Monday, 20 October 2014

The Scream

We all have our share of disappointments and frustrations in life, sadness too, upon which demons pounce and often never (quite) disappear. [Demons from long-ago closet years when gay relationships were illegal haunt me still, but less so as time goes by.]

Looking back at my life and looking inwards at my inner self, I can track the scream just so far…then either it stops or I stop looking, I am never sure which. I know I will hear it again, but in the meantime, there is life to be lived and its pleasures to be enjoyed. As for the scream, it may well haunt me, but as I discovered long ago, it can’t hurt me…unless I let it.

Do you, too, hear a scream? It is silent, yet sometimes I think it is the loudest sound we will ever hear, shaking the whole body now and then as if it were no more than a leaf in a storm.  I guess the trick is not to ride out the storm and look forward to the sun coming out again…as more often than not, it will…if we look for it.

'The Scream' by Edvard Munch (1893); image from Wikipedia. One of several versions of the painting "The Scream" (title: Der Schrei der Natur, 'The Scream of Nature') at The National Gallery, Oslo, Norway..


Five years-old and looking for a scream
that I knew damn was there but never came
so I put it down to imagination,
too young to articulate on the surrealism
of self-destruction

Fifteen years of looking for a scream
an awakening sexuality poised to overwhelm
so I put it down to imagination,
old enough to argue with the prejudices
of convention

Twenty-one years of looking for the scream,
echoes of a poorly read poem like a bad dream,
so I put it down to imagination,
blamed home-school-work environment
and birth sign

Thirty-five years of looking for the scream,
mind in freefall, body drenched in its own sperm;
tried it out on imagination
but all I discovered there was a sense
of getting even

Fifty-five years of looking for the scream,
first heard in the womb, always hurting my ears,
put down to an imagination,
fed at the breast of one-upmanship
and religion

Sixty-five years, still looking for a scream
that’s doing my head in, barracking a spirituality
pinning hopes of salvation
in a common, credible, liberal humanity
left to the imagination

No killing it, but running the scream to earth
at the moment of death

[London, June 2010]

Copyright R. N. Taber 2010

Sunday, 19 October 2014

Too Late for Poetry OR Love: Old Habits Die Hard...

Sometimes we so wish we could put the clock back and let life and love return to the way they once were. Oh, but especially love!

It is never easy to let go of love. Even when mind and spirit are close to admitting defeat, the body nay well have other ideas…

Sometimes, it’s already too late…even for the poetry of love.

Ah, but there’s always tomorrow… isn’t there?


As I lay on a pillow thinking of us,
you opened the door and came in,
crossed to the bed, lay down beside me,
cradled my head, swore you loved me,
would see me through my agony
(knowing you’d cheated on me again)
begging to share a bed left as sad
and lonely as that shroud in which our love
left to lie, letting fly a desire to write
the final page of a gloriously dark history
that had seen us feeding off our need
for one another, making believe we were
in love and nothing else mattered
but a sure rising to a heaven of sorts
on wings of mad desire, its flames
devouring us, little left of us but ashes
once over and done, we fallen angels
(time and time again) having braved a fire
even a phoenix would never dare

Unless (a familiar whispering in the ears)
we quit this soap opera of ours, rediscover
the sheer poetry of hope, even peace…

A tempting offer, love almost persuaded
by our tears till suddenly it saw through
the disguise and told us straight (enough lies)
but restless desires had other ideas
and chose for us (as we knew they would)
the bitter-sweet prose of fallen heroes
nor was it some God punishing us for hadn’t we  
already seen to that ourselves?

Copyright R. N. Taber 2007; 2014

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

Monday, 13 October 2014

Monday, Monday...

Readers are always asking for the link to my informal poetry reading on the 4th plinth in London’s Trafalgar Square in 2010 by way of being my contribution to Sir Antony Gormley’s One and Other ‘live sculpture’ project. Be warned, though; the whole thing lasts an hour:

Now, this tongue-in-cheek poem has been slightly revised since appearing in my collection and on the blog in 2007. I wrote it in 2003. Since then I have retired but…I still hate Mondays!


Monday morning,
one eye on a glorious dawning
through paper thin curtains
covering us much like a shroud;
hearts stopping, a relentless
ticking of bedside clocks arousing it
to a semblance of beating, 
like a bored child tapping fingers
on whatsoever happens along
to distract from the business in hand
of having tt knuckle down
to what’s expected, without so much
as any reward or time off
for good behavior from acting
the epitome of perfection,
if only to impress those who need
(or demand) to be impressed,
best impressions leaving the rest
struggling to keep up…

Oh, but that won’t do, have to show
who’s who, stand tall, be counted
as well worth our salt among so-called
‘betters’ - prove our daily stars
not so far out after all, even if night
skies are more likely to shoot us
in the back, leave us gibbering wrecks
after playing at sex, losing the game,
and waking up with a killer hangover,
contemplating going to work in terror,
more than likely to be gobbled up
by some mad 'n' mean gossip machine
playing you-can-tell-me-I-won’t-tell
that just may have something going for it,
beats an unholy devotion to overtime
no one gets paid or even a thank you so
by immaculate, swivel chairing gods
on six figure salaries and getting a kick
out of fiddling expenses…  

Oh, yes, and all for what? Get laid, 
(so drunk we forget anyway…)

Monday, Monday, GO AWAY

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.]

Sunday, 12 October 2014

Friends Reunited

True friends care about each other and show it, through thick and thin. It is a rare thing, these days, friendship. Too often we think we have a good friend, and then he or she not only stays away when we need them most but also manages to put the blame on us for the fractured friendship.

Friendship works both ways. Too many people are so wrapped up in themselves they only see it as a one-way trip.

Sometimes a friend may be depressed or feeling so low they have no room in head or heart for anyone else while the condition lasts. As good friends, we need to be there for them no matter what…or how can we expect them to be there for us?

The selfish view some people take, that if a friend has not been in touch they won’t contact them either, is not what friendship is all about.

I count myself so lucky to have some good (real) friends.


I knocked at the door,
again, again, and yet again;
no one came

Eventually, I turned away,
drifted lonely as a cloud - and
then returned

I banged on the door
again, again, and yet again;
no one came

Angrily, I turned away,
ran until exhausted - and
then returned

I yelled at the door
again, again, and yet again;
no one came

Sadly, I sat down
on a step wondering - why
no one listening?

I called at the door
again, again, and yet again
till someone came

[From: A Feeling For The Quickness Of Time by R. N. Taber, Assembly Books, 2005]

Saturday, 11 October 2014

A Poem in the Making OR Postscript to a Love Affair

A number of readers have asked if I plan to publish a separate collection of my love poems. Since no publishers have shown any interest, I guess the answer has to be ‘no’.


A friend once commented that all his greatest regrets had one thing in How many of us, I wonder, might well say the same?


When you are lying very close to me
and my fingers are playing with your hair,
I could stay like this through eternity,
so full, this poet’s heart, of love and care

The warmth of your body inspiring me
to write sonnets on the walls of my heart,
my spirit rising to such ecstasy…
it can never contemplate we should part

Alas, part we must, and this spirit weep,
though these eyes stay dry or you may discern
how I dream of us, awake and asleep,
for some lessons some lovers never learn

Yet, missing you keeps you a part of me,
and our lives, though separate, poetry

Copyright R. N. Taber 2005; 2014

[An earlier version of this poem (slightly revised here) 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.]

Thursday, 9 October 2014

A Question of Focus OR Extracts from the Diary of a Born Again Bigot

During the last weeks of 2011, I met someone from Uganda who confessed to having once been a ‘Bible thumping evangelical pr**k.’ (His words, not mine.) ‘Once, I’d have seen you as a child of the Devil for being gay..?’ he added with a wry smile.

‘So what happened to change your mind? I asked. His reply both floored me and lifted my spirits at the same time.

‘I found God,’ he said simply and quietly, his voice ringing with conviction.

Ah! So there is hope for much of Africa yet (and its extremist evangelical clerics) as well as other parts of the world that need to get real about gay people as well as facing up to other appalling anachronisms that shame humanity; for example, what passes for an ‘honour killing’ among some communities is nothing short of cold-blooded murder in any civilized society.

On the subject of civilized (on the whole, at least) society, I agree with those who insist there is no room for Sharia law in it either.  I trust those British Muslims pressing for aspects of it to be written into British law will be disappointed. [Or I, for one, will emigrate.] Fortunately, they appear to be in a far. Yet, it is very disturbing to read about cases reported in the British press in recent years that suggest some British courts have dealt incredibly leniently with young Muslims guilty of serious hate crime against gay people and others; especially in areas like Tower Hamlets in London where the population is predominantly Muslim. 

Among those British Muslims I know personally, none are homophobic or support Sharia law. Alas, though, it is often those who shout the loudest and claim to represent a conveniently ‘silent’ majority who eventually get their own way. For example, take those extremist clerics misrepresenting their religion for their own ends; their direct incitement to hate crime against people just for being gay can only be described as moral and spiritual corruption.

As I have said on my blogs before, I am no racist or Islamophobe. However, I am sick and tired of being called either or both if I have cause to reprimand someone simply for their bad behaviour. Unless there are mitigating circumstances, such as mental illness, bad behaviour is bad behaviour regardless of the offender's socio-cultural-religious persuasion. While what may be considered bad behaviour in one country may not in another,  the behaviour of some people of various ethnic origins here in the UK would not be tolerated even in their country of family why should the likes of me say nothing for fear of being called racist or whatever?

Is it not high time the more moderate if not liberal-minded ‘silent majority’ found its voice worldwide?

Whoever and wherever we are, sometimes all it takes is a change of focus to realize that, on balance, there is much good in the world in spite of various socio-cultural-religious forces in certain ‘civilized’ societies trying to create an imbalance in their own interests.


I used to see the world
as blank pages I needed to fill
with lessons in life
taken from its Holy Books
so fewer sceptics
would rush to turn their backs
on God’s will,
but celebrate His (or Hers?)
all their lives

I used to see the world
as blank pages I needed to fill
with anger and rage
at this world’s, oh, so sorry state,
often feeding on hate,
fallen way short of the peace
with one another
endorsed by centuries-old
Creation myths

I used to see the world
as blank pages I needed to fill
for those to see
the vile errors of their ways,
such as those
who endorse homosexuality,
reject righteousness
for selfishness and a parody
of happiness

I used to see a world God
looks down on with great sadness
and infinite pity
until Earth Mother showed me
we human beings
need to make our own history,
let nature write its pages
as it will, celebrate the flowering
of each individual

Bigotry’s ungodly song and dance
but celebrates its own arrogance

Copyright R. N. Taber 2012

Tuesday, 7 October 2014

The Rose

I recall writing today’s little poem in 2003 after pausing to admire a rose in someone’s garden.

My mother loved roses, as did my late partner. Both died many years ago. They never met, yet here I was bringing them together in my thoughts, years on. How strange and sometimes incredibly moving that memories can be triggered, as if my magic, by the slightest thing, past and present fitting perfectly into each other like pieces of a jigsaw.

Will I ever be a perfect fit into someone’s jigsaw, I wondered…? And what will the complete jigsaw look like, mine or anyone else’s …?

It is no coincidence, I suspect, that the trigger for such thoughts, and indeed a poem, should embrace such visions of the heart as beauty, peace, and love.


One by one
its petals fell away,
dead in the sun,
fed to the clay

We helped it grow,
wished for blooms
at side-windows,
in our dreams

If winter keeps
no flower in view,
a rose but sleeps
like you

Let seasons pass,
remember us…

[From: The Third Eye by R. N. Taber, Assembly Books, 2014]