Monday, 13 April 2015

A Sense of Sepia OR Ghosts: A Summing UP

I was born in Gillingham (Kent) UK. Although I rarely return to Gillingham, it is never far away from my thoughts, especially as I grow old(er) and find myself looking back on my childhood with a mixture of fondness and regret. 

Whatever, I still experience a thrill whenever I travel on the railway line that crosses the river Medway and gives me a glimpse of Rochester castle and cathedral before passing through Chatham and alongside what used to be my old secondary school before arriving at Gillingham station. 

The last time I stood outside my old home in Priestfield Road, so many shouting, laughing, happy (and unhappy) ghosts came to play hide-and-seek with me that it was like being transported back in time…

Oh, the wonder (and pitfalls) of childhood! How well I wonder, for any of us, do they measure up against the wonders and pitfalls of adult life?  Whatever, it occurred to me as I stood there, confronting my past, that I am but as I am, and all that I am (or will ever be) is the sum of my ghosts. Is it the same for everyone, I wonder…?


Confronting the house
where I was born,
so much older now, sadder
(world weary like me);
a poor copy of front door
and windows sure
to open up cheerless corners
of the mind

Quite alone in the road
I used to play,
all but empty now, quieter
(time-trodden, like me);
a poor copy of hide-and-seek
and go-karts sure
to bring life to laughter lines
on the brow

Priestfield stadium, home
to Gills F. C.
looks different now, better
preserved than me
where once shabby red fencing
would sneak me in
to get up a sweat for sandmen
in muddy shorts

Here it was, I would dream
about growing up,
doing things, going places,
being someone else;
a livelier, kinder, inspiration
to mind, body and spirit
than this poor copy coloured
shades of sepia

Copyright R. N. Taber 2012

Thursday, 9 April 2015

Love on Call OR Flight of the Bluebird

This poem was inspired by a growing interest in memorial woodlands since attending a funeral service at one some time ago. Hopefully, it will be read as it was written, in inspirational not morbid mode.

Someone once told me that love is the dare only a fool will refuse. Well, not everyone will accept a dare, and that doesn’t make him or her a fool, but when it is love - gay or straight - the chances are we risk a lifetime of regret by walking away.

The same person told me the Bluebird of Happiness is just a dream, but how like all the best dreams, we would do well to spot it if we can, and be thus  inspired to keep the memory alive evermore...

[Mountain bluebird from N. America (wikipedia)]


There are woodlands where I go
whenever life finds me feeling low;
I have but pause beneath a tree,
let its branches shape our history
and the Bluebird of Happiness
work its magic on me

I feel the pull of Memory Lane
to peace of mind, away from pain;
among the lines in your fair face,
subtle comforts of a warm embrace,
the finest poems of earth and sky
recalling the love we dared, you and I,
young and impatient (even grown)
anxious to be seen wearing its crown
where bluebirds in twilight’s lace
perform evergreen images of grace

Though winter bite, nature rest,
in love and renewal we dare trust,
have but to pause beneath a tree,
let its branches shape our history
and the Bluebird of Happiness
work its magic on us

Copyright R. N. Taber 2010; 2015

[Note: Revised (2015) from an earlier version that first appeared in an anthology, Thoughts and Reflections for Throughout the Year, Forward Press, 2009 and subsequently in 1st eds. of On the Battlefields of Love by R. N. Taber, Assembly Books, 2010; revised edition in e-format in preparation.]

Tuesday, 7 April 2015

Hero or Anti-Hero..?

Most if not all of us tell lies times sometimes; big ones, little ones, white ones, scary ones. More often than not we can justify them to ourselves if not to anyone else.

Ah, but can we?

How many of us can say, hand on heart, that we are not haunted by even just one lie that resulted in consequences we neither intended nor ever imagined?

Whether or not we can justify our actions to mind and spirit, I suspect it is conscience that will have the last word.

This poem is a kenning.


I crush giants for my pleasure,
oh, but slowly, relish the torment
of closet regret, trap of his
or her making, deserving better
(perhaps) than to find me here,
hell bent on seeing any late bid
for freedom at best ill-judged
or (worse) a botched job ending
in tears

If I show mercy sometimes,
it is but part of a darker strategy
intended only to deceive,
paint a prettier picture, convey
a false sense of security,
draw them in who think to know
the inner self better than I
and (like other losers) misjudge
the enemy

I love to feed on your pain,
remind you time and time again
of what it is you have done,
live sacrifice to Gods of Desire
that (once all pleasure taken)
will toss your remains where I wait
to chew on flesh and bones
till another giant ego overreaches

I, Conscience (hero or anti-hero?)
am a match for any giant ego...

Copyright R. N. Taber 2010; 2015

Sunday, 5 April 2015

Resurrection OR Love: The Extra Mile

Religion or no religion, love has its own sense of spirituality that will always go the extra mile with us regardless of our colour, creed, sex or sexuality...or what other people might say.


I drop my eyes into a flowery pool,
see the veins of one gay cheek split,
baring a thread of ash light

Against cold stone, trickles
a crimson grief. On angry fingers,
fall hot tears

By chance alone, a friendly breeze
has spilled this, Nature’s blood; not so,
a rebel heart - tearing, crushed

Petals, like confetti on the ground;
our bodies, whimpering without sound;
seeds, scattered in the wind

Among the wreaths, a rose laid low
yet as I make
to go…

Risen again, newly crowned!
No glad petals to shine, but looks
familiar embracing mine

One by one, the letters of your name
break off the stone,
prick the pool

This the moment, this the Peace;
you and I together, making ripples

Copyright R. N. Taber 1993; 2015

[Note: A slightly different version of this poem first appeared in anthologies How Can You Write a Poem When You’re Dying of AIDS?, Cassell, 1993 and Momentous Occasions, Triumph House (Forward Press), 2000 and subsequently in 1st eds. of Love and Human Remains by R. N. Taber, Assembly Books, 2000; revised ed. in e-format in preparation.]

Saturday, 4 April 2015

The Busker OR Music: Spirit of Life

When people ask me what kind of music I like, I usually reply that if it is good of its kind, I will almost certainly enjoy it. Many people hate that answer, but it is true. Pop, Classical, Country and Western, Blues, Gospel, whatever...if it is good of its kind, it will have a quality able to reach and move the human heart if only the human heart will let it. In the natural world, the same can, of course, be said for birdsong, various animal sounds, wind in trees, waves lapping (or lashing) at a shoreline...

Now, I well recall an evening some years ago when I was on my way home after a particularly BAD day at work. The thought of returning to my lonely, empty flat was killing me. For no particular reason, I took a different route which meant taking in a subway where a busker was playing. I passed, paused, and stopped to listen to a lively mixture of jazz and other shades of popular music. It talked to me, the music. More than that, it told me a good few home truths like feeling sorry for myself would get me nowhere fast and being lonely was nobody’s fault but my own. I had to go to the world as it sure as hell wasn’t going to come to me.

The busker finished playing and I asked the name of the piece which turned out to be something he’d only recently composed himself, and called it ‘Hello, world, I’m Here, Where Are You?’  I gave him all the loose change I had and headed straight for my local pub where I had a meal, got chatting to people (some of whom would become good friends) and felt all the better for saying, yes, you’ve guessed…‘Hello, world, I’m here…’

What happened to the busker? I have no idea. Over the years, I’ve watched out for him on TV and listened out for that piece of music on the radio, but in vain.

Oh, but one way or another, the world, thank goodness, has always had and always will


Busker, making music,
all kinds of music;
without music, we might
as well be dead

Body rhythms, vibrations,
they all make music
even deaf people can hear
for everyone to share;
if a ‘sound’ means nothing
it has to mean something,
making mind, body and spirit
equal to the occasion
aware something’s out there
keeping us happy, sad,
fulfilled… as only music can

Busker, making music,
all kinds of music,
drowning out war cries,
making peace instead

It’s a happy heart that sings,
a heavy one that cries;
joy and tears are universal
to one and all;
where ‘song’ means nothing,
it has to mean something
making body, heart, and spirit
equal to the occasion
aware something’s out there
keeping us happy, sad,
fulfilled…as only music can

Busker, needing music
like we all need music,
all kinds of music turning
stress on its head

Copyright R. N. Taber 2008; 2015

Friday, 3 April 2015

Where's Robin? OR A Feeling for Love

People without a partner or close loved ones, for whatever reason, can feel very lonely; it can so easily seem as if everyone else has someone, and we feel shut out. Yet, love comes in many shapes and forms. We don't have to be in a relationship or even a family to be comforted and inspired by love wherever it makes itself felt.

Simply going for a walk and soaking up the landscape can bring us into contact with other people and help us find words to go further than that first 'hello'. Then, of course, there is always the power of imagination; reading has taken me to some wonderful places and introduced me to a range of wonderful characters. I used to love reading and miss it now that my eyes get too tired to read as often as I would like. Earth Mother, too, is a great comforter, inviting us to share and be inspired by the beauty of the natural world for all its unpredictability.

There is only one cure for loneliness; think positive and do something about it. Oh, and never for one second believe you are the only lonely person in your locality. Home in on a feeling for love, nurture it, and leave the rest to nature and human nature…


Two people meet and fall in love,
live happy-ever-after,
though tears of grief and pain
among sounds of joy
and laughter like drops of acid rain
in leafy evergreen

Some never fall in love,
stay single ever after,
conceal tears of grief and pain,
among sounds of joy
and laughter like drops of acid rain 
in leafy evergreen

Oh, how love confounds us,
many its shapes
and sounds joining with nature
to bring happiness,
like the song of redbreast rarely seen
in leafy evergreen

Copyright R. N. Taber 2001; 2015

[A slightly different version of this poem appeared in Hands of Time, Poetry Now [Forward Press] 2001 and subsequently in First Person Plural by R. N. Taber, Assembly Books, 2002; revised ed. in e-format in preparation.]

Sunday, 29 March 2015

Endgame OR Freefalling

This poem was written in the spring of 1970. It is among a number of early poems from my student years that I included in Vol. 1 of my Love and Human Remains quartet. I recall feeling very tired when I wrote it just after finishing an essay. I may well have had someone in mind at the time. Yet, looking back, I can’t help wondering if that someone might have been but an older version of, yes, myself…?

Could it be, I wonder, 45+ years on, that I had something of a feeling for some kind of endgame,   freefalling into the ages-old poetry of time and space…or whatever… even at the ripe old age of twenty-four?

('Fireside' by Joseph Henry Sharp, 1859 -1953)


Watch shadows rise and fall,
seek between and all that’s behind,
relax contours of informed mind;
wander, trespass, feel your way
through fawning mists of pink
and grey. Behold, all fond reason
left untold

Caress young visions huge moons
have kissed, meander pathways
time never missed, only you, dear fool,
who thought you knew it all

Flames flicker and die, phantoms fade...

Between gloom and glow,
dawn’s sly blade strikes a bowed crown,
lets one grey lock slip slowly d

Copyright R. N. Taber 1970;2015

[Note: A slightly different version of this poem appears in 1st eds. of Love And Human Remains by R. N. Taber, Assembly Books, 2001; revised ed. in e-format in preparation.]