Saturday, 26 February 2011

Bailiff On The Doorstep [I am often asked for this link to my poetry reading on the 4th plinth in Trafalgar Square, my contribution to sculptor Antony Gotmlry' s One and Other 'live sculpture' project in 1999. For now, at least, though, 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

I have been more than a little anxious about getting my biopsy results next Wednesday. I dare say that is why I recently dreamed I opened my front door to Death. Ah, but Earth Mother slipped past him to stand beside me. Now I feel confident of getting the better of him...for now, at least.

A friend recently confessed he did not know what to say to me, whether to wish me luck with the biopsy or ignore the subject altogether. I could only say that it is always nice to know we feature positively in other people’s thoughts.

I got to thinking...

Whether on the world stage or in our own living rooms, we are called upon time and again to make choices which, as often as not, find us stuck between a rock and a hard place. Do we speak up or say nothing rather than chance making things worse (or better)? Or do we let actions speak louder than words... and risk making things worse (or better)?

Perhaps we should ask ourselves for whom we risk making things worse or better? Are we motivated by altruism or self-interest?

We have but one life, as we know it, in which even the smallest opportunity may well arise whereby we might chance changing just one, two or even millions of other lives for the better (or worse); helping, passively or actively, to give their deaths (and ours) real significance if not meaning to those left behind, whether they (or we) be human beings great or small, famous or unknown but to a select few.

Could it be the proverbial Bailiff on the Doorstep is trying to tell us something we don't already know?


He’s knocking on my door,
what can I do?
(Turn a deaf ear)

If he keeps kicking up a fuss,
what can I do?
(Door forced ajar)

Who does he think he is,
calling ‘Time’
on my peace and freedom?

I will appeal to a kinder nature
to grant my reprieve,
for I am not ready yet to leave
this place, despite
its worst flaws, neglecting peace
in pursuit of wars
on those who would avoid
well-trodden paths
of reason and need, seeking
only to feed themselves,
procreating in their own image
a mirage of Fate when,
in truth, only themselves to blame,
though the world rise
eagerly enough to its bait, lured
by a glare of Public Relations
designed to fool us all into thinking
altruism rules OK

Oh, but let him, called Death,
knocking at my door
(though I turn a deaf ear)

Better the damn door be left ajar
for Nature to slip in,
(hopefully) with a reprieve

For have I not played my part
in those faults and flaws
forcing other people’s doors?

Copyright R. N. Taber 2011

Wednesday, 23 February 2011

Mentor For Life

Life, love, fear, pain, fame, fortune, memory...they all like to play games with us. Win or lose, it is how we play that counts, not the name of the game.


When hard times force an entry
at the window, sorrows beating a path
to our front door, we can call upon
some God, nature, save us,
wring our hands in bleak despair - or
put a shoulder to time’s wheel, no matter
how weakly at first, show the world
we’re far from done with it yet for all
its bitter-sweet subtleties

Though ill-favoured by fortune
for now, we’re far from being thrust out
of circulation as we take our turn
at the wheel, so it can be made to take
a detour in our favour, and if it seems
to have a mind of its own, so needs must
as anxiety guides its players by sun,
moon, stars, and peace candles history
has always lit for its martyrs

Time and again, we lose our way,
sight foxed by tears, other senses playing
fast and loose with a frail grip
on memories past and present, future
in freefall...till that moment sublime
when we find the strength to steer time
away from a raging Hydra
rearing its heads like ragged rocks
on a dark, indifferent sea

Brought slowly, safely into harbour
where a vaguely familiar shoreline offers
a helping hand if not sanctuary;
enough for now, for time won’t be rushed,
especially once forced to compromise
after trifling so with the disaffected spirit
of a would-be loser in its favourite
game of chance designed to trick us into
losing faith in ourselves

Self-belief, most precious of all mind tools,
mentor for life on a Ship of Fools

Copyright R. N. Taber 2011

Friday, 18 February 2011

Not in any Tourist Guide

This is a poem about the darker side of London. Tragically, it could equally apply to just about any major city or large town in the world where we pause and look around sometimes, despair, and demand not only answers but also action.

The glossy tourist brochures may like to pretend otherwise, but most places, like most people, have a dark side. Perhaps we should open our eyes to it more often?  Yes, we should enjoy exploring these places. London and other great cities across the world have much to offer the discerning visitor. At the same trime, is not forewarned, forearmed?


I’ve seen kids on London’s streets
beg coins for bus fares or worse,
steal a blind woman’s purse,
mock a one-legged man’s affliction
then yell “Persecution!” at passing
coppers trying to do their duty
by some council estate community
suffering daily from the traumas
of kids without conscience, let alone
good manners (fat chance!)
leading the locals a rare old dance,
skipping school whenever,
drinking, smoking this ‘n’ that,
pleading victims of society
should they happen to get caught,
held up as poor specimens
found slipped through Propriety’s net
no matter colour or creed,
this new breed of wide, street urchin
whose familiarity with rights
racism and other discrimination
would be admirable - were
it not, invariably, used as a weapon
against any decent citizen
resolved to stand up for law, order,
everyday commonsense,
though as likely to receive rough justice
from the law courts as back streets…
(Does anyone really care any more?)

The knives - and guns - are out,
no wonder few are willing to be seen
telling what they think, heard, saw
(more the shame, the cruelty and pity);
And what do the mayor and PM make
of all this? Oh, plenty to say, a limitless
supply of token gestures as Londoners
grow anxious for answers

[This poem has been slightly revised from the original bersion as it appears in 1st eds. of Accomplices To Illusion by R. N. Taber, Assembly Books, 2007; 2nd ed. in prepration. NB 2nd eds. of my poetry titles will be available from 2015 -]

Wednesday, 16 February 2011

Spirit of Silence

I put my faith in nature long ago. Yes, nature has its dark side but isn't that true of most if not all things?

If I personally cannot believe in a personified God , I respect other people's Belief. When I am quiet and reflective, nature speaks to me. I guess it is the same for a religious person when they pray. Nature, God...these are one and the same thing perhaps? Who knows? Whatever, I suspect we are closer to the truth of things when we are quiet and reflective. It is of how we feel at such times that we can be sure even if there are no words to express or confirm it. Everyone's feelings are different. Everyone's knowledge of themselves is different. That isn't to say this person is right or that person is wrong.

A writer is sometimes described as a wordsmith. Me, I have always been convinced that silence says far more than words can even begin to express.

My late mother once told me she loved silence. I thought this was a strange thing to say, especially as she loved chatting to people and could often be heard singing her favourite songs. So I asked her why. 'You can trust silence,' was all my she said. It has taken me years to understand what she meant.

Now, it is often said that you never really know a person until you live with them. Perhaps that is why my dear, late mother once commented to the effect that before we can declare with authority that no one knows us better than ourselves, we need to learn to live with ourselves, that is to say the person we are rather than the person we would rather be or whom others would rather we be.

Oh, we like to think no one knows us better than we know ourselves. Yet, how well do we really know ourselves? How often do we face up to those home truths we don’t like to dwell upon so brush them under some proverbial carpet? Even so, we always remain aware of why we did so even if we prefer not to follow that particular path.

BOY: So how do your learn to live with yourself?

MOTHER: Look for the spirit of silence. If and when you find it, let it lift you above the noise of the world.

It was years before I even began to understand what she meant by that either.

This poem is a kenning.


Listen out for me
a silence in the air, surpassing
all the music ever written;
Look, see how I fly the world
on wings as quick
and beautiful as anything
nature aspired for even
its favourite species between
earth and sky

Reach out, touch me,
let fumbling fingers discover
the purpose of creation;
Smell. Find in a spring shower,
urging winter to waken
where it would but sleep in
and delay things,
a fragrance of kinder truths
polluted by ‘progress’

Embrace me, let your senses
open as in the womb,
recover that spiritual identity
religion so covets
that it seeks to direct and control
what it likes to call ‘soul’
even if that means using threats
all the world makes under
cover of noise

Trust in me, the Spirit of Silence,
kin to Memory and Conscience

Copyright R. N. Taber 2011

[Note: The final couplet has been slightly revised since this poem's first appearance in Tracking the Torchbearer: poems by R N Taber, Assembly Books, 2012; revised ed. in e-format in preparation.]

Tuesday, 15 February 2011

Equaliser, an Unknown Quantity

My prostate saga continues. I had my biopsy yesterday and now have to wait until March 2nd when I return to the hospital for the results. It wasn’t too unpleasant an experience and, anyway, it was necessary to find out what kind of tumor is trespassing in my prostate. I am not too worried because my instincts (and body) are telling me that any cancer there is not aggressive. Moreover, some prostate cancers are often so slow to develop they are best left well alone. It is a fact that more men live with prostate cancer than die from it.

The reason I am telling you all this is because I have found that cancer is still a taboo subject with many people, possibly because they are inclined to think the worst and associate it with death. Me, I have every intention of living to a ripe old age. Even so, death, in my experience, is an even more taboo subject for open discussion. Yes, I fear pain. But why should death itself be any less creative a process than birth? Let’s face it. We haven’t a clue, nor will we until our time here is up. Religion may have the answer for some people, but not for yours truly.

I have always been philosophical about these things. The hardest part is not being in control of events. Yes, my instincts tell me that the cancer will not turn out to be aggressive and I will be fine. At the same time, it’s true to say that our instincts let us down sometimes. So I have to at least consider the prospect that my biopsy results will be less than favourable. Whatever, I can’t do much about it either way so there doesn’t seem any point in worrying. Instead, I plan to stay positive and keep busy.

Having paid for my funeral with Age UK some time ago, made a will, and told everyone I am up for organ donation if I am not too old for it, I can now relax and enjoy myself on the slopes of Mount Parnassus, the Pipes of Pan in one ear and the voices of my my dear late partner and mother in the other telling me to be sure and make the best of things, not the worst.

This poem is a kenning, written in 2002. It was first published in an anthology, A Gathering of Minds, Poetry Now (Forward Press) 2003 and subsequently in my collection the following year. I am posting it for no other reason than it gives me as good a feeling to read it again years on as it did to write it. While I don’t envisage dying for some years yet (!) what will be, will be. Besides, such is nature’s way that spring will always follow winter.

This poem is a kenning.


I answer to no one
nor keep within the confines
of  rules as laid down
in any handbook, manual
or legislature;
no one tells me when
to come or go
or where exactly, or gladly
seeks my company

I may press at the edge
of a crowd yet it will not part
to let me though, though
I’ll find my own way with ease;
when people hear my name,
(if but a whispering in the ears )
they know to include me
in thoughts that may yet find
affinity with prayers

Neither hunter nor hunted,
I wing lark skies, tread this earth
softly, no blade of grass disturb,
sail dark seas without a compass
or stars for a guide, instincts
never failing, emotions playing
no part in my raison d’ĂȘtre
where time shall be my witness
and journey's end

If ever left to pain to raise the alarm,
know I am Death and mean no harm

Copyright R. N. Taber 2002; 2011

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

Monday, 14 February 2011

Journey To The Centre Of The Earth

It is Valentine’s Day and I am posting this new poem on my gay-interest blog as well today because that wonderful phenomenon that is love and romance doesn't ever rule anyone out.

Incidentally, the reference to the 4th plinth in the 5th stanza refers to UK sculptor Antony Gormley’s ‘live sculpture’ project, One and Other, during which 2,400 ordinary people were invited to do their own thing for one hour on the 4th plinth in London’s Trafalgar Square 24/7 over a period of 100 days. While it is not particularly relevant to the poem that I was a participant, any readers who have not already done so may care to click on the link above to access my contribution; to view the entire web stream or dip into other contributions, simply remove ‘Roger T’ from the URL.

Wishing you all love and peace always, (Oh, and yes, romance too!)



Love, it was, took me to the edge of darkness;
love, it was, brought me back into the light

Love, it was, had me running circles round the moon;
love it was, made me pause, rest in its craters

Love, it was, let Apollo’s kisses scald my flesh;
love, it was sung a lullaby to ease my pain

Love, it was, saw me pursued by dogs, muzzles come loose;
love, it was, gave me sanctuary in a rose garden

Love, it was, created a space on the fourth plinth
so art’s worst demons might be acknowledged

Love, it is, lets roses grow among weeds I’d leave untended
but for its sweeter voices tempering my anger

Love, it is, inspires me to cry poems rather than tears;
love, it is, underwrites a fragile faith in humanity

Love, it is, takes me time and again to the edge of its darkness;
love, it is, always returns me safely into its light

Love, it is, lets me rage at the sky albeit a south wind
reminds me how we were and why you left

Love it was, once took your fair body and made it mine;
love it is, enters your sleep and makes it ours

Copyright R. N. Taber 2011

Saturday, 12 February 2011

Hitting Home OR Profiling Domestic Violence

Our emotions may not always play fair, but cannot and should not be tolerated once they it starts cutting up rough. Love is no excuse, and has no place in domestic violence.

Indeed, there is no excuse for domestic violence in any shape or form, no matter who the perpetrator nor is there any shame in facing up to a situation and asking for help. Victims need to confide in a close relative or friend. Perpetrators need to seek professional advice.

Whatever, no one should suffer in silence out of fear or a sense of misguided loyalty, even love. Get support (various sources available on the Internet) and summon the willpower to walk away from it. Let the abusive partner stew in his or her own juice. Forget the dream and face up to reality.

The only answer to domestic violence and physical/psychological bullying is zero tolerance.


Flung open the door, smile on the face;
fist at the jaw, fallen to the floor, waiting
for more

Eyes closed, mind shut tight to it all,
homing in on a single happy time, before
things fell apart

Breaking heart in pieces on the mat,
angry tongue making the lips bleed, for
a bad day at the office

Blows lessen, cease, but not the terror
(sick with humiliation for what was and is
this love of ours.)

You go upstairs, slam the bedroom door,
be down in about half an hour for supper, but
in what temper?

Tomorrow, a rose and any tears, yours
on these so-bruised cheeks, after forgiveness,
compassion or passion?

When I pray, even God asks why I stay
and if I confess no idea, a dear familiar voice
calls me a liar

Wherever I found strength to love you,
I must find the same to leave you, or be
like your rose...

In a smashed vase

Copyright R. N. Taber 2002; 2011

[Note: An earlier version of this poem under the title 'Hitting Home' appears in 1st eds. of The Third Eye by R. N. Taber, Assembly Books, 2004; revised ed. in e-format in preparation.]

Thursday, 10 February 2011

The Guardian

Today's poem last appeared on the blog in 2009 and is repeated today especially for 'Rose-Marie and Paul' whose first child, Damien, celebrates his first birthday today.

Regular readers will know that where religious-minded people like to think God is watching over us, I prefer to put my trust in Earth Mother.

Both points of view deserve respect, surely, since none of us can know for sure?

If only more people would agree to differ instead of fighting over who is right and who is wrong, the world would be a far happier and peaceful place!

Give peace a chance, yeah?

Image taken from the Internet


Where snow is falling snow on snow,
and the world is a lonely place,
a woman in white shall softly go,
and were we to see her face,
we would know she comes for us

Where acid rain defies flowers to grow,
and the world is a lonely place,
a woman in tears shall softly go,
and were we to see her face,
we would know she comes for us

Where summer breezes gently blow.
and the world is a lonely place,
a woman in green shall softly go,
and were we to see her face,
we would know she comes for us

Where autumn makes a splendid show,
and the world is a lonely place,
a woman in gold shall softly go,
and were we to see her face,
we would know she comes for us

Once loved ones gone, we ask to know
why the world is a lonely place?
It’s a woman called Hope tells us so,
and were we to see her face,
we would know she comes for us

Look where she comes and see her face;
let this world be a less lonely place

Copyright R. N. Taber 1973; 2009

Tuesday, 8 February 2011

The Maze (Open All Hours - Disabled Access - Only Carer Dogs Allowed)

Apart from its divisiveness, the main reason religion offers me nothing is because I can’t stop asking questions. Quite simply, Faith is a full stop I cannot get my head around. Besides, many socio-cultural-religious leaders are bullies and I hate bullies. It has little or nothing to do with my sexuality.

This doesn’t mean I have no interest in or respect for religions of the world. Indeed, I do. As regular readers will know only too well, I have nothing but contempt for those who not only choose to interpret but also preach from the various Holy Books to suit and/or camouflage their own ends. Yes, bullies. You will know the type. I dare say you will have come across a good few of them. Ah, but yes, they interest me greatly, these bullies. Why do they behave the way they do? What drive them? It certainly isn’t compassion but nor, surely, is it entirely self-interest...or is it?

Questions, questions and more questions; as or finding any answers, we can but look.

This poem is a villanelle.


Who seeks meaning, dares a maze,
its walls of evergreen
harbouring life’s finer mysteries

It is a place folks fear and praise
where ghosts often seen;
who seeks meaning, dares a maze,

See Apollo wink to shine his rays
where lovers steal unseen,
harbouring life’s finer mysteries

Watch Diana’s bold hunters graze
on passions dark, serene;
who seeks meaning, dares a maze

Chance on trails time artlessly lays
(true, false, in-between)
harbouring life’s finer mysteries

Look out for humanity, learn ways,
to its heartland, rarely seen;
who seeks meaning, dares a maze,
harbouring life’s finer mysteries

Copyright R. N. Taber 2011

Sunday, 6 February 2011

Whatever Happened To Love?

This poem last appeared on the blog well over a year ago. I look around locally or further afield and can’t see that much has changed.

Ah, but hope springs eternal, yeah?


Peace in the park abused by druggies
desperate to fund the luxury;
No time for drugs? Lets go for alcohol
poisoning instead…

Fun at the fair ruined by pickpockets
out for an easy ride;
Sanctuary in our schools invaded
by a culture of bullying

Generation gaps made (far) wider
by five star psychiatrists;
Mother Nature repeatedly raped
by property developers

War on Terror, a welcome distraction
from Home Front issues;
Our own back yards piled high
with body bags…

Conscience part salved by more charity,
confession, prison programs…
Problem part solved by pointing fingers
of blame elsewhere

Facts of life, we’re told and no point
in crying over spilt blood;
Prevention better than cure, they say,
so whatever happened to love?

Copyright R. N. Taber 2005

[Note: First published in CC and D  (US) 2005 and subsequently in Accomplices to Illusion by R. N. Taber, Assembly Books, 2007.]

Wednesday, 2 February 2011

The Rhetoric Of Separatism

It is LGBT History Month here in the UK.

Years ago when gay relationships were illegal in the UK I used to feel a strong sense of separatism, not to mention alienation. Not any more and never again.

Me, I am an integrationist. I hate to see society so fragmented and divided in so many respects.

We are all different, but that’s only human. Making people feel different, though, for whatever reason, that is inexcusable and indefensible.  Yes, life is easier for gay people in some parts of the world but even here in the West we still have a long way to go before all gay men and women feel they can be open about their sexuality without fear of retribution. Nor does the latter need to be physcal to hurt; there are far more subtle ways that can undermine a person's self-esteem  and make their lives a misery. I know people, including many former work colleagues (I am retired now) who would never openly admit they are homophobic but take every subtle opportunity to make their feelings felt. Some may not even realise they are doing it; others are nore calculating.

The worst people are those who manage to convince themselves that their religion and/or cultural tradition justifies their homophobia when none of the Holy Books need to be interpreted in that way. Oh, a good many Christains love to throw a few lines from Leviticus at us but that just goes tro show how little they know about their own religion, the significance of the New Testament and the common humanity Jesus stood for and preached.


Some declare us sick
who are gay, only sure cure
by way of this religion
or that, obeying laws written
in Holy Books, reserving
our own customised prayer
mat in Heaven

I decline the way
of bigots and zealots, reply
that I am happy as I am
nor do I feel any shame
in the way Mother Nature
writes my name

Some place us beyond
the pale who are gay, only
salvation by capitalizing
on society’s preferred option
and if sexuality still
won’t conform, it can
at least be discreet

I decline the way
of bigots and zealots, reply
that I am happy as I am
nor do I feel any shame
in the way Mother Nature
writes my name

Our poetry and prose empty
that fails a common humanity

[Note: The closing couplet of this poem has been slightly revised from the original that appears in 1st eds. of Accomplices To Illusion, Assembly Books, 2007; 2nd ed. in preparation from 2015.]