Friday, 30 March 2012

On the Face of Whom I Love

Life doesn’t always go as smoothly as we would like. Trust love to be on hand to help relieve the stress...

Oh, and lovers have no monopoly on love, either, for it comes in all shapes and sizes.


On the face of whom I love, a gentle light
reminding of gay flowers come springtime,
blue hyacinths, red tulips, lilies white,
where rabbits hop, lovers stop and birds sing

On the face of whom I love, a bright light
reminding of sandcastles come summer,
blue skies, ice cream cones, spade and bucket,
gulls winging, waves lapping at our laughter

On the face of whom I love, a pale light
reminding of snowfalls come autumn’s wake,
cosy fires of remembrance burning bright,
bringing joy and peace for a cold world’s sake

On the face of whom I love, dawn's first kiss;
that which, of all things in life, I'll most miss

Copyright R. N. Taber 2005

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

Thursday, 29 March 2012

Ella Sings The Blues

Someone very special to me once bought me an album of the late, great Ella Fitzgerald called Ella Sings the Blues. She was, of course, a great jazz singer. But, my, couldn't she sing  Blues! My late mother also loved Ella and I remember playing it some years after she died and thinking maybe she was listening to it too in that Great Unknown we call death. 

I didn't feel in the least bit sad. On the contrary, the experience transcended my sadness to an indescribable feeling approaching enlightenment, and my tears confirmed rather than contradicted it. Moreover, I was in the early stages of recovery from a nervous breakdown at the time and like to think Mum was looking out for me as she always did.

Whimsical, yes, of course, but...don’t we all do whimsy sometimes?

Photo: Ella Fitzgerald (taken from the Internet)


How will it be when I’m dead?
Will I hear music playing in my head,
see a dove fly by in a clear blue sky,
hear a newborn baby’s very first cry
and Ella singing?

How will it be when I die?
Will I wing with the dove, oh, so high
that I can look down and see
those I’ve loved crying rivers for me
or rivers run dry?

How will it be when I’m gone?
World keeps turning and life goes on
so where does that leave me,
courtesy (hopefully) of a spirituality
come clean?

How will it be when I’m dead?
will I still compose poems in my head,
grieve a sorry world lost its way
for listening to what its ‘betters’ say
who haven’t a clue?

I’ll never know until I’m dying
but when I am, be sure I’ll be flying high
among doves with you, listening
out for every newborn baby’s crying
and Ella singing

Copyright R. N. Taber 1982; 2010

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

Tuesday, 27 March 2012

Harvesting Imagination

Today’s poem is especially for ‘Hanna’ who asked if I have another poem about dementia as she looks after her brother who is in the early stages of Alzheimer’s; they both liked Misty Memories that I posted recently.

About 750,000 people here in the UK have dementia, and this number is expected to double in the next thirty years. I have seen the unbearably sad consequences for both sufferers and their carers. The British Government says it is committed to improving the care and experience of people with dementia and their carers by transforming dementia services to achieve better awareness, early diagnosis and high quality treatment at every stage and in every setting, with a greater focus on local delivery of quality outcomes and local accountability for achieving them. Let us hope so.

Some young people may say it does not affect them, but I know of at least two school children helping to look after a parent who has Alzheimer’s. Besides, we all have to grow old, and who knows…?

I once knew someone with Alzheimer’s who had been an English teacher and always loved poetry. Now and then in the later stages of the disease, she would come out with a very apt line or even a whole verse from a poem she’d once been able to recite by heart. So great an impression had some poems and events made on her that even the darker mists of memory failed to engulf them completely.

This poem is a villanelle, was inspired by people like my late friend and also the author Sir Terry Pratchett; indeed, all families/carers, some whom I have known personally, that have experienced or are experiencing the truly heartbreaking task of watching their loved ones' mental faculties slowly winding down. 


Wheels of the mind winding down;
though time play fast and loose with us,
we’ll reap a harvest of imagination

A smile but lost its way in a frown
seeks sanctuary in Cinderella memories,
wheels of the mind winding down

Though dignity wear a faded gown
as it stumbles through a Hall of Mirrors,
we’ll reap a harvest of imagination

A heart that wears love’s crown
keeps beauty in the folds of its favours,
wheels of the mind winding down

Love’s spirit unbowed, unbeaten,
turning the pages of life’s kinder stories,
we’ll reap a harvest of imagination

Among spoils of battles lost and won,
pathways to peace for all benign ghosts;
wheels of the mind winding down,
we’ll reap a harvest of imagination

Copyright R. N. Taber 2010

[Note: This poem first appeared in Ygdrasil, an online poetry journal, June 2010, and subsequently in On the Battlefields of Love by R. N. Taber, Assembly Books 2010]

Monday, 26 March 2012

Autobiography of a Beach

Decmebr 1st is World AIDS Day. I wrote today’s poem at the request of the Chairman of DAMSET, an HIV-AIDS Educational Trust in Dorset after giving a poetry reading in Bournemouth public library, and subsequently dedicated it to DAMSET in my collection, Accomplices to Illusion. DAMSET was established with a view to creating a memorial mural for people in Bournemouth who have died of AIDS, and was later extended to cover the whole of Dorset. The mural is now well established near the pier and I feel very privileged that my poem is included.

For more information about this inspiring project go to:

I read the poem on the 4th plinth in Trafalgar Square on July 14th 2009 as my contribution to sculptor Sir Antony Gormley’s One and Other ‘live sculpture’ and you can still catch it at the British Library archive. [However, be warned; the video of my plinth experience and (very informal) poetry reading lasts an hour.]: [Sprry, this link does not always work now. I am looking into it.} RT 11/16

I also read it in Bournemouth, by the DAMSET mural, for my YouTube channel and have posted the (much) shorter video below. While feedback suggests some readers cannot access You Tube for various reasons, those who can may prefer to click on the direct link:

OR go to the channel and search under title:


Sun and moon, sailing fickle skies
to safe harbours;
Sea, like a cabbage-stained tablecloth
edged with white lace;
Heads peering up, peering down
as they have always done,
listening to waves, voices of the heart
that stay with us, move on with us,
play a part in our lives, no matter all
temporal hosts come and gone,
sun and moon out of reach, cabbage
stains on the world’s tablecloths…
tales told by shells on Bournemouth
beach of those whose faces may
blur with time but we remember them,
who died of AIDS and not to blame
(the fruits of love bitter-sweet, yet better
by far to live by it than hate)
nor sexuality, physicality, morality,
any match for our own mortality
but as small boats on a passionate sea
driven by a feeling for integrity;
Come a time when death may put love
out of reach, then take a walk
on the sand, talk with the waves, listen
to shells on Bournemouth beach
(or any other that stirs a grieving soul
to recover the heart’s grail);
join a passing ship awhile, carrying
family, friends, lovers, even
old neighbours…by day and night,
be they gay or straight…cruise
Loving Memory’s fair shores, share
old jokes, laugh about crises
over cabbage stains on best tablecloths

To inner eye (and ear) time never deleted
nor love, though AIDS, ever defeated

[Bournemouth, Dorset, March 2006)
[From: Accomplices To Illusion, by R. N. Taber, Assembly Books, 2007; revised ed. in e-format in preparation.]

Saturday, 24 March 2012

Envoys for a City (London, UK)

[Update June 5th 2017] Sidiq Khan is doing a great job as Mayor of London, especially in the wake of Saturday's terrorist attack. What is it with president Donald Trump that he sees fit to criticise (on Twitter) by quoting Mr Khan completely out of context? Does the president not understand that there are many good Muslims as well besides the relative few - albeit a significant, vocal, and active few - who have been corrupted by a perverted view of Islam?] RT

Today’s poem last appeared on the blog in 2010 and is repeated here today especially for ‘Moses and Johanna’ who have been in touch to say how they, like me, have a love-hate relationship with London.

Now, I have lived in or near London for most of my life. I’ve seen many changes, mostly for the worse as London has become more and more overcrowded and its public transport systems less able to cope. Even with a car, it is rare that you can drive the same route more than two days running due to road works, and even then there is often nowhere convenient to park.

Yes, I have the same love-hate relationship with London that I’ve had since I was child and used to visit my grandparents in Battersea.  I love wandering round its museums and art galleries, exploring the South Bank, strolling on Hampstead Heath or along the Regent’s Canal...BUT...hate the noise, crowds, and resulting pollution levels.

Will I ever move away? I doubt it. As I grow older, I embrace change with less and less enthusiasm. Besides, if home is where the heart is, I suspect mine is in London.

I read the poem on YouTube some time ago. You can see Tower Bridge and the Tower of London in the background. Church bells began to ring out as I was reading the poem, but I think they add to rather than distract from the reading. [Background noise is always a problem when reading 'on location' especially as I could only afford a cheap camcorder. This is why I read more poems as voice-overs in later videos. If interested, you can access my YouTube channel at: ]


In the bowels of London’s tower,
the very pulse of history;
its ghosts, reliving their last hour

Let honour demand none cower
yet smell fear in every cavity
in the bowels of London’s tower,

Here, mortals high and low flower
like lotus, spoils of eternity,
its ghosts reliving their last hour

Anachronism, metaphor for power,
fiercest passions of a fine city
in the bowels of London’s tower,

Where ravens fly and tourists gather,
a kingdom aspires to glory,
its ghosts reliving their last hour

Time’s envoys, vying with each other
to engage with us intimately;
in the bowels of London’s tower,
its ghosts, reliving their last hour

Copyright R. N. Taber 2010

Friday, 23 March 2012

Master Baiter OR Gotcha...!

This wryly emotive poem was written as a protest against political correctness creeping into and even censoring humour and satire. As I have said before on the blogs, if we cannot laugh at ourselves, we might as well be dead.

I speak from personal experience. As a partially deaf person, I had a speech defect for many years and peers were always making fun of me for it. I’d simply exaggerate the defect and make them laugh; the teasing invariably stopped. For the same reason, I’d often mishear what people said and give a totally inappropriate answer to a question. Again, I learned to laugh it off although my teachers at school despaired of me.

It was years before hearing aids were available here in the UK for my kind of (perceptive) deafness and life is much easier and richer for that.  Even so, I like to think my sense of humour - if quirky at times - prevails and helps me carry on the Monty Python tradition of looking on the bright side of life.  It saw me through a traumatic youth and early manhood at a time when being gay was a criminal offence .(It still is in some parts of the world!)

Never underestimate the power of humour. As regular readers will know only too well, it helped me through a severe nervous breakdown some 30+ years ago when I almost lost it to the extent that I attempted suicide and very nearly succeeded. Thankfully, instinct eventually kicked in. I survived to tell the tale and bore the pants off everyone.

Incidentally the dictionary definition of peristalsis reads, ‘The wavelike muscular contractions of the alimentary canal or other tubular structures by which contents are forced onward toward the opening…’.

This poem is a kenning.


I take centre-stage,
audience in the palm of my hand,
or wait in the wings for a cue
along the lines of something borrowed
that was blue but turned green
in the wash so let’s air the laundry,
on the Internet (of course)
so socially screwed-up networks
can web-stream the divorce

I make politicians smart
till he or she is wriggling like a maggot
on my line at election time,
drive religious folks to drink (or worse)
for exposing a putting of cart
before horse and making sure it’s loaded
so a congregation’s conscience
all the lighter (and its pockets) saved
by heaven-sent Muppets

I make misanthropists believe
that what their keeping up their sleeve
is the sunshine of a smile,
ready to spread like butter on my bread
(though some say that’s not healthy)
to help keep hearty a world on the blink
that, damn it, needs the likes of me
to get it thinking about mud it’s throwing
and where it’s sticking

Take your cue from me, catch a whopper;
I am called Humour... (Gotcha!)

Copyright R. N. Taber 2010

Thursday, 22 March 2012

The Time Keeper

I spent most of yesterday in my beloved Brighton. It only takes an hour on the train from London, Victoria and I can get to Victoria in about 30 mins from where I live. As I am not really up to much travelling at the moment, it is an easy journey to a delightful place and a guaranteed lovely day (whatever the weather).

Yesterday was like summer and I really enjoyed my usual stroll on the beach until meeting up with old friends to catch up over a few beers later.


Keeper of my time since the day
I first saw you, a beauty to the eye
more splendid than royalty, riding
on a white unicorn in pastures green
mountains or gently rolling hills,
Child of Avalon, Queen of Hearts,
carried on wings and a prayer
like wildly flowing hair in chariots
of fire

Keeper of my time since the day
I first heard you sing songs making
heaven ring out with such hopes
of spring, joys only summer days
can bring, dreams that autumn
cannot fulfill or winter kill, whatever
any God may have in mind for us,
left free to choose, for good or ill,

Keeper of my time since a day
I first followed you in a storm,
shared the violence of a passion
equal to death's own, nor less
a rage to live than ever stirs in me,
envious of rider-unicorn a place
in eternity, riding, rearing or simply
left to graze, my fickle mistress,
Lady of the Hours

Keeper of our tides in history,
the sea, the sea...
Copyright R. N. Taber 2004

Wednesday, 21 March 2012

Alma Mater OR Matriarch Extraordinaire

[Update January 14th 2018]: 2018 (June 2nd ) will see the 65th anniversary of Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth 11's coronation when thousands lined the streets to watch her travel to Westminster Abbey in the gold coach (Yes, real gold!) She had, of course, ascended to the throne in 1957 following the death of her father King George V1 in February the previous year.

(Photo taken from the Internet)

[Update November 20th 2017]:Today marks the 70th wedding anniversary of Her Majesty, the Queen and the Duke of Edinburgh. I feel sure that hearts across the world will join mine in reaching out to them with love, respect and many congratulations.]

[Update, June 17th 2017]: Today marks Her Majesty's official birthday albeit a low key affair this year in the wake of the terrible tower block fire in North Kensington only days ago. It was very encouraging to see our Queen and Prince William visit the scene of the fire that consumed an entire block with horrific speed and has left many people dead and scores homeless. They spoke with and offered heartfelt words of comfort to survivors, emergency services, and those still seeking news of loved ones feared dead. I spoke to someone who was there and she told me that everyone appreciated Her Majesty making the effort to show she cared, demonstrating a willingness to share something of their trauma. Actions, after all, speak louder than rhetoric...of which there is plenty flying around in various socio-cultural-political arenas these days.] RT

King George VI died in February 1952; and as is the custom, his firstborn child succeeded to the throne. Princess Elizabeth was just 26 years old and married to Prince Philip. They had been blessed with two children by then, Prince Charles and Princess Anne.  So her long reign began. The date of her coronation was June 2, 1953 (it took that long to prepare.)

Update (June 11th 2016): Today marks Her Majesty the Queen’s official 90th birthday; for other (British) royalty related posts/poems, see:

Portrait of the Queen and Prince Philip taken by celebrity photographer Annie Leibovitz to mark the Queen’s 90th birthday. Copied from the Internet)

Diamond Jubilee, 2012 (original post):

Yesterday, Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II addressed both Houses of Parliament here in London to mark her Diamond Jubilee just as she did during her Silver and Golden Jubilee years. She has already begun touring the UK; no mean feat at the age of 85 years nor for Prince Philip who is 90.

Now, as anyone who knows me is aware, I am no die-hard royalist, but one by default as I hate the idea of the UK becoming a a republic. However, I have always been a great admirer of Her Majesty The Queen. In this, her Diamond Jubilee year, it seems appropriate to repeat this poem that first appeared on the blog in 2010 and subsequently in my collection that same year.

Photo: from the Internet


Epitome of majesty,
walk-about among us she goes,
smiling thoughtfully

She sees what she will see
though just what, no one knows;
epitome of majesty

Watching over a family,
keeping politicians on their toes,
smiling thoughtfully

Mindful of a public duty,
regardless of any stones it throws;
epitome of majesty

Heard said, admiringly,
of private selves to some she shows,
smiling thoughtfully

Alma Mater to set us free
if but briefly from the world’s woes;
epitome of majesty,
smiling thoughtfully

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


Tuesday, 20 March 2012

Extracts From A Prison Diary

Listening to a group of youths chatting amongst themselves on a bus, I was appalled to hear how they all but revered one of their friends who had recently been jailed for a knife attack on someone. 

I bet they wouldn’t think prison was so good for street cred if they were there, locked up for much if not most of the time and deprived of their freedom all the time...

The majority of young people are decent, hard working, good people. The tragic irony is that the relatively few bad apples in the proverbial barrel have the same potential if only they would acknowledge the common sense in getting their priorities right, the courage to resist peer pressure from the wrong parties and make the most of that potential instead of whining about how the better opportunities never come their way.

True, luck can play a part in whether or not opportunity knocks at our door, but mostly we have to take a good look around, see what there is to be had that we want and is worth wanting, and ... 


Did I say it was easy?


A neighbour slipped out to buy bread
and…was shot dead;
Hoodies cheered, one waving a gun;
(Who’s next? Could be anyone...)

I thought I knew that hood inside-out
till I heard a devil yell, “Shoot!”
A face in shadow, but I knew the voice;
what happened next, my choice

Mates say guns are a must (gang culture),
a necessary feel-good factor;
Suddenly, blood on my designer shoes;
heads cops win, tails I lose

Emergency sirens blasting at my head,
(Like it was me shot someone dead?)
I knelt by the body and called out a name;
the only answer, howls of shame

I was told to wear a white shirt, black tie
for the funeral, but it was a lie;
What difference if I’m dressed up smart?
Better jeans, hood, a caring heart

Later (crying in cuffs) taken back to prison,
old mates, some hoodies, looking on;
Drugs, booze, skipping school, what matter?
It was my finger on the trigger

The idea of prison hadn’t bothered me
(I’d seen cool shows on TV);
the reality? I am as meat in a lion’s den
only…torn to pieces by men

Oh, to be a school kid again, a wiser one,
who would never carry a gun…
nor would I mistake everyday life for dull,
but get an education, enjoy it to the full

Like bile on the tongue, every word written
for tears and fears I keep well hidden
or drown in each lonely day’s angry swell
crashing down on this, my life, my cell

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

Sunday, 18 March 2012

Mother Love

[Update March 11 2018]: Today is Mother's Day here in the UK so I am posting this poem for sons and daughters everywhere.]

When I was in Brighton the other day, I kept thinking (gladly and fondly, not in the least sadly) of the times my mother used to take me there for day trips when I was a child. Someone contacted me to ask what I am  thinking about for much of the time as I stroll along the beach in the video. Now you know:
(For anyone interested, find more videos at: )

Now, today's poem has appeared in several poetry publications since 2001 and, for obvious reasons, is a favourite of mine. I wrote it for Mother’s Day here in the UK as a tribute to mothers worldwide, not least my own mother who died at the age of just 59 during that long, hot summer of 1976. I was 30 years-old then, and still miss her. She was OK with my being gay while confirming my gut instinct that I should not broach the subject with other family members.

Now, mother love isn’t just about mothers of course; there are many women (and men) who, for various reasons, may be called upon to take on the maternal role to children other than their own; like birth mothers across the world, they, too, rise to the challenge and well deserve our love, admiration, respect and gratitude.

Ah, but we should never forget (as I fear we often do) that mothers are only human; we should give them some space sometimes, and never take them for granted.


I hear an angel crying
for the joy of a child newly born;
a lovely, gentle human being
to live and love, laugh and mourn
through tears of its own;
I hear an angel singing for the joy
of a child newly grown;
a lovely, gentle human being
risen above worldly troubles down
to human foibles;
I see an angel winging
for the joy of someone’s passing;
a lovely, gentle human being
taken at last, deserving of rest
among the best;
Lark, risen like an angel for the joy
of a new dawning;
a lovely, gentle motion
on wings of song
at our own Earth Mother’s bidding;
Nature, a treasure to behold
though it bring grief as well as joy;
Mother love, a gentle tale
told at bedtime - like a quilt
to keep us warm

Though we be orphans
in a storm...

Copyright R. N. Taber 2002; 2012

[Note: This poem has been only slightly revised since it appeared in First Person Plural by R. N. Taber, Assembly Books, 2002]

Saturday, 17 March 2012

Annual Report

World religions have caused strife and division in the world for centuries. Is  it not time they made more real effort and less cosmetic posturing to work together if only to keep their promises of love and peace?

Less one-upmanship and more mutual respect among the followers of this religion or that would be a good start. As for people like me who subscribe to no religion, don’t we deserve some respect too?

A I often say on the blogs, our differences do not make us different, only human.

Doesn’t humanity deserve a better chance to realise its greater potential than than various socio-cultural-religious tensions across the world are prepared to permit?

Well, doesn’t it...?


Born to lead, fulfil, unite;
invariably, though, dividing,
losing sight of how many
choosing to fight on one side
rather than risk losing face,
faith in interpretations of rights
and wrongs plainly pointing
to a war strategy - for victory
over mortality

Come to bring peace, hope;
Invariably, though, screws up
at practically every turn
for each well-meant move taken,
every word preached ringing
with sincerity - truth’s old enemy
better placed than any
to take a dove’s eye view
of our morality

Pigeon-holed by history,
shaped by the eternal mystery
of Creation, each to our own
interpretation and verification
according to our temporal
needs, desires, lighting the fires
of spirituality - a common
humanity or personal gain,
as the case may be

Christianity, Islam, whatever,
can do better, must try harder

Copyright R. N. Taber 2005; 2010

[Note: This poem has been slightly revised from the original that appears in 1st eds. of  A Feeling for the Quickness of Time by R. N. Taber, Assembly Books 2005.]

Friday, 16 March 2012

Front Seat

[Update March 17 2018: It is snowing hard here in the UK and bitterly cold. Spring has obviously had a change of heart so what better time to remind ourselves of warm, sunny days? Let's hope spring doesn't get too temperamental this year and summer doesn't disappoint.]

Regular readers will know that my love affair with the seaside town (sorry, officially a city now) of Brighton in East Sussex spans more than half a century. Whenever I am feeling low to the extent that I sense depression is not far away, a day trip to Brighton always leaves me feeling more confident and at peace with myself.

Brighton seems to work its magic on my close friend Graham as well. We were both feeling very stressed for different personal reasons when we headed there last Saturday.

We had no real doubts that the Brighton experience would work its usual magic so we took the camcorder and a couple of poems. Sure enough, we had a lovely day, after which we felt thoroughly refreshed, revitalised and at peace with ourselves.

I love this video (see below) so had no hesitation in uploading it so soon after our Oscar Wilde experience. [See my YouTube channel: ] As for the poems, many people like to read a poem as well as hear it so...


Front seat, listening
to tales from history the way it was,
not always how it’s interpreted
by scholars more interested in versions
of what, when, how, why
and who… in bloody pages politicians
love to refer to in a crisis

Front seat, listening
to sighs for movie adaptations of lives
touched by war, lovers caught up
in political intrigue, great men and women
trivialised for Box Office receipts,
everyday domestic issues considered
but small fry then as now

Front seat, comings and goings
of time and tide not so different to storylines
in books and movies,
writers and directors caught up in a process
of what comes naturally
up to the point where marketing the goods
requires a helping hand

Front seat, passing on stories
of an ordinary life, come and all but gone,
though time yet to relate
to its ups and downs, good times and bad,
get a perspective
that’s (for once) an honest take on humanity’s
penchant for half truths

The peculiar extraordinariness of ordinariness
archived at one front seat on Brighton prom

[Brighton, East Sussex; July 2010.]

Copyright R. N. Taber 2010


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]

Tuesday, 13 March 2012

Spring, Jottings from a Poet's Notebook

Oh, but it is so good to be alive on a beautiful day when we dare tell ourselves, if only briefly, how all that's dark and horrible in the world cannot touch us...

Spring itself may be near or far, but there is such a phenomenon as springtime of the heart and just how near or far that is remains up to us.

We need to feel the adrenalin, go with the flow...if only so we know the next BAD day/s won't last forever and life really IS worth the living whatever it may throw at us along the way.


Clouds, like soft soap bubbles giving
shape to wet dreams;
birds, but pretty spots on tired eyes,
a cacophony on the ear;
trees, like the bony legs of old men
arms flung wide, welcoming

Leaves, like prayer beads in the hands
of a dying nun;
grass, a doormat enduring the heavy
tread of world competition;
Earth, but a lump of clay, potential
for centuries of ambition

Ah, but a fair butterfly, fair phoenix
flying in the face of despair;
grasshoppers, joining in a hymn
to Earth Mother,
she, with the enigmatic smile,
all senses alive to spring

Daffodils, cheering us all on, no matter
if we win or lose
in ways of life, love, war and peace
few of us get to choose;
redeeming the world's false starts,
open windows, open hearts

Copyright R. N. Taber 2016

Friday, 9 March 2012

Where There's Life

Sometimes we despair of any beauty in the world for being reminded day after day by the media of its ugliness. Fair enough, since we should not turn a blind eye or we risk becoming complacent within the confines of our own personal space; the world is bigger than that. Oh, but then we have only to look out of a window after a storm to witness all the splendour of nature reasserting itself; a kaleidoscope of colour that reminds us it’s wonderful to be alive even though life may sometimes assume the aspect of a bad dream.

Similarly, just as we start to despair of this sorry world, an act of kindness invariably restores our flagging faith in human nature.

Many people, like me, suffer regular bouts depression; mine have struck at random since early childhood although childhood depression wasn’t recognised in those days. (I am 66 now.) For me, it is always the same sensation. I am being relentlessly, mercilessly sucked into murky depths we invariably refuse to acknowledge as denial or some other form of negativity. Yet, even as a child, a passer-by has always come across me just as I am about to drown, and thrown me a lifeline. By the time I’ve been hauled to safety (and it can be a long haul) I’ve arrived at a whole new, positive perspective on life and self...until the next time.

My rescuer is always there for us all, and is called Hope.  At the same time, I, for one, am a pragmatist; it is quality of life that counts and that will be different for everyone if only because everyone's endurance threshold is different. If I were to be diagnosed with a degenerative illness, for example, I would visit Dignitas in Switzerland all the while assisted suicide remains a criminal offence here in the UK. Others may well be stronger than me or hold religious beliefs that say suicide a sin, but I know my limitations.

Even if the worst were to come to the worst, though, I would never abandon hope. As regular readers will know, I find and take a strong sense of spirituality from nature, and...spring always follows winter. While I cannot accept there is life (as we know it) after death, neither do I believe the human spirit is so easily defeated; something of ours will live on in the hearts and memories of those closest to us, influencing - if indirectly, even unknowingly - their lives.  They, in turn, will pass on something of themselves - of which we are a part - to others; thereby, a sense of immortality...


Treading lightly among lotus flowers
risen from mud to show this world of ours
there is beauty to be had, even where
it may seem lies precious little more than
the stuff of a slum child’s dream

Opening my heart to those who dare
allow the same, so they may yet discover
there is treasure to be had, even where
it may seem, at first sight, there’s nothing
to inspire even a poor poet

Offering sustenance to those who seek
to strengthen a mind and body grown weak
from treading heavily among weeds
where nature meant to tell a different tale
were nurture called to account

Bringing vision to those who would see
into the murky waters of pain and misery
where the dark is rising, Earth Mother
but waiting (like us) to flower and produce
fruit that is a poem called, Lotus

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

Monday, 5 March 2012

Profiling Hate Crime or How Long Before the Next Bus?

Although this poem was not written until 2003, Stephen Lawrence loomed largely in my thoughts as the death toll among young people subjected to violent, sometimes fatal attacks in London continued to rise; it is still rising. The awful irony is that all the while knife crime remains prevalent, the more young people feel it is necessary for their own protection to carry a knife. 

Stephen Lawrence was an 18-year-old sixth form student. The black British teenager from Eltham, South-East London was stabbed to death while waiting for a bus on the evening of 22 April 1993. It is only recently that two people have finally been convicted of his murder that is believed to have been racially motivated.

Racism, like homophobia and all hate crime, much of it fuelled by a prevailing gang culture, needs to be stamped out. Education is the key; in our schools and colleges and universities, but first and foremost in the home. Tragically, it is far too often the case that education is found wanting in all three.

Homophobic crime is rarely afforded the same high profile as racism among the press, police, politicians or parents. Oh, and why is that?  Does a person’s sexuality make him or her less of a human being than the colour of their skin?


Blood on the pavement where a body lay
and, later someone knelt to pray for the soul
of a young person struck down long before
their time; senseless crime, harsh indictment
of a society more likely to pass by on the other
side than come to anyone's aid being attacked
for the sake of a few quid to buy acid, coke,
crack, designer gear, the chances are because
some in-crowd says it's 'cool' to look good,
act big enough to scare old ladies into having
heart attacks or snatch a blind man's stick
for a (sick) joke. Ah, but a few will fight back,
someone end up dead (not so cool, eh, a price
on the head?)

Years on; pain still tearing at society's
flimsy fabric, as hate did a young person's jacket
whose blood at a bus stop tells its own tragedy,
plaque meant as a memorial but recalling vainglory
of a fraternity never properly brought to book,
maybe never will be, so we can’t even walk down
our street any more without a fear gagging us
that’s perverting the course of justice and harmony
in a world likely to stab us in the back any time,
no matter colour, creed, sex, sexuality; easy targets
for the perversity of cowardly thugs on a street
that could so easily be mine or yours, our mother,
father, sister, brother, best mate left missing us,
saying prayers for us, waiting, anxiously for the next
damn bus…

Copyright R. N. Taber 2005; 2010

[Note: An earlier version of this poem under the title 'How Long Before the Next Bus? appeared in 1st eds. of A Feeling For The Quickness Of Time by R. N. Taber, Assembly Books, 2005; rev. ed. in e-format in preparation.]

Sunday, 4 March 2012

Gay People Go To Heaven Too

Now, as regular readers will know only too well, I am not a religious person and subscribe to no religion. Moreover, I turned my back on religion and put my faith in nature long before I acknowledged, even to myself, that I am gay. Even so, I cannot believe that any God would condemn a person for his or her sexuality or deny them entry to any heaven; it goes against the very spirit of religion and its humanity.

Take the humanity out of religion and what you have left is not worth having.  

Oh, I know many religious minded people will disagree, especially those Christians who choose to take their so-called humanity from the New Testament and their justification of bigotry, intolerance and even hate from the Old Testament. I do know my Bible and the God of the Old Testament bears little resemblance to the God of whom Jesus Christ speaks. How some evangelical Christians can use a few lines from Leviticus to justify their persecution of gay people is beyond me; they are a disgrace to their religion.

Yes, I have said all this before, and dare say will say it again. So why do I keep repeating myself?  It is because I see red every time a gay person gets in touch to tell me how they feel tormented not by their sexuality as such but by feeling must make choice between it and their religion. Bollocks to that! The two are not incompatible as many, many religious minded people have shown me over the years.

It is sickening how many so-called ‘religious’ people, especially certain clerics, among all the world religions, use religion as a weapon with which to threaten people and scare them into denying their sexual identity.

I am so glad I chose nature that gives me everything I was told as a child that religion offers but which I never found.  I was raised a Christian, but at school Religious Education looked at all the world religions. Religion offered me no peace of mind, no sanctuary from the various psychological (never physical) torments I had to endure at home and school. It was nature that sustained me during long, dark years as a troubled teenager coming to terms with his sexuality. Imagine how much greater that torment would have been had I been faced with being ostracised not only by the less enlightened among the heterosexual majority, but also by my religion for being gay. In that, though, I realise now I would have been mistaken.

It is not religion that hounds gay people, only certain, ignorant people. Even so, I have never been tempted back into any religious fold nor ever will be.  Yet, I say again, thank goodness for those more enlightened human beings not only among the heterosexual majority, but also among those people who take their humanity from their religion; where the latter is in no way compromised by acts of humanity that do not discriminate between people for their colour, creed, sex or sexuality.

This poem has not appeared on the blog since 2010 and is here today especially for a young man who wrote anonymously to share his pain at being unable to decide whether to be openly gay ‘for the sake of my sanity’ or  to ‘keep quiet for the sake of my family, friends, and religion.’ 

Are we really living in the 21st century?


A mischievous spirit once asked to see
the golden rule said to be set in stone
that gay men and women should not be
admitted to the ranks of heaven’s own

A religious leader, just passed away,
retorted it was plain commonsense;
others agreed, faith must win the day
(besides, gay people cause offence)

They all began arguing at Heaven’s door,
gay protest drowned out by the noise;
Whose religion means to God the more?
True, no easy choice…

No one noticed for all the brave conjecture
that an angel had opened the door,
but only the gay crowd hastened to enter,
the rest were too busy disputing the score

The mischievous spirit, too, slipped back in,
though not one pious soul saw it had gone;
that no room for bigotry in heaven, a lesson
in Holy Books some readers never learn

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

Friday, 2 March 2012

Mind-Body-Spirit, Mentor to the Arts

[ Update: Oct 4th 2017]: We fail to do the arts justice if we persist in seeing each genre as a separate entity. Yes, they are, but they also overlap. A poet, for example, writes with a musician’s ear for rhythm and an artists’ eye for imagery as well as, not infrequently, an actor’s feel for role-playing and a comedian’s penchant for wry humour.

This poem is a kenning; it last appeared on the blog in 2010 and was included in Forward Press Regionals 2010: South and S.W. of England; it  does not appear in any of my collections. and I am unlikely to produce a hoped-for 8th volume owing to various health concerns. (No worries there folks, am still looking on the bright side of life!]


I haunt live theatre,
prefer to leave as soon as the show is over,
curtain barely down,
rather than play the showman for critics
anxious to praise or bury me
as the case maybe in this glossy mag
or that local rag, anything
to be seen earning a living, even
by feeding a gossip column

I haunt live farce
and, no, I’m not that feisty voice on radio
spilling the beans…
about this politician’s gaff or some cleric
caught out in an act of hypocrisy
sure to rock the hierarchy on its haunches,
its spin doctors in a flap for sure,
doing rounds of the rich calling in favours
on grounds it’s for the poor

I haunt music venues,
willing every tenor, alto, bass, and dancer
to make good its integrity
rather than play lapdog to the impresario
who set it all up;
you’ll find me between the notes of a song,
stanzas of a poem, dialogue in a play,
lines of sculpture in marble, bronze or clay,
ground of any painting on display

I am Inspiration, inciting mind-body-spirit
to make an art form of creative therapy

Copyright R. N. Taber 2010