THOSE DISTANT SHORES is a continuation of my travelling tale, over seventy more poems contained this time in three collections: Terug, Old Friends, New Friends and Conti-mental.  These give a glimpse into my thought processes after coming back from Australia and then for roughly the next year of my life, when I first properly dipped my toe into the European Continent. 
There's a wide variety of subjects and styles in here as these titles suggest. A Lovecraftian Ballad, Sufi Skinny Dipping, I Wonder If Gandhi Had a Dog, Feeling Faithless in Brighton, Warm Coloured Curtains and Innocence II - What I Would Do With a Time Machine. 
THE BENCH - for Sidney & Hilda

Eleven years difference
I see as I sit on the bench
In a lovely, sheltered spot atop the cliff
Sidney left in '76
Hilda in '87
They'll both be flying free now, flying free

I think about those extra years
Beyond the mourning, after tears
Eleven years to have to live alone!
After having someone there
To have, to hold, to love, to care
Someone with whom you built and shared your dreams

It's generalising, yes I know
But the man is normally the first to go
What do you think it's like to be left behind?
Eleven years is quite a slice
And I wonder what advice
Those ladies left alone would have to give

I suppose it's just Life's learning curve
It doesn't take courage, strength or nerve
All it takes is just the will to live

Makes you wonder…

Do women give much thought to the fact
They're probably going to outlive their men?
To all the years that follow?
And what happens after that?

Or do they just breeze through,
Accept their lot?
After all, there's not an awful lot
They can do

It does make you wonder though.

The rain comes down the gutter
Dripper-drip drip
After a Summer's lightness
Right now the air feels thick

And though the Birds are wheeling
And they're singing and they're playing
All this cold and doom and gloom
Don't make me feel like staying

I want to be off - up, up and away!
I want to tell people I'm leaving today!
But something is keeping me, holding me back
Staying my hand from the wheel and the pack

So I'm sitting here waiting, for what I don't know
Anticipating the time I can go
I just have to trust that I must wait a while
Let the dust settle, boil the kettle and smile

Be happy with where I've been put, and enjoy
The time with my family, comforts and toys
I can write, I can read, I can walk, watch TV
Use my laptop, play golf, go and sit by the Sea
Play my Didge in the garden, drink peppermint tea

So yes, lap it up 'cos it won't be forever
And at least I'm inside for the inclement weather
And when the time's right for my latest endeavour
I'll know
And go

It's five to ten/ I wonder when/ I'll start looking forward to going out/ Cup of tea/ My pen and me/ James is playing on my one CD/ It wouldn't be so bad, I'm fairly sure/ If decent tunes hit the dance floor/ But once again I end up in a gay bar/ All cliques and groups and posturing/ And that, these days, I find boring/ Been there too many times before/ "Dancing Queen…"
Is it just because I'm older/ That I find it all so tiresome now? Strutt your stuff/ Pose and bluff/ Can't get a decent tune no matter how/ I try/ So why/ Am I going?
Don't think it's 'cos I'm older/ It's not colder/ And I'm bolder than I was before/ Truth is I was never keen/ To go mainstream clubbing/ All clean/ Pristine/ Pomp and preen/ I'm happier dancing in a barn/ Out in the country/ On a farm/ No stress guaranteed and no alarm/ Everyone is on the same level/ Music's good/ And I think that's the key/ The music's good
When I go dancing I like to dance/ Not just there for chance romance/ On the pull/ See if I can score/ I just want room on the dance floor/ Something fast and flowing round/ Different rhythms/ Layers of sound/ Music made with dance in mind/ By someone who's one of my kind

A fruit bowl
Remote control
An ashtray
And a pen
Three magazines
Some silver foil
All wrapped up tight from when
Young Claire and Amandine were here
A silver coaster
Two small bowls
A plastic bag
With who knows what inside
It's impossible to hide
Underneath a glass-topped coffee table
Or so Confucious says…

I've been sitting with a Bourbul
At the bottom of the stairs
Not caring that my jumper's getting
Covered in hairs

My tea is steaming gently on the sixth step
As the stairs bend round
But caressing him and staring
In his eyes I think I've found

A feeling of security
A deep, abiding loyalty
A certain sense of surety
A feeling of belonging

When you give as doggies do
Unquestioningly, straight and true
It's quite a different point of view
Which sometimes can be painful

Some say that ignorance is bliss
Some hide themselves away
But they are those who'll never grow
Nor evolve with every day

I've friends who say that Dogs are stupid
Loving you no matter what
But if I could get just half-way there
I'd do it like a shot

"An eye for an eye
Makes the World blind"
Profound and simple and true
And if you'd looked in Gandhi's eyes
Do you suppose he knew?

That in the deep brown eyes of Dogs
There isn't any doubt
That they see Love in everything
And isn't that what Life's about?

Sleeping bags are interesting
I wonder what they're made from
I guess they have evolved a lot
From the very first one

But there's a problem, overlooked
By designers big and small:
How the hell do you fit in one
If you're really, really tall?

For there's no leeway,
As far as I can see,
For disparities in size
So don't go camping
If you're tall
Would be my advice

Not really a solution though is it?

I see my breath steam through the air
Now that Winter's really here
My future's not entirely clear
Now that the cold has come

It's always seemed so wrong to me
When my breath hangs there for all to see
An invasion of my privacy
In some strange kind of way

I had a plan, of course it changed
But I'm used to that, so I rearranged
If I couldn't do that, I'd have been deranged
So many years ago

But who to see and where to go
And when?  Of course I just don't know
Right now I've just my libido
Preying on my mind

I guess that's what the Winter's for
Sex!  Sex!  Sex!  
More!  More!  More!
Loving till my body's sore
And my mind
Is as dormant
As the World outside

All I need now is a girlfriend

Just how many times did I fail to notice
The subtle attentions of beautiful girls?
Why didn't anyone point out to me
The glances, the touching, the shake of the curls?

If I'd have had known
If someone would've said
I'd have had many more girls into my bed
With dark hair, with blond hair (and one of them red!)
We could have made many ecstatic groans

But would I change it, if I could go back?
Damn right!
I'd die like a stallion
Sex-induced heart attack!

Just as well the technology's not there
Still, lovely thoughts to while away
A cold and damp November
Belgian Monday

A ratio like that
I believe
Quite incorrect
But it all depends
On taste
Or so you would suspect

The truth is coffee
Just tastes better
In some places
And it shouldn't oughta
In Australia
I concluded
It was all down to recycled water

You see
For me
A cup of tea
Should always be favoured
Over coffee
A pity
It's so unfriendly
Destroying natural habitats
With all those hillside plantations

But then
You could always
Say the same
About coffee
And of sugar cane
Each cup is grown
Amidst the howling agonies
Of the once endemic species

Anyone fancy a brew?