Park Bench Tales and other writings

Thoughts and writings reflecting the poet within and the activist


Who will plant the chernova kalyna?

Who will plant the chernova kalyna?

I am standing by the stream with thoughts of pagan overtones

Fire trinity now sleeps in thoughts within these groves

Where once the kurgan proudly stood within a ring of stones

Now there’s a rustling of the leaves where the wild boar proves

I hear the sweet sound of music drifting where the nightingale soared

Now crashing through the birch and alder the sound of an invading horde

From the eastern plains came Kublai Khan with gleaming sword

Twas the maiden they pursued who led them to the untoward

Her sacrifice to save her land a symbol of her country’s bravery

As she led her screaming pursuers to their grim and watery graves

A flame burning for her country to save them from a Mongol slavery

The story of a heroine swept across the land in waves

This was the sacrifice of Kalyna as she summoned one last breath

Echoing through the reeds of swampy marshlands came the great refrain

A nation now remembers how she gave them life even in death

From every corner of the country they heard her cry ‘Glory to Ukraine’

The marsh vanished long ago but upon the spot where she gave her life

There grows a special bush wherein Kalyna’s spirit does still reside

A plant whose spirit should not be abused by the sharpness of a knife

White flowers and red berries to reflect the nation’s pride

Now the summer solstice nears and wreaths from kalyna will be worn

Young maidens take your care not to lose your wreath this night

See how sunflowers are blooming by the fields of golden corn

The vyshyvanka carries a message that her future will be bright

Dawn comes and now the sorrow with the sight of broken bough

Kalyna’s stems are broken by the hatred of the invader’s shells

Let memories not fade and let us listen to Kalyna’s message now

I hear ‘Glory to Ukraine’ from where Kalyna’s spirit dwells

Now I look down upon the mound whereupon lies a cross

Before it Kalyna blooms again upon the place a lover laid a wreath

Birds feast on red berries and recognize the loss

Bringing messages from loved ones to those who lie beneath

May white flowers bloom once more and red berries ripen on the stem

The love that binds this nation can never be suppressed or concealed

May love bring peace for the future as the nightingale sings again

The tea will be sweetened with honey and the heart again be healed

Copyright: David Hopcroft August 2022

As news each day comes of atrocities in war and I host a young Ukrainian guest I felt I should write for my guest about the folklore of the country.


Through Dark Mists

Through dark mists

What do you think when you stand there all forlorn

Looking at the dark shadows you cast on the lawn

Your face looks so pale and your cheeks drawn

Do you welcome each day or dread the morn

Where lies the future if you always look to the past

Why dwell in the land where the living have passed

Where does life lead if you follow unless asked

Don’t let others nail your colours to the mast

Why face the shadows when life can offer more

Do you live in that space where feelings are sore

You want to resist but you can feel the claw

The house that you build is made of straw

Am I really seeing you then why am I afraid

Living in a space where feelings are not displayed

Holding back knowing the future is only delayed

The silence when we both know the truth is betrayed

When our lives fill with shadows we must turn around

To see where life’s sunbeams strike the ground

Perhaps in the silence there really is sound

Are there two parts of my life still to be found

The end of the world was yesterday

So I’m not sure why we are here today

Unless we can make our sorrows go away

Take my hand please and come out to play

Copyright: David Hopcroft August 2022

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Life’s Moments

Life’s moments

There will always be that moment in life

When for some special reason you determined

That I had stepped into love and that love was true

A moment when my heart realized

Flying so high up to the sunlight sky

With freedom flowing from the wing

My heart beating fast my mind was high

I celebrated each morning as birds do sing

Now I only want to write of Him and of your name

Singing out your praises throughout future time

Surely this must be love and can you declare the same

Then must this love be a part of some greater design

Swimming through last night in some erotic dream

We are like two dolphins playing in the bay

Freedom with no limits bathing each other clean

Warm water splashing on our bodies as we play

Lovers we are like a stag and doe in some woodland glade

Rising desires as each of us now seeks the other’s scent

Passion flowing free as love is truly made

Whispers that this life is surely heaven-sent

Growing old together a pleasure that we make

Remaining just as playful as the years will pass

Love spilling from our bodies as we take

The offerings of each that we know will last

Did I believe that the cards determined my fate

That destiny had decided how my life should be played out

Now as I rediscover Him I find that I still debate

Does love stem from Love and is Truth all about

Copyright: David Hopcroft August 2022

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How George discovered internet dating

How George discovered internet dating !

by David Hopcroft on Tuesday, April 27, 2010 at 11:49pm

Astride his trusting steed, the great war-horse England, the much celebrated knight pondered, thinking of the great victories at Dorylaeum and Jerusalem, wondering what life would now bring upon his return home. He had signed on as anon.crusader, persuaded by his good friend Sir Gawain (he who sought the holy grail, anon.Indiana), the rescuer of damsels, the answer to fair maiden’s dreams, the man who’d clasped a thousand bosoms, 6′ 6″ and athletic too. His polished lance, cut from sturdy oak in Sherwood, held aloft, adorned with the colours of a hundred ladies who had paid homage to his nights , tributes to his success. George, the knight bachelor, lifted his visor, the red plume on his helmet streaming out in the wind, the slain dragon an emblem on his jupon.

The small Saxon bootshine boy polished the shining armour nervously, aware that towering above him was the legend of It was April 23rd, he had planned to end his membership, things had seemed quiet recently, dragons were fewer and those that were left were largely visitors from Japan their cameras held between their claws, the Christians seemed more intent upon fighting amongst themselves, and the modem had been strangely silent.

He dialled upon his Saxonphone, there was a message ! Could this be the call he was waiting upon, a last adventure to end in happiness ? He gazed at the runes scratched out on the screen, and the words spelled out a message……

To: anon.crusader (
From: anon.indistress

Knight in shining armour needed to rescue me and satisfy my dreams. Held captive by the dragon Harriet. No smokers. Brain to match basinet. I am slender and curvy, blue-eyed and blonde. Activity partner needed urgently.

George yanked sharply upon the reins, dug his spurs deep into England’s side (who muttered something about writing to an Animal Welfare group if he did that again). His shield, decorated with a baton sinister and a gift from the Burger King (it came with a Western Whopper), held close to his side, he pointed the destrier to the west.

He rode purposefully across the countryside, slaying beasts where’er he found them (lions, unicorns, double-headed eagles, and even topping the odd fleur-de-lys), and being chased furiously by wardens from the National Parks. He stopped but once, at Taco Bell, when hunger briefly overtook him.

All day he rode, intent upon his mission, across hill and dale, and through the great forests of redwood, until at last he came to the spot where destiny awaited.

The castle stood atop a small hill, its bleak grey walls and battlements a landmark upon the countryside. Hanging from the window near the summit of a tower was a sheet, upon which were scrawled the words “England, I have need of thee !”. A small white face peered from the window, the hair shining gold in the evening sunlight, the lips red and inviting. Desire, for that was her chosen name, waited anxiously and hopefully, knowing that one day the knight of her dreams would come.

Sitting on a rocking chair beneath the gatehouse, guarding the rusting portcullis and old drawbridge, sat the dragon Harriet (anon.scales).

An old Harley-Davidson, well-kept and polished carefully over the years by the long tail, stood nearby, still ready to roar into action at one strong kick.

Spying her knight in shining armour breaking from the woods Desire let out the immortal cry……. “My God Harry, here’s England ! And Saint George !”

Unsheathing his sword, St. George addressed the dragon thus, “What wicked deeds I do hear of thee. With this trusty sword I must slay thee and release the fair maiden from her tower.”

The dragon, Harriet, raised a weary eye. She had been ill in recent weeks, her temperature had fallen to below ignition point. She was breathing deeply, but the smoke barely left the blue nostrils. She sneezed, and England bucked beneath a hail of sparks.

“You wish to save a maiden fair ? But what of me, kind sir ? For since my husband ran off in search of the maid of Orleans (anon.jofarc) I have raised this wench alone. What has she done for me ? Suitors, I have seen many, though none have stayed beyond the night. How can “huggable” compare with petite or cute, or forty-plus-something with young and vibrant ?.

Each visitor has sat and talked, exchanged the memories, then climbed the stairs with her. I have been kicked from rock to well, as the villagers have mocked my form come each rogation day. “

St. George paused, and gazed upon the lonely form. Her big brown eyes were really quite appealing, and she did flutter her wings in a most unusual way.

He raised his sword, then returned it to its sheath, reaching slowly for his silver hip flask (engraved “a gift from for filling in every survey form we have sent you”). He unscrewed the cap gently and carefully poured a potion of petrol (unleaded, for was she not really a green dragon ?).

He gazed at Harriet, then raised his eyes to the tower to look upon Desire, the maiden he had ridden hard and far to rescue.

Desire fluttered her eyes, pouted her lips, and leaned forward from the window, her form becoming ever more evident to George’s vision.

“Oh George ! You must rescue me ! Only you can answer my hopes and make my dreams come true. The others were but naught, I have only eyes for thee.”

George slowly raised his visor, had not Sir Lanceolot told him of similar words (?), his gaze drifted back again to Harriet. Harriet sipped slowly at her drink, the colour came back to her cheeks, her scales regained their glow, and the smoke from her nostrils slowly turned to the flickering flames, reminding George of quiet firesides and warmer evenings.

Dismounting the horse that had served through many battles, he walked slowly over to Harriet and placed his arms around her, lifting her gently to the Harley. He mounted this new metallic horse, kicked it into life, its roar more fierce than any dragon.

He looked at Desire.

“England may well hath need of you”, he cried, “but I have found my Lady !”

And together they rode off into the sunset, leaving Desire, with her horse, still waiting for her dream to come true.

Copyright: David Hopcroft 1997

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Jamaica Train

Jamaica Train

We gazed as billowing sails appeared beyond the bay

Saw them lowered, then heard the anchor splash

Small boats putting out towards our shores

Men holding the iron sticks that spat fire

Our elders greeted  them eager to conspire

Their right to trade passed on in tribal laws

Run ! Run ! We feared the strangers’ lash

Nobody sees those the strangers take away

Too late ! We turned to face our kinsmen’s spears

Our lives worth but a puncheon of kill-devil’s drink

Drunken elders looked on as we took our chains

Their vision blurred as they sealed our fate

Crammed within the hold we felt the strangers’ hate

Our lives spared by greed for ill-gotten gains

Cowering as the strangers cursed our stink

Huddled close together, soaked in sweat and tears

At last, land in sight, a longing to be free

We stand upon the deck, wait for the plank to fall

A scramble ! White strangers bind us hand to hand

Like cattle we are sold. No words are spoken.

Brother and sister flung apart, families broken

The weak brought out, upon a block do stand

Shaking with fear and dread as bidders call

The ship now empty of black ivory

Pressed tight within the cart as daylight ends

Shaken and bruised as we bump along the track

Then bundled out and through the tabby door

Morning comes and then we hear the Driver’s shout

Up and away to the fields; sun is out

To a world where the Overseer’s whip is law

Where slaves who listen to the  leather crack

Toil in the fields until darkness descends

Back bending to break the soil with the hoe

Limbs wearied and bodies broken for Columbus’ grass

Women and children moving slowly through the fields

Each small stalk a symbol of a Master’s greed

Beneath the blistering sun burning souls will bleed

Whips raised and ready for the slave that yields

To the torture of his work beside the marsh

Selfish owners waiting for the cane to grow

The autumn drought a signal to set fields alight

Tabby cabins enveloped in clouds of smoke

Sharp-ground cane knives slowly slashing

Be wary, careless strokes can lead to harm

Look sharp and be sure to wear a charm

Work too slow and feel the Overseer’s lashing

Children, with legs swollen from poison oak,

Scratching and aggravating plight

Bundles of cane stacked beside the track

Hauled by docile donkeys towards the mill

Through marshes where mosquitoes swarm

And cottonmouths in hiding wait to strike

Lurking in the murky waters of the dyke

With their disguise the sleeping alligator’s form

High overhead the eagle’s voice is shrill

Two mules circle near McCullum’s stack

There Moses and Elias feed stalk to the grinding wheel

Juices slowly seeping out as iron pans are filled

On Pelican Island Flynn’s new mill is hissing steam

Hungry iron rollers spin and stalks are crushed

Slaves feed its appetite and cough out dust

Kettles beneath the rollers gather the syrup stream

Sweat pouring off bodies as cane is milled

Scarred and scalded arms have yet to heal

Boiling kettles bubbling with the white man’s food

Crystals forming as the liquid starts to cool

What’s left we’ll use to make kill-devil’s brew

And Africa seems so far from Jamaica’s train

The mill, now silent, rusting from the years of rain

Beneath the ground so many lie who paid their due

No more are hogsheads of sugar carried by the servile mule

But I hear the songs of Underground as I stand and brood.

Copyright: David Hopcroft April 2007

A puncheon is about 200 gallons

Kill-devils drink = rum