Monday, 30 April 2012

A Phoenix In Soho

Today’s post is in remembrance of all those who died at the hands of a very disturbed person in London UK during the spring of 1999.

On April 30th 1999 a loner with a hatred for all gay and non-white people planted a bomb in The Admiral Duncan pub, in Soho just after 1830 hours. The bar was packed with drinkers during a Bank Holiday weekend. The pub is in Old Compton Street in what has been the heart of London’s gay community for many years. The bomber had already made similar attacks in areas of the city frequented by ethnic minority communities.

Soho's gay community has always welcomed anyone and everyone. Among the dead from The Admiral Duncan blast, were a woman only recently married and the best man at her wedding; her husband was among those who survived with horrific injuries.

There is a tragic postscript to the bombing. David Morley, a barman at The Admiral Duncan when the bomb exploded, died after a vicious homophobic attack on London’s South Bank in the early hours of Saturday morning, October 31st 2004. He was only 37 years-old. Morley had helped many people victims of the bomb that killed three people, and injured 73. Although he escaped with minor injuries, he suffered serious trauma for years afterwards.

London is often considered a safe haven for gay people, and I dare say it is safer than many places. But let’s be clear. Homophobia and racism are alive and kicking just about everywhere; the flames of hate crime are constantly being fanned by various socio0cultural-religious elements around the world. It has to stop, and the first place of call has to be schools everywhere – including if not especially faith schools – where teachers who genuinely care that their students should become responsible adults need to raise their voices and be heard without fear of reprisal from bigoted parents, Head teachers or  school governors and the like.

Over the years, many people have fallen foul of homophobia, racism, sexism and assaults on their religious beliefs (or non-belief, as the case may be). We must do our best to stamp out these prejudices once and for all. At the same time, we should always remember that prejudice works both ways and should not be tolerated by or from anyone, regardless of colour, creed, sexuality or gender. It frequently strikes me that many people nowadays are far too quick to play various socio-cultural-religious cards in a society where ‘political correctness’ is doing precious little to encourage integration or mutual respect among its members.


Ordinary people passing by,
having fun in bars, folks
like you and me, no aliens from Mars
come to threaten the planet;
some sipping coffee at a roadside café,
enjoying a chat, warm spring
sunshine on the face, trails of laughter
like wedding lace...

Suddenly, the sky turns black!
Smell and roar ofa devil on the back
as heavens look away in despair
and ordinary people learn
the true meaning of fear;
death and destruction everywhere,
wedding lace in tatters,
ordinary people, discovering
what matters and playing their part
straight from the heart...

Smoke clears, sun reappears,
world keeps turning;
finger of blame points, charges,
moves on...

Ordinary people, rising above tragedy
or the Devil win - pray we never
see the like again;
Small comfort for those left to writhe
in the throes of loss and pain
but hope for us all - as we learn
to live and love again, no matter
the colour of our skin or
creed we live by or our sexuality

Amazingly, yesterday, a complete
stranger said ‘hello’ over a cappuccino
in Soho; and there was wedding lace
in the street, ordinary people rising
above their tears and fears, bringing
hope and love for years to come...
Or what chance for peace, we children
of the millennium?
Copyright R. N. Taber 1999; 2012

[Note: This poem has been very slightly revised from an earlier version that appears in 1st eds. of  Love And Human Remains by R. N. Taber, Assembly Books, 2001; revised ed. in e-format in preparation.]

Sunday, 29 April 2012

Dirt Track

I wrote today’s poem especially to accompany and read over the video below that I have just uploaded to my YouTube channel. If the video here does not play, go to:

or visit: 

Continuing my best friend Graham’s snapshot of Wiltshire, he takes us from the Gothic splendour of Salisbury cathedral to the natural beauty of the Cheddar Gorge; this is the first of three videos which we hope will give you a feel for the Gorge and its splendid views. Yes, he could have waited for a sunny day, but we both feel that a gathering storm is more atmospheric.

The poem attempts to covey something of the intimate relationship between the human condition and the natural world. I will post poem and video on my blog as previous feedback suggests that some of you cannot access YouTube directly.

Two further videos of the Cheddar Gorge (and poems) will follow during the course of this week once editing is completed. [We had hoped to combine all there videos into one, but the resulting file proved too big for my pc and it crashed.]


I found myself trudging a dirt track,
my world, splitting at the seams,
not caring if no way back,
nothing there but shattered dreams

Wearily negotiating mud and stones,
my world, a lonely, empty space,
mind, spirit and aching bones
closed to the poetry of time and space

Suddenly, the track began to open out
my world, opening up as if on cue,
unfriendly ghosts put to rout
by Earth Mother looming into view

Firmly, yet kindly she grasped my arm
and led me through time and space,
glad captive of a fickle charm
returning me to poetry’s birthplace,

I had neither the heart nor will to resist,
but submitted to all she asked of me,
to all I hadn’t known I’d missed
more still the inner eye had yet to see

My world no longer split at the seams,
I am resolved to find my way back,
share these brave new dreams
the Poetry of Life set me back on track

Copyright R. N. Taber 2012

Saturday, 28 April 2012

Where Kingfishers Fly

‘Marie’ has been in touch to say she and her family enjoyed my poetry reading on the 4th plinth in Trafalgar Square back in July 2009 and would I post the link again please. 

So here it is, a link to as my contribution to Antony Gormley’s One and Other 24/7 ‘living sculpture’ project over 100 days of an English summer. The entire web-stream is archived in the British Library, but the link below will take you to my (very informal) hour on a (very high and a bit slippery) 4th plinth. [Sorry, this link does not always work now. Even so, ignore any error message and give it a minute or so and it may well start.] RT 12/16


Tip for the Day: Don’t spend a lifetime looking for the Bluebird if Happiness or the chances are you will never find it; lighten up, and let it come to you, and when it does, you’ll know it’s no myth. The human heart needs to find its voice and sing for love (if not a lover) to hear and come our way for it is inclined to turn a deaf ear to tears. Love comes in many shapes and assumes many guises; it may or may not linger long, but will remain a lasting inspiration.

Some say a Bluebird of Happiness
will swoop on loneliness
like an owl to prey, turn the foggiest day
into a blaze of spring sunshine,
negotiate mazes of a mind teetering
on madness, driven to despair
by a sickness of spirit, needing
to but spot one blue, fragile, wing,
and hear (even faintly) such sweet music
as only the Bluebird of Happiness
may ever bring, egging on our desire
for the simplest things...
like that first cold beer after harvest ends,
glimpse of a kingfisher’s tail
where the river bends, scent of roses
though autumn in the air
reminding of a fragrance of your hair
each time we share a dip,
a gladness of rainbows lending more
than light to your eyes,
along your nose, upon your lips,
(where I’ll brush mine),
tonguing your ear lobe, seeing to it
that love’s heat moulds us
into an image of lasting beauty

Bluebird of Happiness, circling our globe,
looking out for us...

Copyright R. N. Taber 2004

[Note: This poem has been slightly revised from the original as it appears in 1st eds. of The Third Eye by R. N. Taber, Assembly Books, 2004; revised ed. in e-format in preparation.] 

The Third Eye is still in print. UK readers can obtain from any bookshop or directly from me; the latter also applies to overseas readers. UK readers may also find all or some of my titles listed in their local public library catalogue.

Thursday, 26 April 2012

Zen Of The Seeing Eye

[Update: Nov 28 2017: You will notice that I have dedicated the poem below to an artist friend, James Howard. Admirers of his work will doubtless be interested to know that he has now added some fascinating videos to his site: ]

Now, I know this is a poetry blog, but...

Many thanks to those of you who have been in touch to say they are also enjoying my fiction blog:

I am especially delighted that feedback on Dog Roses and Like There’s No Tomorrow has been so encouraging since I could not persuade a literary agent that they had anything to offer the reading public. Consequently, neither are available in print form, but I plan to upload them as e-books at a later date.

My latest crime novel - Catching up with Murder (Raider Publishing International, 2011)- is not a gay novel like Dog Roses or a gay-crime novel like Blasphemy or Sacrilege, but has a gay element in a storyline that frequently descends into black comedy. All my novels - published and unpublished - are serialised on my fiction blog which includes a second Fred Winter novel - Predisposed to Murder:


I used to travel the UK giving poetry readings during the course of which I was invited to some lovely places and met some lovely people. Wherever I went, people would be busy photographing various beauty spots and aspects of nature that particularly caught the naked eye.  I rarely took any photograph as I was always too busy soaking in the atmosphere of a place, feasting on a history that nature has carefully archived and begs to be browsed. My inner eye would seek and find the raw material for a poem that would let me convey my deeper impressions of a place to share with others.

Every artist sees with his or her inner eye, whether writer, painter, musician, sculptor, whatever; the audience - reader, listener, observer - is thereby invited to do the same. So enjoy your photograph albums, but put your inner eye to work as well as your camera wherever you go. That way, we keep the felt as well as visual experience of places we have visited in mind and spirit always.

(For James Howard)

My skin is white, my skin is black,
fairer shades of yellow, darker shades of brown,
like leaves in milky sunshine come a storm
rearing like raging horses in heaven’s angry sea
for its children under threat, like me,
taking my cue from nature, mentor and guide,
only temporarily kept from harm
in the eye of a storm, sanctuary a fragile
prism of silence

My skin is white, my skin is black,
fairer shades of yellow, darker shades of brown,
like colours in a pallet before art
stakes its claim and transcends virginity
into a subtle blend of modernity
and spirituality comprising multi-aspects
of temporality stirred to direct
its inner eye to look and see, seek and find
what moves the human mind

My skin is white, my skin is black,
fairer shades of yellow, darker shades of brown,
camouflage for ingenuity and invention
though conspiracy and deception sometimes
making inroads where defences weakened
by a brooding inability to make the world hear
what we have to say, restore its pride
instead of some knee-jerk running away to hide
here, there, everywhere

Be fair to me in what or whom you think you see,
creative with even the plainer shades of humanity

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

Wednesday, 25 April 2012

Anthology In Search Of A Title

The first poem on today’s blog was duplicated on my gay-interest blog at the request of a young man living in Europe and afraid for many friends back home in his native Uganda who live in constant fear or persecution, prison and worse. I may well have expressed his fears better in other poems, but this is the one he chose because, as he puts it so succinctly, 'Everyone has a right to love, no exceptions...'

Gay Rights have come a long way in the West since I was young, but we still have a long way to go before everyone achieves sufficient maturity and sense of fair play to recognise that we are just ordinary people with a positive a contribution to make to contemporary society as anyone else. [Religious fundamentalists and intrinsically homophobic clerics please take note...and grow up!] Uganda, of course,  is just one of many African countries where the repression of and attacks on gay people are a public disgrace to humanity. What makes it all so much worse is that this attitude is encouraged and promoted by radical evangelicals who claim to speak for God. Well, that just goes to show how dangerous ignorance can be since the New Testament and Holy writings associated with other religions assure us that God is Love and love does not discriminate in this way, certainly Jesus of Nazareth never would. I may be non-religious, but I feel very strongly that the way some 'middle management' religious leaders take it upon themselves to misinterpret central aspects of religion for their own bigoted ends.

Here's looking forward to the day when gay people around the world are free to express their sexuality without fear of persecution from the less enlightened among the heterosexual majority; a time when Human Rights for everyone are respected over and above political in-fighting and expediency.

This poem is a villanelle.


Written in blood, centuries before,
passing for a treatise on peace,
an anthology on the Poetry of War

Where warmongers strut cocksure,
find hope’s desperate pleas,
written in blood, centuries before

Eyes on glory at victory’s glass door,
politicians deliver fine speeches,
an anthology on the Poetry of War

Pride spilling over on the home shore
for defeating its enemies,
written in blood, centuries before

Love, waiting in the wings evermore
can but weep at brave eulogies,
an anthology on the Poetry of War

Generations marking its pages as sure
as next autumn’s leaves;
an anthology on the Poetry of War,
written in blood, centuries before

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

Now, freedom has meant and will always mean different things to different people at different times in history, but is and will always be worth fighting for... although we should never assume that any means justifies the end.


Once I played among green hills in summer,
listening to songbirds, watching them fly,
running free, hand in hand with my gay lover
our dream, like a kite, reaching for the sky

In purple hills, come autumn’s reds and gold,
I saw birds winging free of winter’s threat,
leaves painting pictures of we two grown old,
our dream, like a kite, playing hard to get

Once I walked in white hills at winter’s call,
heard a robin sing in a tree stripped bare,
nor did it flinch or fly off at the first snowfall,
our dream, like a kite, returning us there

If summer short, autumn brief, winter dead,
be love’s eternal spring taken as read
[From: Accomplices to Illusion by R. N. Taber, Assembly Books, 2007]

Tuesday, 24 April 2012

Bluegrass Buddha

Deep thinking, especially perhaps when it takes a wishful or wistful turn, may well take us to the strangest places...


Pensive, cross-legged
on the sandbanks of time
wishing the tide away...
watching the flotsam and jetsam
of long, happy hours
swoop and dive like gulls
chasing crumbs thrown
by this child, those watchers,
from a sandcastle’s tower
on a blue glass sea of dreams...
Oh, happiness, reminding
like specks in a kaleidoscope
even as it turns, like earth
around the sun, of days gone
forever, never to return...
Good, bad, halcyon days
chasing after crumbs
thrown by this child-watcher
from a castle of half lies
on a bluegrass sea of dreams,
listening to The Man play
and, oh, so wishing the tide away
if only for peace of mind

Copyright R. N. Taber 2005

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

Sunday, 22 April 2012

In The Eye Of The Beholder

Although I do not subscribe to any religion, that doesn’t mean I have any less love for the architecture of many religious edifices; for much of religious music, too, even if I cannot relate the words of hymns and other songs of praise. For that matter, regarding Christianity, I also have a great appreciation of much of the sheer poetry to be found in its Holy Bible. I once commented as much to colleagues during a debate about religion over a meal after work; all said they found this offensive. I could not, they insisted, have my cake and eat it; one even accused me of blatant hypocrisy when I added that I am not only often moved by examples of religious architecture and music, but they also appeal to a strong sense of spirituality in me even though I take that from nature rather than religion.

I mean no offence to anyone. An eye and feeling for beauty are unconditional, surely? Few people, I suspect, whatever their religion, could fail to be moved by the sheer beauty and magnificence of some of England's great cathedrals of which the oldest is Salisbury.

As for religion itself, I intend no offence there either when I often attack the hypocrisy I find in many religious minded people for whom their religion is a closed shop, and they have little if any time for anyone who does not pay the appropriate dues. I would like to say these are a in a minority, but at 66 years-old experience suggests otherwise. However, there are exceptions to every rule, and thank goodness for all those men and women who not only subscribe to their religion, but also to humanity in general, regardless of colour, creed, sex or sexuality.

Yesterday I uploaded today’s poem as a voice-over to a video shot by my close friend Graham who has been visiting family in Wiltshire. (See also below.) If you want to see other videos I have uploaded to my YouTube channel, go to:

This poem is a villanelle. [As regular readers will know, I am not averse to taking the occasional liberty with ’hidden’ rhyme.]


Ancient and beautiful,
a watchful maternal eye;
Salisbury cathedral

Its spire, proud and tall,
reaching up to kiss the sky;
ancient and beautiful

Welcoming one and all
(no enquiring who or why);
Salisbury cathedral

Hear cloisters softly call
upon peace, its tears to dry;
ancient and beautiful

An ages-old clock’s toll
offering pilgrims sanctuary;
Salisbury cathedral...

In God is love and love is all,
repudiating the Henge nearby;
ancient and beautiful,
Salisbury cathedral

Copyright R. N. Taber 2012

Saturday, 21 April 2012

Journey Into Space

Readers ‘Raoul’ and ‘Sunita’ have asked for this poem that last appeared on the blog in 2010. Their, too, has to be a secret love because their families are on opposite sides of a socio-cultural-religious divide and would not approve of their relationship. Sadly, I often hear from star-crossed lovers, gay and straight alike.

It isn’t only gay people living in a gay-unfriendly environment that know all about that cold, dark closet I experienced many years ago as a secretly gay youth and young man. I would have hoped we were done with all that in 21st century Britain, Tragically, there are as many if not more people having to endure the same unbearable loneliness that goes with the territory whenever divided loyalties conspire to make us to live a lie.

It has to stop, and the only way a fair, peaceful society stands a chance is through education. Socio-cultural-religious prejudices need to be openly, fairly, sensitively and intelligently debated in schools so that future generations will come to understand what I keep saying about our differences not making us different, only human. Many parents do understand that, of course, but I look around and suspect they are in a minority. All good teachers understand it, but are prevented by school politics from passing it on to their students.

Yes, yes, I know. I am repeating myself yet again. But as my dear, late mother used to say, if something is worth saying, it is always worth repeating.


Stars on the water like little ships
sailing down the river;
full moon like a lighthouse beacon
guiding them to harbour;
shadows on the bank applauding
the event
like ghosts from history’s pages
passing by

No one about but lovers, you and I,
keepers of the night
on behalf of all kinder humanity
while nature sleeps;
for a while, even ghosts dare relate
to the little ships
sailing past like wistful thoughts
on a leafy breeze

We pause, you and I, enjoying a rare
sense of freedom,
engaging with Earth Mother at peace
before dawn’s call to arms;
there will be other nights, ships too,
but none like this;
witness the universe open up its heart
and let us in

Come night’s illusions beaten to pulp
by daylight’s hooves,
its lovers shall bear witness wherever
shadows gather
to empathise with time’s penchant
for mortality
and nature’s persistent, eternal passion
for life

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

Friday, 20 April 2012

Graffiti Art, Engaging with Shortcomings and Potential

‘Leo’ who describes himself as 'an aspiring poet' has asked me to repeat this poem, last seen on the blog in 2010, because it ‘keeps me focused on the fact that there are more important things in life than wealth and ambition.’

I am happy to oblige, Leo, but bear in mind that there is nothing wrong with having wealth or ambition; it’s how a wealthy and/or ambitious person handles either or both that counts.

It is how we live and how far we try to compensate for our flaws (we are all but human) that defines who we are, not what we have or don't have; regardless of colour, creed, sex or sexuality...

This poem is a villanelle.


I have worked with rhythm and rhyme
as poets for centuries have done,
building bridges on a river called Time

Where they fell at some god’s first crime
on killing fields of the sun,
I have worked with rhythm and rhyme

For all those cut down in their prime,
let’s redeem the bloody deed done,
building bridges on a river called Time

Like a lotus rising from the world’s slime,
symbol of a spirited imagination,
I have worked with rhythm and rhyme

Let past and future, great players of mime
embrace audience participation,
building bridges on a river called Time

No dark toll where goat bells gaily chime
(echoes of the Parnassus run);
I have worked with rhythm and rhyme,
building bridges on a river called Time

Copyright R. N. Taber 2010

[Note: First published under the title ‘ A Poet’s Take on Eternity’ in Far and Wide: Forward Press Regional Collection, 2010]

Wednesday, 18 April 2012

Apprentice OR Honing Potential

Sometimes people tell me they have no flair for creativity. It isn’t true.  Maybe they cannot pen or paint to paper or compose a symphony or turn a lump of clay into masterpiece of ceramics...

Ah, but we create images even as we speak in any language, including sign language of course, and those images are received, interpreted and taken to heart.

Yes we all say and do things differently, but that is not only part of the charm of the human race, but also its natural flair for creativity. 

True, some people are more creative than others, but never let anyone tell you that you have no sense of creativity.

We are all apprentices to life and learning in different ways and with varying degrees of success that make us who we are - individuals.

This poem is a kenning.


I am as clay
that can be shaped however
the potter chooses
and have little say in the matter
but must follow
where caring, firm hands lead
(in my best interests?)
while subtler firing needs
left unfulfilled

I am as steel,
shaped only with some difficulty
for another’s ends
yet the welder who knows how
to bend me to his will
does not hesitate to demonstrate
his skill if only to satisfy
an audience of but one person
in his sights

I am as poetry
that can be shaped however
the reader chooses,
led by the hand through a maze
of thoughts and feelings,
caring hands suggesting this way
or that, leaving us to make
our own fate nor judged for how
we turn out

Call me Individuality, best left to be
a star apprentice to Creativity

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

Tuesday, 17 April 2012

A Predilection For Road Movies

Readers ‘Glen and Sara' have been in touch to say they love this poem because it reminds them of when they were students and ‘...we used to take off’ here, there and just about everywhere in an old banger we called Genevieve after the movie of the same name.’

Metaphorically speaking, life on the open road took on a whole new meaning when I finally came out years ago after far too long in a cold, dark closet that eventually resulted in my having a severe nervous breakdown some 30+ years ago.

Openness is everything, and bottling things up is never a good idea. As far as gay men and women are concerned, some feel they have no choice but to keep their sexuality secret, but it is not only gay people, of course, who find themselves hugging years of frustration close to their chest. Many of us fall victim to at least one family member, friend or colleague who simply refuses to listen to any point of view that takes issue with their own. Since there is no talking to these people, we say nothing, sometimes for years. Suddenly, we can bear their selfishness, self-centredness and generally tunnel vision no longer, and we snap, often over something so trivial they probably have no idea where the flood of our hostility is coming from.  Oh, they are nice enough people, which is probably why we put up with them for so long. It is much easier to tell a nasty person to f**k off. 

I call it closed-mind syndrome; a sickness that is prevalent in many socio-cultural-religious areas of society. It runs in my family so it will come as no surprise to new readers that I am estranged from most of my relatives. Yet, I envy people who belong to a close-knit family, and always encourage others to try and work through any differences they may have with their own even if it means venturing where I promised myself years ago that I would never go again. [Maybe that makes me a hypocrite?]

As I have said many times, our differences do not make us different, only human. We are not a race of clones (yet) thank goodness.

Oh, but love the open road. [Did I say it was easy?]


Now and then, the road ahead
seems to stretch forever
and a weary heart seeks in vain
for the strength to carry on;
lost sight of any meaningful goal,
loneliness invading the soul,
the poetry of life but dull prose,
beauty fading like memories
once held dear, now but straws
in the wind, falling, drifting…
like autumn leaves from a tree
that has the look of a body
resolved to die. Ah, but look again
and see that Earth Mother
is not done with us yet, for all we
fret and moan like winter,
unable to comprehend that spring
might come again and the tree
come into its own though it feed
on acid rain

Look again, where the road ahead
seems to stretch forever;
glimpse patches of blue where dark
clouds part to let light through,
as good a goal as any to keep in view,
give a weary heart the strength
to carry on, though why we bother
as unclear as why we feel
the soul respond to some heavenly
goal we cannot begin to express
except to permit a fragile happiness
find its way back into us
on the backs of dearest memories
we pushed away in pain,
now conspiring yet again to make us
whole and set us free - to enjoy
the journey, inspiring our senses
to indulge us life’s finer poetry,
discover in its beauty the meaning
of eternity

Meaning, purpose, prose and poetry,
all chief players in a road movie

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

Monday, 16 April 2012

Dreaming Suburbs

Suburbs have a reputation for being drab, dull, and boring; they have neither the countryside’s natural beauty nor the excitement of a large town or city.

Ah, but as with most things in life, even suburbia is as we choose to make it.

Besides one person’s nightmare is another person’s dream just as one person’s concrete jungle is someone else’s home...


Daylight fading at the window, thrushes
singing at will;
thoughts turn the mind slowly
like sails of a windmill;
twilight dips a darker hue
(one thrush soars, another stays
to sling its shadow among
the best geraniums);
melody fading, a flickering of feathers
at the sill...

Though darkness drop its shutters
on all the world’s sleepers,
candles lit for a Quixote surely will
guide a thrush to its nest,
let weary heads rest, having
done their best? (As for dreams,
finders keepers)

Gone now, sweet songbird;
nothing’s heard but sails in the wind
teasing humankind

Copyright R. N. Taber 2000

[Note: An earlier version of this poem appears in 1st eds. of Love And Human Remains, 2001.]

Sunday, 15 April 2012

High Seas Rescue

Now, I've met many people who have managed to turn their lives around in a constructive, positive way, survived high seas and made it to a safe shore. In my edition of the Book of Life, they and their like are real heroes.

True, getting the better of the darker self it’s never easy...and all more heroic for that.


Once I didn’t give a damn
about where I was or who I am,
even less what I was doing
or where I was going, the kind of life
I was generally leading…
no time for forward planning
or positive thinking,
content just to get high on drugs,
and binge drinking, no matter
the cruise liner I am on is sinking;
suddenly a cry, ‘Abandon ship!’
dived into the dark high seas of hell
and woke up in hospital

Among the survivors, only I
lived to tell the sorry tale of a life
that had no meaning,
everyone in it long past caring
about what I was doing
or where I was going, the kind of life
I was generally leading…
no time for forward planning
or positive thinking,
content just to get high on drugs 
and binge drinking, no matter
I’m close to hitting self-destruct
and time running out

Those wasted years made me
the kind of person I try to be now,
telling everyone I meet how
life only has purpose and meaning
when you’re kind and caring,
make time for forward planning
and positive thinking…
say ‘no’ to getting high on drugs
and binge drinking,
offer a helping hand to others as you
would have them do,
if only to be saved from drowning
in those killer seas too

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

Saturday, 14 April 2012

Every Street Has Something To Say

[Update (Oct 2016) The clip below is also on my You Tube (poetry) channel. Amateurs we may be, but Graham (who shoots the videos) and I have great fun making and editing the videos, and that's the whole point...having fun, and letting anyone who may be interested see how I read my own poems. In later videos, poem and video are closer related, and I often write a poem especially to accompany a particular video; it has all been a very enjoyable learning curve. In later videos, I appear in front of the camera less and less, recording the poems as voice-overs to cut out distracting background noise at various locations. While this is not one of our better (early) efforts, we thought you might enjoy it; it was shot on the Regent's Canal near to where I live in Kentish Town, London, UK.]

Now, a street is far more than a place where people live, more even than those people themselves.

A street is part of history, stretching back through time and forward into the future.

For now and always, we are a part of all that...

It used to be a GOOD feeling if perhaps less so in recent years. (Well, that's the nature of change for you, rarely for the better when it comes to the local environment.) Even so, the street where I live now and streets where I once lived hold happy memories as well as sad ones so... thank you streets for those.

If the video below does not play, try:

OR go to my You Tube channel and search under title:


I’ve walked along a shabby street
as the sun starts to rise, its rays like tears
for all I am not

I’ve walked along a shabby street
come noon, Apollo’s heat on me like a lover
offering comfort

I’ve walked along a shabby street
in a gentle twilight, its lampposts like trees
kissing me goodnight

I’ve walked along a shabby street
as the sun begins to set, felt like a movie star
on a red carpet

I’ve walked along a shabby street
to my front door, proud to acknowledge I am
a part of it

[London: Kentish Town, Oct 2010]
Copyright R. N. Taber 2010

Tuesday, 10 April 2012

My Hero Is A Tree

[Update 5/1/17: All my poetry collections are out of print and it is unlikely there will be any print (revised) editions; they sold well (for poetry) but I had to self-publish them because no poetry publishers were willing to combine general and gay-interest poetry. I am in the process of preparing revised editions in e-format for Google Play but this is likely to take some time as I am in my 70's now and am kept busy overcoming various health problems.]RT

[Update April 2016: I read this poem over a video shot by my friend Graham Collett for my You Tube channel some time ago: ]

Some readers have said the previous link does not work so I have copied and reinstated it; if it still does not work, go to my channel and search under title. As feedback suggests some of you cannot always access You Tube for one reason or another, I have also posted the video below.]

Today’s poem has not appeared on the blog before, I included it among some 100+ others in my new collection, divided into seven themed sections for easy reading. Let’s face it. No one sits down and reads a poetry book so I have made it easy for readers to (hopefully) makes the most of all my collections; he or she can dip into one section of about 20-25 poems now and then before dipping into another at his or her leisure. 

 I hope to be around for a few more years yet. Even so, I am always aware that when my time is up, the blogs will vanish into cyberspace and all that will remain of my poems (and me) will be in my collections. The sum total of my collections is  a diary of journeys short and long, delightful and grim, that comprise my life. Anyone who cares to read them may or may not discern which poems have their roots in autobiography and which do not, but even imagination has to be nurtured by a creative mind, and the mind of poet has to be worth exploring. Well, doesn’t it...?
Now, regular readers will know how much I love trees. I am fortunate to live near Hampstead Heath and have written several poems about it that express, if only in part, the immense satisfaction I take from strolling among its grassy slopes and ponds, but especially admiring its splendid trees of all varieties.


Leaves on my hero are budding,
the music of spring as sweet as ever heard;
swallows returning bring life
to field and valley, filling the lonely heart
with thoughts of love;
leaves on my hero are singing
songs of summer as feisty as passion;
young folks laughing bring life
to field and valley, filling hearts growing old
with memories of love;
leaves on my hero are turning
red and gold in the company of dreams,
swallows leaving, sure to return
to field and valley while hearts young and old
fly the colours of love;
leaves on my hero are drifting
across time and space, world without end;
tears of pain, joy and hope
flying field and valley like bright eyed children
running with kites;
leaves on my hero are budding.
the music of spring as sweet as ever heard;
swallows returning bring life
to field and valley, and new takes on old stories
we tell on love;
leaves on my hero are singing
songs of summer as feisty as passion;
young folks laughing bring life
to field and valley, teasing hearts growing old
they know nothing of love;
leaves on my hero are turning
red and gold in the company of dreams;
swallows leaving, sure to return
to field and valley while hearts young and old
fly the colours of love;
leaves on my hero are drifting
across time and space, world without end;
tears of pain, joy and hope
flying field and valley, the children we were,
running with kites

[From: Tracking the Torchbearer by R. N. Taber, Assembly Books, 2012; rev.ed. in e-format in preparation]

Monday, 9 April 2012

Journey of a Lifetime

A new poem today, just when I didn't think I had another poem in me.

I don’t always want to talk to people when I am travelling. More often than not, I like to enjoy the scenery or just close my eyes and go wherever my thoughts take me. For example, take the London to Brighton train that I've caught on average several times a year for 50+ years; by the time the train arrives in Brighton or back in London, I'll have travelled the world over.

That’s life for you, mind over matter, and who’s to say mortality is so different?

Yep, people have had a ticket to ride since the beginning of time when the only train to ride was the Imagination Express...


Passing into spring,
pausing where streams of living water flow
and kingfishers reassure me
they know I am here,
even though they cannot see me
beneath leafy skies

Rushing into summer,
pausing where living woodlands in full voice
sings songs of my childhood
as if to reassure me
it still has hold of my shirt collar
and will never let go

Rolling into autumn,
pausing where the last flowers still blooming
inspire the weariest traveller
with a passion for life;
better to have got away than settled
for armchair histrionics

Rumbling into winter,
anticipating the last long tunnel where seasons
cannot follow nor nature
fall back on old tricks
working new wonders at every turn
where we look for them

Copyright R N. Taber 2012

Friday, 6 April 2012

Among Spring Flowers OR The Word is Love

Several homophobic religious readers have been in touch since I first published this post/poem on Good Friday in the Christian calendar, 2012.

I should add that I have friends of various religious persuasions who have no problem with my being gay, among them some gay Christians for whom, especially, the poem was written as well others who, like me, cannot relate to religion at all. Since when did two people disagreeing with each other prevent their being friends?

Having been introduced to The Bible at an early age, I continue to love its metaphor, parables and poetry, but cannot take it literally any more than I can believe Jesus of Nazareth was the Son of God although I have immense admiration for the historical Jesus. This is my personal view, and one I stand by just as I would expect someone with a different view to stand by theirs. Life would be very boring if we all agreed with one another, but that’s no reason to pick a fight either. [Hey, whatever happened to the notion of a civilised world?]

I appreciate that, to many others worldwide, the The Bible is a revered Holy Book and respect that just as I respect Christian and other religious Beliefs. However, I refuse to see myself ‘condemned for a heathen’ simply because we must agree to differ.

Regular readers will know that I put my faith in nature long ago when religion offered me none of the things I sought in it, including a free sense of spirituality that I began to understand is very much a part of me long before I realised I am gay; I simply cannot place it in any religious context. Even so, I have a feeling for spirituality that has always assured me that if there is a God, there is no way he is a homophobe.

Some people (especially evangelical Christians and various religious fundamentalists) may argue that their religion has no place for gay people. Me, I genuinely and wholeheartedly believe - and no one will ever persuade me otherwise - that no God would tolerate prejudice against others in any shape or form. I have said it before and will undoubtedly say it again. Religious homophobes are a disgrace to their religion.

Everyone has a different take on nature, and no one is right or wrong; it is the same with religion. As I have said before, and probably will again, our differences do not make us different only human.


I have heard flowers in spring
tell stories centuries old
including of Jesus, made a king,
not on Earth but in another fold

A cruel crown of thorns, they lay
on a head bowed in such pain
that it drew upon mortal dismay
in a confrontation with Heaven

He passed the test, rose to glory,
so they believe who follow
the Word on each page of a story
their young are raised to know

Belief takes us beyond knowing,
where some of us will not tread,
so many wonderful stories tugging
at the sleeve, calling to be fed

Non-belief or Faith, it’s a choice
we all make, for better or worse,
finding home truths in the stories
as we read on, chapter and verse

If what I believe I can’t be sure,
having heard the tales, I can say
the Word is love and love is pure,
nor denied anyone for being gay

Copyright R. N. Taber 2008

Thursday, 5 April 2012

Heroes OR Imagination, a (Free) Ticket to Ride

For readers who have asked if I post poems and other info on Authors' Den:

Now, I  dare say we are all heroes, each in our own way, if only for just for getting on with the business of everyday living. 

We all need heroes to inspire us, and where we can’t find any to tick our particular boxes, the chances are we'll invent them.


Every morning I’d watch them
run for the train,
catch it with seconds to spare
then relax in my seat,
wondering just who they were
and if they were lovers
or friends, maybe neighbours
but, no, there was more
to the way they ran for the train
than met the eye,
the reason why easy to tell
because their faces
were alive, not like those others
I saw every morning
on the 6.15 to a bread factory
that could even have given
bodies in a mortuary a good run
for their money

Always late, never out of breath,
leaping aboard,
straight into fantasies I’d weave
around them;
no ordinary pair (yes, definitely
a pair, I was sure)
they would be living the high life,
burning the candle
at both ends, night after night,
(so always late)
then they’d fall into bed, take sex
for a heady trip…
heading for the surreal, shades
of a looking-glass war
while ordinary folks like me just
don’t have the bottle
(or the money) it takes for drugs
so we’ll play safe

Divine looks, designer gear, it was
too much to bear
each morning on the way to work
where I don’t want to be
so all the more reason to enjoy
my little fantasy…
about heroes of the 6.15 who were
always late,
their brief (like gods) to make
their own fate,
have the world turn on such beauty
it did not deserve,
making an open declaration of sorts
about a politics of heart,
body and soul that even the worst
of temporal measures
fail to have put down, rogue traders
going for the jugular

One day, they just missed the train;
no heroes after all, only human

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