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.]

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]

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]

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