Park Bench Tales and other writings

Thoughts and writings reflecting the poet within and the activist

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Beyond the Edge: The last goodbye (Newspeak lines)

Beyond the edge: The last goodbye (Newspeak Lines)

We’d like to really help you but I know you’ll understand

We’ve done a deal with your enemies and given them your land

It’s for the best you see now it’s time that we went home

We sending our apologies for leaving you all alone

But if you can be so good as to form a queue

There might come a time when we can send for you

If you’re waiting for your visa please just stay in line

One of our staff will call you when we think it might be time

We’d really like to help you so that you can still go to school

But we decided we are leaving and that is our golden rule

We know the clock is ticking but that really is not our fault

We can’t keep on helping forever we had to make a halt

We’ve been assured your education will continue as before

It just has to fit in with some changes and a different law

Let me be absolutely clear for your peace of mind

This was always our intention and has been cleverly designed

We’d really like to help you with those issues on women’s rights

But once we told you we were leaving it was time to put out the lights

Don’t go believing all those rumours about beatings with a cane

We’ve spoken with the enemy and they assured us they would refrain

They say you can keep on working but there might be a little change

There are some little details we shall leave them to arrange

Some achievements might be lost because that’s the way things go

But never give up hope I mean you never really know

We’ve held a little summit for our reassurance and your lasting protection

Where the promises we made might have proven to be a distraction

Some day when all of this is over we promise a thorough investigation

And we’ll build a memorial to lost lives the heroes of our devastation

It’s a screwed up world we live in but we welcome all your views

As long as you remember that we still control the news

Please don’t live in fear and excuse me whilst I shed this tear

Because now I’ve got to run to catch the last plane out of here

Copyright: David Hopcroft August 2021

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Beyond the edge: Passing Through

Beyond the edge: Passing through

There were whispers in the trees but were they true

Words floating across from leaf to leaf murmurs that drew fear

A forest concealing secret anger as the rumours grew

With each hour that passed the message becoming clear

Roots underground vibrating to marching feet

The forest telegraph signals defeat

The fear is picking up the beat

Hearts pounding down every street

Fragmented news that preys heavily upon the mind

Like flotsam and jetsam being washed up on shores

Armed men passing between trees as the forest becomes a blind

Looting of villages as tyranny shows its claws

Whispers getting louder pierce the air

Villagers collecting rumour that they share

Young girls listening become aware

The wolf has been released from his lair

Like a snake in the grass a deadly presence to be revealed

The head rears up in preparation for the strike

Rape and pillage in the venom that was concealed

Fear marching on as the screams pierce the night

The first refugees arrive terrified and confused

Stories of women and girls who have been abused

Men and boys with beaten limbs heavily bruised

By a freedom fighter who thinks his behaviour should be excused

They bring talk of burning homes of mutilation and of killing

Bringing starving children with hollowed cheeks and eyes

Skin hangs on bones and there are hungry mouths that need filling

Wounds to be dressed before pathogen infection from flies

Our hospital is crowded and overflowing

Every hour the need for treatment growing

Whilst the storm of conflict now is blowing

Through the village where blood of innocents is flowing

The sound of gunfire and mortars landing fills the air

Those who are able flee seeking shelter where they can

Still our duty demands we stay and care

We serve humanity and that has no exit plan

Working on as the carnage takes place outside

Hands cannot tremble though the mind is terrified

The needs of others keep us occupied

We are the collaborators who cannot hide

We feel the heat from burning huts the cries of agony

The guns fall silent the smell of smoke drifts through the door

The marauder moves on with the grim reaper as company

A rifle is his god and the bullet is his whore

I bury the dead in my dreams that disturb my sleep

I see survivors standing over bodies as they weep

Shiver then sweat at the sound of the armoured jeep

So I lie awake in fear of the nightmares that I keep

Copyright: David Hopcroft August 2021

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On the edge: Futures must be more than dreams

On the edge: Futures must be more than dreams

She is just another lively smiling Afghan child

Player with a soccer ball that her mother bought for her

She’s a striker for the village team and drives them wild

As the ball flies past the goalie in a blur

He is just another bubbling and enthusiastic Afghan kid

With magic in his hands as he turns a cricket ball

Skills he has developed that nobody should rid

Let him entertain the world do not confine him with a wall

She is just the singing dancing Afghan teenage queen

Her lyrics bringing cheer to all around the world

Let us give her the chance to live out her greatest dream

Do not let the talent and potential of her years be furled

They spent their early years in study at the school we built

To secure a future for those that follow with a different wealth

We encouraged equal opportunity and yet we leave with guilt

Abandoning the promise of democracy to ill health

With promises in one hand but corruption in the other

Could these young people who have never known sharia law

Like so many in the past be condemned to suffer

Watching foreigners on the last plane out shut the door

There are still pictures on the schoolroom walls that promised choice

Empty now as they fade and the walls of hope might crumble

There is nothing but the dimness of the echo that once was voice

They skipped and sang along the roads where the armour now will rumble

What of those that we have failed do we think of their fate

What was the purpose building a military without democracy

Where corruption was allowed to flourish in a failed state

Now we run away with our excuses bathed in hypocrisy

Copyright: David Hopcroft August 2021

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Forever War

Forever War

There was no surprise for she had seen war before

The saviour defeats the oppressor and some feel hope

Then the cycle begins again with the rot at the core

As the people try to claw their way up the slippery slope

Sometimes the saviour would arrive from a distant land

With promises of freedom and a road to democracy

Yet a victory meant only a shifting of the sand

Likes dunes refashioned by the daily tides of sea

She had watched as generations listened eagerly to the lies

Answering the call that promised peace beyond the door

Fathers sons and grandsons all responded to the cries

Now they lie beneath the earth in this forever war

Why did so many take arms and march to an early grave

For war lords and fanatics who cared only to be in power

Why shoot your countryman when there is democracy to save

Fresh promises will swiftly become the wilted flower

The addiction of corruption still lingers as the enemy

Fire consuming peace and this might be for evermore

Doves shackled by arms dealers are caged and cannot be free

What will it really take to end this forever war?

Copyright: David Hopcroft August 2021


High Street Demolition

High Street Demolition

The Tudor house beside the shiny cobbled alley

Where some say the growling granny dwelled

And teenage boys shared a kiss and more with Sally

Secrets that the mind has closely held

A High Street running through a golden valley

Where it seemed the church bells never knelled

A Victorian cottage hospital where old folks lay

With dreams and memories that intertwined

Thoughts that precede the bed of cold red clay

Before the town hall a proposal once declined

Is accepted as colour emerges from grey

These last images will not be unkind

The greengrocer outside his doors shows his fruit

Pears apples plums and berries of every name

The haberdashery displays a pin-striped suit

A barbers’ pole hangs out in Lovers’ Lane

Pheasants from butcher’s awnings droop

Banks with Georgian faces their pride proclaim

‘It’s time for the modern era’ came the cry

As they tore out the front of Heather’s bakery

Now neon lights illuminate a liquor store

The ironmonger’s shop was doomed to die

A bookmaker’s sign offered no mystery

The town hall clock would chime no more

The clamour for change was still not done

New stores appeared with accessories for mobile phones

The cobbled market square resurfaced for a new car park

Harry’s butcher shop became a slot machine arcade for fun

The hospital dismantled for its well-dressed stones

Vaping stores appeared but the brighter future now looked dark

As the once attractive character began to fade away

Superstores were built outside the once proud town

Those who could afford to decided not to prolong their stay

Dereliction set in as each old home was pulled down

A bingo hall once a chapel crumbled into decay

A cluster of thrift shops formed a faded gown

‘Plan for a better future’ the architect now cried

This town should now be nothing but history

Bring in the bulldozers to tear up the countryside

Perhaps beneath the dust and debris something else had died

Beneath new tarmac ghosts still might hold the mystery

And should I view another motorway with pride?

Copyright: David Hopcroft August 2021


Seeking Silence

Seeking Silence

Standing on a street corner waiting to cross

Jostled and pushed by those

Who have come to believe there has been no loss

For whom time already speeds by too fast

As each day they take their chance with life

Knowing only that their moments will not last

Horns blare head spins hammers pounding upon my brain

Sirens shriek out a message

Beware we need to pass this journey must not be in vain

The rattling of wheels as they pass along the iron rails

The Doppler effect of a jet passing overhead

On its path to touchdown

Drowned out when a woman hails

For a passing taxi

All the time a background rumble

Mixing the grumbling of congested traffic

With the chitter chatter of my fellow beings

How then do I try and meditate

Gather my thoughts for the day

Wishing really

That I could find some silence far away

An escape perchance to another shore

Now along the forest track that is far overgrown

I push through the brambles and the fern

A false darkness of a canopy high above

The promise of the clearing lies ahead

Where the mind can drift and other thought be fed

Upon the heather where I have a sense of half-asleep

Eyes closed helping to focus the mind

Can I find the silence that I seek

Yet even here a world is filled with sound

Above beneath and within the ground

The melody of a bird singing to attract a mate

The bubbling of a spring to start a stream

I am startled by the cracking of a twig

My ear slowly is attuned

Listening to the whisper of a centipede beneath decaying leaves

The crash of a dead tree falling

Startles me

Yet in my thought

This is the the land where I can reconnect

The mystery of a message understood

Copyright: David Hopcroft August 2021