leaves upon the apple trees are slowly changing colour

The first of which have yet to fall upon the ground

Long summer evenings are now but memories

Lazy days that were spent lying beneath the sun

The canal no longer alive with cheerful painted boats

Soon Fall festivals will be in full swing

Harvest times with celebrations in the chapel

God’s gifts a welcome for the winter months

The dormouse takes a fill before his sleep

A quietness descending as the seasons change

Copyright: David Hopcroft September 2019