Tuesday, 29 April 2014


May I perch upon your shoulder?
Be a fly upon your wall?
Hide inside your baccy holder?
Just be at your beck and call?

Can I be your silky hanky?
Or the matching tie you wear?
Hanging round you, feeling lanky
Whispering nothings in your ear?

When you write, I'll be the paper -
Please caress me with your pen.
Fold me gently, read me later
I shall be my true self then.

In your meetings you won't see me.
But don't panic or feel hurt.
Above, the light bulb's burning brightly
I'm watching while you do your work.

If colleagues sometimes find you wander
Staring at the vacant air
Let them believe you've time to squander -
Only you need know I'm there!

Written in 1983

(c) Poet in the woods 2014

Monday, 28 April 2014

Life of a Lady

By far the noblest in her race
The lily, with her fair white face
Pure in simplicity and grace
Looks wistfully at the sky
For by nature she's been taught
For one short hour her beauty's sought
And then to fade away to nought
To wither and to die.

So short the life of this lady fair
Whose perfume sweet bedecks the air
Happy, nestling in a valley here
Or showing in the lane
But her hour is soon to go
For when the sun sinks down below
Her trembling petals droop and so
Just a haunting scent remains.

Written in 1963

(c) Poet in the woods 2014

Sunday, 27 April 2014

Love and Alzheimer's

Yes, I loved her very much
More than physical, her touch
Was more upon my heart and soul
It warmed me, made me whole.

A je ne sais quoi, plain as plain
This joy, I cannot explain
But that is how love is, you see
A special bond ‘twixt her and me.

Her twinkling eyes, her smiling face
Unspoken words that left a trace
In my memory long after
We had dined and shared our laughter.

Of course I knew her through and through
Behind closed doors just as you do
But words are quite inadequate
To convey my deeply married state.

Bathroom time could be a trial
“You’ve been in there quite a while!”
But no one’s perfect and our den
Became the kitchen – peace again.

Grey-haired now, her face is gaunt
Asleep, some missing teeth now haunt
My dreams of her at thirty-three
When childlike, she sat on my knee.

Something, somewhere has been lost,
Love’s bright springtime turned to frost
Conflicting feelings never cease
Rest my Joy, I wish you peace…

A commission, written in 2009
Note: World Alzheimer's Day 21st September

(c) Poet in the woods 2014

Wonderful Wisteria

Those purple grapes in dappled green
Deep mauve yet Parma violet - lean
In wild profusion on the wall
And hold my gaze in wondrous thrall.

Some lie scattered on the tiles
Faded, dried in swirling piles
Sweet nature blooms but does not last
Their fragrance lingers as I pass.

Each petal, fragile, has its hour
Sometimes a breeze creates a shower
I marvel at this annual show
And mourn when all the petals go.

(c) Poet in the woods 2014

Friday, 25 April 2014

Under the Flight Path

Our leafy commune has strong qualms
And the locals are all up in arms
A decision by the Powers-that-Be
Has ruined our tranquillity.

Time was when nightfall brought us peace
Post rush-hour traffic noise would cease
And we who live on edge of wood
Could sit outside and find it good;

But now, for reasons far from clear,
Noisy night flights hurt our ear
We’ve signed petitions, gone on line
To vent our spleen – but every time

It seems our voices are not heard
The roar of planes drowns every word
With shattered sleep, our nerves are taut
No flights of fancy – we’re distraught!

(c) Poet in the woods 2014

Thursday, 24 April 2014


Seated at the terrace table
Surrounded by the tongues of Babel
Where entwined Bougainvilleas splash
Their colours over pebbledash.

Outside the "Café du Progrès"
A tourist crowd spends hot Sunday
And febrile palms their branches sway
Amid this village (Bormes) perché.

A never-ending stream of cars
Threads its way between the bars
Which grace the central village square;
The locals wish they were not there!

Despite the slopes, the cyclists climb
Medieval streets of shaded lime -
The panoramic view they get
At top of hill - is worth the sweat!

(c) Poet in the woods 2014

Wednesday, 23 April 2014

Spring - Fast Forward

I think spring did not come this year
Or if did, It was so brief
One morning when the sky was clear
And a single bush came into leaf.

Easter came and went in snow
As and for April, it was bleak
I felt the raging winds still blow
And wet streets caused my shoes to leak!

Now summer fashions fill displays
Too soon for sleeveless tops I find
But some wear shorts, I am amazed
Such optimism is ill-timed.

I’ve been here forty years all told
And never has it been this chill
We’re now in May and it is cold
Will June be warm? I hope it will!

Written in 2013

(c) Poet in the woods 2014

Tuesday, 22 April 2014

A Surprise - from Canada!

Life has a way of playing tricks
Not always bad, sometimes it clicks.
Scarcely had I got inside
The Museum when," Have you a guide?"

The man beside me, Mr. Holt
A Canadian without French (his fault?)
Was casting round without success
To find one. "Here I am. No stress!"

We agreed to meet by Lion stairs
Of Brussels Town Hall; no one cares
That official channels are sidestepped.
Here what you see is what you get.

Six people keen to learn some more
Than guide book tells, want to explore
And see behind main tourist streets
Where Brussels' quirky heart still beats.

An added bonus, it was hot
Droves of tourists seemed to flock
Around the little peeing boy
Whose pose delights the hoi polloi.

Brussels in the summer sun
What luck, I too can have some fun.
The City I am proud to call
My own, just never seems to pall.

We walk on though the shops invite
Keen to continue, time is tight.
They want to see the River bed
And we find it, where they once baked bread.

Too much history, facts and dates
We mustn't overfill our plates
So interwoven in the spiel
Some anecdotes, to make it real.

Two hours on, their mother tires
She's not alone, her son perspires
They're happy with the tour it's clear
And would I join them for a beer?

(c) Poet in the woods 2014

Monday, 21 April 2014

A Snapshot of Delft

Down shady streets caressed by limes
And cobbles like in olden times
To a busy market in the square
With imposing town hall proudly there.

The pace is slow – we walk on by
In early evening – still blue sky
The shops are quaint, well stocked and neat
In contrast to the busy street.

Small bridges the canals still span
It has a feel of Amsterdam
Without the bustle of that city
Delft is picture-postcard pretty!

Abstraction made of bike and car
This trading town remains a star
Whichever way I look, it’s clear
I see the easel of Vermeer.

(c) Poet in the woods 2014

Sunday, 20 April 2014

Easter Monday in the UK

In leafy lanes across the land
Daffs and primrose proudly stand
Green swards and blossom greet our eyes
And birdsong welcomes in sunrise.

England's villages look cute
Is this Easter heat a fluke?
We love to spend a week down here
When spring has sprung and skies are clear.

But note how full main roads become
With traffic permanently a hum
Since we left this isle of dreams
Which now is bursting at the seams!

(c) Poet in the woods 2014

Daffodils at Easter

Thoughts of you oft cross my mind
A bit like Wordsworth's daffodils
Plagiarism of a kind
In middle age the theme still thrills.

This metaphor, where can it go?
You are not yellow, it's not spring
And yet your image seems to flow
Like the lake, a moving thing.

I have no couch on which to lie
My mind goes vacant when I'm tired
But it's true I see you in mind's eye
Something stirs, my muse is fired.

Wordsworth's ode I learnt by heart
I recited it for my exam
Since then it's always been a part
Of me, the way I really am.

Proust with his dratted madeleine
Roamed at leisure in the past
Some memories remain the same
Burnt on your soul, they are stuck fast.

One Easter, it was long ago
You took me to the Yorkshire dales
We walked and you were proud to show
The daffs that had survived the gales.

So as in solitude I lie
Reflecting on what might have been
I see you with your head held high
Walking past that lakeland stream...

Written in 2006

(c) Poet in the woods 2014

Friday, 18 April 2014

Cycling round Kinderdijk

A moment captured – lost in time
A row of windmills in a line
Small ripples caught in playful sun
Bulrushes whisper, cyclists come.

Clouds like cotton wool hang low
An Old Dutch masterpiece on show
While gusting wind sweeps straggly grass
And buffs the cheeks of those who pass.

Comfrey clusters on the bank
Cow parsley too; they love the damp
Narrow bridges catch the eye
And freedom-loving birds swoop by.

Near to, the windmills look sedate
Each proudly sports its founding date
Since 1740 on this site
Keeping the water levels right.

Stalwart sails toiled around the clock
Draining polders with livestock
Oh Defenders of a valiant Nation
Superceded by a pumping station!

Much of Holland lies below the sea
So polders and dikes will always be
A feature of this windswept scene
Where Delft skies merge with paintbox green.

(c) Poet in the woods 2014

Thursday, 17 April 2014

A Mansion in Boitsfort

A swirl of clouds, a misty sun
The caw of birds across the lake
A coot and heron, one by one
Arrive from who knows where – and wait.

On the far side, barren trees
Scarce hide the neoclassic pile
The International School – a frieze
That adds Man’s touch to nature’s style.

Once Raphaël Bischoffsheim's Estate
Financier of the brand new State;
Education now for the élite
It resounds with many Nations' feet!

The wind that can’t be seen, is heard
Pale blossoms cling for life, intent
On reminding us that Spring has stirred
And soon will chase away cold Lent!

(c) Poet in the woods 2014

Wednesday, 16 April 2014

Gabrielle d'Estrées

Come glorious dawn
And greet the morn
Fill me with rays of joy
So my shepherdess
A pure princess
May this new day enjoy.

Blonde tumbling hair
Beyond compare
A waist nymph-like and thin
Her twinkling eye
Like celestial sky
Heralds the star of spring.

Her soft skin glows
Like a dew-drenched rose
With a freshness quite complete
No ermine fur
Could equal her
Nor lily be half as sweet!

She was the mistress of French King Henry IV - end 16th century
poem based on a French text (a homework!)
This painting hangs in the Louvre.

Written in 1966

(c) Poet in the woods 2014

Sunday, 13 April 2014

Palm Sunday

Unbidden, the donkey He untied
The owner murmured no complaint
It was warm but not yet Eastertide
Which later artists were to paint.

Down dusty roads at leisured gait
Surrounded by palm-waving crowd
He ambled to the fabled Gate
While Hosannas rang out loud.

Imagine what went through His mind
When in the Garden He had prayed
Leaving His sleeping friends behind;
Alone and anxious and betrayed.

In the Upper Room they had no clue
His time of trial would come so soon
But for silver and a kiss He knew
Darkness would descend at noon.

(c) Poet in the woods 2014

Friday, 11 April 2014

Something's Missing

You can call me quaint, I’m out of step
With all the “apps” on Internet
On-line banking? Not for me
I still deal with an employee.

I like the twenty-minute stroll
Through the village to my goal
There’s no Post Office any more
Reduced to “Post Point” in a store.

The supermarkets are too vast
A zillion trolleys to get past
You stand in queues that stretch for miles
Too few cashiers, too few smiles.

Is the Smart phone now the way to go
With its brother, I-pad? I don’t know.
Little humanity survives
Electronic gadgets rule our lives.

No birthday cards, just SMS
Or an office email if you’re pressed.
We live in “bubbles” – music blaring
From MP3’s and no one caring…

(c) Poet in the woods 2014

Thursday, 10 April 2014

Pacing Ourselves

We yearn for lines that are clear cut
But many plans become unstuck
And it’s deadly boring in a rut
So what’s to do?
Pick up the baton, run the course
Forge onward fuelled by brute force
Don’t let our hearts yield to remorse
But battle through.

Long-term planning can be fun
Yet we often wish to jump the gun
And obstacles foil more than one;
No road is straight
Living in the moment is just fine
In love of course, it is sublime
But reality kicks in every time
Is this our fate?

Of uncertainties we can be sure
The unexpected lurks beyond the door
Life follows an unwritten law
Which none can read;
Flexibility seems to be the key
A break in routine sets us free
Isn’t that how life should be
At our own speed?

(c) Poet in the woods 2014

Wednesday, 9 April 2014

Genval Lake

A half-hour drive in springtime sun
Out of Brussels - can be fun
Commuters go the other way
And miss the countryside display.

Rosières, Genval, Rixensart
Leafy lanes with scarce a car
It’s peaceful, birds swoop overhead
Their daily rush hour quietly spread.

Fair Nature’s April cloak is green
Through febrile fronds can still be seen
Tiny birds’ nests woven neat
In lofty boughs - a safe retreat.

Genval Lake – a tranquil spot
Split by language; No, don’t mock!
A “castle” where businessmen reside
Has a plashing fountain just outside.

Man’s imprint on this place is slight
Old homesteads nestle out of sight
But I get the feeling there are many
Whose mansions cost a pretty penny!

Along the hedgerow a small gate
A gentle push – I step through straight
A grassy damp before me lies
With rustic bench, rough-hewn surprise.

Time now to chill, take in the view
Ponder on life – as poets do
I reflect upon this lakeside scene
Palette of fifty shades of green!

For a moment I slip back in time
And let an artist’s eye be mine
Inspiration for a Flemish weaver
This could be Belgium’s Lake Geneva!

(c) Poet in the woods 2014

Monday, 7 April 2014

Thomas - at 3 Months Old

One year ago or thereabouts
When frost and snow made life here bleak
A brand new little life force sprouts
And spends in Brussels one short week.

The parents-to-be were unaware
That a tiny soul was on the way
And future Auntie although near
Thought just two had come to stay.

But Thomas now is three months old
A lusty lad with cheeky smile
First clothes outgrown (or so I’m told)
Vast wardrobe for the laundry pile.

Brother and wife find time is short
As Thomas needs his own routine
There is so much he must be taught
Long lie-ins are a distant dream!

He’s well behaved, my Brussels sprout
With visitors from far away
And growing fast so there’s no doubt
Thomas is twelve weeks old today!

(c) Poet in the woods 2014

Sunday, 6 April 2014

Echoes of the Past

You find it* in a shy seclusion
Far away from prying eyes
Its romantic past is sure to please you
For it has a charming guise.

Admire the ceiling far above you
Completely flawless in design
This is perfection at its peak
No modern style is half so fine.

Behold it! Such a room of secrets
What stories could the mirror tell?
Alas! What passed within its walls
Has long since been forgotten well.

The red décor and grand chaise longue
The chandelier in shimmering glass
The polished chairs both firm and strong
By master craftsmen, made to last.

For all around these lustrous walls
See the gay attractive frieze
How many hands have written at this desk
Or rippled o'er these ivory piano keys?

Dark recesses hide huge china plates
Sad memories of a bygone age
Though not a speck of dust is seen
Time has turned another page.

Step back and gaze on all this beauty
Breathe of it and take your fill
For while the outside world is changing
Here at least has time stood still.

Written in 1965

* A friend's house in Edinburgh

(c) Poet in the woods 2014

Rear Window

Though raindrops splash my window pane
And clean the cobbles in the lane
I notice on the nearby tree
A little bird - he sings for me.

Proud sentinel, he scans the scene
The snow has gone, the fields turn green
No leaves disguise his look-out perch
And impede his panoramic search.

A gentle wind, the branches sway
He flies discreetly on his way
While others of a brighter hue
Soon take his place and watch anew.

The white horse lingers by the fence
I see the empty lovers' bench
But no one stops by on their walk
To pass the time of day and talk.

My gaze falls on the terrace wall;
The wisteria, which loves to crawl
With purple bunches all in flower
Lies sleeping and awaits its hour.

But soft, from nowhere I can see
The blue tit flying back to me.
He lands with grace right in my view
The terrace can get busy too!

For those who take the time to look
And listen, nature is a book
In constant use, whose illustrations
Bring us daily revelations!

(c) Poet in the woods 2014

Saturday, 5 April 2014

Re-Educating Rita

It starts when Rita oils Frank's knob
As she seeks more learning, not a job
And Frank, who likes to hit the booze
Considers Rita as good news.

The stage is set; events move fast
Rita, streetwise, working class
Embarks on studying "proper" books
While Julia's ratatouillé cooks.

This hairdresser is quite astute
The Open Uni bears ripe fruit
Soon Forster, Chekhov, Blake, Peer Gynt
And poetry - make Rita hint

That Frank should turn again to verse
But all this makes his drinking worse.
The learning lark suits her a treat
But Denny throws her in the street!

No matter; she has found her voice
And, as she says, she now has choice.

November 2004 - Skit for the Brussels Cast Party of
Willy Russell's play: "Educating Rita".

(c) Poet in the woods 2014

Thursday, 3 April 2014

At the Costume & Lace Museum - Glamorous 1930s Fashion

Think figure-hugging slinky clothes,
Snakeskin clutch bags, pointed toes,
Plunging backs on evening dresses
Voluminous “Jane Harlow” tresses.

Perky hats perched on the side
A graceful silk and satin bride
Fur-lined collars – the real thing
With knitted swimwear – really ‘in”.

The Thirties make a come-back here
Three floors in a glamour sphere
In Brussels Lace-Costume Museum*
Opened this week – go and see ‘em!

* 12 Rue de la Violette
Exhibition: 2014

(c) Poet in the woods 2014

A Popeless Case

Day One* without the Pope - he has withdrawn
The Swiss Guard, out of work, now look forlorn
Benedict the pilgrim, simple Jo
Has put aside forever papal show.

The cardinals in Rome will soon convene
The Catholic Church meanwhile behind the scene
At antiquated straws begins to clutch
It must instigate reforms to stay In touch.

The task appears impossible to do
The cardinals deep down may think so too
But soon they will be called upon to choose
The next incumbent for those bright red shoes!

* Pope Benedict resigned on 28th Feb, 2013

(c) Poet in the woods 2014

Tuesday, 1 April 2014

April is no Fool

Time moves on – I flip my chart
From March to April – a new start
Thirty days before me spread
With increased sunlight overhead.

Nature blossoms on all sides
The coastlines fear the strong spring tides
Nests in leafy hedgerows trill
The early worm an easy kill.

Tree litter roughly cast aside
Now on the move as insects hide
New grass and nettles, Shepherd’s Purse
And Shaggy Soldier all converse

Along the sunlit woodland floor
Obeying spring’s primeval call
A splash of yellow – aconite
A rash of scillas, bluebells bright.

It’s amazing - everywhere you turn
Your questing eye will soon discern
The thrusting signs of life that crawl
Over cobbles, gates or garden wall.

Winter stamps its foot in rage
As youthful springtime takes the stage,
Cold and Ice are on the run
April, no Fool, has begun!

(c) Poet in the woods 2014