Monday, 11 February 2013


I confess no poetry editors have ever shown an interest in today’s poem, yet it has always been well received at poetry readings and even stimulated lively debate.  So many people seem to have been the victim of rumour at some point in their lives or know of someone else who has fallen foul of gossip. Far too often, seemingly ‘harmless’ gossip has become exaggerated beyond recognition by the time it has run its course.

Now, it can be a sad as well as wonderful feeling when a reader makes contact to say how a poem of mine has affected them deeply because they can relate so intimately to it. A reader got in touch with me in 2005 to say how he had borrowed my collection form his local library and this particular poem brought back vivid memories. It appears that he had been forced to move away from his childhood home after neighbours circulated nasty rumours about him; these resulted in his being physically as well as verbally assaulted in the street and his house was also vandalised.  The rumours were unfounded, but even after a local newspaper printed a true version of events, completely exonerating him, tongues continued to wag and the harassment continued.

I am pleased to say that I have heard from this reader since. He has made a new life for himself and his family and his wife recently gave birth to their third child.

Tragically, not every victim of vicious rumour has a happy ending. I personally know of one who committed suicide.

Oh, but if only some people would think before they start apportioning blame to others for this or that before they have all the facts…!


Closed, the curtains now,
graffiti on the sill;
no cheery sounds in every room
just gloom and an eerie chill;
no laughing at the budgerigar
or thinking about a new car
but cowering in fear at a banging
on doors, the yelling
of good neighbours
out in force...after rough

Empty, the garden now,
daisies on the lawn;
no kids playing on the old swing
and the satellite dish has gone;
no dog chasing next-door’s cat
or neighbours at the gate
converging like wolves
on fresh meat, working up
a thirst...too late
to make a killing; the law
struck first

Media in on the act,
and prime TV;
parents puffing their points
of view, kids enjoying
the party...
All quiet now. Werewolves
slinking from the scene.
(Can’t get it right every time
and who's to say
what might have been? A job
well done.)

Budgie gets to keep its cage;
history skips a page…

Copyright R. N. Taber 2002; 2010

[Note: This poem has been (slightly) revised from the original as it appears in 1st eds., of  First Person Plural by R. N. Taber, Assembly Books, 2002.]

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