Thursday, 30 May 2013

Ghosts OR Once-Love, Never a Random Memory

Who has never returned to the scene of a once-love and wondered how things might have been if only…?


Much rougher the sea
than last we ran here, laughing
on the cliffs,
a spring breeze in our hair;
less kind the sky
than last we kissed there,
bluebells surrounding
a passion brought to bear;
sweet memory, wings
of a friendly gull soaring our dreams,
love’s rhythm to fulfill;
such heat to embrace your body,
and bold! In the vaults
of eternity, our lives grown cold;
salty now, the hair blowing
across my face, thinned
like the heather at our special place

Though huddled in a raincoat,
I, oh, so easily recall the glad heart
that made me thrall…

Gulls squeal! No melody,
but a sure grace
whirling against storm clouds
like a pattern of lace
on an altar cloth, would have
smothered us both

Copyright R. N. Taber 1991; 2010

[Note: This poem has been slightly revised from an earlier version as it appeared in several poetry magazines and an anthology 1996-2004, and subsequently  in 1st eds. of Love And Human Remains by R. N. Taber, Assembly Books, 2001; 2nd (revised) e-edition in preparation.]

Tuesday, 28 May 2013

Arthur Atkins (2)

Something different today.

In 2009, I posted a poem about William ‘Arthur’ Atkins, a painter-poet from Liverpool who migrated to California in the late 1890s only to die there while still a young man:

(If the link does not work, copy and paste into the address field)

I have been fascinated by and interested in Arthur’s story for some years now since being introduced to it by a friend, Steven, who lives in California. Steven has some of Arthur’s paintings (he, too is a talented painter) and other related items. Very knowledgeable about the Atkins family history, he recently sent me these photos and a poem by Arthur that I thought viewers might enjoy. 

It would appear that, according to family lore, Arthur's love was Virginie de Fremery:

Arthur wrote this poem that was published in The Lark, February 1896:


SPRING and the daffodil again!
            I heard the lark at dawn,
A liquid cadence through the rain
            Across my lawn.

The wet, red roses all around
            Stir in the breeze.
The first white trillium breaks the ground
            Under the canyon trees.

I bring the wild white flower of Spring,
            Above all others thine--
At he whom with the gift I bring,
            Thy Valentine!

[Note:  For the sake of historical accuracy, it should be pointed out that the word ‘canyon’ in the poem is actually spelt ‘canon’ in the original with a tilde over the first ‘n’.]

NB If you  have any information about Arthur, my friend Steven in California has asked me to say that you are very welcome to get in touch. Contact:

Monday, 27 May 2013


Rainy days are not uncommon here in the UK.

Ah, but there is inspiration (maybe even a poem) to be found even on rainy days. I was once quoted as saying there is a poem in everything around us whereupon I was challenged to write one about ...puddles!


Reflections of an angry sky

skimming the surface like ripples
from raindrops

Sulky mouths, creased brows

skimming the surface like ripples
from raindrops

Fearful fingers clutching collars

skimming the surface like ripples
from raindrops

Umbrellas, scoring points

skimming the surface like ripples
from raindrops

Bowed heads like sad clouds

skimming the surface like ripples
from raindrops

Better times around the next corner

skimming the surface like ripples
from raindrops

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

Sunday, 26 May 2013

Trailing Roses

I have written several poems about roses; they were my late mother’s favourite flower, and are mine also.


Dawn, a golden haze
among trailing trellis roses;
trees, dripping rainbows
on grasshoppers signing in
another day

Rooftops, sheets of glass
where birds pause to preen
a feather or two before
taking off to help usher in
another day

Bubble wrap skies, cue
for sleepyheads to wonder
why on earth heaven
is raising the alarm for just
another day

Sun rising, world trailing
after trellis roses like a lover
left for dead…
yet to rediscover fool’s gold
another day

By noon, trellis roses
getting up the noses of those
who know no better
than to repeat their mistakes
another day

At dusk, nature playing
its daily nocturne to anyone
who cares to listen,
dares even show a sad world
another way

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

Saturday, 25 May 2013

Fundamentally Flawed

Fundamentalism, in any shape or form and in relation to any religion or cause…is a tragedy. The fundamentalist becomes as much a victim of his or her way of thinking as anyone that gets in its way.

Blood spilt and lives ruined can never be excused.

Religious fundamentalists are the worst kind. Religion is - or should be - about love and peace.

The main reason I cannot empathize with (any) religion is that is has, for centuries, been directly or indirectly responsible for shedding blood and dividing not only families but also whole communities; little if anything has changed as far as I can see, and the sheer intransigence of various socio-cultural-religious groups is largely responsible for the 21st century getting off to a poor start.

Thank goodness (and we all need to remember) the majority of ordinary, religious-minded people are no more fundamentalists than the majority of ordinary German people were Nazis during Word War 2, the events leading up to it or since.  

This poem is a villanelle.


Love tempestuous,
root of evil
(death of Judas)

Wanton, impetuous,
dressed to kill,
love tempestuous

Deaf-blind justice
making its call
(death of Judas?)

Madly zealous
with a will…
love tempestuous

To truth, oblivious,
hope in free-fall
(death of Judas?)

Be fools or martyrs
at its call…
Love tempestuous,
death of Judas

Copyright R. N. Taber 2003; 2013

[Note: A slightly different version of today’s poem was first published in an anthology, Prisms of Light, Poetry Now (Forward Press) 2003, and subsequently in The Third Eye by R. N. Taber, Assembly Books, 2004; rev. ed. in e-format in preparation.]

Monday, 20 May 2013

Twilight on a Lake OR Nature, an Everyman's Guide to Infinity

As I grow old, some memories dim while others take on a whole new perspective, probably because we don''t always realize at the time just how much certain occasions mean to us or those with whom we get to share them. 

I have made some changes to this villanelle that I wrote during a wonderful weekend in the Lake District some years ago.

 Twilight at Ashness Bridge (Lake District)


Though pain a part
in our lives surely take,
play on, glad heart

There is a beauty art
strives its copies to make
though pain a part

When life falls apart,
and fragile promises break,
play on, glad heart

Cherish from the start
each dip in passion’s lake
though pain a part

Where the stars chart
our every move, mistake,
play on, glad heart

May love’s winged dart
find its mark for our sake;
though pain a part,
play on, glad heart

Copyright R. N. Taber 2003; 2016

[Note An earlier version of this poem was first published in an anthology, 'Chasing Shadows', Poetry Now [Forward Press] 2003 and subsequently in 1st eds. of The Third Eye by R. N. Taber, Assembly Books, 2004; revised ed. in e-format in preparation. The poem was slightly revised in 2013, and an alternative title, added 2016.]

Sunday, 19 May 2013

Sleeping Dogs

While I love to receive your emails and will always reply, there is no need to commiserate with my having so few followers as more people tend to access them via my Google Plus site these days and not everyone wants emails automatically notifying them of updates and new posts/poems, preferring to drop by whenever the whim takes them. (A LOT of readers drop by regularly so I am delighted.)

I dare say I might have more registered followers  if I allowed comments, but there are too many idiots out there spoiling blogs with silly remarks so I prefer to accept none at all. I have no wish to create a social network.. Even so, both blogs are well read so that can’t be bad…especially  perhaps for a poet in his late 60's who also happens to be gay.


We don’t always appreciate the effect our words and/or actions might have on others, even loved ones. It is so easy to be well-meaning yet misunderstood. Yet, if a relationship is worth saving it is worth fighting for, and all parties should make time to talk things through…

I have been let down badly by friends and family in the past (haven’t we all?). Sometimes we have talked things through and grown closer. However, there have been times when much, as I would have liked to talk things through, some people only have ears for what they want to hear. Any closeness p was but a mirage. I dare say they feel the same about me. For all my faults, though, I am always ready to talk things through…with people prepared to consider points of view other than their own. It is rarely a question of who is right or wrong, but simply bearing in mind that, just as we may easily bruise ourselves so, too, it is easy to unintentionally inflict hurt.

The better you know someone, the least likely you are to want to hurt them, and vice versa. The closer you are, though, the easier it becomes to do just that. All relationships need to be worked at; some people simply are not prepared to put in the effort so never really get to know anyone that well.

Most friends and family members fall out from time to time, but if a relationship is worth having, it has to be worth saving but, as always, it takes two to tango.


Love may well never die
nor friendship, but sometimes
both may well lie sleeping
within a heart grown, oh, so weary
behind eyes brought
to weeping for all those things
not as we would have them;
accepted, understood, forgiven even,
and never quite forgot,
but left asleep in the arms
of every dreamer
that ever loved or had a friend
where love and friendship
not returned in kind, or even in part
if we include untold damage
to the heart, ignorance of some crisis
of body and spirit neither love
nor friendship can impart to a mind
open only to its own desires,
fires of inspiration fed by flames
of desperation, a reaching-out
for an ideal expecting every opportunity
to wear appropriate regalia,
those spectators by any other name

In time, we appreciate
(only too well) what we're up against,
we friends and would-be lovers
left waiting at a gate,
we know will never open unless
by whim of a kinder fate, by which time
the chances are it will be too late

Rarely will lost friendships and loves,
though stirring in quiet hearts
every now and then, chance returning
to how (one wistful once-upon-a- time)
things might have been…

Copyright R. N. Taber 2005; 2013

[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 e. in e-format in preparation.]

Saturday, 18 May 2013

Turning Point or L-I-F-E in Slow Motion

Today’s poem is, yes, another villanelle; it first appeared in an anthology, Soulful Emotions, Poetry Now [Forward Press] 2003 and subsequently in my collection

Looking out and not being a part of things can make a day pass very slowly.

Looks like it’s decision time…

This poem is a villanelle.


Turns the day slow,
like clock faces ticking
at a lonely window

Seasons come and go;
world, its shadow chases;
turns the day slow

Tears flow...
for love in other places
at a window

Dare not follow
where the pulse races?
Turns the day slow

Take care, now
as a friendly fear surfaces
at a window

Let adrenaline flow,
put life through its paces;
turns the day slow
at a lonely window

Copyright R. N. Taber 2004

[Note: An earlier version of this poem appears in The Third Eye by R. N. Taber, Assembly Books,  2004; rev. ed. in e-format in preparation.]

Friday, 17 May 2013

Notes on the Art of Self-Deception

We have all met them, people who are too stubborn to admit they even might be wrong or mistaken; who won’t compromise because they see even meeting someone halfway as a sign of weakness.

Mind you, even stubbornness has its place in the human psyche; it can be a virtuy or a vice.. For example, it is helping me through my treatment for prostate cancer; a stubborn streak in me refuses to consider (most of the time) what could yet happen.

Oh, but life is too short to dwell for long on its what-ifs and maybes. Carpe Diem, I say!

This poem is a kenning, sometimes referred to as a 'Who am I?' poem.


Few acknowledge
my presence from beginning to end
of their time,
insinuating my way with expertise
worthy of a spy
intent on political obstruction,
slithering in and out
among corridors of a nation’s
central powerhouse

To anyone aware
of my existence, it suits them best
to deny I have any influence
over their affairs, but will insist
they will proceed
with the fairness and diplomacy
(not political expediency)
choosing to ignore my capacity
for sabotage

Though the heart
stay true to all intents and purposes,
I will wreak havoc
among dark corridors of the mind,
slithering in and out
where conscience would tread,
ensuring a degree
of impotence for its slipping up
on a trail of lies

 Find me, a pale imitation of integrity
 strayed in the footsteps of vanity

Copyright R. N. Taber 2011

Thursday, 16 May 2013

Someone Has To Mow The Lawn

I once had good cause to ask a friend, ‘What’s the point of living when the love of your life has died?’

My friend had lost his partner some years earlier and I suppose I was expecting pearls of wisdom. Instead, she gave me a lovely, enigmatic smile, shrugged, and said, ‘Someone has to mow the lawn.’

It was a long while before I understood what she meant.


My clothes need washing,
shopping needs doing,
and who’ll mow the lawn?

My lunch needs preparing,
potatoes need peeling
and who’ll mow the lawn?

The dog will need grooming,
birdcage cleaning,
and who’ll mow the lawn?

Our rose trees need pruning,
fences need mending,
and who’ll mow the lawn?

Our bed, it will need making
(the mattress turning)
and who’ll mow the lawn?

But time to be up and leaving
your grave I'm haunting,
and go mow the damn lawn

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

Wednesday, 15 May 2013

On the Incredible Self-Empowerment of Naming Things

Like many men, I was terrified of getting prostate cancer in my later years. Shortly after my 65th birthday, in the spring of 2011, I was, yes, diagnosed with prostate cancer and began hormone therapy.

Although I feel fine (most days) I have had some really weird dreams. The one on which this poem is based was so vivid that I got out of bed in the early hours and made a few notes before I could forget the whole thing. Sometimes I can get back into my dreams, but not on this occasion. As soon as my head hit the pillow again, I was fast asleep. If I had another dream, I don’t remember it.

I eventually woke up around 7:00 am in a cold sweat, vaguely disturbed yet also oddly elated. I felt as if I had ridden the gamut from youth to old age in a matter of seconds and been washed up on a sunny beach, my trusty white steed and me. (I love walking by the sea…)   

Above a louder and even more splendid than usual dawn chorus, I fancied someone was calling a name. In the cold light of day, I couldn’t hear what name, but somehow knew it wasn’t mine; not this time anyway. 

I sat up in bed and said aloud, ‘I have prostate cancer.’

Perhaps that is what the dream was all about, giving my ‘illness’ a name so I needn’t be afraid of it anymore?

Some hours later I caught a train and soon found myself walking by the sea in Brighton (East Sussex). I have done this so many times for so many years, yet those so familiar surroundings seemed like something out of a dream that day, and I felt so much the more reassured for it.

Naming our fears helps us confront them, all the better to get on with living without being distracted by a sense of constantly doing battle with an invisible enemy.


I rode a white horse to a castle gate
left wide open;
its drawbridge down, I rode right on
and banged at the door;
noise resounded like the weeping
of some tortured wretch

No one answered. I called a greeting
and the door groaned ajar;
not a friendly soul in sight, I entered
the Great Hall where a banquet
called for celebration of someone’s life
(alive or dead?)

Trestle tables were piled high with food
of every description,
yet no one ate from a single silver plate
or drank from silver goblets;
every throne-like chair remained emptier
than a beggar’s pockets

My horse snorted and reared as if sensing
a curse had been laid upon us;
I lost my grip and tumbled to a stone floor
as cold as a wintry sea;
frantic, I heard the wretch let fly my name
on waves of terror

I swam centuries before finally recovering
my surf board, soon lay panting
at the gate of a sandcastle left wide open,
listening to a poor wretch weeping,
wondering who it could be and how on earth
he knew my name

My horse snorted and reared as if sensing
a curse had been lifted from us;
I leapt into the saddle, rode out of the gate
into brilliant sunshine among children
playing sandcastles, but none likely to last
as long as mine

Copyright R. N. Taber 2010; 2013

[Note: I have posted other poems on the subject of my prostate cancer. Consequently, several readers have been in touch about their own concerns. While always ready to express an opinion, I never give advice, and obviously am not qualified to offer any medical advice anyway. However, if you ever feel you need psychological/emotional support or have any general questions about dealing with it you are welcome to contact me - with 'Prostate cancer' in the subject field.

Tuesday, 14 May 2013

Civilian Casualties Sidelined OR Whose War Is It...?

We read and hear much on this or that political platform about Global Warming and the global economic downturn etc.

Considering various conflicts across the world, whatever happened to the Global Conscience?


People left homeless,
losing limbs,
civilian death toll rising,
NATO focusing
on its troop numbers

Children left orphans,
losing limbs,
dying before their time,
NATO playing
the usual blame game

Families left weeping,
losing heart,
making ends meet
as best they can,
fighting a losing battle

Media left observing
lost limbs,
civilian death toll rising,
NATO focusing
on its troop numbers

World left wondering,

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

Sunday, 12 May 2013

The Zen of Discernment

As we go through life, how much do we discern regarding the nature of our surroundings, and how much do we take for granted?

This poem is a villanelle.


Like ghosts, our years pass us,
(the mixed blessings of memory)
as hauntingly beautiful as stars

No lesser regard for science
than Earth Mother’s finer poetry,
like ghosts, our years pass us,

Images of laughter and tears
finest art can only ever but copy,
as hauntingly beautiful as stars

No hopes wing more precious
than family and friends in harmony;
like ghosts our years pass us

Come birdsong to fine old trees,
so joy and pain creating our history,
as hauntingly beautiful as stars

As centuries turn nature’s leaves,
so each human heart creates eternity
like ghosts, our years pass us,
as hauntingly beautiful as stars

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

 [Please Note: My collections are only on sale in the UK but anyone can order (signed) copies from me at a generous blogger discount; there will be no further print runs of first editions and 2nd editions will be in e-format. For details, contact with ‘Blog reader’ or Poetry collection’ in the subject field.]

Thursday, 9 May 2013

Ghost Fingers

Regular readers will be aware of my passion for clouds, also more than a passing interest in the posthumous consciousness; this poem combines elements of both.

(Photo taken from the Internet)


Inspiring the young, comforting old,
fuelling tales at cosy fires,
melting a frost on cobbles of despair,
thawing the icy grip of fear;
a warning too or at least a hint
of what’s to be, rooted
in shifting sands of a memory playing
fast and loose with our desires,
heavenly spires secretly tumbling us

Partying the young, partnering old,
fireflies dashing at twilight,
breaking into its pregnant silences,
fracturing cruel thoughts;
an intruder too, wearing a mask
that’s oozing familiarity,
shifting sands of a memory playing
fast and loose with our desires,
heavenly spires overtly spinning us

Driving the young, steering the old,
taking rough with smooth,
making inroads to forbidden places,
bringing hope, love;
a stranger at the wheel, no map
to dictate our route across
shifting sands of memory playing
fast and loose with our desires,
heavenly spires playfully teasing us

Feeding imagination, art’s finer promise;
clouds, like ghost fingers, signing to us

Copyright R. N. Taber 2007

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

Wednesday, 8 May 2013

Butterflies, Catching the LIght

The poem was inspired by a lovely lady who fought cancer and won a reprieve of several years before it finally caught up with her. One summer, she told me that, if it was to be her last, she would enjoy it to the full although she would not be content to simply pass through a butterfly but had every intention of seeing out another autumn…and winter…and spring...

Indeed, no passing butterfly, she, but a true Child of the Earth. When I was first diagnosed with prostate cancer in February 2011, she was and remains my inspiration.


Why think of dying on a lovely
summer’s day?
Not a cloud in the sky; birds full
of mischief and joy;
a scarecrow swinging in a breeze,
making us dizzy;
children laughing at grown-ups
too busy blowing
on dandelion clocks to care how
the young may
perceive the rapture of one foolish
moment, finer by far
than capturing a rare butterfly;
Light in the eye
like a spread of buttery sunshine
on bald spots in
your hair, token of forever things;
Peace, Hope,
wings of a kind, like words a child
might find
once tucked into bed and favourite
stories read;
heavens, in perfect harmony with
greenest pastures
though a cancer in the body catch
us unawares
to keep, like the rarest butterflies,
on display

Why think of dying on a lovely
summer’s day?

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

Tuesday, 7 May 2013

Rediscovering Climate Change, 3--- AD

[Update June 2nd 2017]: Yesterday, president Trump withdrew the USA from the Paris agreement on climate change. Such a step has been met with dismay by most countries around the world. Wie the president professes to be putting America and Americans first, it remains to be seen if that will prove the case or whether excessive carbon emissions may yet be the death of us all.] RT

As regular readers will know, I am revising some  poems that appear in my collection. An earlier version of today's poem first appeared in an anthology, Free-Falling, Poetry Now [Forward Press] 2006 and subsequently in my collection the following year. While there is a strong argument for leaving well alone, as I look at poems from a distance of several years or more, I sometimes feel the need to 'get it right'. Some readers, of course, will always prefer the original.

Now, we hear and read about climate change all the time.Yet how seriously do we take it? How committed are we to future generations?  Nor is climate all that's changing. Some would argue that humankind itself is being gradually eroded by complacency if not by by its own inhumanity.

Fatalism is humankind's worst enemy; we cannot blame our shortcomings on fate, only ourselves.

As for the planet, I suspect nature has ideas of its own...

Whatever, there is no room for complacency; the well-being of future generations is at stake.

Preserved in ice, like some
prehistoric monster
poised to tread weeping clay,
dead water

Traces of green, shades of envy
to the probing eye
investigating its reappearance
and repercussions

Provoking alarm in Big Brother’s
desolate backyard
stretching endlessly, like
a yawning clay pit

Hysteria among humanoid
and robotic camps alike,
tugging at the archaeologist’s arm
to leave well alone

Preserved in ice, like some
prehistoric monster,
missed potential for all humanity;
Statue of Liberty

Copyright R. N. Taber 2006; 2013

[Note: An earlier version of this poem appears 1st eds. of  Accomplices To Illusion by R. N. Taber, Assembly Books, 2007; 2nd (revised) e-edition in preparation.]

Monday, 6 May 2013

Old Haunts OR H-O-P-E, a Personal History

I suspect we all get lonely sometimes. Ghosts and soap characters can be good company, but there is nothing like going out and meeting people to feel...alive! Essentially, it's a matter of self-confidence, believing in ourselves and others or how can we expect them believe in and have confidence in us?

Never let anyone tell you you're less of a person then they are, whatever inflexible socio-cultural-religious 'principles' they may throw at you.  We are all different and as I have said many times on both blogs, being different doesn't make us different, only human. 


World, a reflection
in bed-sit windows
weaving fictions
around street corners

Cracks on a pane
like shattered dreams
made whole again
(while the sun shines)

Lonely, a sad word
like weepy autumn mists
asking of the world
it befriend its ghosts

Hope,still  treading warily
through eternity

Copyright R. N. Taber 2002; 2011

[Note: An earlier version of this poem appears in 1st eds. of First Person Plural by R. N. Taber, Assembly Books, 2002; 2nd (revised) e-edition  in preparation. 

Friday, 3 May 2013

Cascade OR Rediscovering Nature

Some readers who link to my YouTube channel think 'too much' background noise detracts from the poems I read. While I take their point, it is unavoidable when filming outdoors with my (cheap) camcorder. There is no way to subdue all background noise without killing the reading. For me, reading outdoors brings the poem to life. Moreover, the location often relates to the poem. For example, I wanted to read Autobiography of a Beach where I began to write it, on Bournemouth beach.

Latterly, anyone who has ever dipped into my You Tube channel will have seen that I have started reading poems over the video, thereby reducing background distractions since I record the poem in the relative peace and quiet of my London flat. This appears to work quite well and I will probably do this in future.  I suspect it would have been better to start off this way, but my best friend (and cameraman) Graham and I are only amateurs and did not hit on the idea until we discovered that we had a growing audience. We intend to record more videos/poem later this year as and when time allows:


Someone close to me was a keen gardener and loved the seasons. When she lay in hospital dying, she told me not to be afraid. “There’s really nothing to be afraid of. Nervous, perhaps, but who isn’t nervous of change?   As for being afraid, though, no one with a passion of spring need ever be afraid of winter.”


In the dark of night I stumbled along
the lonely, winding passages of birth,
let moon, stars and love’s sweeter song
lure me into the killing fields of Earth

By history’s first light, I’d dried my tears
(said to make all who nurture us proud)
by noon, I’d joined a stream of refugees
fallen foul of some scapegoat of a God

In the twilight of my years, I found peace,
no thanks to a world obsessed with terror,
letting a cascade of spring’s finer joys
absorb tears long shed for a bad winter

Where death lets us free-fall back to nature,
in love’s cascade, we’ll sing, shine, forever

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; 2nd (revised) e-edition in preparation.]]