Friday, 16 June 2017

Battle Royal, no End-Game or All Our Tomorrows

Are the freedoms we enjoy being gradually eroded by invisible (and visible) Mandarins or Kingpins of Power?

Wealth is power, yes, but so is  influence and many who put themselves forward as our so-called ‘betters’ have plenty of that across the entire  socio-cultural-religious and political arenas  in which we live.

Free speech, yes, so long as it is not considered politically incorrect and that seems to be decided these days by which side of a particular divide one happens to be.

I am no racist. Neither, though, will I hesitate to speak out against bad attitude or behaviour no matter what colour, creed, sex or sexuality a person may be. Yet, the chances are – as has happened more than once – that I will be called a racist, feminist, bigot (for not subscribing to a religion) etc. etc. I am none of these things, and it goes against the grain not to speak out against someone whose behaviour I find offensive simply whatever their colour, creed, sex sexuality or political persuasion and, yes, even age. (My own generation can be a real pain in the proverbial at times.). Even so, I have to confess to having kept my feelings to myself more often than not in recent years simply to avoid the inevitable hassle. Is that common sense, I wonder, or simply cowardice?

Feedback over years of writing poetry and publishing much of it on the Internet suggests that many people from diverse backgrounds feel much the same way, that there are times when we are made to feel like puppets, poised to speak our minds until a jerk on invisible strings by some kingpin puppeteer advises if not demands our silence or, at best, extreme (diplomatic) caution…or there will be a price to pay.

I will be 72 this year, and I am becoming less and less enamoured with the world as it is now with each passing day. At the same time, I retain a basic faith in human nature, convinced that if we all try and do our best in our own little corner of the world, the ripples will spread to the extent that  it may yet become a better, kinder place no matter what goes on in its  socio-cultural-religious and political arenas.

There are more good people in the world than bad, people for whom peace and love are more, far more, than just rhetoric; it has always been that way, and always will be. Sadly, it has always been the more malevolent Kingpins of Power that, in getting away far too often with pulling our strings, continue to make their presence felt and voices heard.


Yesterday, a dark mood
descending into a recent grave
created by fall-out
from crises (local and worldwide);
even near comprehension,
of mind- body-spirit all but broken
by political forces alien
to free thinkers everywhere left
ploughing moral high ground,
slaves to this or that philosophy,
whatever cap fits…

Slaves, yes, bound to rebel
against those siding with kingpins
of wealth and power jockeying
(discreetly) for a prime position
in the greater  influence stakes,
claiming to have the best interests
of common humanity at heart
(local and worldwide) while nursing
such personal ambitions as likely
to go down as well with the media
as raising taxes

Today, no lighter mood,
rising among the ghosts of leaders
past and present to remind
those of us (local and worldwide)
why we helped put them there
(if only by default, considering
the alternatives on offer)
no matter gossip buzzing like flies
in corridors of power
about which  kingpins  plotting
whose downfall…

Kingpins of power, yes!
Always ready to load our excuses
on their backs under a cloak
of invisibility to avoid pricking
consciences of crusaders
(local and worldwide) for a way
of life less complicated
by a sense of kingpins composing
the poetry and prose
of destiny on our behalf, and we
having little say

Tomorrow, we will nurture
a more positive mood, rise above
rise above dark thoughts
about any Kingpins of Power
undermining us
at every step we take as we journey
through life…
reassert a native self-confidence,
an enduring spirituality
taken from natures, religion, either
of both (free to choose)

Free to choose, yes,
whether to have faith in ourselves,
(conceding any flaws)
and keep to a learning curve of love,
personal aspiration,
private ambition, social responsibility,
discerning wood and trees,
drawing in the best of whatsoever
and whomsoever
we may find, as we seek completeness,
journeying hopefully

Hopefully, yes, humankind
and nature working together to play
any Kingpins of Power
at their own game, introducing  mind,.
body, and spirit,
working in harmony, all the better
to see light triumph
over darkness, good over evils no one
can deny exist,
a legacy of enduring peace and love,
no end-game in sight

Copyright R. N. Taber 2017

Monday, 12 June 2017

The Zen of Renewal

A single friend recently commented that his everlasting regret in life is never to have been in love, loved in return, and having children. This, from someone whose family adore him and who will be remembered by many for a kind heart and generosity of spirit.

Few if any of us can say, hand on heart, that we have no regrets. Life, though, deals each and every one of us a different hand, not least because we are all different. Such is the nature of things. Whatever any mistakes or wrong choices we may have made in life, love comes in all shapes and sizes, and we should regret none of it, even where it may not have (quite) come up to our hopes and expectations. Love is a life-force from which we should all take heart. We may be single, or fortunate enough to have found a partner (within or outside marriage)…whatever, I defy anyone to say they have never loved at all…whether it be of the human or natural world…past or present, nevertheless continuing to make itself felt always, and hopefully making us better, kinder people for its place in our lives.

As for whatever we may leave behind us  when time demands we take our leave of this life, we could all do a lot worse than have secured a good place in someone else’s memory, the effects of which may well be passed on for generations...


Watching a sunrise,
all live senses re-awakening
to the spirt of nature,
metaphor for balmy breezes
encouraging evergreens
to sing a song for all seasons,
birds winging Nature’s
semaphore of hope, no matter
blue skies turning grey

Watching high noon
play out its daily theatricals,
all we passionate
children of the Earth eagerly
aspiring to make
the most of opportunities lost,
missed (or never were)
before Time has its wicked way
with us, and it’s too late

Watching a sunset,
curtain all but drawn on affairs
of mind, body, spirit…
working in a harmony (of sorts)
to contrive meaning,
purpose, (closure?) whatever
it takes for laurels
upon which we may rest easier
if not (quite) in peace

Watching a darkness
gather our world to its bosom
where we may well
writhe like new-borns lacking
in communication skills
to express our needs, desires,
all found wanting…
yet a sixth sense of its potential
but waiting in wings

Watching at a window
on the world from the balcony
of a tower block,
returning inside if only to forget
those cares of the day
(ever ready to keep us company)
by taking from love
(in real time, memory or fiction)
a renewed life force…

Copyright R. N. Taber 2017

Thursday, 1 June 2017

S-E-L-F, Tales out of School

The first day of June may well be closing in on summer, but there are people around the world who feel left to live out winters of discontent…while others find various ways to compensate and follow the bluebird of happiness where even angels would fear to tread. I know because, over the years, I have had the privilege of meeting some of them; ordinary people living ordinary lives with an extraordinary mixture of a resilience and stoicism bordering upon heroism and an enviable capacity for finding contentment that should not be mistaken for being resigned.

Many if not most of us live secret lives, mind blowing tales out of custom designed storybooks that feed our egos (in the nicest possible way, of course) compensating for discrepancies in how we might like our lives to be and how we (and others) are likely to find them.

Such is the potential for winters of our discontent…until or unless we find a way to lend the stories more truth than fiction (in the nicest possible way, of course) and do more than simply reconcile ourselves (and others) to the status quo.


If I were a robin,
I would fly far south at the close
of autumn…
to better times, kinder climes,
no lust for stoicism

If I were a fox,
I would outrun hunt and hounds,
deny them
a red brush token trophy,
any glory, all mine

If I were an owl,
I would hoot merry hell at a world
daring sleep
parade its vanities under cover
of safe houses

Yet, call me human,
no season to fly or run in the heat
of wannabe heroics,
finding excuses for a sad lusting
after posterity

If I were a robin,
I would take heart from all nature’s
lust for life,
hope to learn, pass on the better
part of its poetry

Copyright R. N. Taber 2017

Tuesday, 30 May 2017

Restoration (Human) Spirit Guide

Now, there is a saying that you can’t teach an old dog new tricks. Well, I disagree.

It isn’t only retired people who can feel lonely, of course; it can (and often does) happen to anyone who, for whatever reason, feels out of the social loop and has no idea what to do about it. Doing nothing, though, is not an option unless we are resigned to letting life pass us by. For retired people, daytime TV isn’t a satisfactory option either.

Focusing on the job in hand, many of us underestimate the importance of the everyday contact with other people that any work ethos offers. Suddenly, we arrive at the retirement we have looked forward to all our working lives; for single people, especially, that everyday contact may well no longer be there. Gone are the people that have been so much a part of our lives for so long; gone, too, a major focal point…the job itself.

I got chatting to a widower recently who hated retirement until he joined a local community group campaigning for better facilities for young people in his area. A former business executive  he  was able to bring his organization skills (among others) to the campaign and made lots of new friends, young and old. I asked him why he got involved in the first place. “I suddenly realised I was on my own, going nowhere fast and I’d be stuck with Jeremy Kyle if I wasn’t careful,” he told me with a grin. “I was out of the loop good and proper, and nothing was going to change unless I made it happen. I heard about the campaign, and have never looked back. If not the campaign, I’d have found something, you can be sure of that. I mean, you can’t survive on your own, can you…?”

How do I cope with retirement? Well, I took early retirement at 50 so I could spend more time writing. An isolationist occupation, you might think, but feedback suggests my blog readers enjoy many of my poems, and I have always found writing very therapeutic. Even so, I made a point of getting out and meeting people for many years if less so now as I have prostate cancer and a mobility problem following a nasty fall in 2014. Yet, I made some good friends and remain in touch with some, especially my best friend Graham, these plus my blog readers help me feel in a loop I’d rather be in than out so no worries there.

Many older people are unable to get out and about; for them – especially single people and those whose families are not on hand – loneliness can be a terrible thing. I recently heard of someone who takes retirement (and loneliness) in his stride by visiting lonely people and spending time with them. “It’s two-way traffic,” he told me when we met recently, “We support each other.”

Supporting each other… What better way to stay in the loop, eh?

I recall once complaining about being bored to my English teacher Mr ‘Jock’ Rankin who had asked how I was settling in at my new home across the river. ‘Life won’t come to you, Taber,” he said, “You have to go out and meet it head-on or you’ll not only be bored, you’ll be lonely too” Wise words in my ear, some 60+ years on…


Loneliness crept up on me,
had its feet  well under my table
before I knew it

No one calling on the phone,
no one ever knocking at my door
to ask how I am

No more cheery cards, letters,
remains of  kinder times dropping
on the doormat

No one stopping
for a chat while window shopping
to pass the time

In free fall, made a blind landing,
complete strangers rushing to help
piece me together

Faith in humanity now restored,
I joined a local community project,
a life-changer

Looking back, I see myself
taken for a fool by giving self-pity
a free rein

Grown old, I was resigned
to but sadly scratching the surface
of a once-life

Ah, but life goes on, its shell
if cracked, heavy, serving us much
the same purpose

Though a body grow weak,
mind dim, the human spirit but asks
we heed its cue

Never discriminating, a spirit
imposing on a divided world, a sense
of better late than never

Copyright R. N. Taber 2017

Saturday, 27 May 2017

Getting the Better of Giants

Not infrequently, people confide how they feel helpless against a tide of socio-cultural-religious forces manipulated by various leaders for their own sakes and/or kind to the detriment of 'outsiders'. ‘Why are we all so divided?’ someone only recently wailed in my ear, ‘Why must it take a tragedy like the recent terrorist atrocity in Manchester to bring people together …until innate differences start to drive them apart again?

On the grounds that repeating the obvious is sometimes necessary if only to prevent its being lost in a sea of trite, I often make the point in my blogs that our differences do not make us different, simply human; we can and should learn from them, not gang up against them. Far too many if not most socio-cultural-religious leaders are invariably quick to agree in principle, but less willing to practise what they preach.

So what can we do?

It is (surely?) down to each and every one of us to live our lives as best we can and try not to be judgemental, the very trap our leaders and so-called ‘betters’ would have us fall into by appearing to refute it, thereby planting the very seeds of division in our minds that suit their individual purposes while cleverly avoiding either blame or responsibility.

A socio-cultural-religious metaphor may well be a chess master’s political strategy where the likes of you and I are taken to be vulnerable pawns; it is, however, a game that two can play... Being our own person (no pressure or aspiration to be someone else) and living our lives as we see it playing out to the best of our ability, immune to unfair or unwanted comparisons...that is what is known as being on the winning side.


What is it really all about,
I’d ask myself as a child, this growing up
among restless giants…?

Why do giants wear a mask
for every occasion, always seem so wary
of letting any slip…?

(Why must I tread so warily
for fear of offending by just being honest,
speaking my mind…?)

Diplomacy is all very well,
but no substitute (surely?) for keeping faith
with basic principles…

Oh, and what of love’s light,
come to guide us through a darkening world,
but frequently cutting out?

Yes, we need rules to live by
or sheer chaos likely to get the better of us all,
but who rules what, for whom?

It’s a discerning inner eye
that perceives the flaws in any moral authority
over anxious to flex its muscles

So where does that leave us,
who can but trust basic instincts albeit thwarted
at every turn of phrase and policy?

It leaves us strong, stoic, free
to speak up, make ourselves seen, felt and heard,
risk being ignored, mocked, bullied…

Or what has it all been for,
I’d ask myself each new day as time rushes on by,
and I grow old…?

Copyright R. N. Taber 2017

Sunday, 21 May 2017

Esprit de Vie OR Spirit of Life (In any Language)

I started school in 1950 and never did well academically. Yet, as if not more importantly, I learned a lot from a hard hit generation of post-war teachers. Upon his retirement, I asked one (as children do) if being old was scary ‘what with death and all that’. He shrugged and gave it little thought before replying, ‘You reap what you sow in life, Taber. Sow well, and the chances are you’ll find Death isn’t such a grim reaper after all.’

That was more than half a century ago. Out of the blue, I found myself  thinking about him and those words of wisdom; both inspired this poem, written to help lift myself out of an inexcusably negative awareness of growing old and the cancer nagging at my prostate.


Sometimes, hearts lie heavy
on a spirit (still) young and fancy free,
in a world, oh, far less kind
than in its past it ever looked to be
in selective archives

No mornings up with the lark,
flying high in skies all shades of blue,
negotiating storm clouds
like a seasoned performer in the art
of positive thinking

Some may suppose little left
but sweet dreams to alleviate the taste
of time passing ever faster...
heart, mind, and body left to babysit
a restless spirit

Ah, but nature has other ideas,
nurturing life forces to the very end
of any span only visible
to the applauding eye, ever mindful
of its seasons

Earth Mother’s watch, keeper
 of all living things, human or other,
never discriminating
along lines of good, bad, and ugly, no
judgement passed

If a sad mind likely to lead us on
into a world of tears for losing its shine,
it’s a sadder spirit still
sees us taken in by the sweet-smelling
poetry of self-pity

Where a body less able to follow
first instincts, to do, go, leave footprints
deserving of praise,
heed a native spirit on making the most
of each new day

So I grow old, so what? C’est la vie;
the mind- heart- body self can but dream
of rewriting its history…
while its spirit makes of us what we will,
no endgame

Though death would shut us out
of the world (however we may  perceive it),
find rest and peace in any
who continue to take from us their cue
for esprit de vie

Copyright R. N. Taber (2017)

Sunday, 14 May 2017

History,Through a Looking Glass OR Full Circle

As a young man, I once had the privilege of meeting a famous actor in a cafe one rainy evening in Soho. He caught me staring at him and grunted that he was in no mood to give autographs. I confessed I did not collect them anyway, but was thrilled to see him in real life. He thawed, and we chatted. I commented how wonderful it must be to live a life for which he would not only be remembered for all time but which had also been recorded on the big screen. “Oh, wow, what a legacy!” I enthused. He shrugged and muttered that the big screen was all about his acting, not his life, and how the only life and legacy really worth having is recorded for all time anyway…among the fonder memories of those who matter most to us.

At the time, I thought it was a trite thing to say. Now I know better.  I even found myself saying much the same thing to an elderly friend who was recently lamenting the fact that he had done nothing with his life to deserve leave any mention in the history books. I reminded him that the he has wonderful children who, in turn, have given him grandchildren. What better legacy or record of anyone’s life and history…?

Me…? No partner, no children or family to speak of…but hopefully my friends will think well of me when I’m gone and my poetry will at least have found a place in the hearts and minds of some readers. Do I think of my poetry as a legacy? I would not presume to predict. I have enjoyed every moment of writing ever poem, though, so hopefully some of that pleasure will have rubbed off on readers sufficiently for them to pass on the pleasure if not the poem.



Once, I looked in a glass,
glimpsed saw a child waving
at me, a cheeky smile,.
face smudged with playtime,
eyes shining

Later, I looked in the glass,
glimpsed a cheeky grin, youth
full of hope and promise,
face unlined, past and present
shining through

Once, I looked in a glass,
glimpsed a watery smile, years
having taken toll enough
to obliterate even the shadow
of a half-smile

Later, I peered in the glass,
misty with a quickening breath,
face barely visible
but for a weepy smile regretting
no record of it

Now, I put an ear to the glass,
listening for words I cannot see
of life, love, nature,
an oral poetry returning me
a cheeky smile

Copyright R. N. Taber 2017