Wednesday, 8 December 2010


This poem was written in 1974 yet I suspect even a Stone Age man or woman would have been able to relate to it.


In a damp gloom I wander
sometimes - stumble,
bang my head on sudden stone,
hear a thrash of bats’ wings;
though thoughts take flight
to a world that gloats
above, like bats they soon
yearn, yearn a returning;
groping for the truth of things,
discover only history,
a gathering of bats - in
some remote cave

Face to the sun, back
to the wind;
caressing long grass,
wild, free!

Suddenly, bats’ wings

[From: Love And Human Remains by R. N. Taber, Assembly Books, 2001.]

Friday, 3 December 2010

A Christmas Truce

Religious festivals should bring people together. Yet, so often they follow the age-old tradition of religions world-wide and, in the end, but cause division among family, friends, neighbours....

Christmas is no exception for many of us.

Even where people are brought together for a day or two, it is often no more than calling a truce. Before we know it, we are divided; fighting, insulting, demanding more than we deserve, failing to enter into each other’s points of view...or simply ignoring each other again.


Sought, a safe haven on Christmas Day
from family stuff, presents round a tree,
giving the rein to how things should be,
denying what stares in each tinsel face;
A stranger in red mentioned such a place
where I might escape, find sanctuary,
even peace - away from all pretence
at burying home truths under layers of truce,
letting sweet carols on the ear replace
a harsher cacophony of lies, more lies,
accusation (and retribution?) for crimes
against the ego (never mind humanity)
in the daily round of sheer hypocrisy
and petty discrimination against whatever
points of view that can’t, won’t, shouldn’t
always go with the flow in case we tread
on Someone’s feelings, trigger into motion
a tedious, even violent chain reaction,
that might go on for years, spill more tears
than for Judas or lied about Christmas

So, where to go? I asked a jolly man in red
who started laughing, said to use some
commonsense and moved on, leaving me
for dead among piles of pretty wrapping,
more calls for a truce, plates of mince pies
and sausage rolls blind to a soul’s fears,
deaf to its prayers

[From: A Feeling For The Quickness Of Time by R. N. Taber, Assembly Books, 2005]

Thursday, 2 December 2010

The Snowman

Christmas is coming! Do we cheer, sigh or groan? Take your pick.

Now, when we celebrate a religious festival, obviously we are celebrating that religion whether it is Christianity, Judaism, Islam or Hinduism...whatever. At the same time let us remember those who are no longer with us, especially those who taught us how to keep its spirit alive with and open mind and heart so that all we celebrate has meaning way beyond its holy books and various rituals.

Regular readers know I am not a religious person but religion does not have a monopoly on spirituality. I, personally, found that in nature after religion let me down. Even so, I bear no grudges and respect other people’s religious beliefs – just as nature does - even though these are often tainted by intolerance and prejudice, including homophobia. Could that be, I ask myself, where human nature far too often goes badly wrong?

The UK is experiencing its worst early snowfalls for eighteen years. The snowmen at least have never had it so good.


Snowman in the sun, icy patches
on the ground;
eyes of conkers soaked in vinegar,
reminder of autumn roll-over;
grandpa’s army coat lent a vintage look;
carrot nose, smiling mouth
(like a rhubarb stick);
we called him Jack, grandma’s cane
helping him stand or, rather,
keep him steady in reindeer tracks,
ready to lend a hand

Through the night we waited to see
if Jack would take his cue
from the likes of you and me, fairy lights
on the tree...but we dozed off;
we opened our eyes,
Ma flinging the curtains wide,
(no sign of Jack outside);
among gifts around the tree,
for any who care to look and see,
a card attached to a plain white box
reads simply

In Memory 

[Note: An earlier version of this poem appears in 1st eds. of The Third Eye by R. N. Taber, Assembly Books, 2004; 2nd (revised) e-edition in preparation.]