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

Monday, 4 November 2013

R.I.P. Gabrielle (1921-2013)

Some days you just know life won’t shine
Today I felt was one of mine
A flash of red as I came home
A message blinked on telephone.

A sympathetic voice then spoke
The sad news with a catch in throat
Sweet Gabrielle, over ninety-two
Whose failing health I’d seen and knew

Had survived a coma just last week
But woke to find she could not speak
Bedridden for the last two days
We knew she’d reached the twilight phase.

This morning she was found at peace
Leaving behind a grieving niece
But blessed by friendship’s special dart
She has a place deep in my heart.

Died 4th November - aged 92.

(c) Poet in the woods 2013

Sunday, 3 November 2013

On the Brussels Tram

I watch the people on the tram
Their brollies dripping on the floor
All muffled up, a tall, slim man
Holds two drumsticks by the door.

A young girl finds her nails deserve
Some treatment, then her gaze goes blank
While another woman I observe
Scans a statement from her bank.

Two men in suits, their raincoats wet
Chat quietly into mobile phones
A fractious child begins to fret
So its mother speaks in undertones.

It’s lunch time, so the kids are out
They step on board in noisy groups
Their rucksacks heavy I’ve no doubt
They’re laden just like front line troops.

At each stop on the way, we lurch
The driver, safe in front, is calm
Some jump on board and then must search
For silver coins to cross his palm.

The over sixty-fives go free*
But still must validate their card
In doing so, a seat they see
But miss it, which is very hard.

And do the young give up their place
To those less steady on their pins?
Of course not – they fear loss of face
Youth culture, not their conscience, wins.

(written in 2007 - *no longer free)

(c) Poet in the woods 2013

For Rossana

As you shared your heartfelt news with me
There’s no place I would rather be
Than by your side at this dark time
So I might take your hand in mine.

Quite suddenly, your Mum’s not there
And you, on whom she lavished care,
Must feel bereft, alone and lost
With your tomorrows tinged with frost.

Alas, we cannot stop the clock
Or wind it backwards and take stock
But remember after heavy rain
The sun, sweet friend, will shine again.

(c) Poet in the woods 2013

Saturday, 2 November 2013

In the Local Cemetery

Some new-dead graves, earth freshly dug
Hide friends and kin we used to hug
Those who cared and we loved too
Who meant the world to me and you.

They lie now silent in a row
Their neighbours, those they did not know
In life; but in death they now share
This hallowed ground, this atmosphere.

I wander round the ancient tombs
Brightened sometimes with new blooms
But most are barren, coldly left
Of family mourners quite bereft.

Many are those who come today
To meditate, perhaps to pray
Small children run wild round the stone
While widows stand still, quite alone.

War veterans with flags pass by
Respectful, solemn and still spry
Recalling those who’ve gone before
So once a year they live once more.

(c) Poet in the woods 2013

Friday, 1 November 2013

Leaves and More Leaves

Storms over – cut-glass azure skies
Clouds static though the wind still tries
To push and shove its weight around
Today our buildings stand their ground!

Barely a leaf goes in free fall
To join the millions that now sprawl
Across our pavements and our lawns
It’s a quieter day that dawns.

The council trucks still roam about
Road sweepers have their work cut out
Clearing gutters, freeing drains
Before the onset of more rains.

It’s slippery underfoot, beware
Accidents can still occur
As above us, brittle leaves prepare
A new bombardment from the air!

(c) Poet in the woods 2013