Monday, 25 April 2016

Joining Forces. Salvaging Dreams


Sometimes, when human relationships fall apart at the seams – for whatever reason – I think we give up on them too quickly. If any relationship is worth having, it is always worth at least trying to save. Hopefully, the other person will have the same idea.

As for waiting for the other person to make the first move, that’s rarely a good idea if only because the chances are he or she will be thinking along much the same lines.  

We don’t lose face (and far more) by coming forward, only by holding back.

JOINING FORCES, SALVAGING DREAMS

We met at the House of Broken Dreams
where many have come before
to salvage what little wreckage they can
heaped among leftovers at the door

He’ll wear a knowing smile, the Collector,
(as always) when he calls
to first have a rummage then take his pick
of our cast-off valuables

You were waiting outside, watching for
the Collector to make a killing,
see piecemeal aspirations swept away,
ostensibly for recycling

I joined you there and confessed my fears
for the future, loneliness beckoning;
you confided yours and we shed hot tears
for a lifetime of reckoning

We were strangers yet the best of friends
(perhaps we’d met in past lives?)
and there, at the House of Broken Dreams,
we glimpsed hope in each other’s eyes

We ran off just as the Collector came along,
welcome to take what he will,
ready now to tackle home truths head-on
throw ourselves into freefall

Better than running to the House for cover,
has to be getting the better of the Collector


Copyright R. N. Taber 2008

Sunday, 24 April 2016

Among Friends


I often get emails asking why I revise many of my published poems. Well, poetry is a learning curve. Although I did not realise it at the time, many have been drafts of poems that would be revised as I gained more insight into what I was trying to achieve.  Many of my later poems would not exist if I hadn’t published my collections and thrown my poetry open to a wider public.

Feedback from blog and other readers over the years has taught me a lot; it often beings a new dimension to a poem, helps me see why and how it works well enough for some (including me) and not for others; it has nothing to do with whether someone likes the content of a poem or not and even less to do with whether or not they agree or approve; what matters (to me) is whether a poem achieves what I set out to achieve
…if not, why not, and what can I do about it?

Since I don’t get along with any of my remaining family - for various reasons (on both sides) - friends are especially important to me. As I grow old, though, I have to say I find myself losing patience with friendships of the one-way and fair weather variety.

Whatever, it is reassuring to know there are people out there ready and willing to offer us what emotional and/or physical support they can in a crisis just as we, in turn, will gladly reciprocate. 

AMONG FRIENDS

Come the longest night
or shortest day,
find friends, despite…

See moon and starlight,
slow to run away
come the longest night

Where weepy half-light,
charcoal grey;
find friends, despite…

See fires burning bright
(shaping our clay)
come the longest night

No fear of a tiger about
(myth, hearsay);
find friends, despite…

O, such sweet respite
(rights of way);
come longest night,
find friends, despite…

Copyright R. N. Taber 2001; 2016

[Note: This poem has been revised (2016) from an earlier version first  published in Love and Human Remains by R. N. Taber, Assembly Books, 2001 and subsequently Links of Life, Anchor Books (Forward Press) 2004 ]





Saturday, 23 April 2016

Blues, an Inspiration


This may not be one of my better poems, but one I enjoyed writing; a reader got in touch to say she was 'an emotional wreck'  (I know the feeling!) and asked for a poem to cheer her up. 

I played around with this poem one evening and sent it. Later, the reader said it had encouraged her to stop feeling sorry for herself and ‘go and find a Somewhere Town’.] 

Years ago when I was struggling to recover from a severe nervous breakdown, a friend suggested I listen to some Blues. When I expressed scepticism, he simply said, Believe me. nothing is more uplifting than to know despair is universal and you're not alone.'

It worked, and I started to get my life back...

BLUES, AN INSPIRATION

I had the Blues,
was close to breaking down.
just kept rolling on
towards Nowhere Town,
heading north of the sun,
veering west at the moon;
be sure there’s a Nowhere Town
for everyone

I sang the Blues,
whole world egging me on,
nowhere else to run
but Nowhere Town;
folks laughed and cried,
didn’t take me for a clown;
be sure everyone  sings the Blues
in Nowhere Town

Through the Blues,
I saw a knowing wink declare,
it’s a dead loss here,
so try going somewhere
south of the sun,
a little east at the moon,
where there’s a Somewhere Town
for everyone

Blues, they don’t ever get me down
since I hit Somewhere Town…

Copyright R. N. Taber 2008


Friday, 22 April 2016

Humanity, Greater than the Sum of its Stereotypes


Like many gay people, I have been physically as well as verbally abused for being gay. Homophobia, racist, religious intolerance...once, these made me angry, bitter and resentful. Now, at 70 years-old, they just makes me sad, very sad.

We are a common humanity. As I have said many times and will say again, we need to respect each other for our differences not fight over them; try to support each other as and when we can even as we are (sometimes) struggling to get to grips with life  ourselves.

Is that really too much to ask?

When push comes to shove, what does anyone's colour, creed, sex or sexuality have to do with their humanity anyway?

Now, inhumanity, that's another story...

Yes, we all know it makes common sense…so what holier-than-thou fool threw that out of what window on the world centuries ago, I wonder?

HUMANITY, GREATER THAN THE SUM OF ITS STEREOTYPES 

There is a place in this life
for everyone,
space enough in this world
for everyone,
love’s flowers enough to share
with everyone,
happy hours enough to care
for everyone

There is a place in this life
for everyone,
pain enough in this world
for everyone,
inhumanity enough laid bare
to everyone,
healing ways enough to care
for everyone

There is a place in this life
for everyone,
(gay or straight) in a world
for everyone,
individuality enough to share
with everyone,
humanity enough (surely?)
in everyone

Though hard choices imposed
on everyone,
divided voices superimposed
on everyone,
let humanity make time enough
for everyone,
happy hours enough to care
for everyone

So come on, world, out with it;
what’s your problem with that?


Copyright R. N. Taber 2008

Wednesday, 20 April 2016

Majesty, Evergreen


Today Queen Elizabeth 11 is ninety years-old, the longest serving monarch in British history. Here’s wishing Her Majesty a very Happy Birthday.

(Photo taken from the Internet)

There will be tributes paid across the world far greater than mine, but I could not let the occasion pass without marking it on the blog.

(Photo taken from the Internet)

Her Majesty at 90 and three kings-in-waiting,
(Photo taken from the Internet)
This poem is a villanelle.

MAJESTY, EVERGREEN

Sixty-four years on the throne,
dedicated to serving her country
a much loved, respected queen

A sunny smile for any occasion
marking milestones of pageantry,
sixty-four years on the throne

Classless greetings for everyone
unfazed by royalty, icon of dignity,
a much loved, respected queen

Her innermost thoughts unknown
to those she serves daily, faithfully,
sixty-four years on the throne

Horse riding, a life-time passion,
imaging a very human personality,
a much-loved, respected queen

No abuse of wealth of position
through years of political history;
sixty-four years on the throne,
a much loved, respected queen


Copyright R. N. Taber 2016


A Lust for Life OR Extracts from a Poet's Diary


In February 1969, I sailed for Australia (as a would-be migrant) on the SS Southern Cross from Liverpool. While it was a huge mistake in many ways, it was also one of my better decisions.

Basically, I was running away from the UK - and a family that had no idea of how much of a psychological mess I was or of share their of blame for it - rather than going to Australia. Gay relationships ‘between consenting adults’ had been decriminalized in 1967  but it would be many years before society as a whole began to accept us, if grudgingly. In 1969, I had left school five years earlier but saw myself as having no career prospects and was still a long way from becoming truly reconciled with my sexual identity.

While I will always have a great affection for Australia and the people I met there, I arrived with neither enough money nor qualifications to fulfil my dream, even in the longer term. During the six-weeks crossing, however, I’d had plenty of time to think and reflect on my motives. I found myself homing in on home truths that appalled me. Was I really such a coward?

So, yes, on the face of it, Australia was a disaster but I returned to the UK not (quite) with tail between legs but as different person, more self-confident than I had ever felt before and determined to shape my life in a positive way. In spite of a severe nervous breakdown in my 30’s, I like to think that, in general, I have succeeded.  (I have battled with depression all my life but any gay angst has only ever been part of the emotional equation albeit a vital one.)

It is up to all of us - gay or straight - to make the best of things, not the worst, and be positive about ourselves, each other and life in general even when the immediate future may be looking on the bleak side. That’s when the human condition comes into its own, now a pussycat, now a roaring lion. Mind you, everyone has lapses of self-confidence in self and in humanity from time to time, including me.

If the journey to Australia nearly 50 years ago was a nightmare, my stay there was an epiphany. My return to the UK marked the kind of new beginning the poet in me had been lusting for without any real sense of either the what or the how, only the why.


A LUST FOR LIFE or EXTRACTS FROM A POET’S DIARY

Mouth gone dry, sweat
soaking the brow;
I am left wondering
why it should attack now,
this animal lust
for freedom, open spaces
far, far, away from city faces
and grubby streets

Mouth gone dry, sweat
soaking the brow;
I am left wondering why
it should strike now,
this hunger for adventure,
need to prove something
although what or to whom
remains to be seen

Mouth gone dry, sweat
soaking the brow;
I am left feeling excited
if scared of a caving in
rather than a pressing ahead
with some heady fiction 
well aware its return thread
so easily broken

Looking to play the hero
or merely wishing
to please myself for once
instead of always
putting head before heart,
doing the ‘right thing’
(but right for whom after
all's said and done?)

Rage, burning, a life-long
learning in flames;
passion, a feisty yearning
to escape this caged-up 
non-life, a Here-and-Now
parody of a lion’s den
where the mouth gone dry,
sweat soaking the brow

Copyright R. N. Taber 2004; 2016

[Note: This poem has been slightly revised (2016) - and alternative title added - from an earlier version that appears a ‘A Poet’s Diary’  in 1st eds. of The Third Eye by R. N. Taber Assembly Books, 2004; revised ed. in e-format in preparation.]


Tuesday, 19 April 2016

One Plus One OR Engaging wth Everyday Life


I enjoy my own company, but only some of the time. Engaging with someone else, especially someone close, lifts pleasure into a whole new dimension; without it, we can feel very lonely. Besides conversation is not only a social skill but a very entertaining one as well as reassuring and comforting; neglected, though, it can lose its shine.

Face to face contact is always the most rewarding; failing that, though, for whatever reason, there are telephones, video links and email exchanges to be had these days, not forgetting that old stand-by, the letter.

If you are lonely, DO something about it; likewise, if you know of someone who is or may be lonely, offer help, never assume someone will.

As for simple, everyday life as opposed to the glamour of a celebrity existence...don't knock it, NOT being in the public eye all the time has a LOT going for it.  

ONE PLUS ONE or ENGAGING WITH EVERYDAY LIFE

Yesterday,
we talked about doing this ‘n’ that
while we played with the cat
as the budgie looked on and the dog
snored away in his basket

Yesterday,
we discussed going here or there
while you vacuumed the floor
as I loaded up the washing machine
before we went shopping

Tomorrow,
we’ll talk about doing this ‘n’ that,
clean out the budgie’s cage,
probably ask the neighbours round
to try out the new Bar-B-Q

Tomorrow,
we’ll discuss going here ‘n’ there,
then take the dog for a walk
where we’ll be welcome at the pub
and catch up on the gossip

Today,
will be very much like yesterday;
shades of self-consciousness
for having far less than some if more
than many…and being happy

As for our arguing points of view,
it’s how one plus one makes two

 Copyright R. N. Taber 2010