Monday, 29 November 2010

Epitaph For A Rose

Someone recently commented that, at 65 (in December) I look in pretty good shape if a bit frayed at the edges. My excuse for the latter is that I’m getting old(er).

I look around and ask myself, does the modern world have that same excuse?


Amongst litter in the gutter, rose petals
frayed at the edges;
in acid raindrops making holes in the sky,
dreams absconding wherever…
anonymous footprints, marking out tracks
well travelled;
clothes, bright and dull, offering sanctuary
to troubled souls;
backs of balding heads telling fairy stories
of halcyon days
(were they to turn, what meeting of minds
before eyes averted?)

Reflections in shop windows passing us by
like kerb crawlers;
a toy gun sounds off a warning shot about
turning into dead ends

A deaf person signing to us has more to say
than we who can’t hear;
a blind person’s white stick, intently probing
our anxieties;
banks of cloud rolling away to let the sun in
on a street’s secrets;
Apollo’s kiss on parted lips, a taste of history
repeating itself;
a rumble of passing thunder in the distance
suggests a battle over;
rose petals, but litter in the gutter of a world
fraying at the edges

[From: On The Battlefields Of Love by R. N. Taber, Assembly Books, 2010.]

Sunday, 28 November 2010

Heart To Heart

Several readers have said they have been unable to access my efforts on You Tube.

I can only suggest you try: reader suggests key wording: ‘You Tube Hampstead Heath poetry reading Roger Taber’ - then clicking on ‘all’ to access our efforts so far; more to follow as and when Graham and I have time and the weather is kind and/ or we can find a way to film indoors and get the lighting right! I should add that Graham (my close friend and cameraman) and I are still on a learning curve!

Someone recently asked me why I bother since I am ‘never likely to take You Tube by storm.’ (Do I care?) It’s fun and that, like one of my favourite people, Ann Widdecombe, is what I have decided my retirement will be about... having fun. Oh, no, I have never met Ann Widdecombe but have always respected her as a politician and think her decision to go for having some fun in retirement - as on the BBC’s Strictly Come Dancing - is a shining example to us all. The lady has completely re-invented herself. She has to be an inspiration to any retired person resigned to being a couch potato!


Most of us at some time in our lives have a problem with other people that, unless we put to it them, has the potential to ruin a relationship. How many of us, too, have secrets that are hard to bear? [For sure, it’s not only gay men and women who, for whatever reason, feel unable to be openly gay.]

Mind you, tackling someone about issues that concern them can be frustrating to say the least since so many people can’t or won’t talk things through, especially if it means they have to deal with even the slightest criticism. I have given up on various relatives and friends for this very reason. I put up with so much for so long and did try to get them to talk things through but it was a lost cause. Oh, I dare say they see me as completely to blame but...that’s life.

Is there something or someone preying on your mind? A heart to heart can work wonders. [Did I say it would be easy?]


I told family and friends
how, come what may,
it makes no difference
I’m gay

I am the same person,
sharing with you still
a heartfelt conviction
love is all

If love but pre-conditional
where does that leave us,
supposedly more spiritual
than beasts?

Let those without a dream
cast the first stone

Copyright R. N. Taber 2001; 2010

[Note: This poem has been slightly revised from the original as it appears in first editions of The Third Eye by R. N. Taber, Assembly Books, 2004; 2nd ed. in preparation.]

Friday, 26 November 2010

Love In A Mist

The UK has just had its first snowfall of the winter and the weather forecast is more to come. B-rrrr.

Ah, but nothing keeps us warmer all year round than love though sometimes it finds us wrapped in a mist of tears for wishful thinking...


Even the sun took time to cry
as we parted, you and I,
not knowing if we’d ever meet again,
barely seeing for a misty rain

We swore to write every day,
be true, come what may
though a fear we wouldn’t meet again
chilling us, like a misty rain

I watched you go, saw you turn,
felt blown kisses start to burn
a hole in my heart where you had been,
now gone in a misty rain

The sun stayed behind a cloud
as I named my love aloud,
leaving a summer wind to bear my pain
on the wings of a misty rain

Autumn passed and winter too
yet I heard no word from you,
despairingly. let all but one hope wane
as I strolled in a misty rain

Suddenly, the sun reappeared
from behind a grieving cloud;
there we were, we dead flowers reborn
in the sweetest of spring rain!

We heard birds sing out that day
for lovers, straight and gay,
echoes of Earth Mother’s eternal refrain
though, at times, a misty rain

Copyright R. N. Taber 2008

Thursday, 25 November 2010

Classroom Politics

I will be 65 next month. I often see or hear people of my own generation brushing aside the views and opinions of young people. It is both unfair and unwise. Do we always know best? I don't think so. Moreover, the future of world and planet lie in their hands, not ours. We will be long gone by the time they are left to clear up our mess.


Murmurs in the classroom
smack of revolution

Stuck in front of a television,
well able to tell fact from
fiction, problem being
where to draw the line between
what we need to see, over
endless cups of tea - and reject
whenever we suspect
our pleasure a shade

Murmurs in the classroom
smack of revolution

Made to sit back and watch
our planet being set upon;
an indifference to Nature
but for a public relations
exercise - put on by fat cats
exploiting media attention,
all the better to disguise
a hidden agenda - of
mass destruction

Murmurs in the classroom
smack of revolution

[From: Love And Human Remains by R. N. Taber, Assembly Books, 2001]

Tuesday, 23 November 2010

In A Word

As I have said many times, religion does not have a monopoly on spirituality nor do Holy Books have the last word in what we mean by ‘God’. Each to their own, I say. Me, I found spirituality in nature. As for my finding God there too...who knows?

This poem last appeared on the blog in 2008. Sharon, Amber and Louise have asled me to repeat it today on which they all share a birthday. Happy Birthday, folks. Enjoy!


Lord, I know not who
or what you are or where you be,
yet I feel a Presence here,
in the very heart of me
and a Spirit as much a part
of me as the sun by day
and moon by night, shedding
heavenly light upon a world
that knows precious little for sure,
where darkness would grip
the very soul...
were Someone not here,
there, everywhere...
to urge us on to better things
and better ways than else
we'd know without a Light
to show

Lord, Word, whisperings
in the ear (and none so deaf
that will not hear)
let us shed the shackles of history,
exchange our chains for a joining
of hands in Peace and Love defying
colour, creed or other division

On earth, as it is in heaven

[Note: This poem has been slightly revised from the original as it appears in 1st eds. of Love And Human Remains by R. N. Taber, Assembly Books, 2001; 2nd ed. in preparation.]

Sunday, 21 November 2010

God's Metaphor

[Note: This post is duplicated on my other blog today.]

Some of you have asked me to let you know about my latest You Tube caper if only because it can be interesting to hear poets reading their own poems. My close friend and cameraman Graham and I have a lot of fun recording although we are still on a learning curve. Filming outdoors has many distractions, not least the weather. Light can be a problem (I couldn't afford a better camcorder) as you can see from our one attempt (so far) to film indoors. We need to experiment more indoors. You can see and hear our lastest efforts (yesterday) at:


As regular readers will know only too well by now, I like to think I have a strong sense of spirituality but find it in nature, not religion. At the same time, I am often accused of hypocrisy because I use religious metaphor in many of my poems.

For me, passages in Holy Books are metaphors for humanity, its foibles and its strengths.

Raised a Christian, I cannot take the Bible literally but find much food for thought in it and poetry to enjoy. I admire the historical Jesus as a man ahead of his time who spoke good sense and encouraged the kind of open mind and heart that many so-called Christians today would do well to follow. I cannot carry my sentiments further. Even so, we can all do worse than look at and abide by much of what the various founders of the world’s religions had to say. So, yes, I often use religious metaphor in my poetry and I don’t consider this makes be a hypocrite.

This poem first appeared on the blog in 2008 and is posted again today especially for ‘Julie M’ who contacted me to say that she too ‘turned to nature for spiritual strength and reassurance after my religion failed me, a lesbian, when I needed it most.'

This poem is a villanelle.


Passive spectators to war,
the last tree left standing evergreen;
God’s metaphor

Like Adam tested before,
by the world’s dark intentions unseen,
passive spectators to war

Eve called out for a whore
by the likes of whom we’ve never seen;
God’s metaphor

Lights at the kitchen door
hinting at a feast for the television screen,
passive spectators to war

Snakes in the grass and more
leaving trails to ambition’s lust obscene;
God’s metaphor

Dare we who know the score
let one coin outshine a leaf’s dawn sheen?
Passive spectators to war…
God’s metaphor

[From: Accomplices To Illusion by R. N. Taber, Assembly Books, 2007]

Saturday, 20 November 2010

On The Face Of Whom I Love

Today’s poem appeared on the blog in July 2009 and is repeated today especially for ‘Megan and Christopher’ who celebrate their first wedding anniversary today.

Happy anniversary!

It may not be all that makes the world go round but at least love keeps it (and us) from going pear shaped.


On the face of whom I love, a sweet light
reminding of gay flowers come springtime,
blue hyacinths, red tulips, lilies white,
where rabbits hop, lovers stop and birds sing

On the face of whom I love, a bright light
reminding of sandcastles come summer,
blue skies, ice cream cornets, spade and bucket,
gulls winging, waves lapping at our laughter

On the face of whom I love, a pale light
reminding of snowfalls come autumn’s wake,
cosy fires of remembrance burning bright,
bringing joy and peace for a cold world’s sake

On the face of whom I love, heaven’s kiss,
all things in life that, come dark death, I’ll miss

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

Friday, 19 November 2010

Just A Question Of Love

Book sales are very sluggish at the moment. Fair enough, we are all still having to tighten our belts as the global economic crisis continues to hit the cash in our pockets. Besides, no one writes poetry to make money. Even so, I rely on book sales to fund new collections and reprints of previous titles. So, one day perhaps... you might think of treating yourself or a friend to one of my poetry collections? As regular readers know, titles can be ordered in the UK at any bookstore or if they are not bothered about having a signed copy. However, as they are only on sale in the UK, at the moment, overseas readers will need to order direct from me.

For signed copies of first editions, email:  - with ‘Blog reader’ in the subject field.

I plan to make second editions available from 2016. I’ll be in my 70s by then so, just in case the pipes of Pan may have already called me to Mount Parnassus, my close friend Graham has said he will see to it that second editions are published. In the meantime, I am writing & collating poems for Tracking The Torchbearer (2012) and Diary of a Time Traveller (2015); the first, by way of celebrating Her Majesty the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee and the London Olympics while the second will help me celebrate a milestone of little if any interest to anyone but me - my 70th birthday.

Okay, sales pitch over for this year [you can’t blame a poor poet for trying] and back to the poetry business of the day...

This poem last appeared on the blog in March 2008 and I recently posted it again on my gay-interest blog. Reader ‘Michael’ who tells me he is a practising vicar contacted me to say he has a gay son and found the movie from which the poem takes its name both enjoyable and enlightening. I have to say it makes a nice change to hear from an open minded, open hearted cleric. Usually, they accuse me of all sorts.

Regular readers may also recall that the poem was inspired by a wonderful World Cinema (French) gay-interest movie of the same name - Juste une question d’amour. I was collating poems for a new collection at the time and several readers contacted me to ask that I include it…so I did. It isn’t just a movie for gay people. I especially recommend it to all parents who may disapprove of a son or daughter because he or she is gay.

Incidentally, another French movie I can recommend is Rock Haven. It is beautifully photographed and one of very few intelligent gay-interest movies I have seen that tackles the (Christian) faith v sexuality crisis of conscience that confronts many gay men and women. Try it, Michael, if you haven’t already.

This poem is a villanelle.


As spring rain from above
on Earth Mother in pain;
its just a question of love

As push comes to shove,
so love into its own,
as spring rain from above

The healing wing of a dove
will learn to fly again;
it’s just a question of love

Love has nothing to prove;
a bigot’s loss, its gain,
as spring rain from above

See a hand torn from glove
beat cold and pain;
it’s just a question of love

If nature’s sexuality prove
as precious a bane
as spring rain from above,
it’s just a question of love

From: On The Battlefields Of Love by R. N. Taber, Assembly Books, 2010

Sunday, 14 November 2010

Last Post

Today’s poems (on both blogs) are especially to mark Remembrance Sunday. Both appeared on the blog some 18 months ago.

Yes, let us remember always...not only our war dead and their families but also those wounded in wars past and present and their continuing battle with pain just for getting on with their everyday lives in ways so many of us take for granted. We owe them...and how!

Ah, but when will humankind ever learn? Oh, when will we ever learn...?


They shot me down on foreign soil
and the first sound I heard was a child’s cry
at the moment of birth
and I wished the child and parents well,
that they would see a kinder end
than me, wracked with pain, no less so
for knowing I would never see
either homeland or loved ones again
yet had done my best (can anyone
do more?) and had no regrets but one
about fighting a war like this

A continuing absence of peace

They lay a black cloth over my face
so I should not see comrades close to tears
for the worst of fears
we put behind us who fight such wars
as we don’t always understand
but do our duty though it be in a land
as far away from the pub
on the corner of our street as heaven
from hell where they all but meet
here in Afghanistan

A continuing absence of peace

They put me in a box and closed the lid
so I would not feel the tears of passing clouds
on the journey home
or hear the strains of the Last Post
acknowledge me gone
nor see the flags lowered as silent crowds
line the streets of a small town
taking me to their hearts as if I were one
of their own, as they have done
for others like me, making our journey
less lonely for this

A lasting empathy with peace

The first sound I heard as they lowered me
into the earth was a child’s cry at the moment
of birth and I wished the child
and parents well in a kinder world than this
that saw me fight to save it
from a hell of its own making, no less so
for centuries of tradition
and a culture of oppression seeking
to break free while keeping faith
with its finer principles and (far) kinder
ways than this

A continuing absence of peace

“A good person, worthy sacrifice, fine soldier...”
Too late, I cannot hear.

This second poem is a villanelle, written July 2009 to mark the death of Harry Patch, the last British veteran of the First World War.


On old Memory Lane, all is quiet
for those who fought a war to end war
so we may make our peace with it

Among cries of the fallen, a shout,
(At ’em lads, at ’em, that’s the score!);
on old Memory Lane all is quiet

They bore old age, faces firmly set
to do them proud who had gone before
so we may make our peace with it

We will always be in their debt,
dead and wounded on a foreign shore;
on old Memory Lane all is quiet

We must never even try to forget
those whose freedom’s colours wore
so we may make our peace with it

War, war and still more of it yet;
on the landscape of love, a weeping sore;
on old Memory Lane, all is quiet
so we may make our peace with it

[Note: Both poems are taken from: On the Battlefields Of Love: poems by R. N. Taber, Assembly Books, 2010.]

Tuesday, 9 November 2010


I can never resist looking up my daily horoscope. Even so, I never take (much) notice if it’s not particularly favourable. Ah, but if it looks like I’m in for a good day that does wonders for my self-confidence.


Some turn to love but for escape, comfort,
weary of a world full of pain and hate,
sick of being told what to do (or not),
seek peace, understanding in a kind heart

Some find the escape and comfort they seek,
believe they're safe under sheltering skies;
some, disenchanted by love for love’s sake,
tire of the same people, places, half lies…

Squaring up to life’s clout, never easy;
squaring up to love, harder still by far;
looking both in the eye with honesty
demands the sureness of a guiding star

Though to ashes and dust fall our bodies,
in the stars, always, love, life and choices

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

Monday, 8 November 2010

The Spirit Of Love

I hope some of you will have clicked on yesterday's link to my latest caper on You Tube. No one responded to my appeal for someone with more time of their hands than my friend Graham to act as cameraman but we will try and film on a regular basis. I am not discouraged by the fact that someone got in touch yesterday evening to say I should be ashamed of reading a poem about war that 'glorifies' gay people. There is nothing glorious about war. But fighting men and women world-wide deserve our admiration and it has always been a fact that some of them are gay. [Has this man never heard of Wilfred Owen or Siegfried Sassoon, for example?]

Do you think my poem Bonding With History glorifies anything or anyone? You can search for it by title on the blog or see me reading it on You Tube at: (or keyword 'Tower of London Taber' in You Tube.]


A reader, ‘Ingrid’ spotted today’s poem on my gay-interest blog in September and has asked me to repeat it here ‘so I can show a Catholic friend who wouldn’t dream of looking at a gay blog because she agrees with the Pope that gay and transgender people are a threat to society regarding morality and positive values.’ Whatever the Pope may or may not have said, the reader clearly thinks this is how his mind works. In the light of what Benedict XVI has been reported as saying about gay and transgender people in the recent past, I for one suspect she may not be far wrong. [A word of caution though, Ingrid. Tread carefully. While I am always pleased when readers want to share a poem of mine with others, the last thing I want to do is come between friends. We may not always agree with our friends but friendship is a treasure that’s easier lost than many of us like to think and much, much harder to regain.]

A gay Catholic man dying of AIDS once confided that, while he did not regret his sexuality, he was scared there may be ‘repercussions’ in what he always referred to as ‘the next life’. He believed in God, if not (quite) the God of his Church. He was also a betting man and seemed reassured when I told him I’d willingly bet my life that, if there is one, there’s no way God is a homophobe.

Okay, I’m biased. But I know my Bible. I, personally, don’t see the historical Jesus as the Son of God but my reading of the New Testament is that Jesus was not the kind of person who would stoop to homophobia. He was a better man than that, much better. There were homosexuals in those days. Does Jesus speak out against them? When Christians attack us, they invariably turn to that same Old Testament whose understanding of God Jesus all but turns on its head. [When those who follow other religions attack us, can they honestly their religion is behind them all the way?]

Regular readers will know that, although I am not a religious man, I like to think I have a strong sense of spirituality…that I take from nature, nowhere else. Moreover, it is a sense of spirituality that reassures me no gay person of any religious persuasion (or none at all) need fear ‘repercussions’ in any ‘next life’ as a direct result of their sexuality.

As for whether or not I think there is life after death, I’d still bet my life on the spirit of love seeing me right in the end…if I were a betting man, that is. [Well, what else would you expect of a poet?]


At the moment of my death
we‘ll make love again, just as
when our first twilight fell,
late summer leaves like a shower
of September rain, nature
casting a spell to keep us safer
than Holy Books dare tell

At the moment of my death
we’ll make love again, creating
as much joy and more
than it has given us, we chosen,
meant to fly time and space,
any separation but a homing-in
on some glorious horizon

At the moment of my death
our love will surely kill all pain,
be as a tree in blossom,
its springtime come again, though
a storm play tricks on its light,
for I shall rise above any threat
to return where first we met

At the moment of my death
the spirit of love will leave a mark
much like a smile on my pillow
and I’ll be guided by Earth Mother
to your side, she who kept faith
with us while we lived as we two,
stayed true to each other

Death may flirt with us night and day
yet will see us right, straight or gay

Copyright R. N. Taber 2010

Saturday, 6 November 2010

Every Poem Tells A Story

I have always loved reading, writing and telling stories. I dare say you will have noticed how this carres over into many of my poems.


Every poem tells a story…
about love, hate, shame, glory,
whatever inspires, lights
the fires of creativity, blind coals
in secret cavities of the soul
that now and then burst
into flames, lighting up the mind,
exposing the heart’s needs,
its strengths and weaknesses
born of love, lust, hate, pain,
grieving for the world that it should
repeat its worst again and again,
leaving poor humanity to follow on
as best it can, put right
its wrongs, conveniently rewrite
the saddest songs of war,
disasters, wounds that will never
truly heal - with lines even
a paralysed heart can feel, though
it take a while to penetrate
its body armour, participate in the
latest United Nations resolution,
promises of aid on the way, more than
mere dreams fading as each day
turns into night, night into day, no one
(still) anything wiser to say
than - Let’s pray. And where is God
in this world-spreading chaos,
saving a child dying of AIDS…?

Whose the power, where the glory
in poems that tell such stories?

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

Friday, 5 November 2010

The Dancer Upstairs

Love poems are for everyone. Does the sexuality of the poet really matter? A reader spotted this poem on my gay-interest blog in September and has asked me to repeat it here for her boyfriend's birthday today. [I have since revised the closing couplet.]


I lay in bed
listening to the music upstairs,
no wish to sleep,
my thoughts dancing in tune
with pretty dance steps;
now gliding across my world
like an ice queen;
now gate-crashing my privacy
like a rock star

I lay in bed
in a frenzy, like the music upstairs,
growing more frantic
every second images of you
take the floor;
now introducing me to your world's
now swinging us into an ecstasy
of rock 'n' roll

I lay in bed,
relating to gentler sounds above,
as if the music, like me,
had finally grown weary of passion
and seeks peace;
now lifting me on wings of grace
like a dove to nest;
now asking me with sweet echoes
that I cave in to love

Hearts enthralled by a midnight rain,
we kissed again...

Copyright R, N. Taber 2010

Thursday, 4 November 2010

Postscript To An Obituary

As was the case yesterday, I am unable to log on to AOL so the post may appear slightly different than usual.  I am posting it via Google Chrome and duplicating it on my gay-interest blog today. 

Nothing can match the force of nature. A person's natural instincts are stronger than all five senses combines.  Gay r straight, natural instinct confirms our sexuality. What we choose to do about it is up to us. Since time began (long before Star Wars) there have been those who choose the dark side of the force. It takes carious shapes and sizes. One of these wastes precious little time making itself known as victims and perpetrators alike. 

This poem is a villanelle.


It didn't matter we were gay
or young and starting out,
we loved each other anyway

We'd share kisses every day
Apollo woke us with a shout;
it didn't matter we were gay

Gossips said we'd rue the day
(no idea what g-a-y is about);
we loved each other anyway

At college, at home or at play,
our love left us in no doubt;
it didn't matter we were gay

Happy to follow nature's way;
though homophobes about,
we loved each other anyway

Every bully must have its day
(left you dying in the street);
it didn't matter we were gay,
we loved each other anyway

Copyright R. N. Taber 2010

Tuesday, 2 November 2010

Entries In A Diary

This poem first appeared on the blog in September 2009. Yet, still no one seems to know why the world’s honeybees are rapidly decreasing in numbers. This represents a real threat to the natural world.

Could it be that nature intends humankind should take its cue from the bees since so many people seem to think it’s okay to breed like rabbits (no one else’s business?) and have a population explosion?

If you ask me, humanity is more under threat than the bees and we only have ourselves to blame. Come to think of it, we are probably to blame for the plight of the poor honeybees as well.

Photo: Honeybee (From the Internet)


Bees, pollinating flowers like words
on blank pages;
blank pages, turning like the seasons
(Earth Mother’s diary)

Earth Mother’s diary, confiding love,
fear and anger;
love, fear and anger tearing us apart,
we children of the wind

We children of the wind, tossed about
on a custom made grief;
a custom made grief exposing us all
for who and what we are

Who and what we are, scary questions
seeking answers;
scary questions seeking answers, bees
in swarm

Bees in swarm, reproducing like words
on blank pages;
words on blank pages, writing us all up
in Earth Mother’s diary

Earth Mother’s diary, recording the life
and death of a bee;
on the life and death of a bee, humanity
rests its case for honey

Resting its case for honey, a civilization
demanding we save our bees,
should make the time to re-read entries
in a diary

Copyright R. N. Taber 2009