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.

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.)


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

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