Park Bench Tales and other writings

Thoughts and writings reflecting the poet within and the activist


The Outsider

The Outsider

Each day the trip to work was the same

Across the green and then down Corporation Street

The bus stop by the newsagent at number eight

The driver would always greet her by name

Fourth stop at the station where she bought her treat

Another short journey then through the Works’ gate

In her office she always kept the blinds closed

Avoiding the flashing neon sign over the road

She would put in earplugs to focus on her drawing

The small things that helped keep her composed

Away from the remarks of some who would goad

Thankful for a manager who was supporting

At home the table was laid in precise fashion

Washing up meant plates first and cutlery last

Blue clothes must never be washed with others

At least her partner always showed compassion

He showed her patience until anxiety had passed

Understood when she retreated under the covers

Sometimes she wondered if others understood

That differences should not mean non-acceptance

That the rights of the others should not be denied her

That they needed to see the trees not just the wood

Blessed by those who supported her independence

Whilst to some she would always be just the outsider

Copyright: David Hopcroft February 2023


Кожен день поїздка на роботу була однаковою

Через зелений, а потім вниз по вулиці Корпорації

Автобусна зупинка біля газетного журналу під номером вісім

Водій завжди вітав би її по імені

Четверта зупинка на вокзалі, де вона купила частування

Ще одна коротка подорож, потім через ворота Works ’

У своєму кабінеті вона завжди тримала жалюзі закритими

Уникаючи миготливого неонового знаку над дорогою

Вона поклала б вушні пробки, щоб зосередитись на своєму малюванні

Дрібниці, які допомогли їй скласти

Від зауважень тих, хто пішов би

Вона була вдячна менеджеру, який підтримував

Вдома стіл був викладений точно

Миття всіх тарілок спочатку і миття столових приборів

Синій одяг ніколи не слід мити з іншими

Принаймні її партнер завжди виявляв співчуття

Він показав їй терпіння, поки тривога не минула

Зрозумів, коли вона відступила під прикриттями

Іноді вона замислювалася, чи розуміють інші

Ці відмінності не повинні означати неприйняття

Щоб права інших не були їй відмовлені

Щоб вони мали бачити дерева не просто ліс

Благословенний тим, хто підтримував її незалежність

Хоча до деяких вона завжди була б просто стороннім

Авторські права: Девід Хопкрофт, лютий 2023 року

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The Bookbinder

The Bookbinder

Her glasses perched upon the end of her nose

Sister Caroline folded each paper gently

Stacked each folio neatly upon her desk

Half day dreaming as the sun streamed in

Through the ancient stained glass

That portrayed those scenes from the bible

A thousand years ago she wondered

Who might have been seated here

Passing on those skills she now employed?

Father Gerald had given Cedric the task

For the book was the result of many monks

Who toiled carefully to copy the manuscript

Lampblack upon the quill

A task begun by Bede

A memory we still have from Lindisfarne

The vellum had been prepared

Marked out for an octavio

Then prepared into the gatherings

Monks with ink had copied each word

Brother Paul had illuminated the letters

That begun each chapter

The vellum now cut

Cedric laid out the leaves

Small holes made with his awl

Handed down by his teacher

Running a thread through beeswax

A curved bronze needle carefully prepared

For finer work he still preferred the bone

The task of stitching began

The work was harder now

His eyesight failing with years

On winter days he struggled

With only a candle for light

Fingers roughened

For all were still needed

When the harvest was ready

That evening he would descend

The night stairs for prayers

Admiring the paintings on the walls

The glass with messages in pictures

Thinking of their meanings

Sadly for Cedric the manuscript

Was simply to be bound into a volume

For others


Had never learned how to read

Copyright: David Hopcroft December 2021

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It’s Us Stupid

It’s us stupid

Those who are expecting some great outcome of COP 26 that will miraculously save the planet from climate change in a period of thirty years are likely to be deeply disappointed. The first COP in 1995 was held in Berlin and the record over the last 25 years has seen greenhouse gas emissions continue to rise on a global scale and inequality increasing at a similar rate. Poverty, hunger, lack of proper sanitation, gender inequality remain as issues where we still need great changes, but the threat of climate change hangs over the globe like a dark cloud about to descend and envelop us. To protest against the politician is to submit for the politician likes nothing better than to convince you that they are the one who will produce the answer like getting a rabbit out of a hat.

Does this mean that another meeting of political figures will leave us all wringing our hands and shaking our heads in despair? Well, there is no need to react in that way. We have the answer if we understand the simple idea that ‘it’s us stupid’.

Take a look at global emissions of greenhouse gases and look at some of the sectors that are the highest emitters. We know that agriculture is one of the largest sectors and yet we have the answer to hand. For the developed world it is simply to eat less meat, eat more legumes, more vegetables and more fruit. Reducing beef consumption is the prime target, the burger, the steak or the rib should not be consumed in the quantities we do at present. If we all reduced the burger intake to one a week and ate at least two non-meat meals a week we would probably have a greater impact than anything likely to be achieved at COP26. The action does not end there, for in countries like the USA and UK there is massive food waste, at the farm, the supermarket and at home. Up to a third of the food produced is estimated to be lost as food waste. Our diet and our food habits are as great a problem as using fossil fuels for transport. The answer lies in our hands and we can change.

We might easily forget that what we wear also affects greenhouse gas emission and the fashion industry is a global effort devoted to persuading us that we need more clothes, and new clothes for each season and for each year. Although there are efforts being made to recycle clothes we should consider how they are produced. Many synthetic fibres originate from fossil fuel products, coal, oil and natural gas, and so boost the fossil fuel industry. What if we were all to choose cotton? Unless it is organically produced then we are looking at an industry as dirty as driving diesel trucks with vast amounts of artificial fertilizers and pesticides being used together with a very heavy demand on water. Even with organic cotton the processes of bleaching and dyeing use great quantities of water and the chemical waste is often discharged to watercourses. There are alternatives that could be used for many fabrics. Hemp, linen and bamboo can be grown without the use of fertilizers and without the use of pesticides. These fibres are also more suitable for recycling. That does not mean we should abandon cotton, wool or silk, which could be considered as carbon neutral and can also be recycled, but we should consider how we grow the cotton, and remember sheep if used for meat has an environmental cost. There are fashion houses that support the use of organic cotton, and others who are looking at recycling and zero waste. We can choose to support these if we wish. Our clothing and fashion habits are our own, they will not be changed by the ‘blah blah blah’ of politicians and we must start to accept our own responsibility.

We cannot all have an electric vehicle overnight, or have a public transport infrastructure overnight, not all of us are fit to cycle or walk to work. However, we can all make changes to help reduce fossil fuel use in transport and speed up the transition from fossil fuels. We have an addiction to fossil fuels that was illustrated recently by the panic dash to the gasoline pumps in the UK as if we were a nation that could not survive without a gasoline fix immediately. Do we really need to use a car to shop seven days a week, or to drive our children 800 metres to school, and where is the sense in driving a kilometre to the local gym to exercise when more could have been gained by running to the gym?

The massive amount of waste sent to landfill is also a reflection of our habits. We ‘talk the talk’ about recycling and reducing waste but if we are honest then a look at what we are discarding shows just how wasteful we still are. Our bins contain single use plastics, masses of polystyrene, food waste where there is no local composting facility, and other items which reflect our habits. Even where there is recycling we are being encouraged to generate waste at an alarming rate. One has only to purchase a mobile phone and within months we are being encouraged to buy another and upgrade to a ‘new model’. Stores that allow us to bring our own containers for some dry products such as beans and lentils, or wet products such as liquid detergents can be supported, just as using our own cups at coffee houses is often an option. We can choose to support these businesses and avoid those who use lots of packaging. Our habits determine our emissions.

If we start taking action on a scale needed to mitigate climate change what will happen to the farmers, the supermarkets, the fashion industry, and the automotive industry? They will adapt and survive. The production of beef and other meat is achieved by using large subsidies from taxation. These can be reduced and the money usefully put to use in reforestation and restoration of soils.

Whilst I admire young people demanding action for climate change I would remind them, and all activists, that the power to bring about change lies in our own hands and not that of the political figures who will pontificate in Glasgow at COP 26. We have a wonderful opportunity to write our own agenda for COP 26 and we can achieve the goals of that agenda.

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Beyond the Edge: The last goodbye (Newspeak lines)

Beyond the edge: The last goodbye (Newspeak Lines)

We’d like to really help you but I know you’ll understand

We’ve done a deal with your enemies and given them your land

It’s for the best you see now it’s time that we went home

We sending our apologies for leaving you all alone

But if you can be so good as to form a queue

There might come a time when we can send for you

If you’re waiting for your visa please just stay in line

One of our staff will call you when we think it might be time

We’d really like to help you so that you can still go to school

But we decided we are leaving and that is our golden rule

We know the clock is ticking but that really is not our fault

We can’t keep on helping forever we had to make a halt

We’ve been assured your education will continue as before

It just has to fit in with some changes and a different law

Let me be absolutely clear for your peace of mind

This was always our intention and has been cleverly designed

We’d really like to help you with those issues on women’s rights

But once we told you we were leaving it was time to put out the lights

Don’t go believing all those rumours about beatings with a cane

We’ve spoken with the enemy and they assured us they would refrain

They say you can keep on working but there might be a little change

There are some little details we shall leave them to arrange

Some achievements might be lost because that’s the way things go

But never give up hope I mean you never really know

We’ve held a little summit for our reassurance and your lasting protection

Where the promises we made might have proven to be a distraction

Some day when all of this is over we promise a thorough investigation

And we’ll build a memorial to lost lives the heroes of our devastation

It’s a screwed up world we live in but we welcome all your views

As long as you remember that we still control the news

Please don’t live in fear and excuse me whilst I shed this tear

Because now I’ve got to run to catch the last plane out of here

Copyright: David Hopcroft August 2021

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The Return

The Return

They never really vanished the Big Creatures

A few had managed to survive in little pockets

Grouping together in small communities

The last virus had swept across the world

The fourth is the decade but still nobody had planned

The news at first was blacked out as so many died

Replaced by press statements from a podium by a man in a suit

Which nobody believed and they knew he didn’t give a hoot

Bodies were piled up and buried in mass graves

There were incinerations and cremations hidden from the public view

Would The Return by based on different values

Would there be cooperation or would it be each for the self

At first communities found happiness and peace

But soon began the rumblings from the huts

Some wanted just one leader to be in charge

Now more councils where each could have their say

Would this be decided by a vote or by a fight

Communities were splitting as they had before

Dissent was building some felt this would lead to war

Eventually some set off to find a different land

Only to find the same happened again and again

Each group then declared itself to be a nation state

Newcomers were unwelcome as they slammed the door

History had been so long forgotten that nobody saw

Such events were The Return to what was before

Copyright: David Hopcroft June 2020

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The Downtrodden

The Downtrodden

There’s a simple secret for holding on to power

That has worked so well and stood the test of time

In political circles they call this divide and rule

But I prefer to say it’s about hate and blame

A ruling class whether rich or a self-styled elite

Is always under threat from those who seek equality

So the exercise becomes one of diversion

Through all those little moments of subversion

To look at all those who live a life in poverty

And those subject to any discrimination

Seeking to find the point where the needle really pricks

An infliction of pain where the victim mistakes the source

All carried out to protect a corrupt society

Whilst carefully pedalling those false hopes of liberty

So black can be set so easily against white

Male against female Hispanic against Asian

The unemployed against the employed

The disabled against the able wherever you look

The deflection means that nobody looks at who has power

As the misguided are encouraged in their squabble

For the crumbs that might be falling from the table

If you recognize yourself as the downtrodden

Then it is time for you to rise

Stop listening to the rich man with the tweet

Start thinking for yourselves

It’s the move the rich man cannot beat

Copyright: David Hopcroft June 2020


Nurturing His Love

Nurturing His Love

To look around and see only what we wish to see

Is an exercise of what life must seem like for a blinkered horse

Yet with eyes opened wide then another world appears

One whose beauty shines with actions so easily missed

A young girl helps an old lady carry shopping to a car

A neighbour who mows your lawn whilst you’re away

A friend who offers to collect medicines from a pharmacy

The shopper who adds to the basket for the food bank

The daughter helping her ageing mother

Add together all these small things

That is when we see there is a greater love

One that brings together the actions of each individual

To nurture something I call His love

So I sing out in praise when the blind are helped to cross a road

When folk stand aside to let the disabled move up the queue

Actions that they are not forced to do

The neighbour who comes round with surplus fruit

Does it matter whether they attend a temple church or mosque

Does the clothing that they wear matter any more

For His love is expressed by the actions they make

Love works on what we give not what we take

Love born of Love has no room for hate

And so His love we shall not forsake

Copyright: David Hopcroft April 2020


Strangers encountered along a road to Emmaus

Strangers encountered along a road to Emmaus

I walked the dusty road with sun blazing overhead

Knowing that as I reached each village there was dread

Coffins piled up in the street waiting for the dead

And folks no longer slept easily in their bed

The sound of the dreaded cough lingered in the head

Signs said take another road instead

Ahead I saw a stranger pouring out his curse

I hastened to catch up to see what might be wrong

Was he just another man mourning another loved one

It seemed however he had found something worse

Apparently for all ills he was not to blame

But there were so many others that he had to name

For he knew precisely from where the virus came

And how they had spread it across his country like a flame

I suggested that we all might bear some responsibility here

But that seemed to inflame him as he spluttered ‘Well not me’

So I left him to his cursing and continued on my way

‘He’s a nasty CNN man’ was the last heard him say

I came across some others who seemed to think the same

A position of authority did not mean they should accept any blame

Of course they denied they were completely unprepared

If only folks had passed the PPE around and shared

A mask could be used by hundreds they declared

The risk was minimal and safety was not impaired

My journey proceeded over several days

I met so many who wished to justify their ways

How they bought ten extra freezers to stockpile all they could

I mentioned sharing but I don’t think they understood

I found another couple sitting by their rusting truck

Telling me the Constitution meant they could not be locked up

They believed it was their protests that meant that they survived

It didn’t really matter that a million others died

One day I paused to sit beneath a tree

Then became aware of a child sitting next to me

I asked her for her story and she said she was a refugee

She had survived the pandemic in a tented camp

Crowded together they had to learn a different way

Isolation came when the soldiers ran away

Soon they realized that nobody would come to stay

They learned how to live together beyond hope

Sharing where they could and even making their own soap

Scraping a living they found food for all to eat

Hygiene was everything they recited the rules in their sleep

I listened carefully there was so much I could learn

They had found their guidance from writings in a book

For every situation there was a lesson that I took

I asked how many died she smiled and said ‘none’

The book had been their shield until the battle won

Then she vanished but there was now a signpost I could see

In one direction was Emmaus in the other was Washington DC

Like Cleopas I realized that Emmaus was for me

Copyright: David Hopcroft April 2020

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The Sharing

The Sharing

Living on Lockdown Street and supplies are running low

Movement has been forbidden and nowhere to go

Neighbours calling over fences having a moan

Groceries not delivered means another groan

Families confused not knowing what to do

When up spoke young Lizzie to air her view

Bringing with her all the knowledge from her playmates

‘Mom what if I bake brownies to share around

Let’s look in the kitchen to see what can be found’

Just a little searching and then on went the oven

Soon the trays were filled ready to begin

Plates passed from fence to fence with great big smiles

Thanks being called out to Lizzie and her mom

Then up spoke young Elijah to his dad

‘What about that big joint that is in the fridge

There’s enough for everyone to have a slice or two’

No sooner said than the beef was on to roast

The idea soon caught on and then loaves appeared

Every household made a contribution

Some even thought this might start a revolution

A street where everyone had learned to share

But Lizzie and Elijah reminded all who’d come

Of a story of loaves and fishes that fed everyone

Copyright: David Hopcroft April 2020

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The Great Deception

The Great Deception

A small outbreak of a disease and a few fell ill

But we were told the wheels of business must roll on

As the outbreak spread and deaths occurred

The worshippers at the shrine of wealth cried out

Assuring all that their fears would go away

Screaming loudly that the economy must go on

Whilst blaming all they could on someone else

The economy must go on go on go on

No matter how many loved ones were lost

But business slowed as death began to take its toll

The herd must be culled they shrieked to remove the weak

These deaths will make the economy even stronger

Death spread burning like a wildfire but still the herd

Blindly followed in the belief they would somehow all be saved

Yet one by one the herd began to fall

Not just the elderly the sick and weak

As their leaders sat like Canute railing against the incoming tide

Their followers then began to doubt

Surely the value of human life is more than wealth

Suffering to save the dollar cannot really be a battle cry

Deep down a few began to remember other words

To love thy neighbour as thyself

Yet in a world now conditioned to the survival of a few

Does that mean I should ignore the suffering of you and you and you

Or have we now become too blinded to seek out another view

Copyright: David Hopcroft April 2020