Saturday, 30 June 2012

W-A-R, Worst of all Worlds

The world  owes much to the men and women in its armed forces wherever they may be. Nor should we ever forget that we owe as much if not more to their families and friends (along with everyone else) who, time and time again, are called upon to pick up the pieces of life, love and hope whenever and wherever lives fall apart; a time of peace, for some if not most of us can be another kind of war.

“Never think that war, no matter how necessary, nor how justified, is not a crime.”  - Ernest Hemingway


What do people mean when they talk about
the 'integrity' of war?

Is it a comment on the neatness of body bags
laid out in a line?

Or maybe they are referring to injured people
rising above despair?

Can it be they mean the finer principles of war
have been upheld?

(Doesn’t everyone do their best to keep friendly
fire incidents to a minimum?)

Maybe its generals court integrity for strategies
of ‘win some, lose some’?

Can it be politicians promote their own integrity
to win elections?

Maybe it’s all about being polite, discreet, about
to whom the spoils of war?

I asked a soldier who lost an arm and a leg in Iraq,
but he just shrugged

Maybe (the soldier said) I should ask the orphans
and widows…on both sides?

Lots of questions and not nearly enough answers
or (any?) right ones

Poor humanity, ever caught in a cross-fire of words,
come worst of all worlds

Copyright R. N. Taber 2012; 2018

[Note: An earlier version of this poem appears under the title 'Next of Kin have been Informed, but should Refrain from Asking Questions' in Tracking the Torchbearer by R. N. Taber, Assembly Books, 2012; rev, ed, in e-format in preparation.]

Thursday, 28 June 2012

A Life in the Day of an Ordinary Joe

My maternal grandfather was a delightful, rascal of a man who fought in World War1 and shared a good few ups and downs with my grandmother until he died peacefully in his sleep in 1969. I once confided in him that I felt so frustrated because I wasn’t doing anything with my life.

‘No doing anything with your life?’ he retorted. “You’re getting on with it, aren’t you? What more can anyone do?’

I guess granddad was also something of a philosopher in his own inimitable way...


On a long, long road

Clouds, gathering
for a storm

People, clutching rolled umbrellas
as if for dear life

Children, forgotten
how to play

Parents, frightened
of failing

Sunlight, persuading ghosts to write
a Book of Shadows

Thin, polluted air
up the nose

Sounds of battle
in the ears 

World leaders playing cat and mouse
with private lives

Copyright R. N. Taber 2010

Wednesday, 27 June 2012

Theatre On A Damask Tablecloth

Sometimes I reflect on the world we live in, find reality and illusion merging into one sad and beautiful work of and, oh, so long to hear someone say, ‘Okay, that’s not bad. Now let’s start again, and see if we can't do better.’


A champagne twilight, reflections
in a beggar’s eye

Trees, glittering like chandeliers
at some charity gala

Dove, letting rip with the passion
of a diva to the gods

Jack Frost, shinning up drainpipes
to peep in windows

Men and women, running scared
of anxious ghosts

Boys and girls, keeping company
with fantasy fictions

Shadows, like missiles homing in
on suspect targets

Enter stars, ready to cry over spilt
milk on our pillows
[From: On the Battlefields of Love by R. N. Taber, Assembly Books, 2010]

Tuesday, 26 June 2012

The Zen of Flower Arranging

This poem has appeared in several anthologies and is a favourite of mine. Feedback suggests that it is a favourite with many of you, too, so that is great news. I know I am seen as something of an anachronism by many people because my frequent use of rhythm and rhyme is not what they have come to expect from modern poetry. Positive feedback is always especially welcome and very encouraging. At the same time, never hold back from getting in touch to tell me otherwise.

If you have something to say, say it, and if you email me at or add an email address in any ‘comments’ I will always reply. Incidentally, although I never post comments (sent as a result of hitting the ‘comments’ button) I always read them and thanks for sending.


Flowers in my window because I love you;
Flowers in my window to show how I care;
Flowers in my window, still dreaming of you;
Flowers in my window to tell you I’m near

Flowers in my window, story of our love,
a sweet dream of springtime in winter’s sigh;
Flowers in my window, such treasures to give,
as we gave to each other, you and I

Flowers in my window, reflections of you;
Flowers in my window, highlights in your hair;
Flowers in my window because love runs true;
Flowers in my window remind me you’re near

Dreams in my window, we’ll always believe;
Dreams in my window, you left on your grave

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

Please note: For details of obtaining signed copies of my poetry collections at a generous blogger discout, email me direct with 'Blog reader' or 'Poetry collections' in the subject field. 

Sunday, 24 June 2012


Today's poem last appeared on the blog in 2008. Some readers may care to see/hear me read it among others on various themes on the 4th plinth in London’s Trafalgar Square in July 2006 as part of Antony Gormley’s One and Other ‘living sculpture’ project for which 2400 people from all walks of life in the UK were invited to ‘do their own thing’ for one hour 24/7 over 100 days. The entire web-stream is now archived in the British Library and this is my contribution. Some readers have asked if I can send them a CD, but Sky Arts refused to let any of the participants have one so anyone who may want to watch it again needs to make a note of the link: - [For now, at least, this link needs the latest Adobe Flash Player  and works best in Firefox; the archives website cannot run Flash but changes scheduled for later this year may well mean the link will open without it. Ignore any error message and give it a minute or so to start up. The video lasts an hour. ] RT 3/18
Surely, there are few sights more encouraging or reassuring than to watch this sorry world of ours close down rather splendidly if a trifle disturbingly and only temporarily, of if inviting us to do the same?


Dusk, a patchwork quilt spread
over trees and meadows’
warren, set, foxhole, well hid
from prying eyes

Late birds on slight, misty wing
heading for the nest;
walkers, ramblers, hastily
checking compasses

Children at play looking out
for text messages;
Middle England, on the edge
of things temporal

Green campaigners counting
hard won laurels;
curtain closing on one last peep
at a hazy beauty

Tasting raw smells of earthiness
and buttermilk sky;
empathy with a nightingale’s
plea to be left in peace

Random stars brought down,
like clay pigeons
by bonfires in back gardens
always taking liberties

Bats, alley cats, all putting a shine
on the Sandman’s boot
whose task to get us ready
for the next clay shoot

World, coming together briefly
to try and patch us up

Copyright R. N. Taber 2004; 2012

[Note: The appearance of this poem on the page has been revised from an earlier version first published in an Nature's Tapestry, an anthology compiled for Poetry Now (Forward Press) 2002 and 1st eds. of The Third Eye by R. N. Taber, Assembly Books, 2004; 2nd (revised) e-edition in preparation.]

Saturday, 23 June 2012

Who will Carry my Coffin?

I have written about street crime in a number of poems. Tragically, it persists. At the same time, I feel very encouraged by feedback from readers of all ages and socio-cultural-religious backgrounds. Hopefully, some (especially young people) may read this post and think on...

Overheard on a bus:

1st YOUTH (boasts): Any fool can get hold of a gun or a knife if they really want. It’s easy.

2nd YOUTH (grins): I carry a knife. Anyone crosses me, and I’ll do ’em. It’s just so easy, yeah? (Laughs)

GIRL: (unimpressed): Yeah, yeah, easy come, easy go. Here today, dead tomorrow, you mean. So what’s that all about then?

2nd YOUTH: We’re talking self-defence here, girl. No one’s saying anybody needs to get killed, for crying out loud.

GIRL: (shrugs) No one ever does until it happens. A bit late then, don’t you think?

1st YOUTH: (aggressively) You don’t understand.  Being a neet ain’t street cred enough any more. You have to show you mean business. You gotta get real or go down.

2nd YOUTH: Give her a break, bro. She’s a girl. Girls haven’t a clue. They don’t understand what we guys are up against.
GIRL: Too right, I don’t understand...

At which point the bus arrived at my destination and I had to leave them to it.

Like many of us, I worry a lot about street crime, especially the naïve attitude of some young people towards it. Thankfully, most young people have the good sense to steer clear of guns and knives. Tragically, a significant minority (especially among a growing number of so-called NEETS) continue to see either or both as trendy as designer gear; a very sad, sick, and dangerous trend.

Every society needs to believe in all its young people - and reach out to them in every way it can  - or it cannot expect all those young people to believe in that society.

[Note: NEET is an acronym (a derogatory and inflammatory one in my opinion) bandied about by politicians here in the UK and in some other countries that refers to young people not in education, employment or training.]

This poem is a villanelle.


Swapped my knife for a loaded gun,
spread the word...
Never asked who'll carry my coffin

Shouting at just about everyone,
no one heard...
Swapped my knife for a loaded gun

Felt the need to prove I'm 'someone'
(must have been mad)
Never asked who'll carry my coffin

Life was a buzz, a big bundle of fun,
but all that disappeared...
Swapped my knife for a loaded gun

Peers were always putting me down,
suggesting I was scared,
never asked who'll carry my coffin

First mistake, second chance blown
(among worms interred);
swapped my knife for a loaded gun,
never asked who’ll carry my coffin

Copyright R. N. Taber 2010


Friday, 22 June 2012

Open Road

It is so easy to blame everything and everyone for our sense of unfairness whenever life goes sour on us. Taking responsibility for our own lives can be something of an epiphany.

Some readers may be interested to know that I read this poem among others on the 4th plinth in Trafalgar Square back in 2009 as my contribution to Antony Gormley’s ‘live sculpture’ project One and Other. (It lasts an hour.) During that summer, 2400 people from all walks of life performed their ‘own thing’ on the plinth 24/7 for 100 days; the entire web stream is now archived in the British Library. [For now, at least, this link needs the latest Adobe Flash Player  and works best in Firefox; the archives website cannot run Flash but changes scheduled for later this year may well mean the link will open without it. Ignore any error message and give it a minute or so to start up. The video lasts an hour. ] RT 3/18


Found myself one day
on a road I did not know;
kept walking anyway,
no place else to go

Past fields once green,
houses an ugly, silent grey;
landscape obscene,
ash on the clay

Bend after bend, afraid
of all I knew I’d surely find,
down to land mines laid
of the political kind

Sick of unholy collusion
contrived daily for His glory
(no matter our religion)
God, but history

So, no sign of salvation
or even a lifeline in prayer;
any hope of redemption
reduced to metaphor

Suddenly, I began to see
as if in a fog starting to clear,
it wasn’t the road but me
going nowhere

Woken from a nightmare,
I was just in time to discover
Apollo tugging at one ear,
a fool at the other

Sunlight, an open road,
from bedlam took me away
as I walked unafraid
into a new day

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

Tuesday, 19 June 2012

On Hampstead Heath OR Communing with Nature (and Art)

Hampstead Heath comprises rolling acres of green landscape in London close to where I live. I love it.  Now, even Turner’s famous painting of the Heath could not do justice to this beautiful spot although he comes close.  As for me, I cannot expect to come even that close in my poems! Even so, if we let ourselves feel intimidated by the great masters of any genre, we may well never attempt anything. Besides, the joy of doing is as great as the thrill of achieving if not more so. As for success, whatever form it takes, that is a nothing more or less than a nice bonus.

More about the Heath at:

Today’s poem is a villanelle and is the second of two poems I read to introduce my You Tube channel in 2010.

If the link does not work, try accessing my You Tube channel and searching by title:

Recording for You Tube is great fun so I will continue to upload videos and poems from time to time. Okay, so I have relatively few hits when compared with many You Tube contributors,  but email feedback from those who have enjoyed the efforts of yours truly and my close friend (and cameraman) Graham Collett has been very encouraging. I can’t ask for better than that. Well, can I?

Feedback suggests some of you are unable to access You Tube, for one reason or another, so I have also posted the video below.


Glittering pools of light
among acres of grass,
swans in graceful flight

Crest to climb, fly a kite
on a city made of glass;
glittering pools of light

Ducks a common sight,
geese making room to pass,
swans in graceful flight

Trees voicing nature’s right
to co-exist in peace;
glittering pools of light

Though dog owners bite
and parents fuss,
swans in graceful flight

Of leafy goings-on at night,
it but whispers…
Glittering pools of light,
swans in graceful flight

Copyright R. N. Taber 2010

[From: the Bonding with History section of On The Battlefields Of Love by R. N. Taber, Assembly Books, 2010]

Sunday, 17 June 2012

Caliban's Song, 21st Century

The multiple stresses and strains of everyday life in the 20th century have carried over into the 21st and if anything are far greater. We all want to rise above them and enjoy who else life has to offer us, but for a growing number of people it is easier said than done.

Regular readers will know I suffered a severe nervous breakdown some 30+ years ago. One of many causes lay in growing up in a gay-unfriendly society. Basically, my psyche was on a hair trigger and it didn’t take much to have it explode in my face. The consequences included years of struggling to escape from a very dark place indeed, from which I only managed to escape  in the end thanks to a few good friends and my eventually rediscovering a passion for creative writing, especially poetry; for me, at least, it has proven the best therapy. Meanwhile, the struggle continued long after I was well enough to get a job and start rebuilding my life. It was an ugly time and I felt very ugly.

Sadly, attitudes towards mental ill-health have not changed much. People suffering varying degrees of mental illness continue to be stigmatised by the less enlightened in society. Many people still think of depression as being little more than very fed-up; few appreciate the depths to which a depressed person sinks, unable to swim and badly needing someone to throw them a lifeline.

I met an old friend recently who told me he is beginning to feel he is over the worst of a nervous breakdown that struck him several years ago. ‘I can function again,’ he told me, but I still feel so ugly and that everyone is looking at me, judging me, despising me...’

Mental illness is an ugly condition, but uglier still is that common enough attitude towards mentally ill people that persists in putting them in stereotypical boxes and slamming down the lid.

The last person to realise that he or she is slipping into a depression of one form or another is the person themselves. So if someone you know seems to be acting out of character, please look out for and try to help them rather than shrug it off with good or less good intentions as a ‘C’est la vie.’ Situation

This poem appeared in a Poetry Now (Forward Press) anthology, /Poetry) anthology Words That Live On (2004) just prior to its inclusion in my collection. My email address is easy to find on the Internet and a number of people have been in touch since then to say how closely they can identify with the poem and my comments have encouraged them to take back control of their lives. If my poems and comments about depression can help just one person do just that, I feel privileged to have played a small part in their recovery.

There is no quick fix for depression, no Prospero to free us from its slavery. Yet, as Prospero finally demonstrated by freeing Caliban, we have but to be put back in touch with our kinder feelings and better selves to make a start at transcending wishful thinking into a positive, workable reality.

Did I say it was easy?


A suspect integrity, deprived of dignity,
hung on a washing line to dry - until time
to put through through the wringer
until (at least) a marginal appearance
of conforming to expectations as laid down
by mandarins of power, wherever...

Mind, a mist, its damp heat soaks my sleep,
brings a welcome wetness though eyes
stay dry, no matter how I long to weep…
for that daytime nightmare, made to share
with a world inclined to turn and stare at me
as if I were a dog cocking a leg up a tree

No place to turn, words that can even begin
to explain the loneliness, desperation…
of a horror situation, its awful, nagging pain
for being misperceived, misunderstood,
sentenced to life, worse than any felon,
no clear recollection even of what I’ve done
to deserve (while deserve I may?) this…
being lost in hell’s maze, no seeing ways
forward or back. Panic sets in, eagerly takes
cover in a corner of madness (easy enough
to mistake insanity for safety in the grip
of a sick anxiety to escape asylum’s cutting
edge, eluded for years, too complex even
for a poet’s imagination (or tears).Years on,
still counting the cost of dignity lost…
integrity stolen from me, trying (impotently?)
to hold my own. Battles lost, war - won?

A hollow victory some say, left to fight off
another day - till that sleep unbroken may
(finally) let us break free from a genetically
modified inhumanity...

Copyright R. N. Taber 2005; 2017

[Note: An earlier version of this poem appears in  A Feeling for the Quickness of Time by R. N. Taber, Assembly Books, 2005]

Friday, 15 June 2012


Update (May 2016): Today’s poem was written in 1998 and first appeared in CC&D magazine, Scars Publications (USA) 1999. Scars now publish issues through Amazon which are printed in the U.K. and Europe. Given that Scars are now able to release it internationally, hopefully contributors and interested readers can enjoy ordering hard copies without paying an insane shipping price for mailing from the States any more. Interestingly, Scars publishes only non-rhyming or blank verse; they have published some 50+ of my poems since the late 1990's which is a healthy poetic exercise for me as I usually use rhyme a lot.  More information about Scars/CC&D at:

This poem springs to mind whenever I am at the keyboard of my computer along with the constant threat to global as well as personal survival with which we all live daily thanks to humankind’s complacency regarding conservation and pollution issues.


Blank screen staring at me
like a dead man’s eye
as if taken by surprise
at the moment of execution,
expecting pulse, heartbeat,
a flow of blood to the works
in spite of those quirks
of human nature that put a body
on hold whenever its world
ceases to turn, civilization
burnt out among the ashes
of personal ambition;
From inspiration, no helping hand
to guide pen or brush;
Desolation, a lush
wading through risen waters
of the earth, baring pain
like a rose its petals
in acid rain, deserving better
at Nature’s hand than a travesty
of imitation urged by Man’s
jealousy of God

As melting ice caps start to flood
this world of ours, we can lose heart,
drown in its worst nightmares (poet
found dead at the keyboard)
or find a voice

Our choice

Copyright R. N. Taber 1999; 2001

[From: Love and Human Remains by R. N. Taber, Assembly Books, 2001; revised ed. in e-format in preparation.]

Thursday, 14 June 2012

A Short History Of London

I grew up in Kent and would often spend a few weeks of my summer holidays in London where my maternal grandparents lived. This would have been in the 1950s when London suffered from periods of dense smog; the air here is considerably cleaner now still much polluted as in so many major cities.

When I was a boy, my mother would bring me to London on my birthday to see the Christmas lights in Oxford and Regent Streets; in take on a theme and all the major stores would reflect this in their shop window displays. The effect was magical. To this day, I recall how an Aladdin theme took young Roger's breath away, and it must have been a good fifty years ago.

Pollution aside, it is a great place to live, especially if you are rich (which am not) if only for its wealth of art galleries, museums and various historic icons like Buckingham Palace, Tower of London, the Monument and  St Paul’s Cathedral as well as newer ones like The Gherkin and The Shard...etc. etc.

I am fortunate to live within a short walking distance of Hampstead Heath and can easily access Green Park via the nearby Regent’s Canal. I sometimes find it hard to believe that I live in the heart of a bustling metropolis. To be honest, it is too bustling these days. London is very overcrowded as anyone who uses its stressful public transport network will confirm. 

Photo: The Tower of London


Find love, hate and mystery
(politics of redemption);
zoom lens on a city’s history

No passing hint of jealousy
in its powers of persuasion;
find love, hate and mystery

Mansion and hovel, secretly
writing up its passion;
zoom lens on a city’s history

In darkest prose and poetry
of its tower-prison,
find love, hate and mystery

Feeding on Sam’s feisty diary,
flames of determination;
zoom lens on a city’s history

Come a multicultural century
(cause for celebration)
find love, hate and mystery;
zoom lens on a city’s history

Copyright R. N. Taber 2010

[From: On the Battlefields of Love by R. N. Taber, Assembly Books, 2010; rev. ed. in e-format in preparation.]

Wednesday, 13 June 2012

Thought, Last Seen Hanging By A Thread

A new poem today.

Sometimes if not mostly, a thought is an inarticulate or partially formed feeling; follow it through, and who knows where it may take us...? Whatever, it is sure to put us in in touch with something; an idea, a passion even or simply an awareness that we would have preferred not to acknowledge...perhaps for fear we might not be up to it?


Hear me crying out to humanity,
hanging by its every word
of bigotry, betrayal, hypocrisy,
in socio-cultural-religious
dispute over how its will be done
for the greater good of its own
where children with hungry eyes
despair of salvation in this life
or any next, mothers worn down
by weeping for men folk taken
off to fields of battle that will yield
no harvest but more of the same

Watch me dying for humanity
like a last leaf turning yellow
among sad branches of a history
once green and strong, ringing
out a message of peace and love
and believing every word said,
in promises made, even signed for,
while a robin’s song in winter
about spring being next on nature’s
agenda for us all is drowned out
by socio-cultural-religious ranting
raking over more of the same

Save me from poor humanity’s
petty squabbles in this or that
corridor of power, on this podium,
that pulpit, whatever...
Don’t let me hang for every word
of do-gooder speak ever uttered
in monologue, dialogue, preaching
to the hopeful or the hopeless
(as its case may be) but rise above
attempts to make us slaves
in someone else’s dream most likely
to mean even more of the same

Fly with me for humanity’s sake;
sing with birds, nest in trees,
watch the young and teach the art
of survival in a world
where all that’s natural takes pride
in the integrity of identity,
humility, selflessness, sexuality,
and other fine qualities
commonly human but often put down
by socio-cultural-religious fears
that any change means loss of face, 
preferring more of the same

Don’t leave me crying for humanity,
hanging by its every word... 

Copyright R. N. Taber 2012

Saturday, 9 June 2012


This poem last appeared on the blog in 2010 and I have been asked to repeat it today for ‘Louise P’ because, ‘I love it and it’s my birthday.  My parents as well as my two closest friends read your blog so I’d like to share it with them too as I am working away from home and have not seen them for nearly two years.’

What can I say but, it’s my pleasure Louise and here’s wishing you a very Happy Birthday!


Crawling along a tree’s leaf,
falling among lower branches,
clambering down its trunk,
hitching a joyride on the back
of a grasshopper

Shinning down a weir’s fall,
sending ripples across a pond,
bodies into a cave
sloping down, down, towards
the earth’s axis

Balanced, oh, so precariously
on scales of well-being devised
by nature though humanity
taking credit for an improvised
morality of sorts

Voices in the head calling out
to no one in particular to explain
what humanity has against
nature giving some of us joy rides
to enlightenment

Spinning faster than a pit bull
chasing its tail to give its owner
a good laugh… until it stops,
tossing reason aside as if it were
flesh to a crocodile

Beside a weir, a fine old tree
offers joy rides on a grasshopper
to any who dare, preferring
nature’s passion to an obsession
with one upmanship

Copyright R. N. Taber 2010

Wednesday, 6 June 2012

War, War, War

D-Day June 6th 1945 was the beginning of what was meant to be an end; an end to World War 2, that is. And, yes it was....Ah, but an end to war? Fat chance!

Today and always, out thoughts, thanks and admiration go to fighting men and women around the world; to their families as well, left to fight battles of a different if no less anxious kind on Home Fronts just about everywhere...

It is one of humankind's greater tragedies that the cost of war in terms of its suffering is always so high, while any subsequent peace never quite enough.

Our hearts go out to men, women, and children caught up in bitter conflicts around the world and to the millions of refugees displaced by them...while those in whose hands Peace lies sleeping continue to play politics.


Great grandpa died in the First World War
alongside other brave men
who thought it was the war to end all wars,
but…it happened again

Grandpa was killed in the Second World War
alongside other brave men
who thought to win a kinder, safer, world,
but…it happened again

My father went to fight in the Falklands War
alongside other brave men;
mixed feelings about why they were there,
and…it happened again

My brother was injured in the First Gulf War
alongside other brave men
who little thought they would be coming back
to fight much the same war again

My sister is on active service  in Afghanistan
alongside other men and women
for whom bravery is all but second nature,
part of a job that needs to be done

War is always in the news, its men and women
immortalised in prayer and song;
My mother always says the doves of peace
are too scared of us to stay long

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

Please note: All my poetry titles are still in print, but only on sale in the UK.

There will be no further print runs of my poetry titles except for the latest, Tracking the Torchbearer; I hope to upload e-editions to amazon later this year. Second editions will not be available until after publication of a final print collection in 2015; these will contain revisions of some poems and only be available as e-books. 

Meanwhile, signed copies if 1st eds. can be obtained from me at a generous blogger discount; this applies to overseas as well as UK readers. 

Contact: with 'Blog Reader' or Poetry Collection' in the subject field (or the email will not be opened). 

Monday, 4 June 2012

Canaletto Revisited

1,000 boats, several orchestras and chamber music, Royal barges the like of which hadn’t been seen for 200 years...

The seven mile long Thames Diamond Jubilee Pageant that took place yesterday (June 3, 2012) was inspired by Canaletto’s paintings of the arrival of Catherine of Braganza to marry Charles II in 1662, when 1,000 boats took to the river to welcome here. (See below)

While no poem can do the occasion justice, but I wanted to record the event in a villanelle to include in what will probably be my final collection in 2015 when I will be 70.


On a river that flows through a city,
hear bells ring out nationwide;
celebrations for a Diamond Jubilee

All is colour, cheers and pageantry
even politics briefly put aside
on a river that flows through a city

Sure respite from global austerity,
transcending multicultural divide;
celebrations for a Diamond Jubilee

Echoes of a land of Hope and Glory
taking war and peace in its stride
on a river that flows through a city

Regard and affection for monarchy,
in Commonwealth taking pride;
celebrations for a Diamond Jubilee

A godly queen, woman extraordinary,
true rock of a man at her side...
On a river that flows through a city,
celebrations for a Diamond Jubilee

Copyright R. N. Taber 2012

Sunday, 3 June 2012

Holiday Romance

I was reminded of this poem as I got chatting to a couple of students in my favourite seaside resort of Brighton in East Sussex recently. Both were on holiday from Italy with a view to going to London for Her Majesty The Queen’s Diamond Jubilee celebrations this weekend. Having only met for the first time earlier in the day, they were plainly so enjoying each other’s company.

Could it be love, I wondered?

Whatever, holiday romances are meant to be enjoyed to the full.

Photo: Northumberland coast, taken by Judith Rhodes

Oh, to be young and so deliciously romantic again...!!! Ah, but you don’t have to be young, either, to enjoy romance and more.


There's a shadow on the sand
that points across the sea
to a distant land - where once
you walked with me,
your hand in mine, our laughter
like spray in a summer breeze,
desire sparkling like diamonds
all around, our joy the key
to such rapturous harmony
of sea and shore as ever seen
by lovers who have surely passed
that way before

Even now, in a holiday crowd
I hear you laughing aloud
as I hoist our flag upon
a castle in the sand, dreaming
of that distant land - where once
we strayed and dared to dream,
each for the other, wage slaves
baying for the moon, knowing
our time together would be over,
too soon, and we saved all our tears
till after I had flown

Shadow on the sand placing us
2000 years on...

[Note: An earlier version of this poem appears in Love and Human Remains by R. N. Taber, Assembly Books, 2000.

Friday, 1 June 2012

Alcoholic Anonymous

Stress is never easy to deal with, and few of us can cope alone. We need help and should not be afraid or embarrassed to ask for it.

There are no quick fixes, and drug abuse of any kind is never the answer. 

Too many people are far too complacent about their daily alcohol intake. I am not unsympathetic. Even so, alcoholics, like all drug addicts ruin not only their own lives but effectively take family and friends more than part of the way with them...

The modern world is fast and furious. Not everyone can keep up. We need to understand once and for all that there is no shame in asking for help. Some fool once commented to me that asking for help is a coward's way; on the contrary, it is heroic.

Oh, and never think for one minute that alcohol is not a drug.


Like a fish out of water gasping for air,
clinging on for dear life to a cheap
can of beer, almost past caring any more,
glad to let myself fall though unwilling
to take you with me (you deserve better)
flailing, half-dead, but left to my own
meagre devices. May survive or may not,
each to our own choices, whether it be
win, lose, drift along woebegone, food
for fishes or some poor fisherman casting
a line from posterity’s shelf, shades
of myself before I went looking for more
(in a can of beer) bored with the sheer
predictability of family, job, hooks reeling
me into a limbo now serving me up
on a plate of a street where friends seem
to have forgotten who I am so I don’t
try to catch their eyes any more, doesn’t
come as any surprise any more, don’t
even want to think beyond the next drink ,
avoid local bars in case someone sees
(Just one more, bartender, PLEASE…)

Floating face down in a sea of algae,
not a smile to cling to, no hint of caring
in dead eyes staring straight ahead,
waves of indifference crashing on me,
putting me down, hauling me up, only
to toss me back with all the contempt
of a fisherman for minnows competing
for Angler of the Year, a title bringing
fame and beer (for years) at the local pub
where I used to drink my fill; too often
some would say - and how I find myself
here, as good as dead in the water

[Note: A slightly different version of this poem appears in 1st eds. of A Feeling For The Quickness Of Time by R. N. Taber, Assembly Books, 2010; 2nd ed. in preparation.]