Saturday, 24 April 2010

Leasehold OR Reunion with Ghosts

This poem appeared on the blog in 2007 following my return to Gillingham (Kent) - where I was born lived until I was 14 years-old - for the first time in over 30 years.

I returned again yesterday. It was strange, visiting favourite childhood haunts, like stepping into a time warp. It was curiously moving and even more curiously exciting as I moved among the ghosts of my distant past. That first time, I’d met up with the mothers of two childhood friends, ladies in their 80’s and 90’s respectively now. I also visited Martin, school captain from my days at Gillingham Technical School in Green Street. I visited Martin again yesterday and have dedicated this poem to him in the collection. The old school building is still there, looks much the same as it did all those years ago and is now a College of Adult Education.

I am not a person who finds it easy to let go of the past and mine is full of (very) mixed blessings. Going back has made it so much easier to let go of the bad memories and continue to enjoy the good ones.


Once, I returned to the place I was born;
its ghosts gathered to meet me
as I alighted (anxiously) from the train,
unsure how they might treat me

A kinder welcome than I had expected
restored a flagging self-esteem;
I could only wonder if they suspected
it was my intention to release them

As I wandered streets I’d loved so well,
ghosts leading me by the hand,
I relived every shape, sound and smell
of a child’s once magical land

For the old school, new tenants found,
cajoling me to name names
as we entered its sometime playground
to walk, talk, play games

To the house where life first took me
into its care for good or bad,
I fell a willing victim to memory,
innocence briefly recovered

From my ghostly companions, applause
welcoming me as one of their own,
till above the clamour I heard a voice
reminding me why I had come

In spite of my ghosts gravely chiding me
(for fear of reality’s blast?)
I put aside daydreams for a living history
that must (surely?) put them to rest

It took the mothers of childhood friends
to put our history in its place,
turn the pages of a story that never ends
but moves on, ever gathering pace

Reminiscing with my old school captain,
I heard twilight’s sweeter lay
as its ghosts began to grasp a situation
that would (at last) let them slip away

The fast train home told yet another story,
about feelings of love and peace
rediscovered and leasing a new maturity
from a child’s vision of happiness

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

Wednesday, 14 April 2010

Paradise On Hold OR Where Nature lends the Here and Now a Sense of Spirituality

Like many of my poems, Paradise On Hold has also appeared in an anthology; in this case, This Is Our Moment, Poetry Now (Forward Press), 2000. It was also included in the May 2006 issue of Ygdrasil: Journal of the Poetic Arts that featured a selection of my poems. I am posting it today especially for ‘Susan from Birmingham’ and ‘Greg from San Francisco’ who emailed me to say I am getting ‘too political’ and would I please post another of my nature poems. I was delighted to receive several complimentary emails after it first appeared here on the blog back in June 2008. [Oh, but it seems like only yesterday! Where does the time go eh?]

Meanwhile, I continue to experience in my relationship with nature, an ever growing sense of peace and love I never found in religion, supporting my personal view that religion has no monopoly on spirituality.

Yes, nature can be harsh but so, too, can religion, not least in its various dogma which must bear no small share of responsibility for a divided world.


Let spring drift into summer,
summer greens turn
red and gold;
let poets make of seasons
all they find, it's
Nature rules...
(Even poets grow cold
when winter calls
on lonely hills);
soon, daffodils, in their turn;
ours, too, if the way
of things be true...
Who knows? For each flower
that grows, its season
comes and goes;
for each seed in the wind,
a sometime threat
to our kind...
Let the world wreak its worst,
the good earth will
do its best;
let nature share or even take
away, its time unspoiled
by hours

In life, in death, let there
be flowers

Copyright R. N. Taber 2000

[Note: This poem first appeared under the title Paradise on Hold in the aforementioned publications and in Love And Human Remains by R. N. Taber, Assembly Books, 2000]