Friday, 31 August 2012

Death of a Princess

On August 31st 1997, Diana, Princess of Wales was tragically killed when a car carrying herself and Dodi Fayed crashed in Paris. 

Many readers who appear to have difficulty accessing You Tube directly for one reason or another have asked me to repeat the link to a my friend Graham's video of the memorial in Hyde Park along with two  poems I read over it:

Meanwhile, here is a new poem written in memory of a remarkable woman; a devoted mother whose beauty, charm, and capacity for compassion won hearts and minds wherever she went; traits she has clearly passed on to her children.

She wasn’t without flaws, you might say, so tell me then...who isn't?


Brought to its knees
the day she died, the world
asked questions,
demanded answers,  cried
itself to sleep

Media loved to play
the blame game, but no one
(quite) convinced
by speculation compromising
its integrity

Crowds played out
the performance of a lifetime
at the palace gates
while its key players left
them to it

Hysteria over a flag
left flying high and crying out
for half-mast
lent tunnel vision an air
of plausibility

Elsewhere, a family
resolved to protect its own
devising new ways
of doing the walk and talking
the talk

Diana, on an island
of dreams, inviting royalty
and ordinary people
to rise above tears like petals
between showers

Brought to its knees
the day she died, the world
still asks questions,
demands answers,  cries
itself to sleep

Copyright R. N. Taber 2012

Sunday, 26 August 2012

Storm Birds

[Update (May 2017): Since a bad fall in 2014, I have been physically disabled myself - if only slightly compared to many people - and spent a good year or so learning to walk again. At 71, I manage quite well now in spite of arthritis in the same foot that suffered a complicated ankle fracture. I use a walking stick which might as well be invisible for all the notice many able bodied people take of it when I am out and about. Cyclists on the pavements and people more interested in their mobile phones and/or listening to music on headphones invariable expect me to get out of their way because they have no clear appreciation of their immediate environment. Heaven forbid they should try looking where they are going! Even so, I remain a Happy Bunny...most of the time.]

Update (Sept 2016); The 2016 Rio Paralympics have been more exciting and inspiring than ever. Well done, everyone!]

I am dedicating today's poem to disabled people everywhere, especially at this particular moment in time as later this week we will be celebrating, supporting and enjoying the London 2012 Paralympic Games. 

There are, of course, disabled gay men and women worldwide too; among them, those determined to follow their dreams in various areas of achievement, including sport. All, like everyone else, can do no more or less than get on with the daunting task of daily life; only, for many if not most, that is likely to prove even more daunting.

As someone who has suffered significant hearing loss all my life (much improved now with digital hearing aids) I often have balance problems. Given, too, that deafness is an invisible disability, with which many hearing people quickly lose patience, it is perhaps not surprising that I have always felt a considerable affinity with disabled people who are frequently - intentionally or otherwise - put down by the less enlightened among the able-bodied majority.

Disabled people are an inspiration, but few see themselves in that light, just wanting to be treated much like anyone else. Is that so much to ask?

So here's wishing Team GB Paralympians good luck, and the same to everyone else taking part in The Games. Let's be sure to support them in the same spirit of sportsmanship we recently cheered on their Olympian counterparts.  

Now, and always, in paralympic-sports worldwide, these men and women are an inspiration to us all.

This poem is a villanelle. 


Where able bodied folks go
in a brave new world
the less able, too, dare follow

Nor must we ever fail to show
respect for the D-word
where able bodied folks go

Find inspiration’s brilliant glow
in a storm bird;
the less able, too, dare follow

Love challenges all in the know
(Theatre of the Absurd)
where able bodied folks go

For dreams hid under a rainbow,
hope deferred,
the less able, too, dare follow

Life-force (now ally, now foe)
at best a gift shared...
Where able bodied folks go,
the less able, too, dare follow

Copyright R. N. Taber 2012

Monday, 20 August 2012

Who Speaks For The Trees?

Enjoying my summer break, but first...

A reader has been in touch to say she would never travel on the London Underground again following the tragic events of July 7th 2005 in which she lost a close friend. Similarly, she would never visit the USA because ‘ it has to be a high profile target for terrorists.’ .

While I can understand and sympathise with how she feels, terrorists can strike anywhere at any time. We can but remain hopeful that we will leave our homes for work or whatever and return safely. Besides, if we give in to our fear of terrorists and their misguided belief that they are entitled, for whatever reason, to force their views on others by means that confirm the existence of evil in the world… they have won.

Dare I suggest that Earth Mother, too, should be on her guard against those set n destroying the environment? (I may be getting on in years now but I will always be an eco-warrior at heart.)


Two so-splendid trees
stood tall at the edge of a wood,
conspiring with song
and laughter, symphony and poetry
to run the gamut of serendipity;
all loves, hates, jealousies, captured
in shades of evergreen
on the costliest canvas seen
among the sweetest,
finest blessings of Nature,
redefined by Man
in its own flawed image,
redesigned to suit
an ailing humanity along lines
of a well-meaning insanity
coursing the soul; would-be giants
grown tall, sentinels
of a civilization protective of its own
for want of a wisdom of ages
(found in history’s bloody pages?)
inciting song and laughter,
symphony and poetry to stand tall
among giant trees,
denying that Nature knows best
and mankind least
for all its Grand Imagination
touching on salvation
to defend a dereliction of duty
in saving the woodlands
for generations, rather give trees
up to property developers
for the sake of tax gatherers
giving them the eye
and even if a risen Jesus pass by,
they’ll not look up and see us,
hear leafy winds whisper the names
of all those fallen in their prime
to flames risen from anxious embers
here, there, everywhere, now as always,
no matter the day or year

Copyright R. N. Taber 2004; 2005

[Note: This poem has been slightly revised (2012) from the original version that  appears in  A Feeling For The Quickness of Time by R. N. Taber, Assembly Books, 2005]

Monday, 6 August 2012

Love's Take On Multiculturalism

I received the oddest email yesterday. A reader had some kind words for my poems but asks, ‘What is the point unless you can be counted among the great poets?’

This reader has answered his or her own question.  There is every point in writing poems if even just one person enjoys reading them.

So I am not a ‘great’ poet.  Do I care?  It is more than enough for me that both poetry blogs are read daily worldwide.

Too many cultures persist with a taboo on mixed-culture relationships. This is especially hard on those people, especially young people, living in a modern multicultural society.  Love has no time for such taboos and only asks that we respect its global identity.

It is no betrayal of culture, family or whatever to fall in love. Love brings shame on no one, and I include gay relationships. Those who see it as some kind of shameful betrayal are not only out of step with love, but out of step with their culture for interpreting it by book rather than by heart; parents and other family members need to remind themselves that where any cultural responsibilities appear to override their love for children and siblings, the potential for shame lies not within that culture but within themselves.   

This poem appears on both blogs.


As I put my lips to yours
they part to let my flame enter you,
its heat moulding us
into a live love-sculpture portraying
the true meaning of life

As the flame goes to work
on firing a peace offering to all those
who reject our love,
the raw scars of suffering peel away
like layers of an onion

As we dive and swim freely
where waters of the womb have risen
to offer us sanctuary
from wildfires threatening extinction,
we head for infinity

We reach a sandy shore,
our healing selves embraced by palms
whose leaves caress
where cruel hands would not long since 
have denied us a hearth

Oh, heaven, this splendid place;
if a dream, as real and far more likely 
to inspire angel choirs
than conflict among opposite numbers
in temporal divisions

Sadly, we must rise and leave
to make our way in this 'modern' world,
still a slave to its past
for all its fine rhetoric about fair play
in a free society

Yet, we have found a place
where no socio-cultural-religious spite
can keep us apart
though it snatch us up and spit us out
for breaking its rules

Find us among arts and streets,
recreating love’s custom made models,
nor a finer take on life
than sex, sexuality, colour, age or creed
reworking its humanity

Copyright R. N. Taber 2012