Saturday, 15 November 2014

Business as Usual OR Running the Everyday Gamut

Perhaps it is because I am growing old, but I take far less pleasure from living in London than I used to.  Even so, my life is here.  While I take much pleasure in its wealth of leisure facilities and history as and when I can, I remain acutely aware that I am passively complicit in its going about that side of its everyday business which takes place in shadows.

I suspect we all run a familiar gamut (to one degree or another) in cities and towns across the world.


Manic streets, paved with eggshells
(Oh, so politically correct...)

Big Issue drumming up passing glances
(Equal Ops prime suspect.)

Beggar and dog at the supermarket
(On the outside, looking in…)

Tailbacks on the home run, a nightmare
(No respect for Car is King.)

Blind man making his own way home
(Small change for a pickpocket...)

Arthritic bag lady taking up a park bench
(Move along, security alert!)

Hey, I bet that one’s a terrorist, see?
(Looks foreign to me...)

Thin is sexy or so we’re asked to believe
(Gorging on glossy magazines...) 

School kid mugged for a smart phone
(Better not to get involved...)

Teenage lovers sharing well-used needles
(What about HIV-AIDS?)

Shoplifters killing off the High Street
(Business as usual...)

Copyright R. N. Taber 2007; 2014

[Note: For overseas readers, who may not know, The Big Issue is a newspaper sold on the streets of the UK by homeless people; it gives them a regular income, and as if not more importantly helps restore their self-confidence and preserve their self-respect; see

An earlier version of this poem appears in 1st eds.of  Accomplices To Illusion by R. N. Taber, Assembly Books, 2007; revised ed. in e-format in preparation.]

Friday, 7 November 2014

Waiting for Christmas OR Signposted, Potential for Waste

At this time of year, people often tell me they are so looking forward to Christmas because they see it as a reason for celebration and renewal, usually more in a temporal than religious sense, as if Christmas will make everything bad in their lives so much better, keeping up the momentum until New Year, and then…?

Too often, the bubble of make-believe is burst soon enough as January arrives with all the indifference to human potential as The Grim Reaper.

We may not be altogether masters of our own fate, but life is what we make it. Mind and body may well be subject to external influences, sometimes of the worst kind, but the human spirit is better than that, and deserves to be given its head. The inner self knows us better than we think we know ourselves, and more of us need to listen rather than turn a deaf ear in favour of false (if attractive) promises the world often makes but has no intention of keeping.

Christmas, like all religious festivals is too often seen as signposting a sanctuary or at least some respite or escape from the harsher elements of life threatening to overwhelm us. Rarely, in my experience, will religion remove the threat for long; we need to build on the spirit and spirituality of peace and love (religion may have its share of both, but no monopoly), not be afraid to ask for help, and make a better life for ourselves on terms we will not flinch from meeting, no matter whether they are unacceptable to those who think they know us better than we know ourselves.


Rain soaking the shirt, jeans;
body responding freely
to Earth Mother’s call to live,
let live, and get real

Face upturned, glad to be out
getting wet, mind distracted;
domestic crises, work targets
and assessments wreaking
havoc (with the best intentions)
stifling that very inspiration
meant to persuade, encourage,
leaves us feeling like flies
feeding on garbage left out
for the bin men, fodder for stray
cats, dogs, homeless folks, waiting
for Christmas

Oh, we may have a job, home,
mortgage etcetera - but a life
to call our own…?

Some may beg to differ, thinking
through yet another staff rota
at supper or marking homework
once guests (finally) gone home
to snug beds, 1001 nights and more
besides of cramming heads,
misting-up eyes, asking questions,
stirring up more lies and half lies
meant to persuade, encourage, only
to leave us feeling like flies
on garbage left for the bin men
to dispose

Christmas comes, Christmas goes;
it’s the inner self knows best
how to make the most of a potential
too precious to waste

Copyright R. N. Taber 2005; 2014

[Note: An earlier version of this poem appears in 1st eds. of A Feeling for the Quickness of Time, Assembly Books, 2005; revised ed. in e-format in preparation.]

Saturday, 1 November 2014

In Good Company OR Memory: A Match for Time, Any Day

Regular readers will know that I believe in the existence of ghosts in the nicest possible way. 

Now, Easter may be months away, but when did memory ever pay any attention to time?


I went to your grave
on Easter day, a longing in the heart
to be near, as once we were

I knelt, unable to pray,
laid a bouquet of flowers at the stone,
glad to stay…
Someone wished me Peace,
said pain would pass and hurt grow less,
that you’d left but briefly,
but that’s not what I wanted
to hear, just to be with you once more
as once we were
A tugging at my sleeve,
but I wept, and would not, could not
leave without you;
gently now, lifting my face
to the sky, showing aspects of our history
like a home movie;
easy then to rise and turn away
from a stone and flowers, ours the gift
of eternity...

Walking hand in hand
through a cemetery, you and I, content
to be in good company

Copyright R. N. Taber 2002; 2014

[Note: This poem has been slightly revised (2014) from an earlier version that appears in 1st eds. of First Person Plural, Assembly Books, 2002; revised ed. in e-format in preparation.]

Wednesday, 29 October 2014

Charging Up for Change OR Swinging Sixties, History v Myth

Oh, but I remember the frumpy fifties so well…as if they were but a few years ago instead of half a century…! The leap in to the 1960 gave us all a welcome shock. Looking back, though, how much do we recall as it really was and how much has been airbrushed along the way by a cult mythology...?

Oh, but where DOES the time go, eh?


Oh, those formal, frumpy fifties!
BBC TV announcers
in evening dress even in the afternoon…
Glued to the radio (hangover
from a bleak wartime) while the likes
of Bronco, Cheyenne, Wells Fargo
and Wagon Train harvest rich myths  
of the old American West
for future generations to look back
with pride, the shame
of Wounded Knee left to Hollywood
with poor excuses

Off ‘n’ away with post-war blues,
we’re looking good…

Enter, skiffle and Lonnie Donegan
before rock and roll began
to take root and Juke Box Jury
woke us all up from days
of ballroom dancing to bold frontiers
of disco (forget the Lone Ranger
and Tonto); Mods and rockers fighting
each other for tabloid headlines,
girls adapting their hemlines to more
than simply fashion…
boys discovering drainpipe trousers
and winkle-picker shoes

Off ‘n’ away with post-war blues,
let the good times roll…

Along came Z-cars, eagerly elbowing out
dear old Dixon of Dock Green
(shortly doomed to bite the dust along
with Bronco and the rest);
the sixties taking over, Beatlemania
on a par with world religions,
politics fair game for anyone free
(supposedly) to indulge controversial
opinions of their own
so long as nothing likely to offend
Cold War ethics among gentlemen spies
and old boy networks

From frumpy fifties to swinging heaven
or wistful imagination…?

Copyright R. N. Taber 2005; 2014

[Note: An earlier version of this poem appears in 1st eds. of A Feeling For The Quickness Of Time by R. N. Taber, Assembly Books, 2005; revised edition in e-format in preparation.]

Tuesday, 28 October 2014

Making Sure of Love OR Love: In It To Win It

I am not getting on too well with either my fractured ankle or the hormone therapy for my prostate cancer, but writing love poems always cheers me up. Although I have not had a partner for years, the memory of our love always lifts my spirits whenever they hover at the edge of some abyss and contemplate going into freefall...


I built a sandcastle for you,
but you kicked it down with infant feet,
and made me cry buckets

I wrote a love poem for you,
but you threw a typical teenage tantrum,
and tore it into tiny pieces

I composed a pop song for you,
and everyone loved it except the person
for whom it was intended

I painted a portrait of you,
but you didn’t care for the way I see you,
and cold-shouldered me

I made a solemn promise to you
that I’d love you forever, no matter what,
and we kissed...

We made love together, bonding
with eternity, transcending a born intimacy
and centuries-old creativity

Together, we built a castle
to withstand all temporal waves, reaffirm
the spirituality of creativity

[From: Tracking the Torchbearer by R. N. Taber, Assembly Books, 2012]

Saturday, 25 October 2014

A Collective Responsibility OR In the Company of Ghosts

Any tears in the ozone layer will not mend themselves unless we all become more pollution conscious... worldwide.

Those leading politicians, with fingers in various Big Business pies, may well choose to play down the long-term effects of polluting the planet, but need to cut the rhetoric and act NOW or risk plunging future generations into an Armageddon scenario…


In the rain, an acid rain, you’re there
sharing the burden of my despair

Let the world roll out another century,
consigning us to memory,
clouds forbid the sun and heavens weep;
in my dark, your light I’ll keep,
till this mere flesh no more can stand
and Death lends us a hand
as through a graveyard in a gentle rain
we ghosts will walk and talk again

In the rain, an acid rain, you’re there,
sharing the burden of my despair

Though our world blast into infinity,
consigning us to the galaxy,
yet seedlings shall survive, endure
in Mother Nature's loving care
till songbirds, in time, return
to the killing fields of Everyman,
redeem a so-sorry history of acid rain
till humankind ghost us yet again

In the rain, an acid rain, we’re here
sharing the burden of their despair

Copyright R. N. Taber 2007; 2014

[Note: An earlier version of this poem appears as ‘Easing the Burden’ in 1st eds. of Accomplices to Illusion by R. N. Taber, Assembly Books, 2007; revised edition in e-format in preparation.]

Friday, 24 October 2014

Ask not, Live not, OR Potential for Inspiration

A colleague once remarked, not a little facetiously, that poets think they have the answer to everything.

Oh, but I wish!

At school, some 50+ years ago, my English teacher, Mr Rankin, (a Scotsman) once commented to the effect that life is all about discovery, and that is all about asking questions. 'Stop asking questions,' he told us, 'and you might as well be dead.'

Oh, but YES.

So what is life all about? Why are we here?  Different people, different answers, but it’s asking the question that counts, and makes us who we are.


What is life, but to have lived at all?
What is death, but all we‘ve not missed?
What is love, but to have loved at all?
What is beauty, but its flowers in a mist?
What is desire but to know desire at all?
(What is loss but by its light never kissed?)
What are dreams, but a life unfulfilled?
What are regrets, but art’s timelines?
What are hopes, but the inner eye’s take
on autumnal colours?

What is life, but to have lived it all?
What is death, but refuting all we missed?
What is love, but to have loved it all,
the beauty of its flowers in a spring mist?
What is desire, but to have desired it all,
loss but shadows where its light has passed
in a dream, the stuff a common humanity
lets pass for peace where its regrets run
with its hopes along timelines recording
art’s penchant for copycat?

Where moved to ask just one question
lies the potential for inspiration

Copyright R. N. Taber 2012