Park Bench Tales and other writings

Thoughts and writings reflecting the poet within and the activist

Leave a comment



This world that I live in is not an illusion

The world is a selfish expression of all that we are

Leaders prepared to kill and maim for their brief moment of glory

Our day to day lives might well be the first chapter of a horror story

The arrogance that goes with the discharge of sewage into rivers and streams

We are building a land where nobody cares and nobody cleans

We shall keep burning oil until the very last drop has gone

If you are asking who cares the answer may be none

Is there really a green country? Can you name one?

We have discarded plastic to choke up our seas

For a throwaway land where you just do as you please

Why is it we look the other way with such ease?

There is poverty knocking on every door

Food banks for all those folks with no money for the store

Politicians claiming that nobody is really poor

Sweeping truth under a red carpet laid upon the floor

Money squandered on fashion just for one night out

Closing their eyes to the homeless that live round about

The world that I live in just seems so unreal

For the wealthy this world might be their idea of paradise

With refugees starving by the millions do we really think that is nice

Your future is burning before you and you are paying the price

Copyright: David Hopcroft May 2023


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’?

Leave a comment

On the edge: Betrayal

On the edge: Betrayal

They drank their Prosecco laughing and giggling

Unaware of a world they had left a thousand miles away

Their time now devoted to the manufactured look

That they adored on the covers of glossy magazines

Wishing their bodies too could attract the male on Tik Tok

As they checked their pouted lips in the mirror

Taking the selfies that were a reflection of their self-importance

In a world created by the unsuspecting donor

As they forgot about all those who were left behind

Crop tops and short skirts for a fashion world

That seemed two planets away from the now forgotten home

Their cares drowned in wine and laughter

They no longer recalled those who they had left alone

As they sheltered in their own cubicles of deceit

Turmoil and death never surfaced in their sleep

They strutted the catwalks in their minds

Toying with the minds of fools as mouths were left agape

The men at home soon faded far away

As they plundered new riches hanging low on trees

Rosie the riveter was but a part of history

Here was cash to spend and nights were young

The were no Florence Nightingales sitting in this bar

What had surfaced was no mystery

The world had changed

Others laid down lives for their liberty

How can they possibly know

What it really means to be free

Copyright: David Hopcroft October 2022

1 Comment

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


One thousand years

One thousand years (3022 CE)

One history written

About life’s ebb and flow

Searching for fossils and artefacts

From one thousand years ago

Databases number crunching memories

Meaningless for most of course

Discs of film and television ceremonies

Painting pictures from another source

Watching old soaps on a screen

A scramble to get rich at the expense of others

Squabbling and excelling at being mean

This is what the researcher discovers

Stab your neighbour in the back

Throw a tantrum in every episode

Be jealous of everything you lack

Respond by entering insulting mode

Spend spend spend don’t count the cost

Latest models are essential

Pretend you’re a winner even if you’ve lost

Saving appears to be detrimental

Corruption as a way of life preferred

Happiness must be wealth not a state of mind

Shout scream and fight to be heard

That is the world that was designed

Success is just a profit drive

The rich celebrated the poor despised

Humanity struggles to survive

Records show help never arrived

Bodies discovered in mass graves

Signs of hatred in the execution

An empire that is seeking slaves

Stirring of anger for retribution

What sort of world will others see

What will the future eventually uncover

Will it record we found democracy

Could we influence what they will discover

David Hopcroft April 2022


How love was lost

How love was lost

They asked in the west

What’s in a name

If it’s only Ukraine

They asked for our help

But nobody came

The excuses were lame

They cried out loud

The reply the same old refrain

To help you would be insane

They shouted louder

But all was in vain

Though we knew of their pain

Then they were gone

Our answer was tame

Saying nobody was really to blame

Leaving a stain

Blood on our white flag

The blood of those slain

Tears cannot contain

Nor can I explain

How Ukraine

Was slain

By a 21st century Cain

Whilst we did nothing

David Hopcroft March 2022

Leave a comment

Tomorrow The Sun Will Shine

Tomorrow the sun will shine

Tomorrow I shall wear my vyshyvanka with pride

Embroidered by the skill in my grandmother’s fingers

I wore it only yesterday when I became a bride

Today my husband departed to fight where evil lingers

Yesterday daisies and carnations made a wreath for my hair

Feasting with all my village where there was food for everyone

We sang and danced till sunset in the village square

Now I must believe one day tomorrow will really come

Yesterday children drank kysil and the horilka flowed

Today to satisfy a thirst we get water from melting snow

Tomorrow we shall dance the hopak along the road

Tomorrow grandmother’s hands will still be able to sew

Yesterday we kissed and talked of starting our family

Today beneath the bombs within the bunker I gave birth

Today the sirens wailed and I heard a western homily

Tomorrow we shall sing about freedom on our earth

The memory of yesterday in Lviv drinking black coffee

Today upon the platform I am waiting for the train

Oh how I wish I could erase this time from memory

Tomorrow we’ll watch the ballet in Odessa when we’re free

Yesterday my husband was catching sturgeon from the lake

Today we’re slowly starving in the bunker underground

Tomorrow we shall feast upon Medovik and Kyiv cake

Tomorrow the sun will shine to renew the love we found

David Hopcroft March 2022

Leave a comment

Who’s afraid of the big bad beast?

Who’s afraid of the big bad beast ?

Who’s afraid of the big bad beast

The big bad beast The big bad beast

Who’s afraid of the big bad beast

Who eats up all the sheep

There used to be some animals

Who pretended they were really fierce

They laughed and mocked the big bad beast

Who did not give three figs

Who’s afraid of the big bad beast

The big bad beast The big bad beast

Who’s afraid of the big bad beast

Who eats up all the sheep

The the big bad beast he ate a sheep

So the eagle went to hide

He flew away and crowed from high

I’m not really afraid

Who’s afraid of the big bad beast

The big bad beast The big bad beast

Who’s afraid of the big bad beast

Who eats up all the sheep

So the big bad beast ate another sheep

And the bulldog tried to bark

But the beast threw the doggy a little bone

And the bulldog went away

Who’s afraid of the big bad beast

The big bad beast The big bad beast

Who’s afraid of the big bad beast

Who eats up all the sheep

Then the big bad beast ate another sheep

And a lion began to roar

He he put his tail between his legs

And slowly slunk away

Who’s afraid of the big bad beast

The big bad beast The big bad beast

Who’s afraid of the big bad beast

Who eats up all the sheep

But when the big beast ate another sheep

A little mouse spoke up

Saying I’m not going to stand for this

And he faced up to the beast

Who’s afraid of the big bad beast

The big bad beast The big bad beast

I’m not afraid of the big bad beast

Said the mouse as he beat his chest

The mouse was joined by lots of other mice

And the beast began to tremor

For the mice were living in the bad beast’s lair

And they rose up against the beast

We’re not afraid of the big bad beast

The big bad beast The big bad beast

We’re going to beat the big bad beast

He’s not going to get his way

The beast he turned his tail and ran away

But history tells it differently

Claiming it was the fierce animals

That really won the day

But they were afraid of the big bad beast

The eagle bulldog and lion

It was the mice that really won the day

To save eagle bulldog and lion

David Hopcroft March 2022

(with thanks to Henry Hall and Frank Churchill who wrote the original)

1 Comment



The country of Amerindiemar

Lies on a large continent afar

A land where the inhabitants come from a melting pot

Where the climate is never too cold never too hot

Multiple migrations over ten thousand years

Led to friendship between one another

Each was seen as either sister or brother

As if all were descended from one earth mother

Until events took place that led to fears

Community was disturbed by claims for unity

When some seekers sought to find disparity

A difference they believed gave superiority

Once established they then claimed destiny

Divided then into sect or caste

To which you either did or did not belong

Each believed they were right the others wrong

Chanted the song that claimed they were strong

Proclaimed an inheritance from the past

Top place was claimed by a group called Seelebritees

Followed closely by those belonging to the Monarkees

Self-importance was most important for each group

To mix with others regarded as forbidden fruit

Though outward differences were seldom seen

Each loved to display glitz and glamour

The Monarkees wore crowns and had a banner

Seelebritees were well known for yammer

All other castes both would demean

Lower down there were a group called Etonyanz

Famed for their snobbery throughout all lands

Claimed a right to rule was their birthright

Not one of them ever felt contrite

Such was their conviction they were always right

The lowest of the lowest were the Povertees

Whom the others saw as merely slaves

The Monarkees insisted they were but knaves

There to serve them until they lay in graves

Povertees to worship Seelebritees were taught

Like following a religion that came to naught

By lottery one or two might rise to fame

Adopting Seelebritee behaviour when they gained the name

Now when Amerindiemar was faced with an uprising

The Povertees first to rebel which is not surprising

The Etonyanz with jealousy were consumed

For the Monarkees inheritance of wealth was assumed

All were envious of Seelebritees and their fame

Then came a murmur that the system was to blame

Some even almost hung their heads in shame

Though their efforts were rather tame

Then someone climbed a mountain in the clouds

Claiming to have met a figure dressed in shrouds

Emerging some days later with writing cast in plastic

Rules had been written in stone that were not elastic

Crowds gathered and listened soon all were agog

For this person proclaimed himself a prophet of a God

A set of rules that would give each equality

Though only in God’s eyes not in reality

It would still be necessary to have some poverty

Soon afterwards there arose another train of thought

Proclaiming they had met with a goddess they had sought

Whilst others found meaning in multiple deities

At least one group was formed to do away with complexities

Saying these beliefs were just figments of imagination

They of course were persecuted for defamation

A new group formed that advocated each should respect all belief

At first that seemed soothing and brought relief

Until some claimed that was blatant indoctrination

One group immediately commenced litigation

Whilst another preferred an inquisition

Based on guesswork and supposition

There was talk emerging of conversion therapy

Larger groups swelling a darkening tide

With murmurings of genocide

Eventually the conflicts were halted by a military junta

Declaring faith had had its day like a clunker

Remaining believers of all types to be extinguished by a hunter


Then a new saviour was born

Demanding something she called political reform

Allegiance to parties was to be the new norm

Representatives were to be elected

Unfortunately fraud was soon detected

Winning parties fought with one another

Some members even fought each other

Then small groups began to form

Hoping for a way to escape the storm

Coming to the conclusion they must contemplate

The only solution which was to try and emigrate

Leaving their home as refugees

Seeking out more stable democracies

Will the cycle be repeated time and again

Is the result inevitably the same?

Copyright: David Hopcroft February 2022

Leave a comment

Don’t call me racist he said

I am not a racist he declared

‘Don’t call me a racist’ We heard him cry

‘I didn’t tell them to come to Calais’

He didn’t care if the children in capsized boats die

They would never get off the shore if he had his way

‘Don’t call me a racist’ I heard him declare

‘Saving stray dogs was better than a skin that was brown’

He left behind those who helped and claimed that is fair

Kicking somebody who is already down

‘Don’t call me a racist’ he screamed as loud as he dare

‘Just because nearly all judges are old men and white’

The system works for all and he believes it is fair

Incarceration statistics are hidden out of sight

‘Don’t call me a racist’ he muttered as he got his vaccination

‘Don’t believe reports about black discrimination’

‘That’s fake news and your imagination’

Then he flew off in his jet for another vacation

‘You are the real racist’ he spluttered at me

He knew that his words would make the front page

‘My gun was just defending the land of the free’

And the bigger the headline the more he would rage

‘Don’t call me a racist’ his parting shot

‘You’re the troublemaker here my friends agree’

‘Don’t call be a racist’ and I said ‘Why not?’

As he knelt on my neck with his knee

Copyright: David Hopcroft February 2022