Tuesday, 31 December 2013

Ethereal Greetings

The sun was blazing overhead
Her brain was feeling addled
There were things she’d rather do instead
But with postcards she was saddled.

I wonder, thought she, as she gazed
At the lengthy Christmas list
Whether many friends would be dismayed
If their names were dropped or missed?

It’s far too hot to walk outside
To the Post Office and queue
But cool indoors - so I decide
This year emails will do!

(c) Poet in the woods 2014

Monday, 30 December 2013

Early morning stroll in Blackwood

Despite cloud cover it is warm
There’s not a drop of rain in sight
Under leaves bright insects swarm
Two snails inch forward in the light.

It’s early – cars are scarce today
The weekend shoppers still at home
“Sorry – we’re closed” the signs all say
In this local complex I’m alone.

Second hand books, a Laundromat,
Pets’ grooming parlour, garden tools,
A charity shop – clothes stuffed on racks
Real Estate agent, swimming pools.

It’s not yet nine; I cross the road
Up three hours now, jet lag’s a curse
Images and thoughts in overload
My stroll enshrined in this short verse.

(c) Poet in the woods 2013

Sunday, 29 December 2013

Excursion to Mount Lofty

Mount Lofty beckons in the sun
The focal point for miles around
Three transmitters, not just one
Stand guard on Adelaide's huge mound.

The road meanders; steep ravines
Huge jagged rocks - encased by nets
Offer such dramatic scenes
Worthy of an outback set.

A weathered lighthouse, painted white
Provides a backcloth unexpected
To Business District just in sight;
Beyond - the deep blue sea detected.

While tourists all admire the view
On huge panels are displayed
Salt flats and housing, airport new
Glenelg high rise and beach parade.

I see two men in helmets climb
A flight of steps behind the shop
To man the fire look-out full time
And guard this precious beauty spot.

We treat ourselves to lunch inside
The shade's essential in this heat
Time for some gifts - the choice is wide
"Proudly Australian" can't be beat!

(c) Poet in the woods 2013

Saturday, 28 December 2013

Facing the Heat

The heat means dry leaves everywhere
Coupled with parched garden plants
Which wither in the burning glare
Of the unrelenting summer dance.

Inside the houses fridges fill
With jams and relishes and fruit
Only fake flowers on windowsill
Can stand the heat and still look cute.

A total fire ban is in force
Tasmania’s lost a hundred homes
No charcoal BBQs of course
But life is tough for garden gnomes!

The Lucky Country here for some
Who travel on an empty road
But as I from crowded Europe come
Life means a certain change of mode!

(c) Poet in the woods 2013

Friday, 27 December 2013

It's a Shell-Out!

Jumbo prawns on bed of ice
Served up at Christmas are so nice
A seafood platter starts the meal
Happiness on a fisher’s reel!

Glossy pink with coal black eyes
Each chilled out body proudly lies
In haphazard fashion to our view;
In no time there are very few …

As eager guests pile up their plates
At once - here no one waits;
Large pots of mayo tinged with red,
And lemon juice, are quickly spread

On festive plates; all glasses raised
The Barossa Valley tipple praised
Australia is well known for wine;
Cheers, everyone – it is sublime!

The Ozzie style for festive fare
Eaten in the sun’s bright glare
Means a cold buffet is more the norm
With star of the show – the prawn!

(c) Poet in the woods 2013

Thursday, 26 December 2013

Serendipity - Beachmere, Queensland

Sweet air – a vast expanse of calm
Man’s presence here is most discreet
As plants and shrubs form their display
Of verdant tendrils in the heat.

Poinciana - flowers red - shake free
Bright butterflies take flight unseen
A constant chatter – birds swoop low
And vanish in the uncut green.

Harsh raucous laughter heard nearby
As kookaburras greet the dawn
Fair weather clouds – bare wisps above
Belie talk of Impending storm.

Midweek but traffic flows are slight
More ants than cars from where I sit
In cushioned splendour on the deck
Puzzling what makes Queensland tick.

(c) Poet in the woods 2013

Wednesday, 25 December 2013

Coffee at Rundle Mall

Pedestrian precinct in bright light
Adelaide shopping at its height
Such razzmatazz, street buskers sing
A merry-go-round is in full swing.

Special offers, prices slashed
Bargains to be had for cash
City Cross: jam-packed for lunch
Assorted stalls where people munch

A host of different take-away
The business world on holiday!
Time for coffee and a break
I think I will forego the cake

So enticingly put on display
The portions take my breath away.
My cappuccino - with a dash
Of powdered chocolate - has panache.

Each sip is a pure delight
They’ve got the frothy blend just right.
I drain the cup – what a surprise
A big smile greets my startled eyes!

(c) Poet in the woods 2013

Tuesday, 24 December 2013

Christmas Heatwave

The heatwave keeps us all inside,
Curtains drawn, away from light
A whirring fan serves as our guide
Cooling us as best it might.

I think of Europe far away
Where rain and snow are commonplace
As we draw near to Christmas Day
Strong Aussie sunshine warms my face.

Time to reflect on Bible Tale
Where Babe in manger once was laid
In Bethlehem’s bright sunny vale
Near desert lands devoid of shade

Yet still the cards show frosty scenes
Typical of Northern climes
Although the Big Isle Christmas means
Weather akin to Bible times.

(c) Poet in the woods 2013

Monday, 23 December 2013

An Ozzie Christmas

There’s a frontier feel to Adelaide
That nestles in the Hills
Sun-baked grasslands, lack of shade
And gas-fired outdoor grills.

Empty roads and deep blue skies
Where are the million strong -
Who celebrate with warm mince pies
And with their families throng?

The last and desperate spending splurge
Is promoted on T.V.
As “Carols at Christmas” quietly urge
More caring charity.

A tinsel, spangle, bauble tree
Reflects the feast of light
That primeval winter solstice
Reborn as Christmas Night.

(c) Poet in the Woods 2013

Sunday, 22 December 2013

Morning Tea - Down Under

Morning Tea is a real feast
An ‘Elevenses’ where at the least
Lamingtons* and buns appear
Lavishly home baked with care.

Recipes both old and new
Reflect what each skilled cook can do;
Shortbread and banana cake
And “Melting Moments” all await

Enthusiastic guests who come
To chat with friends out in the sun;
Coffee more than tea - the thing
Mugs more than cups - to drink it in.

No saucers, forks or serviettes
But what variety one gets
Hospitality in the Antipodes
Means plates soon shed their tasty loads!

* sponge cake squares dipped in jam and covered with desiccated coconut

(c) Poet in the woods 2013

Saturday, 21 December 2013

On the Trans-Adelaide

There were ants on the platform
By the sign that said “Belair”
A few dried eucalyptus leaves
Lay scattered here and there.

Three ladies all in summer chic
Sheltered from the blazing sun
Shunning rays whose deadly aim
Is harmful now to everyone.

But I, for whom blue skies are rare,
Enjoy the warmth - and hat on head
Admire Australia’s pure clean air
And count my blessings here instead.

The little train weaves through the Hills
The sunlight makes the rocks seem stark
The houses, all low-rise, no frills
Matchboxes in a barren park.

What of the passengers? None wore suits
Each reads a book or scans the news
While I betray my Northern roots
And sit, spellbound by Nature’s views.

The talk is all of summer drought
My brother has not filled his pool
Politicians have their work cut out
Saving water is the rule.

We pass through stations small and neat
A casual few board or alight
And punch their tickets, take their seat
There’s room for all – no need to fight!

Sedate, genteel, some wear thongs
Normal dress for these warm climes
My summer wardrobe now belongs
To Adelaide – in winter times!

My watch ticks so I steal a peek
And calculate the hour back home*
The friends I know are fast asleep
While I’m awake and write this poem.

They’re playing cricket as we pass –
The marshalling yard; we’re nearly there
While all around is yellowed grass
A desert in a city sphere.

(written in 2007)

* 9.5 hours earlier

(c) Poet in the woods 2013

Friday, 20 December 2013

Bush Fire Alert!

Innocuous-looking deep blue skies
Greet us daily as we rise
But behind that baby blue – beware
Intensive sun can cause a scare.

Heat cannot be seen, just felt
In no time we begin to melt
The odd cloud like a bit of fluff
Gives the sky’s blue shirt a cuff.

The wind gets up and ruffles trees
It’s what you might call a stiff breeze
It suggests to me a cooling down
But danger threatens all around.

There are those whose chief delight
Is wilfully setting scrub alight
A scorched policy in all but name
We fear being engulfed by flame!

Oz fire trucks wait on red alert
As a lightning flash could really hurt
A sudden blaze fuelled by the breeze
Could bring the city to its knees.

(c) Poet in the woods 2013

Thursday, 19 December 2013

Afterthoughts on Dad

Suspended in the air – on hold
Dad’s warm hands have now grown cold
Angels in their arms enfold
His mortal frame;
His soul floats free - an inner glow
Is felt by all of those who know
And love and see him go -
Life’s not the same.

What a long life we celebrate
A friendly interest he would take
In everything; he liked debate
And was well read;
An only child, quite self-contained
An engineer who always claimed
There was something to be gained
From life’s rich thread.

Geography close to his heart
With maps, both an integral part
Of his personal astral-chart
From a young age;
His interests ranged far and wide
Sport and writing side by side
Until his mind went on the tide
Lost in a cage…

(c) Poet in the woods 2013

Dad: 1918-2013

Wednesday, 18 December 2013

In Memory of Dad

Friday the thirteenth, late at night
The telephone gives us a fright
The nursing home where dear Dad lay
So peaceful when we went today

Has one last duty to perform
Harbinger of a sadder dawn.
Dad’s hold on life has ebbed away
His soul has taken flight today.

Safe and at peace; and we who mourn
Bless the star when he was born
Two months older than Mandela
Like him, a caring thoughtful fellow.

A navigator in World War II
Mum fell for this young man in blue
Because right from the very start
Tom wrote poems from the heart.

The war was ending, they were wed
So fast have sixty-eight years sped
Fully employed and never ill
Active in retirement still:

A sportsman on the tennis court
Lover of English which he taught
Helping the young to get ahead
Education stands them in good stead.

Her life bound up in Dad’s embrace
Mum’s now alone and has to face
The future – an uncharted map
Where we, her children, fill the gap.

We’re a loving family, very small
On whom she knows that she can call
As well as all her friends who care
As she enters bravely this new sphere.

(c) Poet in the woods 2013


Tuesday, 17 December 2013

Red Ribbons

Eucalyptus trees - perennial green
The seasons change but they are seen
Against a sky of sapphire blue
Their silver bark forever new.

Leaves fall aplenty - brittle, dry
And new growth burgeons on the sly
Their branches whisper in the wind
Clothed in green, tall and long-limbed.

I crunch leaf litter – crackling sound
A light breeze pushes it around
No paths are swept and insects find
In billowing swathes a haven kind.

It’s surreal what at year’s end occurs
These noble trees, like Christmas firs
Are with red ribbons neatly wound;
Australia’s sentinels astound!

(c) Poet in the woods 2013

Monday, 16 December 2013

Making Plans

When I reflect it seems to me
Life has a pattern one can’t see
Plans are made and hopes are high
We often think we’re home and dry
When some small factor we’ve neglected
Causes an outcome unexpected.

People forget, or turn up late
Or have too much upon their plate
There’s a pile up on the motorway
Or the country has a holiday
A bomb scare or a factory fire
A wildcat strike, a faulty wire.

No one can predict the way
Our careful plans will go astray;
Time and again we’re on the brink
Forced to stop, backtrack and think
So our hectic lives are never dull:
But there are blessings in a lull!

(c) Poet in the woods 2013

Sunday, 15 December 2013

At the Level Crossing

Dappled shadows fleck the street
Magpies chatter, railroads meet
I wander early in warm sun
A flash of bikies do the ton.

Proud Scots pine and eucalypt
Form a curtain neatly clipped
Hiding low-rise, brick-built homes
From casual passers-by, unknowns.

The traffic – not a steady stream
Erupts upon this peaceful scene
But everyone seems quite laid back
Windows down, loud CD track.

Suburbia: glades and yellowed grass
Fire warnings, road sign: “Possums pass”
The level crossing flashes red
The cars start to line up ahead.

The local train soon passes through
Two coaches - passengers are few
As most prefer to take their car
On empty roads you can go far!

The barriers stay down - for freight
An endless line goes Inter-State
Cyclists dismount, more cars queue
And still the wagons hurtle through.

December and the sun’s intense
A hat with wide brim my defence
Against its burning lethal rays
As I stand, bewildered, in its haze.

(c) Poet in the woods 2013

Saturday, 14 December 2013

Changi Airport 2013

Singapore Airlines do us proud
Serving such a lively crowd
The Airbus bulges – each place taken
The captain’s voice full of elation.

The hostesses are pert and sweet
Their slim forms guide us to our seat
We leave cold London sans regret
Cut off for once from Internet.

The film and audio choice is vast
The Flight Path shows we travel fast.
Crossing continents one more time;
Above the clouds, the world seems fine -

As droughts, tsunamis, floods and wars
Seem unreal as the Airbus soars.
Twelve hours confined in cramped conditions
The price to pay for family missions.

We touch down briefly - Singapore
And bathe in humid heat once more
Europe now seems far behind
In seven hours Australia’s mine!

(c) Poet in the woods 2013

Friday, 13 December 2013

At Broken Wharf - London

A Monday spent in winter sun
The festive season has begun
Decorations, Christmas lights
Bring magic to December nights.

An annual lunch out with a friend
News exchanged – a frothy blend
The same face I have known for ages
As Time’s great book has many pages.

We’re growing older, lines appear
Family members disappear
Marry, have kids, get engaged
As Shakespeare said, “the world’s a stage”

We travel down life’s road unknown
And keep in touch by telephone
But nothing beats a face to face
A moment shared at slower pace …

(c) Poet in the woods 2013

Thursday, 5 December 2013

Lost Property

The stillness on this August Day
When so many people are away
Weighs heavily upon my soul
I do so wish I had a goal

But everything I’ve tried to do
Like organize a rendezvous
Or get more missions as a guide
Seems fraught with obstacles, denied.

Like some beached whale upon the strand
I wrestle with the job in hand
But somehow every shot misfires
And phone calls suffer from crossed wires!

I close my eyes, not keen to see
The cloud of doubt that’s following me
Somewhere I am sure there lies
Beyond this mist – a bright sunrise!

(c) Poet in the woods 2013

... and a few months later, there was!

Wednesday, 4 December 2013

A Chinese Feast

Taste of the East on a winter’s day
Multi-flavoured the Chinese way
Chicken, pork or beef cut fine
Sweet-sour prawns with glossy shine.

It’s a “pick and choose” lunchtime buffet
With rows of dishes on display
The rice and noodle bowls are vast
Spring rolls and Dim Sum vanish fast.

Salads fresh in combination
A kaleidoscope temptation
And brought to our table - fragrant tea
Chopsticks for you, knife-fork for me.

We indulge and serve ourselves some more
What’s for dessert? Time to explore
At us those ice creams coolly stare
Pity a birthday’s once a year!

(c) Poet in the woods 2013

Tuesday, 3 December 2013

Long Haul Thoughts

Over thirteen hours we cross time zones
A constant engine hum - no 'phones.
I see our progress on the screen
Red flight path on a mottled green.

At various times throughout the flight
They bring us water and a bite;
These trolley dollies are quite sweet
But most of us would rather sleep!

I catch some shut-eye while aloft
But noises wake me, people cough.
The Asian lady by my side
Disturbs me during our long ride.

"A bladder problem, please excuse".
I flick the channels for some news.
Time goes on, the cabin's dimmed
I gaze around me, eyes red-rimmed.

In days gone by, it took three years
To get to southern hemispheres
So why complain about a day?
Australia is so far away.

We touch down in the early dawn
In London, near where I was born.
This is the last stop on my tour,
Now on to Belgium, home once more!

(c) Poet in the woods 2013

Monday, 2 December 2013


The perception of time is a personal thing
It is slow when you hope for your mobile to ring
It extends to an age when you wait to go in
A cinema, loo or home bound on the Ring.

The converse is true when you’re out for a meal
With someone you care for, fast spins the wheel
Does Old Father Time sense the love that you feel?
A whirlwind romance – so well said and so real!

For an athlete who’s running, a second is long
It can make all the difference to getting a gong
For a loved one who’s dying, the minutes wear on
One’s mood changes tempo, each has his own song.

(c) Poet in the woods 2013

Sunday, 1 December 2013

A Dilemma

Time presses and the baby grows;
The scan has shown its ten pink toes
And tiny arms with hands outstretched
Though no one can work out its sex.

Whether a little girl or boy
This tiny baby will bring joy
And give our poet a new name
A brand new title to proclaim!

I don’t like “Aunt” - it sounds so prim
Elderly, strict and very thin
And Aunty just spelt with a “Y”
Means the spell-check passed it by.

So it seems to me the proper choice
When the time comes to rejoice
Is to drop the “Y” and add “IE”
Yes – AUNTIE I will choose to be!

(c) Poet in the woods 2013

Thomas was born on 8th January 2014.

Saturday, 30 November 2013


I planned to do so much today
Clean the house, put books away

Go to the bank and pay my bills
Do laundry, wipe the window sills

Clear that long backlog of mail
Make soup; but chuck the bread - too stale

Water the plants, hang up my clothes
And check that all my cupboards close

In short, ensure the house looks neat
But admit at 6 p.m. defeat

Prioritizing – that was fine
I made my list in record time

But interruptions always follow
Oh well, I’ll start again … tomorrow.

(c) Poet in the woods 2013

Friday, 29 November 2013

The Ideal Candidate

Another day goes rumbling by
In the autumn mists, we try
To take life as it comes; we strain
To hold our thoughts on a tight rein.

“Think positive” can be a trial
Grumbling overtakes a smile
Life’s hard these days; our costs increase
Be careful where you park – police!

Those blessed with work on contracts long
Are grateful to be taken on
For young job-seekers bright and keen
Places are few and far between.

Employers now can pick and choose
Young high fliers are good news
But those whose skills have not been tried
Have applications pushed aside.

And after forty-five it’s worse
Experience can be a curse
The social costs that are incurred
Preclude being taken on – absurd!

The ideal candidate – who’s he?
Under thirty – a degree
With expertise – but not too much
And in Belgium he must speak good Dutch!

(c) Poet in the woods 2013

Thursday, 28 November 2013

On Friendship

What is a friend? Someone who cares
And makes light of the passing years
Who empathizes over tea
On what is past and what's to be.

Who asks for news, but does not pry
Who airs opinions, does not lie
Has interests which may wax and wane
But whose loyalty will remain.

Has a sense of sharing and respect
A feeling time cannot deflect
Whose sense of fun and bubbly laughter
Makes my day and lasts long after.

In short, a person just like you
Whose friendship, once acquired, stays true.
Shared memories are a vital part
Of life's special gift - our heart.

(c) Poet in the woods 2013

Wednesday, 27 November 2013

Life Cycle

Time passes and the years roll by
A tiny child can only cry
To draw attention to his needs
Two blinks of an eye – he reads
Then cycles, speaks a foreign tongue
Multiculture is such fun
Plays sport or music, fires a gun
Dates girls, tries drugs, youth’s on the run!

Armed with diplomas, learns new skills
Picks up challenges, pays tax bills
Takes out a mortgage, buys a car
With social media is a star
Acquires experiences in life
Dabbles a bit then finds a wife
A child is born and starts to cry
Time passes and the years roll by...

(c) Poet in the woods 2013

Tuesday, 26 November 2013

Getting a New Hip

A warm dear friend has had an op.
A hip replacement; makes her stop
And put her fast career on hold
She must slow down – let life unfold.

Time to get into some reading
While her bandaged leg is healing
And flip perhaps through magazines
And indulge – why not? - in long daydreams.

Painkillers do their job OK
And take the agony away
But induce sleepiness and rest
As her energy has all gone west!

This temporary but unwanted blow
Means crutches make all movement slow
The fast lane she has had to leave
At last she’s given time to breathe.

The human body’s a machine
Which we must care for and keep clean
But moving parts can still wear out;
Modern medicine now has clout!

There’s no need now to fear old age
New hips are trendy, all the rage
Progress in techniques and skills
Are now to hand if we have spills!

(c) Poet in the woods 2013

Monday, 25 November 2013

Modern Exodus

The European Union swells
Expansion has a meaning new
A distant peel of alarm bells
At borders refugees rush through.

Economic migrants in distress
Syrian cities empty out
Our consciences put to the test
Should we helping hands stretch out?

Rules and regulations flouted
Hordes of “passeurs” pockets line;
We all agree they should be “outed”
Their numbers increase all the time.

Europe’s dynamic starts to change
Trickles of arrivals grow
Social services arrange
As best they can to ease the flow.

Desperate families without men
Jobless, poor and in despair
Must be re-settled; where and when?
How much does Europe really care?

(c) Poet in the woods 2013

Sunday, 24 November 2013

A Woodland Walk

A Sunday walk in nearby wood
A flock of birds fly overhead
Great misty vistas where we stood;
Leaves golden, amber, russet red.

New fences waist-high round the lake
Bulrushes, rambling reeds and mace
Soft, well trodden pathways snake
Round lofty beech – a hallowed place.

I imagine this scene long ago
Before the advent of the car
When farmer’s ambling horse would go
Laden with grain sacks from afar.

Small village centred round a mill
A former dairy now a home
Then and now the views still thrill
Nature comes into its own.

Commuters pass this way all week
Do they see what they’re driving through?
In traffic slows, they’d rather peek
At mobile phones than see the view!

(c) Poet in the woods 2013

Discovering Jacques Prévert

How wonderful to come upon
The words of Jacques Prévert
The tumbling beauty of his song
The movement of his verse.

Brief instants captured sharp and clear
Deep feelings flow like waves
For a moment I am really there
Enthralled with inward gaze.

I read the verses through and through
Their rhythm draws me in
I’m hooked as his lines catch me too
His thoughts and mine aswim.

How sweet to find myself adrift;
Jacques’ Gallic tongue inspires
It proves that poetry is a gift
That lights a thousand fires.

(c) Poet in the woods 2013

Jacques Prévert (1900-1977)

Thursday, 21 November 2013

Take a Bough!

Roots firmly on the cobblestones
It dominates the ancient square
Like a living mast for telephones
You cannot fail to see it there.

Its lofty boughs form shadows now
Odd patterns on baroque façade
It stays up but I don’t know how
What happens if the wind blows hard?

Tall evergreen in stately pose
Encased in sturdy needle coat
Bystanders shiver in warm clothes
This real tree gets the punters’ vote.

Last year a plastic, flood-lit “tower”,
With oblong static sections – jarred;
The public did all in their power
To voice complaint – too avant garde!

The Powers that Be - both French and Dutch
Have got together and agree
The Grand’Place needs a natural touch
So once again we have a tree!

(c) Poet in the woods 2013

Tuesday, 19 November 2013

A Big, Big Thank You!

It’s a challenge every day to write
In witty rhyming couplets by midnight
An account of something I have seen
Or heard or watched on TV screen.

Natural disaster, changing season
An event which strikes me for some reason
An amusing, overheard remark
Or anecdote might be the spark

That sets a train of thought in motion
Like a ship that sails upon the ocean
Its destination quite unknown
Yet with a logic of its own.

Words tumble out, fall into place
A theme appears and on we race
Excited now to follow through
And pen this daily poem for you!

Most of you I’ve never met
Somehow you’ve found me on the Net
So thanks to all who pass this way
And read my work – it makes my day!

(c) Poet in the woods 2013

Late June, 2018: Over 140,000 page views to date!

Monday, 18 November 2013

On Your Bike!

Look at the rows of yellow bikes
With Iris symbol* painted blue
They’re great to hop on during strikes
And get you to your rendezvous.

Bright infiltration on grey roads
Like Shanks’s pony – but on wheels
They weave through traffic overloads
Oblivious - a car brake squeals.

Fresh-air fiends, fans of the sport
Or keen commuters without cars
All love this Brussels fleet; why walk?
But watch for clash of handlebars!

Some wobble, hesitate, look lost
Impatient drivers honk their horns
How will they cope when winter frost
Lies waiting hidden, as day dawns?

A cycle ride in summer sun
In parks and quiet streets – OK!
But snow and ice are just not fun
I prefer the bus or tram to sway!

(* symbol of the Brussels Capital Region - launched 19th May, 2009)

(c) Poet in the woods 2013

Sunday, 17 November 2013

Bleak November

It’s looking pretty dead outside
The leaves have gone, the birds can’t hide
The wind is sharp, we keep inside
When it is dark.
On a downward spiral, prices rise
The rate of lay-offs multiplies
Our Euro fewer goodies buys
Our options stark.

The young on the brink of their careers
Their prospects slim, are brought to tears
Their rent already in arrears
What can be done?
E.U. summits block the streets
No one now their budget keeps
It’s stalemate as all Europe creaks
It’s cut and run!

The death of Greece – a bail-out quick
The Germans won’t take much more stick
The rest all hedge their bets a bit
And hold on tight.
So as this year draws to a close
We find we’re caught deep in the throes
Of a slump like Topsy that just grows
No end in sight...

(c) Poet in the woods 2013

Saturday, 16 November 2013

St. Nicholas at the Supermarket

Huge crates in cellophane were packed
Inside were cardboard boxes stacked
So tight, like sardines in a tin
Curious as always, I looked in.

Several pallets in a row
Stood in line, and soon would show
Their tawdry wares to children’s gaze
For St. Nicholas, it’s early days.

He’s edible in many guises
As Speculoos* in different sizes
Swathed in crinkly coloured wrap
The unwary parent to entrap!

The 6th, his feast day in December
But we are only mid-November
Who knows now from whence he came?
Turkey has this claim to fame.

4th century bishop down in Myra
In Lycia (that’s Asia Minor)
Of Christendom a much loved saint
Revered in icons and oil paint.

He holds small children in affection
But others also claim protection:
Pawnbrokers, merchants, those at sea
Enjoy Nicholas’s bonhomie!

What would he think now of his role
Linked so closely to Noël
His reputation quite subsumed
Reduced to chocolate – and consumed?

*Belgian spice biscuit

(c) Poet in the woods 2013

End of Autumn

What an Indian summer! Gift of grace
It showed us such a sunny face
Keeping cold winds from our face
And frost at bay
But now November, bleak and dark
Reminds us that this autumn spark
That warmed the cockles of our heart
Is on its way.

We muffle up when we step out
Chilly gusts blow hereabout
Dramatic rainfall leaves no doubt
Winter is nigh
We’ll soon be cloaked in drifts of snow
A frothy Arctic furbelow
Not only Rudolf’s nose will glow
Log fires – stand by!

(c) Poet in the woods 2013

Thursday, 14 November 2013

A Muddy Enterprise

Lunch out of town, I took my car
Under skies of leaden grey
Down Hoeilaart street I’d not gone far
When diggers blocked my way.

Renovation - laying pipes
Water, sewage, internet?
Workman bees in yellow stripes
Shovels poised, all getting wet.

A muddy trench, stacked paving stones
Completely changed the normal view
No warning signs, no traffic cones
Just ordered chaos, nothing new!

A mini-mudslide, gravel spill
My car squeezed past a dumper truck
Like a lunar landscape, if you will
I ploughed on through the clayey muck.

And stopped at last on other side
The hedgerow scratched my blue car door
“I’m glad you’ve made it,” my friend cried,
“From the trenches of the Third World War!”

(c) Poet in the woods 2013

Wednesday, 13 November 2013

A Mega Disaster!

A friend told me her tale of woe
She was traumatised and didn’t know
How to cope; she all but cried
I calmed her down, took her aside

A job loss or had someone died?
Had her husband found a younger bride?
Had a doctor’s visit just revealed
An illness hitherto concealed?

Had Alzheimer's reared its ugly head?
I could go on, but then she said
That what had happened was much worse
And no, she hadn’t lost her purse.

My mind went blank; what could it be?
My imagination running free
Had covered, I felt, every base
But despair was written on her face.

And then I heard it; had to smile
Her brand new I-phone, latest style
Had somehow fallen in the loo
A titanic loss – what could she do?

Her lifeline lost, she can’t connect
No Facebook, Apps or Internet!
Why don’t I find it a surprise
That high-tech gadgets rule our lives?

A true story!

(c) Poet in the woods 2013

Tuesday, 12 November 2013

Over the Edge

Man thinks he knows what he’s about
Politicians love to stand and shout
Global Warming’s just a phrase
The latest catch-all fad or craze.

But dramatic pictures on TV,
Bring home this new reality
Tsunamis, typhoons clearly show
Nature’s rumblings come and go

With a frequency we’ve never seen
Disasters scarcely off the screen
Why, the Philippines were struck this week
With giant waves - ten thousand sleep

Never more to wake again;
Our Planet’s angry - that is plain.
Europe so far seems immune
Could Turkey’s fault line rupture soon?

Etna and Stromboli lie still
After many a destructive spill
But history oft repeats itself
Around the Continental Shelf.

Man’s deadliest sin is Pride
“Not guilty”, says he, open-eyed
But we may have reached the Tipping Point
And then whose nose is out of joint?

(c) Poet in the woods 2013

Monday, 11 November 2013

What's the Rush?

The hectic lifestyle of my friends
Is action-packed and never ends:
Business travel, household chores,
Child care, sports clubs, late night stores,
All claim attention so we run
In frantic haste to get things done.

Social media rules our lives
We look on Facebook when we rise
And those with Smart phones can’t resist
Logging in – what have they missed?
Like running round a racing track
We hurtle forward, take up slack.

No time now remains to think
Stress levels bring us to the brink;
Doctors charge excessive fees
For “burn-out”, a brand new disease
We’re told to slow down and let go
But modern life won’t have it so.

What prompts this mad dash to possess
Goods that clutter up our nest?
Do we need a second car,
Subscription to a fancy spa?
Get real, stop and make some tea
Less is more, it seems to me!

(c) Poet in the woods 2013

Sunday, 10 November 2013

In Memoriam - Seychelles Cathedral

The Seychelles lost in Indian Sea
For centuries both proud and free
An island cluster which retains
Its heritage of Gallic names
Petit Paris and Pointe La Rue
Bel Ombre, Brillant and Anse Boileau.

There’s Baie St. Anne and Mont Fleuri
Grande Anse; Côte d’Or and Belonie
Big islands Praslin and Mahé
All these have sent troops far away
To fight in foreign destinations
In wars involving many nations.

In Egypt, Cyprus, Singapore,
France, Germany and Libyan shore,
Malaysia, Aden, Palestine
They put their precious lives on line.
Many wave their friends goodbye
On crowded dockside, girlfriends cry.
They left to fight and keep us free
But never returned to family.

Today we still recall their faces
Though they lie in foreign places.
Near Brussels: Sergeant Confait’s grave
To the RAF his life he gave
In Forty-One, with tight-knit crew
His plane, like many, fell from view.

Today those who are gathered here
Surrounded by their near and dear
Are those who made it home once more
After the guns had ceased to roar
Built new lives in hard earned peace
Married and brought forth increase.

But let us spare a thought for all
Who cannot be here and recall
Those whose lives were not the same,
War-widows, young men badly maimed
And those who paid the greatest price;
We honour here their sacrifice.

(c) Poet in the woods 2013

This poem was specially commissioned for the Veterans' Memorial Service held in Seychelles cathedral on 10th November, 2013 in the presence of the British High Commissioner and Lord Chief Justice and the Mass was broadcast live on Seychelles Radio ...

Saturday, 9 November 2013

To Tweet or not to Tweet?

Do you realise we use Eurospeak
And short forms so that we can meet
The imposed restrictions when we tweet?
Twitter rules OK this week!

It’s now gone public, issued shares;
Is there anyone who cares
Among the millions who debate
Trivia or affairs of State?

Abbreviations replace text
Ampersands and symbols vex
Those of us who master spelling,
But this new fashion is compelling.

There’s OMG and IDC
And LOL, both coarse and twee
Take asterisks, and other signs
Which stand together in long lines …

I can’t make head or tail of these
Are they swearwords? Tell me please.
A Twitter account is now a must
140* characters – or bust!

(c) Poet in the woods 2013

Went public after 7 years
on Nov 7th, 2013 - share price started at $45.10!
* experimenting with 280 characters but users not happy!

Friday, 8 November 2013

The Hidden Cost

As a Guide I’m in the leisure trade
With facts and figures on parade
But what they quite forget to say -
You learn when working straightaway -

An early start is oft required
No wonder that you come home tired!
Those train trips before dawn rises
Ensure there are no “bad surprises”.

Your weekends soon are fully booked
And social commitments overlooked
When you’re free, your friends are not
You become the one the rest forgot.

As parties and events take place
When you are in another place!
The tourist season at its peak
Means many walks in Bruges each week

Interspersed with rival Ghent
So nearly every day is spent
In rushing to collect the guests
And enthusing over Belgium’s best!

But now the chat and anecdote
Are second nature; I can quote
Or add light humour to my spiel
To make each tour seem new and real.

(c) Poet in the woods 2013

Photo - the medieval Port of Ghent

Thursday, 7 November 2013

For Joan

What I’d really like to do
Is put both of my arms round you
And let them speak where I cannot
So you can know love does not stop.

But half the world keeps us apart
So what I wish with all my heart
Is safe delivery through space
Of this my message, writ in haste.

At such a time the telephone
Distracts – as you need time alone
Friends surround you, family too
But you need peace, time to renew.

I haven’t known you very long
But feel our friendship bond is strong
So I’m sadder far than I can say
That Peter’s life thread had to fray.

Without your helpmate and your Rock
Though Peter lives on through your flock,
So that you won’t be quite alone
My heart joins with yours, dear Joan.

(c) Poet in the woods 2013

Peter died on 2nd November, 2013.

Wednesday, 6 November 2013

Gaasbeek Castle

With a friend I wandered through the park
Where Gaasbeek castle stands out - stark
Its turrets still defy invaders
Which today are tourists or just neighbours.

No fortress now – its moat is dry
A trimmed green sward now meets the eye
Majestic gate, stone courtyard neat
Has heard the tread of many feet.

Its pristine brickwork stands the test
Stone plaques on the walls attest
Its age-old glory and prestige
Against these wondrous autumn leaves.

The trees are tipped with burnished gold
And russet red a thousand fold
A rustling hedge of orange hue
Set against a peerless sky of blue.

A well with wrought iron crest recalls
Its role as lifeline within walls
In a flash I see with inner eye
Armoured knights all standing by.

The castle’s lost its chatelaine
Such pageants will not come again
Now museum and exhibition site
Special events are held at night.

Though medieval grandeur has expired
Occasionally it can be hired
To host a wedding in full splendour
And provide more moments to remember.

(c) Poet in the woods 2013

This has been translated into Flemish!

Tuesday, 5 November 2013

What a Wash-out!

This uncertain weather gets me down
The sunless sky is one dark frown
There’s wind and rain most days in town
What has gone wrong?
My wisteria tree has yet to bud
In central Brussels there’s a flood
My shoes are always caked in mud
Still - tourists throng.

Of our rich culture they’ve been told
So many sites are really old
Yet even Brussels is too cold
At end of May;
Whether tourist, businessman or friend
With hope in heart and cash to spend
Torrential rainfall in the end
Drives them away!

(c) Poet in the woods 2013