Park Bench Tales and other writings

Thoughts and writings reflecting the poet within and the activist

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Child Stealer

Child Stealer

Lucifer had founded his hatred on a strange belief

To exterminate a people by indoctrination

But he had failed to crush the spirit that lay beneath

How then might the devil proceed towards subjugation?

Like an evil spirit that roams free on the darkest night

Comes the clawed hand reaching through the stable door

A dirty deed of infamy whilst the devil hides out of sight

Proclaiming that he alone determines any law

A child torn from a crib or a mother’s arm

Who is there to listen to the screams

Who will stand up to stop this harm

How can we sleep peacefully with such dreams?

The child stealer continues his work with little interruption

A people threatened by the devil’s instruction

Can we ignore the horrors of this Satanic corruption

Do we turn a blind eye to mass abduction?

There are no gas chambers here but the intent is the same

A people will be destroyed by a slow extermination

Kidnapped children stolen and then given a new name

The terror of indoctrination of the next generation

Brainwashed to believe that Beelzebub is right

Brought up to continue the evil of his legacy

Where truth is rearranged and freedom cowers in fright

Let us stand with Ukraine to break the heresy

Copyright: David Hopcroft June 2023

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17. The knock on the dor

17. The knock on the door

A dark night interrupted by a knocking at the door

Hesitation as age breeds suspicion of the stranger

The knock comes again Should she call the law

Peering past the curtain she wonders if there is danger

How she now wished for a light outside

Or some new-fangled doorbell where both could talk

What if she were attacked What if she died

She listened Outside she heard young voices talk

Feeling more assured the lady offered admission

A greeting “We bring you much joy to rejoice”

Breaking forth into song to follow a tradition

There followed a solo by an angelic voice

Silent Night and Away in a Manger

Young angels delighting in their rendition

The old lady knew this eve there could be no danger

His presence was there in this young mission

Copyright: David Hopcroft December 2022

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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 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


On the edge: Both sides now

On the edge: Both sides now

That day as she sealed her marriage she was filled with pride

Her flowing white dress hid pregnancy but she did not care

With flowers in her hair she smiled as she became the blushing bride

A village danced the night away with music on the cobbled square

They celebrated once more on the day that Yuliia was born

The priest held her by the font wrapped in babusia’s shawl

A new chapter in their lives heralded by a golden dawn

Happiness grew with each day as Yuliia learned to crawl

Then gathering clouds brought a darkness to their lives

A call to arms as the tanks began to roll across the plain

Anton and the others now kissed goodbye to tearful wives

Shells burst upon the houses as the enemy took aim

Fearful for her daughter she gathered some clothes and fled

Across the marsh at dead of night through the enemy line

Hours at the border but she believed safety lay ahead

In a shared room through frosted window came sunshine

She found work in a meat packaging factory at night

Some days they strolled in a garden near their home

Today she watched a young child flying a dragon kite

Yuliia had wandered up to an old man sitting all alone

A friendship that slowly grew as each week passed

Until one day she received news that Anton had been slain

A war widow dreading the question that might be asked

How could she tell a stranger when love was mixed with shame

Anton had not marched to the flag that now was glorified

His conscription was not of his choice

The stench of corruption deified purified and justified

A moral vacuum where truth seemed to have no voice

The widow and the old man took the secret to their graves

Yuliia spared the prejudice that might have sealed a different fate

She grew to find happiness and a new life beyond the waves

Saved from judgement by those with the vitriol of patriotic hate

Copyright: David Hopcroft November 2022

I have often wondered when women and children seek shelter and safety how the reaction might differ if they discovered a mother and child who had come from what is seen as the ‘wrong side’?


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

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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


Please wait in the bomb shelter

Please wait in the bomb shelter for your visa (the phone call)

I’m sorry about the bombs and the shell

Just wanted you to know we wish you well

Though I know it is a bit like living in hell

Thank heavens its quieter where I dwell

If you have internet you can connect

To make your application more direct

You’re battery is dead What did you expect

Don’t worry we really are here to protect

You’re starving Please don’t let it get you down

I know the missiles are hitting your town

Water rising in the basement you might drown

You say your life has been turned upside down

You could call back later if progress has been made

Just keep your spirits up don’t let hope fade

You’ve just lost your husband don’t be afraid

I’ll have to pause now Tea has just been made

It’s your baby I’m sure you understand

We’re making security checks nothing underhand

To make sure we don’t let a terrorist into our land

There will be a delay we’re terribly undermanned

I know you have a little one who needs greater care

But security arrangements are needed to prevent a scare

After all a terrorist could arrive from anywhere

I know he’s only two years old but …

I’m sorry was that an explosion?

We seem to have lost the connection

David Hopcroft March 2022


The Open Door

The Open Door

Did you hear the knock upon the old oak door

Whilst the storm raged and roared outside

Rivers gushing from the sodden moor

Who calls now, with no place to hide

Seeking shelter from rain

Open now there is no shame

A drenched figure stands in the frame

Seeks their refuge in His name

Endless days of sun and endless drought

Tight skin clings to bone starvation takes a course

Would you lock the door to keep this stranger out

Or would your actions be driven by a greater force?

If so then love must come first

Water to break a stranger’s thirst

Compassion that is well versed

To be shown so fear is dispersed

The newcomer in your street who rings the bell

Do you peer from behind a curtain in your doubt

If of a different race do you say ‘Go to hell’

Then check the bolt on the door to keep them out

Is your love lost in some black cloud

Do you keep care within your shroud

Open the door and shout the welcome loud

Hate brings loneliness love attracts the crowd

Now the knock upon the door from the refugee

Left alone to escape the horror of another war

Look into the child’s eyes What do you see?

The trauma confusion fear and so much more

Love offers each of us an opportunity

Care and compassion are both free

Listen now to hear their plea

Open your door to the refugee

David Hopcroft March 2022

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One Breath Away from Death

One Breath Away From Death

One day Maria played

Never afraid

Each nigh

She prayed

Then she could hear


Draw near

Striking fear

She hid underground

Could still hear the sound

Mom’s calming voice


In darkness bodies were crawling

Did they hear the bomb falling?

Could she hear mom calling?

Mom’s hand

Was grasped

Each to the other


Katrina gasped…

That last breath before death

David Hopcroft March 2022