Thursday, 21 August 2014

Human Nature: The Archives

Since the beginning of time, history has been recorded in various art forms in caves, palaces, tombs,  wherever…proving if nothing else that in the sense that human nature runs the gamut of good and bad, it remains, like time itself, an essentially constant factor in an ever changing world.

This poem is a villanelle.


Hieroglyphics on a stone wall
revisiting war and peace,
we creatures great and small

Demands that we ignore a call
to heed the bigot’s cause;
hieroglyphics on a stone wall

To each our own, walking tall
in Earth Mother’s eyes,
we creatures great and small

Where pride anticipates a fall,
find religion on its knees,
hieroglyphics on a stone wall

All things bright and beautiful,
compensating for our tears,
we creatures great and small

Lines left barely decipherable
marking out life histories;
hieroglyphics on a stone wall,
we creatures great and small

Copyright R. N. Taber 2009

Saturday, 16 August 2014

W-A-R, Crucible of Remembrance

Now and then, I receive emails from ordinary men and women who have lost loved ones in one or other of the world’s a war zones, and seek peace of mind.

Every death deserves a poem. Sadly, though, the Muse cannot keep pace with it all. As for peace of mind, there is little enough of that to be found in a war zone, whether it be in Ukraine, Syria, Iraq, Afghanistan, Gaza…wherever.

Let us give some thought, too, to the survivors of those life-or-death battles around the world in which involvement they may, rightly or wrongly, take pride, while I suspect they, like the rest of us, can but struggle to find words to justify it all. Oh, plenty of excuses under cover of various socio-cultural-religious-political camouflage, but justification in real (human) terms...?

We should also bear in mind, of course, that we are all but human beings trying to do what we think is right; there are casualties on both sides of any conflict, their loved ones, too, left behind to try and pick up the pieces of a fragmented life.

Tragically, while love may well nurture dreams that last forever, the world’s power-hungry vultures from various quasi-cultural/ religious/political backgrounds are inclined to do the same for its nightmares.


Blood on the grass, blood on the mud,
evening skies spilling the blood
of dying and wounded on sand, on sea,
sacrifices meant to set the world free

Blood on the hands helping comrades
to call out and challenge Hades;
blood on the pillow, blood on the sheet
where love’s worst nightmares meet

Blood on the ceiling, the lamp shade too,
bloodshot eyes still weeping for you;
bloody, the colour of your lips and warm,
defying nightmares to save a dream

Blood on the grass, blood on the sands,
rites of passages no one understands;
though it shed blood (in whatever name)
to a common humanity, the same dream

Copyright R. N. Taber 2010; 2014

Friday, 15 August 2014

Sometimes Love Doesn't (Quite) Make It

Gay or straight, man or woman, I dare say there are a good few people out there whose hearts have been stirred if not broken by a romantic interlude on holiday…or just about any time, anywhere.

Oh, but romance can be so fickle. Love, now that’s something else, and where there’s life…


I’ve strolled in green hills
felt summer’s fingers in my hair,
raindrops like kisses,
envying leafy songbirds
free to fly where they choose
as nature intended,
lying on a bed of heather
its scent invading all my senses
just as you (still) do

We’d stroll in green hills
where you’d run fingers in my hair,
(pausing for kisses)
and write love songs
for the birds, fly where we chose
as nature intended,
lying on a bed of heather
its scent invading all our senses,
all but conquering us

I’ve walked grubby streets
felt summer’s fingers tease my hair,
raindrops like tears,
envying couples holding hands
their sweeter life choices
(or nature at play?)
wishing them kinder places
than sure to invade all the senses,
keep the spoils

Once, we were songbirds flying high
till a north wind exposed us for a lie

Copyright R. N. Taber 2010

Tuesday, 12 August 2014

(Other) Secret Agendas OR Ongoing Repair Work on Fractured Societies

Who needs aliens? You don’t have to be paranoid to imagine shadowy figures in the world, not only treading its corridors of power and conspiring to access our own living rooms but which will almost certainly bring us to the very edge of Armageddon one day if only to give humanity a final push and send us all into freefall…from which only a select few are likely to survive.

The public face of the world leaves much to be desired. Thank goodness then for those people from all socio-cultural-religious backgrounds ever bent upon exposing misleading stereotypes and  redundant traditions to help bring the whole socio-cultural-religious ethic into the 21st century regardless of the risks to their personal safety from die-hard bigots, religious fundamentalists, and those faceless mandarins that have stalked the corridors of power for centuries whose primary concern is self-interest.

No one person can change the world, but if everyone but does their best in their own little corner of it, hopefully the ripples will spread…


Secret agendas,
writing treaties in various tongues
on a mother’s heart,
smiling at young lovers cavorting
in comic strip cartoons

Secret agendas,
providing a eulogy for the failures
of its multi-cultures,
observing how occupied territories
live on empty gestures

Secret agendas,
inciting revolution among dreamers
who would face facts,
repair broken words to make good
well-heeled intention

Secret agendas,
dropping lovers in black holes blown
by would-be martyrs,
sending letters home written on scraps
of roadside shrapnel

Secret agendas
shooting down deaf-blind stargazers
for darker centuries
than this, light years on since we first
let battle commence

Copyright R. N. Taber 2008

Monday, 11 August 2014

Plight of the Yazidis OR Another Bloody Stain on the Landscape of Religion

Tens of thousands of Yazidis - mostly women and children - were forced to flee to Mount Sinjar, in north-west Iraq when the militant Islamic State (formerly ISIS) recently overran the Sinjar region.

The Yazidis have been surrounded by the militants for days in blistering heat, and with little food or water. Many have died. Thanks to the actions of the Kurdish peshmerga forces and US air strikes targeting the militants, many have now been able to cross into Syria and return to Kurdistan, but many others remain trapped. 

There have been reports of anyone refusing to convert to Islam being summarily executed by Islamic State, taken into slavery, and even buried alive.

All religious fundamentalists are a disgrace to their religion and to humanity. When will they ever learn...?


Victims of a radical Islamic obsession
men, women and children, no safe haven,
under siege on a mountain

Misunderstood by many for centuries
(a common perception, devil worshippers)
a veil over the world’s eyes

Defiant, proud, pursued into the glare
of a sorry world’s shortcomings and media,
focusing on their terror

Islamic State (ISIS) as dark a force as evil,
rallying to a flag as black as any terror-devil
might well raise at will

World, wringing its hands at their misery,
does what it can, little enough for the Yazidi
children of the century

Islamic State, swathe of horrific obsession,
raping body, mind and spirit of a pure religion,
impregnating a generation

London, August 11th 2014

Copyright R. N. Taber 2014

Thursday, 7 August 2014

Extracts from an Autobiography of Time

It was 1964 when I first heard Pete Seeger sing Where Have All The Flowers Gone?  I was 17 years-old and moved to tears. I told my mother, adding that I felt such a fool.

‘Never regret tears,’ she said. ‘Only fools never cry. It’s tears that oil the wheels of Time, and without Time there would be no way of carrying our memories to a safe place where we can access them whenever we feel the need…’

'That's daft,' I said.

'No, dear,' she said, 'that's history...'

This poem is a villanelle:


Where time, it passes us on,
so we pass on in time
like a flower, its season gone

No wintry world ever reborn
in love’s springtime
where time, it passes us on

Find peace on Earth forsworn,
(poetry forsaking rhyme)
like a flower, its season gone

Find all sacred songs written
to give God a name…
where time, it passes us on

On its battlefields dearly won,
glory buries its crime
like a flower, its season gone

Be it a molehill or mountain
may the human spirit climb
where time, it passes us on…
like a flower, its season gone

Copyright R. N. Taber 2008; 2014

Tuesday, 5 August 2014

Figures in a Landscape OR Home Truths: The Sociology of Art

For the benefit of any new readers, I should perhaps explain that I also upload historic as well as current blog posts to Google Plus. I regularly add and remove these so readers can access up to about 30 poems without having to trawl 1,000+ poems on my blogs. It seems to work well, and feedback has been very encouraging so I will continue:

Regarding my You Tube channel, it appears that some viewers have not realized they should keep the sound on to catch the poems I read over the latter videos nor that the poem is also included in the description that accompanies each video. Hopefully, this information will add to your enjoyment as Graham and I have a lot of fun shooting the videos and writing the poems. We don’t have a state of the arts video camera, though, so don’t expect a BBC level production:


Among all art forms, it is possibly a painting that brings us closest to considering home truths we prefer to keep at bay...? Could that be because all art probes the secrets of nature and human nature that, as we connect with and relate to it, in one way or another, we cause at least some to surface? 


Colours, plain enough
to see, tricks of light
portraying the same scene
if differently, discerning inner eye
homing in selectively

Familiar enough backdrop;
humanity busy scrapping,
hell-bent on settling old scores
under the very noses of arguably
elected ‘betters’

Society stripped of dignity,
its integrity left wide open
to question, hypocrisy ripped
away like ozone, ways of seeing
increasingly less clear

Earth Mother going it alone;
world conforming
to tribal identities, a conflicting
evolution, pictures in an exhibition
up for speculation

Copyright R. N. Taber 2002; 2014

[Note: An earlier version of this poem appears in 1st eds. of First Person Plural by R. N. Taber, Assembly Books, 2002; 2nd (e-edition) in preparation.]