Saturday, 29 August 2015

Home Truths, Martyrs to Love

A reader once got in touch to say he feels such a fool because he can’t help loving his girlfriend even though she continues to see other guys. 

That same day, there was an email in my In Box from a gay guy relating how he could not get even begin to get his head around his boyfriend's wanting an open relationship. While I, personally, would walk away, I do not underestimate either the power of love  or of well-meaning (if often ill-advised) pressure from family and/or friends - reminding us of our various 'responsibilities'; in other words, we mustn't be seen to let the side down. (Better to let ourselves down...?)

What can I say except these are among many men and women around the world who, for centuries, have settled for less - sometimes far less - in a relationship than, at heart, they desire and need. Some people, of course, can live with open relationships; for others (like me) it is asking too much.

It has to be one of the saddest facts of life that many potential partners cannot always see the other person’s take on love or…each other. Yet, many of us will settle for a one-sided relationship than no relationship at all, and the threat of loneliness; the latter reason perhaps why the world is full of martyrs to love.

Relationships between two people can only work if both partners want it to work, and neither should forget that everyone has a choice.


You warned me not to fall in love with you,
that it was sex alone, never love, spurring us on,
for love is only for fools (you said) its course
set and steered by wet dreams; we worldly types
know better (you said) while tonguing words
of intimacy as if rites for a benign conspiracy

Keeping up appearances, it was nothing more
(never love) fuelling inspiration. Gladly I’d let
your fine body take mine, clung to the hope
that you’d come to love me, despairing as each
frantic, mindless, orgasm ripped through us
like that double-edged sword we call honesty

A culture of hypocrisy concealing human needs,
never quite able to satisfy the loneliness it feeds
Copyright R. N. Taber 2007; 2015

Saturday, 22 August 2015

Spoils of War OR A Measure of Progress

A slightly different version of today’s poem first appeared in the Poetry Now [Forward Press] anthology series, London and Home Counties (2001) I included it in in my second collection the following year. Somear. Some readers may well prefer the original, but as regular readers of the blog aware, I am often inclined to give in to a feeling for revision where certain earlier poems are concerned. I see revisions as extensions of a poem, not simply replacements. 

Now, can we honestly call the rape of our forests and woodlands…progress?

Humankind needs to balance its own humanitarian needs with the needs of nature to help sustain them. If we are not careful, nature will get the upper hand sooner rather than later, destroy us before we can destroy it or even ourselves. 

Whatever, to the victor, the spoils as the march of today’s Titans of big business and entrepreneurial skulduggery proceeds all but unchallenged and unchecked...


Shadows gathering
like crowds for an execution;
storm clouds rumbling
like a malediction on the planet;
challenging us to bow out
here and now or put things right
(if it's not already too late);
for our children, prepare a future
in harmony with nature

In a spotlight of sunshine,
luminous corn circles invoking
the mystery of eternity,
human parts all but played out,
hearts put to  rout,
hounded by a native savagery
plaguing the purer, simpler, 
beauty of a common humanity
haunted by history

To nature, allow its dignity
or ‘progress’ a poor victory

Copyright R. N. Taber 2001; 2015

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

Friday, 21 August 2015

Deserving Praise OR Living with Parody

Sometimes, we do our best, and yet it never seems to be enough for some people while others simply take our efforts for granted.

Yes, it hurts when all we seek is a little encouragement, and all we seem to have to show for it is grains of sand.

It is so often the case that people do not mean to cause hurt, yet fail to see their comments as a parody of their finer feelings towards us.

We all need to think before we speak sometimes, learn to acknowledge and trust our better instincts, formulate our ideas with care instead of (all too often) falling prey to so-called 'public opinion'. Easier said than done, though, this refusing to either rush to judgement on others or let ourselves fall victim to those rushing to judgement on us...


Alone on a beach
among restless white ponies
panting heavily,
rearing at me for they know
a storm is coming,
although not yet a while;
time yet to let me see
the Old Man smile as I drop stars
through tearful fingers
relentlessly measuring out
the rest of my life

Air hot and stale
like the stillness of a coffin,
funeral prayers
long since dead and gone,
tossed to playful waves
as we’d throw a much loved dog
a bone and watch it run,
tail wagging, anxiously homing in
on its reward
for whatever, only ever needing
to deserve praise

No bones here,
only  flailing limbs of ghosts
in dark water
striving for landfall, but sure
of nothing,
like flotsam and jetsam taking turns
to see which will
fall into loving hands anxious
to shape an art form
if for no other reason than needing
to deserve praise

What to do?
Needs must…choose well
or wait for a stampede
to render me less than hoof prints
in the sand,
all human potential left
to natural erosion
unknowingly hastened by fishers
of men rushing to judgement
if for no other reason than needing
to deserve praise

Nothing for me here,
but rage and pain in a pool of stars
at my feet,
urging me to jump a feisty pony,
let it take me where it will,
escape not only storm but wreckage
as sure to follow as day
follows night and tides of humanity,
the course its nature sets us
if for no other reason than failing
to deserve praise

Yet, treasures to be had,
sparkling views of sea, sky and sand
filing the inner eye
with memories of (far) kinder times
filled with faith in dreams
nurturing mind, body and spirit
no matter where the spotlight
on everyday lives may choose to fall,
urging that we follow the course
nature sets us if for no other reason
than deserving praise

Copyright R. N. Taber 201; 2015

Monday, 17 August 2015

Love: Open Door, Open Heart

Readers often comment that my love poems could apply to anyone, gay or straight. Well, that's the whole point.

Regular readers will know that my partner died long ago. We did not have many years together. Yet, our love is a part of me still and always will be. At the same time, we should never compare lovers or even friends because that’s not fair on anyone.

Invariably, we change as we mature; so, too, does love. If we're lucky, we mature together.

Sometimes, for all kinds of reasons, love falls behind. Meanwhile, the lock on our heart's door may well need removing. Nothing will be the same. Yet, if two people want each other in their lives, it is always worth leaving the door open. Be
sure, it’s not the dead who keep the door shut; only the living can do that. True love never knowingly closes the door on itself.

As I have said many times on my blogs, moving on does not mean leaving anyone behind. 


The day you died,
I tossed my heart in your wake,
could but weep
for its loss, letting mine break…
Why you had gone,
no one thought to confide
as I watched you into the sunset
on a pale horse ride

Where had you gone?
I fiercely rejected all speculation
for believing  
in a custom made hell or heaven;
the last words I heard you say
were on living this life to the full
as yours passed away like sunshine
come nightfall

I looked up, saw a cloud
steal your sweet smile  just for me,
felt your kisses like rain
inspiring this poor body of mine
to live, even love again…
I watched the cloud move on
with thanks for its letting my heart  
know where you had gone

Long after you died,
a new love is making vows I yearn
to return, return…
Born again, risen like the phoenix
from the same sweet smile
I’ll see in every passing cloud
where you’ll look to reassure me
it’s no betrayal

Copyright R. N. Taber 2013; 2015

Sunday, 16 August 2015

L-I-F-E, Pit and Pendulum OR Engaging with Potential

Sometimes, we may well look down through the years and find them wanting, ourselves too, and looking up, all we see are cloud faces looking critically down on us.

Time then to look around, take in the more endearing aspects of landscape (natural and human) and apply much the same criteria to ourselves and others before moving on, best foot forward, a spring in each step…


Peering down a pit of years,
pin-prick of light at the bottom
reminiscent of birth;
bleak, timeless walls rising
like dark threats,
reminiscent of waiting graves
conjured up
by each day’s passing, homing in
on ends of beginnings, beginnings of ends,
nemeses of ideology

Peering down a pit of years,
letting a tear drop to the bottom,
reminiscent of a dream,
ripples of light chasing potential
into a nothingness
reminiscent of an empty cage
as conjured up
by each day’s passing, homing in
on ifs, maybe’s, would have, should have,
no excuses

Peering up at passing clouds,
putting names to faces I have loved,
reminiscent of meaning
despite neither answers or questions,
only heartbeats
reminiscent of raindrops on a petal,
potentially destructive,
but unable to break the spirit of stem
or flower, beginnings and endings nurtured
by Earth Mother

Peering across a garden lawn,
restoring sight enough to open mind,
body and spirit
to the enduring spirituality of life,
love and peace
that cannot deny prison, pit or cage,
but knows better
than to let either surfeit of questions
or want of answers leave us in the dark
from womb to tomb

Trust body, mind and spirit
to flush out inner, kinder, better selves,
reminiscent of solutions
to unanswered questions left to climb
bleak, timeless walls,
spurred on by pin-pricks of light
competing to engage
humanity with pride for homing in
on timeless heavens, no end of potential
in its sights

Copyright R. N. Taber 2015

[Note: This poem was posted only recently on the blog but has inexplicably disappeared, possibly inadvertently deleted; it has been reinstated here following emails from several readers. Always feel free to email me - about the blogs, or anything else for that matter.] 

Saturday, 15 August 2015

Minder OR Reverting to Type

Strange, isn’t it, how some words, events and people stick to the memory like glue? Could it be they press buttons we rarely if ever choose to press ourselves?  For example, there is a pub in Old Street (London) called The Masque Haunt. I once overheard a complete stranger comment  as he looked up at the name, ‘Now, that’s life. Oh, yes, that is life…’

I have often reflected on how the inner selves that come together to create human identity  are a motley crew; invariably, they adapt to a variety of circumstances, performing accordingly for a variety of people in a variety of ways, depending on why we have (consciously or subconsciously) brought them into play in the first place.

This poem is a kenning.


I tell people what to do
and where to go, putting them
in their place
where needs must, advise how
not to lower the eye,
but appear relaxed to all intents
and lesser purposes,
direct the semblance of a smile
to complete the illusion

I fulfil the role of showman,
 treading no boards, just dreams
(nor gently either)
inciting the coward to bold acts
likely to pass for bravery
by the less discerning observer,
appropriately applauded
by an audience with its own ideas
of entertainment…

I hunger for a share of glory,
albeit behind scenes played out
to (near) perfection
by conscience and consciousness
at centre-stage
of everyday deceptions produced 
by circumstances
and directed by those old stand-bys,
diplomacy and discretion

Minder to alter egos above suspicion,
call me self-preservation

Copyright R. N. Taber 2015

Wednesday, 5 August 2015

Dead Cool OR Funeral Rites for Macho Man

Overheard on a bus:

TEENAGER 1: It’s all very well for people to say don’t carry a gun, but what do they know, yeah? It’s dead cool, right? You have to protect yourself, yeah? F++k the do-gooders. What kind of world do they think we live in? You gotta get real, yeah?

TEENAGER 2: What if someone gets hurt, killed even?

TEENAGER 1: So it ain’t gonna be me, right?

TEENAGER 2: I dunno…

TEENAGER 1: (Rising to leave as bus stops) You don’t know nothing then.

An elderly later sitting next to me shook her head. ‘He’s right about one thing. What do we know about the world they live in? And whose fault is that, I wonder?

I said nothing. What could I say?

This poem is a villanelle.


Finally, managed to get me a gun
and spreading the word,
didn’t ask who’ll carry my coffin

Shouting at just about everyone,
but no one ever heard;
finally, managed to get me a gun,

Needed to prove I was someone,
get me some street cred;
didn’t ask who’ll carry my coffin

At first, life was a buzz, good fun,
but all that disappeared;
finally, managed to get me a gun,

A gangster vid game let me down,
couldn’t show I was scared,
didn’t ask who’ll carry my coffin

Macho mates wept to see my crown
dripping with blood;
finally, managed to get me a gun,
didn’t ask who’ll carry my coffin

Copyright R. N. Taber 2010; 2015