Thursday, 28 April 2011

A Common Garden Snapshot

After a great evening yesterday, I just had to come and tell you about it. Now, I am no artist, not least because I don’t think visually, and have the greatest admiration for those who do. So I was thrilled to be invited to a private viewing of 'Authorized’ by artist James Howard. It is his latest solo show, and  a very exciting experience.

The show proved to be very different from anything of his that I have seen before, yet still characteristically sharp, satirical, entertaining and (very) thought provoking.

Regular readers will know that I have enthused about this young man's work before. I have known his parents for years and will continue to watch his creative talents develop and evolve with great interest. His work reflects ways of seeing and feeling that arouse all the observer's senses as if waking them up after a restless sleep. One cannot help but come away from his 'Authorized' with one's own outlook on life and art (and perception of self) under review.

Find more about James Howard at:

Enjoy! [Above all else, any art form best comes into its own once it is not only shared but also enjoyed.]


Friends  often comment that I rarely take photographs even when on holiday or passing through new places. My camera is my mind’s eye and it encourages me to write poems.

I get a feeling for places, people too, that I frequently shape into a poem that I can share with others just as they might share their holiday snaps. Such was the case when I visited Scarborough to give a poetry reading there a few years ago. By way of illustration, the second poem is one I wrote about this very pretty and friendly town on the Yorkshire coast.

Welcome to my garden. [Sadly, I don't have my own where I live in London although I do look out over one.]


Leaves, strewn about in the mud
like underwear torn from a washing line
by a freak wind

Lies, piling up like dead leaves
providing sustenance for the very earth
that nurtured

Hearts, now joined together,
now ripped apart, like bread fought over
by sparrows

Hopes, tossed like underwear
on a cruel wind over hungry graves ready
to gobble us up

Chase the wind, stumble in mud,
retrieve underwear for the washing machine
or stand by and watch?

Choices, a gathering of sparrows
debating how best to survive a bad winter
through to spring

Graves, wearing hard won badges
of flowers and dead leaves, each telling lies
about us

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

Monday, 11 April 2011

A Shared Antipathy For Beer Can Rings

Regular readers will know I have always loved Brighton (East Sussex) and been a regular visitor there for more than fifty years. I often go there on my birthday even though it is in December; I started writing this poem there on my 63rd birthday and finished it on the train back to London.

Several readers have kindly contacted me to say how much they enjoyed the poems I read in Brighton for YouTube last December.

[Find these and others at: ]

Thanks for that, folks. Encouraging feedback is always gratefully received, especially as I find reading outdoors quite hard since there are always so many distractions.

I included today’s poem in my latest poetry collection. Regular readers will also know that all my poetry titles are listed on (with some readers’ reviews) if anyone is interested. They can be ordered at any UK bookstore. Alternatively, (signed) copies of most of my collections are available (now FREE + Postage) to overseas readers as my collections are only on sale in the UK. [Contact: with ‘Blog Reader’ in the subject field.]

My poetry books contain a mixture of gay-interest and other poems, divided into themed sections for easy reading; there are about 20 – 25 poems per section so readers can just pick one and then try another section another time. [I should say that my critics complain I crowd my books with too many poems. I take their point, but readers seem to enjoy having six or seven little poetry books in one. So I think I’ll stick with my readers rather than pander to the critics for my next collection in 2012.]

On the whole, Brighton beach is kept remarkably clean and tidy; all the more remarkable for the way some people simply toss their litter away where they stand (on the beach or even in the sea; both present a danger to wildlife) rather than find a waste bin.

This poem is a villanelle.


We kept the most curious company,
watching waves clear beer cans rings away;
clouds, a crab, two seagulls and me

A spring twilight glowing beautifully,
footprints unable though longing to stay;
we kept the most curious company

I wondered, what do they think of me?
Could we converse, whatever would we say,
clouds, a crab, two seagulls and me?

Clouds, lamenting pollution, I dare say,
crab and gulls much the same of the sea;
we kept the most curious company

On one thing we’d be sure to agree,
the world doesn’t see things nature’s way;
clouds, a crab, two seagulls and me

A sudden rush of waves hit me angrily,
a smoky dusk making a meal of us per se;
we kept the most curious company;
clouds, a crab, two seagulls and me

[Brighton, East Sussex (UK), May 2008]

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

PS The use of 'per se' in the 6th stanza is yet another example of the liberties I often take with 'hidden' rhyme; i.e. sounds that are similar but not an exact rhyming match.

Saturday, 9 April 2011

Stranger Than Fiction

I am being positively shameless today and plugging my new novel Catching up with Murder that is now out and about on

[Note: My poetry collections are listed under R. N. Taber and are only on sale in the UK although blog readers can order direct from me at a generous discount.] available outside Europe)

It isn't a gay novel as such, but introduces Fred Winter, a retired detective in what was intended as the first of a series of Winter novels but...Well, who knows? There is a gay thread within the storyline although it doesn't really take off until ‘Act 2’ of the novel. Anyway, I have posted a brief synopsis below in case any readers might want to buy it or order at their local public library. (If you still have one; so many libraries are closing in the UK as part of government cutbacks.)

CATCHING UP WITH MURDER: a novel in three acts by Roger Taber


The novel divides itself naturally into three acts. Act One commences with a young woman, JULIE SIMPSON, asking retired Chief Inspector FRED WINTER to investigate the death of an aunt, RUTH TEMPLE, found dead in her bath. Since a large amount of alcohol was found in Ruth’s body, the coroner records a verdict of accidental death. Julie thinks otherwise but cannot convince Winter - at first...

Once Winter is on the case, he not only embarks on various avenues of enquiry but also finds himself attracted to an old flame CAROL BRADY whose husband had been murdered some years ago. One potential lead after another leads to the same dead end - a village on the south coast called Monks Tallow.

Act Two now takes the reader back twenty years to the early 1980s. A young man, RALPH COTTER, shoots his friend, SEAN BRADY, at Brady's home, witnessed by Brady's young son, LIAM. Cotter, a married, closet homosexual, is terrified that Brady will expose him. Cotter runs to his lover, Darren “Daz” HORTON for help. They head for a cottage belonging to Horton’s aunt. (The aunt is visiting her daughter in New Zealand so the cottage is empty). En route, they stop to give a lift to a woman, SARAH MANNERS, whose car has broken down in a storm. Shortly afterwards, the car skids and smashes into a tree, killing Sarah. The two men bury the body and Cotter evades capture by taking her identity. Darren’s aunt dies and he inherits the cottage. He and Cotter live there, happily enough, as man and ‘wife’ - in an obscure English village called - Monks Tallow.

Act Three follows Fred Winter to Monks Tallow where he slowly pieces together this jigsaw of audacious masquerade and murder, putting not only his own life in danger but also but those close to him.

Copyright R. N. Taber 2011


Writing or reading a novel is one thing, getting on with real life is something else.

This poem is a kenning and has not appeared on the blog since 2009.


I’m as likely to arrive naked
at the party and set tongues wagging
as slip quietly away, everyone
asking who I was, where I came from
and wondering why I bothered
turning up at all since I didn’t appear
to have much to do or say,
like some charismatic stranger
stepped out of a dream

I’m as likely to arrive, guns blazing
at a showdown and set tongues wagging
as slip quietly away, everyone
complaining that I didn’t take their side
against this or that antagonist
or snivelling into handkerchiefs like lovers
caught out playing cat and mouse
with a passion that wearies of the game,
leaves them home alone

I’m as likely to arrive in royal fanfare
at some local fete and set tongues wagging
as slip quietly away, everyone
agreed I could have put on a better show
but supposing it’s for the best;
Besides, who really knows what inspires
us to action or inaction, given
a fickle nature so often putting us
at odds with each other?

Call me Life, shining love's light on the mind
though its mortal shadow closing in behind

[From: On the Battlefields of Love by R. N. Taber Assembly Books 2010

Friday, 1 April 2011

Passers-By: A Collage

Life is never as dark as it sometimes may seem just so long as we always make room for love.


Time, it’s passing by me,
all alone;
Stress, getting worse each day;
Love, it’s all around me
closed to us…
who do not see for its tears

Society, it’s hacking me
in pieces;
human remains everywhere;
Religion, it’s leaving me
half dead,
trying to make sense of it all;
Politics, it’s deceiving me,
so weary
of hearing lies and half lies;
Power, it’s killing me,
crying out
to cloth ears for peace of mind

Hope, it’s imploring me
rise up
against the unfairness of life;
Life, should it not be teaching us
for each other’s differences?
Differences, once hacking
at each other,
learning the lessons of history;
History, busy reworking
ages-old myths
surrounding and dividing us;
Us, a common humanity,
world guardians,
a duty of care to generations

Time, it’s passing by me,
listening out
for the timbre of its every heartbeat;
Love, it’s all around,
healing us,
who could not see for our tears

Copyright R. N. Taber 2011