Saturday, 30 October 2010

Halloween Landscape (Three Poems)

It doesn't have to be Halloween for the body, mind, and spirit to stray into a Halloween landscape. Indeed, there are times when can feel like we are an everyday part of it, and it of us...


Bruised faces hanging
low over grass that’s glowing
like Halloween candles

Lightning severing
familiar heads come twilight’s
makeshift guillotine

Sounds like violins
mourning the dead of Auschwitz
where songbirds sleep

A long, hard weeping
at leafy doors deaf to the frantic
beating of twin fists

The blustering fury
of dark angels choosing free fall
over any Gay Rights 

This world, a ghastly place
for Salem’s best, whom history
lets do their worst

Storm passes, returning
our ghosts to that open prison
we call ‘conscience’

[From: Accomplices To Illusion by R. N. Taber, Assembly Books, 2007]


One Halloween, I sought the dead
among trees all but stripped bare,
only to discover the living instead

Heart heavy, legs stumps of lead,
I took my cue from bleak despair;
one Halloween, I sought the dead

By a wicked moon, too easily led,
I heard lost loves call me there,
only to discover the living instead

You had faith in us, and I but fed
on that like a king to banquet fare;
one Halloween, I sought the dead

I welcomed owl’s wings overhead
like a shroud, answer to a prayer,
only to discover the living instead

Like a rabbit, I got scared and fled,
fair game for dawn’s next dare;
one Halloween, I sought the dead,
only to discover the living instead 

Copyright R. N. Taber 2009

[Note: This poem appears under the title 'Fair Game' in print editions of On the Battlefields of Love by R. N. Taber, Assembly Books, 2010; revised ed. in e-format in preparation.]


At Celtic revels,
witches and warlocks abroad
casting spells

A voice tells
me to unsheathe my sword
at Celtic revels

Earth Mother fails
men in designer robes heard
casting spells

The world calls
upon me to fall on its sword
at Celtic revels

Earth Mother fills
my heart with one loving word,
casting spells

So, not I who falls
on the Robed One’s ready sword
at Celtic revels
casting spells...

Copyright R. N. Taber 2007 [not in my collections]

Wednesday, 27 October 2010

Blue Remembered Hills

To the reader who asked how I managed to get an entry on wikipedia as he is a writer and wants one too, I honestly have no idea. A friend emailed me a few years ago to say that she had discovered it while browsing. I occasionally update it myself to include later publications as the original entry only included those up to The Third Eye (2004).


I dare say few among us have no regrets where love, even life, has not turned out quite how we’d hoped…

How many of us, too, have poised on the brink of a second chance and let something or someone get in the way of making the right decision…?

More than once in my life I have let nature decide for me although it has sometimes taken years before I understood just how precariously I was placed at the time or how Earth Mother saved me from the ultimate abyss, even if it meant I had to descend a good way down before discovering light enough in me to fight the darkness threatening to overwhelm me.

'Into my heart an air that kills
   From yon far country blows:
What are those blue remembered hills,
   What spires, what farms are those?

That is the land of lost content,
   I see it shining plain,
The happy highways where I went
   And cannot come again.'  - A. E. Housman (from A Shropshire Lad)


I saw blue hills clash with clouds,
a gentle rain sweeping down
on where I stood, a misty haze
like memories rushing in
where angels dread in this head,
this heart, this soul, drenching
the spirit with regrets thought long
since withstood, now exposing
those half-lies we told, rushing in
on us threefold, tearing the veil
of deceit we wove with contempt,
no home truth exempt, shown up
for what we are, less than we were,
even in the womb, our fate left
to chance though joined even then
by mists sweeping out of Eden

O, for a gentle rain now where blue
remembered hills clasingh with
clouds to bring thunder, lightning,
frightening us with angry faces
descending with spears to make good
(fat chance) the lives we took
when first we chose to lead them
a rare dance across hill, vale,
town and country, hiding out in a city
rather than submit, admit they
were right, we were wrong, love’s
sweet confusion but illusion,
forced in the end to part with words
that sweep down upon me now
where I wait for a clashing of clouds
and rising tide of memory to abate

Earth Mother, poised to set me free...
(or maybe already too late for that?)

Copyright R. N. Taber 2004

[Note: An earlier version of this poem appears in The Third Eye by R. N. Taber, Assembly Books, 2004; rev. ed. in e-format in preparation.]

Tuesday, 26 October 2010

Whose Footprints...?

This poem was read on BBC Radio 4’s Something Understood programme in November 2005. It first appeared on the blog in 2008 and has been requested today by ‘Declan’ for his wife Caitlin as it is her birthday.

Happy Birthday Caitlin!

Apparently, the family live in Somerset so might also enjoy my Somerset poems for Watchet, Dunster and Porlock, three historic villages on the coast that I have included in my latest collection On The Battlefields Of Love (2010); you can also find them by clicking on the BBC Somerset link:


Footprints in the grass
might belong to anyone
enjoying a stroll
in quiet woods whether
mulling over problems,
making decisions
or wishing away pain
in the rain

Footprints in the grass
pass a huge oak and pause,
listen out...
for Nature’s cheerful voice.
Only, no birds singing
or a grasshopper even,
just more rain clawing
at the skin

Footprints in the grass,
like old friends fallen out,
desperate to put
things right...
suddenly, veering off
the beaten track,
a spring in each step, no
turning back

Baggy clouds starting
to break up; sun shining
through; birds singing
and, yes, grasshoppers too;
a gentler rain, flowers
opening their hearts
like hopeful footprints
in the grass

Copyright R. N. Taber 2002; 2010

[Note: This poem has been slightly revised from the original as it appeared in 1st eds. of First Person Plural by R. N. Taber, Assembly Books, 2002; 2nd d. in preparation.]

Tuesday, 12 October 2010

The Secret Garden

This poem has not appeared on the blog although I posted it on my gay-interest blog back in January 2009.

Gay or straight, we are all entitled to some privacy and deserve respect, not condemnation, for personal decisions we make for reasons that are perhaps best known only to ourselves. A straight couple who read the poem in my collection have asked for this poem to be posted on the blog. They, too, have problem with prejudice. Both are Muslims but one is a Sunni and the other a Shia, branches of Islam historically opposed to each other. As a result, they are in hiding from family and friends.

Few important decisions that we are called upon to make in this life are easily made. Yes, we might think someone has made a wrong decision but it is their decision to make and their life that will be affected by it…not ours. Some people, instead of judging others, would do well to wonder how others judge them.

We all, each and every one of us, need support and encouragement to feel GOOD about ourselves. Only in this way can we do our bit, privately and publicly, for the general GOOD of our particular society and help make the world a better, kinder place; one in which people count for who they are, regardless of colour, creed, sex, sexuality, age or position in life with regard to wealth, poverty, career, vocation or whatever…

For humankind to deserve surviving its custom made slings and arrows, it needs to demonstrate its humanity. As I have said before and will almost say again…take humanity out of any socio-cultural-religious equation and all that’s left is Ground Zero.


Mouth on mine
devouring a lonely heart,
imploring me to start
living again and forget
we were but strangers
in the rain, shy glances
at shop windows
regretting missed chances,
non-starter romances

Hands on my body,
driving lonely avenues,
past secret gardens
blooming with flowers,
fruits of light showers,
lonely hours keeping busy
rather than let feelings
of intimacy get the better
of me; a native sexuality
more a part of me than
hand thrust in glove,
whose familiarity brings
warmth, sensuality
words can never explain
any more than strangers
like us, seeking to come
in from the rain

Penetrating the silence
of my soul, a driving force
I never thought to know
again, bringing truth and life
to my secret garden,
songbirds leading the world
in heavenly celebration
of such perfect harmony,
as you and me

No sex more splendid
than love’s first seed

Copyright R. N. Taber 2002; 2010

[Note: An earlier version of this poem appears in 1st eds. of First Person Plural by R. N. Taber, Assembly Books, 2002.]