Sunday, 30 December 2012

Bed-Sit Lifer

Every large town and city has its share of bed-sits or single person apartments comprising little more than a room with basic amenities. If you’re lucky, it’s en suite and you don’t have to share a bathroom / toilet.

I recently got chatting to an elderly man at a bar whose house was repossessed because he could no longer afford the mortgage repayments. As it happens, he’s gay but he could have been anyone of any persuasion, man or woman. He lives in one room without a view and has to share a bathroom. “One you turn sixty,” he told me, “people stop caring, especially if you’re gay and you’ve lost your looks.”

He is a lonely, unhappy man, convinced his age and sexuality means he can’t get a life, and his living conditions don’t help.

Yes, well, gay men and women don’t have a monopoly on loneliness, that’s for sure, and there are many people in this world who don’t even have a roof over their heads.

It’s sad and, yes, the 21st century should be ashamed of itself for the degree of poverty in the world. But there is more to poverty than lack of money and resources. There is a poverty of the heart and spirit that gives up on life too soon.

We all want different things from life and few of us come even close to what we would like. But we can still enjoy life and make the best instead of the worst of things. It’s never easy, that’s for sure. But it’s true what they say…where there’s a will there’s a way. I have met some of the poorest people who can honestly claim to be happy in their own way. They may not have much, materially speaking, but they love life and care about people and just being around them makes you glad to be alive.

I’m not poor but I definitely ain’t rich either. I would have liked my own house overlooking the sea. Instead, I rent a studio flat in London UK. Sure, I have regrets (who doesn’t?) but life is what we make it and we are what we let life make of us. Yes, I get lonely sometimes. Yes, I am unhappy sometimes. Who isn’t? Ah, but I don’t intend to become like the guy in that bar…and yes, I’m (well) past sixty too.

You have to be a friend to have friends and you have to think positive to be happy. It’s not always easy and can be hard work…but it’s always worth making the effort. Getting a life doesn’t just happen…we have to make it happen.


Dawn’s dust has scarcely
settled at the chin;
An eccentric din
of streets below
reminds that it’s time
to go at it

The world’s dirt has scarcely
greased the hair;
A rhythmic rush
of leather gear
pants me here, there
at bald faces

An April dusk has scarcely
brushed the eye;
Bird songs hesitate
like mourners gathered
round a stone, now
trickle away

Answerphone’s dead,
cat’s in a mood;
Predictably, nothing on telly;
Settle for a take-away,
pirate tape won’t play,
call it a day

[From: Love And Human Remains by R. N. Taber, Assembly Books, 2001]

Saturday, 29 December 2012

Triumphant Voices

For all that many of the world’s societies are sick with power, bigotry and an obsession with material things, the man and woman in the street comprise its beating heart; it is they who live in hope, keep its wheels turning every day towards a better end they may never see but whose inspiration they can at least pass on to their young people.

Our planet’s survival, and what terms, lies in the hands of our young people. (Yes, and what kind of example is the early 21st century setting them?)

We can but trust future generations will still have the stomach for love and peace after feeding off  the predilection of early 21st century socio-cultural-religious leaders’ for creating conflict and division, if only so they can win support (even approval) by appearing to confront it at any cost. 

This poem is a villanelle.


Through terror strike fear
into the heart,
we shall (ever) persevere

Listen, and we can hear
a pop song start…
though terror strike fear

Here, there, everywhere,
lives torn apart;
we shall (ever) persevere

Listen, young voices clear,
taking our part…
though terror strike fear

Where the tragedy of war,
has peace lose out,
we shall (ever) persevere

Backstage, the arms dealer
courts political clout...
Though terror strike fear,
we shall (ever) persevere

Copyright R. N. Taber 2005; 2016

[Note: An earlier version of this poem appears in 1st eds. of A Feeling for the Quickness Of Time by R. N. Taber, Assembly Books, 2005;revised ed. in e-format in preparation.]

Friday, 28 December 2012

Proof of Life

Inspiration for life, love, hope, happiness…you name it…comes in many shapes and forms. But it's out there, folks, just waiting for us feel our way to it with mind, body and spirit, absorb its energy and let it go to work on our senses, including that old chestnut, sheer willpower. 

This poem is a kenning.


When people ask who I am,
I tell them to look within themselves
and to each other, perhaps
uncover those mysteries that haunt us
as we journey through life...
How came we here, why, going where?
Questions on the lips, reason
at the inner ear brooking yet more,
answers found wanting

When people ask who I am
I tell them to look around, take in all
they see, feel, need to explain,
justify or change (but how?) perhaps
expecting me to provide
the cure for a sick world, solutions
to its failing societies,
religions losing sight of a vocation
to reunite whom they divide

When people ask who I am,
I tell them to learn the body language
of family, friends, workmates
in the staff room, complete strangers
at bus stops, commuters on trains,
probe those subtle discrepancies between
what we say and what we mean;
stop playing a political correctness game,
give truth its proper name

Who am I? I am the philosopher
that defines who you are

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

Thursday, 27 December 2012

Prime Time

Life experience is a wonderful thing. We should make the best of things and let the worst go the same way as a snowman.

Easier said than done, I hear you say? True. But the alternative is unthinkable. When the going gets rough we can but work at turning things around. I’m not usually one for clichés…BUT…where there’s a will, there is (invariably) a way. Things DO get better, believe me although, sadly, not always when we need them to the most.

Hang in there, folks!


Seconds, hours,
days, years,
lifting spirits, teasing
the soul,
chasing after butterflies
in summer sunshine,
looking for rainbows
after autumn rain,
watching The Snowman
melt away,
waiting for springtime
to come again…
Turns the wheel slowly,
faster, slower
than ever, creaking
like bones
trussed to a rack,
pulled this
a-way and that
(can’t help it?)

Though time rush in
and nature run
for cover, between
a common sun's
rising and setting,
there is love 
for the taking,
no matter the world
working us over

So let’s all make time
for each other

[From: The Third Eye by R. N. Taber, Assembly Books, 2004]

Wednesday, 26 December 2012

Spoilt For Choice

We face questions about the meaning of life and death almost daily. It is a rare person that finds any answers. However, we should not be defeatist. On the contrary, we should feel encouraged.

Yes, we run a gamut of emotions. The joys of life are constantly under threat by fear, grief, pain and loneliness. Yet if we look hard enough with our inner eye, we are likely to see more and more of that bigger picture of which we are but brush strokes on the canvas. It may not answer any questions but it affords us a glimpse of our purpose in life.

We are all aspects of the bigger picture and, as such, have a positive part to play as we find ways to deal with ways of living and dying. We can but hope that when others view the picture they may glimpse and take heart from our contribution.


Too often have I talked with Death
in green fields, by sandy shores,
under stars in the middle of the night,
on street corners in broad daylight;
conversation is always much the same,
along the lines of my losing a grip
on the meaningfulness of life and love
and He offering safety, security,
release from the anxieties of integrity;
let Death take responsibility for me
where others refuse, be a ghost among
shades of darkness, distanced from
the spoils and heartache of daily grind,
out of sight, out of mind?

Too often have I talked with Death
during early hours, late strolls,
counting spring lambs frolicking in
fields of memory, listening out for
voices across the sea, once near, dear
to me, not so long ago it seems,
stuff of sweet dreams, laid low come
cold light of day, buried beneath
cracked paving stones, cruel highways
expecting me to carry on till I drop
exhausted, reaching for Death’s hand
rather than dare ask for help, seek
answers in prayers that always seem
to fall on deaf ears…

“No one cares,” Death delights in
telling me, urging that I turn
my back on spite, hate, jealousy,
poverty, hunger, war, a politics
of perversity, world religions busy
practising world division, quick
to condemn what (too often) they
can’t comprehend for refusing
to play a part in common workings
of the heart, keeping their distance,
awarding marks out of ten to any seen
to have stakes in a God they would
claim for their own and give a name
where no need for one

Where voices would deny us peace,
let us explore the politics of choice

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

Tuesday, 25 December 2012


Much as I love spending time with friends, I also enjoy being on my own which is just as well as I often am, even over Christmas and other 'family' occasions. I don’t mind. I have no partner and relations with my family are strained to say the least. For lovers the world over, though, kept apart by various socio-cultural-religious traditions that need to be brought into the 21st century… for them, I do mind for I was young once, and it happened to me. I resented it then and I resent it now on behalf of star-crossed lovers everywhere.

After I once posting this poem on my gay-interest blog some time ago, a number of heterosexual couples who dip into both blogs got in touch to say they how they could relate to it because they found themselves on opposite sides of this or that socio-cultural-religious divide. One couple said how they had never given much thought to the animosity often shown towards gay couples , until ‘we found ourselves victims of our respective cultures and prejudices that should have been put aside centuries ago…’

Christmas and other religious festivals are a time for families and friends to come together in a spirit of peace and love, yet many lovers are kept apart from each other simply because those same families and friends have tunnel vision and cannot see beyond certain socio-cultural-religious confines within which they have been taught and raised.

As for the poem…if you have ever  made love with someone and felt (almost seen) demons on their back trying to drag them away from you (or vice versa) you will understand how it came to be written.

It may well be that absence makes the heart grow fonder, but it is a lonely heart that beats in a half empty bed…


My lips crushed against yours
as rose petals between angry fingers,
body seeking to assuage a rage
in you doing battle with darker waves
even than in a storm,
I will the language of love to come
into its own, show you
how, together, we can defeat demons
trampling on your dreams,
intruding on mine, expose them
for who and what they are
beat them, hands down, at history’s
own vengeful game

For it is revenge that stirs them
to forage in your mind for feelings
of a darker kind than love
would choose to have on its side were it
freed from its cage;
a cage, indeed, woven by demons
to keep you from me;
though I rattle its bars with my desires,
let you feed and drink from them,
feel your pulse and confirm you live,
I cannot reach within,
only trust that, in a mutual adrenalin rush,
you’ll make a dash for freedom

I can feel your heart beating faster,
pulse growing stronger each time we kiss
and all but drown in love’s blood,
sweat and tears, making its confession
as only body language can
though words struggling to compensate
where the spirit stronger than ever
but flesh weakened by years of captivity
imposed by demon shadows,
ready to pounce at the first opportunity
once their existence threatened,
prisoners taken at past close encounters
actively considering alternatives

I can taste your guilt on my tongue,
slowly sliding down my throat like bile
as your sex begs me
to burst open your cage, free you
once and for all
from whatever spell written on whatever
page or pages of your history
making you stall even as you bid for a life
that’s full, no holds barred
to making the most of love’s true passion
if you’ll but dare fire its enemies
into a faceless oblivion

Explosion! The landscape of love laid bare
for regeneration

Copyright R. N. Taber 2008

Sunday, 23 December 2012

Forget Black And White, Go for Colour

For some people, winter is a time for looking back at kinder, happier, better, days, especially those who may find themselves alone at times like Christmas which is meant to be a time of coming together in a spirit of love and peace.

The trick is to draw on the love and peace that once inspired us and let it inspire us into renewal;  just as spring always follows winter so, too, that springtime of the heart…if we but choose to let it go there.

Let's all bring some colour back into our lives, yeah?


The earth was white, the sky black,
one midnight in mid-winter
when I looked out of my window
to see a light snow falling,
thought I head an owl calling.
(But, no, mistaken, surely?)

Then I saw it, a silvery bird gliding
phantom-like through this curtain
of frozen rain, summoning an image
on a lace tablecloth gracing
our table, oh, so many years ago,
when we ate as a family

No family now, only a scattering
of memories like winter snow
piling on a branch by my window,
heaped higher even than regrets
these eyes glaring back at me deny
(or do they lie?)

Gone, the owl now, weary wings
but wistful, fleeting, moments
like ghosts at a meal table declaring
wrong is wrong and right is right,
classic home movie time shot in black
and white…

The wind is up. A blizzard throws
an angry net over glaring traffic
on the night shift, testing the weary
and fainthearted (re-asserting
an omnipresence lest we become
too complacent…?)

Must nature stand by, let Owl die
or may it yet wing to shelter?
As deceptive, any sanctuary in winter
as a cosy duvet inviting us to close
the eyes, bury the face, leave an owl
winging white lace to its fate

Copyright R. N. Taber 2005; 2018

[Note: An earlier version of this poem appears under the title 'Shot in Black and White'  Feeling for the Quickness of Time by R. N. Taber, Assembly Books, 2005; rev. title 2018]

Saturday, 22 December 2012

Making Peace With Christmas

Now, I have never minded being on my own at Christmas and my kinder ghosts make sure I never feel lonely. I enjoy doing my own thing, in my own time, and in my own way. It’s selfish perhaps, but it is a delight not having to make an effort for anyone, but just be myself. Traditionally, I run the gamut of emotions from past sadness and regrets to being (eventually) reconciled with and thankful for the Here and Now…those ghosts dearest to me always making sure any demons don’t get a look in.

For those that can spend a happy time with family and friends, that’s wonderful, but being alone doesn’t have to mean being lonely; you don't have to be with anyone to enjoy fond thoughts, happy memories, favourite music or even just a feel-good movie/ programme on the radio or TV likely to inspire a sense of peace and love.

(Image from the Internet)


It was the night before Christmas
and the world was uncaring and grey
as I made my way home
from bright, cheerful, carols in The Square
knowing that when I turned the key
in my front door there’ll be no one there
just like so many Christmases before

I took my time along the road
and the first snowflakes began to fall
as I made my way home
joyful voices stinging, ringing, in my ears
remembering how once I’d turn the key
in my front door, and you’d be there for me
just like long-ago Christmases before

I passed a tree, its leaves glistening,
and seemed to hear your voice calling me
to hurry, hurry, home
if only to be warm and safe from harm
if oh, so, alone, shutting the door
on a world  making out that all things holy
embrace even the lonely

It was the night before Christmas
and the world was uncaring and grey
as I made my way home
from bright, cheerful, carols in The Square
knowing that when I turned the key
in my front door, the dearest of all my ghosts
would be waiting for me there

Love, lifting me so as it always does,
I made my peace with Christmas

Copyright R. N. Taber 2012

Wednesday, 19 December 2012

Christmas At The Going Rate

This poem was written in 1997 and first appeared in a poetry magazine based in Canterbury before I included it in my first poetry collection.  I wrote it after shopping in the West End of London and being shocked at seeing so many homeless people huddled in sleeping bags in shop doorways, on the steps of theatres, even churches and other religious institutions.

Years on, London, like so many big cities around the world, continues to be haunted by its homeless. It is a sad reflection on the 21st century, in particular its finely rhetoric-tuned, comfortably-off world leaders in politics and religion/s world-wide. [Does anyone really believe they put the interests of the everyday man, woman and child in the street before their own?]

Although I am not a religious person, I have no problem with (any) religious celebrations although I have to say they often strike me as more than a shade hypocritical  where giving thanks to God often appears to play second fiddle to one-upmanship among family, friends, and neighbours who share the same religion.

Please give as generously as you can afford to charities that help homeless people. 

It has to be said that giving money to homeless people can be a mixed blessing as they will often just use it to buy drugs or alcohol. Most, though, appreciate someone to talk to who can not only sympathise with their plight without being patronising, but also offer constructive advice such as where to go for help. [The nearest public library, for example, will have a wealth of information. During my years as a librarian in public libraries, I often looked up useful addresses that I would then call and hand the phone to the homeless person seeking help.]


Starling on the snowy bough,
where will you go now 
as you stir your weary wings to fly 
across this sorry sky?
Better off than I, stuck here,
sitting pretty enough
in a world dishing up pity
to its cardboard men…

I pause and you disappear, bells
ringing out Christmas cheer
to celebrate the Church's share
in a saviour for all seasons
who taught the heart needs not reasons
to care about another, rich or poor,
saint or sinner. A local tramp passes.
Good souls pause…

Wiping glasses, hedging bets
on Judgement Day,
doling out a sweet reprieve
of misery, and all for 50p.
Now, let's hurry, we'll be late;
carols at eight (or is it nine?)
Thinly drawn, a twenty-first century’s
cardboard line

Copyright R. N. Taber 2001; 2012

[Note: An earlier version of this poem appears in 1st eds. of Love And Human Remains by R. N. Taber, Assembly Books, 2001; 2nd (revised) e-edition in preparation.]

Tuesday, 18 December 2012

A Hymn To Nature

Like most poets, I am inspired by nature, not least perhaps for the ways in which it mirrors human behaviour…now benign and beautiful, now almost the opposite although always beautiful, even in a rage.

By its very history, humanity, it has to be said, has demonstrated a feeling for nature’s capacity for regeneration and survival. Nature, on the other hand, does not make war on its own kind. Nor does it discriminate among its own in the way many humans do. I dare say gay men and women are closer to nature in the latter respect than most…so who’s to say we are ‘unnatural’ in the way we conduct ourselves?

As for sexuality, all the world religions appear reach some agreement in various beliefs that make God responsible for the creation of all human beings. (What happens next is down to us). Christians, for example, are always telling us that God made us in His own image.

Me, I don’t like the image of God various religions like to convey, invariably made in their own image. On the other hand, I can easily reconcile a strong sense of spirituality to what I see in the natural world.

[Update 8/14: I have just recorded this poem along with another for my You Tube channel to accompany a video of Stourhead (National Trust Gardens); it is the third and last of three Stourhead videos. You can access my channel at: or watch the video below.]


On the left hand of spring,
pause among dog roses,
where choral voices bring
its bitter-sweet centuries

In summer, listen yet again
to the same wistful plea
of an ancient congregation
keeping faith with history

Inspiring, autumnal places,
stoic trees weeping
for the tears on human faces
where winter creeping

Resuming, come December,
its place in nature’s womb,
eternal echo, a sure reminder
of where we came from

Copyright R. N. Taber 2009

Monday, 17 December 2012

Winter On Civvy Street

Regular readers will know that I am a shameless Doris Day fan. The National Film Theatre on London’s South Bank is showing some of her movies throughout December and I have managed to catch a couple: Young Man with a Horn, based on the life of legendary Jazz trumpeter Bix Beiderbeck and my favourite Doris Day film, Love Me Or Leave Me. Oh, but it has been a real pre-Christmas treat!


Today’s poem is dedicated to less fortunate people everywhere, especially emotionally damaged ex-service personnel like the subject of the poem with whom I chatted one wintry night in London  several years ago. I bought him a hot meal and a few teas at a nearby café, as he relayed a stumbling, tumbling tale of family life blown apart all but as effectively as a roadside bomb had killed his best friend while serving in Afghanistan. I toyed with the idea of inviting him to share Christmas with me, but when I returned from the café’s toilet, he had gone. I looked, but there was no sign of him amongst a flurry of snow outside.

I tried several times to write a poem about that evening, but have only just completed one of which I like to think he would approve. He would not tell me his name, but I guess he could have been any one of many people returning from fighting this war or that anywhere in the world, unable to return to anything like the way things once were.

Was he gay, people ask? Oh, and what has sexuality to do with it?  True, gay men and women fight in wars, too. (Take the Great War poet, Wilfred Owen to name but one…) As it happens, though, I didn’t ask…and why should I?

One of life’s greater ironies is that peace can be just another war…something perhaps to bear in mind during Christmas or any religious festival calling for peace in our time?


Icicles, dangling from a roof
like frozen tears in a homeless soldier’s beard
house cringing from all it has seen
and heard during years it has stood on the street,
watching war wives and widows struggling
to make frayed ends meet, keep up appearances 
for wishful thinking

Icicles, starting to melt, old house
unashamedly crying for the homeless soldier
walking its street in mid-winter, no place
to call home since returning from the Front Line,
haunted by dead friends, missing comrades,
walking wounded…all terrorising a mind’s eye
with wishful thinking

Icicles, smearing honest brickwork
with what has to be the saddest graffiti nature
ever left (if briefly) on the face of a house,
whose cosy curtains come alive with firelight
and companionable shadows, testament
to a kinder Spirit of Christmas and its poetry
of wishful thinking

Icicles, gone without leaving a trace
like the homeless soldier, long since moved on
to some other blurred, nameless place
that’s, oh, so scarily similar to that Front Line,
tossing images of love, hope, and peace
into the next coffin alongside a growing rage
with wishful thinking

Copyright R. N. Taber 2013

[Note: First published in CC and D v 242, Scars Publications (U.S.) March 2013 and subsequently in The World at War, Forward Press, the same year.]

Sunday, 16 December 2012

Insider-Outsider OR Mist on the Glass

Sometimes we are reluctant to look too closely at happy memories because they hurt too much just for knowing they are but memories. Even so, never underestimate the lasting power of happiness. When the going gets tough, it is never far away but waiting in the wings to prompt our every move…once invited to do so.

Yes, happy times can never be relived in quite the same way. But they are always there fro us, urging us to explore our capacity for happiness. It is this that inspires the happiest hours of our lives and will continue to do so, provided we let it.

When loved ones die, we miss them terribly and memories can never compensate for the physical pain of missing their presence in our lives. But such happiness is a shared experience. We were happy to spend time with them because they were happy to spend time with us. Each cared about the other’s happiness and well-being. We should never stop caring but seek out new ways of being happy and making other people happy. So things will never be the same. Life’s like that.

Happiness - like love - comes in all shapes and forms. Let good times that have passed away and seem beyond reach inspire our present, not inhibit it… and the future will invariably make room for more.

If your window on happiness seems misted up...set to and give it a good clean, yeah?


This poem is a villanelle. 


Through a misty window pane
set in a red brick wall,
I'll softly tread now and again

I glimpse familiar faces, strain
to hear them call
through a misty window pane

A kaleidoscope of spring rain
touching us all,
I'll softly tread now and again 

Oh, to catch up with love again,
follow its trail…
though a misty window pane!

A mirror to choice, loss, or gain,
(making us look big or small);
I'll softly tread now and again

Who turns down Memory Lane
risks going into free fall;
through a misty window pane,
I'll softly tread now and again

Copyright R. N. Taber 2009

Thursday, 13 December 2012

Boy On A Rocking Horse

I recorded today’s poem on You Tube yesterday, but am repeating poem and video it here (see below) as previous  feedback suggests that not all readers in some parts of the world can easily access You Tube for one reason or another. For those who can and prefer to access You Tune: (direct link to Video) (for Y T channel)

‘Powerless Structures is the beautifully created figure of a boy on a rocking horse and the latest art work to grace the 4th plinth in London’s Trafalgar Square.

The poem I have recorded over the video unfolded in my mind the more I considered what the sculpture meant to me personally. The rocking horse that stood by my bedroom window when I was just a boy provided an escape from the harsher realities with which, as a child, I was poorly equipped to cope. My imagination would let fly and take me into magical realms of fantasy, fairy tale and legend as regular readers of my blogs and/or collections know. .

Hopefully, video and poem complement each other in such a way that where the poem is a fairly personal take on the sculpture, the video leaves plenty of space for the viewer to bring his or her own take to this bronze figure of a boy on a rocking horse and latest art work to grace the 4th plinth in London’s Trafalgar Square. 

In line with the existing iconography of the other statues in the square, the child is elevated to the status of a historical hero. However, where they acknowledge the heroism of the powerful, this work celebrates the heroism of growing up. The image of a young boy astride his rocking horse encourages observers to consider the less spectacular events in their lives, which are often the most important.

Danish artists Michael Elmgreen and Ingar Dragset are widely reported as saying it was “up to the public to love it or hate it, but hopefully not ignore it."

Never ignored, that’s for sure:


Boy on a rocking horse,
rocking to and fro,
are you part of a happy family,
and do they love you so?
As a child in my bedroom,
I used to rock to and fro,
looking out of my window
at the garden below…

One day, at my window,
rocking to and fro,
a swallow settled on the sill
and said, ‘Hello.'
‘Don’t you ever get fed-up
just rocking to and fro
when there’s so much to see,
scores of places to go?’

‘There’s far, far, more to life
than rocking to and fro.
Fly with me and see the world,’
said the swallow.
If I had been happy enough
rocking to and fro,
now I longed to see the world
like the swallow

I became, oh, but so excited
that I rocked to and fro
so hard that, suddenly, I took off
through the window;
at first, flying was a terrific thrill
(after just rocking to and fro)
seeing how people, places, animals,
make up the world we know 

Then I recalled my little room
where I’d rock to and fro,
believing my folks would miss me
and how I loved them so.
‘Please, swallow, take me home
where I can  rock to and fro,
feel I belong, be part of a family
if only because I miss it all so.’

The swallow then took me home,
to just rock to and fro
by a window, looking on a garden
in a house (still) haunting me so
as any child who ever dreamed
while rocking to and fro
on a safe, friendly rocking horse
will, oh, but surely know

I know you, Boy on a Rocking Horse;
we met years ago in a pane of glass

Copyright R. N. Taber 2012

Saturday, 8 December 2012

Where the Keyword is, Imagine

Today’s poem was written as a tribute to musician John Lennon, shot dead outside his New York City apartment block by Mark David Chapman on Dec 8th 1980.

"Imagine"  was written and performed by Lennon. The best-selling single of his solo career, its lyrical statement is one of collectivist positivism. It challenges the listener to imagine a world at peace, without the divisiveness and barriers of religious denominations and nationalities, and to consider the possibility that the focus of humanity should be living a life less attached to material possessions.

Lennon’s wife, Yoko Ono scattered his ashes in New York's Central Park, where the Strawberry Fields memorial was later created

Photo: John Lennon Memorial


The gospel of John Lennon
sees a testing time for dreams,
inspires the imagination

Politics needs urgent revision
to silence starvation’s screams;
the gospel of John Lennon

No mythicizing hell or heaven;
it’s repairing life’s frayed seams
inspires the imagination

No (one-upmanship) religion;
trusting that love all hate redeems;
the gospel of John Lennon

Where any cultural division,
mutual respect tempering extremes,
inspires the imagination

In a song for every season,
ideals as pure as mountain streams;
the gospel of John Lennon
inspires the imagination

 Copyright R. N. Taber 2012

[Note: First Published in 'In Other Words, Forward press, 2012]

Friday, 7 December 2012


Some readers may be interested to know that I read today's poem among others on the 4th plinth in London's Trafalgar Square in July 2009 as my contribution to Sir Antony Gormley's One and Other 'live sculpture' project. (That summer 2,400 people were randomly selected to do their 'own thing' for one hour, 24/7 over 100 days.): [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

Iraq, Afghanistan, Syria, wherever… war and various conflicts world-wide make most if not all of us see red…not only for the loss of life and those left psychologically scarred but also because the politics behind them is invariably suspect, to say the least.

On Home Fronts, too, find bigotry and prejudice creating various socio-cultural-religious divisions within world societies.

If politics can be a dirty business, there can be none so dirty at the Politics of Red.


Shades of red, as colouring world religions,
writing political agendas

When I open my heart, I see red - the colour
of your courage

When I open my eyes, I see red - the colour
of my pain

Red, too, shades of our last sunset before you
left do your duty far away

Red also, on the flag that covered your coffin
as a band played you home

Red, these eyes, that have no tears left for us
but must see their way clear

Red, these lips that will never kiss yours again
but must reassure generations

When I open my heart, I see red - the colour
of your blood

When I open my eyes, I see red - the colour
of my rage

Shades of red, as colouring humankind’s boast
of a common humanity

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

Wednesday, 5 December 2012

File On A War Hero

Today's poem was inspired by a conversation with a homeless ex-serviceman begging on the streets of London.

We talk about victory and peace, but... peace of mind? Now, that's something else for many people, especially ex-service personnel. Although more is being done than ever before to help rehabilitate men and women in the armed forces returning from front line action, a significant minority continue to slip through the net.

Ironically, many people seem unable to tell the difference between the most graphic news items recorded by war correspondents and blockbuster war movies!

Meanwhile, family and friends of those who have mental illness issues as a result of witnessing the horrors of warfare have some insight and often, in their turn, suffer awful consequences.

Here in the UK, attitudes of the healthy majority towards mental illness still leave much to be desired.

Certainly, those who fight for us, are killed or injured and/or suffer post traumatic stress disorder in one form or another…deserve better.


Mind closed down for spam,
like a dead computer;
any spare cash for a fall guy?

Heart, wounded and weeping
on loved-ones who left;
any spare cash for a fall guy?

Close my eyes and I can see
ghosts parading the street;
any spare cash for a fall guy?

Close my ears and I can hear
folks cheering us on;
any spare cash for a fall guy?

If God’s closed the file on me
He’s not the only one;
any spare cash for a fall guy?

Cops closing in to move me on
(no medals left to sell);
any spare cash for a fall guy?

Can’t open up for dying inside
among pals blown apart;
any spare cash for a fall guy?

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