The Stokers

A freighter ploughs through heavy seas

Navigating oceans by degrees

Racing to bring precious cargo back

Convoyed to reduce the chance of attack

….

The war effort needs these crucial supplies

Ferried to Britain under pewter skies

Below in the cold and merciless deep

Lies a deadly enemy that does not sleep

….

U boats silently stalk their prey

Alert and watching night and day

Silent, merciless cylinders of steel

Torpedoes armed, aimed at the ship’s keel

….

In the freighter’s bowels, ‘neath bulkhead light

Stokers swing shovels in constant night

Sweat, coal dust, crippling heat, endured

Power for the engines must be assured

….

In the stern, the propeller churns

Boiling the sea, the ship tacks and turns

On the bridge the look-out is slack

Failing to spot the moon-silvered track

….

Hell is let loose near the water line

Two explosions rock the ship’s spine

Salt seas pour in with torrent strength

Alarms ring out along the ship’s length

….

The stokers know the emergency drill

But the deluged furnaces are quick to kill

“98 hands lost”, the official post

“Ship sunk within sight of the British coast”

IF

If the sky was green would the trees feel blue?

If all hearts were sincere, what we say would be true

….

If nature was kinder, there would be fewer storms

If politicians cared more, they would bring about reforms

….

If hate speech was outlawed, there’d be no demagogues

If humans were nicer, we wouldn’t need dogs

….

If the world was perfect, it would be prejudice free

If that is to happen, it’s down to you and me.

A Moment in Time

Racism is treating people as ‘others’

The opposite of acting like brothers

We are not designed to be the same

Whatever we are, we are not to blame

….

Is it part of the human condition

To want to establish our position

In some imaginary pecking order

‘Us’ versus ‘them’ from a historic border

….

It seems we have an inner need

Looking down on some other creed

To feel a bit better about our lot

Rejecting notions of a mixing pot

….

But assimilation is nature’s way

Differences, ultimately, become passé

Though bigotry and injustice may cause delay

All will be free to be who they are, one day

….

Until then, use well the power to vote

Campaign peacefully, equality promote

Practise humanity, value all life

Have empathy, turn your back on strife

A Wonderful Life

I’ve been lucky to have had a wonderful life

Most of it with my lovely wife

She’s helped make true my dearest wishes

And doesn’t complain if I leave the dishes

….

Together we’ve made our own way up

Achieving more than I dreamed as a pup

We’ve travelled to places; seen many sights

Not had too many pointless fights

For our children, I pray for much the same

Without them seeking fortune or fame

Looking to themselves to make life good

Loving husband and wife through adulthood

After Covid

We must get through this, pulling together

No cause to even consider whether

But what of the future, after the storm

What will be the post-covid ‘norm’?

….

When this virus has gone, before another arrives

People will pick up what is left of the lives

So much of what was usual before

Will not be so, for most any more

….

A vaccine would let contacts resume

There isn’t one yet, so let’s not assume

Jobs will have gone, shops and businesses lost

These will only be part of the cost

….

Public health weakened, treatments delayed

Diagnosis of new conditions simply not made

More children and adults with teeth decayed

Increased obesity for many not weighed

….

Councils struggling to make ends meet

Unemployed and homeless out on the street

Promised grants from an empty purse

Not enough to stop matters getting worse

….

Society itself will become more fractured

Less money about, fewer goods manufactured

A bigger gap between ‘haves’ and ‘have nots’

Inequalities increased, demos and boycotts

….

Lost schooling reducing chances for many

A shrunken economy another enemy

We must stay united, support those in need

Act for the common good, then we’ll succeed

Hope for the Future

Rowan is four months old today

Born into turbulent times

He doesn’t yet know the meaning of play

Or that Grandpa is crazy about rhymes

…..

He knows he is loved and has learned to smile

By watching his mum and his dad

To understand more might take a while

But for now things really aren’t bad

…..

One day he will walk, and also talk

And understand more about life

I just hope by then, I can rest my pen

Knowing he’s part of a world with less strife

Covid-19 and Racism

One is an arbitrary killer, which puts no value on life

The other holds an unspoken tenet: that some people are worth less than others

One is without consciousness, the other without conscience

One attacks vulnerable people, the other makes people vulnerable.

Both exhibit a lack of humanity, compassion, and reason

One is invisible to the naked eye; the other, insidious, is hidden in plain sight

One will, with perseverance, eventually be driven away by the ingenuity of mankind

The other will endure in the dark corners of men’s minds, until a cure can be found for prejudice.