Tuesday, 29 March 2016

The Role of the Poet

“We haven't time”, I hear you say
“To indulge in poetry today”,
Yet in these troubled times, my friend
It really might be good to spend -

A moment contemplating life
When all around us, fear is rife.
The poet has a role to play
Directing thought from every day

To channels where the spirit soars
And meditates on life's real cause.
We're all part of the human race
Why live and work at such a pace?

No thought is spared for one another
Selfishness our only brother...
Plato thought if poets ruled
Politicians might be better schooled...

From bombs to bombshells in our mind;
Why are humans so unkind?
Metaphysics serve the poet's art
Great questions filter through the heart.

(c) Poet in the woods 2016

Monday, 28 March 2016

The Senne, that Underground River

Watch rivulets of water flow
In a gurgling rush downhill
Into hidden sewers they go
Storm basins soon begin to fill...

The network, linked by concrete pipes,
Supports and helps the River Senne
Gullies and drains of different types
Ensure down town is not a fen.

Medieval Brussels, fishing port
Coped with floods and times of drought
A canal in the 1550s bought
To the city more commercial clout.

Fast development on a grander scale;
Prosperity was now assured
Though sometimes river banks might fail
As defences, at their best, were flawed.

Stilt-walkers often plied their wares
From houses damp with heavy rains
Brussels, built on many layers,
Needed more efficient drains...

With overcrowding and pollution
Cholera struck and thousands died
The city searched for a solution:
“Vault the river!” Suys* then cried.

In just four years, the slums were cleared
The river flowed beneath our feet
Cholera – no more to be feared
Was banished from the Brussels street.

But the city swelled and still it rained
Hydraulic works were undertaken;
A cleaner Senne a new bed claimed
Beginning near the Midi Station.

Now a hundred men work day and night
To dredge the sewers, make repairs
A museum stands upon the site;
You can see the River from the stairs!

(c) Poet in the woods 2016

*Léon Suys - the chief architect

Sunday, 27 March 2016

Easter - in the Shadow

Brave sun – blue skies - the roof tiles gleam
Buds on the treetop make life seem
More optimistic – life moves on
Though the spark for many is now gone …

Easter is subdued this year
Brussels wrapped in cloak of fear
Christ is risen – we believe
Yet deep within our hearts we grieve.

Mounds of chocolate eggs unsold
Those who would eat them now lie cold
Or fight the good fight for their lives;
But the human spirit, hurt, survives!

(c) Poet in the woods 2016

Easter 2016 - 27th March

Saturday, 26 March 2016

Easter Saturday - 2016

Easter Saturday ... too still
No neighbours – just small birds who trill;
The wood behind my house remains
A solace after this week's strains.

Immutable are Nature's laws
A warmer wind sweeps woodland floors
The sun though wan, breaks through at last
The worst of winter cold is past.

Snowdrops, modest, now parade
With daffodils – they're not afraid
To show the world their fragile splendour
And create an image to remember...

(c) Poet in the woods 2016

26th March

Friday, 25 March 2016

A Minute of Silence ...

Three days of mourning this strange week
Prospects for tourism are bleak
I hear that we're now “Alert Three”
Though what protection can that be?

The Federal Government is one
Linguistic squabbles cannot run
When Belgium – this sweet Nation - grieves
And peace is stolen by such thieves...

Strewn with blooms, the Bourse stands proud
Before it yesterday a crowd
Many came to pay respects
Sharing sorrow; what comes next?

In a minute's silence*, King and Queen
Feel the shock waves, which may mean
That we have entered a new phase
As these attacks new problems raise …

(c) Poet in the woods 2016

*Friday, 25th March

Thursday, 24 March 2016

Brussels counts the Cost

The Pascal Pause upon us soon
Exciting time now tinged with gloom
On Tuesday, just another day
Queues for boarding blown away.

Zaventem - targeted attack
Many now will not come back
Over thirty lives are lost
Spring exodus now touched with frost.

The wait for news, however slight
Takes its toll throughout the night
On anxious colleague, life-long friend;
Some families will never mend...

More surveillance, more delays
A wave of apprehension stays
Above us all; though life re-starts
We travel now with heavy hearts...

(c) Poet in the woods 2016

Tuesday - 22nd March, 2016

Wednesday, 23 March 2016

Belgium - at Half-Mast

Commuters who only yesterday
Were work-bound, now are swept away;
Posted snaps on Internet
Of smiling faces – no news yet …

The fragility of human lives
Should not come as a surprise
But safeguards here are often lax
Our “Strength in Unity” image cracks.

My thoughts go out to all of those
Whose absence, deeply felt, now shows
A rift which never can be filled
A loving heart – forever stilled …

A minute's silence to reflect
When will this wave of hate be checked?
We cannot let them block our sun
If we feel fear then “they” have won …

(c) Poet in the woods 2016

Terrorist attacks at Maelbeek metro and Zaventem airport on 22nd March

Tuesday, 22 March 2016

Bomb Blasts at Zaventem!

Like mushrooms, we're left in the dark
Bomb blasts at Zaventem the spark
For another “Lock-Down” - full alert
As many passengers get hurt.

Repercussions swiftly pulsate through
The trains and metro are closed too.
Falling ceilings, smoke and dust
On those who try to earn their crust....

Social media, Twitter, Internet
Spring into action and reflect
The views of those who were not there
Now there's an avalanche of fear.

Confusion and evacuation
Hit this small but vibrant Nation
The Authorities ply all their might;
Blocked roads – security is tight.

News is patchy, the world waits
Havoc disrupted lives creates
Screams, shock and horror close to home
The unanswered ringing of a 'phone …

(c) Poet in the woods 2016

Saturday, 19 March 2016

On Little Joys

It's the little things that mean the most
Hot tea and and crunchy, fresh bread toast
A phone call from a distant friend
Explaining she is on the mend.

A ray of sunshine when you rise
A tax rebate – a rare surprise!
A “thank you” when it's least expected
A finished task so long neglected.

Workmen who turn up on time
Blood tests that tell you – all is fine.
A private letter in the post
An invite from those you like most.

When you look around - the world's a mess
Disasters of all kinds cause stress
We need to step back and take stock;
Be grateful for the joys we've got!

(c) Poet in the woods 2016

Friday, 18 March 2016

All Aboard for Tervuren!

From Auderghem a pathway lies
Beside the Parc de Woluwé
Its man-made straightness a surprise
Leopold II planned it that way.

Electricity was all the rage
When he planned his great endeavour
A train connection – narrow gauge
For his Exhibition – the best ever!

The Congo was his personal fief
He put its treasures on display
Creating villages on the heath
It was Tervuren's great heyday!

What better than a railway line
Electrified – as we have said?
The masses took it as a sign
That Belgium was one step ahead.

In the Belle Epoque the tracks were laid;
The Bruxellois came by the score
The railway did a roaring trade;
But that was then; it is no more...

Tracks ripped out - now walkway new
Joggers set the pace at last
But who stops to admire the view
Or imagines small trains whizzing past?

(c) Poet in the woods 2016

Note: Congo Exhibition - 1897

Beneath our Feet!

It's fun to gaze up in the sky
And watch amazing clouds morph by
Or flocks of birds swoop round the trees
Which ruffle in the unseen breeze.

But for a change my gaze goes down
On the granite cobbles in the town
Another world lies at our feet
There are messages in every street.

Wild flowers clamber through the cracks;
Thrusting tendrils, tough, make tracks
In summer there's a fine display
As Mother Nature has her way.

Man also leaves a mark or two
Have you noticed all that flattened “glue”?
Discarded chewing gum is rife
And resists the cleaner's sharpest knife!

Not to mention half-smoked cigarettes
Dejections everywhere, from pets,
Their careless owners must be blind;
Yes - walking in the street is mined.

Yet, bear with me, and use your eyes
You may be in for a surprise
Sometimes a tiny coin has rolled
Between the stones – so you touch gold!

(c) Poet in the woods 2016

Saturday, 12 March 2016

The Lure of Theatre

Do people mean just what they say?
Some thoughts are weird, blow me away.
A friend, caught up in theatre run,
Bemoans the fact chores can't be done!

She's excited – all the tickets sold
But her “normal” life is put on hold
As an actor fails her at “The Dress”
Mad rush-around in great distress.

High drama rules behind the scene
But on stage all must stay serene!
Stress and adrenalin abound
Life isn't easy “in the round”.

Her pace of life's a wound-up clock
So her comment, wistful, hits the spot
The theatre takes up all her time
It's engaging, fraught; at times – sublime...

But her friends and family have to wait
As priorities have changed of late
Her “normal life” she wants back soon
Yet in no time she'll change her tune!

(c) Poet in the woods 2016

Friday, 11 March 2016

It's All Too Much!

Ever get the feeling time's too short?
Work piles up – nerves pulled too taut?
Though one task needs your full attention
Interruptions on the 'phone cause tension.

So you get up early – plan your day
Allocate your workload – try and stay
On schedule: deadlines loom in sight
And appointments crop up – soon it's night.

Quaint expression “burning midnight oil”
But there's no hope for it – you toil
You're tired; you'd rather go to bed
Or indulge in some TV instead...

Meet-ups and Networking are fun
But you take on far too much – for one ...
Ergo working for yourself, it seems
Means “free time” is the stuff of dreams!

(c) Poet in the woods 2016

Wednesday, 9 March 2016

The Power of Stillness

The wood behind my house is lost
In wreathes of mist - like clouds of frost
I can hardly see the street ahead;
Muffled sounds - a neighbour's tread?

Is this the “tulgey” wood of Lear?*
This nonsense rhyme now seems so clear!
Ripe for a ghostly apparition
Perhaps you'd call it - intuition?

The mind plays tricks – I think I see
Shadows beckoning to me...
Reminders of friends I have known
Who now keep contact on the 'phone...

It's the stillness I admire the most
I switch off – let my mind just coast
It's at such times my Muse is sharp
And subconscious thoughts rise from the heart...

* Jabberwocky by Edward Lear

(c) Poet in the woods 2016

Monday, 7 March 2016

An Early Morning Cameo

Sleet flickers past my window pane
Here no two days are the same!
Up early for a rendezvous
I wrap up warmly, as you do.

Be-scarved with snug, fur-collared coat
I shiver – Spring seems quite remote
Grey mists the church spire almost hide
At least the bus is a warm ride!

Red roof skylights tinged with frost;
Schoolkids to the bus stop cross
Forced to leave their cosy homes
They now kill time on mobile phones.

We're so connected – it is true
Paradoxically - more lonely too.
Eye-contactless with ne'er a smile
These modern “manners” are a trial!

In Place Keym café, before nine
I sip hot coffee, take my time
And ponder on the other souls
Who, like me, have early goals...

Each one on Smart phone takes a look
Or concentrates on a good book
So, deep in thought on this grey day
I pay my bill and slip away …

(c) Poet in the woods 2016

Thursday, 3 March 2016

Outside Etterbeek Station

It is cold and dark – the sun holds back
Ahead - the glistening tramway track
For a Saturday, the traffic flowed
In the chilly dawn car headlights glowed.

Few passengers on this early bus
Most still abed – not here like us;
Along the pavements – hazy shapes
It's 7.30 – the dawn breaks.

Rare passers-by lost deep in thought
Bundled up with scarves pulled taut
I muse on who these people are
In Etterbeek – outside the Gare!

It's closed at weekends – so I read
But why? There seems a pressing need
As many rattle the main door
Have they not seen the sign before?

The trams whiz by at constant hum
Buses in both directions come
I pace to keep warm; where is she?
At last - a car slows; it's for me!

(c) Poet in the woods 2016

Wednesday, 2 March 2016

Playing a Trump Card?

Early morning – it is dark outside
My computer screen glares open-eyed
A brand new page like virgin snow
Invites my Muse – where will it go?

I cast around for inspiration:
“Super Tuesday” is an irritation
Donald Trump makes headline news
As he holds such drama-ridden views.

Tough-talking Hillary gains votes;
Many candidates have burnt their boats
Press coverage by CNN
Is in your face – but let's stay Zen!

Republican or Democrat?
We're now a long way down the track
Americans have a troubled choice
A well-known name or a lone voice?

So what goes through Obama's mind?
In November he leaves all behind...
Meanwhile, he steers as best he may
As the World looks on – he can but pray!

(c) Poet in the woods 2016

"Super Tuesday": 1st March 2016