Park Bench Tales and other writings

Thoughts and writings reflecting the poet within and the activist

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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

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Strangers on the Emmaus Road

Strangers on the Emmaus Road

Pouring across borders seeking shelter

Pulling their belongings in a carry-on case

A small child in tow lost in this world

Human life simply allowed to go to waste

Are they the lucky ones, those who got this far?

Greeting by God’s love shown by people who care

Fed clothed given shelter by His angels

Who don’t have wings or fly in the air

The toddler clutches his new cuddly toy

Given by a stranger he met along the road

As Jesus appeared so many centuries ago

Struggling on the family seeks a new abode

Greeted at the border by a volunteer

Bearing the smile that breaks the frozen ice

For a brief moment she forgets the terror and the fear

A lost husband reminds her that freedom had a price

A car window wound down and a face looks out

Offering a lift to shelter warmth and food

Just another Emmaus stranger on this road

Just another offering of a Beatitude

A pensioner hobbles on his crutches as best he can

Climbs into the car to be taken for a meal

Just another stranger showing love today

Its another Emmaus driver at the wheel

A crammed train makes its way to the border town

The daily run being made along Refugee Way

Just another Emmaus driver staying in the cabin

There’s a thousand Emmaus strangers on this road today

David Hopcroft March 2022


The Island 3: The Escape

The Island : The Escape

The frayed rope dangled just inside the door

How long since the bell was last pulled

To let the bell sound ring out

Across this island of the monks

He pulled

Half expecting the rope to break and fall

Covering him with gathered dust

The sound surprised him

The hammer strike sending a message

He sat in a pew and waited

After a few moments she appeared

Still in her worn woollen cloak

They had agreed her hope for salvation

Had to lie in the faith she believed

She sought a sign to say she could leave

He remained patient

Having become more familiar with the island

Knowing where the fresh springs were

Where to find berries and roots to eat

He could lie on a bed of bracken at night

Looking up at the stars

Or across the waters

Where he believed he could make out

Flickering lights from a harbour on the mainland

If you look hard enough

You begin to see what you believe

Ottilie had told him that

They knelt on the prayer mats together

Facing where an altar once stood

Heads bowed and hands clasped

Each hoping for some sign

A great crash came from behind

The church doors swung open

They felt the rushing of a wind

Then a descending darkness

Flying through the open doors

Ghost monks swarmed in like wasps

Half-burned candles came alight

They could feel the pew vibrating

The noise of became deafening

As they sought shelter beneath pews

Fending off these flying forms

Then as quickly as events had begun

The ghost monks vanished

The church light again

With daylight streaming in at the doors

‘That is the sign’

He could not fully understand her

Part of him wanted to know why

But really he just wanted to get off the island

‘The boat is tied up on the beach’

He led her down to the rusting iron post

The post was still there

With the rope looped around

But the boat was gone

They were stranded

What had the sign meant?

Were the ghosts angry and the curse invoked

To keep them trapped

Would he become like her

Trapped forever on this deserted isle

Beneath him the earth started to shake

He looked back at the village

Huts starting to collapse

A rock slide from the hill

Covering the cave

An explosion

As the mouth of the cave opens again

Spewing lava down the hillside

Pouring into the sea

Another vent opens

In the sea beyond the island

A wave building towards the shore

Rising ever higher

Rushing towards him


There is a face looking down on him

A bright light in the background

Voices that he does not recognize

‘Can you hear me?’

The face seems to be clearer

Why are they wearing a mask?

‘Are you awake’

He is able to nod his head

But it hurts

Other figures are appearing in the background

‘You are in hospital’

He understands

A thousand questions come rushing

How did he get here

What has happened


‘Can you tell us your name’


Then a moment when everything stopped

Something was missing

He had no idea what his name was

How does he respond

‘I don’t know’

How silly that sounded but it was true

Nothing would surface

What was his past

Why didn’t he have memory

But then

Memories were surfacing

He started telling them of the island

The church and dusted pew

The figure in the cave

The ghost monks

All was flooding back

He babbled on and on

Before he saw that the faces were confused

Where was the island

When did all this happen

Then they began to tell him

He was in a hospital in Arizona

A first responder had found him

Lying injured by the side of a road

They assumed he had been hit by a passing vehicle

He had been unconscious for almost a month

They put out his picture on a local news channel

Nobody had responded

They were asking about Ottilie

Where did she live

Could they inform her where he was

Assuming she was real

A part of his past

That his memory could still connect with

Soon afterwards came the release

His identity still a mystery

He became more confused as the days went by

Why was the island memory so clear

But there was nothing before the island

How much of any memory was real

Was anything he remembered actually real

Fear began to creep in

Was this some sort of madness

If he really was mad

Than what next?

Copyright: David Hopcroft February 2022


What did you do for climate change Granddad?

What did you do for climate change Granddad?

Many years ago when I was but a lad

Kicking a football around in a field

Visiting the cinema for a Saturday matinee

Watching the enemy getting blown away

Generals presented as freedom’s shield

I asked ‘What did you do in the war Dad?’

Now I am older the question is almost the same

‘Granddad what did you do to prevent climate change’

Grandchildren stare right into my eyes

An occasion calling for truth not lies

A warrior with a pen Would they find that strange

Yet my actions in many ways are those of shame

Your granny and I we drove a big car

A gas-guzzling monster a great metallic beast

We flew across oceans in enormous jet planes

Went from city to city in those old steam trains

Took a cruise liner to the Far East

Three vacations a year to places near and far

We lived in a large house heated by coal and oil

Commuted to the city forty miles each way

Bought all the new gadgets as soon as we could

Threw out the old ones they were no good

Dumped plastic in a bin where it would not decay

Greened the lawn with fertiliser in the soil

Those were the days when the burger was king

Exotic fruits flown in from overseas

Takeaway meals came in a polystyrene tray

No need for washing we just threw them away

Paradise was a place we could just do as we please

A Holy Grail of peace where no birds sing

The looks that they gave me were those of disgust

I sensed that feeling where lack of comfort betrays

Our selfishness had so nearly destroyed their lives

Creating a barren world where so little survives

We had left it to our grandchildren to find better ways

Taking more than our fair share and leaving nothing in trust

Copyright: David Hopcroft January 2022

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Let’s Light the Candle

Let’s light the candle

A schoolboy in a classroom all those years ago

Listening to the launch on a transistor radio

Hidden inside the pocket of his blazer

Relaying progress each minute to those around

Excitement as teenagers listen eagerly upon the ground

Knowing the moment to be the first leap for great exploration

A human from the USA prepares to enter space

Billed as the first step in a greater race

The words we hear from the astronaut remembered

‘Let’s light this candle’ and then all was go

This evening Shephard’s words are heard once more

As I listen still with excitement from a further shore

A new era has begun as Americans celebrate

The launch that puts a nation back on the map

New dreams and thoughts turn to more distant bodies

Should it be the moon again or are we on the way to Mars

Will we see the big rockets and will probes be sent to the stars

A small step has been taken but it is a step with pride

‘Let’s light this candle’ and the Falcon began its burn

Lifting from the pad heading toward the evening skies

The moment watched by so many around the world

Hopes are being raised the future has begun

Americans know there is a job to be done

A Martian landscape is now within their sight

Hold on to your saddle and sit tight

Fasten that seatbelt and dream into the night

Copyright: David Hopcroft May 2020


Changing times

A changing of times

Bus loaded and ready to go

Seaside sand waves bright lights and piers

We spill out onto the crowded promenade

The swinging sixties have arrived and we are here to explore

Donkeys carrying children along the beach

Giggling bodies in sun hats swaying to and fro

Granddad’s face is all aglow

Helping to build the biggest sandcastle that you ever saw

A pleasureland of roller coasters roundabouts and swings

Shrieks and screams from the cuddle-packed ghost train

A multitude of shops glaring at me from the front

I should stop and gaze and not pass by

Saucy postcards displayed on racks outside

So many gifts to choose as souvenirs

The best of the day the journey to the tower top

Surveying all around and looking down

Holidaymakers like ants scurrying to and fro

Back down to the streets watching candy rock being made

Candy floss and toffee apples with lots of soda pop

Bright colours everywhere boys and girls with fluorescent socks

A drive beneath the lights as evening comes

Illuminations of magical forms that brought us here

Then falling asleep as the bus chugs its way home

Just another day recalled from my once youthful dome

The tide rolls in and out over the bare sands

A strange silence that now invades the beach

The shops are still there but now all boarded up

The pavements no longer bear the weight of passing feet

Seagulls strut up and down seemingly confused

There are no more discarded sandwiches for snacks

The wheel on the pier no longer turns

Handles of gaming slot machines no longer pulled

A flapping canvas covers up an empty arcade

The life that once trod the boards seemingly has gone

Along the promenade a lonely figure runs

No crowds to hinder any progress along their way

In the distance the roller coaster still stands

A ghost that seems to haunt a fading past

The doors to an adventure land swing to and fro

Rusting hinges that will soon give way in wind

Candy stalls have long since been removed

Visitors no longer flock to this promenade

In backstreets the B&Bs are silent now

Lockdown figures huddled up inside

And older folks still have no doubt

That day the Silent One came about

Was the day the lights of Blackpool petered out

Copyright: David Hopcroft April 2020


Flotsam and Jetsam

Flotsam and Jetsam were two souls who were lost

Floating in currents with no particular place to go

Occasionally moving when by waves they were tossed

Hoping that something special would take them in tow

Flotsam claimed they were there just by accident

No one was at fault love had just faded away

Jetsam had arrived by deliberate intent

Thrown out when another claimed the day

Now what if Flotsam and Jetsam were to meet

Washed up on the same sunny sandy beach

Would Flotsam say to Jetsam would you like a seat

Sit a little closer I want you within reach

What if each were too nervous to hold out a hand

They just sent messages until a tide washed both away

Were they both to end up in a desolate land

Each might regret not holding hands and making their day

So let Flotsam and Jetsam shed cloaks and be true

Not be shy or nervous but step out from the sea

When Flotsam met Jetsam was that me and you

So we touched hands and lips which was always meant to be

Copyright: David Hopcroft June 2019

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Picture Unframed 10: Twist of Lime

Searing rays of the sun swept over their beach

Almost wishing for the cloud

He made his way to their bar

Beneath the bright striped canvas

An old fan fought a losing battle against the heat

He called it their bar because that was where they met

It was their beach where they had swum naked one night

‘Venus on rocks please’

The bartender smiled

He also remembered her

The laughing the flirting the dancing the giggling

She had brought life to his bar

Venus, it was their drink

There was another name but they called it Venus

He had wanted Aphrodite but they settled on Venus

He muddled lemon and sugar

Added the ice and vodka

Shaken then poured into a highball

With tonic water

She loved to add the lime

Taking a thin slice cutting pulp from the peel

Creating the twist with those long fingers

Fingers that had stroked his cheeks and hair

Touched his lips

He stared out at the sea seeing nothing but his own memories

Disturbed only by a waitress bringing their drink

She reminded him of her

He wanted to playfully reach out and pat her bottom

As he used to with her

He sat there

The drink in front of him

Remembering how she would run her finger around the glass

Dip it into the drink

Then place it to his lips

He remembered her taste

The taste when they kissed

When they made love

The ice melted

But still he seemed unaware

There was a touch on his shoulder

He turned expectantly

‘Are you all right?’

It was not her

He nodded in a melancholy way

Rose to leave and make his way back to the hotel

Walking slowly eyes looking at the ground

His back hunched now

Was this what lost love did?


The shock like a bolt of lightning


He turned

She was there

Copyright: David Hopcroft May 2019

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A night at the Twice Brewed Inn (1973)


Easter on the Costa del Northumbria

To walk the path by Hadrian’s Wall

Dreams of the sun on our backs

Listening for the Roman footfall


You will find it cold at this time of year

Friends said with a meaningful smile

We laughed and replied without fear

There’s a turret for shelter each mile


We pulled up beside the small stone inn

With a howling wind that cut through our clothes

The bar was empty and our room looked grim

The cold was already freezing our toes


No fire in the bar, I asked for hot food to eat

‘We don’t do that, you can have some pork scratching’

We retired with one blanket and a thin cotton sheet

She began shivering, I soon found that catching


No thought of night clothes, we stayed fully dressed

Opened our cases, added more layers with ease

Ice formed on the bed frame; you might have guessed

We lay on the bed, watching the curtains freeze


There was no central heating, no fire or a heater

Not even a candle to help keep us warm

The night went by, we got colder and weaker

Almost wishing at times we’d never been born


We tried huddling and cuddling but ruled out humping

‘Cos that meant divesting some garments for sure

At long last the morning, hot water not working

We packed up our bag and made for the door


Chilled to the bone, coughing and wheezing, we fled

Dreaming of heat and a mattress upon which we could sin

For we’ll never forget the dread of that bed

The cold night we spent at the Twice Brewed Inn


Copyright: David Hopcroft May 2019