Friday, 28 November 2014

Tools of the Trade

Words flow out through my finger tips
In little eddies or big slicks
My mental crane casts round and picks
A new selection
It's a bit like going on the spree
The choice of goods bewilders me
Ideas arrive and wander free
In loose connection.

Such a mental process is arcane
It happens; one cannot explain
How just a few lines can contain
Such depth of thought
The poet's role appears to be
A perception of reality
Expressed in terms that all agree
Cannot be taught...

(c) Poet in the woods 2014

Thursday, 27 November 2014

Love is What, Exactly?

We humans are a funny lot
Ruled in turn by head and heart
Our minds are devious and plot
While emotions tear our lives apart.

Cold logic sometimes wins the day
Order and method have their place
But when our hearts are touched, we sway
Feelings cause the blood to race.

Irrational but endearing too
Who has not felt this vital force?
Old as the hills - but each time new!
We're set on a relentless course.

Our feelings we cannot contain
They rise within us and take hold
All rational thought from us they drain
Our humdrum lives turn into gold.

(c) Poet in the woods 2014

Wednesday, 26 November 2014

The Darker Side

In the mist and chill and early dark
Brussels shimmers; shop fronts mark
The tinsel season – fragile, bright
This year: cascading walls of light.

The packaging of hopeful dreams
In red, black, gold and silver themes
This outward show is bravely done
For those with means, such gifts are fun.

It's a time for families to meet
For friends at work to drink and eat
For celebrations of all kinds
At parties – dressed up to the nines!

But December is a bumpy ride
For those with no one by their side
Bereaved or lonely or in pain
The festive season is a strain ...

(c) Poet in the woods 2014

Tuesday, 25 November 2014

A Word on Language

English idioms are fun:
Ever seen anyone «jump the gun»?
How do butterflies reach your tum?
It's quite absurd;
And can a person be «bad news»?
What's an offer «you can't refuse?»
What happens when you «pay your dues»?
What's in a word?

There's «feeling blue» and «seeing red»
«Green» fingers in the flowerbed
A «brown study»'s something else instead
It makes no sense;
Figures of speech – a wealthy store
The English love a metaphor,
A practice foreigners deplore
Things get intense!

So much is just implied - not said
«Up the garden path» we're led
«End of the day», does not mean bed;
Brits stand apart;
Universal language? I'm not sure
Vocab rich, weird grammar lore
Yet children have this knack at four
All learnt by heart!

(c) Poet in the woods 2014

Monday, 24 November 2014

Where's the 95 Bus?

The heavens opened, the torrents flowed
The commuters grumbled, traffic slowed
No bus in Boitsfort's farthest reaches
I'd scream but there's no time for speeches.

Of course If I had listened well
I might have registered this hell
But the radio offers background noise
And the news just buzzes and annoys.

However, now I do recall
The dreaded "grève" word in the hall
As I got my keys and tram card out
My mind elsewhere, I have no doubt.

Last night a driver was attacked
And sick of taking all the flak
From a passenger whose fuse was short
Because he too was tired and fraught,

Decided he would take a stand;
So a wild cat strike was planned
The bus depot at Delta closed
And today the chaos clearly shows.

I wouldn't mind, but all this rain
Makes walking to the tram a pain
The missing buses should be here
Their absence makes the point quite clear.

Of course I made my destination
Wet right through, without elation
It made me realise we depend
On keeping drivers as our friend!

(written in 2006 but now the bus route has been shortened!)

(c) Poet in the woods 2014

Saturday, 22 November 2014

A Scene of Desolation

My terrace looks a sorry sight
All wilting leaves and broken stalks
Straggling flowers cling on tight
Heads bobbing in the wind like corks.

A last tomato on the vine ...
The herbs have somehow stood their ground
I still have rosemary and thyme
But the chives have wilted, they're no good!

What can I salvage from my bower?
Shock! Horror! in each window-box
Miracles are beyond my power
I'll just sweep up and scrub the pots.

Yet I'm encouraged by the thought
That plants don't die, they hibernate;
Deep out of sight new life is wrought
They'll burgeon in the Spring – just wait!

(c) Poet in the woods 2014

Friday, 21 November 2014

Unfinished Business

Things abandoned in the street
Can be weird and wonderful and sweet,
As well as mundane, odd or foul
That must be scraped up – with a trowel!

For example, just the other day
A red flash drew my eye away
To some tiny toddler's leather boot
Brand new, it seemed to me, and cute.

Nearby no doubt an angry Mum;
Such footwear costs a princely sum
It lies defiant in the light
Will it still be there tonight?

Another time, surprised to see
In a busy street, bold as could be
Frothy knickers, cream elastic
Draped round a lamppost – quite fantastic!

How did they get there? Who'd lay claim
To such an item? Oh, the shame!
It's been said often – no big deal -
But Brussels really is surreal!

(c) Poet in the woods 2014

All true, folks!

Wednesday, 19 November 2014

The Suitcase

I haul my suitcase up the stairs;
Lightweight when empty, it just stares
Knowing soon it will be time
To travel – faithful friend of mine.

There is so much stuff I could pack;
My summer wardrobe must lie flat
Over books and calendars and shoes
Swimwear, nightwear; I must choose

What to take for this year's stay ...
Easy-care clothes win the day.
A host of gifts piled up around
All of them - Australia-bound.

Then my passport, currency and keys
Visa and tickets – must have these!
Keeping in touch is what we do
My mobile phone must travel too ...

I check my case is now complete;
I can just close it – both sides meet
Like a solid heavyweight it feels
Thank goodness it has sturdy wheels!

(c) Poet in the woods 2014

Tuesday, 18 November 2014

Implacable November Weather

“Implacable November weather”
Thackeray’s text remembered ever
From far off days at convent school
Applies today – it seems the rule.

Blustery winds that chase the clouds
Well-wrapped commuters lost in crowds
Against a dark, uncertain light
With occasional umbrella bright.

Puddles reflecting branches bare
A decided nip runs though the air
Scant scraps of paper hurtle by
Losing the battle to keep dry.

Bent against the wind each face
As scattered raindrops fall apace
The click of footsteps, whose? Who knows?
Eyes cast downwards, stare at toes.

Opportunities are missed
Another neighbour we’ve not kissed
Unrecognised, out of our sight
Hurrying homewards in dim light.

Victims of this troubled squall
Wounded brollies in the hall
Dripping forlornly on the mat
Once held high, now crushed and flat.

Their spokes awry, their rib cage cracked
Thousands now have broken back
And jettisoned by passers-by
In bins in awkward postures lie.

(c) Poet in the woods 2014

Note: The title is a quotation from William Makepeace Thackeray.

Monday, 17 November 2014

A Snapshot of Copenhagen

Wreathed in mists, grey skies and rain
Copenhagen's face is plain
A constant hum of crawling cars
Flickering traffic lights and bars.

The Danes, I'm told, enjoy their booze;
The Central Station, tiled, is huge
With wooden panelling and beams
Commuters saunter by in streams.

Out in the suburbs: Lego blocks
Few seem to think «outside the box»
My mental snapshot of the scene:
Safe, conservative and clean.

This far north, the days are short
A cold wind blows across the Port
The Mermaid gazes out to sea
Pertly posed, hair flowing free.

Nearby are statues – poppy-clad
A Churchill bust, a Fallen Lad
Grim reminders of the War;
A crumbling castle on the shore...

Fair-haired, good looking Viking stock
Part of Europe's melting pot
A friendly, family-loving race;
Of warring forebears – not a trace...

(c) Poet in the woods 2014

At Zaventem Airport

«The heart of Europe» - Zaventem
Airport with building works pro. tem.
Garish shops on every floor
To find the right gate is a chore.

Automatic check-in - fine!
But then we had to stand in line
Like flocks of sheep penned in by rails;
Passport clearance now entails

Boots, belts and coats put into trays
Their removal causes more delays.
Gels are allowed – in small amounts
But if you overstock – they pounce!

Of course security is key
Today my trip is hassle-free!
I make my way to distant gate
Too early - so I have to wait.

With time to kill, I watch the flow
Of passengers who come and go.
Copenhagen may be cold and wet
But warm as well – as I'll be met!

(c) Poet in the woods 2014

Friday, 14 November 2014

In Between Times

The radio burbles on downstairs
It's cold – today I've dressed in layers
The terrace is a sorry sight
Spindly plants that cling on tight
Although their tiny leaves are gone
Depress me – all looks so forlorn.

We reach the «back end» of the year,
Days shorten; winter's nearly here
St. Nicholas is on his way
Chocolate replicas on display
Trading lately has been dull
For ages we've been in a lull.

Now the chilly wind brings shoppers out
In search of woollen clothes no doubt.
We're at a crossroads – what to wear
Now that a “nip” is in the air?
I poke my nose out the front door...
Right! Winter jacket to the fore!

(c) Poet in the woods 2014

Wednesday, 12 November 2014

Our Canine Companions

Living near the beech wood, there are always dogs around
They're a melting pot like people, from pedigree to hound.

There are those that tug upon the leash, impatient to run fast
While others pad sedately, sniffing people as they pass.

Their owners love them dearly; in all weathers they go by
Buffeted by wind and rain, or under sunny sky.

They are treated just like family and all of them have names
Some regal, some plain quirky or quite obvious like James.

All have personality; a unique style that's their own
They are loved by the whole family and sometimes guard the home.

They must “go walkies” twice a day; they keep their owners fit
Brown sachets come in handy to package any ....

They remain enthusiastic until the very end
So is it any wonder that they are Man's Best Friend?

(c) Poet in the woods 2014

11 - 11 - 11

I am thinking on this chilly day
With my friends off work and far away
It is a most auspicious date
All six ones in an ordered state.

I’ve just heard on the radio
Only once a century comes this row
Of six ones lined up on parade
Six soldiers in a cavalcade?

On the eleventh month on the eleventh day
At the eleventh minute, the guns gave way
To a sudden silence, the sound of peace
The long awaited armistice.

The Great War ended long ago
How the soldiers fought we cannot know
But as this date comes round again
Our thoughts go out to these brave men.

(c) Poet in the woods 2014

Tuesday, 11 November 2014


The Armistice with a capital A
Ended the First World War; today
The 11th of November
We pause a moment and remember

All those who volunteered to fight
For a cause that they believed was right
Only to die in a muddy trench:
US, British, German, French.

A war of attrition, lost ideals
Buried forever in Flanders fields.
Commemorations, flags half-mast
Still cast a shadow on the past.

But did it give “Peace in our time”?
The Versailles Treaty – out of line
Harsh reparation clauses signed
A fragile peace soon undermined...

(c) Poet in the woods

Monday, 10 November 2014


They could talk of nothing else today
But the date the Wall was swept away
Harsh symbol of the long Cold War;
It was meant to stand for evermore.

Watchtowers around the clock were manned
Over this floodlit, no man's land
Government exodus to Bonn
Berlin, split in two, looked on.

The Prague Spring crushed by Soviet tanks
Fomented rebellion in the ranks
The Super Powers stood their ground
As no Entente could be found.

Cracks in The System were contained
The Soviet Bloc, though weak, remained.
Then Hungary took a giant stride
Giving exit on the Austrian side.

A gateway opened to the West
It turned into a litmus test
A cry for freedom had been heard
Europe waited, no one stirred...

With hindsight, looking back, we know
The winds of change began to blow
Beleaguered East Berlin awaits
With bated breath by guarded gates.

So what happened on November 9
Back in 1989
Seemed incredible, untrue;
Streams of people flooded through

To West Berlin in glare of lights
It was the most surreal of nights;
Through lack of orders? Intuition?
The Wall now seemed an intermission.

The guards allowed the people through
Many climbed to get a view
Of East and West, of grey and blue
Euphoria was born anew.

What happened back in Eighty-Nine
Belongs firmly to another time
But those who watched events unfold
Desire their story to be told.

(c) Poet in the woods 2014

It stood for 10,316 days.

Saturday, 8 November 2014

A Special Toast!

Citizens of the world – Unite!
If you are burdened with stage fright
When called upon to make a speech
Maybe the Toastmasters can teach

Over time - this vital skill;
Capturing an audience is a thrill
But before you step upon a stage
And hold with sweaty hands a page

Of carefully thought-out, cryptic notes
Make sure you have not burnt your boats.
Is your message logical and clear?
Will it convince? Now there's a fear

That besets the best of us at times
What actor has not muffed his lines?
Deep breathing helps to calm our stress;
For this event – how should I dress?

What am I trying to achieve?
Have anecdotes in times of need
A little movement is allowed
Especially when before a crowd -

To emphasize a point or two
And keep the public eye on you
But there's no train to catch, so please
Speak slowly, take things at your ease.

Good poise and diction are your friends
A smile will often make amends
Competence can be acquired
And all good speakers are admired!

Each journey starts with a first speech
It may not always be a peach
But as you step up to the mike
Take courage, smile – it will not bite!

Techniques are key, but so are you
Confidence blossoms - sees you through;
To raise the bar, you must compete
The reason why toastmasters meet.

It's exciting but nerve-racking too
Will said: “The world's a stage” - how true!
Each performance helps us to engage
Our audience and reactions gauge.

Oh, and public speaking can be fun
Causing the adrenalin to run
As I stand before you now;
But just before I take my bow

I hope I have fulfilled my mission
This poem was a firm commission
So Toastmasters here's three cheers
As you celebrate your 90 years!

(c) Poet in the woods 2014

Founded October 22nd, 1924

Friday, 7 November 2014

Thomas - at 10 Months Old

Thomas is on the move at last
At ten months - sitting still is past
Each day he's learning a new task
And it's such fun
He gives great joy to Granny Mary
Although his parents now are wary
As Thomas crawling can be scary
He's on the run!

He abandons toys placed on the floor
Wasn't it Mummy whom he saw
Busy near the kitchen door?
Let's go and see!
In one month he has upped the pace;
To keep him safe there is a race
To put up barricades in case
He should roam free.

It's touch and tumble every day
As this shock of blonde hair likes to stray
His new skills take our breath away
He's turbo-charged;
His brain works overtime for sure
Life has come to mean much more
The world's his oyster – let's explore
Thomas – at large!

(c) Poet in the woods 2014

Wednesday, 5 November 2014

Kent University celebrates - in Brussels!

It's odd – life's difficult to plan
Though we do the best we can
Several invites come my way
But damn! They're all for the same day!

By different methods they arrive
All happening on November 5
A playreading, a dinner date
A friend who wants to call me late

And catch up on my latest news
But all of these I must refuse
The option chosen is unique
It would be churlish not to greet

Erstwhile graduates from Kent
As Canterbury's where I spent
Four years getting my degree
And now in Brussels there will be

For graduates and students new
An important, very special «do».
As half a century ago
The first intake of students go

To Rutherford, Eliot or Keynes;
Some today are household names!
International studies now are key
So Brussels is the place to be.

The venue for this fine event
Is not, as one might think, in Kent
But the Palais des Académies
So the Marble Room is where I'll be!

(c) Poet in the woods 2014

Amore - a clerihew ...

Love is:
- erotic
- exotic
- chaotic
- despotic
- philosophic
- don't knock it!

(c) Poet in the woods 2014

Monday, 3 November 2014

A Meeting of Minds

Amazing Brussels! Such a mix
Of Art and History, culture-rich
A rabbit warren of cafés
Where lone souls come and spend their days.

Meet-ups spring up in such places
You find yourself among new faces
Keen to reach out and make links
On Monday mornings – over drinks.

Croissants and muffins freshly baked
Vie for attention as does cake
On a cold day I need something hot
So a cup of coffee hits the spot.

I join the group, say nine or ten
Most are newcomers, I feel zen
Most seek work; the market's tough
Diplomas these days aren't enough.

Networking is the latest game
A lucky break, a contact name?
These pools of chatter are electric
In two hours many are connected.

I leave the café at midday
A sultry beauty comes my way
She asks me: have I time to chat?
She's from Amman, her hair is black.

She's new in Brussels, learning Dutch
But admits she doesn't like it much
She's fun – her English is quite clear
She tells me she's an engineer!

After a snack in nearby bar
I accompany her – it isn't far;
At her language school I say goodbye
But we've forged a link, both she and I.

(c) Poet in the woods 2014

Sunday, 2 November 2014

Thoughts on Queensland

A while ago I spent some time
In Queensland, with a friend of mine
She lived just minutes from the coast
Her house, more elegant than most,

Was reached by a steep flight of stairs
As flooding frequently occurs,
With broad verandah round each side
And splendid views of countryside.

Mosquitoes, which thrive in the wet,
When every bed is draped with net
Can make living here a trial
But in times of drought they run a mile.

At Christmas time, the air is dry
Above us permanent blue sky
But roads are dusty in the heat
And humidity makes it hard to sleep.

My friend is now acclimatized
And so it comes as no surprise
To learn she rarely makes the trip
To England now; Australia's «it»!

In some ways I can understand
The lure of this attractive land
With open spaces and pure air;
She feels at peace – her home is here.

I sip a drink, admire the view
Birds, bright coloured, fly on through
The wooden rafters to the trees
Their calls get lost upon the breeze...

But stress is different here, I find
The elements can be unkind,
Monsoon storms can lash the coast
Australia is a wild host!

(c) Poet in the woods 2014

The Cat in the Bidet

I could not quite believe my eyes
But the photo brooked no compromise
The feline fluffy of my friend
Has clearly started a new trend.

Compelled by curiosity
She scampers with velocity
Up the stairs with stealthy tread
And sometimes curls up on the bed.

But her place of predilection now
Compact but chilly, I'll allow
Is just the right size – cosy fit
A bidet bath for this small kit?

Now Lily's exploits are well known
Though the wicker basket is her home
She captures all hearts, Heaven knows
With her sense of style and perfect pose!

(c) Poet in the woods 2014

Saturday, 1 November 2014

Still Drifting

Ever got the feeling life’s “on hold”
That everything you touch is cold
Or not available, or sold?

I’ve done my best to keep in touch
But the warm weather has been such
That my friends are straws I cannot clutch.

They’ve all got plans for their free time
I cannot blame them; I had mine
When we were two; alone I pine.

Time the Great Healer – Is this so?
Ten years down the track I go
A cork just bobbing on the flow.

Drifting onwards far from shore
Little currents promise more
My destination still obscure.

(c) Poet in the woods 2014