Monday, 30 April 2012

A Phoenix In Soho

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


Today’s post is duplicated on both blogs today in remembrance of all those who died at the hands of a very disturbed person in London UK during the spring of 1999.


On April 30th 1999 a loner with a hatred for gay and coloured people planted a bomb in The Admiral Duncan pub, in Soho just after 1830 hours. The bar was packed with drinkers during a Bank Holiday weekend. The pub is in Old Compton Street in what has been the heart of London’s gay community for many years. The bomber had already made similar attacks in areas of the city frequented by ethnic minority communities.

Soho's gay community has always welcomed anyone and everyone. Among the dead from The Admiral Duncan blast, were a woman only recently married and the best man at her wedding; her husband was among those who survived with horrific injuries.


There is a tragic postscript to the bombing. David Morley, a barman at The Admiral Duncan when the bomb exploded, died after a vicious homophobic attack on London’s South Bank in the early hours of Saturday morning, October 31st 2004. He was only 37 years-old. Morley had helped many people victims of the bomb that killed three people, and injured 73. Although he escaped with minor injuries, he suffered serious trauma for years afterwards.


London is often considered a safe haven for gay people, and I dare say it is safer than many places. But let’s be clear. Homophobia and racism are alive and kicking just about everywhere; the flames of hate crime are constantly being fanned by various socio0cultural-religious elements around the world. It has to stop, and the first place of call has to be schools everywhere – including if not especially faith schools – where teachers who genuinely care that their students should become responsible adults need to raise their voices and be heard without fear of reprisal from bigoted parents, Head teachers or  school governors and the like. 


Over the years, many people have fallen foul of homophobia, racism, sexism and assaults on their religious beliefs (or non-belief, as the case may be). We must do our best to stamp out these prejudices once and for all. At the same time, we should always remember that prejudice works both ways and should not be tolerated by or from anyone, regardless of colour, creed, sexuality or gender. It frequently strikes me that many people nowadays are far too quick to play various socio-cultural-religious cards in a society where ‘political correctness’ is doing precious little to encourage integration or mutual respect among its members.


A PHOENIX IN SOHO


Ordinary people passing by,
having fun in bars, folks

like you and me, no aliens from Mars
come to threaten the planet;
some sipping coffee at a roadside café
enjoying a chat, warm spring
sunshine on the face, trails of laughter
like wedding lace;
Suddenly, the sky turns black!
Smell and roar of the Devil on our back
as heaven looks away in despair
and ordinary people learn
the true meaning of fear;
Death and destruction everywhere,
wedding lace in tatters;
Ordinary people, discovering
what matters and playing their part
straight from the heart;
Smoke clears, sun reappears,
world keeps turning;
Finger of blame points, charges,
moves on;
Ordinary people, rising above tragedy
or the Devil win - pray we never
see the like again;
Small comfort for those left to writhe
in the throes of loss and pain
but hope for us all - as we learn
to live and love again, no matter
the colour of our skin or
creed we live by or our sexuality
Amazingly, yesterday, a complete
stranger said ‘hello’ over a cappuccino
in Soho; and there was wedding lace
in the street, ordinary people rising
above their tears and fears, bringing
hope and love for years to come...

Or what chance for peace, we children
of the millennium?

Copyright R. N. Taber 1999; 2012

[Note: This poem has been very slightly revised from an earlier version that appears in 1st eds. of  Love And Human Remains by R. N. Taber, Assembly Books, 2001; 2nd ed. in preparation.]

Sunday, 29 April 2012

Dirt Track

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

I wrote today’s poem especially to accompany the video below, and have just uploaded both to my YouTube channel:


Continuing my best friend Graham’s snapshot of Wiltshire, he takes us from the Gothic splendour of Salisbury cathedral to the natural beauty of the Cheddar Gorge; this is the first of three videos which we hope will give you a feel for the Gorge and its splendid views. Yes, he could have waited for a sunny day, but we both feel that a gathering storm is more atmospheric.

The poem attempts to covey something of the intimate relationship between the human condition and the natural world. I will post poem and video on my blog as previous feedback suggests that some of you cannot access YouTube directly.

Two further videos of the Cheddar Gorge (and poems) will follow during the course of this week once editing is completed. [We had hoped to combine all there videos into one, but the resulting file proved too big for my pc and it crashed.]

DIRT TRACK

I found myself trudging a dirt track,
my world, splitting at the seams,
not caring if no way back,
nothing there but shattered dreams

Wearily negotiating mud and stones,
my world, a lonely, empty space,
mind, spirit and aching bones
closed to the poetry of time and space

Suddenly, the track began to open out
my world, opening up as if on cue,
unfriendly ghosts put to rout
by Earth Mother looming into view

Firmly, yet kindly she grasped my arm
and led me through time and space,
glad captive of a fickle charm
returning me to poetry’s birthplace,

I had neither the heart nor will to resist,
but submitted to all she asked of me,
to all I hadn’t known I’d missed
more still the inner eye had yet to see

My world no longer split at the seams,
I am resolved to find my way back,
share these brave new dreams
the Poetry of Life set me back on track

Copyright R. N. Taber 2012




Saturday, 28 April 2012

Where Kingfishers Fly

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

‘Marie’ has been in touch to say she and her family enjoyed my poetry reading on the 4th plinth in Trafalgar Square back in July 2009 and would I post the link again please. 

So here it is, a link to as my contribution to Antony Gormley’s One and Other 24/7 ‘living sculpture’ project over 100 days of an English summer. The entire web-stream is archived in the British Library, but the link below will take you to my (very informal) hour on a (very high and a bit slippery) 4th plinth.


Meanwhile...




Tip for the Day: Don’t spend a lifetime looking for the Bluebird if Happiness or the chances are you will never find it; lighten up, and let it come to you, and when it does, you’ll know it’s no myth.
  
WHERE KINGFISHERS FLY

Some say a Bluebird of Happiness
will swoop on loneliness - like
an owl to prey, turn the foggiest day
into a blaze of spring sunshine,
negotiate mazes of a mind teetering
on madness, driven to despair
by a sickness of spirit - yet, but spot
one blue, fragile wing and hear
the faintest note of its sweet song
and a Bluebird of Happiness
shall bring, egging on our desire
for the simplest things - like
that first cold beer after harvest ends,
glimpse of a kingfisher’s tail
where the river bends, scent of roses
though autumn in the air
reminding a fragrance of your hair
each time we share a dip,
a gladness of rainbows lending more
than light to your eyes,
along your nose, upon your lips,
(where I’ll brush mine),
tonguing your ear lobe, seeing to it
that love’s heat moulds us
into a an image of lasting beauty

Bluebird of Happiness, circling our globe,
looking out for us...

[Note: This poem has been slightly revised from the original as it appears in 1st eds. of The Third Eye by R. N. Taber, Assembly Books, 2004; 2nd ed. in preparation. NB New editions of my collections will not be available until after 2015 and will contain revisions of some poems.]


The Third Eye is still in print. UK readers can obtain from any bookshop or directly from me; the latter also applies to overseas readers. UK readers may also find all or some of my titles listed in their local public library catalogue.

Thursday, 26 April 2012

Zen Of The Seeing Eye

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

Now, I know this is a poetry blog, but...

Many thanks to those of you who have been in touch to say they are enjoying my fiction blog: 

http://rogertaberfiction.blogspot.com

I am especially delighted that feedback on Dog Roses and Like There’s No Tomorrow has been so encouraging since I could not persuade a literary agent that they had anything to offer the reading public. Consequently, neither are available in print form, but I plan to upload them as e-books at a later date.

My latest crime novel - Catching up with Murder - is not a gay novel like Dog Roses or a gay-crime novel like Blasphemy or Sacrilege, but has a gay element in a storyline that frequently descends into black comedy. It is listed both on http://www.amazon.com/ and http://www.amazon.co.uk/. By the way, a second Fred Winter novel - Predisposed to Murder - is currently being serialised on my fiction blog. 

Enjoy!

Meanwhile, re today's poem...

I used to travel the UK giving poetry readings. I was invited to some lovely places and met some lovely people. Wherever i went, people would be busy photographing various beauty spots and aspects of nature that particularly caught the naked eye.  Me, I’d never take photographs. I was always too busy soaking in the atmosphere of a place, feasting on a history that nature has carefully archived and begs to be browsed. My inner eye would seek and find the raw material for a poem that would let me convey my deeper impressions of a place to share with others.

Enjoy your photograph albums, but put your inner eye to work as well as your camera wherever you go. That way, we keep the felt as well as visual experience of places we have visited in mind and spirit always.

ZEN OF THE SEEING EYE

My skin is white, my skin is black,
fairer shades of yellow, darker shades of brown,
like leaves in milky sunshine come a storm
rearing like raging horses in heaven’s angry sea
for its children under threat, like me,
taking my cue from nature, mentor and guide,
only temporarily kept from harm
in the eye of storm, sanctuary a fragile
prism of silence

My skin is white, my skin is black,
fairer shades of yellow, darker shades of brown,
like colours in a pallet before art
stakes its claim and transcends virginity
into a subtle blend of modernity
and spirituality comprising multi-aspects
of temporality stirred to direct
its inner eye to look and see, seek and find
what moves the human mind

My skin is white, my skin is black,
fairer shades of yellow, darker shades of brown,
camouflage for ingenuity and invention
though conspiracy and deception sometimes
making inroads where defences weakened
by a brooding inability to make the world hear
what we have to say, restore its pride
instead of some knee-jerk running away to hide
here, there, everywhere

Be fair to me in what or whom you think you see,
creative with even the plainer shades of humanity

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

You may be interested to know that On the Battlefields of Love is still in print. and available in the UK or there copies are also available directly from me. (Now FREE + postage/shipping) For details, please email me: rogertab@aol.com



Enjoy!

Wednesday, 25 April 2012

Anthology In Search Of A Title

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

The first poem on today’s blog mysteriously disappeared from Monday’s post so I am reinstating it here. It was duplicated on my gay-interest blog at the request of a young man living in Europe and afraid for many friends back home in his native Uganda who live in constant fear or persecution, prison and worse. I have expressed his fears better in other poems, but this is the one he chose because, as he puts it so succinctly, 'everyone has a right to love, no exceptions...'

Gay Rights have come a long way in the West since I was young, but we still have a long way to go before everyone achieves sufficient maturity and sense of fair play to recognise that we are just ordinary people with a positive a contribution to make to contemporary society as anyone else. [Religious fundamentalists and intrinsically homophobic clerics please take note...and grow up!] Uganda, of course,  is just one of many African countries where the repression of and attacks on gay people are a public disgrace to humanity. What makes it all so much worse is that this attitude is encouraged and promoted by radical evangelicals who claim to speak for God. Well, that just goes to show how dangerous ignorance can be since the New Testament and Holy writings associated with other religions assure us that God is Love and love does not discriminate in this way, certainly Jesus of Nazareth never would. I may be non-religious, but I feel very strongly that the way some 'middle management' religious leaders take it upon themselves to misinterpret central aspects of religion for their own bigoted ends.

Here's looking forward to the day when gay people around the world are free to express their sexuality without fear of persecution from the less enlightened among the heterosexual majority.

AT FREEDOM’S CALL

Once I played among green hills in summer,
listening to songbirds, watching them fly,
running free, hand in hand with my gay lover
our dream, like a kite, reaching for the sky

In purple hills, come autumn’s reds and gold,
I saw birds winging free of winter’s threat,
leaves painting pictures of we two grown old,
our dream, like a kite, playing hard to get

Once I walked in white hills at winter’s call,
heard a robin sing in a tree stripped bare,
nor did it flinch or fly off at the first snowfall,
our dream, like a kite, returning us there

If summer short, autumn brief, winter dead,
be love’s eternal spring taken as read
  
[From: Accomplices to Illusion by R. N. Taber, Assembly Books, 2007]

Now, freedom has meant and will always mean means different things to different people at different times in history, but is and always will be is always worth fighting for...

This next poem is a villanelle.

ANTHOLOGY IN SEARCH OF A TITLE

Written in blood, centuries before,
passing for a treatise on peace,
an anthology on the Poetry of War

Where warmongers strut cocksure,
find hope’s desperate pleas,
written in blood, centuries before

Eyes on glory at victory’s glass door,
politicians deliver fine speeches,
an anthology on the Poetry of War

Pride spilling over on the home shore
for defeating its enemies,
written in blood, centuries before

Love, waiting in the wings evermore
can but weep at brave eulogies,
an anthology on the Poetry of War

Generations marking its pages as sure
as next autumn’s leaves;
an anthology on the Poetry of War,
written in blood, centuries before

[From: Tracking the Torchbearer by R. N. Taber, Assembly Books, 2012]e

Tuesday, 24 April 2012

Bluegrass Buddha

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

Deep thinking, especially perhaps when it takes a wishful or wistful turn, may well take us to the strangest places...

BLUEGRASS BUDDHA

Pensive, cross-legged
on the sandbanks of time
wishing the tide away...
watching the flotsam and jetsam
of long, happy hours
swoop and dive like gulls
chasing crumbs thrown
by this child, those watchers,
from a sandcastle’s tower
on a blue glass sea of dreams...
Oh, happiness, reminding
like specks in a kaleidoscope
even as it turns, like earth
around the sun, of days gone
forever, never to return...
Good, bad, halcyon days
chasing after crumbs
thrown by this child-watcher
from a castle of half lies
on a bluegrass sea of dreams,
listening to The Man play and, oh,
but wishing the tide away...

[From: A Feeling For The Quickness Of Time by R. N. Taber, Assembly Books, 2008

Sunday, 22 April 2012

In The Eye Of The Beholder


Although I do not subscribe to any religion, that doesn’t mean I have any less love for the architecture of many religious edifices; for much of religious music, too, even if I cannot relate the words of hymns and other songs of praise. For that matter, regarding Christianity, I also have a great appreciation of much of the sheer poetry to be found in its Holy Bible. I once commented as much to colleagues during a debate about religion over a meal after work; all said they found this offensive. I could not, they insisted, have my cake and eat it; one even accused me of blatant hypocrisy when I added that I am not only often moved by examples of religious architecture and music, but they also appeal to a strong sense of spirituality in me even though I take that from nature rather than religion.

I mean no offence to anyone. An eye and feeling for beauty are unconditional, surely? Few people, I suspect, whatever their religion, could fail to be moved by the sheer beauty and magnificence of some of England's great cathedrals of which the oldest is Salisbury.  

As for religion itself, I intend no offence there either when I often attack the hypocrisy I find in many religious minded people for whom their religion is a closed shop, and they have little if any time for anyone who does not pay the appropriate dues. I would like to say these are a in a minority, but at 66 years-old experience suggests otherwise. However, there are exceptions to every rule, and thank goodness for all those men and women who not only subscribe to their religion, but also to humanity in general, regardless of colour, creed, sex or sexuality.

Yesterday I uploaded today’s poem as a voice-over to a video shot by my close friend Graham who has been visiting family in Wiltshire. (See also below.) If you want to see other videos I have uploaded to my YouTube channel, go to:


This poem is a villanelle. [As regular readers will know, I am not averse to taking the occasional liberty with ’hidden’ rhyme.]

IN THE EYE OF THE BEHOLDER

Ancient and beautiful,
a watchful maternal eye;
Salisbury cathedral

Its spire, proud and tall,
reaching up to kiss the sky;
ancient and beautiful

Welcoming one and all
(no enquiring who or why);
Salisbury cathedral

Hear cloisters softly call
upon peace, its tears to dry;
ancient and beautiful

An ages-old clock’s toll
offering pilgrims sanctuary;
Salisbury cathedral...

In God is love and love is all,
repudiating the Henge nearby;
ancient and beautiful,
Salisbury cathedral

Copyright R. N. Taber 2012





Saturday, 21 April 2012

Journey Into Space

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

Readers ‘Raoul’ and ‘Sunita’ have asked for this poem that last appeared on the blog in 2010. Their, too, has to be a secret love because their families are on opposite sides of a socio-cultural-religious divide and would not approve of their relationship. Sadly, I often hear from star-crossed lovers, gay and straight alike.

It isn’t only gay people living in a gay-unfriendly environment that know all about that cold, dark closet I experienced many years ago as a secretly gay youth and young man. I would have hoped we were done with all that in 21st century Britain, Tragically, there are as many if not more people having to endure the same unbearable loneliness that goes with the territory whenever divided loyalties conspire to make us to live a lie.

It has to stop, and the only way a fair, peaceful society stands a chance is through education. Socio-cultural-religious prejudices need to be openly, fairly, sensitively and intelligently debated in schools so that future generations will come to understand what I keep saying about our differences not making us different, only human. Many parents do understand that, of course, but I look around and suspect they are in a minority. All good teachers understand it, but are prevented by school politics from passing it on to their students.

Yes, yes, I know. I am repeating myself yet again. But as my dear, late mother used to say, if something is worth saying, it is always worth repeating.

JOURNEY INTO SPACE

Stars on the water like little ships
sailing down the river;
full moon like a lighthouse beacon
guiding them to harbour;
shadows on the bank applauding
the event
like ghosts from history’s pages
passing by

No one about but lovers, you and I,
keepers of the night
on behalf of all kinder humanity
while nature sleeps;
for a while, even ghosts dare relate
to the little ships
sailing past like wistful thoughts
on a leafy breeze

We pause, you and I, enjoying a rare
sense of freedom,
engaging with Earth Mother at peace
before dawn’s call to arms;
there will be other nights, ships too,
but none like this;
witness the universe open up its heart
and let us in

Come night’s illusions beaten to pulp
by daylight’s hooves,
its lovers shall bear witness wherever
shadows gather
to empathise with time’s penchant
for mortality
and nature’s persistent, eternal passion
for life

[From: Tracking the Torchbearer by R. N. Taber, Assembly Books, 2012]

Friday, 20 April 2012

A Poet's Take On Eternity

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

‘Leo’ who describes himself as 'an aspiring poet' has asked me to repeat this poem, last seen on the blog in 2010, because it ‘keeps me focused on the fact that there are more important things in life than wealth and ambition.’

I am happy to oblige, Leo, but bear in mind that there is nothing wrong with having wealth or ambition; it’s how a wealthy and/or ambitious person handles either or both that counts.

A POET’S TAKE ON ETERNITY

I have worked with rhythm and rhyme
as poets for centuries have done,
building bridges on a river called Time

Where they fell at some god’s first crime
on killing fields of the sun,
I have worked with rhythm and rhyme

For all those cut down in their prime,
let’s redeem the bloody deed done,
building bridges on a river called Time

Like a lotus rising from the world’s slime,
symbol of a spirited imagination,
I have worked with rhythm and rhyme

Let past and future, great players of mime
embrace audience participation,
building bridges on a river called Time

No dark toll where goat bells gaily chime
(echoes of the Parnassus run);
I have worked with rhythm and rhyme,
building bridges on a river called Time

Copyright R. N. Taber 2010

Wednesday, 18 April 2012

The Apprentice



Sometimes people tell me they have no flair for creativity. It isn’t true.  Maybe they cannot pen or paint to paper or compose a symphony or turn a lump of clay into masterpiece of ceramics...

Ah, but we create images even as we speak in any language, including sign language of course, and those images are received, interpreted and taken to heart.

Yes we all say and do things differently, but that is not only part of the charm of the human race, but also its natural flair for creativity. 

True, some people are more creative than others, but never let anyone tell you that you have no sense of creativity.


We are all apprentices to life and learning in different ways and with varying degrees of success that make us who we are - individuals.

This poem is a kenning.

THE APPRENTICE

I am as clay
that can be shaped however
the potter chooses
and have little say in the matter
but must follow
where caring, firm hands lead
(in my best interests?)
while subtler firing needs
left unfulfilled

I am as steel,
shaped only with some difficulty
for another’s ends
yet the welder who knows how
to bend me to his will
does not hesitate to demonstrate
his skill if only to satisfy
an audience of but one person
in his sights

I am as poetry
that can be shaped however
the reader chooses,
led by the hand through a maze
of thoughts and feelings,
caring hands suggesting this way
or that, leaving us to make
our own fate nor judged for how
we turn out

Call me Individuality, best left to be
a star apprentice to Creativity

[From: Tracking the Torchbearer by R. N. Taber, Assembly Books, 2012]

Tuesday, 17 April 2012

A Predilection For Road Movies

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

Readers ‘Glen and Sara' have been in touch to say they love this poem because it reminds them of when they were students and ‘...we used to take off’ here, there and just about everywhere in an old banger we called Genevieve after the movie of the same name.’

Metaphorically speaking, life on the open road took on a whole new meaning when I finally came out years ago after far too long in a cold, dark closet that eventually resulted in my having a severe nervous breakdown some 30+ years ago.

Openness is everything, and bottling things up is never a good idea. As far as gay men and women are concerned, some feel they have no choice but to keep their sexuality secret, but it is not only gay people, of course, who find themselves hugging years of frustration close to their chest. Many of us fall victim to at least one family member, friend or colleague who simply refuses to listen to any point of view that takes issue with their own. Since there is no talking to these people, we say nothing, sometimes for years. Suddenly, we can bear their selfishness, self-centredness and generally tunnel vision no longer, and we snap, often over something so trivial they probably have no idea where the flood of our hostility is coming from.  Oh, they are nice enough people, which is probably why we put up with them for so long. It is much easier to tell a nasty person to f**k off. 

I call it closed-mind syndrome; a sickness that is prevalent in many socio-cultural-religious areas of society. It runs in my family so it will come as no surprise to new readers that I am estranged from most of my relatives. Yet, I envy people who belong to a close-knit family, and always encourage others to try and work through any differences they may have with their own even if it means venturing where I promised myself years ago that I would never go again. [Maybe that makes me a hypocrite?]

As I have said many times, our differences do not make us different, only human. We are not a race of clones (yet) thank goodness.

Oh, but love the open road. [Did I say it was easy?]


A PREDILECTION FOR ROAD MOVIES

Now and then, the road ahead
seems to stretch forever
and a weary heart seeks in vain
for the strength to carry on;
lost sight of any meaningful goal,
loneliness invading the soul,
the poetry of life but dull prose,
beauty fading like memories
once held dear, now but straws
in the wind, falling, drifting…
like autumn leaves from a tree
that has the look of a body
resolved to die. Ah, but look again
and see that Earth Mother
is not done with us yet, for all we
fret and moan like winter,
unable to comprehend that spring
might come again and the tree
come into its own though it feed
on acid rain

Look again, where the road ahead
seems to stretch forever;
glimpse patches of blue where dark
clouds part to let light through,
as good a goal as any to keep in view,
give a weary heart the strength
to carry on, though why we bother
as unclear as why we feel
the soul respond to some heavenly
goal we cannot begin to express
except to permit a fragile happiness
find its way back into us
on the backs of dearest memories
we pushed away in pain,
now conspiring yet again to make us
whole and set us free - to enjoy
the journey, inspiring our senses
to indulge us life’s finer poetry,
discover in its beauty the meaning
of eternity

Meaning, purpose, prose and poetry,
all chief players in a road movie

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

Monday, 16 April 2012

Dreaming Suburbs

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

Suburbs have a reputation for being drab, dull, and boring; they have neither the countryside’s natural beauty nor the excitement of a large town or city.

Ah, but as with most things in life, even suburbia is as we choose to make it.

Besides one person’s nightmare is another person’s dream just as one person’s concrete jungle is someone else’s home...

DREAMING SUBURBS

Daylight fading at the window, thrushes
singing at will;
thoughts turn the mind slowly
like sails of a windmill;
twilight dips a darker hue
(one thrush soars, another stays
to sling its shadow among
the best geraniums);
melody fading, a flickering of feathers
at the sill...

Though darkness drop its shutters
on all the world’s sleepers,
candles lit for a Quixote surely will
guide a thrush to its nest,
let weary heads rest, having
done their best? (As for dreams,
finders keepers)

Gone now, sweet songbird;
nothing’s heard but sails in the wind
teasing humankind

[Note: An earlier version of this poem appears in 1st eds. of Love And Human Remains, 2001; 2nd ed. in preparation]

Sunday, 15 April 2012

High Seas Rescue

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

Now, I've met many people who have managed to turn their lives around in a constructive, positive way, survived high seas and made it to a safe shore. In my edition of the Book of Life, they and their like are real heroes.

True, getting the better of the darker self it’s never easy...and all more heroic for that.


HIGH SEAS RESCUE

Once I didn’t give a damn
about where I was or who I am,
even less what I was doing
or where I was going, the kind of life
I was generally leading…
no time for forward planning
or positive thinking,
content just to get high on drugs,
and binge drinking, no matter
the cruise liner I am on is sinking;
then hear a cry, ‘Abandon ship!’
dived into the dark high seas of hell
and woke up in hospital

Among the survivors, only I
lived to tell the sorry tale of a life
that had no meaning,
everyone in it long past caring
about what I was doing
or where I was going, the kind of life
I was generally leading…
no time for forward planning
or positive thinking,
content just to get high on drugs 
and binge drinking, no matter
I’m close to hitting self-destruct
and time running out

Those wasted years made me
the kind of person I try to be now,
telling everyone I meet how
life only has purpose and meaning
when you’re kind and caring,
make time for forward planning
and positive thinking…
say ‘no’ to getting high on drugs
and binge drinking,
offer a helping hand to others as you
would have them do,
if only to be saved from drowning
in those killer seas too

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







Saturday, 14 April 2012

Every Street Has Something To Say



A street is far more than a place where people live, more even than those people themselves.

A street is part of history, stretching back through time and forward into the future.

For now and always, we are a part of all that...

It’s a GOOD feeling.

Incidentally, I recorded the video for YouTube (see below this post) and it isn't one of my better efforts, but I thought you might enjoy it. We have none of the top of the range equipment that was on hand for my performance on the 4th plinth in Trafalgar Square in July 2009 as my contribution to Anyony Gormley's One and Other 'live sculpture' project; 2,400 people were invited to 'do their own thing'  on the plinth for an hour, 24/7 over 100 days. The entire project is now archived in the British Library. (I have posted the link immediately below as a number of readers have asked me to repeat it. However, be warned...the whole thing last an hour.)  




Amateurs we may be, but Graham and I have great fun making and editing the YouTube videos, and that's the whole point...having fun, and letting anyone who may be interested see how I read my own poems. As we got into the swing of things, I appear in front of the camera less and less, recording the poems as voice-overs to cut out distracting background noise. Even so, I won't disappear altogether as we shoot more 'on location' stuff as time goes by. Whatever, we hope you will enjoy browsing the YouTube videos now and then and share our enjoyment, in which case, go to:


EVERY STREET HAS SOMETHING TO SAY

I’ve walked along a shabby street
as the sun starts to rise, its rays like tears
for all I am not

I’ve walked along a shabby street
come noon, Apollo’s heat on me like a lover
offering comfort

I’ve walked along a shabby street
in a gentle twilight, its lampposts like trees
kissing me goodnight

I’ve walked along a shabby street
as the sun begins to set, felt like a movie star
on a red carpet

I’ve walked along a shabby street
to my front door, proud to acknowledge I am
a part of it
  
[London: Kentish Town, Oct 2010]
  
Copyright R. N. Taber 2010




Tuesday, 10 April 2012

My Hero Is A Tree

http://www.authorsden.com/rogerntaber

Today’s poem has not appeared on the blog before and you will find it among some 100+ others in my new collection, divided into seven themed sections for easy reading. Let’s face it. No one sits down and reads a poetry book so I have made it easy for readers to (hopefully) makes the most of all my collections; he or she can dip into one section of about 20-25 poems now and then before dipping into another at his or her leisure.

If it looks like I’m plugging the new book again, you are so right; sales will pay for a new collection planned for 2015 (when I hit 70) and new editions of earlier titles that will contain revisions of some poems.

At 66, I hope to be around for a few more years yet. Even so, I am always aware that when my time is up, the blogs will vanish into cyberspace and all that will remain of my poems (and me) will be in my collections. I have already given my final collection the title Diary of a Time Traveller if only because, in so many ways, the sum total of my collections is just that; a diary of journeys short and long, delightful and grim, that comprise my life. Anyone who cares to read it may or may not discern which poems have their roots in autobiography and which do not, but even imagination has to be nurtured by a creative mind, and the mind of poet has to be worth exploring...Well, doesn’t it?


Meanwhile...

Regular readers will know how much I love trees. I am fortunate to live near Hampstead Heath and have written several poems about it that express, if only in part, the immense satisfaction I take from strolling among its grassy slopes and ponds, but especially admiring its splendid trees of all varieties.

MY HERO IS A TREE

Leaves on my hero are budding,
the music of spring as sweet as ever heard;
swallows returning bring life
to field and valley, filling the lonely heart
with thoughts of love;
Leaves on my hero are singing
songs of summer as feisty as passion;
young folks laughing bring life
to field and valley, filling hearts growing old
with memories of love;
Leaves on my hero are turning
red and gold in the company of dreams,
swallows leaving, sure to return
to field and valley while hearts young and old
fly the colours of love;
Leaves on my hero are drifting
across time and space, world without end;
tears of pain, joy and hope
flying field and valley like bright eyed children
running with kites;
Leaves on my hero are budding.
the music of spring as sweet as ever heard;
swallows returning bring life
to field and valley, and new takes on old stories
we tell on love;
Leaves on my hero are singing
songs of summer as feisty as passion;
young folks laughing bring life
to field and valley, teasing hearts growing old
they know nothing of love;
Leaves on my hero are turning
red and gold in the company of dreams;
swallows leaving, sure to return
to field and valley while hearts young and old
fly the colours of love;
Leaves on my hero are drifting
across time and space, world without end;
tears of pain, joy and hope
flying field and valley, the children we were,
running with kites

[From: Tracking the Torchbearer by R. N. Taber, Assembly Books, 2012]


Postscript: Having recorded the poem for You Tube, I am editing this post retrospectively to add the video (below) as some readers have said they cannot access You Tube directly for one reason or another: