Sunday, 29 January 2012

Keeper Of The Flame

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/R._N._Taber

A reader who has to use an Internet café to go on-line has asked me to repeat the link to my YouTube channel.  My friend and cameraman Graham and I are hoping to record more poems ‘on location’ for YouTube, weather and time permitting.


Meanwhile...

Raking the heart’s embers is easy enough. It takes but one precious memory to stir the flames of a love that was never meant to fulfill its promises...until, with all the passion of regret, we can but watch them fall away.

Now, a man or woman may be gay or straight, but neither is more or less vulnerable than the other to a love that, for whatever reason, is a secret only two will ever share.

KEEPER OF THE FLAME

Piling on wood,
and the flames leap higher,
bringing us together
as we were that summer
we’d meet up again
and again to go swimming
in the sunshine,
walking in the rain,
playing with fire
from each dawn to sunset,
now flaring, now fading,
like love’s wistful voices,
its weepy echoes

Piling on wood,
and the flames are dancing,
lovers romancing
as we were that summer
we’d cherish
precious moments together,
each one stolen
from those who thought
they knew us,
yet never once suspecting
we were lovers,
not just best of friends
hamming it up

Running out of wood;
too soon, the flames starting
to fall away
like an audience once a play
has reached an ending,
well deserving of applause
even if no one cares
to admit the staged goings-on
were too close
for comfort, disturbing
vulnerable ghosts
ever tearful for being shut
in some secret closet

Fire smouldering, but a flicker
braving it out


Copyright R. N. Taber 2012



Tuesday, 24 January 2012

Dark Secrets

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/R._N._Taber

Some readers who also enjoy my fiction blog have been in touch to ask for more details about my novel Catching up with Murder published by Raider International last year. So I am publishing a synopsis (+ poem) here today.Anyone interested can buy the novel from:
http://amazon.com  or http://www.barnesandnoble.com/ (overseas) OR http://www.amazon.co.uk (UK)

CATCHING UP WITH MURDER: a novel in three acts (approx. 100,000 words)
By Roger N. Taber


SYNOPSIS:

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 regarding Ruth Temple but is also reunited with an old flame CAROL BRADY whose husband had been murdered some years ago and whose son LIAM has been killed in a car accident although no body recovered and assumed washed out to sea. One potential lead after another leads to the same dead end, a village on the south coast called Monks Tallow. Moreover, Winter starts to suspect that Liam Brady is not only alive but inextricably linked to a series of tragic ‘coincidences’ there.

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.

In due course, the past catches up with Cotter and Horton, driving them to commit three more murders.

Act Three follows Fred Winter to Monks Tallow where he slowly pieces together this jigsaw of audacious masquerade and murder while inadvertently putting himself and loved ones in mortal danger...

Copyright R. N. Taber 2007 

Meanwhile...

Here’s a poem about dark secrets if not the necessarily as dark as those that Horton and Cotter hug to themselves for so long. For me, as regular readers well know, one of my darkest secrets was once my sexuality. I had acknowledged to myself that I am gay by the time I was 14 years-old.

In those days, same sex relationships were a criminal offence here in the UK. Throughout my teenage years, I told neither family nor friends. I wasn’t ashamed, just scared. Even as a young adult, it would still be some years before I’d find the self-confidence to come out once and for all. It had been drummed into me during my vulnerable formative years that being gay was something dirty if not perverted.

Within my family I only ever discussed my sexuality with my mother just a few years before she died of cancer in 1976; she warned me against telling my father or brother. It took a severe nervous breakdown in my early 30s before I came out of that dark, lonely closet once and for all.

This poem is a villanelle.

DARK SECRETS

Dark secrets of the heart,
like claws of a trapped bear
ready to tear us apart

Under threat at the start,
nature’s soul stripped bare;
dark secrets of the heart

See truth’s unerring dart
sent flying through the air
ready to tear us apart

No sweet a fruit or tart
than words we cannot share;
dark secrets of the heart

Tools of a far subtler art
than Medusa’s stony glare,
ready to tear us apart

Endgame, a poison dart
(any time, anywhere);
dark secrets of the heart
ready to tear us apart

Copyright R. N. Taber 2008



Saturday, 21 January 2012

Casual Chat In A Greasy Spoon

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/R._N._Taber

This post is duplicated on both blogs today.

Some heterosexuals are (still) all but obsessed with the belief they cannot possibly contract HIV-AIDS  because they are not gay. Yes, it’s unbelievable, but true. When it happens to them, they haven’t a clue how to handle it. The same can be said for some gay men and women of course; a lot of gay guys, too, live in a complacent little bubble of their own making.

I have written many poems about HIV-AIDS but it is today’s poem that last appeared on both blogs in February 2010 which has caught a reader’s eye. I have been asked to repeat it by ‘Rudi’, who apparently has a friend in denial about recently been diagnosed HIV + while being treated in hospital for something else. Rudi says, ‘It is like he can’t believe it could happen to a super fit heterosexual like him even though he sleeps around and doesn’t always use a condom. It has never occurred to him that one of his casual girlfriends might have been infected by another casual male partner...as if he’s the only one into casual sex!’ Rudi adds, ‘They have tried to help him at the hospital, but he won’t listen. He has convinced himself there has been a mistake, and they are a bunch of incompetents.’

Playing the blame game is always a waste of time. Rudi’s friend needs to see a doctor and counsellor and get medication/advice NOW. Just because people can live for years with the HIV-AIDS virus these days is no cause for complacency and is wholly dependent upon the right medication and a mature attitude to sexual responsibility.

Even talking to a complete stranger in a 'greasy spoon' café is as good a start as any although why so many straight guys seem to think we gay guys should be any more comfortable with the idea of HIV-AIDS than they are remains a mystery to me. Maybe they think that, because we have lived with the possibility longer and perhaps more intimately; it is ingrained in our psyche, forewarned, so to speak, being forearmed? There may even be something in that, but living with HIV+ is no easy ride for anyone.

This is an autobiographical poem and the guy who told me he was HIV+ plainly thought I’d be ‘a good guy to talk to’ because he thought I ‘looked gay’ and ‘would know about these things.’ I tried to reassure him and gave him some good advice for which he was grateful, but squirmed a lot. We shook hands when we parted, and he told me in a  well meaning if also very patronising way, ‘It’s been nice talking to you. Hey, you lot aren’t so bad, are you?’ I took it to be a rhetorical question and summoned a diplomatic smile.

By the way, Rudi didn’t say if he is gay or straight [does it matter?] but did mention that he is tested for HIV-AIDS on a regular basis, but a lot of his friends ‘can’t be bothered’ and/or ‘would rather not know anyway.’  Good for you, Rudi, and I hope you manage to knock some common sense into those idiots.

This poem is a villanelle.

CASUAL CHAT IN A GREASY SPOON

He blurted he’s HIV+ but isn’t gay
and blames people like me
(what was I supposed to say?)

I met him in a cafe one spring day
(me wearing a bright pink tee);
He blurted he’s HIV+ but isn’t gay

He was sad. I said, ‘Hi, a nice day’
and he got really angry
(what was I supposed to say?)

He said he doesn’t do nice, no way,
to ‘my sort’ especially;
He blurted he’s HIV+ but isn’t gay

I struggled to keep my hurt at bay,
fend off his hostility
(what was I supposed to say?)

Sex is a game it takes two to play,
we agreed over Fair Trade tea;
He blurted he’s HIV+ but isn’t gay
(what was I supposed to say?)

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

Wednesday, 18 January 2012

Youth - Middle Age - Old Age

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/R._N._Taber

Yesterday, I posted a poem inspired by a song sung by Doris Day. A reader has been in touch to ask, ‘It is bad enough that someone who claims to be a serious poet writes gay rubbish, which I find offensive, but to write about Doris Day is really the last straw!’

Well, for a start I have never claimed to be a serious poet only someone who takes poetry seriously; well, most of the time. I am certainly no poetry snob, and readers will know that I write on all manner of themes. Nor am I a music snob. I love Doris Day just as I love Ella Fitzgerald and Johnny Cash.  I love some classical music, but I also love some pop and adore rock ‘n’ roll. I love some opera but cannot claim to be an opera buff. With me, it’s pick’n’mix. So what’s wrong with that? If it is good of its kind, I will usually enjoy it. Why shouldn’t I enjoy Elvis Presley every bit as much as Placido Domingo or adore Shirley Bassey just as I do Diana Ross and Leona Lewis. And let's not forget the late, great Dusty Springfield or, for that matter, Mario Lanza or Frank Sinatra. I could go on all day...

If people choose to limit their appreciation to one kind of music, one genre of literature or one period of art, that’s up to them. But there are lots of people like me who love to dabble in this ‘n’ that, and where’s the harm?

So I offer no apology for offending that particular reader. What planet is he (or she) from, I wonder?

Meanwhile...

So many readers have asked me to repeat this trilogy of villanelles that has not appeared on the blog since early 2010 so here it is again. I hope new readers and those who are unable to browse the blog archives for whatever reason, quite possibly because they simply don’t have the time, will enjoy it and regular readers will also enjoy being reacquainted with it.

We all have to grow old, but to how many of us, I wonder, does the ageing process convey the wisdom that we must make the most of the best not the worst of it all...?


IN APPRECIATION OF YOUTH

Youth cries the world’s tears,
slows time’s flight,
relays Earth Mother’s fears

It will always lead the cheers
for wrongs put right,
Youth cries the world’s tears

Youth bonds with its peers,
develops second sight,
relays Earth Mother’s fears

To peace and love it steers
(Armageddon in sight)
Youth cries the world’s tears

As a mist of naivety clears,
it won't throw the fight,
relays Earth Mother’s fears

It straddles the world’s terrors,
a love poem to write;
Youth cries the world’s tears
relays Earth Mother’s fears

Copyright R. N. Taber 2008
IN CELEBRATION OF MIDDLE AGE

In celebration of middle age
(after much rehearsing)
time brings us centre-stage

Like a bird freed from its cage,
we’ll fly on a poem’s wing
in celebration of middle age

Daring us turn the first page
in our history’s re-shaping,
time brings us centre-stage

Shake off cliché and adage,
give truth a rare dusting
in celebration of middle age

Inspired by youth’s raw rage,
its humanity enduring,
time brings us centre-stage

Acted out on a custom page,
a love poem in the making;
in celebration of middle age
time brings us centre-stage

Copyright R. N. Taber 2008
BY WAY OF MARKING OLD AGE

By way of marking old age
(after much reflecting)
time edges us off-stage

Like a bird returned to its cage,
we’ll flex a feisty wing
by way of marking old age

Letting slip that life's last page
makes good reading,
time edges us off-stage

Let’s not pass cliché and adage
off as living…
by way of marking old age

Inspired by a well-honed rage,
its humanity enduring…
time edges us off-stage

No matter memory skips a page,
its poetry re-working;
by way of marking old age
time edges us off-stage

Copyright R. N. Taber 2008

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

Tuesday, 17 January 2012

Castaways

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/R._N._Taber

Many thanks to those readers who have been in touch to say they enjoy my Tweets on Life with which I link my blog posts to Twitter. However, I don’t use Twitter as a social network as I am not into social networking so if you want to contract me any time, always email me at: rogertab@aol.com

If you want to read my Tweets, go to: https://twitter.com/rogertab

Meanwhile...

Today’s poem was inspired by a song recorded by Doris Day called Love's Little Island (1955). I love this recording and have carried it in my head for many years. As far as I can recall, it begins with the line, 'I am the castaway on love's little island...' I suspect many of us can relate to that.

This is one of two poems I have written by way of a tribute to Doris Day. She had a great voice and, in my opinion, has always been underrated as an actress. I have always been a D D fan and here she is, still looking great...Wow!

Photo (Update) Internet, April 2014

CASTAWAYS

Washed up on an island
in a misty dream,
passing centuries shadowing us
(wings across golden sand)

Game to explore an island
in a misty dream,
fair memories waving back at us
(castle flags on golden sand)

Last seen kissing on an island,
sea mist closing in,
too soon, time’s tide covering us
(footprints on golden sand)

Closer to nature on an island,
(love’s lasting dream)
earth’s descant surely winging us,
seabirds across golden sand

As golden sand to ocean waves
are the world’s lovers…
though humankind run the gamut
of nature’s grudges against it

Copyright R. N. Taber 2010

Thursday, 12 January 2012

Some Days Smack Of Burning Rubber


We all have them from time to time...

So when was your last really, really BAD day?

SOME DAYS SMACK OF BURNING RUBBER

Shadows like ghosts burning rubber on the highway
come dead of night

One mischief making ghost gets to play at navigator
for old times sake

Driver takes a shortcut across a field of bad dreams
sprouting like four-leaf clover

Ghosts like shadows ready to drive a hard bargain
with the living for their favours

Driver on a Big Wheel screaming for the fun of a fair
under an acid rain of spreadsheets

Driver on a shrinking wheel, Gulliver lost in Lilliput
without a map

Highway coursing the driver’s veins as sure as boards
turning an actor inside out

Driver’s eyes opening. Wheel of Life resumes a pace
unworthy of a ghost

Home stretch, final act, driver’s waking up to a kinder
endgame than limbo…?

Shadows like ghosts burning rubber on the highway
come dead of night
  
Copyright R. N. Taber 2009

[Note: this poem is one of 100+ that will appear in my new collection Tracking the Torchbearer due for publication by late February/early April; like my previous collections, it will be divided into (7) themed sections for easy reading.]

Wednesday, 11 January 2012

Out Of Africa


Today’s post is duplicated on my general blog because, hopefully, it will be of real interest and concern to all readers.  Here in the UK, it is bad enough that homophobia and hate crime against gay people, especially gay men, is alive and kicking, but in some parts of the world, and not only in the southern hemisphere either, it aspires to diabolical proportions.

Anyone who watched the Channel Four Dispatches programme ‘Africa: the last taboo’ in July 2010 will have a good idea what it is like to be gay in the greater part of Africa. 

Now, evangelical pastors preaching homophobia and worse across the world have much to answer for, but it is perhaps the greater part of Africa that they aspire to their most diabolical; their influence is such that a newspaper editor in Uganda has called for the deaths of known gay people, and they must accept no small responsibility for anti-gay legislation in many if not most African countries.


OUT OF AFRICA

‘Kill the homosexuals!’
an evangelical pastor cried,
and true to his words
many gay men and women
have since died

‘Homosexuals are sinners!’
the impassioned pastor yelled
at a congregation
that took up the cry, would
see us killed

‘Homosexuality is an evil,’
the demon pastor screamed,
‘and no known cure
so kill, kill, or see its sinning
go unredeemed!’

‘Man shall with woman lie!’
The pastor furiously exhorted
his flock to heed verses
from Leviticus, Christ’s coming
conveniently aborted

Someone in the congregation
dared point out that Christ said
we should love
and help our neighbours, not
wish them dead

‘Blasphemer!” the pastor cried,
near hysterically refusing to relent
his demonizing
of homosexuality undermining
New Testament

Africa, Africa, what are you doing,
even listening?

Copyright R. N. Taber 2012

[Note: This poem will appear in my new collection Tracking the Torchbearer to be published in February/March 2012]


Monday, 9 January 2012

Woman In Green


Regular readers will know that many years ago, when I was in my early thirties, I had a severe nervous breakdown and became suicidal. I overdosed on paracetamol and was unconscious for thirty-six hours. I awoke in such pain that I somehow found the resolve to make my way to my nearby GP’s surgery but only recall telling a receptionist I had taken an overdose before I passed out again to wake up in hospital the next morning.

It was stupid thing to do. Yet, desperation rarely if ever recognizes stupidity.

In hospital, I felt guilty and ashamed for taking up a bed and the nurses’ time. The nurses were brilliant and could not have been kinder, which made me feel all the more ashamed of what, after all, is a very selfish act.

Yes, selfish. Yet, desperation rarely if ever recognises selfishness either. 

For the first and only time in my life, I saw a psychiatrist who was actually very helpful. [I have seen several who have been a complete waste of time.] It would be several years before I recovered sufficiently to think about finding another job, and years more before I began to feel all but fully recovered.  I have looked upon every day since as a bonus.

I survived all this with the support of some good friends and a faith in Earth Mother of which I had  had temporarily lost sight in a maze of feelings to which I could scarcely relate, and where I had lost all sense of identity. Various factors contributed to this sorry state of affairs, not least growing up in a gay-unfriendly environment although this was but one of many; a significant hearing loss no one appreciated, including myself as a child and an appalling relationship with my father played their part. Even so, I was an adult and needed to take responsibility for myself instead of playing the blame game and sinking into self-pity. I like to think I learned that lesson as time passed and I got a life.

Anyone driven to despair, whether or not they contemplate suicide, will know that it is hard if not impossible at the time to rationalise either cause or consequences. It is an illness for which the only cure must come from within. Yet, so often, those in despair fail to find the strength they need to go that last mile. But if strength fails them, so too does human nature. Even these days, mental illness is regarded with suspicion and scepticism.

I was lucky to have some good friends and Earth Mother looking out for me.  My despair had been a long slow burning fuse that was bound to ignite a powder keg of sheer chaos in me sooner or later. There were casualties other than myself, and I can only hope they, too, survived to continue making the best of life, people and circumstances; a philosophy that saved me and taught me a valuable lesson.

So if you know anyone caught up in a downward spiral of depression and despair, please don’t give up on them, but lend a helping hand to being them back to mainstream life. There are no shortcuts, and the journey is likely to be a long one; in my case, years, and I’ve still a way to go yet. I have travelled a long way along that road, and am grateful for all the help I’ve had in making every step. But among all the good memories, there will always be bad ones that will try to pull us down and sometimes succeed however hard we resist.

When I started to recover from my breakdown, many people thought I was ‘cured’; as if I’d had a bad dose of flu and was now okay. 30+ years on, I hear from and about other people in much the same position. So much for progress in real terms; that is to say in human terms...


Earth Mother synbol taken from the web
WOMAN IN GREEN

I sat by the sea contemplating suicide
when a woman in green came and sat by my side.
stayed quite still, didn’t say a word;
my head, it rang with a gull’s shrill cry
as if echoing the heart’s screaming to be left to die,
no hanging on to this useless body

The woman in green didn’t look at me
but continued to exude that youth, life and beauty
I’d once loved, become my enemy;
following her gaze to a misty horizon,
I entered into a way of seeing altogether unknown
where the sea wore a green velvet gown

Grey hair streaked with a sunset’s glow
above eyes as teasing a blue as those I used to know
and pink lips urging me not to follow;
where once the sea, now a patch of grass
beneath an old tree on whose leaves of painted glass
nature would work its magic for us

Vanished, just as suddenly as it came,
knowing memories will keep murmuring your name
(sea of grass, leaves of glass, the same);
suddenly, I am bursting with a desire
to live (even love?) again, like an autumn leaf on fire,
its story all but told, waiting on another

I laughed aloud, forgetting the woman in green
and turned to explain, but she had already gone

Copyright R. N. Taber 2011

[Note: This poem will appear in my new collection - Tracking the Torchbearer - to be published in the spring.]

Saturday, 7 January 2012

Taking The Scenic Route OR Putting off the Inevitable


This poem appeared on the blog in 2010 as 'Where The River Bends'. Readers ‘Petra’ and ‘Karl’ have approved the new title and suggested I repeat it to help make returning to work in rain, snow or whatever after the Christmas and New Year breaks just that little bit more bearable.

Well, imagination is a wonderful thing so...

TAKING THE SCENIC ROUTE

Tracking a path through a forest of pine,
nature music all around, leading me where
feisty river’s twisting here, turning there,
and I pausing at each bend to cock an ear
for a lyric like no other, hidden away
in a mystic mist hugging me as if to keep
me safe from surly giants on the prowl
though (for sure) they mean me no harm

Silver, the river, blending with mist and sun,
covering me so that I am like royalty dressed
for a state occasion, needing only a crown
to let me call this fairy tale kingdom my own
and if a part of me knows (for sure) I dream
I cannot resist but must follow, follow, for all
its twists, turns, glorious music and a lyric
I can barely make out, straining to interpret

Birds and beasts of the forest shadowing me
as if at Earth Mother’s command, she concerned
for me as I track the eternal river through
a forest of pine, alone, ill-prepared for its twists
and turns and a mist cloaking me in silver,
making me into something, someone, I am not
yet I love how it shines me against the dark
enough (for sure) to scare off any malign spirits

Oh, to walk free and safe among Nature’s own,
let my senses run wild yet still retain a keen sense
of proportion, equilibrium, a feeling for fair play
that lets the river run, the trees grow, the birds sing
and beasts live, learn, and teach before dying
about the meaning of it all; no exceptions, even
for the likes of you and I. Stop! Look and see
the concrete jungle we’ve chosen for our reality

No fairy tale ending. Magical forest and silver river
insisting I cross the damn road, get to work on time

Copyright R. N. Taber 2010

Thursday, 5 January 2012

Flesh And Blood


Today’s poem has been inspired by tales told me by young people whose Coming Out experience was no way as tough an experience as they expected. Me, I did not feel I could confide in my family and only told my mother a few years before she died in 1976. I was in and out of the damn closet for years, trusting relatively few people with the knowledge that I am gay, before I finally came out to stay in the early 1980s. [Gay relationships ‘between consenting adults’ were decriminalised in the UK in 1967.]

The poem last appeared on the blog in 2010 and is repeated today on both blogs for all those gay boys and girls, men and women who have found coming out to family and friends something of a traumatic experience. Besides, my blogs are read worldwide so hopefully gay people whose socio-cultural-religious origins will not allow them to be openly gay, might take heart in the fact that no civilised person sees sexual identity as unnatural, criminal or sinful; it is simply part of our whole identity, albeit an integral part, but it is the whole that really counts. Picking on someone for their sexuality is like claiming to have completed a jigsaw puzzle with much of it still missing, and only a very foolish person does that...

It is easier to be openly gay if you are growing up in a gay-friendly environment, but many of us don’t so it is can be really tough on everyone concerned. Even so, it is well worth it if only for personal peace of mind. If it means having to move away from family and friends and getting a life while they mull things over, so be it.

Sadly, it can take some people a long time to shake off the worst of the outdated, misleading and often offensive stereotypes that continue to attach themselves to gay people in the minds of the less enlightened among the heterosexual majority. But if any family members or so-called ‘friends’ really can’t see that we’re still the same person for coming out of the damn closet they put us in ...well, maybe we are better off without them. 

Believe me. It gets easier for most people...family, friends, and us too! I guess it goes with the territory, learning to fit in to our sexuality like a hand to a glove, and then, before we know it, as a hand to the body with which nature has blessed us.

Oh, but if only those blinkered leaders in countries where gay relationships remain a criminal offence would accept that sexuality is as natural as each breath we take and we can make a valuable contribution to our native society, especially failing societies; invariably, these are hosted by repressive regimes and/or have the ear of religious fundamentalists. [So-called ‘Christian’ evangelical pastors around the world, especially those still relentlessly inciting hate crime across much of Africa, take note!]

Yes, I know I have said it all before. But as my dear late mother used to say, if something is worth saying, it is always worth repeating. Mind you, the old adage is so true; there are none so deaf as will not hear or so blind that will not see. I guess we just have to try and make them...

Did I say it would be easy?

FLESH AND BLOOD

When we told my parents
we are gay and in love,
the looks they flung us said it all
their words fraught
with anger, pain and distress,
urging us to think again
about just what it would mean
to fly in the face of religion,
insult God - and for what?

Desires of the flesh
overriding all human decency
(unnatural at that)

When we told your parents
we are gay and in love,
the looks they flung us said it all,
tumbling over words
conveying their happiness,
hopes that we will
know the same joys of love
that had been theirs
for years - and for what?

Desires of the flesh
mindful of all human decency
playing its part

When my parents met yours
over dinner one night,
the looks they flung each other
did not augur well
for an entertaining evening
but yours won mine over
with their no-nonsense talking
about living, loving,
sharing - and for what?

Desires of the flesh
with all that’s good and decent
at its heart

Copyright R. N. Taber 2010

[Note: This poem will appear in my new collection Tracking the Torchbearer scheduled for publication in the UK during February/March 2012]


Wednesday, 4 January 2012

Bury The Leaves, Save The Trees


A slightly different version of today’s poem was published in Poetry Rivals: A New Dawn Breaks, Forward Press, 2010; this one it will be included in my new collection Tracking the Torchbearer to be published in February/March this year.

A schoolteacher once commented that ‘It is not the size of a tree but its perfect beauty that makes us feel small and aware of our imperfections, as nature intended.’ I remember that comment some 50+ years on while I have forgotten most if not all the curriculum he ever taught...

BURY THE LEAVES, SPARE THE TREES


Splendid tree, shades
of green caught up in combat
with a rising insurgency;
patched-up leaves, shades of red
under relentless attack
by native forces

Branches, groaning
for knowing limitations placed
on input and outcome;
brave leaves, set for a showdown
with Big Combo quick to use
cloud cover

Falling leaves, piling
at the feet of parent trees
left to watch and weep;
dying leaves, preparing to treat
a sick earth perilously close
to kidney failure

Dead leaves, poultices
for wounds News editors
encouraged to gloss over;
splendid trees, pinning their hopes
on swallows returning to find
us all still standing

Copyright R. N. Taber 2010




Tuesday, 3 January 2012

Epiphany On Hampstead Heath


Hampstead Heath has not seen any snow (yet) this winter, but I went for a stroll there only yesterday afternoon in brilliant sunshine, and ...it felt GOOD to be alive.

Photo: Hampstead heath in Winter

EPIPHANY ON HAMPSTEAD HEATH

I stood on Parliament Hill
watching children playing in the snow,
wondering where, oh, where
did my childhood go? And the rosy faces
became those I used to know

I walked on Parliament Hill
though a shrill wintry wind sure to blow,
sounds of laughter in my ears
of long, long ago but faded soon enough
among tears I’d come to know

I paused on Parliament Hill
admiring London’s heady New Year show,
wondering where, oh, where
did Santa go? But in a vast maze of streets
that in time I came to know

I descended Parliament Hill,
among sledge marks churning up the snow,
to a coming of age… where
the carefree days and ways of my childhood
may haunt but dare not follow

At the foot of Parliament Hill
I made my way home, thoughtful and slow,
mindful of an epiphany…when
I embraced the cheers and fears of adulthood
on the Heath, one January snow

Copyright R. N. Taber 2009

Sunday, 1 January 2012

Making Peace With Mortality


I wrote today’s poem especially for New Year’s Day 2012 and it appears on both blogs.

I will be posting new poems and any for which readers particularly request from time to time over the coming months and my thoughts will be with you all.  I hope you will continue to enjoy browsing the archives. My fiction blog will continue on the usual twice weekly basis, and I will start posting another serial when Like There’s No Tomorrow ends; if you care to take a look sometime, you’ll find it at:


My friend Graham and I will also be uploading new poetry-on-location videos to my YouTube channel as soon as spring arrives:


Now, someone once told me that the older we get the farther back we look as there is less to look forward to.  Possibly, but I find looking back inspiring. Thankfully, memory becomes more selective as we get older and better able to home in on the good memories while glossing over the bad. Well, that’s how it is for me. Even the torment of a gay youth when being gay was still a criminal offence in the UK gives way to better times; such going on my first Gay Pride march here in London, meeting some wonderful people and no longer having to feel scared of my sexuality or less of a human being for it...

I so wish that feeling on gay boys and girl, men and women world-wide.

One day...

Now, regular readers will know that 2011 was not a good year for me. I was diagnosed with a low-medium growth prostate cancer in February. It wasn’t until November I learned that a course of hormone therapy has been very effective and I may not need it again for a good five years or so. By then, I may need radiotherapy, but I’ll cross that bridge when I come to it. The hormone therapy has not been without side-effects, one of these being a urinary problem. I haven’t had a decent night’s sleep for months, having to get up sometimes as many as ten or more times in the night to use the toilet! Oh, but there are many people in this sorry world of ours with far greater problems, so who am I to complain?

So, no, not a good year, for Roger T, but it could well have been a LOT worse so I am working hard at being very philosophical and counting my blessings. After all, those of us who have food in our bellies and a roof over out heads have every reason to be thankful.

London will, of course host both Her Majesty the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee as well as the Olympic Games this year so it should prove a good year for sporty types and monarchists. Yes, well, I am not sporty in the least, and although I have every respect and admiration for Her Majesty, I suspect I’m a monarchist by default since I have never been happy with the idea of the UK becoming a republic. [Ask any political historian and you’ll soon find out why.]

Whatever, here’s hoping for a better, kinder year ahead for everyone.

MAKING PEACE WITH MORTALITY

I saw an old man
looking in a toyshop window
just as the first snow
of winter was falling on passers-by,
and all the toys there
started singing and dancing
as if they understood
January Sales are on, someone
might buy them
for the love of a child who would
give them a home

I saw the old man
step into the toyshop window
through a curtain of snow
though winter already turning harsh
on passers-by,
and the singing-dancing toys
made him welcome,
not did it matter that he was old
and they were toys,
since spreading love and peace
is down to all of us

I saw the old man
wave his hands, and kick his feet,
arthritis forgotten,
keen to show he’s still young at heart
and even the cruellest winter
cannot quite obliterate a spring
that will last forever 
as long as one toyshop window
nurtures its seeds with pride,
recalling even the dourest cynic
to a teddy bears’ picnic

His face at the window,
sight blurred, sweet-tasting tears
like rain to spring flowers,
the old man bade cheerful goodbyes
to the fun loving toys
filling the shelves, leathery face
wearing a knowing smile
acknowledging more mistakes
than a shaggy dog’s hairs
and age as no more or less than
the sum of its memories

Between lines on his face
(for anyone who cared to read)
tales worth the telling,
lessons to be learned and passed on
to each girl and boy
by their favourite toy as we grow,
how though it (like us)
may fade, like the first flower
of spring, each New Year
offers us the potential to effect
repair and renewal

You’ll have guessed that man was me,
making a peace of sorts with mortality

Copyright R. N. Taber 2012