Park Bench Tales and other writings

Thoughts and writings reflecting the poet within and the activist

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Christmas Tree 1

Christmas Tree 1

Four more sleeps until Christmas and the room is bare

The lights of the Christmas tree glowing across the street

Looking out of the window the children can only stare

Whilst a mother worries if there is enough food to eat

The children want a tree but that would be a luxury

The pennies that they have must go on food and heat

Suddenly Olga and Alina cried out as they made a discovery

A tree thrown in a bin would make Christmas complete

Svetlana hastened out and they retrieved the tree

Now to make the decorations they would need

In their homeland she remembered how they did this for free

A broken necklace made a garland of coloured bead

A quick visit to the park to collect some cones

Down by the canal where oak bore mistletoe

Assorted bits and bobs strung together found new homes

Two hours later their best tree ever was good to go

Copyright: David Hopcroft December 2022

Різдвяна ялинка 1

Ще четверо спить до Різдва, і кімната пуста.

Вогні ялинки світяться по всій вулиці.

Дивлячись у вікно, діти можуть тільки дивитися.

У той час як мати хвилюється, чи достатньо їжі.

Діти хочуть дерево, але це була б розкіш.

Копійки, які вони мають, мають піти на їжу та тепло.

Раптом Ольга та Аліна закричали, коли зробили відкриття.

Ялинка, викинута у смітник, зробить Різдво завершеним.

Світлана поспішила, і вони дістали дерево.

Тепер потрібно зробити прикраси, які їм знадобляться.

На батьківщині згадала, як робили це безкоштовно.
Зламане намисто робило гірлянду з кольорового бісеру.

Швидкий візит до парку, щоб зібрати кілька шишок.

Внизу біля каналу, де дуб родив омелу.

Різноманітні шматочки, з’єднані разом, знайшли нові домівки.

Через дві години їхнє найкраще дерево було готове.

Авторське право: Девід Хопкрофт, грудень 2022 р

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The Warm Room

17. The Warm Room

Waiting and watching the clock as minutes tick by

Jack Frost’s fingers inside the window tell a tale

A child huddled in a blanket on the sofa begins to cry

Mother shivers in her overcoat looking white and pale

The grim reaper waits outside sensing one will die

Black mould upon the walls spells out a deathly trail

A home where neighbourly love is in short supply

A home where they are imprisoned in an ice cold jail

A knock upon the door but is the knock too late

A smiling face bids hello with an invitation to a room

Where the blazing Yuletide fire lies in wait

There is food upon a table it’s three days since they ate

Warm clothing handed out to help them through the night

Then comes an invitation to a meal on Christmas Day

When Christmas has passed do not forget their plight

One day of celebration will not make poverty go away

Copyright: David Hopcroft December 2022

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The Mother and Child

The Mother and Child

They sit together at the table focused on the task

A Christmas decoration Could it be a Santa mask

Come a little closer Now I can see there is a star

Like the one that guided the wise men from afar

They are busy with scissors cutting cardboard out

With giggles and shrieks of laughter there is happiness about

Out come the brushes now it is time to paint

What a lovely pattern it really is so quaint

Working with strands of wool What have they made

I can see something emerging like a circular Dutch braid

Threaded through the cardboard like a wreath

Stems of holly and ivy over and underneath

I wonder if they will add some mistletoe

Are their traditions like ours I would like to know

Let’s add a little glitter for a sparkle and a shine

We’re nearly finished Goodness me it that the time

Shall we hang our star from the ceiling or on the wall

It’s so beautiful that it should be seen by all

I guess it cannot be on the wall otherwise we would miss

The opportunity to give those who pass beneath a kiss

Spending time is a present only a special mother gives

To show to her daughter that true love really lives

Mummy look out of the window I can see it snowing

And with every flake that lands the child’s love is growing

Copyright: David Hopcroft December 2022

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1. The Street

1. The Street

Trams trundle and clunk along the cobbled street

Creaking wheels guided by the iron rails

Homeward bound passengers are packed into seats

In suburban apartments busy wives wait to greet

Children rushing in from school telling tales

The footfall of the office marches down the streets

The floating flakes of the first snow fell today

Drifting down in silence settling on the road

Announcing the beauty of a portrait winter brings

For a while the snowflakes slowly melt away

Each flake a love song written in a crystal code

Amidst the chaos of war my heart still sings

Copyright: David Hopcroft November 2022


Just Another Morning

Just another morning

Smoke hung in the sky drifting slowly away from the chimney

Where the steam engine powered the looms

The yellow smoke that descended into your lungs

Leaving you coughing and spitting as you tried to breathe

Whilst Walter Grimstone stood on the corner of Gasworks Street

A withering cigarette clinging to cracked lips

Flat cap half-hiding his unshaven face

That had been blackened from the shift he had just completed

A skilled craftsman in the art of exaggerated pessimism

Wailing at the woes of workers streaming from the gates

Dreaming of the sailing ship to a New World overseas

Willie Cargill’s head was nodding

Rather like a mechanical doll

Moving to a tune heard so oft before

Red-kneed Brenda Batson kneeling on the stone slab

Scrubbing as best she could with the donkey stone

Pride and elbow grease shown by the sweat from brow

Down the street a row of regimented heads scan left and right

Bodies half out of doorways exchanging the daily gossip

Her at number 28 Railway Sidings Red hair that’s the one

Gone and got herself up the duff It’ll be her second you know

Seen her down the Nelson Arms Belly bulging out she’s lost her charms

Our Lizzie she gone and got herself a job

Proper good working in an office

‘Cos she were going deaf down there at mill

The trolley bus on Main Street idles by

Pauses to pick up the girls from the graveyard shift

Then trundles on towards the market square

There’s Dai and Dylan sneaking down the alley bunking school

Off to have a quick tab down by the old canal

With the Woodbines they stole from Arthur Paynter’s corner shop

Vera Higginbotham sees it all and we know she’ll tell on them

Six-stroke Robbins cane will be waiting once they’re caught

Little Lucy Larkin limps along with her wooden crutch

Broke her leg when the shire bolted from the brewery

In the playground they boot the footie waiting for the bell

There’ll be clean slates laid upon the desks and new chalk

John Hargreaves dreams of going to the Mechanics Institute

Whilst shy Glynis Jones is dreaming of her marrying

A different husband every time her eyes are closed

There’s the bell and the playground is empty once more

Two lines boys and girls huddle by the painted door

There’s no longer the choking smoke hanging in the air

The old mill fell into disrepair and there’s a supermarket now

Gasworks Street lost beneath the slip road to the motorway

There’s a Bargain Booze store where the church once stood

Walter Grimstone’s grandson slouches against a wall

Can of lager in his hand though it’s only half past six

Jimmy Cargill’s sniffing at the glue and looking on

Dolly Batson with three kids struggles to make ends meet

Looks down a Main Street lined with Charity Shops

Belching diesel fumes the school bus passes by

Taking the next generation to a classroom many miles away

Glynis Jones sits in the Hospice garden still all alone

Her dreams no longer lift her heart for a secret smile

She’s wondering just how much around her really changed

Copyright: David Hopcroft July 2022


Lingering Thoughts

Lingering Thoughts

He looked up from the seat on his bench in the park

His bench or so it seemed as time had passed over the years

That first time as a schoolboy when he carved their mark

They had taunted him then but he rejected their jeers

There would come a time has was no longer alone

When thoughts of her would no longer be just dreams

Was it not belief that drew the sword from the stone

He surmised that faith if strong could provide the means

The warmth of the sun was upon the wrinkled face

He peered into the light and could make out her form

The white dress she wore and how she walked with grace

That day she smiled as they sat together upon the lawn

He looked at the bench and the initials he had carved

So much was unsaid yet the wood was still speaking

How could his life be full yet still he felt starved

Those marks in the wood a reminder of the seeking

He stared again at the figure and wanted her to turn

To see the smile that had drawn him to her in his youth

That freckled face the laugh that made him yearn

For that time together when they both sought for truth

Who was the toddler who now walked by her side

He wondered why was she always walking away

He wished yet knew each had something to hide

Years ago when both decided they would not stay

Would she fade into the distance leaving him in doubt

Day after day his desire had torn at his heart

What was it that stopped him from shouting out

That always left him seated as he watched her depart

Was it the sun or emotion that formed the tear

A reminiscence of something lost for which he yearned

A restraint to be broken as her form seemed to clear

He hesitated then shouted and in that moment she turned

Copyright: David Hopcroft July 2022

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The Book: The Making of Perspectives

The Book: The Making of perspectives

His mother kept a diary she would write every day

So he asked for a book to write what should be preserved

Each evening before the fire the words he wrote

Were of life that he saw and what folks deserved

What are you writing my son

Did anything interesting happen during your day

Dad says you played soccer and won

You scored three goals they all shouted ‘hurray’

I am writing of the stream I walked to this morning

I lifted the stones to find nymphs of the mayfly

An adult is forming whilst the nymph is crawling

The ephemeral beauty that is so quick to die

Your sister told me for the school play you are the lead

You must be so excited that you’ll be on stage

This is so important Dad and I are agreed

To have a role in a work by the bard at your young age

I was given a paper to read by a neighbour

There were accounts of wild birds killed by pesticide

Sprayed on the food crops by farm labour

I walked into fields and saw flowers that had died

We got your school report in the post

Lots of grade A and no grade D

I see that you love the sciences the most

You are doing well Dad and I agree

We went out and sung carols yesterday evening

Around all the remote cottages and the farms

We’re not very good but our faces were gleaming

We were met everywhere with open arms

If you work a little harder you can go to university

You might end up as a banker or at worst a teacher

You can get a respectable job with a degree

A regular nine to five with a good salary

I came across the remains of an ancient burial mound

Hidden deep in the woods full of mystery

Four thousand years those stones have stood on the ground

Part of a story that is my history

You’ve been accepted to study for a degree

Your granddad and granny will be so pleased to hear

I’m writing to aunts and uncles and I know they will agree

Hard work and study will be your road to a bright career

I wonder now about my future and what lies in store

A city of life and noise replacing the countryside

New friends and challenges but will I learn more

Mysteries to unravel only time will decide

Copyright: David Hopcroft May 2022

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Morning Awakening

Morning Awakening

They taught me the commandments at Sunday School

I learned the Beatitudes and how not to be cruel

I found many faiths had a similar rule

Then I discovered politicians and the hope began to fade

Struggling to understand the strange game they played

A pretence of belief but they demanded they were obeyed

They talked of compassion but fomented hate

Made their own rules about opening the gate

Killing it seemed was the way to hold power

They encouraged it with speeches by the hour

Trampled so easily upon the sunflower

I look to the future and a new generation

That can reap the benefits of immigration

Find the friendship that comes from integration

That puts an end to social disintegration

How sad

We wait for old white men to die

And with them the world’s oldest lie

That some are born low and others upon high

How nice if the next generation could be freed of sin

Not by war or inciting hatred or confrontation

Nor by creating an alternative imagination

Fantasies that were designed to deceive

False narratives for you to believe

These must be confined to a past

A recognition needed we are of one caste

Peace between all that is made to last

As leaders mull the thought of a nuclear Armageddon

We can see where the devil has sown his seed

A clamour by some to instigate this evil deed

I ask that we show love will not concede

Copyright: David Hopcroft April 2022

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Bright shiny new and hers

Coloured yellow and blue

Excitement overflowed and burst

When Daddy said ‘It’s for you!’

Pedalling up and down the square

Showing off her skills

Singing made all aware

Just how she loved her thrills

Her name engraved upon the frame

Letters especially for her


Another ride the pedals whirr

Riding those laps without a care

Friends give her a round of applause

When she completes a double dare

Birthdays were meant to be like this

A wheelie followed by a spin around

Blows her momma a loving kiss

Then she heard the siren sound

Pulling rubble from the door

Shattered glass all around

Listening carefully for sound

Pulling bricks out one by one

Shrapnel glistens in the sun

The brief hope when a hand appears

A fervent effort to uncover more

Alas Katryna’s face is cold and white

Expression still etched in fright

A crushed body brought to light

The village waited for the men to return

Some wounded lives changed forever

Katya smiled and giggled

Her gift so shiny and new

A cycle in yellow and blue

She rode around the village each day

Shared it with her friends at play

She had noticed the name

So carefully engraved

Wondering why her father

Had spelled her name that way


She knew her name


The toy that had survived

Yellow and blue

If only she knew

If only she knew

David Hopcroft April 2022

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Sunday was a big day in the village
Chapel full to overflowing
Cars were parked down every street
Everyone a’coming and going
The organ inside echoing
All to stand, about to sing.

They’d come from all the surrounding farms
To see the young babe in her arms
To make sure he’d not live in shame
To chapel he’d come
To get his name.

There was John the post and John the farmer
John the brickie and John the slater
John the bus and John the builder
John the shop and John the cobbler
John the actor and John the tractor
John the elder and John the welder
Every one an uncle John.

Behind them in one long procession
Came his cousins in succession
John the coalman, John the boatman,
John the sheep, John the sweep,
John who mumbles, John who grumbles,
John the jaw, John the law
John the news, John the booze.
Even Smokey was there (His real name’s John)
Those are the only ones I know
Every one they say is a cousin
They were all there by the dozen.

Then there were all his nephews.
John from Llangefni and John from Rhosneigr
John from Llanberis and John from Llanbedr
John from Llanfaelog and John from Bethel
He’s the son of Uncle John’s Ethel.

The minister stood there in his cloak of white
Everyone craned their necks to get a good sight
Mother handed him over with a smile
Father stood proudly in the aisle
Aunties there were by the score
The rest of the village
Squeezed in at the door;
John Jones, John Evan
John Ellis, John Bevan
John Jones, John Owen
John Pritchard, John Bowen
John Lewis, John Preece
John Edwards, John Rhys.

Now inside the chapel there came a hush
Not a sound to be heard from anyone
Except for the minister,
Who said, with much grace
“Welcome son, I name you John !”

As is the custom, when the service has ended
They went of to the pub for a great celebration.
They had named him John
So none were offended.
Except Will
But how he got his name
Is a mystery
To me !

© David Hopcroft April 1998