Park Bench Tales and other writings

Thoughts and writings reflecting the poet within and the activist


Within the head

Within the head

I wonder just how many people dread

Living every day with those thoughts within the head

The temptations by which we may be led

A darkness that often surfaces when we go to bed

Thoughts that we have that will never be said

So we hope for a peaceful sleep instead

What if your thoughts were the same as mine

Does darkness then become light and shine

Somewhere in dark memory there might be a sign

Like a spout rising up from the brine

Can also bring havoc to what was divine

Yet this invitation within I am trying to decline

Still it haunts with its daily whine

Somewhere in my head a monster is sleeping

Trying to escape captivity it is pleading

But deep down within I still fear its seeking

What if your monster and mine are meeting

Will eruption result from the overheating

Is this evil or love that is greeting

There was one moment of daylight that was fleeting

Emotions seem to be erupting from the confusion

Reality I pray will replace this illusion

Yet if your mind and mine embrace our evolution

Are the monsters acting together in collusion

I sense taboos are being shattered by consensual fusion

Will our minds meet and exchange in some form of transfusion

We might try and explore to see if we reach a conclusion

Copyright: David Hopcroft May 2023

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We are the roots of our existence

We are the roots of our existence

We pretend we can move on and that we can leave each other

Convincing ourselves that past memories will fade slowly away

But whilst the pictures may sometimes seem hard to recall

Their effects are still stored deep within those dark halls

We are both shaped and we shape ourselves

This mystery we call character was slowly formed over time

Those special events that stay with us as the guide

Often for pleasure but sometimes as a torment we cannot hide

There are flashes from a past that invade my mind

Unexpectedly and occasionally leaving me feeling uncomfortable

I am left wondering why they remind me of being unkind

Whilst there are others that allow pleasure to surface and bring a smile

The day then seems so much brighter as I pass the time

All of these are the roots that I laid down in the past

In this fragile soil that we dare to call life

We can pretend to change and make all of this go away

But if the tree is uprooted then the tree will surely die

So we cling to these roots whether we are aware or not

Because in the end this is part of life’s plot

You may think you can change but what if you cannot

Copyright: David Hopcroft May 2023

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Chat Two

I found myself using my ears and not just my eyes

Bubbles like champagne flowed freely from her mouth

Words that made me laugh and feel so good

Words that drew me towards her in every way

I confess that my usual glancing at legs and breasts

Had been displaced and replaced by the warmth of her face

The eyes so bright were enticing inviting and so exciting

Words danced from her lips and swept me across the floor

Words that skipped freely and called me out to join in play

Soft phrases that raised the beat of my heart

Sentences shining out like searchlight beams the light finding me

Conversation like stardust being thrown into the sky

Leaving me floating on high over mountains and peaks

Pulling me with the tides and currents across the seas

She spoke with such passion there was hardly time to reply

Like a spell that had been cast I clung to her every word

I had found myself a mistress without leather and chains

A goddess of communication and not provocation

Like the pirate opening his newly found treasure chest

Her words were the gold with which I’d been blessed

Copyright: David Hopcroft May 2023

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Down South

Down South

Sitting on the porch in an Adirondack chair

Staring at blue skies

Just passing the time of day

Watching pine trees swaying in the air

Through shades to protect my eyes

As I watch the dolphins leaping in the bay

Clouds of loneliness have drifted from the sky

Burning sun scorches through my shirt

But I will stay a little longer

Let the lingering of memories still lie

Until forgotten in the parched dirt

Whilst my southern love grows ever stronger

Will friendship be lost after this last night together

Beneath the Spanish moss last memories are made

Drinking our margaritas before we retire

Listening to Jimmy sing about the weather

How I wish that departure could be forever delayed

Let not our love die in the ashes of the fire

Copyright: David Hopcroft November 2022


A Wasted Life

A wasted life

She stood before the blazing fire where the corn king burned

Lay prostrate upon the earth when the ashes had cooled

Wishing her life would yield the temptation she yearned

Oft had she been the tempter and oft had she been fooled

Now she rose and stood before the windswept dunes

Listening to waves crashing from the angry sea

Last night she had lain upon her bed and cast the runes

Stared from her casement window at the rowan tree

Black the colour she had chosen for her body mask

Her soul sold long ago to the devil underground

The Prosecco glass now discarded for the methylated flask

The flash of the incoming storm she must be homeward bound

From the boiling cauldron rose the thunder god

Discarded the syringe was soon covered by the moving sand

The earth opened and fire spat out from the broken sod

She looked in vain for the guidance of a helping hand

Age had reduced the value of the services that were her trade

In alleyways nobody had heard the desperation in her cry

Her body scarred from customers who were to be obeyed

In the loneliness of her rented room she would be left to die

Where was the molfar’s love that she once craved

Attracted by bright lights she was drawn to a Satanic spell

Believing that by the claw that held her she would be saved

Now there was no peace in the solitude of her living hell

They laid her to rest in an unmarked grave

Younger bodies now held the men she had once known

Just as her flashing thighs once worked to enslave

Her life now over she had never known a home

Copyright: David Hopcroft November 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’?




The fascination was born with the capsule in which she had been enclosed

A tightening of strings that seemed to stretch around her throat

The city promised the freedom from perception that had been imposed

No longer would her imagined friends tease and appear to gloat

Lost in a new world she wandered aimlessly like a stray upon the street

Tormented by the attraction and seduction of pictures friends would post

Leading her to gravitate towards an underworld where hands reached out to greet

Finding new company where she believed she could discard the ghost

They taught her how to dress how to form her lips to perfect the pout

To display her body and to move so that every movement became the lure

In the alleyways she found herself exploring until she began to doubt

Not realizing that her addiction might have passed beyond the cure

She was building herself a life that would become shrouded in secrecy

Hiding behind the veils fearful that her new life might be discovered

By those from whom she sought escape as she ignored her destiny

Now her life seemed concealed and she feared if it should be uncovered

Retreating to her room each night she created her new world of fantasy

Indulging in her solitude as she believed in the safety of the night

Though in daylight hours her reticence gave the impression of mystery

When dusk descended she awoke unaware of the need for flight

Attraction became desire and then obsession with what she craved

Convinced that her fantasy had now taken form and was real

This was the paradise of make-believe and she was saved

The promise of a future beckoned her past she would now conceal

Until she found that his world was really no different from her own

Each had built the gilded cage that imprisoned both from reality

Their lies were a cobbled pathway that could never lead to a home

Once honesty had been discarded they could never be set free

Copyright: David Hopcroft November 2022


Through Dark Mists

Through dark mists

What do you think when you stand there all forlorn

Looking at the dark shadows you cast on the lawn

Your face looks so pale and your cheeks drawn

Do you welcome each day or dread the morn

Where lies the future if you always look to the past

Why dwell in the land where the living have passed

Where does life lead if you follow unless asked

Don’t let others nail your colours to the mast

Why face the shadows when life can offer more

Do you live in that space where feelings are sore

You want to resist but you can feel the claw

The house that you build is made of straw

Am I really seeing you then why am I afraid

Living in a space where feelings are not displayed

Holding back knowing the future is only delayed

The silence when we both know the truth is betrayed

When our lives fill with shadows we must turn around

To see where life’s sunbeams strike the ground

Perhaps in the silence there really is sound

Are there two parts of my life still to be found

The end of the world was yesterday

So I’m not sure why we are here today

Unless we can make our sorrows go away

Take my hand please and come out to play

Copyright: David Hopcroft August 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


The Dark And The Light

Bee stung and serpent bitten

Signs of love smitten

Disappointment now hidden

Mind sealed talk forbidden

Too much sorrow in life to hide

Darkness becomes the eternal bride

Believing life was lost when love died

Undercurrents of suicide

Words torturing like sharpened knives

Ghosts of reapers with swishing scythes

Tortured souls determine who survives

Confusion spins a future that arrives

A bitterness that felt a mosquito’s prick

Pining in loneliness seemed a trick

The candle burns without a wick

He seeks the powdered deadly kick

Hope came with a helping hand

Flowers bloomed in a wonderland

Footsteps appearing in the sand

Freedom replacing harsh demand

Look ahead to see the light

The darkness gives way life is bright

Past tense like darkness becomes the night

Dance upon the toadstool with the sprite

New love dances to a different tune

We walk the heath beneath the moon

Together we might ride that broom

For tomorrow cannot come too soon

Copyright: David Hopcroft April 2022