Friday, 19 December 2014


The poem below was written in 1999 after talking with a group homeless people sleeping rough on the streets of London. 

Fifteen years on, there are still homeless people on the streets of London as in numerous cities and towns across the world for whom Christmas Day - and any other celebration in this or that religion's calendar - is just another day to get through...somehow.


Through a peep hole
in the sky, a star
wishing Christmas on a pair
busy roasting chestnuts;
below, kids in Any Street  
grabbing all the comfort
and joy available, courtesy
of Santa’s grotto

Light, cause for celebration.
Darkness, no more
than a natural diversion
for the duration;
a minute's silent prayer
for those poor souls  
(everywhere) running for cover
at Christmas

Sing, so well-rehearsed
angelic choirs!
Let frantic tills ring out Gloria
in the stores,
Wishing each other peace
and love…Mary
and Joseph left banging
on doors
Copyright R. N. Taber 2000; 2014

[Note: An earlier version of this poem first appeared in an anthology, Tomorrow’s Harvest, Triumph House (Forward Press) 2000 and subsequently in my first collection, Love and Human Remains, Assembly Books, 2001’ a revised ed. of the latter is in preparation in e-format.] 

Thursday, 18 December 2014

Thoughts Recorded for a Time Capsule

A neighbour recently started drawing his pension. One of his grandchildren (aged nine years) asked him if he thought the planet would survive in time for him to collect his pension.

Good question…


They say global warming will kill us all,
and even Earth Mother cannot survive,
that one among the stars must surely fall,
among its remains, nothing left alive

They say humankind failed to consider
that nature might turn and retaliate
for killing off trees, failing to nurture
respect for bird or beast until too late

Oh, there is token talk of saving habitats,
ending world poverty, famine and wars
as the poor grow poorer to feed fat cats,
old gods and new settle old scores

Oh, and there’s history, sure to save us  
from worms insinuating its mass graves

Copyright R. N. Taber 2007; 2014

Sunday, 14 December 2014

Christmas Dreams

Some people think I am an oddball because I don’t celebrate Christmas. Well, for a start, I’m neither religious nor a very Christmassy person. Yet, as regular readers well know, I like to think I have a strong sense of spirituality although I find it in my relationships with nature rather than from any religion.

I often spend Christmas Day on my own and enjoy watching some great DVDs and not having to make an effort for anyone. Selfish, perhaps, but this time of year beings back many bad and sad memories, and I prefer to get through it in my own way. Yes, I may get a wee moody now and then, but on the whole I can relax and do my own thing in my own way without anyone well-meaning people telling me what I should do or how I should feel.

Even so, a part of me relates to what is meant to be a celebration of peace and love and togetherness. (Could it be an element of pagan in me, having been born on the winter solstice…?)

Whatever, I wish all family, friends and readers peace and love now and always.


What does Christmas mean to me?
Peace and love need no Christmas tree,
no decorations, no Christmas fare,
just the right to exist everywhere

What does Christmas mean to me?
The sum of all I am that’s my history;
trying to do better by each new day,
be a better person, come what may

What does Christmas mean to me?
Beggars on our streets (give generously);
No in-fighting on the wings of a prayer
from church, mosque…no matter where

What does Christmas mean to me?
(A cure for HIV-Aids… oh, let it be!)
Come, make every day Christmas Day,
respect one another, straight or gay

What does Christmas mean to you?
But listen to your heart and answer true;
confide in best friend, worst enemy,
peace and love need no Christmas tree

Copyright R. N. Taber 2007; 2014

Wednesday, 10 December 2014

Never Underestimate the Life Expectancy of Weeds OR The Garden of Life Deserves Better

Life can be tough sometimes if not most of the time for some people, that proverbial pot of gold under the rainbow more elusive than ever.

Meanwhile, we can but take a deep breath and press on, glad to be alive!

Now, weeds are inclined to spread and grow grow faster and last longer than flowers in any garden. But flowers have inners strengths, too, and even if it isn’t always easy to get rid of the weeds, we can rely on our favourite flowers to sustain and inspire us through good times and bad. Yes, even if we are sometimes guilty of neglecting them, and don’t always feel up to doing as much weeding as we should for whatever reason.  Even so, they deserve better, and so do we.

It is up to each and every one of us. So let’s be rid of the weeds, save and enjoy the flowers, yes?



There is an ache in us, weeds grown tall
wherever we fail

It may be grief,
among the fairest petals that ever fell,
trod down as if never flowers at all,
expected to return from whence it came,
and be grateful

It may be love,
our hearts possessing, found wanting
or left for others while we’re
kept busy chasing some map (piecemeal)
on a frantic treasure trail

It may be hate,
refusing to be put to rest, though we
do our best to be adult about it,
kidding ourselves we’re better than that,
can resist self-destruct

It may be jealousy,
a sick sense of inadequacy for everyone
going places, leaving us alone
standing still, swallowing what has to be
the bitterest pill of all

On temporal fodder
we feed, and no greater need than finding
the right Word, by which, secretly,
we would have our hidden selves called,
risen above mere survival

Select spawn
of a flawed humanity forever sounding out,
albeit reluctantly (let’s get real)
the wider implications of a mortality
in denial

Thank goodness. Or how to enjoy life at all
wherever its weeds fail?

Copyright R. N. Taber 2004; 2014

[Note: An earlier version of this poem appears under the title 'On the Life Expectancy of Weeds' 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.]

Friday, 5 December 2014

Cat on the Roof OR Heavens's Above

This poem is a villanelle. I dedicate it to cat lovers everywhere.


Cloud cover
come dawn,
like cat fur

Sleek, shimmer
in a watery sun;
cloud cover

like cat fur

Grace and care
moving on;
cloud cover

Here and there…
letting in the sun
like cat fur

A stray, grey hair
on the run;
cloud cover,
like cat fur

Copyright R. N. Taber 2004; 2007

[From: The Third Eye by R. N. Taber, Assembly Books, 2004; it also appeared on a 2007 calendar in the United States produced in association with Scars Publications (US) that has published my non-rhyming verse from time to time for some years.]

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.]