Tuesday, 27 December 2011

Yes, What?


I once remarked to a friend that people can be are such a puzzle, to which he promptly replied that it probably was because we are such a puzzle to ourselves.

Ah, probably...

Sometimes we find it hard to express ourselves in words; if we are fortunate enough to be painters or musicians, we can often express ourselves better through those genres, certainly our deeper feelings.

At other times, we may express ourselves perfectly yet still be misunderstood because those with whom we wish to communicate choose to put their own interpretation on what we say rather than try and understand what we mean.

But what do we mean and do we ever mean quite what we say? Oh, but how often do we wish we had expressed ourselves differently!

Our use of weeds, paint, music, whatever...these all open up pathways to meaning that all parties concerned are free to follow; sometimes we are fortunate enough to follow the same path, and meaning is established. Yet, even where meaning is not fully established, the chances are our relationship with the other party will have entered a new dimension; one we are likely to explore whether consciously or subconsciously, and in so doing discover more about each other than before the dialogue began...even if we are not quite sure what, exactly.


If I’d said this, or that,
said - what?
If I’d done this, or that,
done - what?
Tortured souls crying out
their guilt, left
hanging in some limbo
to - rot?
What good purpose, that?
We cannot (ever) change
what’s done,
bring back loved ones
long - gone?
No, but here in the heart,
willing us to live again,
move on;
Nothing, said or done then
would - what?
Have eased whose pain,
whose guilt?
Choices, rarely plain, but
ours alone
will take us here, there,
No one to blame having
chosen - wrong?
Who’s to say, play judge
and jury?
Enough, surely, to be…
what, exactly?

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

Saturday, 24 December 2011

Frost On The Glass


I well remember how, as a child, I would wake some mornings, sun shining on my window where Jack Frost had painted all manner of shapes and scenario; these would fill me with such a sense of wonder and delight that I was sure to be thinking positively by the time I jumped out of bed, game to take on a new day.

Nothing has changed except I am 60+ years older...


Snow leopard pacing
its territory;
Eagle circling
its prey;
Wolf howling to others
across eternity;
Avalanche stirring, poised
to destroy – even
as we watch, listen, wait
for winter’s cruelty
to abate;
Each to our own pillow,
eyes on a window...

Too cold for snow
and whatever happened
to that universal love
someone once promised us
for Christmas?

Never too late, even for
we frosty leftovers...

Copyright R, N. Taber 2009

Friday, 23 December 2011

The Snowflake

A BIG thank you also goes to those of you who have expressed pleasure at the videos my friend Graham and I have uploaded to YouTube; we probably would not have continued without so much encouragement. Oh, the hits are relatively small compared to videos uploaded by others, but, yet again, surprising for poetry videos. I only hope you have enjoyed the poems as much as Graham’s photography: We only have time to publish a few each year but be sure there are more in the pipeline.

To those of you who are enjoying the fiction blog , I hope you will continue to enjoy the story lines I plan to serialise during the years ahead; there will be a mixture of gay-interest and general titles since, as with poetry, I don’t see them as separate genres within a genre. [It is always particularly rewarding when heterosexual readers get in touch to say they have enjoyed a gay-interest story like Dog Roses or a poem like Three Little Words]:


Here's wishing you all, dear readers, a greater share of happiness, peace and love... whoever and wherever you are. 


I spotted a snowflake on a leaf,
watched it settle for seconds there,
and in those precious seconds saw the face
of my love appear

Eyes that glittered like the snow
smiled back at me as you used to do,
and in that smile I relived the happy times
we’ve  shared, sad times too

By the light of a solstice moon,
snowflake and leaf began to dance,
and their togetherness recalled how we met,
not quite by chance

Lips as red as a robin’s breast
kissed mine, like a breath of spring
gently insisting that you to me and me to you
are its life, love, everything

You were my snowflake on a leaf
seconds before a feisty white flurry
interrupted our waltz, Earth Mother insisting
we home in on eternity

I spotted a snowflake on a leaf,
watched it settle for seconds there,
and in those precious seconds saw the face
of my Christmas appear

[London; December 2011]

Copyright R. N. Taber 2011

Wednesday, 14 December 2011

The Dancing Snowmen

Today’s post appears on both blogs. After all, weren’t we all children once, we adults who should be pulling together to make the world a kinder, safer, better place for children everywhere?

Now, they say we discard the whimsy and magic of childhood once we grow up and start making our way in the real world.

Oh, yes? And what do ‘they’ know...?


I was rudely awakened 
one Christmas Eve by the rapid beating
of my heart and a tugging
at one frayed, striped pyjama sleeve,
but there was no one there,
no one at all, and then I heard someone
calling my name, ran to the window
and looked up into the sky
where snow was falling, moon blinking
between cotton wool clouds,
but no sign of Santa
so it couldn’t have been him getting
up to his old tricks

I looked down on the garden,
could not believe my eyes, the snowmen
dancing there, carrot noses
like the glow of old coal fires, chestnuts
where eyes should be,
lips reminding me of scarlet ribbons
I first heard tell of in a song
played on the radio only yesterday,
while on their heads
the snowmen wore hats of all shapes
and sizes, the sort
found in an attic. Me, I was already
lost in the magic

I shinned down a drainpipe,
didn’t feel cold at all, soon jigging away
at the Snowmen’s Ball,
a passing owl hooting its approval,
Man in the Moon
showing his face now and then, torchlight
in a steady, sleety rain,
looking for Santa, last seen heading...
(could be for my room)
so I’m saying goodbye to my new friends
returning, oh, so quickly
to where everyone’s favourite story ends
and its magic begins

Where childhood innocence dead and gone,
the dancing snowmen live on...

Copyright R. N. Taber 2011

Tuesday, 13 December 2011

A Robin's Take On Winter

Now, regular readers will know that I love the villanelle poetic form almost as much as I love robins...

Once, when I woke on Christmas Day and was feeling sorry for myself as I’d be spending the first Christmas on my own since my partner died, I heard the sweetest sound. When I pulled back the curtains, it was to find a fat robin singing its heart out on my windowsill, its red breast bursting with a pride and joy that touched me as no other birdsong has before or since. Unperturbed by my presence behind the glass, the bird I still think of as ‘my’ robin did not instantly fly off, but stayed as if to treat me to the performance of a lifetime.

We had only a few years together, my partner and I, but I can look back on them with pride and joy rather than despair for never having found anyone with whom I wanted to share my life ever again. [Not for want of looking.] It could have been so different but for ‘my’ robin not only reminding me that life goes on even during wintry days, but also there is beauty to be had there too and not to be missed.

This poem is a villanelle.


Among stoic evergreen, a robin’s peeping,
singing in answer to a snowman’s call;
world weeping, Earth Mother but sleeping

Hungry winter days, a fine harvest reaping
of summer’s illusions autumn let pile;
among stoic evergreen, a robin’s peeping

If Heaven. its duty watch, faithfully keeping,
why do its tears freeze even as they fall?
World weeping, Earth Mother but sleeping

Bleak though the landscape, albinos leaping
like children grabbing time to be playful;
among stoic evergreen, a robin’s peeping,

Where a silvery twilight stealthily creeping,
interlopers quick to grab its treasure haul,
world weeping, Earth Mother but sleeping

As sand in a hourglass relentlessly seeping
via cracks in some amateur’s crystal ball,
among stoic evergreen, a robin’s peeping;
world weeping, Earth Mother but sleeping
Copyright R. N. Taber 2011

Monday, 12 December 2011

The Usual Suspects


Today’s poem has not appeared on the blog since 2008. Given the results of the latest European summit during which President Sarkozy of France and Chancellor Merkel of Germany appear to have succeeded in marginalising Britain from the rest of Europe, at least in the short term, its title may seem appropriate.

It is important that Britain should not be sidelined while fiscal discussions on the survival of the Eurozone take place. It is all very well for Sarkozy, Merkel and other countries to argue that Britain cannot have its cake and eat it, but they are glad enough of our huge monetary as well as political contribution to the EEC which, as I understand it, will continue anyway.

The Eurozone is a mess, and that isn’t Britain’s fault. David Cameron’s demands to protect the City of London from those who are to blame were not unreasonable. If ever the Politics of Cain was given its head, it appears to be now.

I love Europe, but cannot say the same for its various Governments. Mind you, I am not a political animal, and that often goes for my own Government too. My support for David Cameron in this instance is not an endorsement for British politics as a whole.

As far as I can see, there is not one giant on the British political scene to whom the electorate can point and say, ‘Yes! That person has my vote (regardless of their Party) because I feel I can trust him or her and they know what they are doing,’

The Germans are fortunate to have Chancellor Merkel at the helm; I may not agree with her, but she has a strong sense of political direction and integrity, and sticks to her guns. It is also clear that she is one of the few European leaders who has not only her country's best interests at heart in resolving the present crisis in Europe, but Europe's too. The rest rely (far) too much on rhetoric.

I admire Angela Merkel, while I cannot say the same for the leaders of France and Italy. As for the rest, especially Greece, well...Enough said.

And is the rest of the world in any position to judge?


Chains dragging on hands and feet,
a shabby grey vine under a three line whip
demanding satisfaction in the best
interests of the nation, a well-paid-for

Casualties of demonstrations against
the best intentions of well-heeled maestros
better schooled (indeed) to take a lead
ostensibly for a common good,knocking
on wood

Let the punishment fit the crime
else a whiff of success go to the head,
win a prime TV slot, make capital
out of it (if only a reprieve) and shoot
up the stock market

Gold stars for a job well done, no liberties
taken, whistle blowers exposed, co-operation
(the key, surely?) sparing us anarchy
and mass destruction, not to mention
indigenous reparation

Call out the dogs, round up any strays;
keep a weather eye on rebels for lost causes
in case they get it right, turn one-to-one
into three times three, altogether re-invent
our ABC

Copyright R. N. Taber 2004; 2011

[Note: An earlier bversion of this poem appears in 1st eds. of he Third Eye by R. N. Taber, Assembly Books, 2004; 2nd ed. in preparation.]

Saturday, 10 December 2011

Winter Sunshine


However cold it gets, it is always GOOD to see a smile, if only a flicker of one, on the faces of even the most dour among us.

This poem has been requested by ‘Bradley’ for his mother, Helen ‘...for no other reason than I like it and it makes me think of spring.’ Bradley adds that he only discovered the blog recently after a friend gave him On the Battlefields of Love for a birthday present, and ‘...I now read a poem or two most days.’ Welcome to the blog, Bradley! Oh, and here’s wishing you a belated Happy Birthday too.

Bradley adds, ‘I never thought of myself as a poetry person and used to think it was an elitist genre, but am beginning to see what I have missed.’ Now, that made my day. Bringing just one person to poetry for the first time has to be every poet’s dream. I only hope Bradley stays with us when he discovers what my critics insist is an anachronistic passion for rhyme.

Winter Sun, Lavacourt by Claude Monet


Could be forgiven for thinking
it’s already spring

Blue skies, a kindly sun smiling
on huddled streets

Children playing, their laughter
tugging at the heart

A funeral procession demanding
we show respect

Glossy carbuncles confounding
their critics

Second thoughts setting us up
for more mind games

Could be forgiven for thinking
it’s already spring

Copyright R. N. Taber 2007

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

Tuesday, 6 December 2011

An Elementary Take On Expressionism


Whenever I skip a day or two of writing up the blog, I receive a flood of emails telling me they miss it! Well, many thanks for that, and okay, you win. I’ll do my best, but cannot promise a post every day. I will continue to post new poems when I can.

Relatively few readers dip into both general and gay-interest blogs, but no surprises there since there is still a social divide in many parts of the world, even in the West, between heterosexual and gay people. By including both general and gay-interest poems in my collections, those readers who feel obliged to be discreet, for whatever reason, are free to be seen reading them without anyone knowing whether it is for the general or gay material or both.

Now, I appreciate that many of you do not have the time to browse the blog archives for poems, especially those of you who are unable to access a computer at home. I am delighted with and very grateful for your continuing encouragement and support. I can but hope some of this might express itself in book sales, especially regarding my new collection - Tracking The Torchbearer - in the spring. In the past, I have always sold enough copies to cover printing costs and contribute to new print runs/publications. However, I have grave doubts about even recovering costs for Torchbearer given the tough financial climate in which we are living.

A poetry publisher once implied they might be interested if I left out my gay-interest poems. Oh, but no way! [There is a literary if not moral principle involved here.] Readers will always be able to access the blogs, of course, although a good few get in touch to tell me how they enjoy accessing the various sections of my poetry collections on the bus or train, while grabbing a few minutes of peace and quiet in a favourite arm chair or even in bed.

We shall see what we shall see. I will be letting everyone know when I can start taking orders for signed copies nearer the publication of Tracking The Torchbearer.


Now, some gay friends don’t like the world ‘homosexual’ whereas I have no problem with it. Others are at perfectly ease with ’Queer’ whereas I never will be comfortable with it due to its association, for me personally, with verbal and physical abuse towards gay people years ago.

Straight friends have been known to suggest I am over-sensitive regarding various terms for gay men and women, but I guess it depends on the way in which they are expressed; even 'Queer' is acceptable to me if said with a cheeky grin and a wink. Humour may well touch a nerve, but if we can't laugh at ourselves, we might as well be dead. Even so, what a friend can usually get away with is often inappropriate coming from someone else.

It is all very well for people to say we must move with the times, and I am all for it, but some emotional and psychological as well as physical scars from times past are slow to fade; some never do.

Arguably, the ‘legitimacy’ of a word, phrase or sentence depends on the spirit in which it is delivered, not its place in some reputable dictionary and subsequent ‘definition’.


Gay, homosexual, queer;
these are words we are likely
to hear anywhere
because that’s where you’ll find us
though I (personally) have to say
I prefer to have it said
of me I’m ‘gay’ because it’s how
I see my sexual identity

‘Homosexual’ makes me feel
like a test tube specimen on some
research laboratory table
exploration into an explanation
for cause, even cure
where genetics (and nature)
are only too happy
to explain away the vocabulary
of sexual identity

‘Queer’ conjures bleak memories;
dark closet days and society’s misuse
of the word,
a closed-minded world of abuse
towards those of us
seeking (and finding) love
among our own sex
where small minds unfit for purpose
anxious to vilify us

Times change, its words passing
from meaning to meaning like bees
to flowers, children
to adulthood, attitudes maturing
(I’d like to say)
a peace and love enduring,
abuses of language
(people too) discovering the poetry
of sexual identity

Let the poetry natural to all of us
have its way, no matter what its critics
may have to say
about our use of rhyme, none at all
or socio-cultural expectancy...
Each poem and person to their time
and a spirit of creativity
that is no more a ‘sin’ or ‘crime’
than sexual identity

Copyright R. N. Taber 2011

Sunday, 4 December 2011

Footprints In The Snow


‘Karin and Tomas’ have asked me to repeat 'my video links'. They do not say which one/s so here is the link to my You Tube channel and the link to my (very informal) poetry reading on the 4th plinth in Trafalgar Square as my contribution to Antony Gormley's One and Other 'live sculpture' project  in 2009. [The You Tube clips are only a few minutes, but the One and Other video lasts an hour.] I hope you will enjoy them, and will be able to watch in an Internet cafe since you appear not to have a home computer




Many gay-friendly heterosexuals I know seem to think I am exaggerating when I tell them that gay men and women world-wide still feel threatened; even here in the West. Perhaps they should take more of an interest in their fellow human beings. Mind you, that isn’t easy when the media all but ignore gay issues except when occasions like World AIDS Day demand they pay some token attention.

I recently received an email from the US based All Out organisation regarding recent anti-gay activities in Russia and Nigeria. I am posting part to emphasise (if emphasis were needed!) that there will be gay people from all countries and of all religious persuasions that will have little to celebrate this Christmas or during any of the world’s religious festivals.

Last week, pressure on the Russian government prevented a vote on its anti-gay bill from taking place. All Out members around the world amplified the voice of Russian activists, forcing world leaders to speak out against this law that justifies hate and discrimination. Russia’s gat men and women remain hopeful, but the fight is far from over; the bill may still come back.

Unfortunately there's no time to celebrate. The Nigerian Senate has just followed Russia's bad example, passing a bill this week which would make it illegal to publicly support LGBT rights. Simply showing up to a gay bar could land you in jail for 14 years, regardless of your sexuality.


Nigeria is already an incredibly dangerous place to be lesbian, gay, bi sexual or transsexual. This piece of legislation will only further push the Nigerian LGBT community deep underground.

Here’s a BIG HUG from me for gay people world-wide unable to openly stand up for their sexuality for whatever reason.

Now, Christmas is looming fast. As regular readers will know only too well, I do not subscribe to any religion, but that doesn’t mean I don’t support gay people world-wide to whom religion plays a very important part in their lives. Besides, all religious celebrations are times when people, especially families and friends, come together in peace and love. Well, that is how it is supposed to be although it has been my personal experience that peace and love are sometimes in short supply.

And what of those who spend Christmas alone? Well, I personally can honestly say I have spent many a wonderful Christmas alone; yet, never alone because I am surrounded by the ghosts of Christmases and other ‘together’ times past who never fail to invite me to spend a happy, peaceful if reflective time with them. Moreover, I consider myself a son of Earth Mother, and she is never far away.


I woke one morning to find
snow in the ground;
where my garden used to be,
a vast, white sea,
waves whipped up by the wind
like a frozen Tsunami threatening an island
of woebegone leaves

Footprints across this icy sea
beckoned me;
soon I was following them out
of the garden gate,
where once chirpy fields were,
to winter’s unfeeling whims now laid bare,
trees, like icebergs

The footprints halted suddenly
where daises used to be
you’d made into a chain for me,
each flower a memory,
and we’d promised that spring day
our love would last forever, always find a way
to bring us together

Distant bells ringing joyously,
a snowman smiling at me,
fair Apollo’s coming out to smile
on lovers going that last mile
for one another even in bleakest winter,
all confirming the daisies are with Earth Mother
for safekeeping

Copyright R. N. Taber 2011

Tuesday, 29 November 2011

Reaching For Raison D’être


Christmas is only weeks away. Whenever its followers celebrate this religion or that, we have a sense of one Faith providing answers to our raison d’être over another. This finds some people angry, others fearful, and others even further than ever along private paths littered with doubts and misgivings. The results, for even the most impassioned Believer can be a terrible sense of loneliness that even prayer cannot always assuage.

Many if not most people like me, who no longer subscribe to any religion but put their faith in nature, are only touched by religious differences in so far as we would like to see more people of all persuasions - religious, political, sexual, whatever - better able to enter into other points of view than divided by them, more integrated if not unified. Even so, we are no more immune to feelings of doubt, fear and loneliness than anyone else. And (as in my case) being gay has nothing to do with it although it is very hurtful that the more zealous members of some religions seem bent on whipping up an all but hysterical hostility against gay people.

Whatever our colour, creed, sex or sexuality we can but find our own way through the maze of human emotions that, if we are honest, are more likely than not to undermine any spiritual convictions if only now and then.

A teacher once told the class that whatever else we did not learn in life, we should learn to care. I took little notice at the time, but his words have returned to haunt me time and time again, especially when I feel at my lowest ebb.  It is a lesson that contemporary societies around the world would do well to learn, and learn before it is too late.


Bells ringing, but not for me
so why should I care?
Snowmen smiling, but not at me
so why should I care?
Kids playing, but not with me
so why should I care?

People laughing, but not at me
so why should I care?
Robins singing, but not for me
so why should I care?
Some folks praying, but not for me
so why should I care?

Future generations relying on me
because I care;
nature’s vulnerability nagging at me
because I care;
religious differences preying on me
because I care

A feeling for peace and love in me
because I care;
an eye on the politics of change in me
because I care;
poetry of the human spirit, my reward
because I care

Copyright R. N. Taber 2011

Tuesday, 22 November 2011

A Short Essay On Children's Play OR Peter Pan Revisited


I am no die-hard capitalist by any stretch of the imagination, but the idea that a capitalist is related to the Bogey Man under a child’s bed is absurd. Raising that child and trying to give him or her best chances in life is a costly business. Capitalism plays no small part in making those chances available.

A former colleague commented only recently on a mutual friend who is doing well in the world of big business that it was an obvious career choice for him because, ‘Like all fat cats, he thinks with his wallet and has no imagination.’

Well, there are exceptions to every sweeping statement, and in this case I happen to know better...


I chanced to glance from a window
at children playing in the street below;
their colourful antics took me back
to halcyon times of myth and magic;
I couldn’t resist opening the window,
setting sail on waves of wicked laughter
to a bay where cliffs of ivy trellis
rose above a stormy sea of long grass

The garden shed, a mighty galleon,
we handkerchief pirates bearing down,
makeshift swords ready and able,
all hands to the oars of a cast-off table;
we’d meant to take no prisoners,
but time and tide got the better of us;
heaven closed in, fired a broadside
and our mothers called us back inside

From the window, I saw someone
rush at the children, moving them on;
‘Away! Let’s have some peace!’
(Leviathan jaws homing in on innocence.)
I slammed the window shut, angry
at being dragged thus from my reverie
if mindful that imagination’s pull
has no place around a boardroom table

I had a fight on my hands that day,
to see my motion passed come what may,
sailed too close to the wind in the eyes
of those least inclined to be adventurous,
but, oh, I got the better of them all
(in spite of a broadside too close to call)
steered my prize safely to harbour,
wiping my brow with a pirate’s bandana

Copyright R. N. Taber 2011

Sunday, 20 November 2011

Ship in a Bottle (Anger Management)


Some readers might enjoy my latest YouTube video during which I read today's poem as a voice-over:

http://www.youtube.com/rogerNtaber (Ship In A Bottle)

I am a fire sign, born on the winter solstice. I have a temper when roused...

MOTHER: You must learn to control that temper of yours, son.


MOTHER: Use your imagination.

So I did...and still do.


I've seen a Ship in a Bottle
tossed into the sea
among waves like a range
of snowy mountains;
it was I who sent the ship
to ride out a storm
among clouds like billows
of smoke

I leapt into the frantic sea,
swam for my life,
caught up with the bottle,
boarded the ship;
no raging sea or angry sky
could touch us,
my ship and I, in our bubble
made of glass

Deaf to the wind, blinded
by the dark,
conscious only of rancid air
suffocating me...
in desperation, I lashed out
at the bubble,
smashed the glass, let the sea
have its way

Suddenly, I'm floating upon
leaves of grass
smelling of spring rain across
a range of green hills;
storm passes, sea calms down,
deposits me...
at a so-familiar shoreline
peopled with pebbles

What choice but to negotiate
broken glass,
make peace with the pebbles,
aspire to sanctuary?
Now, should dark fury grip me,
I go to a table, let

a Ship in a Bottle ride its back,
break me in

Copyright R. N. Taber 2010

Thursday, 10 November 2011

A Space Odyssey


This post is duplicated on both blogs today. An earlier version of the poem was written in 2002; it appeared in a Poetry Now [Forward Press] anthology, These Days, in 2004 and in my collection later the same year. I have since revised and reworked the original poem and changed the title.

Regular readers will know that as I prepare posts for the blog, I often find myself making minor or (as in this case) major revisions to poems where earlier versions have already been published. This is not so much a criticism of the first version as, looked at again from a distance of some years, I sometimes feel the original can be improved upon. Some people get in touch to say they prefer the original/s while others may prefer my revision/s but like both; others still, ask why I tinker with poems at all and/or why I settled for the original when it was ‘quite obviously’ the genesis for a different poem altogether. Ah, but it would not have been in the least bit obvious to me at the time I wrote it. I must have been satisfied enough to see it published. Only much later, do I sometimes find myself unhappy with what, yes, I may now see as the genesis of another poem.

As I have said many times, love takes many shapes and forms; of all these, the love of one person for another, sexual and/or platonic makes the greater contribution in mapping out the most wonderful journeys we take across time and space albeit always vulnerable to human error. As for sexuality, it but is one of love’s coordinates along with mutual understanding; it also needs to be up to the task of repudiating if not discarding any socio-cultural-religious elements that would not only point us in another direction but also see us heartsick voyagers in a nightmare.

Needless to say map reading of this particular nature is (or should be) instinctive. At the same time, we need to appreciate that one person’s natural instincts may well be another’s nemesis; if the old adage - where there’s a will, there’s a way - may not always prove to be the case, there is still a lot to be said for at least trying to push existing parameters to accommodate both.


In the saddest twilight
known to man or woman,
find no gladder omen
than in the sigh of a wistful virgin,
left to watch birds fly
(far too high to identify)
sailing the fairest horizon,
teasing the inner eye

Oh, the beauty, mystery,
privileges and passion of voyagers
in personal space

Glimpses of Heaven,
but no word of invitation
or greater loneliness
(nor sweeter) known to humankind;
a hidden planet
where no others may go
and only those we choose
chance getting close

Identifying isolation
among starry splinters of its galaxy,
light years away

So near, yet so far,
grim mortality yet to loose
its stranglehold on us,
allowing us to breathe that more easily
among lush vegetation
of the surreal kind
than where a half dead
imagination applies

Ultimate contradiction,
conjoined isolates hell bent on pushing
parameters of space

Copyright R. N. Taber 2004; 2011

[Note The genesis of this poem (originally under the title, Time To Ourselves) can be found in 1st eds. of The Third Eye by R. N. Taber, Assembly Books, 2004]

Tuesday, 8 November 2011

Where A Monster Feeds


[Update (March 29 2017) Today, Theresa May triggers article 50 of the Lisbon Treaty to take the UK out of the EU. Now, I love Scotland. Why, I keep asking myself, does the SNP think it is better for Scotland to remain under the EU yoke when it would be better off having greater powers devolved to the Scottish Parliament from Westminster (as Theresa May has already implied may well happen)? As for trade, Scotland gets more revenue from trading with the UK than with the EU. Scots (who live in Scotland) whom I have spoken to don't want to see the UK break up so I can only hope that Nicola Sturgeon's obsession with  Independence continues to be seen as NOT in Scotland's best interests by the majority of  those who will be left to carry the proverbial can.]

[Update (June 24 2016): In 1975, I voted in favour of an economic union with the rest of Europe (EEC) not the political (not to mention extortionist) shambles it has become. So, yes, I am delighted that Britain has now voted to leave the EU. There are likely to be both economic and political storms ahead, and we must weather those. Hopefully, though, we will see a rainbow in the longer term, followed by more sunshine than showers. Whatever, the Remain and Brexit camps need to put their differences aside, not bear grudges, and work together; not only for the good of the country, but also of Europe as a whole. Let's not forget that Britain is a part of Europe, always has been and always will be.]

[Update (May 2016): Some readers have been in touch to ask how I feel about the forthcoming UK referendum about staying or leaving the EU. While the poem on this page makes my feelings clear at the time, these are much the same. As far as trade is concerned, EU countries need ours just as much as we need theirs. Regarding security, it is NATO keeps us safe, not the EU. Indeed EU insistence on freedom of movement puts everyone’s security at risk; it is clear the lack of border controls encourage terrorists to infiltrate genuine refugees. However, it is the fact that Turkey is likely to join the EU at some future date that is the deciding factor for me.

In February 2016, two Turkish men aged 22 and 23 who stole an ice cream and a bag of salted sunflower seeds from a classmate when they were 14 and 15 year-old schoolboys were  jailed for 13 years each after a trial lasting eight years. The incredible sentence, for robbery, was passed down by the court even though the victim had never even complained about the matter to police; it was only raised by teachers at the school in Istanbul who were hoping to scare the two boys.

I have no problem with Islam (except the homophobic attitude of many who subscribe to it although that applies to many if not most world religions) but like the rest of the civilised world, I have a problem with radical Islam. The Turkey of today is fast becoming a radical Islamic state; if and when it is admitted to the EU, I fear for the increasing spread of radical Islam Europe-wide.]

Update (June 2016): A good case for BR-EXIT can also be found on You Tube:


Now, the banks may be mostly to blame for the credit crunch that first opened its jaws in 2008, but the real monster in the eyes of many Europeans (including myself) is the European Parliament.

The eyes of the world may well be on Greece and Italy at this moment in time, but they do not stand alone where the Economics of Power and Politics of Blame are (frequently) seen to rear their ugly heads....

Dare I suggest there is a need to tame the monster to save the Euro? In other words, there needs to be a cull of its more corrupt and/or inept elements...

This poem is a villanelle.


Eurozone, in Debt’s dark lair,
struggling to reassure the world;
Europeans, fighting despair

Crisis an ascending stair,
stability, a high risk password;
Eurozone, in Debt’s dark lair

Political in-fighting clear,
Brussels, a theatre of the absurd;
Europeans, fighting despair

Its ineptitude stripped bare,
too few voices of reason heard;
Eurozone, in Debt’s dark lair

Flushed out of devious cover,
MEPs, for jobs running scared;
Europeans, fighting despair

Even the Economics of Power
found wanting on Paradise Road;
Eurozone, in Debt’s dark lair.
Europeans, fighting despair

Copyright R. N. Taber 2011

Sunday, 30 October 2011

A Question Of Timing


Today’s poem last appeared on the blogs in 2009 and I am repeating it today especially for a ‘L. P.’ who has been in touch to ask how best to tell family and friends he is gay. Another young man once asked when I thought might be a good time to tell his parents he had no intention of marrying the young woman his family have chosen for him. I also told them both that, it is their decision and theirs alone, but the longer they wait, the harder it will be. Nor should we blame ourselves for any hurt caused by standing out ground when we feel the need. We are not answerable for the shortcomings and/or short sightedness of others.

Is there ever a right time to tell someone something with which they may feel uncomfortable? Home truths, for example, never go down well at first if at all.

Ah, but we should not underestimate the power of commonsense, and even less so the heart’s capacity to argue with questionable reason...and win.

Just as gay people need to make time to tell family and friends about their sexuality, so those among the heterosexual majority who decide to go against parental well-meaning for their well-being and choose another path likewise need to choose their moment with care. Yes, with care, for diplomacy can only ever help win over the opposition.

In some instances, of course, there will never be a ‘right’ time to raise this matter or that. Yet, the more serious the matter and the more intensely it concerns us, the more important it is that we make time to let the people who matter to us know that it’s the way in life we propose to follow, and are confident it is right for us, whether our attempts at diplomacy succeed or not.

Did I say it was easy?


Doors half opening, half closing;
windows flung wide, slammed shut;
roads stretching, bending;
children born and growing so fast;
parents coming, going,
working, and trying their hardest
to make out they won’t
even mind dying, but only so long
as the timing’s - what, right?

Earth flung, heaped, piling up;
nature’s buds opening, now closing;
dirt tracks stretching, bending;
world's birds singing while nesting;
parents coming, going,
and working at trying their hardest
to make out they won’t
even mind chicks flying off so long
as the timing’s - what, right?

More flinging, slamming about;
hungry mouths opening, now closing;
bony legs stretching, bending;
a capacity for love born, growing fast;
doubts coming, going,
working at trying their hardest
to fool us they not only
have our very best interests at heart,
but their timing’s - what, right?

Where natural instinct a stronger calling,
find common humanity a fragile thing

Copyright R. N. Taber 2005; 2011

[Note: An earlier version of this poem appears in 1st eds. of A Feeling For The Quickness Of Time by R. N. Taber, Assembly Books, 2005; 2nd ed. in preparation.]

Friday, 28 October 2011

Hollywood Boulevard


Many of us dream of fame and fortune, especially when we are feeling low and life is not working out too well for us. Fortunately, most of us have both feet planted firmly in terra firma and begin to mull over the down side of fame and fortune; lack of privacy, petty jealousies and one-upmanship, not forgetting critics who haven’t a creative bone in their bodies yet feel qualified to judge the creative performances of others...

Better by far to settle for the best of things on our side of the proverbial fence. Even so, a little daydreaming does no harm...


Walked with Fame one afternoon, watery sun
and a misty rain;
man, woman, couldn’t tell - Humphrey Bogart
or Lauren Bacall?
Better than any movie, the suspense
was really getting to me,
and where would I be by the end of the day?
(Good question...)

Strained to hear what my companion
had to say about it, though abysmally scripted;
caught words like fate, jealousy, love, hate,
sounding as trite as Mother’s plastic mac worn
to fend off a heavy summer storm;
only, no storm broke nor did any ghost
call me out, settling for thinly disguised threats
and nagging innuendo

Should I take the bait? Oh, I thought I might,
but - no!
Rather, I quickened my step, widening the gap
between us,
hardly able to see hand in front of face
for tears,
a now glaring sun hastening to dispel mist, rain,
and human anxieties

Copyright R. N. Taber2005; 2009

[Note: An earlier version of this poem appears in 1st eds. of A Feeling For The Quickness Of Time by R. N. Taber, Assembly Books 2005; 2nd ed. in preparation].

Wednesday, 26 October 2011

Footprints In A Field Of Dreams


Today’s post is duplicated on both my general and gay-interest blogs.

Many thanks to those readers who have been in touch with kind words about my latest YouTube video filmed in the Memorial Garden in London’s Grosvenor Square created in memory of the British victims of the 9/11 attacks. One lady has asked me to repeat the direct link:


And if it doesn’t work, just go to my YouTube channel:



How many times, I wonder, do we ask ourselves why, oh, why do we bother and just what is it all for?


The world, it’s so big;
we, we’re so small,
and, oh, what’s the point
of it all?

The flowers, they grow
only to rise and fall,
and, oh, what’s the point
of it all?

Some people succeed
where others fail
though they try so hard
at it all;
others, they struggle on
at hardship’s call,
the most deserving among
us all

I look from my window
and feel so small
but, oh, that’s the point
of it all;
expanding its parameters,
walking tall,
and where doesn’t matter
at all

I’ve watched flowers die
where their petals fall
but, oh, that’s the point
of it all

It’s love peace and beauty,
though they be fragile
will see us win our wars
after all

Copyright R. N. Taber 2011

Thursday, 20 October 2011

Moving On


A reader who can only access the Internet at an Internet cafe has asked me to repeat the links to (a) my poetry reading on the 4th plinth in Trafalgar Square back in July 2009 as part of Antony Gormley’s One & Other ‘live sculpture’ project and (b) my YouTube video of the Princess Diana Memorial Fountain in Hyde Park; they are:

http://www.webarchive.org.uk/wayback/archive/20100223121732/oneandother.co.uk/participants/Roger_T(it lasts an hour)

For the Princess Diana memorial, go to my YouTube channel:



A friend  asked me recently how I coped with the death of my partner years ago. His own partner had just died and he was in pieces.

Having lost various people to whom I have been very close over the years, I could only repeat what I have said on the blog many times, that moving on doesn’t mean leaving anyone behind.

Trite, maybe, but true; my partner, my mother and others long dead are still a comfort and inspiration to me.


Only for you the most beautiful song
this sad heart of mine can hope to compose,
a hymn to true love ever rich and strong,
like the sweet smells of summer in a rose

Only for you the most beautiful words
this lonely soul of mine can hope to write,
echoes in the wind, love song of the birds,
a stirring of petals come dawn’s first light

Only for you this broken heart’s mending,
remembering a promise to move on;
though love come again, ours never ending
like the lifelines on twin leaves evergreen

Keeping faith with you till the end of time;
my life, a love song, your death, my poem

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

Thursday, 6 October 2011

A Family Connection OR Time Travel, First Hand


I can be whimsical, even quirky in some poems. Some readers enjoy this, some hate it while it would appear that yet others can even feel inspired.

Today’s poem has not appeared on the blog since 2008. I have been asked to repeat it by ‘Angela’ who has been in touch to say, ‘...it inspired [me] to start tracing [my] family tree, with such amazing results that I am now passionately into genealogy.’

Good luck with that, Angela.


One day I visited a churchyard
looking for a gravestone;
I found it, but only after hours
foraging among weeds;
I knelt down and cleared away
years of moss and grime;
in time, I could even make out
a legend, dates, a name

I felt cold, cheated, no feelings
of compassion for the dead;
here lay a total stranger, albeit
of my family line (so what?);
it filled a box on the family tree;
the rest, but photographs,
letters, and a diary with pages
faded or missing

I’d found what I was looking for
so why linger there?
I tried to leave. My legs refused
to do as I wanted;
I couldn’t move, even after a few
conspiratorial drops of rain;
then the stone opened like a door,
and I needed no telling

I entered, began feeling my way
along a gloomy tunnel;
in a light at the end stood a man,
his features obscured;
as I closed in, he spoke. I strained
to hear a choked voice
saying it was ages since anyone
had sought him out

He said I had the family likeness
and it meant a lot to see;
then he was gone and I was left
staring at a gravestone;
that day I visited a churchyard
looking for family,
I found it, and was infinitely
glad I’d come

Copyright R. N. Taber 2008

Sunday, 2 October 2011

The Blame Game


We see politicians and religious leaders at it all the time, but can any of us say in all honesty that we have never played the blame game?


It’s a so-secret game people play,
that never stays a secret for long;
before you know it, they'll leak it,
and put local gossip in overdrive

It’s a so-nasty game people play,
that will always get much worse
before it just might get any better
for anyone caught out in the loop

It’s a so-sorry game people play
that will invariably end in tears,
star players likely cut to the quick
(although few if anyone cares)

It’s a so-lonely game people play,
never quite one of the in-crowd
after pointing an invisible finger
(see human kindness, belly up)

It’s the blame game people play
by way of creating a diversion
from worst errors of their ways
(fun masks passed off as faces)

It’s a game we all love to deplore,
though most if not all of us play
at keeping local gossip machines
turning over if not in overdrive

Copyright R. N. Taber 2011

Friday, 30 September 2011

Universal Soldier


Today’s poem has appeared on the blog twice; in 2007 and 2009. I am repeating it again for no other reason than I feel a need to let off steam.  Hopefully, new readers and those who never have time to browse the blog archives will enjoy the poem and regular readers won’t mind becoming reacquainted with it. Mind you, I cannot (and don’t) expect everyone to like every poem I write...

I am coping with hormone therapy for my prostate cancer, but with some difficulty. I dread going shopping on my own. Some days, it seems that everywhere I go I am a target for abuse, the more so for refusing to take being treated badly with a nod and a smile as if that’s perfectly okay. I can’t wait to get home, sometimes close to tears and falling apart, to let several cups of tea help put me back together again. [Mind you, my mother did warn me that as you get older, you become more and more invisible...] Oh, well it is what you come to expect when you live in some areas of London. So why don’t I moved away? Well, I can’t afford to, and besides why should I?

What is it about humankind, I often wonder, that our need and desire for peace of mind is invariably undermined by someone else’s appetite for conflict? I guess the trouble is, the latter often if not always provokes the same in us.

It doesn’t even take a war, not here in London anyway. You might glare at someone for nearly knocking you flying because they are on their mobile phone so you are expected to get out of their way, but weren’t quite quick enough, and the next minute you are on the receiving end of a stream of verbal abuse. Or you are crossing the road and someone walks right in front of you causing you to stumble. (It is your fault, of course.) Or you are on an escalator at a London Underground station and someone in a hurry pushes you so you fall but (hopefully) avoid a serious accident. You protest and are either ignored or, again, verbally abused for being in the way. Or you are coming out of a shop, and some cyclist who thinks he or she has every right to ride on a busy pavement sends you sprawling and rides on without a care. By the time you are nearly home, the slightest thing is likely to trigger rage, and then someone suggests you need anger management.

An average week (if not day) in the life of a pensioner in London...

Yesterday a little lad about 6 years-old was playing on the floor in a store where I was queuing. Apparently, I knocked his head with my basket. The mother laid into me verbally as if I had done it on purpose. She demanded I apologise in such a way that I stormed out of the store without purchasing my items rather than stay within an inch of the woman and her children another second. Maybe she was right and I was wrong. Whatever, it was the last straw in a chain of events that made me feel like going to war with the entire human race; end-game, annihilation.

Today has to be a better day...Well doesn’t it...?


Wrestling in the womb
with thoughts I cannot know,
feelings unable to show,
I start to grow…
the way of all humanity
that’s gone before, a personality
and identity to call my own
though I take my place
in a world anxious for a face,
to place here, there, 
within the easier confines 
of a history classroom taught, 
and purpose-built

Wrestling in the womb
with thoughts I cannot know,
feelings unable to show,
I continue to grow…
a microcosm of all human
endeavour, facing the complexities
of Fate without a murmur,
one to one with God
without fear of the world’s
goading icons, relishing centuries
of silence brought soundly
to bear upon Man’s first cry,
'War, war, war!'

Copyright R. N. Taber 2000

[From: Love and Human Remains by R. N. Taber, Assembly Books, 2000; rev. ed. in e-format in preparation.]

Wednesday, 28 September 2011

Whatever Happened To Once-Upon-A-Time?


Regular readers will know that I am often revising earlier poems, usually only slightly, but sometimes more drastically even when the original has already appeared in one or more poetry publications. Why? I suspect that, years on, I am quite simply looking at the same poem/s and their theme/s from a different perspective; it is not necessarily a criticism of the earlier version.

The first version of this poem was written in 1996. It had already appeared in Thoughts from the Pen, Book Mark (1997), Meridian Poetry Magazine (1998) and Visions of the Mind, Spotlight Poets [Forward Press] (1998) before I included it in my first major collection in 2001. The second version is a revision with which I have been toying only recently.

So which version do you prefer?

Ah, but the sheer escapism of my childhood continues to see me though the harsher aspects of reality. So much for growing up...


Fairies in the garden,
dragons in the sky;
Shadowy mists of Avalon
risen high;
Home, some dark cave
in a far, far distant time;
Poetry and heroes,
legends in their prime
come to rescue us from
the terrors of bed-time;
All gone, kids grown,
and who's passing on
secrets of protection
to a generation
that prefers computer games
or, better still,
copycat storylines
from Pandora's Box?
Issues of the day, strategy
in a ratings war. Peter Pan
shot down over Walford);
Beasties under the bed
breaking out like chicken-pox
on a child's face

And no hiding place

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


Fairies in the garden, dragons in the sky;
shadowy mists of Avalon risen high;
Home, some dark cave in a far distant time;
poetry and heroes, legends in their prime,
come to rescue us from the terrors of bed-time;
All gone, kids grown, and who's passing on
hard hat protection to a generation
that prefers computer games, copycat story-lines
from Pandora's Box?

Issues of the day, strategy in a ratings war
(Peter Pan shot down over Walford);
Beasties under the bed, busy breaking out
like chicken-pox on a child's face

And no hiding place...

Copyright R. N. Taber 1997; 2011

[Note: Walford is a fictional London Borough in a long-running BBC soap opera called Eastenders.]

Tuesday, 20 September 2011

The Mad Hatter's Tea Party Revisited


Once there was a Boston Tea Party, and then...

An American friend recently asked me for my thoughts on the US Tea Party. I was relieved to discover that he is as appalled as I am regarding the antics, rhetoric more than occasional ignorance and suspect morality displayed by this appalling political phenomenon.

As I have said before, though, I hope Sarah Palin is elected as the next Republican candidate for the presidency if only to ensure Barack Obama a second term.

Who in their right mind would vote for the Tea Party? Alarmingly, a growing number of disaffected voters or so statistics would have us believe.

I suspect many of us world-wide are disaffected voters in the current economic climate. Ah, but is that any reason to lose out heads?

As for those readers who may well say that a UK poet has no right to comment on US politics, may I remind them that just about anything and anyone is up for comment, including via art and poetry.

My thanks go to Lewis Carroll for giving me a child’s take on the mad, mad, mad world of adulthood that would prepare me for the real thing...


There once was a white rabbit
that ran down a hole
for fretting that the world
was in poor shape;
a little girl (with big ideas)
ran after him...
thinking it might be an adventure,
and had to be better
than moping because her daddy
had just lost his job

White Rabbit, he had contacts
in high places
whom the little girl (with big ideas)
was so thrilled to meet
and get an invite to a Tea Party
hosted by a Hatter
even madder than the rest
of the guests,
including a Queen of Hearts
and (peculiar) Minds

‘Off with his head!’ Queenie
kept shouting
at anyone who might have been
listening and game
to give her their vote as Hostess
with the Mostest,
and saw the little girl (with big ideas)
as the ideal candidate
to try the very humbugs she’d slaved
over a hot stove at all day

‘Try these dear,’ said Queenie,
‘and tell me honestly
if you love them or hate them
though be sure
it’s off with your head if they’re not
to your liking.’
The little girl (with big ideas) insisted
she never accepted sweets
from strangers in case (who knows?)
they are poison

‘They will probably make you ill,’
agreed the White Rabbit,
‘and then you’ll be in a fine pickle
with no health insurance
to pay the bills, and not a soul
giving a damn
if you take to your bed. Oh and do
have some tea,
it’s a party, not a wake, leastwise
no one’s dead yet...’

‘Off with his head!’ cried Queenie,
but the White Rabbit
laughed and said, ‘You can have my head
for desert, it’s big enough
to go round, especially since all else
on offer here
is humbug, humbug, humbug - and
more humbug. Oh, and what
does Dormouse think he’s doing
with that teapot anyway?

The little girl (with big ideas) loved
every maddening minute,
was so disappointed when she woke up
to realise it was but a dream
that she pulled a white rabbit from a hat,
set it loose, made it an excuse
to chase The Dream, have a tea party
of her own, Mad Hatters invited,
she delighted to play Queen of Hearts
and (peculiar) Minds

Copyright R. N. Taber 2011

Saturday, 17 September 2011

The Wrestler


Poems on the blog are read world-wide and some readers have asked if translations of my collections or any selections of my best poems are available. Sadly, the answer is no. Apart from the fact that I cannot afford the services of a professional translation service, poetry requires that a translator is able to enter into the spirit of a poem, not simply translate it.


Whenever I say to parents that any education about sex and relationships should include gay sex and gay relationships, the are either horrified or agree in such a half hearted way that I know they are against the idea and are merely paying lips service to political correctness.

Do any parents honestly believe there are no gay boys and girls at their child’s school, and if there are they present a threat? More to the point perhaps, how can they be sure their child isn’t gay? The last person most teenagers will confide in about such matters is a parent, however close they may be.

Years ago, I’d sometimes engage in friendly wrestling matches with a boy at school who was very mature for his age (the same as mine) and always won hands down. I never really minded if only because I fancied him like hell although I was careful never to let my feelings show. Ours was a boy’s only school and there were plenty who would have made my life a misery. As it was, my friend never suspected. [At least, I didn't think so at the time…]

‘You’re stronger than me,’ I once accused him ruefully.

‘Not at all,’ my friend replied with a knowing grin, ‘I’m just better than you at playing mind games.’

True. Ah, but it would be a few years on before I fully grasped what he meant.

This poem is a kenning.


More than once I’ve leapt
into a ring and wrestled Father Time
even though I know
he will best me in the end while
daring to hope Earth Mother
will spare me long enough to find
and hit a nerve designed
to let me off the hook till reconciled
with outward appearances

I know him for what he is;
no kind father, Time, rather a beast
in a body resembling a man,
but closer to the animal kingdom,
protective and destructive
at one and the same turn of identity
tipping the scales of reason,
wrestling with me to wild applause
for settling old scores

Education, the only antidote
for societies still obsessed with crime
against so-called morality
committed in shadowy corners
or shrubberies of the mind
that so-called decency would never
tread…for fear of being
caught out by me (to whom history
is fickle, it has to be said)

Call me Shame, up for fixing any game,
ever wrestling Time to clear my name

Copyright R. N. Taber 2010