Wednesday, 30 October 2013

Halloween

Think spiders, cobwebs, pointy hats,
Broomsticks, witches, rats, black cats
Enormous pumpkins carved with care
Turned into lanterns everywhere
An eerie glow on window sills
Flickering candles ward off ills
Ghoulish masks, the Devil’s kin
Evil walks abroad – stay in!

But who now thinks what this may mean
The revelry of Halloween
When Dracula and Batman faces
Pop up in unexpected places?
Legends and religion try
This Pagan vestige to apply
Fear of Darkness - the Unknown
Better not go out alone.

In America it is “trick or treat”
As hordes of children walk the street
Attired as ghosts in flowing drapes
Or wizards swirling round in capes.
Doorbells ring, each neighbour greets
These tiny visitors with sweets;
Who now remembers the bell tolls
To commemorate “All Souls”?

(c) Poet in the woods 2013

Tuesday, 29 October 2013

October Fury!

Dramatic news: October’s storm
Wrought havoc; scaffolding was torn
With violence from building sites
Trees crashed on pylons, put out lights.

Darkness descended, wind gusts whipped;
Slates from roofs untimely ripped
Flooding, one man washed away
Debris straddles motorway.

Nature’s rages we must bear
Often at this time of year.
Brave firemen take this in their stride
And thank God - none in Belgium died.

(c) Poet in the woods 2013




Monday, 28 October 2013

Princess Diana (1961-1997)

We hear the news - Diana's death
The shock leaves all of us bereft.
Sans solace, how could one so young
Be gone - her praises all unsung?

What she has done, the Queen decries
No one in Britain has dry eyes
The Monarchy, behind closed doors
Is stoic; outside the barrier falls.

The endless queues to sign the book
The vigil - can we dare to look
At paparazzis' ghoulish snaps?
Her death is on our heads perhaps.

We bought the Papers, scoured the pics
Forgot the Princess, got our kicks
And now we share with two small boys
The loss of any future joys ...

The world's gone mad - a brutal crash
A last chance for a front page splash
When will we learn what she displayed?
Love must always be conveyed.

I envy not the Royals' power
Think on the Princes in the Tower;
While she's above at Heaven's Gate
We below must humbly wait.

July 1st, 1961 - 31st August, 1997



(written in 1997)

(c) Poet in the woods 2013

Sunday, 27 October 2013

Brussels in a Nutshell

The ‘phone rings Sunday afternoon
I’m all alone – who can it be?
A friend has visitors quite soon
By any chance would I be free -

To show them Brussels fabled sights
And tread the cobbled streets by day
So they can sample sweet delights
And learn some history on the way?

Anecdotes won’t come amiss
Our Baroque centre does us proud
Being a guide is all of this
Live entertaining in a crowd.

On rainy days caf├ęs are fun
Museums of Music, Lace and Art
But it’s stupendous in the sun
If you can find a place to park!

The city’s small; its role immense
NATO HQ and E.U.
Business activity - intense
But discerning tourists love it too!

(c) Poet in the woods 2013

Saturday, 26 October 2013

The Clocks Go Back

That phrase - what does it mean
The clocks must now go back?
Where, I wonder, have they been?
Now someone answer that!

Every year the people groan
Their habits are upset
That extra lie-in hour is known
As built-in bonus - yet ...

The farmers have to train the cows
To hold their milk awhile
It gets too dark to use the ploughs
The winter cramps their style.

In Scotland, past the Firth of Forth
The school kids risk their lives
Their daily journey this far north
In darkness - is that wise?

And those of us at bright-lit desk
Sometimes are not aware
That winter means we need more rest
Not artificial glare.

God made the world and gave us time
Yet man has gone off track
There's too much water in life's wine
Time is - it can't go back!

(c) Poet in the woods 2013

Friday, 25 October 2013

Leopold Park - Brussels

What was once the zoo, is now a park
A lake with bubbling water at its heart
It’s gloriously warm, this day in June
So on its rough-cut lawns are bodies strewn.

A stone’s throw from the Parliament we lie
And watch assorted Eurocrats walk by
From time to time come school kids fresh from class
To continue their revision on the grass.

There are dogs and coots and herons in my view
And playful ducklings waddle two by two
A pair of mounted policemen trot on past
Overtaken by a cyclist, peddling fast.

I observe a constant flow of sandaled feet
Inspired to take advantage of this heat
I make-believe that summer's really here
But Belgium keeps us guessing every year!

(c) Poet in the woods 2013


Thursday, 24 October 2013

Park Bench

So near to the city, yet so far
A park bench clothed in shade for half an hour
Enables me to rest my weary feet
And contemplate this leafy green retreat.

The birds swoop low and land upon the sward
The geese with piercing cries parade abroad
A grandma with a tiny tot in tow
Observes the ripples on the lake below.

The sun makes nature really come alive
Under wizened bark the insects thrive
The breeze then parts the grasses so we see
Legions of bright flowers round the tree.

This afternoon the clouds have rolled away
Nature’s finest show is on display
The sunshine always makes a good impression
For a moment we don’t care we’re in recession.

(c) Poet in the woods 2013

Wednesday, 23 October 2013

The Possum in the Bakery

There’s nothing nicer than fresh bread
With cakes and pastries for high tea
Who can resist a lavish spread?
We love our local bakery.

Someone forgot to close the door
Or left the window on the latch
And far too busy in the store
Did not check the rear door catch.

And so a possum found his way
To a shelf of fresh baked pies
Stacked neatly on a wooden tray
And could not quite believe his eyes.

He nibbled one and found it sweet
Then another followed suit
Greed overcame him; soon replete
He swelled in size with stolen loot.

Unable now to slink away
He nestles down for quiet snooze
Where the baker finds him the next day -
Playing possum is bad news!

(c) Poet in the Woods 2013

Tuesday, 22 October 2013

A Facebook Murder!

A drama told by Facebook friend;
She stood aghast at open door
And saw her cat proudly extend
A dead fresh pigeon in her claw!

OK, grey pigeons are a pest
Spikes on buildings thwart their perch
So they the stonework can’t infest
On proud Town Hall or Gothic church.

But just consider this poor bird
Its wings all limp, quite glassy-eyed
And then imagine what occurred
When kitty’s base instincts were stirred.

An uneven battle from the start
The cat, primed like a gun, reached out
The pigeon in all ways lost heart
That cat is an accomplished scout.

Law of the jungle here in town
The trophy placed at my friend’s feet
The Devil’s helpmate wears the crown
These killers lurk in every street!

(c) Poet in the woods 2013



Monday, 21 October 2013

A Walk by the Ponds

A sun-baked afternoon in May
Bees, birds and couples in the grass
Ripples cross the pond, ducks play
Cracking Mother Nature’s glass.

Through brand-new leaves a warm breeze stirs
Young love hand-in-hand goes by
Spring belongs to hims and hers
For singles – there is just blue sky.

Serene the swan in wedding white
Mallards splash and flap their wings
Hiding goslings from our sight
Such tiny, fluffy, helpless things.

It’s Sunday but the cars still come
Packed with families on the spree
Drowning birdsong with their hum
While lawns of daisies welcome me.

Once or twice a child in shorts
Runs down the path – the birds take flight
The peaceful scene becomes quite fraught
Until he’s safely out of sight.

Each bench is full – a single soul
May sit with book, or dog or cane
While others laugh, pass by or stroll
Brand new world without the rain!

(c) Poet in the woods 2013


Hero of Trafalgar

Two hundred and ten years ago
The feat of brave Horatio,
One arm and eye short of a pair
Twenty-seven warships in his care
Manoeuvring skilfully in a line
Gave Napoleon a hard time.

This dual French and Spanish fleet
(Thirty-three ships) thought it would beat
Nelson, the underdog; but no
Our valiant admiral would show
That Britain still could rule the waves;
22 ships found watery graves.

Gravina wounded, Villeneuve caught
HMS Victory fiercely fought
Nelson on deck, his medals gleam
Shot in the chest, a sniper’s dream.
The battle is won, but Nelson dies
Forever a hero in Britain’s eyes.

Napoleon shelves plans to invade
St Paul’s funeral, State parade;
A memorial depicts him all alone
Atop a column in white stone
So in a way he is still here
Inspiring the masses at New Year!

(c) Poet in the woods 2013

Saturday, 19 October 2013

Free Expression

Hordes of painters come at night
Holding ladders firm and tight
Their intent to desecrate some site
With paint and chalk
So owners find to their dismay
When dawn brightens the next day
An extraordinary array
Of food for thought.

A letterbox – graffiti scrawl
Vulgar doodles on a wall
Frustrated artists have a ball
By railway track
No white expanse is quite immune
The station walls lit by the moon
With motifs quite bizarre are strewn
Kilroy is back!

Outsize letters, weird designs
Cartoons, dreamlike wavy lines
Creations born of troubled minds
Stare bold and stark
A giant spider seems to crawl
Along an abandoned factory wall
Holding passengers in thrall
But - is it art?

(c) Poet in the woods 2013

Friday, 18 October 2013

Young Love

Dark shadows cross the evening pavements
Heavy monotonous tread of footsteps
The flickering hesitancy of traffic lights
The incessant drizzle
Masking our faces.

Heat came from within us.
It didn't matter that gusts of wind
Ferociously clutched at our coats
That the newspaper seller on the corner
Raucously called out news
Of calamity, death and pain.

We were beyond the mundane calls of life
Because we were the life-givers
Ours was a new world, still unassailed
By the harshness of a computed reality.

The dark shadows still remain before us
But our footsteps do not falter now
We shall go forward
Despite the rain
To brave a hostile and unfeeling world
but not alone - together.

(written in 1972)

(c) Poet in the woods 2013

Early Morning in London

It is early morning in London
Cobweb skies anticipate the sun
Veiling shadows hide the winter's scars
Buildings merge to an infinity of one
On a skyline cut by chains of moving cars.
Beyond the curtain blue of morn horizon
Myriad starlings cluster in confusion
Quizzical lawyers - nature's deputies
Adorned in sober black profusion.

"What say you, heralds, to the passers-by?"
In vain their wisdom falls on human ear
No judge or clerk of court to tell us why
In this, their courtroom in the open air.
From buttressed, lofty church, they scan the heights
An unobservant audience wends the streets
Silent, non-communicative and dumb
With un-seeing eyes and hands that never meet.

Horatio surveys Trafalgar Square
Of matchbox cars - crammed amorphous shapes
Alone, aloof from the relentless hum
Of robot bees drawn in by fatal threads.
St. Martin's bells peel through crystal skies
To steel and concrete giants, black and stale
Grey Macadam's highways intersperse
The blood-red buses pace like glistening snails.

Below:
A passer-by in London's metal world
Oblivious to all, so deep in thought
Recalled to life by brash un-nerving protest
Of irate taxi, punctuating silence short
The birds gaze on the brollied robot still
Compelled he knows not why through naked streets
To humdrum gloomy office, routine day -
The huge glass box - metallic burrow - sickens him
Resounding to the ordered click of keys
Like morons beating out an endless code
That no one understands
Or if they do - grows meaningless with repetition.

Yet swirling in the live, pulsating breeze
Fine verdant tendrils clamber greying stones
To make a velvet cushion for their court
Loquacious lawyers presiding over homes
Of faceless figures, regard us with suspicion
Only they can know what freedom means.

(written in 1969)

(c) Poet in the woods 2013

Wednesday, 16 October 2013

The Desert Exile

Where he comes from, no one knows
But here he rests awhile
Drinking at the water's edge
Of the calm and peaceful Nile.

Overcome with quenchless thirst
He shows his hooded fangs
As over the carob's shady boughs
His soft green body hangs.

His tongue laps water greedily
Too lazy to exert
The muscles of his body
He lies almost inert.

Then slithers warily, bit by bit
As slowly down he toils
And onto the great sandy grit
He lands in endless coils.

The sun reflects his shining scales
Convulsed as in great pain
As he wriggles under rush and grass
Hiding his slimy frame.

A mass of writhing slackness curls
Upon the sandy shore
His tongue flicks out just like a dart
A spectacle of awe.

Hissing like a demon devil
His mottled skin in haste to go
Always writhing, wriggling, sliding
His hateful eyes aglow.

Sometimes he creeps with stealthy glide
Through desert grasses high
But now, just basking in the sun
This desert reptile lies.

For such a puny little creature
With eyes like reddened flame
I never saw a thing so loathsome
And trust I shan't again!

(written in 1963 after reading D.H. Laurence's "The Snake")

(c) Poet in the woods 2013

Tuesday, 15 October 2013

All at Sea!

The talk is all of emigration
From many a war-torn, troubled nation
Sound bites, harrowing explanation
Heart strings pulled taut;
Injustice, cruel dictators, drought
Fanaticism brings about
Great fear of all those who have clout;
Many are caught

In a vicious circle without end
Obliged their shrinking funds to spend
On a boat trip where they have to fend
For life itself;
Overcrowded, out of sight
Unscrupulously packed in tight
They hope their future will be bright;
Strong, young, good health.

Freedom exacts a heavy price
Afghans and Syrians roll the dice
Pray hard and maybe roll it twice
Before they board
But in the Med the swell is strong
The journey can be harsh and long
For many people their swan song
Death untoward.

Malta and Italy complain
These immigrants have put a strain
On their resources and would feign
Leave them alone
Yet the survivors from the wreck
Bewildered, shivering on the deck
Know they’ve a rope about their neck
If they go home...

(c) Poet in the woods 2013

By Torrens Lake, Adelaide

Stippled clouds, low flying gulls
An Indian-looking bandstand, sculls
And paddle-boats at stately speed
Fulfill the tourist’s every need.

Behind the rows of trees are cars
Slow walkers and some scattered bars
Cyclists and joggers skirt the lake
Black swans in convey glide in state.

On the banks an elongated block
Where festivals of music rock
Two fountains bring life to the scene
Their plashing jets enhance the green.

The heat cannot be heard but felt
Sun sparkles on the lake’s blue belt
Ten minutes on a bench I sit
And pen these lines like photo click.

(written in 2010)

(c) Poet in the woods 2013



Sunday, 13 October 2013

Costa Belga

I always thought the grass stayed green
But this summer there has rarely been
A drop of rain and all is brown
We all push off our eiderdown.

The weather forecast for today
Tops 35 degrees; I say
Has global warming hit at last?
No wonder all the fields are parched.

Of fruit and veg there is a glut
No time to process it, worst luck
So much is left to face the drought
As farmers cannot dig it out.

It’s generally when there’s thick snow
That the gritters put on their best show,
But under this relentless sun
The tarmac melts and starts to run!

Most Belgians flee their native land
For holidays on foreign sand
But this year, those who opt to stay
Enjoy the tropics every day!

The pace of life slows in the heat
The fan that we thought quite obsolete,
Makes a comeback everywhere
For those without conditioned air!

At the beach the offshore breeze
Provides relief, not source of peeve
Our Costa Belga reigns supreme
With chips to die for and ice cream!


(c) Poet in the woods 2013

Saturday, 12 October 2013

Kent University - Revisited

I thought they would come back to me
Those years I lived in Kent
In the Sixties when both young and free
A degree was my intent.

But as the bus came round the hill
I saw to my dismay
Though Eliot college stood there still
There were buildings in its way!

We strolled around the grounds awhile
Found a cinema on site,
And library - modernised in style
PCs, not books, in sight!

Even the bus stop is displaced
And instead of lawns, paved ways
Of my time there barely a trace
What tricks my memory plays!

(c) Poet in the woods 2013

Friday, 11 October 2013

Rush Hour

Commuters face huge crowds each day
All forced to travel the same way
Within a time span fixed, precise
But road and tram track don’t suffice.

Not everyone can get a seat
Crunched up together, jumbled feet
Prams and pushchairs block the doors
Case and brolly line the floors.

Too close for comfort, yet alone
Many chat on mobile phone
Or nod their heads to music track
As new arrivals push them back.

Those in cars face stop-start queues
As radios blare out traffic news
Mobility – what does that mean?
Public transport is not green!

Bikers, hard hats firm in place
Form a woven interface
Making patterns all their own
Avoiding every traffic cone.

Water and gas pipes must be laid
Hey presto - here’s a barricade!
Bus and car must be diverted
Too bad we haven’t been alerted.

A brief lull then it starts again
The hectic rush for tram or train
Brussels is bursting at the seams
And it’s getting worse, it seems!

(c) Poet in the woods 2013


Thursday, 10 October 2013

All-Out War!

Verdant tendrils, roots deep spread
They spring up proudly and defy
The order of the flower bed
And each gardener’s patience try.

Whether stately home with gravel drive,
Or market square with paving stone
Despite our best attempts, weeds thrive
And uninvited make their home.

Resilient, they will find their way
Under brick walls or wire fence
Through tarmac on the motorway
Clamber lamppost and park bench.

It’s constant war – there is no truce
However much we spray and chop
Or hack and trample, it’s no use
Survivors all, they come out top!

(c) Poet in the woods 2013



Wednesday, 9 October 2013

Jacques Brel - in Memoriam

News byte on Belgian radio
Half listening, was about to go
Into town but caught the flow
About Jacques Brel;
The singer greatly loved by those
Who admired his poignant, streetwise prose
He captured so well all of those
Whose life was hell.

A renegade, a young man who
Like James Dean, hated routine too,
He left the family, as you do
And went abroad
A troubled soul, his words struck home
He spoke for those cast out, alone
Disappointed love he’d known
It struck a chord.

His records soon began to sell
He expressed the “mal de vivre” so well
This, the quintessential Brel,
Brought loud applause
So sadder far than I can say
I learned that he had passed away
Thirty-five years ago today
Cancer - the cause...

8th April, 1929 - 9th October, 1978

(c) Poet in the woods 2013




Royal Park - Brussels

I walked down past the Park today
The wind tried with my hat to play
Across the street in orange garb
Two policemen stood on guard.

And as I watched, they came alive
To let a politician drive
In black saloon out of the gate
On some dark mission for the State.

For the Senate building, white and stark
Dominates the Royal Park
I turned again and saw a truck;
Piled with gardener's tools and stuck -

Right in the middle of a path
While the driver and his staff
Were perched in an ungainly way
Clambering the espalier.

I can think of warmer sites to be
In Jan - than half-way up a tree!
With secateurs they prune each branch
So a line is formed as they advance.

It's all part of the constant care
Afforded Brussels every year.
For the men arrive the trees to trim
In preparation for the Spring.

So when the office workers come
In droves, to stroll out in the sun
This park, well tended, will look neat
What an attractive place to meet!

(Written in 2007)

(c) Poet in the woods 2013

Monday, 7 October 2013

A Dampener!

My house on corner plot looked great
Built back in 1898
Though its tiled roof has aged of late
So it’s been a case of watch and wait.

Hiding behind that oaken door
It oozes charm from every pore
With its winding stair and stone-flagged floor
Alas, my house’s health is poor.

It’s bad enough when the rain just teems
And tiny puddles turn to streams
As gutters gush with roaring flow
Spilling, splashing stones below.

We really don’t know how to dress
Gumboots not leaky shoes are best
Umbrellas clearly fail the test
Causing many great distress.

Incessant noise of angry rain
As top floor skylights take the strain
We hope we’re safe but once again
The water drips on counterpane!

A rivulet has found its way
Causing the carpet to decay
The damp patch mushrooms every day
I dare not think what I must pay!

(written in 2010)

(c) Poet in the woods 2013


Sunday, 6 October 2013

The Brussels Marathon

Late May – fun run time again
This year we’re lucky there’s no rain
But the road blocks make our life a pain
Disruptions new
The Sunday market - milling crowd
There were some who voiced out loud
The Marathon left them less than wowed
But they were few.

As the runners hurtled into sight
Gazing neither left nor right
The human stampede reached the light
And passed at red
No matter – the police stood by
Stopping all the passers-by
From crossing although some did try;
Sport rules instead!

On such days buses do not run
In our neck of the woods till one
But Shank’s pony’s can be fun
We meet and greet;
Many in costume also ran
I saw fright wigs and “Superman”
And although I am not a fan
I lined the street.

(c) Poet in the woods 2013

2017 - On May 28th


Saturday, 5 October 2013

Going Over the Line

The story that I have to tell
Mixes pathos with a smile
My friend described the scene so well
Quite near the River Dyle.

While cruising down a minor road
A car flashed its rear light
Inevitably the drivers slowed
The cause beyond their sight.

It then transpired a new white line
Was being drawn by workman’s truck
The driver thought that all was fine
But a tragedy had struck!

Oblivious to what lay ahead
A tiny bump, was it a hole?
Aghast we watched the white paint spread
Over a flattened soul.

The cat, quite dead, could not complain
At this desecration
What an insult to its tiny frame
What sad and wry emotion!

(c) Poet in the woods 2013




Friday, 4 October 2013

Impending Storm

For three days now, the Powers That Be
Have threatened heavy storms and rain
The dark clouds roll in from the sea
And angry rumblings make this plain.

The sticky heat has not abated
Electric tension fills the air
The deluge which is long awaited
Is held back in the stratosphere.

Out on the terrace wilting plants
Desperate for a morning drink
Their leaves a-quiver – febrile rain dance
As if they sense we’re on the brink.

But still no drop – we feel we’re trapped
Mother Nature’s playing games
When will we hear that thunder clap
That heralds the onset of the rains?

(c) Poet in the woods 2013


Thursday, 3 October 2013

A Cat Among the Plums

A ‘phone call from a theatre friend
A luncheon date – when could I come?
An hour or two I love to spend
Eating and chatting in the sun.

October warmth, the door ajar
In comes a fluffy-toffee cat
Imperious, every inch a star
At two months she’s got us off pat.

While we are busy heating soup
And thus distracted, she strides forth
Like a fox who eyes a chicken coop
Her compass always facing North.

Amazed, bemused, we see her strut
Into the fruit bowl her paw comes
Not a cat among the pigeons but
A cat among the plums!

(c) Poet in the woods 2013


Wednesday, 2 October 2013

Sturt Gorge, South Australia

Not a cloud in the sky
Just the caw of a bird
From a tree climbing high
So the wind can be heard.

I sit on a rock
Bleached white by the sun
The morning is hot
And the ants on the run.

On the crest of the rise
And sheltered with trees
Are homes in disguise
With a view of the seas.

The ground here is hard
A butterfly passes
Nature's on guard
In the rows of high grasses.

There's something surreal
In the calm of this place
Where man's footprint is real
Yet I can't see his face.

(written in 2007)

(c) Poet in the woods 2013

Tuesday, 1 October 2013

Sonian Wood B & B

Are you seeking a friendly and quiet retreat
With welcoming hosts in a picturesque street?
Up winding stairs to a real home from home
Wardrobe space ample, room ochre tone.

On the edge of the forest, Sonian Wood
Exudes old world charm - the breakfast is good
Freshly baked bread and home grown fruit jam
Perhaps you’re a scone or hot muffin fan?

All these and more your hostess can bake
There’s much to enjoy on each morning plate
The feast in the parlour is just laid for you
The window gives onto a cute garden view.

Gently a wood stove warms up the air.
Shelves filled with books you find everywhere
Travel is easy by bus or by tram
At regular intervals, so you can plan.

Your room is provided with coffee and tea.
The theme in the bathroom reflects the North Sea
Fancy a trip to Bruges or the coast?
Leaflets are here – just ask your host.

Brussels is culturally rich and diverse
Pageants and concerts – which to do first?
Armed with a key to your personal front door
Let us invite you to come and explore!

(See: www.sonianwood.com)

(c) Poet in the woods 2013