‘As When …’ – Three Haiku

RoundBritain (9)FarneIsles

‘Farne Islands’ Northumbria … Photo: WHB – 2012

As When . . .



As when the waves rage
So does my turbulent life
Beat upon my shore

As when the sky weeps
So do my eyes shed their tears
For those friends now gone

As when the wind gusts
So does my discontent rage
For those without love





Your Country Needs You


Doug, a dear friend of mine, died recently at the age of 95.  In 1943, at the age of eighteen, he was drafted into the Royal Air Force and trained as a pilot. In the latter stages of World War Two he was posted to the Cocos Islands in the East Indian Ocean from where he carried out several missions.  At the end of the Far East War in September, 1945, he took part in the relief of Changi prison, the notorious Prisoner of War camp in Singapore where the Japanese interred many of their prisoners.

I have written this poem in an attempt to understand something of the situation which he and many other young men faced in those precarious times.   


Given a bomber at twenty one
A young man’s coming of age
Told to use it wisely
On the far east’s war-torn stage

A Lancaster
A lethal gift
To war’s sad sorry tale
An airborne killer
Sky high thriller
Death following in its trail

You grow up quickly in a war
No marking time
No second thoughts
Prevarication precluded
No time for rage
Get on with it
With reality engage

This his introduction
No subterfuge
With minimal instruction
No simulation
Taught to deliver destruction
Reality games now

Yes, young man,
Your country needs you
To fill the gaps left by those
Who bought it
– For their country –
Before you do the same

But, chin up
Soldier on
stiff lip and all that
Who knows
You may be home by Christmas



Ground crews of No.356 Squadron RAF based at the Brown’s West Island, Cocos Islands, celebrate on hearing the news of the surrender of Japan.  (Published under the terms and conditions of the Imperial War Museum Non Commercial Licence, including use of the attribution statement specified by IWM. For this item, that is: © IWM (CI 1557)


A Secret Sonnet


‘Moonlight Tryst’ – WHB: Pen an ink, Dec.2017


They stressed my heart and bled it
Seeking to find you there,
But try as they could to discover
They never will find out where
You hide in lonely seclusion,
Your impregnable lonely lair.

For you are my cerebral lover,
Living a life in my brain;
We hold our trysts in the moonlight,
Let them look for ever in vain,
They never ever will find you,
For there is nought to explain.

Just a salve to pain and depression,
A caprice with a discreet confession.




Rydal Water-1991

‘Solitude’: Rydal Water, Cumbria, The Lake District, UK … Pen & Ink – WHB 1991  ©




This stillness and the beauty all around me

Bring with them peace and grace for which I yearn;

For here among the lakes and mountains resting

I sense my hopes and dreams will now return.


For now I’ve reached a time when life has bitten,

Reminding me of pleasures once enjoyed;

Since lost in cares and daily obligations

How Nature can supplant and fill the void.


Its healing powers I know and cannot question;

They bring delights I cannot bear to miss.

They sing to me of other loves and places,

And speak to me of other times than this.




Nature’s  Beneficence



Tall the grass grows in the thicket
Thriving without a thought of me
Each blade designed in Nature’s wisdom
Green and graceful, firm and free.

Strong the sapling stretches higher
Gathering strength to reach the sky
Intent on proving ever taller
Just as worthy as you or I.


Soft the thistle drenched in down
Welcoming wind to spread its seed
Calling to the listening heavens
For its force to feed its need

High in the sky the blackbird singing
Passing judgement on the day
Once again the evening thrilling
Sweeping all my cares away

rambling rose

Perfumed the scent of rambling rose
Drifts across my consciousness
The natural world brings me its joy
The surest cure for worldly stress

For as the day draws to its close
Such thoughts as these bring me content
As night-time comes and daylight goes
I count my blessings, heaven sent


Poem and photographs by WHB … 2017 ©


My Distant Star


Van Gogh – 1888: ‘Starry Night over the Rhone’ (detail) … Musee d’Orsay




It’s not what I meant
by following my star
but that’s how it is
you’re so remote and afar.

so in my reflections
I make the connections
I’ve been living your life
I’ve laid siege to your mind
and fenced in your feelings
thinking your thoughts
and wishing your wants
your dreams I’ve been dreaming

 so what am I doing
with this surrogate presence?
what will I find
and what can I prove
amidst mist and fashion
by chasing each clue?
a sense of your passion
that essence of you?

I need to give you a meaning
to capture that feeling
of truly belonging
no longer just dreaming
no longer an adjunct
no remote stalker
given to stealing
your dreams, thoughts and wishes
your love and your kisses

 and then if I dare
all that I want
is your love to snare
rejoice in the glow
all else is despair







‘Saudade’: 2017 –  Photograph used with kind permission of AK  ©


Saudade‘ is a Portuguese word which does not have a direct equivalent in English. It is usually described as ‘a nostalgic longing to be near something or someone that is distant, or that has been loved and lost’  or as ‘the love that remains’ after someone or some place is gone. In its wider sense it conveys feelings, of experiences, places, events that once brought pleasure, but which now trigger the senses and make one live again, although often with an underlying sense that the object of longing will never return.

Several pieces of music have been composed which attempt to convey such feelings of nostalgia and melancholy, mostly by the Brazilian composers for the classical guitar. One of my favourite pieces of guitar music is the ‘SAUDADE’ composed by Diermando Reis.  I have used it here to accompany my poem.  It is played beautifully with great tenderness and technique, by the French classical guitar maestro, Frédéric BERNARD (“Cyrloud”).

I encourage viewers to turn up the volume, then click on this YouTube video link to the music which will open the video in a separate window.  If you then return to this main screen window you will be able to read the poem whilst the music is playing . . .

Guitar from Brazil: Eterna Saudade, Dilermando Reis



I retain
a longing that never leaves
a love that heeds
neither present
nor future
but clings to the past
as suckers of ivy
cleave to my crumbling walls
as the unceasing tide
the shore

and, as the guitar’s
velvet fingerings
hold me in their thrall
its mellow notes
take me
to that soft spring time
of my youth
when life had begun
to take on meaning
memory then
had no significance
and zeal and lust
freshly formed
were all

those times long past
remain with me
brighter than yesterday
clearer than today
the music returns me
to that other time
that other place
bound by hiraeth
bringing with it
for opportunities gone
for loss of that distant
loved land
and people

enchanted in memory
and now
all too bitingly missed
and longed for
… saudade




Let Sleeping Ducks Lie


Morning on the River Lowman, Devon … Photo: WHB – 2017  ©



Pillowed heads
to my interference
in their down time

Dead to the busy world
and to my stare
my attempt
to disturb their lives
with my own

Our only mutual assurance
the comfort
of another sunrise
another day
to forage
to survive
to face
new concerns
different uncertainties

 The inbuilt plight
of all creation
fortified only
by a will
to endure
to survive
and thrive




Waters of the River Lowman, Devon – Photo:  WHB, 2017   ©




As Lowman meanders
hardly awake
over its pebbled bed
and as clear waters
give back the russet tones
of disturbed sand
of silt-stained rocks
so I muse

Imagination awakes
words flow
with the waters of the stream
transmuting my senses

into visions
of solitude
and silence
of grace in being
delight in life itself

These images
revisiting me now

with imprinted memories
of awe
of richness

felt in the bones of my youth
replicated now
in the dis-ease of old age




A Broken Heart


‘Hands On Heart’ Photoshopped  Photo: WHB – Sep., 2017


When palpitations
of the heart
that sudden
that gasp for air

is it love
or lust
or life itself
forcing me to face
my future

that unwonted throb
unwanted gasp
those ensuing reverberations
erupted flutterings

before I am returned
to that steady beat
that controlled thump
which promises

My heart
that part
of me
held dear
so near
yet no longer
nor ready
to yearn
to long for
and to desire
to allow free reign
to emotion

now caution
demands attention
ectopic beating
atrial contraction
call it whatever
screaming habdabs
all one

once a passion
now a symptom

a broken heart
is not
just love forgone
it is
a life in peril