Monday, 25 September 2017

Tellers of Tales, Singers of Songs

I have to confess that writing poems at the moment is my way of staying calm and positive in the face of various side-effects of a (daily) high dose of antibiotics following my recent operation on an infected elbow. At the same time, while rising above the threat of depression which once (years ago) all but consumed me, I am able to testify yet again to the healing power of nature. Regular readers will know that I take a strong sense of spirituality from this as opposed to finding it in any religion; where religions divide the world, nature remains a reassuring force for unity, bringing peace of mind enough to make room for stoicism, hope and inspiration.

Given the trail of destruction left in the wake of hurricanes Irma and Maria in the Caribbean, as well as  the terrible earthquake in Mexico, it may well seem insensitive  to speak kindly of nature where people’s lives have been so tragically affected. Yet, human nature can be no less perverse at times nor can its kinder, nurturing side be as relied upon as Earth Mothers to be always there simply for the seeking out. For me, reassurance is by way of inspirational
sights and/or sounds, which is perhaps why I am an agnostic.

Where G-O-D means different things to different people, for me it is nature.


I listen to old trees,
that tell me tales of long ago,
seasons of childhood,
youth, and advancing years
in those I have known
and loved, others I’ve never met
or even heard of, such
is the poetry, prose and mystery
of a storybook meant
for inner eye and ear to seek,
hear, listen, learn

I weep by old trees
that tell me tales of long ago,
a History of Man
never found in library tomes
or any archives,
of war and peace within us all
as we endeavour
to reconcile certain home truths
with a responsibility
not infrequently out of sync
with basic instinct

I thrill to old trees
that tell me tales of long ago
of aspirations, hopes,
left shattered among the ashes
of disillusionment
yet rising on wings of a phoenix
to rediscover peace
of mind in that peculiar victory
over hard times
due all who cherish an innate
capacity for love

I engage with trees
shaping the slopes of Parnassus
with free verse,
rhyme and reason, spoken ballads
now put to music
telling of happenings so long ago
they may have been
but yesterday while comprising
all our tomorrows
in a rustling of leaves and birdsong,
rhythm of life

Copyright R. N. Taber 2017

Tuesday, 19 September 2017

Breaking Dawn

Readers sometimes email me to say they find browsing the blogs a problem as there are so many poems. A good way is to use the search field in the top right hand corner to search under subject; e.g. family, positive thinking, history, war etc.

Follow my Google+ site where I paste links to historical as well as recent posts/poems most days:

Oh, and if you enjoy at least some of the poems please recommend the blog/site to others... although I appreciate that poetry is not everyone’s favourite art form.


Not long out of hospital here and on a high dose of antibiotics to keep nasties like Sepsis at bay. I had a bad night and woke up suspecting I would have a bad day so decided to try and write my way out of what was not a promising start. Well, it worked, for me at any rate, and (who knows?) it may work for you, too. The power of positive thinking never fails to amaze me.

Dark, my world,
animated shapes conveying
little or nothing
to ease a so-restless mind,
unquiet spirit

No cheery sounds
of laughter over corny jokes
or cheery singing
out of tune at the washing-up
after dinner for two

Nothing and no one
to home in on for comfort;
shoulders to lean on
but shades of wishful thinking
on scrap paper

Kafkaesque, dragging
on senses that, oh, but faintly
offer resistance,
yet creating just space enough
for breaking dawn

Light, proving a match
for its nemesis, now a gathering
of sun nymphs
inspiring wings of a skylark
to force an entry

Song, waking the heart
to possibilities and potential
enough for mind, body,
and spirit to be curious, wake up
to the challenges

Copyright R. N. Taber 2017

Sunday, 17 September 2017

A Sense of Arcadia

I am recovering well from my operation; so far, so good.


Just when I don’t think I have another poem in me… ( I am posting this poem on both blogs  because feedback suggests some readers only browse one or the other, and I like to think it may be of interest to everyone.)


As I walked in a wood
at twilight, a nightingale sang
to me of days gone by,
and I found myself recalling
that first time I told the world
I’m gay, and that’s how it is,
accept or reject me, your choice,
my life

The nightingale sang on,
about the good times and bad
such as everyone gets
to know (be they gay or straight)
so why the big deal
with sexuality? No harm done,
and bigotry doesn’t get to control
my life

Trees began a chorale
of love and peace as a sunset
pinked the sky,
and I found myself recalling
with a heavy heart
how we let prejudice and dogma
have their way with us, promising
a ‘better’ life

An audience of stars
watched as I wound my way
through the wood,
siding with me as I took my past
to task for a present
that only (ever) left me needing
to feel there had to be a kinder way
of life

An owl flew overhead,
hooting its applause, all nature
(or so it seemed)
thrilled for my having turned away
narrow thoughts
and judgemental jibes, consented
to the sum of my selves demanding
a life

Darkness fell, and silence
no less bitter-sweet than a sense
of being alone
in a magical world where positives
cast long shadows
and negatives are as moonlight
on leaves of grass
creating illusions easily read as signs
of life

Footsteps. Who’s there? Oh, it’s you,
my life…

Copyright R. N. Taber 2017

Tuesday, 5 September 2017

Come Harvest Home, Extracts from a Migrant's Diary

This may well be the last (new) poem I will blog before I go into hospital next week (Monday) for an operation on my infected elbow. As it is my right elbow and I am right-handed, keyboarding will almost certainly take longer for some time. Even so, I will link to posts/poems via my Google Plus site as and when I can. Meanwhile, I hope you will enjoy browsing the blogs.

This poem was inspired by a conversation with a migrant from war- torn Syria some months ago.


Dreaming of distant lands,
sapphire seas, golden sands, treasures
of mind-body-spirit
equal to none, prize worthy of a poem,
can’t be counted out in coin  

Dreaming of distant shores,
where birds sing a welcome in the ear,
reflected in the shy smile
of a passer-by, equal to none for peace
and love, cue for a better life

Dreams of landing on the moon,
peering back through time and space,
seeing how Here and Now
offers so much more than once a place
to call home before crisis-hit

Waking to street sounds roaring
like a pride of hungry lions hunting prey
in a concrete jungle,
no sapphire sea, golden sand, birdsong
a warning, wishing them gone

Waking to damp stains on walls,
courtesy of landlords whose first language
a prose counted out in coin,
invested in one-upmanship, measure
of nouveau custom status 

Copyright R. N. Taber2017

Monday, 4 September 2017

Resurgence , the Ethos of Willpower

From time to time in the blogs, I have referred to a bad mental breakdown I had in the 1970’s, just a few years after my mother died. I was still in my 30’s, and a psychological mess for all kinds of reasons. It may be an overworked metaphor, but true enough to say I was drowning in a sea of confused and conflicting  feelings that had less to do with being gay than a sense of failure as a person, again for more reasons than I could begin to define. To make matters worse, there was no one in whom I could even begin to confide and there are limits to how anyone in a state of crisis, as I most certainly was, can cope with it on their own.

Inevitably, mind-body-spirit lost not only the ability to communicate in any positive form, but also the will to survive.  I experienced a complete mental breakdown with far-reaching consequences; in the short term, these were pretty dire, but in the longer term they saw me emerge a stronger, more focused person. I lost my job and did not work again for nearly four years. It was a terrible time and I would not have survived but for the support of some good friends who showed me the way back to Hope where all there had been was Despair; the rest was up to me.

Thankfully, mental health issues carry less of a stigma these days. Even so, the mentally ill person has not one battle on his or her hands but a series of battles. We win some, lose some, but practical as well as emotional support is needed before innate survival instincts start to kick in and a glimmer of positive mind-set appears at the outer edge of an all-devouring Black Hole; it is called motivation, and more often than not it is triggered by the return of a much missed sense of humour. 

“If I had no sense of humour, I would long ago have committed suicide.”
― Mahatma Gandhi

Fortunately, once rediscovered, I have not lost my sense of humour again since; it has helped me through 6+ years of coping with prostate cancer, inspired me to learn to walk again after a bad fall in 2014, and I dare say it will see me through an impending operation on my infected elbow and subsequent stay in hospital.


Weary of fumbling
through a maze of ugly shapes;
nothing beautiful
to be seen or heard even
by the inner self,
its default to a positive mind-set
left for dead under
a mind-body-spirit anaesthetised
by helplessness, 
as in up against huge waves
of negativity,
no existential surf board, tired
of having a pathetic dog-paddling
pass for progress

World, acknowledging me
party to its ugliness.
bearing down on human senses
day after day
on the early morning commuter run;
a cacophony
of buses, trains and people anxious
to be on time
for places and faces they would prefer
to avoid, but needs must
as some ambivalent ethos drives
the human engine beyond its limits
without fear or favour

World, reconnecting me
(slowly but surely) with the beauty
of Below Surface,
fishes passing by without tossing
judgemental glances,
sharks causing a stir on the look-out
for sustenance,
not a fast buck to line the pockets
of designer gear
intended to impress or intimidate;
splendid rainbows
among coral spewing beer cans
along with other evidence of human
complacency and waste

a so-weird glow of crabs and starfish
on the ocean floor
opening the inner eye to tales
of the unexpected
coursing the blood of living creatures
great and smell,
alerting us to danger, even death,
but also the wonders
of creation among which the greatest
has to be life itself,
its delights as well as hardships
around every corner if only by way
of ‘no pain, no gain’

Lungs bursting
with  no less self-doubt that before
but tempered
with hope of finding a kinder world
than I had sought
to quit without notice like a tenant
in high arrears
or that square peg in the round hole
of a workforce,
unwilling to face the situation
head-on, better
to imagine devils with human faces,
the easier to draw on a fund of excuses 
for opting out of it all

On terra firma,
concerned voices and helping hands
reaching out to me
to clutch, not as one all but drowning
but as someone else
encouraged to restructure a whole
whose parts
had broken loose from each other,
needed reconnecting
and (still) reshaping into a form
less representative
of the weaker links in any human chain
than its strengths

Copyright R. N. Taber 2017

Wednesday, 30 August 2017

Square One, Full Circle

I won’t be back with regular links to new and old poems for a good few weeks yet, but here’s a new poem one just to keep the ball rolling, and one I hope you will enjoy. I am not too well at  the moment, but expect to make good progress after hospitalisation on September 11th, hopefully for no longer than a week although I will need daily injections to keep infection at bay for up to six weeks.

Whatever, I can but continue looking on the bright side of life here, and succeeding…well, most of the time.

Now, most if not all of us know only too well that life is full of ups and downs, drawing us into various relationship triangles here, running circles around us there; we can but do our best to shape up on our own account, and may the best man, woman, girl or boy win. As for what we mean by 'best' or 'win'... well, how subjective is that? It depends on your point of view, I guess, and a poem can only ever hope to touch upon skeleton templates. 

My English teacher, 'Jock' Rankin - more years ago that I care to remember - once described the relationship between the reader and any piece of writing as putting flesh on the bones; not an uncommon analogy, but one that went over the head of a slow-learner 12 year-old. In time, though, I came to see how appropriate it is given that no piece of writing strikes any two readers in quite the same way, thereby taking on a life of its own for the reader/s and in the abstract; the latter, in the course of any subsequent discussion, being left to us to make of what we will. A good teacher will suggest interpretations without imposing any; we may well instinctively opt (at the time) for what we discern as the teacher's preferred point of view, but the best teachers provide food for thought that can last a lifetime. 

Needless to say, Jock was one of the best. Gillingham (Kent) Technical High School (now Rainham Mark Grammar) was all but irrelevant to my educational needs as I have always been a very impractical person, but I learned more from its teachers than anything on the curriculum, and for that I will always be grateful.


demanding we play our part,
do our best
to rise above the worst
society can throw
at us, contrive (or negotiate)
a winning streak
least likely to drag us back
to Square One

challenging us to do (far) better
than our peers
if only to earn promotion
of the sort likely
to bring in enough to pay off
the credit cards,
stop the bailiffs returning us
to Square One

too soon for congratulations
on playing our part,
keeping society off our backs
(for now, at least)
long enough (we live in hope)
to take a step back,
get the measure of ourselves
in Square One

running a gamut of high hopes,
broken promises,
missed opportunities, pipped
to the post every time
by Fate’s favoured, among whom
we are as...chaff
in an ill wind blowing us back
to Square One?

Full Circle,
waking up to chinks in shutters
greeting us
with wicked winks and cheers
from town and field,
applauding our taking off (again)
on wings of a skylark,
if only to enjoy putting one over
on Square One

Copyright R. N. Taber 2017

Saturday, 26 August 2017

Conversations with Mind, Body, and Spirit

Some time ago, readers suggested I start a Google Plus site where I can link to new and historical posts as there are so many poems on the blogs to browse. However, there will be no such links for awhile as I will be admitted to hospital  shortly for an operation on my right elbow. (I am publishing this post on both blogs because not feedback suggests some readers enjoy browsing and don'y always go into my Google + entries if at all.)

Hopefully, I will not need to be an In-Patient for long, but will need daily antibiotic injections for up six weeks or so after the op so may well be out of action for a time time. especially as I am right handed! I may need to go to the hospital for these injections or it's possible a District Nurse will be able to visit me at home, especially as I have a mobility problem.  I guess it's all in the lap of the gods so will just play it by ear.  

I am not too worried about going into hospital as such or about the operation, but my bad foot often plays me up as does the hormone therapy that's treating my prostate cancer. Days are bad enough but it is hardly worth going to bed some nights because the hormone therapy makes me need the toilet so often. Oh, well,...Que sera, sera, whatever will be, will be...[Enter Doris Day in full throttle as in an exciting scene from 'The Man Who Knew Too Much' (1956)] Oh dear, showing my age again...!

Whatever, no worries, folks, and I ask you all to join me in always looking on the bright side of life …as I do since (finally!) managing to rise above the depression that plagued me for many years, not least by way of creative therapy in the form of, yes, writing, especially poetry.

Hopefully, I will be back soon. Meanwhile, feel free to explore both poetry blogs by entering any subjects in the search box: e.g. alcoholism, art, arts, bigotry, childhood, death, Doris Day, drug abuse, Ella Fitzgerald, family, hate crime, hope, imagination, Jo Cox, John Lennon, Kylie Minogue, life, love, Martin Luther King, multiculturalism, music, nature, peace, positive thinking, princess Diana, self-awareness, self consciousness, sexuality, Shirley Bassey, society, spirituality, street crime, terrorism, time, war, etc. (General) (Gay-interest)

also (Fiction, gay/general)

and  [My You Tube channel where I read my poems over videos shot by my best friend, Graham Collett.]

Hope you will enjoy exploring in my absence Back mid-September once discharged from hospital.


Text-speak may well be as relatively a new phenomenon as the mobile phone itself, but mirror-speak is as old as humankind.



spiralling me downwards
from cradle to grave…
often when I least expect it,
leaves me clinging
for dear life at straws in an ill wind
raised by a helter-skelter
of events conspiring to drag me
beyond imagination,
test ego (and salvation) to limits
rarely conceived
even by those daily enduring
a world of nightmares


spelling out such promises
as sweet dreams
are made of, offering (for free)
a magical mystery tour
of mind-body-spirit asking only
that I stay true
to the end of a line drawn
not (whimsically) 
in sand or clay, but in good faith
that 1 + 1 is equal,
to the sum of all its frictions
and I can add up


bringing me the best of things
at the worst of times,
moulding the less savoury clay
of human nature
as a potter’s wheel might
its tasks in hand,
demanding the poetry of art
speak up for Beauty,
fair chameleon exposing masks
of the Beast
for human waste washed up
by the tides of life

Copyright R. N. Taber 2017