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