Thursday, 21 May 2015

Flotilla of Remembrance

Today a flotilla of boats will set sail from Ramsgate to mark the 75th anniversary of the Dunkirk evacuation during World War 2.

This poem is a villanelle.


To Dunkirk, the little ships did sail
for tens of thousands, backs to the sea;
an awesome task they dare not fail

Its bloody beaches saw hope prevail,
a town on fire, centre-stage for history;
to Dunkirk, the little ships did sail

Ordinary people, answering the call
to play their part for king and country;
an awesome task they dare not fail

Injured and dying due for a miracle
few could believe they would ever see;
to Dunkirk, the little ships did sail

Tens of thousands plucked from hell
under plain sail transcending the ordinary;
an awesome task they dare not fail

Soldiers of Peace, heroes one and all,
applying humanity’s balm, braving its fury;
to Dunkirk, the little ships did sail,
an awesome task they dare not fail

Copyright R. N. Taber 2010; 2015 

[Note: May 27th - June 4th 1940 saw the remarkable rescue of tens of thousands of allied troops trapped under enemy fire on the beaches of Dunkirk. ]

Tuesday, 19 May 2015

Pleading for the Planet

Many if not most of us take nature for granted and use it to our own advantage at every opportunity as if we have every right to do so.

Meanwhile, I suspect Earth Mother whispers much the same in many an inner ear. Ah, but, hey, anyone listening…?

Who is the guardian of whom, I wonder? We of nature or nature of us? Better, surely, that we work with rather than against each other...?


Listen to the rain
telling tales on people
killing each other

Listen to the trees
telling tales on people
cut to the quick

Listen to the birds
telling tales on people
shooting them down

Listen to the fishes
telling tales on people
poisoning seas

Listen to the worms
telling tales on people
doctoring the soil

Listen to the wind
telling tales of people
on borrowed time

Listen to the people
pleading for the planet
before it’s too late

Copyright R. N. Taber 2015

Thursday, 14 May 2015

Love: Logo for Life

Whatever our colour, creed, sex or sexuality, of all the choices we choose to confirm in life, the most important has to be love…


Choose love
for the comfort of old slippers
once rejected for smacking
of growing old, nor (quite) ready
to concede the case
for a comfortable shoe   
replacing the ever toe-pinching
designer variety

Choose love,
rejecting the nagging loneliness
of one-upmanship,
a sense of always having to prove
something to someone
(if not everyone) - everything
a must have, must do, must not
go without

Choose love
among its many shapes and forms;
never discriminate,
but take each at face value,
no trying to shape it
after a fashion to satisfy
some selfish desire that chances
losing it altogether

Choose love;
heat the body by its eternal flame,
be guided by a light
as reassuring to its acolytes
conspiring to customise
time and space with its logo
as that in any swallow’s nature
fleeing winter

Copyright R. N. Taber 2012; 2015

[Note: This poem was previously published on the bog as 'Choose Love' (2012) and has since been revised.]  

Saturday, 9 May 2015

Extracts from a Poet's Autobiography OR Notes on the Darker Side of Imagination

Regular readers will know that I suffer from regular bouts of depression although I usually manage to avoid plunging into The Abyss if only just...

When depression strikes, I am inclined to wallow in misery and self-pity until a natural optimism and love for life (in spite of its erratic ups and downs) brings me to my senses, and once again I feel free to embrace the world as I invariably see it from the shimmering summit of Mount Parnassus.

Inspiration comes from all aspects of nature, including human nature, fickle though these can be until (eventually) I start to make sense of  who I am; my social, sexual, cultural and spiritual identity...all the parts that comprise a person's whole. It is, after all, the whole that counts, with all of us need to come to terms, each in our own way, and take pride.


Now among friends, now left alone,
wandering a gloomy, scary by-way,
thorns like vampires in fields of stone
under a jaundiced sky turning grey

No one in sight, man, woman or child,
gargoyles on Heaven’s outer walls
perpetuating my horror yet beguiled
by such hideousness while it appalls

Tearing at cloth ears, misery and pain
for the end of a world still enduring
Man’s rape for the sake of Power’s gain,
now at Earth Mother’s final reckoning

How many poets, I dare wonder aloud,
have permitted demons to spawn here,
this fine company of gargoyles, allowed
but a grimace, neither voice nor tear?

Oh for just one kiss of sun on the face,
or garden smells after downpours,
to empathize with a lark’s winged grace,
speak out against the world’s eyesores

Suddenly, the ghastly mirage is gone,
I am back on track, among friends
whose loyalty and love I shall lean upon
where it’s said the track (finally?) ends

[Note: This poem has been slightly revised since its first publication in Accomplice to Illusion by R. N. Taber, Assembly Books, 2007; revised ed. in e-format in preparation.]

Monday, 4 May 2015

Breaking the Silence

The human spirit deserves a voice; it certainly deserves better than any form or dregree of incarceration, self-imposed or otherwise.

Just as many gay boys and girls, men and women worldwide may find it hard to be open about their sexuality, many if not most people (gay or straight) have feelings they are obliged to hide for one reason or another; nothing gives the human spirit its freedom like coming out of hiding, and breaking the silence, self-imposed or otherwise, that drove it there.


Gagging on the silence,
blinded by the dark,
not deaf, though, to wolves
howling for blood

Thoughts, vague shapes
like ink blots
on pages charting molehills
to mountains

Moon, no guardian here
but a mythology
written in charcoal, that reads,
 ‘I told you so…’

Stars, hijacked by a night
in fierce deadlock
with Earth Mother and human

Trapped, lost, a no-hoper
being crushed
to nothingness just for asking,
‘What’s the point?’

Enter, dawn’s weepy light,
Apollo’s first take
on Earth Mother and the human  

Risen to breaking silences,
inner eye and ear
awakening like sleepy egg-birds
to find a voice

Copyright R N. Taber 2015

Wednesday, 29 April 2015

Travelling Light OR Notes on the Physiology of Art

I have often wondered why it is I seem to write my best poetry when I am feeling low, heading nowhere, and life a burden. 

For many years, I have suspected that the deeper into nowhere we go, the stronger the human spirit’s anticipation of finally getting somewhere comes into play; to this purpose, we may yet be close to if not at our best, albeit unknowingly, just for encouraging the human mind to shed its load and travel light - until the next time we enter into the realms of what invariably goes by the name of 'inspiration' for want of a more detailed, personal explanation...
This poem is a kenning.


No burden on my back,
heart lighter for the notes
of a love song
embracing a friendly darkness
like a falcon’s feathers
before unhooded and set free,
imaging winged grace, 
challenging infinite space
in your place

The thrill of uncertainty,
potential for an epiphany 
on the inner eye
cause and effect ever on call
(metaphor for the soul?)
pointing to forfeit and reward,
endgame, peace,
once time ready to yield up
its secrets

Mind, emptied of desire,
body, exhilarating in flight
from temporality,
vulnerable to a spirituality
custom made
to nature’s specifications,
shaped and reworked
by humanity’s native genius
for anticipation

Find me, art's eternal poetry,
flying in the face of mortality

Copyright R. N. Taber 2015

Saturday, 25 April 2015

Love: A Lesson for Life

If learning is a life-passage, the foundations of learning must lie with love or why do any of us make the journey in the first place…?


Once upon a time
in the sunshine, fickle world
spinning me round
till a mist closing in on me
where mistakes
and regrets come to haunt
as they always have, and I dare say
always will…

Oh, but hastily passing them by,
the world and I

The mist begins to clear,
and instead of taunts,
I can hear sweet birdsong
in summer air,
singing love songs, reciting poems
about kinder
as well as darker aspects
of humanity…

Oh, but hastily passing them by,
the world and I

Music, still tugging  
at heartstrings,
inspiring we nature lovers
to let open mind and spirit take us
by the hand
as a child to its elders bound,
asking questions…

Oh, but hastily passing them by,
the world and I

Words, lightly hovering
on each ear
like birds in mid-flight before
journeying on
(and who knows why or where?);
sense and sensibility
converging from the start
on the human heart

Oh, but hastily passing them by,
the world and I

Love, invading the senses
like sunshine,
lighting up shadowy corners
of the self,
left inarticulate and ineffective
by inexperience,
ready to accept responsibility
for a new maturity

Copyright R. N. Taber 2015