Wednesday, 23 April 2014

On with the Motley OR A Brief Critique on Nature Poetry

As each day closes and prepares for dawn, we hopefully anticipate the next; and so it goes on with life, death, love and nature tracking The Torchbearer across time and space...


See late evening clouds billowing;
bulbous folds of a Big Top

Leafy shapes performing in trees;
trapeze artistes in sequins

Spring breeze rippling through it all;
old gods and new, laughing…

Sun’s last blushes on a white dove;
paint on the face of a clown

Lovers in best complimentary seats
enjoying candy floss kisses

Faces shutting down (show's over),
parading back into their cages

Nature poetry, playing ring master
to the greatest show on earth

[Note: This poem has been slightly revised since first appearing in 1st eds. of Tracking the Torchbearer by R. N. Taber, Assembly Books, 2012; 2nd (revised) e-edition in preparation]

Monday, 21 April 2014

Guilty by Default: a Vatican Diary

I am not disrespectful of religion although I subscribe to no religion myself. However, is it not high time all the world’s religious leaders got real about the kind of world we live in and imposed less hypocrisy and guilt on those followers worldwide struggling to reconcile their faith and sense of spirituality with how they live their everyday lives?

Take Christianity, for example. As I have said before and may well say again, whatever else  Jesus of Nazareth may or may not have been, he was no bigot. On the contrary, he was an open minded, open hearted humanitarian from whom we could all learn a thing or two, regardless of colour, creed, sex or sexuality.

While millions of Catholic heterosexuals as well as gay men and women worldwide are left to suffer years of guilt imposed on them by a blinkered religion for their born sexuality and a natural need to freely express itself, the Vatican proceeds to pass judgement with the blood of millions on its hands. (Not only Catholicism, of course, but all closed-shop religions that offer little or no no vision beyond their own narrow boundaries.)

The poem is a villanelle.


Who will praise His Holiness,
above Earth Mother’s cries of protest
for child victims of HIV-AIDS?

Let hypocrites gather en masse,
(keen to put their faith to a litmus test)
who will praise His Holiness

Will the Bishop of Rome confess
any blame for a kinder acolyte’s unrest
for child victims of HIV-AIDS?

In the papacy, he’ll surely press
the devout to place unquestioning trust;
who will praise His Holiness?

Oh, but among the lapsed, no less
anxiety to have consciences put to rest
for child victims of HIV-AIDS

Among the lasting parables of Jesus,
a Good Samaritan puts compassion first;
who will praise His Holiness
for child victims of HIV-AIDS?

Copyright R. N. Taber 2010

Sunday, 20 April 2014

Resurrection OR Everlasting Love

Today's poem was written in 1976; it was first published in an anthology called How Can You Write A Poem When You’re Dying of AIDS?  edited by John Harold, Cassell, 1993 and later included in another anthology, Momentous Occasions, Triumph House (Forward Press) 2000 before appearing in my first major collection; it last appeared on the blog in 2010.

Now, religion does not have a monopoly on love and peace; on the contrary, history suggests that it is inclined to pit itself against both time and again.

Whatever, the mind’s eye does not recognize death. Well, mine doesn’t anyway. For me, eternal life is a metaphor for love in all its shapes and forms although, yes, the love of one human being for another has to be the finest expression of love there is.

Heterosexual, homosexual, transgender...male or female... Does anyone really think any of the founders of the world’s religions would discriminate against anyone?

It took me a long time to realize that it was not religion I was rejecting, but the battlefield certain people, especially so-called leaders of all the world religions, (who haven’t a clue how to lead) and the more egotistical among their acolytes  have let it become. Leadership is not about one-upmanship.

Thank goodness religions don’t have a monopoly on spirituality, that we are free to find it where we will, and for those many good people who do find it in their religion, but don’t see it as a closed shop, members only.

As for poetry, does it really matter for whom a love poem is written, and shouldn't it leave room for everyone, whatever their colour, creed, sex or sexuality...?


I drop my eyes in 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 spilt this, Nature’s blood; not so,
a rebel heart - tearing, crushed

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

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

Risen again, newly crowned!
In glad petals shining, looks familiar,
embracing mine

One by one, all 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 1976; 2010

[This poem has been slightly revised from an earlier version that first appeared (with misprint) in an anthology, Momentous Occasions, Triumph House (Forward Press) 2000 and subsequently in 1st eds. of Love and Human Remains by R. N. Taber, Assembly Books, 2001; 2nd (revised) e-edition in preparation.]

Wednesday, 16 April 2014

Marking Time OR Sapling Waiting On Its Season

Today’s poem has not appeared on the blog since 2008 so I guess now is as good a time as any to give it a airing albeit a slightly revised version. 

I am in my late 60s now. Now and then I consider the discrepancy between what I have achieved and what I’d once hoped to achieve, and my heart sinks...until I consider various off-shoots of that ‘unfulfilled potential’ and then the tree doesn’t look half so bad after all.


Youth, with dreamy eyes
and wind in the hair,
soaking up heaven’s store
of tears for cares
like leaves untimely fallen
on slim shoulders

Like a sapling in a breeze,
see it bend, never break;
watch leaves bud and grow;
now green, now red,
now gold for each mortal
breath it takes

Nor shall its season cease,
grown older, stronger,
a bold heart harbouring 
the finer seeds
of Creation for nature’s  

Spirited tree, proud and free,
a living part of earth’s
finer tapestry, sheltering all
(no one’s enemy)
though they carve initials
on your body

Forever, tall and beautiful
in the mind’s eye;
where lashed to dark skies,
a freedom won
by egg cries sure to archive
its leafy passions

Potential in its prime, marking
Copyright R. N. Taber 2004; 2011

[Note: An earlier version of this poem  appears in 1st eds. of The Third Eye by R. N. Taber, Assembly Books 2004; 2nd (revised) e-edition in preparation.] 

Monday, 14 April 2014

Life Companion

Now, some of us find that special someone to share our lives and others never do, while some of us find him or her only to lose them again.

Whatever, most of us have a dream that is always with us, both our comfort and inspiration.

This poem is a villanelle.


Always with me, life companion
(true love so far, so near);
a tall shadow dancing on its own

Left half-awake in my bed alone,
it whispers poems in my ear;
always with me, life companion

Above, a jet plane’s sleepy drone
promises nothing to fear;
a tall shadow dancing on its own

No tears for a lonely half-person
whose way ahead unclear;
always with me, life companion

Come day, night, sun and moon,
its presence strong and dear,
a tall shadow dancing on its own

Asleep, lovers on a plane flown
where summer lasts forever;
always with me, life companion,
a tall shadow dancing on its own

Copyright R. N. Taber 2012 

Sunday, 13 April 2014

The Tracker

To readers that email me now and then to ask how I am dealing with my prostate cancer, I can only say ‘so far, so good.’

Hormone therapy continues to keep the cancer from becoming aggressive. I feel fine, although I have to confess to being haunted by the fear that the cancer may well catch up with me one day. Even so, Fear and I are old adversaries that have the measure of, and more or less tolerate each other. Even so, we do fierce battle now and then whenever it ventures out from that shadowy corner of the mind to which I would prefer to have it confined.  Eventually, it admits defeat and slinks back into its corner, but not before having taunted body, mind and spirit to extremes.

I once confided fear of something (I can’t recall what, but does it matter?) to a teacher at my secondary school 50+ years ago who commented to the effect that to deny fear is to deny the inner self that makes us human.  ‘Deal with it, Taber, and get on with your life,’ he said. ‘It may not go away entirely, but that chances are it won’t bother you anywhere near as much again.’

Participating in the London Shine Walk for Cancer last year to raise money for prostate  cancer research left me with such a sense of achievement for being able to complete a half marathon even in my late 60s (in 5.5 hours, with pit stops) that Fear retreated back into its corner and has yet to raise its ugly head again. However, it is restless so I have already registered for Shine 2014:

Now, if anyone who gets pleasure from the blog would care to sponsor me sometime between now and September, I would be very grateful. Whatever, please think of me on September 27th as you dream the night away while yours truly plods on…

This poem is a kenning, sometimes called a ‘Who am I?’ poem.


I journey through life
with companions I would leave
but for clammy fingers
clutching at my sleeve and voices
I would prefer to ignore
demanding my attention, pity,
moral support and more
than I am willing to give, yet
can but do my best

I arrive at crossroads
with companions I would leave
to their own devices
while knowing they would be lost
without me, no map
supplied to help them decide
which way to choose
other than human instinct set
to following its nose

I journey on, on, and on,
companions that would leave me
to my own devices
as obsessed with my keeping track
of the world’s injustices
as with lesser vices charging
a vulnerable mentality
to take responsibility for body,
mind and spirit

I am that fear of the unknown,
animal all but human

Copyright R. N. Taber 2014

Saturday, 12 April 2014

Looking for Answers OR A Passing Comment on the Human Psyche

It has been my experience of life so far (I am 68) that many people ask the wrong questions of themselves and others. Could that be why, more often than not, they come up with the wrong answers?

Questions are too often tailored to preconceived ideas, including stereotypes. I refer in particular to those bigots who persist in condemning gay people for their sexuality and/or others for the colour of their skin and/or religion (or non-religion). Whatever happened to live and let live?

Sadly, stereotypes of all kinds become fixed in some people’s minds; especially where the mind is so small there is little room for manoeuvre. If only more people were to consider opening up their minds and hearts to accommodate new ideas, confront the possibility that their approach to morality and various socio-cultural-religious issues is not without its flaws.

Could it be that asking more appropriate and relevant questions might well encourage all of us to enter into (even if continuing to disagree with or even disapprove of) more appropriate and relevant points of view...sufficiently, at least, to leave us feeling less inclined to impose our own?

Oh, but I wish...!

As I have said before (and probably will again) our differences don’t make us different, only human.


‘Who am I?’’I asked a river
but it just kept rushing on by without
making any reply;
‘Who am I?’ I asked a songbird,
but it just took off into the sky without
making any reply;
‘Who am I?’ I asked a sycamore
where angels fell from the sky without
making any reply

‘What are you?’ asked a river
but I’d just keep rushing on by without
making any reply;
‘What are you?’ asked a songbird,
but I’d just scoff pie in the sky without
making any reply;
‘What are you?’ asked a sycamore
where angel wings were in a flap about
any right of reply

River, bird, tree, human being,
leading questions in the mind’s eye, only
guessing at replies;
questions of identity the world seeks
to thread through a needle’s eye without
caring how or why;
If Discovery the Mother of Creation,
may it teach us to ask the right questions,
respect any replies

Copyright R. N. Taber 2011