Park Bench Tales and other writings

Thoughts and writings reflecting the poet within and the activist

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A brief life (adult)

A brief life

She believed she would find herself with the great escape

Far away from home she believed she would make the break

Those stories of danger she was convinced were all fake

She had convinced herself this time there would be no mistake

Lured by his secret messages she would live the dream

Enticed at night by her friends into the clubbing scene

She would be a centre of attention a real drama queen

He was about to rescue her and they would be a team

Within the dream there was a desire to play the whore

He could see his opportunity with just two Proseccos more

She swayed drunkenly around upon the polished dance floor

Then upon his arm she staggered towards the door

All had begun when she was assured her entrance was free

Then her new friend had told her ‘The drinks are all on me’

Little did she realize he had in mind a different fee

Her destiny was to satisfy the lust of his depravity

She had perfected that just-turned-teenage look with her smile

Not realising the cultured image might attract the paedophile

She brought alive all his wicked fantasies with a juvenile

In her drunken stupor she gave her body for him to defile

At first it was only him then and who was really to blame

When she satisfied his friends one by one without any shame

Submitting to each new request she was the football in their game

Tomorrow night he’d collect her and they could do it all again

She’d perform for anyone who would offer a lift

Unknown to each of them they had gained an unwanted gift

It was their visits to the clinic that led to the rift

Her body dumped in an alleyway having completed her last shift

Copyright: David Hopcroft December 2022

This poem is about abuse. In the UK there is support from a number of organisations.

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3. The Night

3. The Night

Cramped into a taxi wondering what this night will bring

Free entrance to a basement club where only gentlemen pay

Accepting the drinks and hinting at something in return

Deceiving in appearance as she let her swaying body sing

What might her mother think if she knew she was this way

Walking to the dance floor with a wiggle from her stern

At last free from those who would tell her how to behave

Fun was what she wished for though she played a naive game

Friends on social media had boasted of their success

She clung to his sweating body ready to be his slave

Performing acts that she would regret with shame

The addiction to a myth the only part she would not undress

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

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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

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Stop Playing The Master With Me

Stop Playing The Master With Me

Hear the beat on the street

Turn on the heat we gonna meet

Tell your sister your mother

Your father your brother

Shout out to each other

To tell one another

That man with the crown

Who put us all down

Got a message when we take the knee

Stop playing the master with me

We’re black we’re not going back

We ain’t taking no flack

We free from the rack

On the right track

We’re white and we’ll join your fight

Put out the night go get us the light

We’re flyin’ the kite to a great height

Says we’ll never take flight

Do what you might

We’re shining the light

We all stand by your side along for the ride

Fly the banner with pride says freedom’s our bride

No place to hide we got the guide

He’s by our side knows that you lied

Hear the beat on the street

Turn on the heat we gonna meet

Tell your sister your mother

Your father your brother

Shout out to each other

To tell one another

That man with the crown

Who put us all down

Got a message when we take the knee

Stop playing the master with me

I talk to the bird the word must be heard

You better take note we gonna vote

We calling for Dee-mocracy

Hear what I’m sayin’ ain’t no disobeyin’ put an end to the black man slayin’

We calling for E-quality

We’re black we’re not going back

We ain’t taking no flack

We free from the rack

On the right track

He tell the lie and threaten ‘cos he thinks he’s high

But you ain’t gonna die I tell you why

We ain’t afraid his power decayed got buried in the grave he made

Put me in the cell we gonna raise hell when we yell Yell and YELL

You covered our graves but we ain’t your slaves

You shut ancestors in a sty but the spirit don’t die

Ain’t no mystery you rewrote the history erased the hell of slavery

Pretended you was all ‘bout bravery

Raised statues to those who tried to butcher liberty

Hear the beat on the street

Turn on the heat we gonna meet

Tell your sister your mother

Your father your brother

Shout out to each other

To tell one another

That man with the crown

Who put us all down

Got a message when we take the knee

Stop playing the master with me

We gonna vote strip off your coat

Bout time you took note

March down the road unburden that load

Raise up the seed that you sowed

Uncle Tom him long gone a new preacher he shone

Put the light on me said I was free that’s democracy

We waited so long know we’re not wrong keep your swansong

I’m sayin’ it loud I’m buildin’ a crowd

Take your knee off my neck

Ain’t my time yet

Don’t you try bet

Some white judge gonna set you free

Cos you can’t subjugate



Hold us at the gate

Our time has come your privilege done

You moanin’ cos love has won

Got a message when we take the knee

We showing you that we’re set free

Stop playing the master with me

Got a message when we take the knee

Ain’t gonna be no more slavery

Stop playing the master with me

Stop playing the master with me

Copyright: David Hopcroft January 2022

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Inside Alternative Worlds

Inside alternative worlds (A first glimpse )

Truth could not be seen as a casualty

In a world that had sacrificed reality

Upon an altar to the god of obscurity

Such that remnants were lodged out at infinity

Now each could have a ‘truth’ that was the other’s lie

Such that both the other’s ‘truth’ could easily deny

So that all alternatives were but conspiracy

Found in the imprinted mind that had come from birth

Each form of news peculiar but had apparent worth

Serving as nutrient for those still trapped upon earth

The alternative world had long since bid farewell to sanity

Creating mists of illusion that seemed to fringe on lunacy

Such are these worlds created by dissent

Dissatisfaction magically covered by new sediment

With history to be regarded as excrement

All paths might once have led to merriment

Now each world could only thrive with an enemy

Such hatred is created in the fields of uncertainty

By those who really strove to form a new nobility

How easy it became to mimic what was once sincerity

Driving the flocks ever closer to conditioned slavery

And I but a rebel still unshackled in such a world

Raise the flag of free will to be unfurled

Copyright: David Hopcroft February 2021

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Your boat and my boat

Your boat and my boat

Peggy Sue had given him a ride in her new sports car

A gleaming yellow Mustang that she truly adored

A gift from her parents before she started college

She had not mentioned Kwame to them it just didn’t seem quite right

‘I suppose that we’ve a lot in common’ she began

‘I mean we’ve both got ancestors who came from overseas

And they arrived by boat just from different countries

Mine came from Germany where they had a large farm

They sold up and came here because land was so cheap

Especially after all the natives moved to their reservations

I still had lots of photos of the journey that they made

A three-funnelled steamer that sailed from Liverpool

They had an outside cabin travelling first class of course

And they dined with the captain at least once on that voyage

The food was incredible four courses at night

Sometimes they would dance as the band played

Oh I must show you the photos of that

Or they’d just listen to the music to pass time away

In the daytime they could swim in the pool on the deck

Then there was deck tennis and quoits

Just so many things they were able to do

I think the voyage took four or five days

They sailed into New York to disembark

It must have been so exciting for them

A new land and a fortune waiting to be made

So tell me Kwame about the voyage your ancestors undertook

It must have been great fun do tell me what you know!’

He looked and he wondered what on earth she had learned

About how Africans had arrived on these shores

Perhaps time she heard a truth so he began

‘My ancestors came from the Malinke people on the West Coast

They did not come by choice they were put on wooden boats

Taken from their village to be traded for muskets and shot

They had no belongings and some were in chains

On the boats they were all cramped down in the holds

Men to the fore and women to the stern

Some never saw daylight for days upon end

There were no cabins and not even bunks

Food if they were lucky came once a day

Some beans and corn and anything the sailors would not eat

Those who protested were beaten and whipped

Some never made it thrown overboard when they died

Wooden boats with sails were tossed on the seas

Like a cargo of cotton bales ready to be sold

There was no land of the free they were just slaves

Becoming the property of white men for the rest of their lives’

She looked at him as her Mustang slowed to a halt

‘Why that is so fascinating what an adventure they must have had

Sailing on a wooden ship Oh gosh that must have been such fun

A pity about the naughty ones who were whipped

I’ll drop you off here if you don’t mind

My parents say I shouldn’t drive this neighbourhood’

As he walked home alone he knew that nothing had really changed

Even though it seemed quite absurd

He wondered if she had heard a word

Her privilege was something she did not understand

Skin colour still defined your life in this land

Copyright: David Hopcroft August 2020

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Today’s Slaves

The 21st Century Slave

Sensational headlines that hit the news

About young children being trafficked as sex slaves

Found hidden in the back of some articulated truck

Rather less attention is given to their final destination

Victims may be saved but the purchasers remain free

And another truckload will soon be on its way

Buyers remain behind the cloak of protected secrecy

A raid by immigration enforcement on a farm

Several dozen workers found locked in an old wooden hut

No lighting or heating just a sink and one tap

Sharing old mattresses or sleeping on the floor

Earning just a few cents well below the minimum wage

They dare not go to the village for fear of being found out

A farmer fined and another operation is closed down

But the supermarket buyer lives safely out of town

They’ll soon find another source because the law’s a clown

Slavery can take so many different forms

The activist must learn to see well beyond the act

So often the root remains although you’ve found the seed

To enslave first we must create a demand for labour

So goods need to be in great demand

Then for competition the labour must be cheap

So first find a country where there are few labour laws

Or one where the laws are so rarely enforced

Generate some poverty and you have a labour force

Is it really that simple? Yes, of course!

Then there is enslavement that we so often miss

Where the wages are so low the workforce requires benefits

How would those original plantation owners feel

If they could reap the benefits of modern slavery

If they knew governments now subsidised owners to enslave

And our taxes pay the subsidy that boosts the owner’s profit

What is taken from us now fills the owner’s pocket

There never has been an abolition of slavery

Can you see any enthusiasm to set a people free

A difference between politicians who claim to represent

Yet allow such slavery to continue by consent

There’s a kind of hypocrisy we might resent

Copyright: David Hopcroft August 2020

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Shout shout shout it out

Shout Shout Shout it out

Shout shout shout it out throughout the land

That you sought and found the offered outstretched hand

A hand that was always there but first you had to see

Faith opened your eyes for you knew it had to be

Though its form and manner might arrive so unexpectedly

You’ll know when you have found the hand that sets you free

So welcome to the ship that sails for liberty

Shout shout shout it out we shall not be slaves

Shout it loud that we’ve found the One who saves

We’re marching for equality and we’ll come in waves

We’re burying the cruelty that lies deep in southern graves

Shout shout shout it out there is comfort in His arms

A peacefulness that guards against the devil’s charms

A spirit in your soul that never harms

You hold the outstretched hand that always calms

Shout shout shout it out His love is all around

The offered outstretched hand is surely crowned

Shout shout and shout let’s all hear the sound

If you were ever lost you know that you’ve been found

Walk the road now you have the hand

Steady on your course though the flames of hell be fanned

Take the path and leave your footprints in the sand

For right here upon the earth we can make a Promised Land

Copyright: David Hopcroft August 2020

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Modern Slavery: All for a pair of panties

Modern Slavery: All for a pair of panties

A bell sounds

Fifty figures move slowly and silently from the dormitory

Through the factory door

A click

As the door is locked behind them

Machines await them

With bright coloured threads

Printed fabric of a design from overseas

Pieces precut from another machine


Then nimble fingers begin their work

A supervisor to ensure they do not shirk

Permission needed for a toilet break

The clock starts

One restroom serving fifty

Each pair of panties folded neatly

Collected and counted upon each hour

One cent a pair is their reward

All to complete a large display

In western boutiques two thousand miles away

Dust settles on ledges and fills the air

Open wiring no safety no checks no caring

One spark from a machine

An explosion

Roof timbers fall

The fabric is already alight

Escape escape

The door is locked

Trapped trapped

By smoke and flames

Jump jump

The window can be broken

But the street is fifty feet below

Hours later

Fifty one charred bodies are pulled out


A message is swiftly passed through several agents

Before reaching the boutique

The message said

Supply delayed

Due to minor technical difficulties

So the world of modern slavery

Is so easily hidden


Cheap goods come at a price

Which might just be

Somebody else’s life

Copyright: David Hopcroft June 2020