Wednesday, 31 July 2013

Postscript to a Memory

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/R._N._Taber

My idea of life after death has nothing whatever to do with religion, so I have no worries about some God kicking me out of any Heaven because I am gay, as some followers of some religions would have it. Even as a child attending Sunday school, I could never accept the idea of a personified Heaven and was frequently scolded for daring to suggest that it might be somewhat overcrowded; the same could be said of Hell, of course.

Everyone to their own point of view, I say. But if I can respect a religious person’s notion of an after-life, why can’t they respect mine? Why should sexuality have anything more to do with how we get on with our lives than how we might (or might not) fare afterwards?

Whatever, this poem (like many others) is about having a spiritual relationship with death. As I grow old(er) I do think of death more often, but not morbidly; on the contrary, with growing reassurance.

POSTSCRIPT TO A MEMORY

Come a day, fair dawn
breaking and I not waking to see
or hear a skylark singing
about living this life to the full,
rays of sunlight streaming
through a chink in curtains closed
to keep out anxious night,
kissing me (goodbye?) one last time,
where then will I be
when you look for me in relation
to that eternity of faith and legend,
world without end?

Come a day, high noon
may find Apollo beating to a pulp
all manner of humanity
pacing floors or crouched at desks
over their computers,
demanding reasons for various crises
and discovering technology
is not the saviour we like to make out,
where then will I be
when you look for me in relation
to that cyber world we’d see replace
nature’s take on space?

Come a day, amber twilight
hinting at the beginnings and endings
of all things, we cannot know
if what the nightingale sings foretells
peace and love for us
or does its bitter-sweet sorrow mourn
a long, lonely, wait
without our ever knowing for what,
where then will I be
when you look for me in relation
to a comforting embrace of spirituality
promising immortality?

Come a day that would part us
for some mythical Forever, but look
and be sure to find me
in sunny skies and woodlands alive
with songs of love and peace,
where rivers run and swallows fly,
in shop windows as you pass by,
on TV shows we’d have to laugh at or cry,
and should you miss me there,
fall back on humanity’s customised
version of Forever, and find me waiting
in your mirror


Copyright R. N. Taber 2011

Tuesday, 30 July 2013

A Life in the Day of a Sandman OR Facing Up to History



I often refer to ghosts in my poems. Do I believe in ghosts? Oh, yes, I certainly do.  Here, though, the ghost is simply a metaphor in the manner of many poets, writers, and artists before me and I dare say many more to come…

A metaphor, for what, did you say? Ah, therein lies the secret of the kenning form of poetry; you usually have to read it to discover the narrator’s identity.

A LIFE IN THE DAY OF A SANDMAN or FACING UP TO HISTORY

See me, ghost
of times past that takes my cue
from all around me,
busy creating roles to play
for me to step into
once choice comes into its own
and society acknowledges
my stake in it, and every right
live in peace

Hear me, ghost
of times present that will tug
at the restless heart,
invade the enquiring mind,
seek to be reconciled
with whatever moral order
is loath to acknowledge
there’s no harm in agreeing
to differ

Embrace me, ghost
of times yet to come, fretting
I may not fulfill
my potential, whether physical,
psychological, emotional
or, yes, sexual since you ask
(and well you might)
for I am the sum total of mind,
body and spirit

I am a child of time and space;
call me, Conscience

Copyright R. N. Taber 2011


Friday, 26 July 2013

Dark Side of the Sun OR Anatomy of Human Relationships


Several readers have been in touch to ask why second editions of my collections will only (eventually) be available as e-books. Copies don't sell well enough  these days to justify publication in print form. 

Poetry collections are rarely high on anyone’s wish list, and I don’t envisage any substantial change in the global economic situation for some years yet.

Meanwhile…

Even love has to compromise now and then, on which occasions its scales are inevitably unevenly balanced.

All relationships can be hard work from time to time as the heart feels its way through their darker side to a togetherness filled with light...   

DARK SIDE OF THE SUN  or ANATOMY OF HUMAN RELATIONSHIPS

I look in my mirror, see you
looking for me...
on the other side of Time,
recall other places,
kinder faces, where sorrow
disappears, your lips
on mine, two naked bodies
in the swim of life’s
finer joys, the once-again
summer of our years,
two brave hearts beating
as one

A cup of tea sure to ease me
into dawn's misty shine;
you prefer coffee, and we'll
share burnt toast,
walk a crooked line between
stains on the tablecloth,
lay bets on who can avoid
the most

A cheerful grin as choral din
breaks out (heaven on cue),
no sweeter sounds to sift us
through and through,
suffer me, suffer you, again
and again. Let it rain
or shine, embrace the day
with half-open eyes;
come pain, strife, tumble me
out of this earthy bed
where I'm learning to live
with your lies

Century racing on, all of us
hoping to win, anxious
to show we can, thoughts busy
winding in such rare strands
as ever came together, daring
to reach out for one another,
rewrite the poetry of separation
at Will-Be-Done

Dark side of the sun

Copyright R. N. Taber 1999; 2011

[Note: This poem has been slightly revised (2011) from an earlier version that first appeared in the anthology What Inspires Us, Poetry Now (Forward Press), 1999 and subsequently in 1st eds. of  Love And Human Remains, Assembly Books, 2001; 2nd (revised) e-edition in preparation.]

 -

Wednesday, 24 July 2013

Memories, Poems, Flowers OR Love, My Comfort Still

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/R._N._Taber

It is a well-worn adage and some would say a corny one. Yet, it is so true. Love lasts forever. Whether it is for a partner, family member or close friend…where tragedy strikes, our love for them and theirs for us will mount a rescue operation in due course and replace the burden of grief with the lighter, even humorous touch of happy memories

Now, I refer to God in the poem and regular readers may well wonder why as I am not a religious person. Yet, religion does not have a monopoly on spirituality and God is many things to many people. (I am an agnostic not an atheist while verging on pantheism.) Nor is there any reason that I can see why God should not be female.

I rejected religion for nature even as a child. Yet, who is to say that Nature and God are not the same? However, the bereaved person for whom I wrote the poem happens to be a Christian and I respect that… just as she (unlike many who take their cue from hierarchical interpretations of this religion or that) respects the fact that I am gay and of a more spiritual than religious nature.

Okay, so I am a romantic. But, yes, in my experience, love is one of the few truly blessed aspects of life upon which we can rely to stay with us always…provided we don’t shut it out, for whatever reason.

Love’s continuing growth and flowering remains both a comfort and inspiration…but only if we let it.

MEMORIES, POEMS, FLOWERS or LOVE, MY COMFORT STILL

Whenever tears falling like winter rain
for thinking of your hurt and suffering,
I think of springtime, find you once again
beside me - hopeful, happy, laughing

As my heart cries out in darkest despair,
in pain for the tragedy of your plight,
I think of summertime and see you there,
jumping for joy in the sun’s gentle light

I know, at heart, my prayers will be heard,
if unclear whatever ‘God’ may suggest,
inspired by Omnipresence in one Word
promising love’s spirit eternal rest

Life is more than any NOW, this I know
love, a perennial ( let live, let grow…)

Copyright R. N. Taber 2005; 2013

[Note: An earlier version of this poem appears under the title 'Memories, Prayers, Flowers' 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.]

Monday, 22 July 2013

Shades of Mythology at the Cliffs of Time


Let us hope history will not judge the entire 21st century by its poor beginnings, certain world societies and socio-cultural-religious groups within them paying lip service to the basic human principles of mutual respect and understanding.

Yes, there are many good things going on and good people making them happen, but from where I am writing this sorry world of ours has not made a good start to the new millennium and badly needs to get its act together.

Can it be that leaders from all walks of life need to give less thought to their own egos and more to the ordinary man, woman, and child in the street to whom, invariably, relatively few can even begin to relate?  It may well be the way life is and history is made, but that does not make it right or mean things cannot be done differently, hopefully for the better, before it is too late and irreparable damage done to planet and  human condition alike.

Maybe, one day…

Meanwhile, humankind keeps busy creating  new mythologies that distant future generations will probably gloss over as metaphor - for what, exactly? 

SHADES OF MYTHOLOGY AT THE CLIFFS OF TIME

Dark angels attacking from the sea,
only to hover defiantly between a misty
earth and sky, like bats put in cages,
choice specimens to admire, touch even,
without fear (or real appreciation);
we are safe enough since they can’t fly
in our faces like the world’s vices,
invite us to turn a blind eye or join in
the euphoria, excusing themselves
(and us) with fine rhetoric, no matter
we prefer to look eyes closed, innocents
playing fast asleep

Now, all quiet. Now, a rush of wings
depriving even the inner eye of light along
with harsher cries at ears listening out
for warning sounds, hints at reassurance
(of course, what else?) urging we visit
nether regions of the spirit, view dark angels
with awe if only for drawing our attention
to some patched-up failings in personal space
where we can but watch warily, afraid,
long since repressed by adopted criteria
for a ‘civilized’ life brooking little empathy
with its conscience

Marked for having made bad choices,
(like flying with bats, safety in numbers?)
in a frantic rhythm blithely imposed
by Earth Mother, composed by artists
inspired by passion’s adventurers,
content to leave all sense and sensibility  
to its own accountability and Apollo’s 
predilection for shadow play among rocks
and hard places of a maturity eroded
by time, forever vying with Omnipresence
for a place in history, human nature sticking
to its guns

New mythologies, last spotted breaking
into old Poseidon’s lair;
21st century in denial, affecting to get real 
about climate change…

Copyright R. N. Taber 2007; 2010

[Note: An earlier version of this poem under the title 'No Strategy for Surrender' appears in 1st eds. of Accomplices To Illusion by R. N. Taber, Assembly Books, 2007; 2nd (revised) e-edition ed. in preparation.]


Wednesday, 17 July 2013

An Existential Road Trip


I suspect few of us haven't, at some time or another, sat hunched in a chair, chin in hands, brooding about whatever issues are plaguing us, staring at the carpet without really seeing it.

Stare long enough, though, and the inner eye may well focus on more then we ever imagined, taking us on existential road trip that passes for a daydream...

 AN EXISTENTIAL ROAD TRIP

Flowers in a field
starting to grow
where there was only
a muddy brown

Winging clouds;
whiter than whites
of eyes daring us defy
our worst fears

Flowers in a field
starting to dance
like a ballet company
for ‘Spartacus’

Winds of Change
(life-threatening)
and only carpet flowers
to weep our graves

Flowers in a field
of memories,
we slaves of time found
wanting in its eyes

A burst of sunlight
(kicking up dust)
makes a convincing case     
for spring cleaning

Copyright R. N. Taber 2010


Monday, 15 July 2013

Come Twilight's Sword OR On Earth Mother's Watch


Some 30+ years ago, I had a severe nervous breakdown. Among other aspects of irrational behavior, I became preoccupied with the idea of dying, and deliberately overdosed on paracetamol. I was unconscious for 35 hours. I recovered consciousness only briefly, but long enough to make my way to my nearby GP’s surgery. I recall nothing else until waking up in hospital another 24 hours later. It was a good year before I was glad my suicide attempt failed; so deep was my depression that I could see no light at the end of the tunnel at the time.

The poem below was inspired by a recurring dream I’ve had since those dark days. It not only reinforces my faith in Earth Mother’s kinder side, but also makes me determined to avoid freefalling into The Abyss a second time. It is particularly reassuring as I learn to contend with a low-medium level of prostate cancer.

COME TWILIGHT’S SWORD or ON EARTH MOTHER'S WATCH

I was lying in my bed
when an angel came and said,
‘Won’t you come with me?’

No time to frame a word
under threat of twilight’s sword,
nor barely able to see

Scared, I shook my head,
but the angel laughed and said,
‘You must come with me.’

I explained I couldn’t leave,
loved ones tugging at my sleeve;
from the angel, no reprieve

Near heaven, I looked back,
world on Man’s customized rack
crying out to me

Did the angel release my hand,
at nature’s, oh, so spirited demand
let its trees and poets go free?

I’ll never know, for I awoke;
behind dawn’s veil, a lark spoke,
‘Do your best for me.’

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

Sunday, 14 July 2013

Riposte, to the Darker Side of Nature OR Living with Prostate Cancer, Seizing the Day


[Update (Nov 28/2016) Since a bad fall in 2014, I can no longer participate in charity walks or runs. Some of you may be interested to know, though, that I am giving a sponsored reading of my poetry (both general, on many theme, and some gay-interest poems) in central London on World Poetry Day (March 21) 2017. So if you enjoy my poems  and feel able to make a donate as much or as little as you can afford to Prostate Cancer UK - via my JustGiving page - be sure this will be very gratefully received by a very worthy organisation on whom so many men - especially those who live alone - depend for help and support. Whatever, it goes without saying that anyone is more than welcome to come along whether or not they wish to donate.

https://www.justgiving.com/fundraising/Roger-Taber

I will have been living with non-aggressive  prostate cancer for 6+ years by then, treated with hormone therapy. While it has not been an easy time, I remain the positive thinking person I have always tried to be. More importantly, I am still alive to tell the tale because the cancer was caught at an early stage. Too many men 55+ refuse to even think about prostate cancer so I am also hoping to help raise Awareness. Living alone can be tough, especially as we grow old, and living with prostate cancer (or any cancer, of course) doesn't help. I am lucky, with a few good friends and neighbours to keep an eye on me, but some people have no one.]
.]
.............................................
While only some of my poems are autobiographical, all are personal to some degree or another while I try to leave space enough for the reader to move about within them.  While today’s poem is a particularly personal poem, given my non-aggressive (so far) prostate cancer, it is also an explanation (of sorts) to those well-meaning, religious minded people who have expressed genuine disbelief if not horror that it hasn’t compelled me to seek out the God of Holy Books.

For a start, I have every confidence in the hospital team responsible for my (hormone therapy) treatment.  Moreover, only as a very young child did I ever enter into any conception of a personified God. My mother did, and I believed her until I was old enough to make up my own mind, convinced at an early age that we make our own Heaven or Hell here on Earth.

As regular readers know, I turned to nature for spiritual reassurance many years ago. Nor do I honestly think it had anything to do with feelings of alienation as I proceeded to confront my sexuality. Possibly, what some call 'God' is nature although I dare say they would argue that He (or She?) created nature for human beings to enjoy. (Yes, enjoy, not attack and destroy.)

Who knows? Each to his or her own, I say. Oh, and isn’t it high time we all started respecting each other’s beliefs, life choices, natural instincts (like sexuality) and stopped fighting amongst ourselves over who may be right and who may be wrong?  Too many people so love to take the moral high ground, they lose sight of morality in the process. It has to be one of life’s greater ironies that sickness and disease provide a common humanity with the one common denominator likely to bring all sides together…if only until it has run its course.

My mother used to tell me that whenever the going gets rough, the only way to think is positive. It was GOOD advice, especially for a young gay lad growing up in a predominantly gay-unfriendly society. (I never make an issue of being gay, but neither do I see any reason to hide the fact, hence a gay-interest as well as general poetry blog because a poem is a poem is a poem just as a person is a person is a person...regardless.)

RIPOSTE, TO THE DARKER SIDE OF NATURE or LIVING WITH PROSTATE CANCER, SEIZING THE DAY

Gripped by fear,
I could but direct it elsewhere,
yet it keeps returning,
this awful cancer stalking me
like a predator

Away, dark fear,
and let me get on with my life.
Go, feed elsewhere.
I’m only human, but no easy
prey for a predator

Seized by doubt,
I can but trust positive thinking
will yet prevent
this awful cancer turning me
inside out 

Away, negativity,
always on hand to undermine me
wherever I lend an ear  
to voices arguing the wisdom
of my choices

Let me not resist a need
for comfort food and fiercer hugs
than ever before
to restore poor self-confidence,
give love its head

Come, Earth Mother,
and never let go of my free hand
as with the other I’ll sign
to mind, body, spirit, and world,
we’re not done

Yes, I will survive
whatever this cancer throws at me,
instincts insisting I embrace
all a feisty spirituality has to give
in its place

Let nature have its way;
together, we will no more concede
any disease its V-Day
than see human beings put down
just for being gay

Copyright R. N. Taber 2011


Saturday, 13 July 2013

Things Fall Apart OR Stop the World, I Want to Get On


Regular readers will know that I have suffered bouts of depression since early childhood.

As the first poem is not as positive a take on depression as that to which I usually aspire, I am also posting a second poem which I try to say out loud (usually several times) whenever I feel unable to cope with whatever it may be life has chosen to throw at me, invariably when I am  particularly vulnerable.  Agenda for a Crisis may not be a great poem, but it has helped on more than one occasion to prevent me panicking and (in no time) spiraling downwards into an abyss; no easy task, but we have to try if only because trying is halfway to getting there and winning the battle against depression.

One of the worst aspects of depression is the feeling of isolation; that no one really cares or understands. Friends and loved ones do care, of course even if some have  no idea how to help; those understand that we need someone to talk to and listen will provide a support network, but only if we let them. It is probably true that most people cannot can even begin to understand depression unless they have suffered it themselves or been close to a depressed person; it is no one’s fault, neither theirs nor ours, but it isn’t easy to see that, and only too easy to play the blame game.

Most if not all of us have known times when everything around and within us seems to be falling apart. We can but try so hard to focus on the tiniest flicker of light at the end of whatever long, dark tunnel we find ourselves in, pressing on towards it until it is revealed as sun by day or moon by night and we start to feel like we're back in the real world again, Earth Mother there to welcome, watch over and reassure us we are still the same person, possibly even a better one, but certainly no worse for having been 'away' for a while.

Both poems are villanelles.

THINGS FALL APART or STOP THE WORLD, I WANT TO GET ON.

World of meaning falling apart;
time, a lonely vacuum;
mind out of step with the heart

Voices, calling to make a start,
but no faith in them;
world of meaning falling apart

Faces, a collage of satirical art
challenging daily continuum;
mind out of step with the heart

Hands, signing to horse and cart
that can’t find its rhythm;
world of meaning falling apart

Each pitying look, a poison dart
contaminating the system;
mind out of step with the heart

Life, a line on a statistics chart;
offers of help a distant hum;
world of meaning falling apart,
mind out of step with the heart

Copyright R. N. Taber 2009
  
AGENDA FOR A CRISIS or RAISING THE ALARM

For every hurt, a soothing balm
though time have its way;
Think calm. Be calm. Stay calm.

Keep the mind safe from harm
where fear holds sway;
for every hurt, a soothing balm

Cue for panic, raised the alarm?
Let pain have its say…
Think calm. Be calm. Stay calm.

Never fall for self-pity’s charm
or keep those who care at bay;
for every hurt, a soothing balm

Take the hand on outstretched arm,
(peace of mind on its way)
Think calm. Be calm. Stay calm.

Bury regret, its weary flesh embalm,
look to kinder ends, not away;
for every hurt, a soothing balm…
Think calm. Be calm. Stay calm.

Copyright R. N. Taber 2011


Friday, 12 July 2013

A Tear In Time's Eye

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/R._N._Taber

Whatever life throws at us, be sure love will always have the last word. As for those less enlightened folks among the heterosexual majority who (still) dare suggest gay people don’t know the ‘real’ meaning of that word …well, love doesn’t discriminate along lines of colour, creed, sex or sexuality so we gay men and women, boys and girls, have no case to answer.

This poem is a villanelle.

A TEAR IN TIME'S EYE 

Love never says ‘goodbye’
but bids us farewell
though a tear in time’s eye

If passion’s well seems dry,
no dreams left to tell…
love never says ‘goodbye’

Let’s not ask its reasons why
but work love’s spell…
though a tear in time’s eye

Though summer flowers cry
for the end of fairytale,
love never says ‘goodbye’

World in ruins, we can but try
to stay true to it all…
though a tear in time’s eye

Death’s command, we’ll defy
even as we heed its call;
love never says ‘goodbye’
though a tear in time’s eye


Copyright R. N. Taber 2009

Wednesday, 10 July 2013

Children of the Century


Here in the UK, many if not most young people today have a rough time, especially given that they nearly always get a bad press. There is far too much stereotyping of young people going on. Most manage to rise above it all and make society proud. But if some appear to have lost their way in life, even despair of ever getting a job, whose fault is that? 

Youth unemployment is high across the whole of Europe, and what is being done about it? There is no quick fix, but just because people are young doesn’t mean they want and need to feel any less valued and inspired than the rest of us; if anything, they want and need to feel even more valued and inspired, not repeatedly written off for being lazy and/or potential criminals. Perhaps many don’t have the skills a modern society demands. So whose fault is that? What exactly are our schools teaching, for goodness sake? If education in our schools and colleges is meant to prepare young people for the roller coaster we call life, it doesn't strike me as having made a very good job of it for some years now. 

If mature adults are meant to lead by example, our ‘maturity’ has a lot to answer for. When I go shopping in London or just out for a walk, I am often appalled at the way some people of my generation behave.  Yes, some young people can be ‘difficult’ but my generation is certainly not blameless, and I can see how many younger people are inclined to write a good few of us off for being ‘difficult’, not least judgmental. 

So how about we all stop playing the blame game and give each other the respect and support every human being deserves?

CHILDREN OF THE CENTURY

Wandering dark tunnels,
lost and afraid;
Regulation torch for company,
imitation fur for the cold;
Batteries running low,
heartbeats erratic;
Oh, but which way to go?
(Hard, not to panic);
Where there’s life, there’s hope
or so they say;
Live to fight another day?
Brave words...
when the Dark is rising,
Styx threatening to burst
its banks

Pressing on, negotiating
infernal terrors;
pinpricks of light - comedy
of our errors
played out to the end…
Look. Listen. Hear. Be sure
rescuers descending;
Faith, Hope, Charity,
waiting round the next bend
(and still waiting?)

Children of the 21st Century
found wanting...


[From: First Person Plural by R. N. Taber, Assembly Books, 2002]

Monday, 8 July 2013

Running with Wolves OR Engaging with Mr Hyde


Most if not all of us have a dark side, possibly never more memorably illustrated than by Robert Louis Stevenson in his famous novel The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde.

What do we see when we look in a mirror? Sometimes, reflecting on how we look exposes much of how we are feeling but cannot articulate at the time; an indefinable anxiety about giving much if anything away.

In my experience, we need to give more away, feel less inhibited about confiding worries, fears, even a sense of split personality that can only fuel both.

On the whole, we all do a good job of camouflage. But is that a good thing? I suspect people would be less likely to crack under the strain of whatever it was causes them to do terrible things if they had felt able to talk to someone who might have been able to help them reach a clearer, less awful perspective on friends, family, colleagues, and life in general.

Having experienced a severe nervous breakdown some 30+ years ago, I remain haunted by how much worse it so easily could have been if I hadn’t received the help and support I needed. This, I should add, was more by accident then design.

Looking back, I can see how feelings of distress fuelled by an emotionally damaged childhood and early manhood erupted as they did. I am only surprised this didn’t occur years earlier. Possibly, compensating very well (too well) for a significant hearing loss and having to conceal the fact that I am gay for many years (when gay relationships were a criminal offence) made me such an expert in the art of hiding my feelings that I could not even make them out myself. Certainly, I could not articulate on them and needed help in flushing them out before I could even begin to come to terms with how I really felt or who I really am.

Traumatic and distressing though my breakdown was, I was one of the lucky ones. 30+ years on, I still suffer bouts of depression from time to time, but these are nothing compared to what happened to me then. Tragically, mental health is still something of a taboo subject which is probably why most people’s conception of mental health issues continues to be na├»ve if not downright ignorant; more often than not, it is a distorted one. Only those of us who have experienced it and the relatively few people who have supported us on that ghastly roller-coaster ride, have any idea of the damage it does to the human psyche.

So if someone you know starts behaving strangely and out of character, please don’t give up on them. Try to help and support them. (Professional help and support is not always either forthcoming or constructive.) It isn’t always easy being a friend, but friendship means taking the rough with the smooth. Sadly, some people are only interested in the latter; they cannot or will not contend with the other.

This poem is a villanelle.

RUNNING WITH WOLVES or ENGAGING WITH MR HYDE

Find beasties in mirrors weeping
for those looking fear in the eye,
never truly awake or ever sleeping

Silent as dawn’s stealth creeping
over bedcovers where we lie,
find beasties in mirrors weeping

Werewolves in sheep’s clothing
(human nature knows us by)
never truly awake or ever sleeping

Consorting with gargoyles sweeping
up mistakes and lies we’ll deny,
find beasties in mirrors weeping

Through a lace curtain of empathy,
home truths from which we shy,
never truly awake or ever sleeping

Alter ego, a chameleon peeping
through a roaming glass eye;
find beasties in mirrors weeping,
never truly awake or ever sleeping

Copyright R. N. Taber 2010


Thursday, 4 July 2013

S-word in the Sheath, Testament to the Human Spirit


Today;’ poem first appeared in a Poetry Now (Forward Press) anthology, Worldly Words (2004) and subsequently in my collection the following year.

As I grow old(er) I find myself thinking about death more and more often; not morbidly albeit not morbidly, and I don’t find the prospect in the least distressing. I guess I am more curious than anything else. A non-religious person, I don’t believe in any form of life after death as  many people like to imagine it. At the same time, my relationship with e nature gives me hope that after this winter of my life, spring will come again.

I have to confess I remain fearful of pain and try not to think about it, but death holds no fear for me at all. Yes, I will miss the people, places and things I love most in this life, of course. Poets, no more or less than many if not most of us, are always up for a challenge, and what greater challenge can there be than death?

Incidentally - and unrelated - I would like to thank all those readers who have been in touch to ask about my prostate cancer. I am fine. Hormone therapy continues to keep my prostate cancer from becoming aggressive.

This poem is a villanelle.

S-WORD IN THE SHEATH, TESTAMENT TO THE HUMAN SPIRIT

Death is but a word,
a poet’s metaphor,
sheath for a sword

A dark sound heard
at the inner ear,
death is but a word

Its presence assured,
meaning obscure,
sheath for a sword

A threat endured,
challenge clear,
death is but a word 

Our fear abjured,
by Love’s own favour,
sheath for a sword

Its blade removed
draws kisses in the air;
death is but a word,
sheath for a sword

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


Tuesday, 2 July 2013

G-O-D, Live Metaphor OR What's in a Name...?

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/R._N._Taber

Various religions have their own ideas about God, me, I found a sense of peace and spirituality in nature and, for all I know, maybe God is there. Maybe God IS nature...

Does it really matter where we look, how we find or even what we call God?

We are all human beings, created in much the same way to share this sorry planet of ours. So why oh, why, is it that more people can’t put their differences aside and be happy to share what they have in common?

As I gave said before and regular readers will know only too well (I often repeat myself) our differences don’t make us different, only human.

This poem is a kenning, first published in Italy (2006) and subsequently in my collection.

G-O-D, LIVE METAPHOR or WHAT’S IN A NAME...?

Call me what you will, I mean well
though my better intentions mistaken
for gross interference in the ways
of man, woman and child. Navigator
rather than manipulator am I, ready
to guide, lead, through a maze of super
highways, slip roads, dirt tracks,
if suspected of conspiring with nature
against civilization

Call me what you will, I mean well
though my better intentions mistaken
for confrontation with man, woman
and child over some trespass or other
against commandments set in stone
by those rewriting to their own design,
crossing humanity’s thin red line,
always ready to point s finger of blame
in my direction

Call me what you will, I mean well
though my better intentions mistaken
for retribution, sporting with fragile
emotions, playing false at devotions,
wrecking the well laid plans of mice
and men without so much as offering
any explanation, feeding on the likes
of Faith, Hope and Charity to sustain
an enduring loyalty

Call me what you will, I mean well
whatever G-O-D made to spell

Copyright R. N. Taber 2006; 2013


[Note: This poem has been slightly revised from the original as it appears under the title 'What' in a Name?' in The Sound of Silence, TATL (Italy) 2006 and subsequently 1st eds. of Accomplices To Illusion by R. N. Taber, Assembly Books, 2007; revised ed. in e-format in preparation.]