Monday, 19 October 2015

Epiphany on the Streets

We all complain about the quality of our lives from time to time, some more often than others. It can take a tragedy to put things into perspective.

Life is for living. Everyone has his or her own perspective on life. We all want different things and that’s how it should be. [Thank goodness we are not a race of clones…yet] Nor should we let some well-meaning person try and live his or her life through us.

Our ambitions, aspirations, dreams…are not theirs, nor ever can be, but ours and ours alone. Yes, it is good to share them, but it’s down to us to make of them what we can. So let’s get on with it, and give it our best shot, make the best rather than the worst of whatever life throws at us...while we still can.

Good luck.


I saw someone dying in the street,
a man crying his heart out;
no last, moving words of love
and comfort, body, barely stirring
under a blanket

Blue eyes on a cloud white as snow,
wondering why the crowd won’t
let go, wishing it would, yet afraid
it might, and what would happen then
to the poor cloud?

Is there really a place called Heaven
that will take us in, make pain
go away, carry us on angel wings
where love and peace breathe new life
into dead things?

What is Death that we should fear it,
seek sanctuary, and who’s to say
God knows best, isn’t an invention,
alternative vision to the worst of nature
that is and is not human?

Parents say this and teachers say that,
while hymns and prayers are sweet
on the ear but fail to ever make clear
just how affairs of the spirit truly relate
to any happy-ever-after
Cloud and Death in human form
moving on in an ambulance,
sirens shrieking, crowd disperses,
no one chancing any knowing glances
penetrating their defences

The crying man was but (like me)
a passing stranger caught out,
briefly sharing (rats in a sewer)
the mentality of survival, ever turning
on eluding The Catcher

The sun came out, shone in our faces;
from a nearby market, fresh smell
of flowers, all hint of mortality spent,
returning me to family and friends, often
taken for granted

Now, I think no less of weepy heavens
for angry clouds, feel humbled
by the reworking of a street tragedy
adding to Time’s, oh, so temporary reality
a lasting epiphany

Copyright R. N. Taber 2004; 2015

[Note: This poem has been revised (2015) from an earlier version that appears under the title An Accidental Life in 1st eds. of The Third Eye by R. N. Taber, Assembly Books, 2004; revised ed. in e-format in preparation.]

Sunday, 11 October 2015

Homework OR A Growing Sense of Being on the Wrong Learning Curve

A slightly different version of today’s poem first appeared in an anthology, The Scene is Set, Poetry Now (Forward Press) 2002 and CC&D (Scars Publications, U.S.) the same year, and subsequently in my collection; it also appeared in Ygdrasil, A Journal of the Poetic Arts (an on-line monthly webzine) in 2005.

I spent many years working as a librarian in public libraries. Young people would come in to do their homework and I would ask them how they were getting on at school. Their responses would vary from politely indifferent to openly hostile towards the school environment as they saw it. I would nod, smile, and try to sound encouraging. It was hostility, though, that would invariably trigger memories of my own schooldays when homework would inevitably get me thinking about matters other than what I needed to be getting on with for school the next day.

Homework taxes the brain and sends all kinds of messages into the mind, not all of which are directly relevant to the matter in hand; a stressful process, yet curiously liberating. It isn’t healthy to close our minds to what is going on (at any age) either in the world at large or, more importantly, within ourselves.

I used to wonder sometimes if teachers and parents understand how scary homework sessions can be. It would strike me that few do or they would be helping us answer more questions about life and human nature than any regular hypothesis considered suitable \(by whom, I used to ask myself?) for homework.

Among my teachers at junior and secondary schools, there were a few who taught me more than a relatively narrow curriculum allowed. I may not have been able to articulate on this particular learning process for years, but especially as a teenager - it sowed seeds of thought embracing mind, body and spirit that I sensed required nurture. By way of their many throw-away comments and occasional voiced opinions about all sorts, I accessed aspects of philosophy of which I would otherwise have been left ignorant, helping me to develop an affinity with various life forces providing lasting food for thought that has influenced, guided, helped and supported me all my life.

While all the rest made me feel much like a caged bird anxious to be free, this was a real learning curve, one which university would expand upon and help clarify way beyond the relatively limited scope of academia, truly an education for life…one which, of course, never ends.


Photos by the bed,
posters on the wall, press cuttings
on a chair
likely to hit the floor if someone
opens the door
so the door stays shut,
keeping strangers out
while anxious faces debate
human rights, pollution,
nature conservation, salvation,
education, discrimination,
traffic congestion, political correctness
(on the face of it),
safer sex, drugs, always having
to be alert;
a clamour of everyday voices kicking
what passes for the soul
like a football across the room;
conscience, scoring an own goal every
now and then

So many questions, few answers, lies,
half lies, part truths,
and home truths like moths flummoxed
by a light bulb

Please, someone, open the damn door
(not meant to stay shut) and let us out

Copyright R. N. Taber 2002; 2011

[Note: An earlier version of this poem appears in first editions of A Feeling for the Quickness of Time by R. N. Taber, Assembly Books, 2002; revised ed. in e-format in preparation.]

Monday, 21 September 2015

Heartbeat OR Waking Up to the Power of Positive Thinking

Please remember that my blogs do not accept comments, but I always reply to emails. Some readers have said they have problems using AOL, in which case try I look forward to hearing from you.

Now, who hasn't despaired now and then of even getting up in the morning?

People sometimes tell me that they have given up on love. I tell them, never even think about it.. Love can happen along just when you least expect it. Besides, as I’ve pointed out many times on the blogs, love expresses itself in many shapes and forms; it doesn’t have to be sexual. Love between lovers is special, yes, but then any love is special; for family, friends, pets, even places.

Give up on love and we might as well not bother to get up in the morning, for all life is worth without love in it. We just have to see what’s on offer and GO for it. Take me, for example. On days when I feel down and there’s no one around to talk things through with (or I may not feel like talking to anyone anyway) I’ll most likely take myself off to be by the sea for the day, often Brighton (Sussex) because I love everything about the place and always feel so much better for going there.

Oh, and as regular readers will know, just because I am not religious, and don’t accept the God as portrayed by various religions, doesn’t mean I am unreceptive to succour from a sense of spirituality. Only, I get it from nature, not religion.

This poem is a (yes, another) villanelle


No heart beating in vain
under anaesthetizing darkness
at a new dawn

Left wondering when
(if ever) its turn for happiness…?
No heart beating in vain

Will sleep’s half-open
portals close on or let in distress
at a new dawn?

If dreams bring pain
where life and death paths cross…
no heart beating in vain

Late invitation
to troubled souls seeking redress
at a new dawn

Where light bursting in,
nature filling us with its life-force,
no heart beating in vain
at a new dawn

Copyright R. N. Taber 2005; 2015

[Note: Revised (2015) from an earlier version that appears in 1st eds. of A Feeling for the Quickness of Time by R. N. Taber, Assembly Books, 2005; revised ed. In e-format in


Saturday, 19 September 2015

Whispers in the Wind

History is a great teacher of love and peace; the pity is that humankind is (such) a slow learner…  


Whispers in the wind
like autumn leaves, ever drifting
time and space…

Love poems in the heart
like tears of a rose, harbinger
of autumn

Hymns to nature voicing
hunger for change and peace
of mind

Bogeyman at every corner
waiting to pounce, force-feed us
its prejudices

Drop-ins along every street,
ready to lend an ear, teach us

People of all persuasions
asking no more of life than love
and peace

Grim Reaper harvesting
humankind’s failure to settle
its differences

Whispers in the wind
like deaf ears, perpetually drifting
time and space…

Copyright R. N. Taber 2015

Tuesday, 8 September 2015

Landfall, Infinity

Now and then, readers of one or other (even both) my poetry blogs  - all ages, both sexes, gay and straight - email to say they are in London or coming to London and would like to meet up for a chat (about anything and everything) over a few drinks or a meal. I always enjoy these get-togethers, have met up with some very interesting people and keep in touch with many of them if only by email. So feel free to contact me any time, even if a meet-up is never likely to be on the cards. While I don’t allow comments on the blogs, I will always reply to emails; a lively exchange of views and opinions is always fun.

Dreams and daydreams are more a part of us than we care to admit, carefully – or even carelessly - stored away in some shadowy corner of the mind waiting for sandmen to come along and explore, rather like a children  rummaging through the contents of an attic and turning it into an adventure as only children can. Quite possibly, too, they instinctively recognize the worth or worthlessness of whatever they find there…as only children can.

Like it or not, few if any of us leave childhood – or at least its natural instincts – behind altogether; naivety and innocence may be tiresome from an adult perspective, while both harbour an honesty unfettered by the so-called ‘wisdom’ that comes with maturity and invariably urges discretion if not total restraint…for (our) survival’s sake if nothing (or no one) else’s.


Sun going down,
leaving our daydreams to float
on waves of twilight
where some are sure to drown,
others washed up
on green-gold shores of infinity,
the rest left drifting
on a vast sea of darkness,
flotsam and jetsam
of human nature to be claimed
in the passing of time
by that old beachcomber, Sleep,
and re-appraised,
reworked by sandmen, guardians
of our secret selves

Twilight dimming,
anticipating thoughts drowning
beneath wintry waves
of abandoned hope, ambition,
darker aspects of nature
and human nature sure to drag
the human condition
into an unfathomable despair
were they not there
to watch over us, keep us safe
in dimensions of Being
beyond its everyday assumptions,
painting picture-poems
on closed eyes anxious to open
closed minds

Man in the Moon
overseeing black holes for worms
and makeshift coffins
made up of pillows, duvets and sheets
where monsters lurk, waiting
to pounce unawares on consciences
left exposed and vulnerable
in the absence of any conscious effort
to make the kind of excuses
we need to half-believe in or spiral
into a state of half-living,
inciting us to try and beat The Reaper
as his own game,
losers all, we bit players in the greater
scheme of things

Sun resurfacing,
lending passage to lion and lamb
and all of nature’s own
going about the business of living
much as we human beings
if more protective and protecting
of its species and spaces
in spite of the world’s demanding
of Earth Mother far more
than its share of natural resources,
but all’s fair…(so they say)
and the human beast needs must
be the best of a bad bunch
occupying Her territories, fighting
over them for centuries

Cold light of day,
taking us through everyday motions
many if not most of us
think of as living, taking for granted
every ripple, every wave,
carrying us to the very edge of a world
created for ourselves,
all-comers welcome while remaining
in their seats lest they rock
this Ship of Fools chartered by ‘betters’
to take the rest of us
towards a landfall some call ‘Heaven’
where no going down
of the sun, no pillow promises made
at dawn cruelly broken

Man on a Mission
like a dog at a bitch on heat inciting
priority attention
as becomes nature’s motivation to fill in
time’s blank spaces
with living, loving, thriving species,
meant to mature,
(since such is the cycle of natural life)
by filling in their own blanks
with living, loving, thriving issues,
and any black holes
with light enough to show we were here,
we bit players, we flotsam
and jetsam, we bringers of all history
coasting shores of infinity

Copyright R. N. Taber 2015

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.]