Friday, 28 February 2014

An Impulse Buy for Bruges!

Our Lady’s Church in lofty brick
A towering splendour - metres thick
Gives shelter in the pouring rain
Though Baroque altar shows the strain.

The only reason pilgrims swarm
And tread the flagstones cracked and worn
Is to filter past in silent flow
An oeuvre by Michelangelo.

In purest marble, white as snow
This statue has an inner glow
Commissioned by the Siennese
“Our Lady and the Christ Child” pleased

A passing merchant fresh from Bruges
Whose wealth was such that he could choose
This peerless artwork for his city
Now dust-encrusted shrine – a pity!

Behind plate glass and for a fee
For a moment each of us may be
Caught in quiet meditation
Before a lone man’s inspiration.

(c) Poet in the woods 2014

I entered this poem for the "Fans of Flanders" writing
competition - June-July 2014 - but it didn't win.

Thursday, 27 February 2014

The Change

It’s imperceptible at first
On ice-free pond – birds slake their thirst
The North wind’s bite now just a nip
Where is Jack Frost’s wintry grip?

Bare branches still but here and there
Green shadows as new leaves appear
The woodland paths - a sodden mire
Are drying as the sun climbs higher.

Pale rays but warm, few clouds, blue skies
The birds have sensed the change; their cries
Are harbingers of this year’s spring;
Isn't Nature such a wondrous thing?

(c) Poet in the woods 2014

Wednesday, 26 February 2014

Ebb and Flow

The Wheel of Fate grinds on non-stop
It speeds and slows just like a top
Sometimes we feel we’re flying high
At others – in a pit we lie.

But you know that you will climb the hill
And the view beyond will be a thrill.
I speak of course in metaphor
Life’s a boat that leaves the shore

Pushed by the current fast downstream
Or caught in weeds with time to dream
It’s the pace that varies; all depends
On our motivation, health and friends.

Have you noticed how, when life is good
The stream becomes a raging flood?
No time to ponder and reflect
Life in the fast line is direct.

In the Doldrums I have long been stuck
Now there’s a change – the wind picks up
Well, this is how it seems to me
As I float down to the open sea …

(c) Poet in the woods 2014

Tuesday, 25 February 2014

Moving On

I spoke too soon, dark rain clouds glare
And make the sunshine disappear
Dashed are my hopes for woodland walk
Instead it’s a cup of tea and talk -

While my erstwhile neighbour tells her news;
She’s moved to France and can enthuse
About new vistas from her home
Her photographic eye is known.

What prompts in us the urge to move
Rather than settle in a groove?
Too many accept the status quo
Rather than get up and go.

Yet the world is wide - so much to see
The tip of the iceberg’s not for me
Being in a rut is warm and safe
But there comes a time when routines chafe.

Let’s throw conventions on the tide;
Hang on tight – life is a ride!
No backward look as we close the door
Carpe diem - let’s explore!

(c) Poet in the woods 2014

My Sun Trap

Sun spills over my terrace wall
Insects awake and start to crawl
Around the terra cotta pots
For birds - opportunity knocks!

The box tree now perks up a treat
The hostas from their earth bed peep
I watch the ivy make its way
Towards the trellis every day.

The hanging baskets still swing free
Who will their new tenants be?
Time to scrub my garden chairs
And bring my tea tray up the stairs!

(c) Poet in the woods 2014

Sunday, 23 February 2014

On the Power of Poetry

There are days when things fall into place
What the Ancients called a time of grace
When projects long left on the side
Come to life again and thrive!

Such is the case of all my rhymes
Which capture sad and happy times,
Current affairs, the changing seasons,
Birthdays, weddings, other reasons.

I took my books down from the shelves
And images arranged themselves
As bright and clear as on the day
They inspired the poem on display.

Turning the pages once again
I found myself in memory lane
Friends long lost from view came back
My inward eye still has the knack.

I’ve captured in this verbal mix
My life since I was five or six
When the magic of the rhyming word
My untried muse awoke and stirred.

Rich memories of times gone by
Vivid film scenes catch my eye
I find myself transported free
To a world I thought was lost to me.

The journey there is swift and short
And for a moment I am caught
In a maelstrom of deep emotion
How can words cause such commotion?

They say that writing is a gift
To now, I’ve given it short shrift
But suddenly I think I see
It’s a gateway to eternity.

(written in 2013)

(c) Poet in the woods 2014

At a Brussels Meet-Up

I met with friends and made some more
While sipping Earl Grey in a mall
As on Saturday the tempo slows
There’s time to linger, mobiles closed.

Nothing beats a contact face-to-face
(Facebook friends aren’t in the race)
So there I was with cup of tea
Engaging in some repartee!

This “meet up”, one of many here,
Enables in a social sphere
People who have just arrived
In Brussels - to connect and thrive.

An exchange of views: China, Japan,
An Italian lady, a Greek man
All chatted for an hour or two;
Making links is what we do!

That’s the problem with the world today
We communicate the “virtual” way
Too many emails, SMS
When really - real contact is best!

(c) Poet in the woods 2014

at Les délices de mon moulin in Woluwe

Saturday, 22 February 2014

The Brussels Book Fair

The Book Fair: 44th edition
In three long halls - such erudition!
I wander round, stop at the stands
And peruse the work of many hands.

Kiddie volumes aren’t my style
But strip cartoonists sign a pile
Of quickly sold, bright coloured tomes
Which vanish into Belgian homes!

The range of subjects on display
Is vast; I’m in temptation’s way:
A glossy guidebook? Uni text?
Slim poem book? Whatever next?

A novel? Thriller? History tale?
Or biographies which never fail
To find new punters who are keen
To delve into a racy scene …

E-books and Kindles are on show
Space-saving, high tech … Way to go?
I wonder; we live at such speed
That it’s nice to sit somewhere and read.

(c) Poet in the woods 2014

Thursday, 20 February 2014

Platform 18 - Victoria Station

Who'd live in London, lost in clouds
Where people swirl like autumn leaves
The station concourse swarms with crowds -
Commuters buzz like angry bees.

The trains are packed as tight as drums
On no face lurks a smile
A baby cries, the engine hums
There's talk of strikes awhile.

Imagine, you whose trip is rare
On South-East network link
How tired and stressed are those out there.
It would drive the sane to drink!

We talk of modern city style
An Economy well run
But I won't join the rank and file
My commuter days are done.

While I reflect, a cell phone rings
Some passengers awake
We eavesdrop on some private things
It's more than I can take.

It used to be, when I was young
A gentle way to ride.
But now a journey's hell, not fun
Gone West all sense of pride!

In France the trains are fast and cheap
Investment is the key.
Somewhere Britain's gone off track
Brit trains are not for me!

(c) Poet in the woods 2014

Wednesday, 19 February 2014

Springing Forward

I have the feeling spring is here
As the sun’s out and the skies are clear
But the beech trees near my house look stark
Their nail-like buds, tight closed, are dark.

With no frost or snow to hold them back
Tiny green shoots now attack
The undisturbed soil in my pots
Peering closely, I see lots!

Revival, re-birth, and renewal
Dormant nature will reveal
In a thousand tiny ways
It’s on the move in gallant swathes.

Four minutes longer every day
May not seem much but they say
When minute seedlings sense the light
They venture forth from winter’s night.

At the start of course, progress is slow
It takes a while for leaves to show
But every year new life begins
The Creator’s up there – pulling strings!

(c) Poet in the woods 2014

Monday, 17 February 2014

A Snapshot of München

Munich, Hitler's springboard
Is now a bustling town
Street markets, votive churches
His mention gets a frown.

Instead the guide informs us
Of the City's Baroque past
Where Rococo burgeoned proudly
In rooms with panelled glass.

We were lucky with the weather
The promised rain was late
From Hunting Lodge to Opera
And mountains - on our plate!

Post war, rebuilding started
The medieval style was kept;
Its eighteenth century gables
Look as real as you can get.

No architect is fooled, of course
The tourists come in droves
They find this place gemütlich
Their enjoyment clearly shows.

These people think themselves apart
With Berlin they've no truck;
They'd like their city to become -
The Hauptstadt; no such luck!

(written in 2002)

(c) Poet in the woods 2014

Sunday, 16 February 2014

Hospital Visit - 10 years On

The hospital loomed into view
I remembered when I drove with you
On a wintry day in panic mode
Petrified on icy road.

A blood transfusion; I stood by
Too numb to speak, to feel, to cry
The staff were calm but I could tell
That you, my love, were far from well.

You could not leave; I brought your case
How few things you had at this place:
Pyjamas, aftershave and soap
A book, your watch and bags of hope.

The week dragged on – each time I came
You tried your best to play the game
But as the doctor had foretold
Your lifeline wavered; would not hold.

Ten years on, now I am here
Under another consultant’s care
What is this mist before my eyes -
That shimmers like a late sunrise?

The corridor is stark and white
I muse upon my present plight
Listening to my inner voice
And wonder what will be my choice.

My windows to the soul grow old
What diagnosis will unfold?
A brief eye test with pinpoint beam
In silence – what does it all mean?

The diagnosis is benign
The eye ball alters over time.
Unlike you, my love, I learn
All’s well and I need not return.

Perhaps it’s only now I feel
Your apprehension deep and real
Which you’d so carefully hid from view
That it’s only now come trickling through...

(Written September 2013)

(c) Poet in the woods 2014

Friday, 14 February 2014

A Snapshot of Mauritius

This island, palm-fringed, lies at peace
Garden of Eden on long lease.
True haven from our Northern clime,
Dreamlike, idyllic, lost in time.

The blue lagoon meets morning haze
The Indian Ocean's limpid ways
Bright shells, sea urchins, jellyfish;
Walking in Paradise - a risk!

Royal palms are compass points
A cascade our face with spray anoints.
Rich, loamy earth cane sugar yields
Pineapple groves, tobacco fields.

Saffron, cinnamon, curry, clove,
Nutmeg, cardamon - all implode
On jaded palate; pure white rice
Becomes alive with so much spice.

Be it Hindu temple or Buddhist shrine
Mosque or Church - all intertwine.
For films and magazines this setting
Is unsurpassed - what'er the betting!

The Rich and Famous - and we two
Find 5-star luxury is true.
The travel brochures have not lied.
Mauritians smile - they beam with pride!

(c) Poet in the woods 2014

A Moment of Madness

Ye Gods! Old Feb is back again
The shortest month with cold and rain
New Year’s resolutions past
Shunted aside – put out to grass.

Christmas bills we hope are paid
It’s tightening-the-belt time, I’m afraid
For optimists the days get longer
Spring will soon be here – I wonder…

I look around me – all is bleak
Barren branches – no birds tweet
A distant owl hoots in the wood
Seeking a mate just as he should.

Spare a thought for Valentine
Whose feast on Friday falls this time
Overworked florists selling roses
Red of course in loving posies.

An ideal gift for lovers’ tryst
Is Belgian chocolates; sales are brisk
All of a flurry, we enthuse
And forget - just briefly - winter blues!

(c) Poet in the woods 2014

Wednesday, 12 February 2014

Keeping up with (Inigo) Jones

To Banqueting Hall, by Inigo Jones
In classical style in Portland stones
From London taxi I alight
At entrance, still festooned in white.

An audio tour is here proposed
Which, aided by big panels, shows
The glorious ceilings, Ruben's work
There are 8 in all, bought from Antwerp.

It seems a series of bad fires
Destroyed much; but what's left inspires.
Great pageants have been here displayed
Ambassadors received; masques played.

The pride of James, our "Scottish" king
It served as site to purge Charles' sin
Ending his life upon the block
Black velvet trappings hid a lot.

But faithful Juxon heard last words
Recording them for future ears.
Last royal scene, when Parliament came round
Begging Will and Mary to accept the crown.

Repaired, embellished, pulled about
At one time a chapel for the devout.
It had become a museum piece
Victoria had seen to this.

Of late restored to erstwhile splendour
'Tis sometimes used (as this November).
A sign proclaims its dual role
As many are the scenes it stole.

No need these days to advertise
Des. Res. For rent - it's no high rise!
Banqueting Hall with stunning views
Remains the place the Top Brass use.

(Written in 1990)

(c) Poet in the woods 2014

Tuesday, 11 February 2014


Inspiration is a funny thing
It rises like a new born spring
Bubbling up from deep within
Overwhelming every mundane thing.

An idea forms a pool of thought
Rivulets flow, streams reach the port
A bright kaleidoscope is wrought
A theme appears - tight knit and taut.

Unable now to stop the flow
The words slot into place; they know
Though I do not, where they should go
Amazed I watch each poem grow.

How does this happen? You tell me
You don’t learn this at Mother’s knee
But it’s real, a gift, a way to see
A link with the divine, maybe.

(c) Poet in the woods 2014

Monday, 10 February 2014

Late Night Movie?

It’s a strange experience coming home
And being once again – alone
Since for two months I have known
A loving family of my own.

It’s nice to share and exchange views
Sit together, watch the news
Eat breakfast with my Mum; enthuse
And cultivate in Oz my muse.

With no housework, one can dream
And let brand new impressions stream
Past my inner eye unseen
Yet recorded, like a movie scene.

Now back in Europe’s cold and dark
Where jet-lag makes my time clock start
At some unearthly hour, my heart
Relives these moments, gives them spark.

(c) Poet in the woods 2014


Those who pass along Life's way
Embedded in a rut
Don't bring their brain cells into play
But die in their own hut.

Routine spells death to those who think
Old habits hold us strong
But if of real life we would drink
We've got to quit the throng.

Many are the hapless souls
Who never see the light.
And eke out life in concrete holes
Without a single fight.

"Why question things?" is all they say,
"My road is clearly traced.
We know what to expect each day."
All want of change suppressed.

How sad to see the drooping eyes
Of human rank and file.
When all things hold their own surprise
And those who feel it, smile.

There's an inner glow in those who've made
This vital mental step.
It means no longer they're afraid
To cast far out their net.

The wonders of this Planet Earth
Cry out to be employed.
And only through this second birth
Can true life be enjoyed!

(Written in 1983)

(c) Poet in the woods 2014

Friday, 7 February 2014

Thomas - at 1 Month Old

My nephew now is one month old
He is, if I may make so bold,
A pure delight, a little treasure
Though he allows his Mum no leisure.

He has passed the first survival test
And snuggles warmly at the breast
His eyes stay open more and more
The world is new – much to explore.

This tiny scrap is gaining weight
After a shaky start; that’s great!
He’s growing stronger every day,
Flexing his muscles is child's play.

Though blessed indeed with many clothes
The heat is such that few are those
That he has worn – it is too hot
The almost-nude look hits the spot!

His parents, keen to learn the ropes
Interpret all his cries; (one hopes!)
This isn't something one can teach
For Thomas – it’s his mode of speech.

As brand new auntie, I delight
In the knowledge that this tiny mite
Who bears our name, will one day be
A pillar of our family!

(c) Poet in the woods 2014

Monday, 3 February 2014

The Year of the Horse

I leave Australia in the heat
Another destiny to meet;
Past rush hour, Adelaide traffic's light
I'm well in time for my long flight.

My Singapore Airlines in-flight news*
Lays the emphasis on Chinese views;
On 31st Jan they usher in
"Year of the Horse" with friends and kin.

There's a raw fish salad on our tray
Spiced up - it takes my breath away
But for many Chinese on this flight
Traditional food is their delight.

I push the salad round my plate
And stop awhile to meditate
On the "peaceful blessings" here expressed
By the Chinese at their New Year fest.

Does this article really speak to me?
For those of "a certain age" I see
"Lucky money" wrapped in red may come ...
If so, this "horse year" could be fun!

* In-flight magazine for January 2014

(c) Poet in the woods 2014