Park Bench Tales and other writings

Thoughts and writings reflecting the poet within and the activist


One Hundred And Sixty Trees

Beneath cherry blossoms pink and white

I sit taking in warmth from rays of sun

Bees seeking pollen go from flower to flower

The butterfly’s wings catch the light

Nature’s work never left undone

The lawn awaits the April shower

Apple too bursts with cheer

Rising from its carpet of daffodils

Bluebell and anemones grow in the grass

Mimicry of the hover fly without fear

Peace sits beneath these Pennine hills

Letting the hours slowly pass

Pear and plum are now in leaf

A maple adds a touch of green

The ash still in winter stands upon the bank

An oak with aconite still beneath

Completes an April morning scene

With clothes upon the line still damp

A miniature woodland before my eyes

A tulip sways gently in the breeze

How much would change if all this were lost

Can I truly appreciate nature’s prize

The value of one hundred and sixty trees

Who could ever give me a cost

Copyright: David Hopcroft April 2022

One hundred and sixty is the number of trees each person on earth needs to plant to cancel out emissions that are causing climate change.

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The Flower Opens

The Flower Opens

Each morning the sun rises a little earlier with a greeting

Sunshine streaks through my window for a first meeting

That wonderful warmth as I arise from my sleeping

The lawn from winter’s rest is now waking

Signs of new life are ever in the making

Beauty and joy are there for the taking

Yellow daffodil is pushing through from the bud

No longer do I walk the patch of squelching mud

Beyond the canal I see the cows chewing cud

Early snowdrops have bid goodbye

Tulips opening to catch the eye

In the shade a blue anemone I espy

Cherry trees are loaded with buds ready to burst

Bramley too and I wonder which will be first

April showers will end their growing thirst

Flowers declare new life will come

Pollination’s wonder has just begun

I admire this beauty beneath the sun

David Hopcroft March 2022

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Changes: Return To Nature

Changes : Return to Nature

Such a pretty little garden, so dainty and so neat

A drive of black asphalt with a patio of concrete

There’s a deck in the backyard

With a massive barbecue

Burning charcoal by the kilo

And the plastic potted shrubs are new

Another fifty all alike, making up the street

The residents say it’s a contemporary view

Imagining the changes if everyone were to leave

Dandelions pushing up through the drive

Yellow flowers with pollen for insects to retrieve

Honey bees returning once more from the hive

Cracks in the patio herald the returning dock

Metal railings on the fence have turned to rust

Only the plastic potted plants remain

A fading memory of those lifeless times

Moss upon the roof will loosen tiles

Vines will start to climb the crumbling walls

A curious vixen decides to explore inside

Makes her den within the painted halls

Rooks upon the rafters roost together

A mole is burrowing beneath the lawn

The grass snake retreats against the weather

Robins take shelter against the storm

Pesticides and fertilizer no longer are applied

Life is returning where once life had died

The Homeowners’ Association had lied

For there is beauty in this new scene

Where once centipede grass had been

Hummingbird no longer needs the sugared bowl

An armadillo peeps out from his excavated hole

A restoration of an earth that humans nearly stole

Copyright: David Hopcroft February 2022

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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 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

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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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Hollybush Oak

You watched me grow as a small lad to a youth

From short trousers to jeans to a young man with dreams

I watched you grow, more slowly it seems

That skeleton keeping watch over the cold dark days of winter

Sleeping in dormancy yet always there

Facing up to fierce blizzards and to driving rain

Bursting buds giving green again in the spring

Life emerging with vigour from year to year

When the sun shone in the summer

I did my exam revision under your branches

Trying to absorb those theories of physics and mathematics

Enjoying the shade that you provided

Fascinated when the first catkins appeared

Watched as the acorns then grew

Collected some and they grew too

I planted the seedlings in hedges where they might be protected

You gave shelter to insects and food for hairstreak caterpillars

Allowed birds to build nests in branches woodpeckers to carve out a home

When your acorns fell the squirrel and badger turned up for the feast

As leaves fell stag beetles arrived

We made a small garden around you

Planted some beans and a few peas

I remember a snow coming late in the Spring

When because of your leaves

A bough bent down but it broke

Sad days as time moved on

I left the farm so many years ago

When I returned

All that was there was a stump

The impatience of man for a log-burning stove

I wonder if oak trees have souls

Do they hold spirits in the ground beneath roots

Is there a memory that links the tree to me

Days that I enjoyed beneath leafy boughs

Listening to a breeze move between leaves

You may keep your verandah your awning and porch

Just give me the shade of an old oak tree

Where the birds are a singing and insects are buzzing

Nature at its best so why not come join me

Copyright: David Hopcroft July 2020

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Life on the lawn

Life on the lawn

There is a brown moth with spots on the lawn today

A visitor that I have not seen before

Flitting from one clump of grass to another

We have something in common with each other

We are both God’s creatures and we share the lawn

The moth seeks nourishment and I seek recreation

The moth searches whilst I sit in contemplation

Until a hover fly comes to my attention

Seeking for pollen from the yellow buttercup

A bumblebee explores the red jasmine by the shed

Then flies off to try the grapevine instead

Beneath the tuft of grass I see the busy ant

Struggling with a seed to take back to the nest

There is a pleasure in observing this harmony

Of so many creatures that share this lawn with me

There’s a lesson for humankind if we could see

There is a place for all of us upon this earth

And every creature and plant has its worth

Including the small spider that is crawling over me

So as I sit and watch I also learn

Each creature that I see has a purpose for my lawn

A pleasure I appreciate as I rest within my chair

Letting time pass quietly as I sit and stare

Oh look There a red beetle on the lily over there

Copyright: David Hopcroft June 2020

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The Butterfly Flies High

The Butterfly Flies High

The sun shines and by a wandering stream

A butterfly flutters by as I sit and daydream

I marvel at the colours on the wings

At the beauty of the patterns and my heart sings

Out in praise at this wonder of creation

That to my eyes and mind provides further revelation

A black body that shines to perfection

Now the butterfly seeks out a special flower

To give nourishment to sustain her life

Emerging from the confinement of the chrysalis

Freedom at last giving opportunity for bliss

Flying above a kaleidoscope of coloured petals

Comes the puzzle of how does the butterfly choose

What could it be that will provide attraction

Is it the surface pattern or what might lie beneath

Deep down at base of petal is the nectar that she seeks

A sweetness to be tasted and desired

The excitement of a new life that has begun

Flying high as a kite with the juices of the flower

Then fluttering down to settle gently upon my arm

Perhaps conveying a message especially for me

That I too will find the nectar that I seek

A butterfly that says come fly away with me

And I will show you sweet nectar beyond the sea

Copyright: David Hopcroft June 2020


The Humble Bumblebee

The Humble Bumblebee

I sat within the shade of my cherry tree

An welcome afternoon nap to rest a weary body

Almost asleep then my eye is drawn to the flower of the chive

Where the sound of gentle buzzing with a purpose is alive

Seeking out the pollen that becomes a daily task

Each day spent in search of something that is desired

The beauty of a black body that comes with a splash of colour

Yellow and orange bands adding to the attraction

A rounded body that you might expect to wobble in flight

Yet such control is perfection and holds my sight

The patience of a creature that goes from flower to flower

Seeking and never tiring flying from hour to hour

Then returning to a nest within the ground

Where an old stem provides shelter and a home

Some only see and know that a bee may sting

A pain inflicted that will also cost her life

But left alone then the bee will do no harm

In seeking out the pollen she displays a certain charm

Watch carefully and she will cause you no alarm

A persistence that seems to my eye an attraction

The patience of each visit as I watch her reaction

Now there is a little secret and I cannot tell you why

Whilst the humble bee fascinated me I still chose the butterfly

Copyright: David Hopcroft June 2020