Park Bench Tales and other writings

Thoughts and writings reflecting the poet within and the activist

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There’s a gathering in this village upon this eve

A tale to be told of a past that is rebirthed

Harken carefully unto the tale I shall weave

Where perchance a sun king has emerged

Magic upon this special eve descends upon the square

The eldest of the elders parades in embroidered cloak

Beneath church towers old and young are gathered there

The old ones are prepared and the young have brought the goat

The sun has opened up the lazy eye

Now slumber of the winter shall lessen by the day

Sweet music in the air signals merriment is nigh

Let the eve begin and climb upon the sleigh

Light your candles and let your lanterns be held up high

Knock upon each door and let the household hear your voice

A greeting poem written with care begs a welcome cry

Ask of your host permission to sing a carol of their choice

Sing well for the household then prepare the dance

Let sweet notes to mark this eve echo from your throat

Make way there is one who wishes to advance

For now comes the moment to lead out the goat

Let the blessing be recited by all who know

For those present know the goat must stamp its feet

Where goes the goat ‘tis where the wheat will grow

For each stamp shall yield the seven sheaves of wheat

Now the goat this night has risen from the dead

Let the children bless each room about the house

Where those ready for slumber kneel and prayers are said

For every creature large or small from ox to mouse

The kutya with such care has been prepared

The wood upon the stove is burning fierce and bright

Berries nuts butter fruit and honey shall be shared

A new year begins so sing to greet the light

There’s a didukh proudly standing near the table

Heads of oat wheat and rye together have been bound

A ribboned grandfather preserved by fable

Sleeps until Mara dances and seeds leap from the ground

Time now to move on my lads and lassies fair

Twixt dusk and dawn every home must be blessed

The seeds of sunflower shall subdue the bear

For peace and prosperity make this kolyada request

Copyright: David Hopcroft December 2022

didukh is the grandfather sheaf, kolyada is the winter solstice, kutya is a food prepared for the solstice, Mara a pre-Christian goddess of spring


У цей вечір у цьому селі збираються
Розповідь про минуле, яке відроджується
уважно слухай казку, яку я зіплету
Де, можливо, з'явився король-сонце
Магія в цей особливий переддень сходить на площу
Старший із старших дефілює у вишитому плащі
Там під вежами костелів зібралися старі й малі
Старі готові, а молоді привели козу

Сонце розкрило ледаче око

Тепер сон зимовий з кожним днем ​​слабшає Солодка музика в повітрі сигналізує про наближення веселощів Нехай вечір починається і лізе на сани Запаліть свої свічки і нехай ваші ліхтарі піднімуться високо Стукайте в кожні двері, і нехай домочадці почують ваш голос Вітальний вірш, написаний ретельно, викликає вітальний крик Попросіть у господаря дозволу заспівати колядку на свій вибір

Заспівай гарно для домочадців, потім приготуй танець Дозвольте солодким ноткам, щоб відзначити цей переддень, лунає у вашому горлі Зробіть дорогу тому, хто бажає просунутися А поки настав час виводити козу Нехай прочитають благословення всі, хто знає Присутні знають, що коза повинна тупотіти ногами Куди коза піде, там і пшениця виросте За кожну марку дадуть сім снопів пшениці

Тепер козел цієї ночі воскрес із мертвих Нехай діти благословлять кожну кімнату в будинку Де ті, хто готовий спати, стають на коліна і читають молитви За кожну істоту, велику чи малу, від вола до миші З такою дбайливістю готувалася кутя Дрова на печі горять люто й яскраво Ягоди, горіхи, вершкове масло, фрукти та мед слід розділити Новий рік починається, тож співайте, щоб світло привітати

Біля столу гордо стоїть дідух Головки вівса, пшениці та жита були зв’язані разом Стрічений дід, збережений байкою Спить, поки Мара не затанцює і насіння не вискочить із землі Тепер час рухатися далі, мої хлопці та дівчата У вечірні сутінки і світанок кожен дім повинен бути благословенним Насіння соняшнику підкорить ведмедя Для миру і процвітання зверни цю коляду

Авторське право: Девід Хопкрофт, грудень 2022

р дідух – дідух сніп, коляда – зимове сонцестояння, кутя – їжа, яку готують на сонцестояння, Мара – дохристиянська богиня весни.

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Thoughts by a recumbent stone

Thoughts by a recumbent stone

The sinking sun dropping like a shining ball of gold

A twinkling of heaven’s smile removing tears

The rising of the moon and the surfacing of the old

Customs that had been cherished over countless years

A night that would be remembered a tale that would unfold

With meaning revealed as the lunar moment nears

When the heat of smouldering passion melts away the cold

Nocturnal flashes across the sky were seen dispersing fears

The pathway to the circle of the stones revealed by the rising moon

A firmness in her step of confidence upon such a starry night

Ahead the leading of the piper summoning by tune

A solstice call with her heartbeat strong her cheeks rosy bright

Past the Pictish standing stone with a message held in rune

Where the notch of Satan’s hand had once brought fright

To a wandering maiden seeking beyond a crescent lune

Her slender neck almost blemished with a first love bite

Around the circle hand by hand the evening had begun

Young and old are bound by the common celebration

Memories in stones surface at the setting of the sun

To each a meaning would be revealed by invitation

A binding that marked a passing and a future now begun

Blushing as she danced with such hope and expectation

Her life that would change before the night was done

A story to live on forever capturing our fascination

Midsummer’s evening bringing a surfacing of latent lust

Diana’s moment as the orb rolled across the recumbent stone

Love’s awakening with a sprinkling of cosmic dust

A touch upon her shoulder and a tingling of bone

This was not Satan’s hand but the one that she could trust

Gwenllian and Rhiannon now bound by blessing of the crone

Whist young men’s hopes were dashed and elders muttered in disgust

Two lovers had begun a future so they could no longer be alone

Copyright: David Hopcroft June 2022

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Barclodiad y Gawres

Barclodiad y Gawres

Soft shifting colours of the sun spreading o’er the sky
Dunes moving slowly inland beyond the rolling tides
Messages beneath the sand once carried overseas
Peace out upon the headland where the old bones lie
A burial from an apron where the spirit still abides
Where once a mystery was brewed, some deity to please.
Now there’s a sense of magic just hanging in the air
Like a shadow that deceives; on turning its not there
A mystery that deepens might lift the veil of despair

Spirits who would fly upon this night
Come join with us upon a Beltane eve
When sun is gone and moon is bright
Join with our sister ‘ere you leave

Time-trodden turf now covers earth above the stones
Where believers once steered a course across the seas
Nibbling sheep these pastures keep for us this day
Flaring torches blaze a path towards the ancient bones
Swaying bodies moving forwards; lights that could deceive.
A place to meet, a time to keep, no reason for delay
Our sister struggled as she wandered through the gloom
Shadows closing on her life seemingly bringing doom
Until midwinter’s solstice rays lit up the passage in her tomb

Cauldron grail and chalice bring
To bless virgin lover and the whore
Candles alight now form the ring
Waves are breaking on the shore

Once again upon the headland the sounds of voices chanting,
Calling to a goddess dwelling far below within the earth.
The Shamanka casts the circle with a flaming brand
From the coven is a welcome to the sister they are binding
There are no dreary dirges dragging, only the sound of mirth
Round and round the sisters circle, moving hand in hand
Favours may be granted by the power within the spell
Hear the drumbeats rising, listen to the cyhyraeth yell.
What fate awaits the sister ? Only seers can foretell.

Flowing from the wells, running in the streams
Tylwyth teg are working magic with the moon
Deep inside our hearts, asleep within our dreams
Cast the stones to find the message of the rune

Within the encircled mound lies the sleeping soul of Mona
Forgotten on an island where sheep now graze upon her grave
In their drumming and their chanting, sisters are awakening
Lost memories returning, of Rhiannon, Ceridwen and Epona
The serpent still is waiting by the entrance to the cave
Within the altar now is burning, cauldrons slowly heating
In the bay the goddess dances upon white-crested waves
Around the mound the sisters dance, no longer to be slaves 
Within the chamber of the sidhe another party raves

Nine ladies dance around the Beltane fire
Chalice lifted slowly to our sister’s lips
Knowledge of the cauldron raising her desire
A potion from the berries and the hips

They are singing of a freedom, whilst others wait in pews 
Casting spells of love whilst the preacher points the bone
They are riding through the gateways to another world
There’s a freedom in the air that carries forth good news
Sharing with your sisters, you will never be alone
Sail on to the Summer Isles, the canvas is unfurled
By the powers of air and fire we follow ancient ways
By the powers of earth and water, so be all our days
Let the sounds of laughter still echo from these bays

Laugh with your Lover on this Beltane night
Howl loudly with your Mother at the moon
Walk with the sacred Crone to reclaim a rite
A Goddess waits on Mona listening for your tune.

© David Hopcroft December 2001

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(January 20th Saint Agnes’ Eve)

It was the night that we sowed the barley seed

Beneath the apple tree

Lay on grass, shared a glass of sweet mead

Chanting the lines of ancient times

Barley, barley, I sow thee

That my true love I might see

Take thy rake and follow me

So to my dreams within dark night

And I to mine within my bed

Within the misted thoughts might share delight

Awaiting ringtones of modern times

Sweet sounds awake me for a text

Love you too, but what comes next ?

Oh heck, it’s her and she’s oversexed !

I waited for the fishing boat to make the shore

And bought the salted herring for the eve

My token of belief; begone the rabbit’s paw.

Slowly repeating the fisher’s lines

Of salted herring I have partaken

My lover in the water glass is not forsaken

To my bed shall come before I awaken

Casting my glass aside I searched the screen

Visions of my love I hoped to see

I smoked my weed, I dreamed the dream

Mushroom potions wrote these lines

The Facebook chat kept me awake

Her appetite insatiate

Screamed “Make love, oh god, I cannot wait.”

In hope, throughout the day I chose to fast

Placing my dumb cake upon the rack

Then ate one slice, the die were cast

Then walking backwards up the stair

I slept until my love shared

A vision where our love was bared

He had hoped, but I had dared

Dumb cake has gone, but cookies are upon the plate

Now she’s sorting out her boots

She plays a field she’s chosen for her date

Passion blurs the rhyming lines

She tears her clothes off, climbs the stairs

Pushes her lover on the sacred bed she shares

And sexercizes (I must say no more of these affairs)

Within walled gardens I came to rest

Rosemary and thyme with water sprinkled three times

The ground that Cuthbert once had blessed

I prayed as I said these old lines

Saint Agnes, thou art to lovers kind

Come ease the troubles of my mind

Do not let our love remain unsigned

Don’t let me perish to Bolster’s fate

Whose love Agnes cast off in haste

Bolster’s blood was spilled at the gate

Laugh or cry, or both, with these lines

Old times are gone but still I seek the wishing well

My muse appears as if some fate had cast a spell

Old and new blending with the times

(Bolster was a Cornish giant who fell in love with Agnes. She rejected his advances. She asks him to fill a hole with his blood to prove his love. The hole leads to the sea, Bolster loses his blood and dies.)

Copyright: David Hopcroft Revised February 2022

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Where the hammock lady lies

Where the hammock lady lies

Darkness in the oaken hammock dropping;

Soft silent shadows slip in slowly from the west.

Fiery sun dips her head and dies again,

Seeds drifting slowly through the air now come to rest.

Oak holds hard night’s bleak blackness overhead,

While gentle moon behind scudding clouds hides her face.

Steel magnolia casts her branches wide ,

Wishful widows quickly spin wondrous captive lace .

Bleached bones within the oyster midden held.

Shifting sounds of the closing night can oft deceive;

Forests binding spirit souls from the past,

Shapes drifting ‘twixt moss-laden trunks await their leave.

Crumbling stumps form circles within the glade,

Pine-boarded creaking cracker shack lies part in ruin.

Old owl calls warnings from Hackberry Bluff,

Red fox sniffs the night-time air; ‘Something is brewing’

Flickering wick of lantern clings to light.

The small room where the hammock lady free from strife

Lies not in sleep but in her land of dreams;

Time suspended where her spirit world comes to life.

Faithful lover drifts through the bolted door.

Ne’er alone in life and now at night she smiles again

Her world protected by swamp angel nets

She feels the kiss that sets the captured heart aflame.

She walks again within the citrus groves,

Sweet scented orange blossoms fill the morning air .

Death a world apart, life a world within ;

Hands reach out to clasp, each still knows the other’s care .

Dawn and Red Bird calls out loud ‘Day has come’

In an empty shack there’s a space for those who grieve .

Within the mound life seems so still, at rest,

Yet waiting for the lover who can still believe.

David Hopcroft March 2007


The Island 2: The Cave

The Island: The Cave

A cold mist flowed from the depths of the cave

Uninviting but something drew him to step forward

Mystery that attracted and pulled him

Into a gloom that was eerie and damp

A desire to seek out a source

That was the moment he noticed

The figure

An undyed woollen cloth cloaked the form

Huddled against the wall of the cave

Worn leather sandals on skin-cracked feet

Wrinkled long-nailed hands covering the face

A vision perhaps or fantasy he was concocting

In a confused mind that seemed to make no sense

Thoughts flew through his mind

Like sparks stirred from the embers of a fire

Would this figure shape shift to a dragon

Perhaps to an eagle

Was this Ceridwen reappearing

Was the mist from a boiling cauldron deep in the cave

Surrounded by three chanting witches

He stretched out a hand

‘Can I help you’

There was no reply

The figure seemed to curl up further

As if rolling into a ball

Like a hedgehog that had been disturbed

Stepping forward his foot hit a stone

He stumbled over the figure


Not over but through

What trickery was this

The figure must be in his imagination

The torch

He must switch on the torch


Perhaps the batteries needed to be charged

He cursed

This was an island with no electricity

Remote and distanced from the mainland

By a hundred miles

Beyond the mist there is a glow

An old hearth with embers still seemingly alight

Yet no heat came forth

A memory trapped between worlds

Held fast for several thousand years

With no means of escape

He returned to the entrance

The huddled figure was still there

Real or not he addressed the form again

‘Can I help you?’

The figure turned and lowered the hands

A face that was wrinkled with age

Yet bones pushing against thin skin

Silvered hair down her cheeks

Eyes pierced through the gloom

Pale lips began to move


‘Can I help you?’

The face looked puzzled and then frowned

‘Why would you want to help me?’

‘I don’t really know. Who are you? How did you get here?’

‘I am Ottilie by name’

The face went on to explain

An unwanted child from a noble and wealthy family

They had given her the name as a memory

Handed her to sailors to cast adrift

Near the isle of the monks

There was sadness in her eyes

A tear trickled down a grimy cheek

Was she real or was this some trickery?

The monks had left centuries ago

‘How old are you?’

His curiosity was aroused

‘I am as old as you wish’

What did she mean? As old as he wished?

Why was she in the cave?

What had any of this to do with the church?

Was she the visitor who dusted the pew?

Her explanation left him the more confused

An abandoned male baby was a legend so well known

But a female? Why set a female to drift alone?

Was it by fate this isle had become her home?

The monks had learned of her parentage

Then each had taken a vow and had sworn

She must never be allowed to leave the isle

To do so would release the ancient curse

Foretold of the serpent in the verse

Perhaps there was enchantment and some deadly spell

A tale unfolding her position becoming clear

Each day she would go to the church to pray

She wished for her release and placed a trust in Him

Each day she prayed that He would answer her call

Asking what force or form might be preventing her release

What serpents might be the cause of her distress

Threatening to bind her to the island for all time

She sought release but knew not how

So she had daily prayed to Him

Was he to be the saviour that she desired

Could he give her the life that she required

They sat together at the entrance to the cave

She believing that he had come to save

He wondering why was she not within some grave

To the monks she had become a slave

Satisfying forbidden lust upon this enclave

The cold mist now seemed to have dispersed

Was there to be freedom for the cursed

For full three hours they had conversed

Was her freedom by her faith now nursed

What part he was to play as yet undefined

Her demons surely were confined

In some small corner of her mind

Seeking an escape

That would set her spirit free

He looked out to the bay

Watching the breaking waves upon the sand

Should trapped spirits be confined

Within caves shackled in memory

What if the ghosts of monks were still around

Would his discovery draw them from their grave

As they sought to protect their vow and their slave

Could an answer lie in kneeling at those pews

In belief that spirits trapped between two worlds

Could reconcile those opposing views

That return a life to live again

Or upwards to another world ascend

The sun was rising higher now

Their shadows cast back into the cave

Would he be knight or knave

Why had this thought crossed his mind

Perhaps this whole venture had been designed

For him as an actor in another’s drama

Were he to be pawn

If so who moved the piece?

But he determined to stay awhile

Upon the island that is our scene

Could he be an answer to the lady’s prayer

Were there serpents to be cast out

Dragons in lairs to be fought and destroyed

Could there be demons in his mind

Seek further for to be enlightened

Written is the text of these new scrolls

Where truths are never easily revealed

Such a story was never meant to be concealed

Copyright: David Hopcroft February 2022


Life: The Prologue




What shall they make of us

Could it be discovery they seek

Opposing forces perhaps that did create

The simpler explanation may well suffice

For who can search beyond the deep

Knowledge beyond knowledge cannot permeate


Plasmadic waves suspended in some ethereal form

Moving endlessly within the cloud

To and fro

To and fro


Then around

A repetition perhaps

A pattern to be discerned

Or is the chaos building

Breaking through infinity in storm

Space created suddenly and aloud


Lesser minds can then proclaim

This was when it all began

The mystery of no beginning and no end

Shall remain in eternity



This is our work we create

For you to decide the fate

In glory and splendour we create

The earth as your abode

Seeds that we once sowed

Our gifts freely given for you

If only you really knew

The sun and the stars that you see

Who are we

Who are we

We dwell beyond the expansion of stars

Eluding the chase through the space we create

In a flash crash and a bang you were born

With a wave of the wand

A click of the fingers

That’s how we gave you birth

Upon your earth

We gave you birth

Another click and you may be gone

Along with the others

Who sought for the particle

That never exists

Never exists

Life building life that never ends

We are the most high

The glory you worship

Magnificence in majesty

In majesty

Our face is majesty

Bow down and we shall listen for you

Bow down we shall listen

Bow down

We are listening

When death takes a course

We may greet you on high

In majesty

In majesty

Majesty Glory on High on High on High


How can I show them My face

Would they believe if they never saw

How can I show them my love

They are My people for now and evermore

They must believe and they will know Me

Now and for evermore


How will I show them My face

Let them feel My love deep inside

Nothing hidden and nothing denied

How will I show them My face

They will find Me and then have belief

That is how they will know My face


I will send them a sign from upon high

They will know that this is surely Him

How do they see Me

Will they lust after Her

They must come to love Me

Sing Glories to Me

Holy Trinity

Holy Trinity


If they look they will see

I am all around in their world

So how do they see Me

Will they seek only Him

My love is inside them

There is nothing to hide

Love is not lust

We must trust

Love Me Love Me Love Me

Love is my Trinity

My Trinity


I am jealous of Her

They must bow down him and her

For I am their King

King of him and her

They must sing to My Glory

Gory on High

One Deity One Deity


Can I be jealous of Him

The love for which I love

Is in her and him

Within her and him

Love that must be shared

For love is Divine

Love so divine


I will send them My thunder

Plagues earthquakes and drought

They will SHOUT

We are in fear of Him

My riches I offer on stones

But they must OBEY


I will show them with wands and with spells

How my wisdom can be their guide

They may do what they will

Only love can decide


Is it sin or have I lied

Him and Her together

Whose visions are these

Is this how We are perceived

Then who is deceived

That is for you to decide

Let this work be your guide

Copyright: David Hopcroft February 2022


Him = male deity

Her = female deity

him = man

her = woman

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Cumbrian Moon

Cumbrian Moon

Wild windswept a wonder of ancient craft

Stands firmly planted upon these Cumbrian hills

A purpose lost but steeped in legend and mystery

Where moon and sun a message might bring

Who dares to visit upon the solstice eve

Robes and hoods float silently across frosted fields

Tallowed-torches burning held aloft

A gathering of sacred in its purpose never lost

Priest and priestess a duty to perform

A setting sun dips away

Rises now the silvered moon

A steady drumbeat soft at first

Processing now white robe arrives

To take a place in a world where magic thrives

Ceremonies whose life now revives

Before the northern mystic eyes

Torches now thrown upon a pyre

A body lost but the soul now moves

Between two worlds

And will return again to fertile spring

This ritual will fortune bring

In the light now I see the rhyolite-hewn faces

Of her daughters arising from cold bare earth

Daughters of the towering sandstone block revered

I see her them all come to life

Moving around the circle gracefully

In dance

Common folk look on in trance

Whilst I am led towards the burning fire

What now of my fate

Did I in misfortune select the bannock cake

A triple sacrifice to make

Appeasement to some mystic deity

A belief that terminates my liberty

The iron axe is raised as I bow my head

I kneel upon cold earth in dread

The question surfacing within my mind

Will I cross some boundary to some afterlife

Or is faith itself to be unkind

Playing a trick

That Loki might have designed

A thud upon my neck


Then the flood of bright light

Yet I now rise

To see those daughters turned to stone

Witches held fast in some Christian curse

Change sweeps across this barren land

Where Long Meg and her daughters still stand

Copyright: David Hopcroft January 2022


A Village Awaits

The village awaits

Cobbled streets once traversed by donkey carts

Sleepy houses where hours are spent drinking tea

Preparing for revival a great display of arts

Traditions awakened by way of celebration

Beauty so long suppressed is now set free

Pine poles form the scaffolding

Adorned with gifts for the special day

Boyka has spent long hours with her spinning

Fibres dyed and woven now on display

A shawl from Stoyanka with colour is shining

Showing her skills with crochet

Blankets from Devora

Pillow cases embroidered by Todorka

All that the couple would surely need

Gifts to remember the day in December

To mark the new life they would lead

Grozdan has been busy with plane and saw

Fine oak has been used for the marriage bed

Seasoned by skills from an old lore

Painted in bright colours yellow blue and red

A crib for a baby Ivan’s parents have hope

Can swing gently from the homespun rope

A time for feasting and dancing with the winter sun

Music supplied by the zurnas and drum

The dark days of the past are now over and done

Two days of celebration when the village has fun

Her excitement near bursting and heart beating fast

Bubbling with joy Rositsa waits in her room

Varvara her grandmother will help her prepare

A face to be decorated and painted with greatest of care

The time for the gelina as the bride is prepared

Her face painted white then with sequins adorned

A red scarf for her hair as the picture is formed

Silk flower garland like a doll she is cared

Streaks of tinsel now complete her disguise

The imam must bless before she opens her eyes

Crimson skirt white bodice she displays graces and airs

A rainbow of stitching on the apron she wears

Guests gasp in awe and wonder with their stares

With sashes of notes from wedding guests

Preparation complete now she is dressed

The blessing of imam can take place

A simple binding carried out with grace

With fresh milk her husband will wash her face

The old darkness has gone a sky bursts with lights

A village with happiness and joy revives Pomak rites

Copyright: David Hopcroft January 2022