Tuesday, 31 December 2013

New Year, New Hope, Old Story

Today’s poem first appeared in Poetry Monthly International (sadly, since discontinued) in 2008 prior to its inclusion in my collection. It seems an appropriate enough poem for today since this evening will be New Year’s Eve.

Let’s just hope the celebrations will not be premature and that the 2014 brings more than just hope for world peace and a genuine sense of reconciliation between its divided socio-cultural-religious groups; a recognition, too, of basic human rights for everyone regardless of colour, creed, sex or sexuality, especially in those areas of the world and its societies that encourage if not legislate a policy of persecution.


Bursting into the New Year
with a sing-song and a prayer
for peace across the world

Toasting our tomorrows
by way of drowning sorrows
for not letting go of pain

Putting on a smile, laughing
at sick jokes, better than crying
for the price of our mistakes

Brave New Year resolutions
little more than poor solutions
to centuries-old problems

Humankind’s record so poor,
less likely to make peace than war
if good at saying prayers…

High and far they fly,
fine words across a New Year sky,
repeating history

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

Monday, 30 December 2013

Lines on the Human Condition

Love, like life has its darker side. Some people have fixed ideas about love and will oppose anyone - including family members - who choose a different variation on the same eternal theme. 

The ability to turn love’s darkness into light is a gift passed on by lovers everywhere throughout history. Sadly, humankind’s other gift - for inhumanity - will all too often try to turn things around yet again…and succeed. It is down to each and every one of us to do our best not to let that happen.

We cannot stand by and let them invade our privacy, those who are blinded to the happiness of others by some misguided and/ or ill-informed interpretation of what is right and wrong.  

Every humanitarian needs to speak up against socio-cultural-religious traditions being used as an excuse for bigotry and sectarian division/violence where it is but the dark side of human nature that is to blame.

As for love…Gay or straight, two people in love have the basic human right to be in love. No one has the right to deny us that. World leaders who abuse their position to support anti-gay legislation (that means you, too, Mr. Putin) and religious leaders who choose to interpret their religion to much the same effect are a disgrace to humanity.

Whatever our colour, creed, sex or sexuality, we are all human beings and deserve to be treated as such.


writing treaties in various tongues
on a mother’s heart
as it sighs over satirical goings-on
in comic strip cartoons

providing a eulogy for the failures
of its multi-cultures,
observing how occupied territories
live on empty gestures

inciting revolution among dreamers
who would face facts,
repair broken words to make good
well-heeled intentions

Body-mind and spirit,
watching out for black holes blown
by wannabe martyrs,
sending love letters home on scraps
of roadside shrapnel

last heard arguing for Human Rights
with the world’s tin gods
who so love to blame their pet hates
for its worst nightmares

Copyright R. N. Taber 2008

Sunday, 29 December 2013

Up rhe Down Staircase OR Here We Go Again...

Every year life dishes us our highs and lows, successes and failures, fun times and sad times. In no time (or so it often seems) another year will be stretching ahead from Day One. We can but promise ourselves and each other to do our best to make sure it is a better, kinder year...

As for making dreams come true (don’t we all have them?) it has been my experience, on the more promising occasions to which life has treated me now and then, that we may be pleasantly surprised how close we can get just by trying. 

The great thing about Sandmen is that they never discriminate; you can be rich or poor, gay or straight, super fit or severely disabled, from any country in the world...whatever...and they don't give a damn, just as it should be among human beings…

Me? Oh, I’m just one among millions of dreamers out there who hold the world as it could, would, and should be in the palms of our hands. [Slippery things, though, dreams...]

This poem is a villanelle.


A few dreams down, more ahead,
(Well, haven’t we all been here before?)
Earth Mother left (still) seeing red

Integrity as unevenly spread
as ever across the world’s political floor;
a few dreams down, more ahead;

Mutual respect so thinly spread
among this world’s religions’ harder core;
Earth Mother left (still) seeing red

Nations’ survivors bury their dead,
the injured left knocking at Heaven’s door;
a few dreams down, more ahead;

A better world, our forefather’s said,
that’s what our blood and tears are shed for;
Earth Mother left (still) seeing red

A kinder world would bow its head,
seeing fair Progress farmed out for a whore;
a few dreams down, more ahead;
Earth Mother left (still) seeing red

Copyright R. N. Taber 2012

Saturday, 28 December 2013

A Perception of Ghosts

As I grow old(er) there are times when childhood  seems like yesterday and even leaves stirring in the wind carry its echoes to my ears; the stronger the wind, the stronger the echoes… now happy and excited, now weepy and anxious….and I am bound reflect how old age is not so very different.


North wind,
roughly raking the last glowing coals
of a wintry day;
faintly among the trees like an echo
through my years
like tuneless
whistling noises made by a child failing
to impress peers
that mock,
and run away, never to know the hurt
to self-esteem
a lifetime later, the cruelties of human
roughly raking the last glowing coals
of a wintry day

Wind drops,
nature’s opera taking off on wings of light
into a blueness
such as
a child feels when playing with imaginary
and sad at the same time for meeting reality
a safe place, yet less safe for being wide open
to fantasies,
by the same invisibles once on-screen trolls
all defences in the best tradition of humanity’s
inhumanity to its own

South wind,
gently stirring the last glowing coals
of a sunny day;
as strong among the trees in the twilight
of my years
as shrieks
of joy uttered by a child when birthdays
finally arrived
in times
when family get-togethers were mixed
of the love
the child craved, feasted on, yet always
left hungry,
never able to satisfy a growing awareness
of immaturity

Cold wind, warm wind, sweet smelling breeze;
old man, young child, a perception of ghosts

Copyright R. N. Taber 2013

Thursday, 26 December 2013

Beyond Christmas OR Whatever Happened to Peace on Earth and Goodwill to All?


Come Boxing Day, we may well already be starting to look beyond Christmas. Oh, but if only the spirit of Christmas - and other religious festivals - might endure, messages of peace and love be heard around the world, especially in those parts where bitter conflict persists. Fat chance, little hope, beautiful dream ...? Why so, given that where there is the will there is (supposedly) a way...?  

As a child, I once asked a complete stranger standing next to me at a carol concert, what happened to 'peace on earth' and 'good will to men' after hearing 'I Heard the Bells on Christmas Day' at a carol concert. He did not hesitate, but replied in two words, politics and religion. I thought he was being sarcastic. Some 50+ years on, I look around and see only too plainly what he meant. On the arre occasions I have heard that particular carol  - based on a poem by Longfellow - sung again, i understand his despair and only wish I could enter into his ultimate optimism for the human race. Even so, hope springs eternal...and if we all play our part, who knows...?

Now, I have friends who are Christians and feel I am missing out because I don’t believe in God in any religious sense but take what I like to think of as a sense of spirituality from nature. 

Well, as I see it, no religion is all about its interpretation of God, but also about humanity. (Interpretations of God as a homophobe are as absurd as they are pathetic.) Take the humanity out of the religion and what's left is not worth having. (Fundamentalists haven't a clue!) Nor does religion have a monopoly on spirituality.

Now, whether we choose to believe in God or not, all world religions have much to say about humanity that is well worth listening to; some would do well to pay more attention themselves. It may well be that any given religion is a closed shop, members only, but interpretations of it remain open access to anyone at all times.

In those parts of the world where people are still persecuted for their sexuality and/or democratic principles, we can but wish them peace and love. As for their persecutors, especially those arrogant, evangelical types who are a plague on all our houses, (especially in parts of Africa) but other bigots and despots too, whatever socio-cultural-religious excuses they may care to make for their behavior, they would do well to remember that what goes around invariably comes around…


Christmas spirit can’t always connect
with peace in parts of a sorry world
divided by crises, all failing to reflect  
even hidden meanings in the word

Wherever colour, sex, sexuality or creed
tell dark tales, let light in, hear love call
by way of answering a basic human need,
body, mind, and spirit seeking to fulfil

Where mortality respects no boundaries,
conflict deaf to cries for a lasting peace,
love continues to tell its beautiful stories,
bring hope to each and every one of us

Christmas says much for love’s spirituality,
common even to a divided humanity 

Copyright R N. Taber, 2007; 2013

[Note: An earlier version of this poem appears in 1st eds. of Accomplices to Illusion by R. N. Taber, Assembly Books, 2007; revided ed. in e-format in preparation.]

Monday, 23 December 2013

A Winter Canvas OR Behind the Scenes

Winter can be as incredibly harsh as it can be incredibly beautiful. Such is life, and human nature. Art may well do its very best to interpret and record, but it can only ever be one interpretation of one particular moment in time…

 Claude Monet - Snow at Argenteuil (1875)


Straggly trees against a snowy sky,
robin redbreast in low key,
snowflakes like angels drifting by,
no more idea of what they’re doing,
where they’re going (or why)
than those of us down here, eagerly
lapping up the weather forecast
though for no particular reason other
than everyone else will be doing
much the same thing so there’s sense
of sorts in a camaraderie, missing
in our everyday lives, though friends,
and family do their best to assuage
our loneliness and poor self-esteem
where we can’t help comparing
ourselves with neighbours who seem
to be doing very nicely, thank you,
while we’re but getting nowhere fast
like the poor weather forecaster
always trying to convince us better
days are just ahead.

Robins singing, angel voices asking
why we’re all running around
in God’s backyard like headless chickens,
world chasing its own tail after Peace
(its Holy Grail), politicians rallying
worn phrases tried and tested
(if only for election clout) while the rest
of us rest on laurels as sure as winter
while glossing over its threatening skies
with talk of spring, change, everything
turning out better (if not best) when all's
said, done, leaving the astute artist
to gloss over any doubts with canvases
celebrating the bright and beautiful,
inspiring generations, in turn, to look,
listen, maybe even learn a thing or two
about life, love, nature and how art
copies more, far more, than what it sees
if only because beauty is in the eye
of the beholder, discern subtler differences
for better, for worse

Copyright R. N. Taber 2005; 2013

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

Friday, 13 December 2013

A Passing Comment on Retail Therapy

We don’t always know what we want, and when we do, we don’t always get it, but that should not stop us even just window shopping for inspiration…like millions before us throughout history anxiously seeking seeking a comfort zone of sorts, sufficient at least to see us through another cloudy day.


Now and then life grabs us
by the scruff of the neck
and throws us into the street
where we lie on our backs
look a passing cloud in the eye
and demand answers of fate

It soon becomes very clear
the cloud doesn’t care
why fate threw us into the street
(nor it seems do passers-by)
so we have to face the possibility
it could well be our own fault

Our faults stand up poorly
to close examination
lying on our backs in the street;
time to get real, get up,
walk on, trust centuries of hope
to any blisters on our feet

Wearily, treading the world
in anxious footmarks left
by ghosts fired by desperation
to track the kinder side
of reality, live in love and peace,
companions to imagination…

Vulnerable to a fault, last spotted
in retail therapy on Main Street 

Copyright R. N. Taber 2013

Monday, 2 December 2013

Living with Hans Christian Andersen

Everyone loves a Christmas tree, but (let’s face it) Christmas does a fir tree no favours.

Now, both as a child and adult, I have loved the fairy tales of Hans Christian Andersen...at any time of year. As Christmas draws near, I cannot help but recall The Fir Tree.  

The fir tree is in such a hurry to grow that it fails to enjoy the beauty around it. All it thinks about is how much it wants to become a tall fir tree and see the wide world and experience new things. It finds no joy in the moment, but is always longing for the future. Finally, the fir tree realizes it has wasted its life by living for the future instead of for the present.  As a story about failing to appreciate what we have going for us until it is too late, I dare say many if not most of us can relate to it in one way or another?

Hans Christian Andersen, 1805-1875

As well as loving Andersen’s fairy tales, I carried much of their sense of morality and spirituality with me into adult life, which is possibly why I still enjoy reading them from time to time. It can do no harm (can it?) to recall that naïve, free, faery, spirit upon whose back I would frequently ride off into magical other-worlds and find respite from childhood’s darker side. (However much we may like to think of childhood as all innocence and light, it is no more immune to the harsher realities of human nature and everyday existence than adulthood; the latter, even at its worst, at least offers experience and choices rarely if ever available to us as children.)

This poem is a villanelle.


A certain Danish weaver
became a tailor, turned to acting, 
found fame as a storyteller

His tales told world over,
(inspiring many an ugly duckling)
a certain Danish weaver

Denmark’s heart breaker,
(the little mermaid lost everything)
found fame as a storyteller

Shrewd political observer,
(even of an emperor’s new clothing)
a certain Danish weaver

Steadfast, like a tin soldier,
(firm favourite at bed-time reading)
found fame as a storyteller

Where childhood rides forever
on the back of its wishful thinking,
a certain Danish weaver
found fame as a storyteller

Copyright R. N. Taber 2013

Saturday, 30 November 2013

Know the Voice, can't Place the Face OR Homing in On Self-Awareness

I look around and sometimes wonder...if we can’t keep faith with each other, what hope for our keeping faith with ourselves? Whatever, it is down to us, no one else.

We may blame fate, our therapist, even God...but when push comes to shove there is no lasting escape from our having to take responsibility for our own choices. Nor are we entirely to blame for making wrong choices. No one (thank goodness) is perfect. Even so, it can't help to get to know ourselves as we are rather than we (or others) might have us be...?

This poem is a kenning.


Come, child,
where I lead, don’t be afraid;
listen to the murmurings
of your heart, exercise the finer
leanings of your mind;
start to care, understand why
I, too, am always here
for you, trying to be fair,
even kind

See, child,
where I walk and let’s talk,
you and I, exchange
home truths before they fester
and die in the bowels
of a soul bent on proving
its very existence - by
token resistance to temporal

Hear, child,
any wise words of your own;
feel free to ignore mine
if you suspect they threaten
your ivory tower
of pretension, no protection
against a world its own
worst enemy for a divided

Part godly, part devilry,
call me, Destiny...

 Copyright R. N. Taber 2004; 2013

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

Thursday, 28 November 2013

Looking for Christmas, Anyone?

Yes, Christmas will be with us in less than a month. However, not everyone enjoys a happy Christmas. For homeless people and others down on their luck, it is a time much like any other time...unless we can somehow make it special for them too.

Years ago, I met a homeless gay man who had been physically ejected from his family home on Christmas Day after his father discovered he is gay. This Christmas, I know of a couple on the run from their families who disapprove of their relationship because they are on opposing sides of the same religion. [If God doesn't mind, why should anyone else?]

No matter what religious festival is being celebrated at whatever time of year, a little understanding goes a long way. It is, after all, part of the pact we make with love. And what worth any religion without love in it? I am told that the God in whom so many people believe is a God of Love. Take love out of the prayer and ritual and all I imagine He sees is someone enjoying an ego trip.

We can't always expect to understand those we love and may not always agree with them, but that doesn't (or shouldn't) mean we love them less. It has always been one of humankind's greater tragedies that too many of us let socio-cultural-religious traditions dictate how we live, even love.

At the heart of every religious celebration is (or should be) love in all its shapes and forms...or what is there left that any God would have anyone celebrate?  


Come, hear the bells of Christmas
though lost, alone, in the snow
recalling times past when we’d leave
a card for Santa, hot cocoa
and a mince pie, try to sleep while
listening out for reindeer hooves
pounding across the sky, a cheery cry
ringing loud and clear for children
everywhere to hear, know (for sure)
that we are loved, no matter who
we are or how our lives shaping up,
whether or no we’re finding signs
of Christmas or much the same cruelty
(or worse) than the day before

Peering ahead down an endless road,
lost souls, alone, no place to go
till time (at last) to reclaim gifts of love
and peace, count blessings, let bells
speak for us, echo high and low, anxious
to share out the joys of Christmas,
fearful for lost souls looking for refuge
from a bitter-sweet winter snow

Copyright R. N. Taber 2003; 2013

[Note: This poem has been slightly revised since it first appeared in Christmas Remembered, Anchor Books [Forward Press] 2003 and subsequently in 1st eds. of The Third Eye by R. N. Taber, Assembly Books, 2004; 2nd (revised) e-edition in preparation.]

Wednesday, 27 November 2013

The Other Side of Christmas

Religious festivals are, among other things, about thinking of others and not taking all we have in life for granted since, there but for good fortune, go you and I...

For those men and women (some of them gay) fighting wherever there is conflict for a better, kinder, world,  may the future hold some real progress in that direction. As for the politicians who send them there, let’s hope they won’t lose sight of those finer aims either, in spite of being preoccupied, as they invariably are, with their own personal standing on the world stage. Nor should we forget loved ones left behind while those in the thick of war risk their lives on a daily basis.

Many fight another war, this time on the Home Front; against poverty, prejudice, loneliness, depression, rejection, unemployment…

I recall, some years ago now, sympathising with a elderly neighbour who had fallen on hard times after a company in which he had been a major shareholder collapsed. " A bad business," he agreed, "but it's as the wife says, so long as we have family and [or]friends we care about and who care about us, who needs shares in anything else?"  At the time, it struck me as a rather trite comment, a way of saving face perhaps. In my 70's now, I often contemplate the wisdom of those words, and cherish the sense of well-being with which they never fail to fill me.

Unhappy people have told me how they hate being told to count their blessings because they are too few. Maybe they - and more, if not all of us - need to look (and count) again...?


No Christmas tree in the window,
no cards or festive decoration,
no real interest in some Baby Jesus,
cause of starry-eyed celebration

As for listening out for reindeer,
deaf ears will catch no sound
or bells ringing out glad tidings
of great joy to (all?) mankind

No joy in snowflakes whirling past
like dervishes on a battlefield
assured of spoils in this, my city,
by climate change across the world

As for taking comfort and delight
in any religious celebration,
fat chance, when all its factions
primed for eternal division…

Nothing special for Christmas lunch
(but better than going hungry)
yet I dare say we’ll survive another
parody of common humanity

Some folks struggle, same folks cope
for shares in Love, Guardian of Hope 

Copyright R. N. Taber 2009

Thursday, 21 November 2013

A Life in the Day of the Human Race

All human relationships - including friendships - have their ups and down. If they matter to us, we must work at them. Should they flag and all but fail, we must do our best to revive them. Nor can we let foolish pride get in the way.

If we want to build bridges with someone badly enough, what does it matter who makes the first move?

Sadly, sometimes we have to face the fact that a relationship was never as worthwhile as we thought in the first place.

Let’s be honest though. It is too easy to find excuses for doing nothing. Doing something, on the other hand and…well, who knows?


One day to remember,
one day to forget;
one day together, another
cruelly torn apart

One day for friendship,
one day for rage;
one day for love, another
blotting its page

One day to be, oh, so sure,
one day to doubt;
one day sharing my bed, another
in a rush to get out

One day, love and peace,
promising to endure;
one day it’s spring, another
already winter

One day, life’s lessons
to learn and share,
we students of life, another
finding us still here

Copyright R. N. Taber, 2007; 2013

[Note: An earlier version of this poem - under the title 'One Day' - first appeared in Awakening of the Soul, Poetry Now (Forward Press) 2003 & subsequently in Accomplices to Illusion by R. N. Taber, Assembly Books, 2007; revised ed. in e-format in preparation.)

Tuesday, 19 November 2013

First Stop, the Bouncy Castle in a Playground of Dreams

Most children love a bouncy castle. I dare say many adults would love to try one out as well.Oh, but I suspect most of us do if only in our dreams.

I am reminded of a conversation I had many years ago when I was an egocentric teenager. I asked a neighbour (as one does) what life is all about. Yes, well…silly question, I know, but I thought it sounded clever. More to the point, I thought it made me appear very clever.  I received what I thought was, in turn, a very silly answer, something its being a rubber castle bouncing us all up and down in a playground of dreams...

Now, though, I’m not so sure it was such a silly answer  and suspect it was too profound for my little poem to do it justice.

I recall telling my mother about that conversation. She just said, “He’s a very nice man if a little eccentric/ Mind you, there is always more to eccentric people than meets the eye just as there's nearly always something in what they have to say worth hearing. Now, go and do your homework…’ She was another very nice person, my mother.


Sometimes I regret my lost youth
but for its teaching me the truth
about my place in the world, neither
big nor small, like a rubber ball
bouncing up and down along ground
now smooth, now rougher…

It’s enough, in the end, to land safe
and sound, roll gently down a hill
till still as a star on a cruel wintry night
bringing to travellers a peace of mind
they never thought to find at all,
like children searching for a rubber ball
now lost, now found, like a fairytale
meant to lull us asleep, took us instead
to a world neither big nor small,
like a rubber ball bouncing up and down
along ground now smooth, now rough,
on a roll, safe and sound till done, bounce
all but gone

Sometimes, I wonder if life isn’t, after all,
but a tale at bedtime about a bouncy castle

Copyright R. N. Taber 2009

Friday, 15 November 2013

Tattoo Art, a Singular Unselfconsciousness

I well recall how, in my teens, I confided to my mother that I was worried sick about an interview with a Careers Officer the next day because I couldn’t make up my mind what I wanted to be when I left school. She just shrugged and said, ‘Try being yourself and you won’t go far wrong.’ She was right, of course, but that was hard for me to admit at the time since I wasn’t being myself at all as being gay was still a criminal offence. I’ve tried to make up for it since.

Love it or hate it, most people are inclined to nurse a secret envy of tattoo art in so far as it conveys an unselfconsciousness that speaks for the self which, without meaning any offence, refuses to pussyfoot around or participate in the socio-cultural-religious sensibilities of others.

Every art form, of course, attempts the same.


I’m not the sort to strut
sidewalks alongside the latest
fashion clones

I prefer to speak plainly,  
no making a stab at diplomacy  
with awful clichés

I’ll not vote for the party
least likely to keep pre-election 

I have never been in awe
of celebrities who love to preen
on camera

I like to call a spade a spade;
a ‘digging implement’ impresses
no one

I rejected religion years ago;
nature lends me a growing sense    
of spirituality

I love to share word patterns;  
as tattoos to the body, so art forms
to the mind

Copyright R. N. Taber 2011

Friday, 8 November 2013

Ode to the Fallen (Engaging with Life Forces around a Dead Tree Trunk)

As regular readers will know, I have a You Tube channel that is as much about my friend Graham’s videos as my poetry. Many a time, I have felt inspired to write a poem to try and do the video justice and vice versa. We hope you will enjoy what has been a team effort from the start:


I have just read today's poem over a new video. Graham shot the video while visiting family in Wiltshire recently, and I love it. I played it back several times, and then just had to sit down and write a nature-cum philosophical poem to accompany it.


Now, feedback suggests that some of you cannot access You Tube for one reason or another so I am repeating both poem and video (see below) here on the blog as well.

Many years ago, I confided in my mother that I was afraid of dying. Later that day we went for a walk in the countryside and she pointed to a dead tree trunk; we watched a variety of insects, birds, mosses growing and a colony of ants all building their lives around this 'dead' thing. You see," said my mother, "there is no death without life so there is really nothing to be afraid of...whether you believe in God or not," she added, knowing full well that I did not share her religious beliefs. (I had chosen to take a growing sense of spirituality from nature even at the young age of eleven). "Life and death," she said before changing the subject, "are simply different sides of the same coin."

My mother died of cancer 40+ years ago, and I still take great comfort in recalling the day we paused to observe a dead tree trunk and nature's living memorial to it...


Fallen, but not forgotten,
by its own kind
sure to keep a vigil of sorts
the whole year round

Fallen, but never alone
among its kind
proudly waiting for their turn
to come around

Fallen, by whose hand
no one knows;
some say an axe man, others
blame the wind

Fallen into glorious decay,
like autumn leaves;
nurturing, inspiring greener

If dead, not left without a care
by an Earth Mother   
demanding nothing of Time
but its signature

Once, a living icon for a world
of love and peace;
a cue for ants to keep running
rings around us

Copyright R. N. Taber 2013

Thursday, 7 November 2013

W-A-R, Giving the Lie to Glory

Some readers have said they would like to read some of my poems again but either can’t find them on the blogs or haven’t time to look.  I am now linking posts/poems past and present to Google + where they will stay for about 5-7 days.  Over time, most regular readers should be able to catch their favourite poems while, hopefully, new readers will also discover them at the following link:



I was in a bar once where an injured soldier was being asked about his experiences in Afghanistan. Someone mentioned the word, glory, which met with excited murmurs of approval and expressions of admiration. ‘Glory?’ the young soldier exclaimed in disbelief, ‘Haven’t you people learned anything?’

Good question.

November 11th is Armistice Day closely followed by Remembrance Sunday. Since we are only just into October, some people have suggested I should wait until then before posting any poem in remembrance of those who have given their lives in two world wars and subsequent conflicts worldwide as well as those bereaved families left to get on with their lives as best they can; remembering, too, those who have suffered physical and psychological injury and their loved ones who are helping them to live as full as life as possible.

Ah, but every day is an anniversary for those who bear the emotional and/or physical scars of love and loss, in times of war and peace alike.  

Armistice Day or Veterans Day or Remembrance Day, whatever  we call it is an important anniversary; an opportunity for people to come together as a nation to commemorate those who have fought to try and make the world a kinder, safer place in which to live. Nor do I exclude our enemies, most of whom were (and are) ordinary men and women fed the propaganda of unenlightened politics by those they are persuaded to look upon as their 'betters'.

This poem is a villanelle.


Sure to give the lie to glory
(for all its medals won)
who live war’s horror story

No contemplating bravery
(the job has to be done)
sure to give the lie to glory

Struggling with the futility
of a friend’s mind blown,
who live war’s horror story

Flagging up a bull for history,
red rag to a politician
sure to give the lie to glory

Proud aloud, scared privately,
in for the duration
who live war’s horror story

Blind eye, tight lip, testimony
to the injured and fallen;
sure to give the lie to glory
who live war’s horror story

Copyright R. N. Taber 2011

Saturday, 2 November 2013

Poppies, for Remembrance

Today’s poem was written in 2004 and appeared in my 4th collection the following year; it has also appeared in an anthology, The Colour of War, Forward Press, 2011.

I have written almost as many poems about the tragedy of war as I have about the inspiring quality of love, much influenced by the powerful poems of World War I poets like Rupert Brooke, Wilfred Owen, Siegfried Sassoon and Vera Brittain, to name but a few.

The irony cannot be lost on anyone. Given that the horrors of war have been passed on so graphically from generation to generation since, it neither prevented World War II nor this sorry world of ours remaining a battleground for various socio-cultural-religious-political forces worldwide.

Here in the UK, as Armistice Day approaches, many of us buy a poppy as a symbol of remembrance; the money raised goes to the British Legion, a charity that, for many years, has provided financial, social and emotional support to members of the British armed forces, veterans, and their dependants.

National anniversaries of remembrance rightly salute the dead, but the dead would not want those they leave behind or injured friends and colleagues who survive to be forgotten either. Charities like the the British Legion  and Help for Heroes have stepped in where successive Governments much prefer not to tread.

Countless poppies, countless tears; hopes, shared by millions for a peaceful world while haunted by the growing sense of a twenty-first century no less inclined than any other to the rhetoric of peace.


Photo: Cenotaph war memorial, London (UK)

Created by ceramic artist Paul Cummins with setting by stage designer Tom Piper; ceramic poppies commemorating the centenary of the outbreak of World War scheduled to progressively fill the dry moat around the Tower of London until Armistice Day, November 11th, 2013.

Photo: In the war memorial Neue Wache (Berlin) the moving sculpture, 'Mother and her dead son' by the Berlin artist Kathe Kollwitz says it all...


In two world wars, and conflicts since, they died
for love of country, freedom and their own;
shells, mortars, bullets and bombs they defied
so we may reap the rewards they have sown

Let’s remember those who never came back,
(sitting comfortably, watching TV);
Somme, Dunkirk, Korea, Falklands, Iraq...
(So much for the lessons of history!)

The wounded, too, deserve our thanks and pride,
some forgotten, left but to fade away
in pain, loneliness, no one at their side
as fought with them so bravely, won the day

World in remembrance of hope, prayers and tears
for peace in its time to yet end its worst fears

[From: A Feeling for the Quickness of Time by R. N. Taber, Assembly Books, 2005]