Monday, 31 January 2011


Sometimes we feel let down, even betrayed and wonder why we carry on. On such occasions, I have always looked to nature for reassurance, strength and inspiration...


On a road of broken dreams and shattered lives,
I took a detour down a dirt track;
among leafy trees, green fields, sheep grazing,
I revisited Earth Mother;
we had been estranged, she and I, for some years
yet it seemed but yesterday
I had risen with larks, let a lullaby of nightingales
lull me into false hopes

I felt fingers stroking my hair as I passed through,
as if to reassure a prodigal child,
but I was bitter for what I (still) saw as a personal
act of betrayal and deceit;
had she not let me believe the finer things of life
would always survive the worst,
yet abandoned me on a road of broken dreams
leading nowhere?

At dusk, a nightingale greeted me like an old friend
but I pretended not to hear
as I settled on a bed of sweetest smelling heather,
afraid to close my eyes;
sleep, though, eventually penetrated my defences,
left me vulnerable
to the iron resolve of Earth Mother under its cover
of gentle persuasion

I journeyed through dark centuries of pain and grief,
defiant ghosts for company,
showing me killing fields where peace and love left
for dead but rose again;
they planted in me, my ghosts, an unspoken trust
to keep faith with them;
accordingly, I flew off on the wings of a dawn skylark
into a new awakening

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

Wednesday, 26 January 2011

Ancestral Voices

I need to say a big thank you to those readers who have got in touch to wish me well with my prostate tumour, forthcoming biopsy and subsequent results. It is good to know there is still a strong sense of common humanity out there.

Oh, there will always be bigots who love to pontificate on this and that if only because they are punctilious pricks huffing and puffing their own self-importance at the doors of anyone who’ll listen. BUT...there are also many decent people in the world, of all socio-cultural-religious persuasions, with open minds and open hearts. Life is nowhere near as black and white as the world's media love to portray it. Oh, but thank goodness for that!


This poem was written in 1999. I have always been fascinated by the way we can look at history and form opinions that reflect and compare the way we were then and are now, even as we make and become history with each passing second.

Regular readers will know I have a passion for walking by the sea. But I love woodlands too. Wherever, nature has stories to tell that go back centuries for those who care to listen. For me, though, it is the sea that has a stronger grasp of humanity and how it has shaped Earth’s history for good or ill. A common thread running through all the stories is its capacity for survival. Oh, people may come and go, fashions and attitudes change, but hard pressed and war weary as it may be, humanity (if not all humankind) continues to hold its head up high. And so it will always be so long as nature passes on its story and sees to it that somehow there will always be some of us left to listen.

This poem is one of two that I read over a video on my You Tube channel. (See also video below.)


Rise and fall, rise and fall,
whispering waves...

Tell of Adam in the Garden,
Samson at Gaza, Clinton
for president;
Tell of Boudicca in warrior
dress, Mother Theresa
and saintliness;
Humanity, body and soul;
History, in a golden
Spare me your blushes
softly treading
Retreat behind veil, mask
for naked come I
to it all;
Let me bathe in the twilight
of half-gods, poised
for photocall

Rise and fall, rise and fall,
whispering waves...

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

Saturday, 22 January 2011

Sweet Dreams

A UK reader has contacted me to say he does not have a computer at home and accesses the Internet at his local public library. However, the library computers do not allow access to blogs. As he has enjoyed dipping into the blog at a friend’s house, do I have any suggestions? Well, only one. Both my blogs are participating in a UK Web Archive project operated by the British Library.

Try: go into ‘Search the archive’ (left had panel on the screen) and enter ‘G-AY in the Subject Field’ or ‘A Poet’s Blog’ and the blog you are looking for should appear. I should add that it is very interesting just to browse the archive for other blogs and websites.


We all dream, especially lovers. Some dreams come true, some don’t. All we can do is give each and every one best shot.

We pick flowers, watch the sunset and find refuge from the world’s harsher ways in sleep...and dreams.

We wake, watch the sunrise and see the flowers open...and wish human hearts the same.

Yes, we all dream, especially lovers...


I sat with you and watched the stars appear,
saw the moon sail like a yellow balloon
where singles weep and only lovers dare,
riding white horses on sunset’s ocean

We reached an island of candyfloss clouds,
breached its peppermint reef to a fair shore
far, far away from the world’s cares and crowds
warning that love is but a myth, a whore

No cruel words here of faithlessness and pain,
only sweet kisses that last forever,
my joy evergreen, your tears like spring rain
a bonding temporal hurt can’t sever

Our dreams, down to earth, come dawn’s frosty glow;
our love, no myth, a flower sure to grow…

[From: A Feeling for the Quickness of Time by R. N. Taber, Assembly Books, 2005]

Tuesday, 18 January 2011

The Partisan  [For now, at least, this link needs the latest Adobe Flash Player  and works best in Firefox; the archives website cannot run Flash but changes scheduled for later this year may well mean the link will open without it. Ignore any error message and give it a minute or so to start up. The video lasts an hour. ] RT 3/18


As we journey through life, we inevitably leave footprints of all kinds; carbon, yes, but also emotional, intellectual and spiritual.

Just as others influence us, so we influence others, often quite accidentally...not just by family, friends, teachers or workmates but often by complete strangers. Conversations in a bus queue or on a train may well reverberate through our lives and affect us more than we realize; certainly, far more than those strangers will ever know.

We, too, invariably remain strangers to people we may well have influenced greatly by a kind word or gesture, an expression of sympathy or encouragement...

Death comes to all of us but our words and deeds live on. It isn’t only the famous who leave a legacy of character and personality for those who come after to model themselves upon or steer well clear of heading in the same direction, as the case may be...

Eternity isn’t an empty phrase. We create our own eternity in the hearts and minds of both those who live alongside us and those who come after us. In my humble opinion, they are mistaken who suggest that even Memory cannot keep faith with us once everyone who ever knew us has died. In that context, many of those we influence and by whom we have been influenced have no claim on Memory at all. Besides, eternity is a continuum.

Whatever our religious beliefs and whether or not death is the end of the road for us, we will always exist in Time.

This poem is a kenning.


I have left footprints in sand
where waves came and took them to places
they had never been;
I have left footprints in dust
where the wind came and lent them a body
that transcends endurance;
I have left footprints in grass
where rains fell to wash away the evidence
to leave everyone guessing

I have left hand prints in sand
where waves came and lifted them to places
they longed to be;
I have left handprints in dust
where a south wind lent them flight on wings
of words, paint, and music;
I have left handprints in grass
where rains fell so none would know for sure
who jumped their garden fence

I have left my signature
where people came and carried me to places
they had never seen,
left it, too, on dirt tracks
where winds came and lent them brief access
to nature’s finest...
whose footprints on this Earth
(before it rains) may prompt us to seek answers
to questions we’ve never asked

World partisan, Nature’s partner in crime,
I am Creator and Destroyer, called Time

Copyright R. N. Taber, 2011

[From: Tracking the Torchbearer: poems by R. N. Taber, Assembly Books, 2012]

Monday, 17 January 2011


This poem first appeared on the blog in August 2008. It reflects a passion for nature that I trust will never leave me, not least because I associate it with everyone and everything I have ever loved.


Memories, dancing
on the skin, like a gypsy
the two of us making love
on a battered
trench coat;
swallows nesting above
with concerns
of their own
though, unlike ours,
to none;
Earth’s music, a glorious
symphony, dying notes
no tragedy,
though we can
but snatch
at time
with child hands delighting
in the picking
of bluebells,
applauding the first
flight of baby
sharing Nature’s rapture
that will forever

Copyright R. N. Taber 2002; 2016

[Note: This poem has been slightly revised since it first appeared in First Person Plural by R. N. Taber, Assembly Books, 2002; revised ed. in e-format in preparation]

Saturday, 15 January 2011

The Longest Journey

Of all the joys in life as we journey through it, love has to be the greatest. As for the pitfalls, love can always be relied on to pick us up, brush us down and help us start all over again...but only if we let it.


Love, it has many faces,
some gay, some not,
journeys many places,
laughs, cries a lot…
No finer friend you’ll find
to share peace of mind
where demons on the brain
come again, again
for the soul - or we will
surely fall

Love, it has many faces
comforts, make afraid
in least expected places,
reflects all that’s likely
to make us tearful, sublime,
captives of Time;
in a world (not of our choice)
its sweeter voices may yet
ease the soul or, yes, we will
surely fall

Love, it has many reasons,
asks questions, tells lies;
reflecting all human seasons
as the need flies…
in the heat of human sorrows,
through dark tomorrows;
brave hearts on wing in spite
of everything that drags
on the soul or, yes, we will
surely fall

Love, it wears a friend’s face,
makes no demands;
a single candle left burning
at my heart’s command…
under threat of darker sorrows,
striving better tomorrows,
a light in the soul’s gloaming
to guide an epic roaming
at freedom’s call or, yes we will
surely fail

Copyright R. N. Taber 2001; 2017

[Note: An earlier version of this poems appears in Love And Human Remains by R. N. Taber, Assembly Books, 2001]

Friday, 14 January 2011

Lasting Impressions

Today’s poem last appeared on the blog in February 2009 and has been requested by ‘Louisa and Richard’ to mark the birth of their daughter Charlotte Anne. Congratulations!

We owe so much to the Arts and its artists. Who would want to live in a world without music, theatre, paintings, sculptures and other such labours of love? They are always there to  remind us of takes on life, love and death that comprise humanity, men and women creating lasting impressions that we should never take for granted.

Update (March 2016): Some readers may be interested in my reading of the poem - along with another - on Brighton beach for my You Tube channel (see below) albeit in the early days of the channel before Graham and I discovered how to insert a voice file so I could read a poem over the video. [For other videos, visit ]


Once I heard a story
about a dream that never dies;
of all we hope to see
beyond love’s tears and lies

Once I read poetry
about a love that never ends,
its spirit set free
from all the body but lends

Once I heard a song
that let fly my heart like a bird
soaring proud and strong
on the wings of every word

Once I saw a painting
of lovers in some long-ago time
yet as real as if still living
the dream now yours and mine

Once I saw actors bring
love’s ageless story to the stage,
a poem about our writing
its every word, turning every page

Come cut and thrust of all creation,
it’s to love we look for inspiration

Copyright R. N. Taber 2009

[From  Tracking The Torchbearer by R. N. Taber, Assembly Books, 2012; revised ed. in e-format in

Thursday, 13 January 2011

Time Spent In A Valley

Like so many of my poems, this one is not a strictly autobiographical. Yet, as I get older, my mind loves to wander to places where I have been happy; in reality and in my imagination. It is not only a pleasant pastime but also distracts from wondering how many such times I have left to me...

Oh, but how green is the valley of our imagination!


Once I played in a place full of shadows,
chasing after them as I might butterflies,
trying to catch but always failing, dropping
to the ground in fits of laughter rippling
across a valley like raindrops on that lake
where I’d swim among ducks and swans
in hues of silver, gold, pink, come the sun’s
yawning at dawn, glaring at noon, roaming
Memory Lane in a twilight spitting blood,
sunsets reminiscent of this world’s wars
whose shadows, to its own design, always
find a source to blame, scapegoat to ease
the consciences of poor souls born to front
a politics of separatism

Years on, I revisited those same shadows,
wary of them as I might be of ghosts,
trying to hide but always failing, cowering
in corners praying to a Heaven I doubted
that I’d not be discovered or, if so, taken
in shackles to some cliff edge and forced
to contemplate awful lies told, mistakes made,
excuses given for believing in justification
(or glorification?) of the ego rather than seek
redemption in humility, let dying echoes in
the shadow of a child’s soul feed imagination,
relying on a custom built God for salvation
should the politics of disintegration become
a serious moral issue

Growing old, I haunt that place of shadows,
greet them as old acquaintances, even try
pretending we were friends, though forced
to confess I’d sought them out for own ends
but keen to make amends (no idea how)
mindful of nature’s gentler surrounds, inner
eye blinking at children chasing after a fragile
mortality, asking questions not asked before
when answers seemed far less important than
actions according to whatever rule of thumb
most convenient at the time, best explained
or excused as ‘meant well’ or (better still)
for the greater good of next generations warned
against hurting butterflies

Valley of shadows, where words left unsaid
gorge on things left undone - and spit us out

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

Wednesday, 12 January 2011

Lullaby for a Restless Child OR Earth Mother, Keeper of Dreams

A college lecturer has contacted me to say he enjoys some of the stories my poems tell but I should write more 'real' poetry.

So what, I ask myself is 'real' poetry? Whatever...I am as I am and I write as I write. Many people seem to enjoy my poems and that's good enough for me; at least they are real. As for my critics... [Do I care?]


Modern life can be hassle, hassle, and more hassle. Thank goodness for nature and its various retreats from t modern life it offers. I live in Kentish Town, a district of London that is close to Hampstead Heath, the Regent’s Canal and the Regent’s Park. I love them all but especially love strolling on the Heath and enjoying the feeling that I could well be a million miles from the heart of one of the world’s frantically busy cities. London may have lots of cultural treasures to enjoy but without its natural retreats living here would be unbearable.

I would hate to see these retreats and all those like them across this sorry world of ours end up in the hands of property developers. They are, for many of us, a lifeline. Killing off nature is tantamount to manslaughter.


In a dream I lay in Earth Mothers arms
as we watched the cruel world passing by,
gladly surrendering to the mixed charms
of twilight’s centuries-old lullaby

We saw Apollo turn the green grass brown,
humankind and beast alike starve and die,
Poseidon cause his acolytes to drown,
whose wells, streams, rivers already run dry

We bore witness to such grief and despair
as the Grim Reaper lets drop in his wake,
wept to see how loved ones left alone fare,
made to run the gamut for life’s own sake

Waking, I let Earth Mother wipe my tears,
words of a peace song ringing in my ears

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

Friday, 7 January 2011

Postscript to a Wintry Frost

Today's poem first appeared on the blog two years ago and has been requested my 'Marianne' for her partner 'Rose-Marie' and by a reader from Leeds in West Yorkshire who did not give a name (I never reveal screen names).

I am often accused of being whimsical in my poems. Well, yes, I do whimsy.


Early one morning in a winter frost
I walked to the Gates of Death
where so many have gone whom
I have loved and lost;
frozen flowers like miniature statues
lined the winding path I took;
I felt as if I were weaving my way
out of a storybook;
as a weepy sun rose higher in the sky
the statues came alive,
Earth Mother’s daily rallying call
reassuring us of her love

By now it had passed, the winter frost,
and I arrived at the Gates of Love
where so many have gone whom
I have loved and lost;
the gate, it flew open and showed me
a world beyond imaginings,
of peace and beauty everywhere,
the stuff of fairytale endings;
I sighed, sensing I dare not linger long
where I hadn't yet reached
my journey’s end, though hopeful
for leaving a winter frost behind

Come a time we'll weather a winter frost
to the Gates of Death
and run a gamut of tears, see them open
on the springtime of our years

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

Thursday, 6 January 2011

The Archivist OR Ode to Earth Mother

This poem is a kenning. It first appeared on the blog in November 2009 and has been requested today by ‘Hannah and Jonathan’ for no special reason other than they liked it.


I am she who feels her way
to dreams, sees to it that moon and stars
shine love’s guiding light
through layers of darkness to reveal
what’s real in the world,
barely conveyed in word here, gesture there,
making a poor show of communicating
such feelings as all our senses attempting
to convey even to the pragmatist

I am she who lends a shoulder
to cry on, an ear to confide in, takes caution
thrown to the wind and returns it
as a kindness, suggesting we reconsider
pitting human nature
against its other selves, risk losing face
in the eyes of the Old Man
looking down at us and wondering why
this obsession with mortality

I am she to whom they turn
whom the flames of passion threaten to devour
till it is over and done,
gone to ashes where we would have left
a blaze of memory to comfort
and leave us feeling secure, whatever
the Grim Reaper may have in mind
for us. No match, he, for she who has a way
even with bad dreams

Come day, make time for a culture of nurture
I archive, come night, who am Earth Mother

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

Wednesday, 5 January 2011

Lament For An Endangered Species

We worry about endangered specials across the animal world, but what about us? Are we not an endangered species the way the world’s governments carry on? Mind you, who elects them?

Ah, but we should be wary of playing the blame game as the final stages may well be played out on our own doorsteps. Across the world, including here in the UK, a significant number of young people are losing the plot.

Street crime and gang culture are on the rise and those involved need to ask themselves some important questions, not least what they really want out of life. If the answers include blood on their hands, possibly an early death and/or a long prison sentence...I guess they will go ahead...throw their lives away and the lives of others while they're about it.

I'm told it's all about acting 'big'. Well, there is nothing big about it at all of course although I suspect that in many cases it is all an act. Those who see sense walk away before it's too late. Now, that's big.


I walked out one morning
and heard a lark singing
a song I’d vaguely heard
before but never listened
to a single word, simply
enjoyed its lively melody
and got on with whatever
I was doing at the time,
only vaguely self-conscious
of feeling more inspired
to surpass myself at the task
in hand for a song worthy
of lost souls at heaven’s door
kept waiting for an answer

I roamed the streets at noon
and heard people laughing
and it lifted me a while until
I heard someone crying,
felt moved to follow the sound
down side roads and alleys
till I came across a young man
bleeding from knife wounds,
eyes open, lips barely moving
and, on seeing me, appealed
to our common humanity
that I should get help because
he needed to see out the day,
hear what the lark had to say

I wander the streets at twilight
wishing I’d arrived in time
to save the young man who died
in my arms… wondering who
could have had such little respect
for human life as to rob youth
of its future, family life of its soul,
friendship of a kindred spirit
meant to achieve this or that goal
but for being in the wrong place
at the wrong time, no lark’s song
of hope and glory come close
to gang culture’s senseless prose

Come night, stars falling where larks
will sing us to our graves

Copyright R. N. Taber 2009

[Note: This poem will appear in my next collection, Tracking The Torchbearer, scheduled for publication spring 2012]