Monday, 31 March 2014

Botanical Gardens - Meise

Geese, ducks and birds on springtime green
Wood anemones in pure cream
Their tiny petals wide awake
Poke through grass and patterns make.

The lawn with crocus buds now fills
Competing with the daffodils
Pale sunlight with a touch of warmth
Enhances wonderfully our jaunt.

Down gravel paths where now and then
Benches allow us to be zen
As nature here, devoid of drama
Exudes a very special karma.

Sequoias, gnarled, majestic, straight
Contrast with fragile maple’s gait
As the stone-faced castle comes in view
Once royal lodge - now born anew.

Blue lake with rushes all a-quiver
Forms a haunting natural mirror
Reflected in its depths – no clouds
Just flying birds and Sunday crowds.

The site is vast; greenhouses hide
The sultry tropics deep inside
Through dilapidated doors
A Savannah landscape – dusty floors.

Clumps of herbs absorb the heat
Here prickly pear and cacti meet
Plant tendrils reach the crumbling panes
Where cracks, one feels, let in the rains.

The Botanic Gardens here in Meise
Lit by sunlight, nature’s laser
Remind us we’ve stepped out of line
Why are we rushing all the time?

(c) Poet in the woods 2014


Sunday, 30 March 2014

Margaret Thatcher (1925-2013)

It was on Monday* that we heard
That Margaret Hilda was no more
Though absent from the scene, she stirred
In equal measure hate and awe.

First lady Premier – quite a feat
Her place in history secure
But for the Man out in the Street
Her legacy is far from clear.

For eleven years, she reigned supreme
The Falklands she took back by storm
The Belgrano sinking shocked the Queen
She was like a Boadicea reborn.

Take the miners’ strike in Eighty-Four
She crushed the unions, closed the pits
The industrial heartland was no more
The Labour party, weak, just sits.

The North-South divide soon in full spate
Tenants can purchase council homes
School milk abolished, E.U. rebate
The rising Yuppie, easy loans.

Rebellion within the Tory ranks
The Iron Lady forced to leave
Though teary eyed, she gets scarce thanks
Many rejoice; a few may grieve.

Retired at last from public life
The grocer’s daughter fades from view
Now Denis’s widow not his wife,
She has Alzheimer’s to contend with too.

Her death at Eighty-Seven this week
Opens those old wounds anew
As many are silent as will speak
Her state funeral will be a troubled “do”.

* 8th April, 2013

(written for her funeral: 13th April, 2013)

(c) Poet in the woods 2014

Going Forward

Imperceptibly, the change occurs
From 2 to 3 a.m. Who stirs?
My alarm says seven when I wake
But my radio tells me it is eight!

I pull back curtains – in comes light
Blue skies are such a welcome sight
So I decide to wend my way
To the local market and make hay!

Daffs and tulips in the sun
No crowds - so where is everyone?
Each stall serves me very fast
I look for friends as I walk past

But I’m out of luck, they lie abed
Or are maybe queuing for fresh bread
And once again the day looks bleak
Alone, I buy myself a treat.

I walk back slowly, time to kill,
A neighbour greets me up the hill
With a question which is obsolete:
“Don’t the clocks go on next week?”

(c) Poet in the woods 2014

Friday, 28 March 2014

Feeling Superfluous

What does one do when no work looms?
The Devil offers the best tunes
There are distractions on the Internet
Old films on “You Tube” a safe bet.

A long walk in the nearby wood
A gossip with neighbours – could be good!
A paperback thriller – turning pages
Helps to pass the time in stages.

It’s funny but I can’t see dust
And only clean up if I must
The filing piles up – let it lie
I can ignore it – if I try.

I skim the local rag for news
What’s on this weekend? I can choose
An exhibition? Garage sale?
Should I return to my Email?

At any time of day or night
A brand new message may take flight
Not convinced, I take a peek
But find I am “de trop” this week!

(c) Poet in the woods 2014



Etna Eulogy

Mount Etna vomits forth hot lava
Its scorching fingers burn and glow
A hazy mist hides daytime ardour
But moonlight sets off Nature's show.

Its rugged crater on the skyline
Dominates the grape-filled plain
A disk has slipped in Nature's hard spine
Giving vent to raging pain.

Orange farmers, donkeys goading
Travel lava-ravaged hills
Against a backcloth of foreboding
Resigned to Etna's deathly spills.

Along the roadside steeply climbing
Nestle hamlets half-afraid
Sicilian sun at noon is blinding
Wiry lizards seek the shade.

Amid this arid desolation
Scattered gorse and prickly pear
Symbols to each generation
That life as well as death lies here.

(inspired by Giacomo Leopardi's "La Ginestra")

(c) Poet in the woods 2014

Thursday, 27 March 2014

Belgium welcomes Obama!

Swarms of police, road blocks in place
Tunnels closed, a paused rat race,
Rush hour traffic deviated
The pace of Brussels syncopated!

Airport put on high alert
Unwary travellers to avert
Welcome tension and high drama
For the arrival of Obama!

All eyes and the world’s Press turn
To this President in his second term
Whistle-stop trip: NATO HQ
To Great War graves in Flanders too.

A carefully engineered occasion
With politicians of all persuasion
But King Philip, worried about his brother*,
Represents this State – no other.

Bill Clinton long ago came here
Strolled round the Sablon, had a beer
But Security is now so tight
Obama skips Brussels by night.

The costs for such a trip are high
But vital – if Barack should die
The target of a sniper’s gun
Brussels E.U. role is done!

(c) Poet in the woods 2014

* On 24th March - Prince Laurent was in hospital


Tuesday, 25 March 2014

The Boitsfort Carnival

It isn’t often that I see
Whirling giants following me
With folklore band and cops in tow
And confetti falling just like snow.

The local carnival is out
The neighbours gather round about
Garish home-made costumes worn
Fright wigs take the streets by storm.

Small kids resemble birds of prey
Skilled make-up takes my breath away
With pointy hats and flowing capes
The procession slowly snakes

Its way around our village lanes
We’re lucky - God holds off the rains!
Jacques Brel songs sound loud and clear
The locals stand outside and cheer!

Meanwhile, hot dogs and beer await;
In a while they’ll celebrate
Until the setting of the sun
The birth of spring now winter’s done!

(c) Poet in the woods 2014

Monday, 24 March 2014

Sweating It Out!

The Heat is on - all of July
After a spring that passed us by
This time we really can’t deny
That summer’s come!
Umbrellas can be put away
Sexy sunglasses hold sway
The ice cream parlour has its day
Life’s fun in sun!

But though the heat new joys inspires
At each effort one perspires
And lethargy subdues desires
It’s really HOT!
Yet joggers in the park still run
And sweat away their winter tum
While the lawns are strewn with more than one
Who’s had to stop.

Stupendous sales throughout July
Attract few punters on the fly
While the caf├ęs draw in passers-by
For a cool beer
The Belgian praline stays inside
Its packaging; It has to hide
So no promotion from this guide
This time of year!

(written in July 2013)

(c) Poet in the woods 2014

Sunday, 23 March 2014

Well Sprung

Another poem on the Spring?
Whoever heard of such a thing?
We leave cold winter far behind
And know upfront the weather's kind.

Those long, dark, dreary Sundays end.
This dratted climate's on the mend.
At worst those March winds bite and blow
At best the garden flowers grow.

Each one of us will find a reason
To feel elated in this season.
New clothes? New friends? A forward step?
Hope is reborn within - and yet

That special warm and inner glow
Is something only lovers know.

(c) Poet in the woods 2014


London-Kuala Lumpur

Aloft above the wall of clouds
A constant hum as engines purr
We riffle through the “In Flight” mags
Where “Duty Free” once caused a stir.

But now, well-laden, tired and bored
(Few have not done this trip before)
They scarcely look up from their screens
Subscribing now to “Less is more”.

Malaysian dishes, dainty trays
But do I want a midnight feast?
I toy with rice and piece of cheese
Wrapped in my blanket, trousers creased.

No room to stretch out my poor legs
The aisles are blocked with trolley line
I put the “Flight Path” on my screen
And learn the route to pass the time.

(c) Poet in the woods 2014


Friday, 21 March 2014

A Blank Sheet

Farewell to Feb, both fierce and bold
Whose freezing winds have left me cold.
Black ice and blanket snow have been
A dampener on my social scene.

My house is cute, perched on a hill
The road is steep and not a thrill
When frost and biting wind make moan
I have no choice but stay at home.

The fields and forest swirled with snow
See early morning children throw
With eager hands great powdered balls
Creating artwork on the walls.

Reluctantly, canine cohorts
Cajole their owners, out of sorts,
Away from warmth, to find a tree.
Not one of them belongs to me!

After blizzards, sunny skies
A heron on the lake espies
A tiny movement on the ice
And darts out. Death is never nice.

Blue skies by Arctic winds made clear
The light is perfect on the mere
The frosted puddles, edged in mud
Reflect bare branches, scarce a bud.

“It’s a record,” says the weatherman,
“For the cold to reign for such a span.”
We’re not impressed, but look to March
To soften winter’s coat of starch.

(written in 2006)

(c) Poet in the woods 2014


First Day of Spring

The wind’s still chill but what a joy
To feel the sun the frost destroy
Once dead twigs sprout forth new leaves
Heralding spring as winter grieves.

It’s lost the fight, it’s in retreat
As midday now is warm and sweet
It’s commonplace to see a smile
As the days get longer; in a while

We’ll all wend homewards in the light
Recognising friends on sight
And although the change is slow
Each garden now will start to grow.

In pride of place the daffodils
Whose bright heads bob on window sills
Our step is light, devil-may-care
As there’s optimism in the air.

(c) Poet in the woods 2014


Thursday, 20 March 2014

Mark - My Words!

You never know whom you will meet
At over thirty thousand feet,
But on a trip to Darwin sun
Mark, the banker, was the one!

We flipped through magazines awhile
The meal came: meatballs, Aussie style.
He chose the wine from Wirra Wirra.
Once in a while won't hurt the liver.

Who is this guy? He lost his Mum
When young, an immigrant, Irish son.
We passed the time of day in skies
Quite clouded. That is a surprise.

Full blooded sun, full blooded wine
My ears attune to Southern 'Strine,
On a hop to Darwin's sunshine coast
Where he will have a friend as host.

(Written on a flight from Adelaide to Darwin)

(c) Poet in the woods 2014



Darwin Airport

Wednesday, 19 March 2014

An Ideal Husband (by Oscar Wilde)

Set in the 1890s, the theme is up to date
Oscar plays with social mores – reputations are at stake.
A dashing politician with his oh-too-righteous wife
Entertain in genteel splendour, where gossiping is rife.

Enter Mrs. Cheveley with an Argentinian sell
Lord Chiltern, played by Conrad, smells a rat as we can tell.
Persuaded by wife Gertrude to renege upon the deal
He remembers how when young he fell for Arnheim’s spiel.

A compromising letter held in Laura’s reticule
Threatens to denounce him and expose him as a fool
Lords Caversham and Goring are woven in subplot
Arthur gets the letter and burns it on the spot.

Then it’s Gertrude’s turn to suffer as her letter goes astray
Robert Chiltern starts to wonder if his wife will run away.
But Oscar’s skill is masterly; the loose ends are soon tied
And Goring pleases father, taking Mabel as his bride!

Deborah’s version here in Brussels is set in smart Post-war
With glamorous cocktail dresses and dramatic wigs galore
“Carriages” are banished; instead we have the “car”
The staging is well managed – I think we have a star!

(c) Poet in the woods 2014

Brussels production


Tuesday, 18 March 2014

Time for a Whinge!

I sit down at my desk and stare at a blank screen
My fingers touch the keyboard, I pause and then I dream
I am wondering today what thought will fire my muse
Crimea’s fall to Russia makes the headline news.

But politics please pundits – this is not so for me
And spring still drags its heels so for now just let it be
And I am tired of economics - all those ruthless bosses
Who throw us out of work to recoup their doubtful losses.

There is talk of putting tollbooths on the roads
We’ve the highest tax in Europe – heaven knows!
Little shops are closing – as they can’t pay their way
Unemployment goes on rising; Belgium’s lost its way.

Sure, we've got fine cities and our food is next to none
But the recession has hit badly so fewer tourists come
On Saturdays the bright-lit shops attract a well-heeled crowd
While the homeless, ever present, stand forlornly with heads bowed.

Injustices are legion, rents are far too high
Special deals come in profusion seeking customers to buy
In the cinemas it is violence, with sex and crime to boot
Is this entertainment? The question must be moot!

So what I am to write about? I’m really at a loss
So much all around me is nothing more than dross
The values that we once all held, a long, long time ago
Have given way to others – is this the way to go?

(c) Poet in the woods 2014

Monday, 17 March 2014

St. Patrick's Day

How all looks sparkling in the sun
It's time to get my windows done.
I'll leave my gloves zipped in my bag
And stride out - slightly lighter clad.

Are we on the verge of spring?
The odd bird passes on the wing
I dare say frogs will not set forth
Just yet - it's far too North.

The florist in the village street
Displays bright pansies at my feet.
But dogs still sport their winter coats
And scarves flap round their owners' throats.

There's a subtle, gentle change of mood.
This winter has been harsh and rude
The passengers upon my tram
Still look dull-eyed, as Belgians can.

Where are Wordworth's daffodils?
All I see are empty sills.
The light gets longer every day
But Easter's still a month away.

St. Patrick, on whose day I write,
May well have kept snakes out of sight
An Irish miracle, we're told.
And yet, like us, they hate the cold!


(c) Poet in the woods 2014

Friday, 14 March 2014

Handle with Care

We are not made to live alone
A heart unloved becomes a stone
We gaze around this planet bare
Wanting to latch on tight - somewhere.

As time and circumstance relate
It's not a cinch to find a mate
Occasionally we feel we've one
Only to topple - all undone.

Strong feelings are not known by all
And independence may enthrall
But when the chips are down - beware
It only holds if both sides care.

(written in 1983)

(c) Poet in the woods 2014

Thursday, 13 March 2014

Cheating the Taxman?

Life becomes more complicated
More silly rules and tight constraints
Red tape makes us all frustrated
No answers when we make complaints.

Costs are rising, taxes too
Yet the Government is strapped for cash
Why it’s 50 cents just for the loo
We’re imploding – soon there’ll be a crash.

But hey! The tide begins to turn
Many without work think hard;
An exchange of services they learn
Means the taxman’s caught off guard.

The multilingual workforce here
Diploma-ridden, highly skilled,
With time on their hands, can share
Their expertise - and no one’s billed!

(c) Poet in the woods 2014




Cinquantenaire Park

Against the sound of children’s voices
And the feisty fountain’s sparkling noises
The gravel paths crunch under feet
Of lovers hand-in-hand who meet.

Upon a bench floodlit by sun
My jacket open, it is fun
To observe the scenes that now unfold
As spring replaces winter cold.

Rucksacked students on the grass
Young mums with prams go strolling past
Hardy youths in shirts and shorts
Maybe a sports team, out for walks

Across the vast expanse that lies
With the Arch as backdrop on the rise
Parade ground, museums, panorama
Memories of conflict and high drama.

The Belgian flag still flutters free
And silently beckons - just to me
But no one else pays any heed
In 2014 there’s no need.

And yet … one hundred years ago
The Winds of War began to blow
All swore allegiance to this flag
And millions died; how very sad…

(c) Poet in the woods 2014



Tuesday, 11 March 2014

Tsunami Anniversary

An item on the news today:
Japanese lives were washed away
Seven years ago on March 11
A frightening exodus to Heaven.

A giant tsunami rushed on shore
Unheralded; onlookers saw
A mass of water metres high
Race inland - 18,000 die.

All peacetime death tolls were surpassed
The raging waters moved so fast -
That crops were swamped and roads washed clear
Cracks in Fukishima’s plant appear.

In a stroke, Japan’s brought to its knees
This high-tech island Nation sees
The Sea which protects can also warn
And that is why today they mourn.

(c) Poet in the woods 2014

On March 11th, 2011

Monday, 10 March 2014

Snow Overnight

All was quiet when I awoke
I drew the curtains back aghast
The scene outside changed at a stroke
Snow was falling, falling fast.

The world’s gone mad, a snowdrift forms
It’s halfway up my terrace chair
Last night tucked up in the warm
Now I’m like a prisoner here.

Winter strikes us a fourth time,
Siberia has arrived at last
Jack-knifed lorries stand in line
Even the gritters can’t get past.

The weathermen have got it right
All Belgium’s like Alaska now
Entirely blanketed in white
With thousands blocked, in need of plough.

Bus interruptions, airport closed
For commuters yet another trial
Not a single train to Paris goes
Yes - Brussels has a frosty smile!

(Written in March 2013)

(c) Poet in the woods 2014


Saturday, 8 March 2014

On Stress

We all need stress – it spurs us on
Provides an impetus that’s strong
And short-lived - helps us get along
And meet our goal;
But when no let-up is in view
And Adrenalin still courses through
Our bodies at the weekend too
It takes its toll.

The pressure builds up – no release
Our minds in turmoil find no peace
At no time do our worries cease
Then fear invades
A tax demand and empty purse
We fear a heart attack at first
But divorce or sudden death is worse
We feel betrayed.

So stare at a candle’s rosy glow
Take a walk in pristine snow
Enjoy music on the radio
Or count to ten
The hectic pace of life today
Causes all our nerves to fray
We should throw our mobile phones away
And be more zen.

(c) Poet in the woods 2014


Friday, 7 March 2014

Thomas - at 2 Months Old

Little Thomas, wreathed in smiles
And growing fast from what I see
Is slowly clocking up the miles
As he visits Granny regularly.

I saw him first at six days old
A tiny boy child on my lap
But even then his gaze was bold
Albeit brief - between each nap.

At this side of the world it’s hard
To watch his progress; I rely
On photos taken when off guard
Each expression captured on the fly.

My brother likes his role as Dad
At 59 he learns the ropes
And Angela so loves her lad
Investing in him all her hopes.

His wardrobe’s vast – so many clothes
Both hand-me-downs and some brand new
He’s even got a Mum who sews
And he isn’t always dressed in blue!

Too small as yet to realise
Today – March 8th – he’s two months old
In all our hearts he takes first prize
Thomas is worth more than gold!

(c) Poet in the woods 2014

Thursday, 6 March 2014

Indulgence

This constant cold and lack of sun
Depresses each and everyone
I’ve no appointments for today
The snow has swept them all away.

I force myself to go outdoors
To buy a few essential stores
I wrap up tight and face the fray
Which neighbours shall I meet today?

The snow’s no thrill, I must beware
So I totter down the hill with care.
No one, but no one in the street
In every sense I have cold feet!

Inside the shop the bright displays
Attempt to catch my listless gaze
I’m so depressed I treat myself
And grab some pancakes from the shelf.

I’m tired and bored and no one cares
All I get are stony stares
But I’ve turned my walk into a spree
And now shall have a tasty tea!

(c) Poet in the woods 2014



Wednesday, 5 March 2014

Rubbish Tips

A word on bins – you know those things
In which you put old scraps
And baked bean tins and chicken wings
Leftovers in cling wraps.

There’s the apple core, peelings galore
Or empty cereal box
Dust from brushes, dried flower rushes
Used tissues, waste from dogs!

Think of the heat, the windy street
And relentless sea-blown breezes
Which buffet the bin, give it a spin
And spread nasty diseases!

New year, new deal, I make appeal
That you throw out with care
Put lids on tight, wrap scraps up right
So the fox stays in his lair!

(written in 2009)

(c) Poet in the woods 2014

Carnival in Binche

Shrove Tuesday – our prelude to Lent
Has crept up unawares
To have a pancake my intent
But my crowded diary stares.

There is no time for milk and flour
And all my eggs are eaten
I have work for every daylight hour
And a long-fixed evening meeting.

Here in Belgium it’s a special day
Known throughout the nation
Where the Gilles de Binche hold sway
With their noisy celebration.

With champagne and oysters they begin
Their dance through crowded streets
Drums and pipes make lively din
In the Grand’place each group meets.

The white mask hides each neighbour’s face
The costumes carefully sewn
(Textiles once thrived in this place)
The whole town is a clone!

Their trademark headgear – ostrich plumes
In afternoon display
Pelted with oranges one assumes
Before they’re put away.

Surreal survivor of the past
By UNESCO recognised
The carnival in Binche’s a masque
That dazzles modern eyes.

(c) Poet in the woods 2014


Tuesday, 4 March 2014

Cold Thoughts

It occurs to me to wonder why
This cold and bitter wind
That cuts through clothes and burns our ears
Continues. Have we sinned?

Is this a punishment dealt out
As a warning from “out there”
To freeze our lust for battlegrounds
Because we just don’t care

To treat our world (it’s all we have)
With patience and respect
In other places earthquakes, drought
Poverty and neglect.

Or is it just another phase
Of a pattern we can’t see
Divine intervention – climate change
On our conscience let it be!

(c) Poet in the woods 2014

Sunday, 2 March 2014

Warm Enough

It was warm enough to sit outside
Under duck blue sky and egg yolk sun
The first time this year that I’d tried
To simply let the minutes run.

Carefree and joyful feelings grew
As I felt the rays play on my brow
At last this warmth is getting through
Nature will get cracking now!

This winter has dragged on and on
Sharp winds, deep snow and daytime dark
I’m really hoping we’re on song
It’s time for Jack Frost to depart!

I dare to wear a lighter coat
But keep my trusty scarf nearby
As I hear the birds all clear their throat
And limber up for love’s sweet cry.

(c) Poet in the woods 2014

Saturday, 1 March 2014

My Friend Eki

A rare day – without a guided tour
Time to go out and explore
The latest fashions in the shops
And get myself some summer tops.

In blazing sun with friend in tow
Avoiding the endless tourist flow
We discovered in a quaint back street
Some vintage items – what a treat!

The owner is a friend of mine
A fashionista quite sublime
Whose flair and style always ensure
That clients will come back for more!

(c) Poet in the Woods 2014

Address: 12 Rue de Flandre, Brussels (Closed Mondays)