Park Bench Tales and other writings

Thoughts and writings reflecting the poet within and the activist

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Woodland Music

Woodland Music

Seeking shelter from the Autumn breeze

A sanctuary I reach between the trees

At first only the sound of the rustling leaves

Looking to the sky where treetops sway

Rays of sun filter through upon my foray

As frisky squirrels now emerge for play

Squeaks and croaks might signal their delight

Upon such matters my discussion is not erudite

And could this be playfulness in their fight

They bark as the hawk flies overhead

A signal to warn of the predator they dread

Watching is needed even as they are fed

A weakened trunk yields with a moan

Comes crashing to the ground and lies alone

Narrowly avoiding the sculpture of stone

Now the siskin sounds a cheerful note

Of joy that emanates from throat

Whilst eyes dart around wary of the hungry stoat

Whose hiss suggest that of my presence she is aware

In the distance I can hear the hunter’s horn blare

Above I seek the cooing pigeon with my stare

Badgers and owl in silence spend their day

Along the bridle path I hear the stallion neigh

So much music is hereabouts but I must away

Copyright: David Hopcroft October 2020

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The Most Amazing Pumpkin

The most amazing pumpkin you ever saw

They were driving into the countryside to make their search

Gathering their collection for the best-ever Halloween

Passing by the farms with pumpkins piled high on carts

Ready for the carving for there were lanterns to be made

Faces to be carved for the tallow candle to burn inside

Then hung upon the porches on such a special night

Then she spotted one that was different and yelled ‘Mom STOP’

Mom hit the brake and the truck screeched to a halt

Whilst Dad and Mom searched for their lantern shapes

Precious wandered around to the pile that had caught her eye

Huge orange pumpkins stacked in the doorway to a barn

Labelled ‘Special Scary Pumpkins from Hoppy’s Farm’

She selected one that was nearly as tall as she

Handed over a $5 bill and claimed her prize

Once home the carving started on the special one

Great eyes and rows of really spiky teeth

The great carved pumpkin stood proud upon the lawn

Night fell and she peered out from her bed

The sight almost made her eyes pop from her head

For her pumpkin seemed to have grown a leg

A few moments more and the pumpkin had grown two

Goodness gracious! What was the pumpkin going to do?

The pumpkin took its first steps around the lawn

Kind of shakily for pumpkins have to learn to walk

I’ve even heard on one pumpkin that learned how to talk

The pumpkin rolled gently around upon the lawn

Precious was convinced that she heard the pumpkin laugh

She was even more amazed when arms and hands appeared

Then with one bound the pumpkin leapt the picket fence

Then bounced right over the neighbour’s washing line

Collecting some undergarments as it cleared the top

Still there was more mischief to come

As clothes were being strewn back and forth

Before the pumpkin jumped the fence again

Bringing with it one large white sheet

Draped with this the pumpkin wandered down the street

Where lovers were indulging in one long last kiss

Disturbed they both jumped six feet

Then scampered off into the dark

This time she definitely heard the pumpkin laugh

Slipping off the sheet the pumpkin gave her a wink

Before flipping with a double somersault

An owl flew down and the two began to dance

To an audience of mice that appeared upon the porch

Who gave a round of applause when the dance was done

Before scampering back beneath a floorboard from whence they’d come

A passing black cat saw the pumpkin move and arched its back

Confrontation now seemed to be looming rather fast

Until the pumpkin turned and blew back a kiss

The cat blushed red and then turned a chalky white

Before screeching and tearing off in fright

A passing hound was not so easily disturbed

Padded right up to the pumpkin and gave it a soppy lick

Precious began to worry about what if the dog should bite

But the pumpkin extended an arm and gave a pat on the nose

That was not expected and the dog – why it nearly froze

Then tail between its legs went off with a whimper

Then the pumpkin seemed to grow and bats flew from its mouth

Pink spiders popped out from the eyes

To weave a sparkling web across the porch

This was a stranger Halloween than she could have ever dreamed

When morning broke she looked upon the lawn

The neighbours clothes strewn around her lips were sealed tight

This story she eventually told a passing leprechaun

Of how she bought a pumpkin and how the pumpkin grew

Then the leprechaun told me which is why I know it’s true

Copyright: David Hopcroft October 2020

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Wicker Man

Wicker Man

Sweep the hatchet across the willow stem

Let rods be dried before we construct our Autumn figure

A harvest from the labours of men and women

Who toiled with sickle and scythe through September days

How now should we celebrate those olden ways ?

Stories of sacrifice were a myth of Roman times

Today our festivities should reflect more mature minds

Engravings from the past should not lead us astray

Let happiness and joy be the subject of our display

So weave those rods and let us make our Wicker man

Then to decorate him with nature’s gifts shall be our plan

Inside our effigy we shall place our stores of seeds

Sufficient for colder days to meet other creatures’ needs

Fruits hung from limbs shall provide further attraction

A great welcoming feast as birds arrive for the action

Nuts for squirrels can now be piled by the feet

The celebration that shows we can provide for all to eat

Through winter gales and snow the effigy stands firm

A reminder that we do not need the torch to burn

On calmer days the robins perch upon his arm

The Wicker man is for all and means no harm

Come next summer and he will provide a place of rest

Where fledgling birds are protected in their nest

Whilst I just marvel at such sights and feel blessed

Copyright: David Hopcroft October 2020

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Willow Woman

Willow woman

The stream trickled slowly past the leafy watercress

Whose sharp and bitter taste had graced the summer salad plate

Where muddied banks lay beneath the finery of this green dress

Our willow lady surveys the scene from behind the new-hung gate

There beside the stream from the damp grow the willow whips

Which she will soon harvest collecting bundles for her rods

Strong hands as she works her way along the bank and clips

Care taken to leave the roots safe within the saturated sods

Craft skills passed down to her will soon come into play

Each branch selected with care later to be worked and bound

Tasks to keep her occupied upon some winter day

Within her cottage that stands upon the sacred ground

Baskets woven from rods to sell upon her market stall

Shaped in so many forms for vegetables fruit or flowers

Hung to finish seasoning upon the cottage wall

Each the product of her labour in the winter hours

This year the longest whips selected for a particular form

To be worked upon during those long winter nights

A special decoration for her cottage lawn

Deft hands working beneath the flickering candle lights

Each branch intricately woven into her desired shape

To form a winding stem and then a rounded top

Huddled within her woollen shawl and working late

The mushroom formed she could now rest within her cot

The symbol perhaps of her earthly belief

Now stands proud to greet the stranger at the gate

Where the oak with green man will soon be in leaf

Whilst the willow lady dreams of her wicker man and his fate

Copyright: David Hopcroft October 2020

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The Witchfinder General Returns

The Witchfinder General Returns

Gathered around upon the village green

Where the branches are piled high waiting to be lit

Villagers hissing shrieking and calling for a burning

They had dragged her screaming and crying from her home

A woman bound with rope is tethered to a horse

Upon which the witchfinder general sits astride

His arms raised encouraging his crowd

To scream and shout what he wants to hear

‘Burn her Burn her Burn her

Send her to hell in the flames ‘

He waits

Their staves are banged upon cobbles

Shouts get higher

‘Tie her to the stake’

This is his moment as she is bound

The stake is placed with branches all around

He turns to his crazed followers

‘What shall I do now’ he roars

‘Burn her at the stake Burn her’

Bristling with hatred they encourage him

Until he throws the burning torch

The pile set alight

Her screams drowned by the cheering

He smiles and rides on

Another witch identified burned and gone

The next village will have another one

Do those crazed followers know what they’ve done?

Row upon row of red caps

Watch the black-coated man ascend his stage

Turn and raise his arms in encouragement

‘You know what She should be locked up’

They take up the chant

‘Lock her up Lock her up’

As they wave their automatic rifles in the air

Their roar of hatred is echoed from the stage

He knows

The power of women could be his downfall now

They must be hated and defeated

The weapons are poised

‘Stand by’ he roars

As they burn her picture

He smiles

Content that he has now lit the fuse

For those who wish to obey and kill

And moves on to the next rally

Where the chant will be the same

Four hundred years have passed but still the shame

A witchfinder general using another name

Power at any cost is the game

Copyright: David Hopcroft October 2020

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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


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