Park Bench Tales and other writings

Thoughts and writings reflecting the poet within and the activist

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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

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Could the truth lie in parentheses?

Could the truth lie in parentheses?

The passion in his voice spoke of sincerity

(to disguise the lies that are directed at you and me)

A prosperous new future to make the country great

(one that he knew his profits would inflate)

Promising to make life simpler by reducing high taxation

(the poor will pay for that by carefully crafted legislation)

Generating a healthier and stronger economy

(by removing the taxes that pay for social security)

There are some who might protest a little about inequality

(actually I despise and hate those who take a knee)

We should give our brave police the protection that they lack

(especially when they shoot a black man in the back)

It is certainly not my fault the virus has been killing so many folk

(the buck stops at the state even though they’re broke)

We would have saved so many more with my advice

(if you drank the disinfectant with a little ice)

I promise you millions of high paid jobs today

(like all those that I created with the minimum of pay)

We’ll make this country of ours look great again

(by using government cash to make the stock market gain)

I’m the greatest ever president everybody will agree

(by which I mean the closest members of my family)

My face should be on Mount Rushmore for a nation in accord

(before they get my tax returns and discover I might be a fraud)

Copyright: David Hopcroft August 2020

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Addiction to violence

Addiction to Violence

How harmless it all seemed to me at first

The days of Muffin the Mule and Andy Pandy

Child cartoons with Little Weed and Bill and Ben

Giving way to Tom and Jerry and a very different world

When violence to the person was soon involved

Is this where it began and how it evolved

Those early movies when arrows and bullets filled the air

Until the enemy retreated and we were left with a scene

Where often there were no bodies left on the ground

Car chases and crashes where nobody ever seemed to die

A world where the Lone Ranger never killed anyone

That world was eroded and slowly exchanged

As Hollywood became drug-fuelled for more reality

War depicted by dismembered body parts and more

Television dramas adding quickly to the gore

The mind becoming numbed by what we saw

What is the purpose of making violence a norm

For by such actions addiction might be born

Copycat actions appearing in real life

Living in a city with a murder nearly once every day

Watching as I saw humanity slowly decay

On so many street corners signs of affray

Too many black lives being shot away

Tear gas and rubber bullets for those who seek for change

Military suppression as peace recedes out of range

Every day more violence fills the television screen

I sit and dream of another world that might have been

Copyright: David Hopcroft August 2020

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Your boat and my boat

Your boat and my boat

Peggy Sue had given him a ride in her new sports car

A gleaming yellow Mustang that she truly adored

A gift from her parents before she started college

She had not mentioned Kwame to them it just didn’t seem quite right

‘I suppose that we’ve a lot in common’ she began

‘I mean we’ve both got ancestors who came from overseas

And they arrived by boat just from different countries

Mine came from Germany where they had a large farm

They sold up and came here because land was so cheap

Especially after all the natives moved to their reservations

I still had lots of photos of the journey that they made

A three-funnelled steamer that sailed from Liverpool

They had an outside cabin travelling first class of course

And they dined with the captain at least once on that voyage

The food was incredible four courses at night

Sometimes they would dance as the band played

Oh I must show you the photos of that

Or they’d just listen to the music to pass time away

In the daytime they could swim in the pool on the deck

Then there was deck tennis and quoits

Just so many things they were able to do

I think the voyage took four or five days

They sailed into New York to disembark

It must have been so exciting for them

A new land and a fortune waiting to be made

So tell me Kwame about the voyage your ancestors undertook

It must have been great fun do tell me what you know!’

He looked and he wondered what on earth she had learned

About how Africans had arrived on these shores

Perhaps time she heard a truth so he began

‘My ancestors came from the Malinke people on the West Coast

They did not come by choice they were put on wooden boats

Taken from their village to be traded for muskets and shot

They had no belongings and some were in chains

On the boats they were all cramped down in the holds

Men to the fore and women to the stern

Some never saw daylight for days upon end

There were no cabins and not even bunks

Food if they were lucky came once a day

Some beans and corn and anything the sailors would not eat

Those who protested were beaten and whipped

Some never made it thrown overboard when they died

Wooden boats with sails were tossed on the seas

Like a cargo of cotton bales ready to be sold

There was no land of the free they were just slaves

Becoming the property of white men for the rest of their lives’

She looked at him as her Mustang slowed to a halt

‘Why that is so fascinating what an adventure they must have had

Sailing on a wooden ship Oh gosh that must have been such fun

A pity about the naughty ones who were whipped

I’ll drop you off here if you don’t mind

My parents say I shouldn’t drive this neighbourhood’

As he walked home alone he knew that nothing had really changed

Even though it seemed quite absurd

He wondered if she had heard a word

Her privilege was something she did not understand

Skin colour still defined your life in this land

Copyright: David Hopcroft August 2020

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The Star and Planets that were alive

The Star and Planets that were Alive

The dwellers on planet blue felt superior to all

Only possible microbes had been found upon the other bodies

Although they still speculated about an old ice moon

That might have life in warm water beneath

The dwellers believed they were the only intelligent form

To be found within a solar system that had been born

From clouds of swirling dust that became organized

Not realizing that it was the cloud itself that was alive

As the cloud grew from infancy to adult

And redesigned itself to form a great central sun

Around which parts of its body had come

To represent places where the system might have fun

Some parts were left hard rocky and hot

But the blue planet was a place where the dust left a magic seed

That had been blowing through the galaxy for years

A seed that germinated and then evolved

Then the star and planets realized it was a deadly mould

As it slowly became a form that destroyed the planet blue

Then it seemed the mould in all its forms would slowly die

Whilst the star and planets lived on in peace

A microsecond of life in solar system history

The seed it seems had no final destiny

Copyright: David Hopcroft August 2020

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Tear down those monuments

Tear down those monuments

Hailed as heroes in their time as dignatories or businessmen

Who were honoured so highly by others for their work

Yet as time continues to march on

So the context of their work must be reviewed

What do we make of those cruel slave traders

Who made those generous donations to charities

Money that was made by inflicting suffering upon others

How does that grand new school appear

When the source of the foundation becomes clear

When slaves were whipped and broken in fear

What of all those monuments to people like this

Some whose lives changed as they started to stray

How a scout leader left a lasting legacy

Yet his thoughts drifted towards a growing Nazi Germany

To tear down every monument we dislike

Can be to try and whitewash our own history

An exercise that has never worried in the past

Yet a truth of sorts still remains to be told

A sequence of events to discover and unfold

To learn to accept actions were evil in the past

To find new heroes who are those offering hope

Whilst ill deeds must surely be brought to light

Truth must be told before it takes flight

Copyright: David Hopcroft August 2020

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On teaching people about weeds

On teaching people about weeds : Prejudice Part 2

Look at the paintings of cornfields with their flowers

Red poppies contrasting with cornflower blue

Yet these are sights we don’t see any more

As chemical sprays spelled out their death

See how meadows were painted with rainbows of colour

Vetches we called eggs and bacon and campion pink

These too are going as the sprays take their toll

Roadside verges killed off to leave a brown scar

Flowers in a lawn suffering the same fate

As we are conditioned to believe a lawn can only be green

Humans have decided that the unwanted are weeds

Strange when you see the same dangers for human beings

How white is the desired colour and the unwanted are weeds

How black is still presented as inferior and not intelligent

How Muslims are to be feared because of their belief

Native Americans still seen as a blot on the landscape

Mexicans portrayed as rogues and as thieves

Who gave white the right to designate some people as weeds

How can one human life be worth less than another

If you are black you might be the weed in that white mind

And treated as if you were the scourge of mankind

So if you are white and think Black Lives do Matter

Speak out and challenge the privileged few

Before you realize they’ll also make a weed out of you

Copyright: David Hopcroft August 2020

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Those Perfect Legs

Those Perfect Legs

When I first saw them I was drawn to look closer

Those bare legs were the finest I have ever seen

My gaze immediately captured so that I could not look away

How had I missed them before just where had I been

Skinny legs do not attract me but these had such great shape

I ran the palm of my hand down over those smooth thighs

Now filled with enchantment I just knew this was fate

Though my years are advancing I was still full of surprise

She moved round a little showing off a different pose

A view from the rear and my heart missed a beat

The shape was delightful with those curves and flows

I once knew a …….. but let’s not talk of a repeat

Those legs were so special so completely unique

I stood there admiring adoring and drooling I’m sure

The was nothing to imagine perfection was complete

How could a grown man ever have asked for more

The form of those legs was now forever on my mind

I knew that I would dream of them nightly in my sleep

My appreciation of legs had now been completely redefined

Of legs that are more shapely you’ll not hear me speak

Then you came to stand beside me asked what was on my mind

I had to be truthful and so I told you so as not to be unkind

You laughed and agreed that she was the very finest mare

Then the horse snorted and cantered off with head held high in the air

Copyright: David Hopcroft July 2020