Thursday, 31 October 2013

Bird Life

Death is part and parcel of living. No writer can ignore it, especially a poet. I don’t think death is anything to fear but simply part of the continuum that is the human spirit.

As regular readers will know, I rejected religion even as a child and chose to put my faith in nature. It is in nature that I identify with a strong sense of spirituality that continues to sustain me throughout both good and bad times. Yes, nature can be a force to fear at times, but so can human nature.  

Who could be afraid of a flower or a tree?

As for pain…well, yes, I am a coward when it comes to pain. Hopefully, death will come peacefully when my time comes for it to pay a call. But…who knows? Perhaps it is true what they say about ‘no pain, no gain’ and we have as much to gain in death as we do in life, maybe even more.



such a sad, lonely word,
flies above us like a graceful bird
but makes no sound
nor will it ever descend to breathe
life and love into a tree
or flex its wings on our window sill;
we can but watch, learn, dare
to flex our own, breathe
life and love into a tree, no matter
where it be, for there I will
sit with you and you will sit with me,
watching a bird on wing
bring grace to the greyest skies
nor any fairer sound
till joined by another then hear both
sing loud and clear, a poem
for the trees to share night and day
long, long, after we have
gone away

Copyright R. N. Taber 2007; rev. title 2008

[Note: First published under the title 'Lines on Nature Conservation' in Accomplices t Illusion by
R. N. Taber, Assembly Books, 2007; rev. ed. in e-format in preparation.]

Thursday, 17 October 2013

A Woman For All Seasons

I wrote today's poem especially to mark the occasion of a friend’s recent 90th birthday. She is a lovely, caring, inspiring person, a description which I dare say could also apply to many grandmothers, mothers, wives, and daughters across the world.

An old saying insists that, ‘It’s ‘a man’s world.’ Maybe that’s true, maybe not, for there is another that suggests, ‘Behind every great man is a good woman’.

Whatever, we live in a world for which I suspect we have mostly women - past, present, and future - to thank for its finer greatness and lasting humanity. 

‘I think women are foolish to pretend they are equal to men; they are far superior and always have been.’  - William Golding


Seasons come and go, time passes
where no finer a flower than its zen returns 
to a rose garden of memories

Earth Mother, her finest surpasses
In love’s healing touch where its pain yet burns;
seasons come and go, time passes

Mindful of nurture, love introduces 
a sense of self-help for ever growing concerns
to a rose garden of memories

Daughter, wife, mother… choices
to make, promises to keep as the heart so yearns;
seasons come and go, time passes

For mother love, the family embraces
every heartbeat, willing a life valuing all it learns 
to a rose garden of memories

For every heart put through its paces,
a wife, mother, grandma, applauds its safe return;
seasons come and go, time passes
to a rose garden of memories…

Copyright R. N. Taber 2013

Tuesday, 8 October 2013

The Clock Tower

I have just posted another video on You Tube relating a recent visit to St Albans:
If this link does not work, try my You Tube channel and search under title:

As always, I have posted the video here (see  below) for those who tell me they cannot always access You Tube for one reason or another  along with the poem I read over the video and the description accompanying it.

Built between 1403 and 1412, is the Clock Tower, the only medieval example in the country. From the beginning it had a mechanical clock, a great rarity at that time. As the Abbey also had one, this was probably the reason for having the same. Indeed, the Clock Tower itself seems to have been intended as a visible statement of St. Albans' civic ambitions against the power of the Abbot. It was both a look out as well as a curfew, ringing out the times when people had to be indoors "covering the fire".

From 1808-1814 during the Napoleonic war, it was used by the Admiralty as a semaphore station. This was operated by a shutter system and could help relay a message to or from Yarmouth in 5 minutes.

By the 1860's the Tower was in a bad way and was nearly demolished. The restoration in 1864 was supervised by Sir Gilbert Scott. In 2004, the roof was rebuilt with improved public safety and access.


The o’clock is ‘now’
that once was ‘then’
and now is but history

So stands an old clock tower,
monument to its (and our)
yesterdays, todays, tomorrows;
more power to the abbot,
ringing out curfew at a time
of birth, death, war,
and more… Enter, a bishop,
charged with paying
God and St Alban fair dues
to any with the time to stop, listen,
and choose

For the time is now
that once was then
and becomes ‘ours’

In time and space, listening out
for an o’clock sure
to keep us safe, bring peace,
point us through each day
with the mechanical indifference
of hands signing us up
to such existence as we know now
once was ‘then’ ever signalling
the ways of humanity, its history,
multiplicity, duplicity, and obsession
with eternity 

Copyright R. N. Taber 2013

Sunday, 6 October 2013

Open Invitation

Readers may like to know that I have just posted a new video on You Tube. It is the first of several videos (and poems) mostly shot in the old market town of St Albans in Hertfordshire. There is another (of an old clock tower) and one of a three lovely willow trees converging on each other that will follow over the next week or so. (If you subscribe to my channel, Y T will automatically send you an email whenever I post a new video.)

If the link does not work, try my You Tube channel and search under title:

Feedback suggests some of you cannot always access You Tube so you cab also watch the video here. (See below)..

For those of you who have asked about my charity walk last weekend, my friend (and Y T cameraman) Graham and I walked a half marathon (13.1 miles) through the night and early hours to raise money for prostate cancer research. Between us, we raised over £700 so are well pleased. We also managed to complete the course in 5.5 hours, not bad given that I will be 68 in December. I may do it again next year so long as hormone therapy continues to prevent my prostate cancer becoming aggressive...mind, feet, and spirit willing! 

My friend Andrew and I went to a Lowry exhibition at the Tate Britain the other day. I know a lot of people don't care much for Lowry, but I share his interest in everyday life as it IS so can easily relate to his work; stark and dour, many of his paintings may be, but he saw an inspiring beauty in the haunting ugliness that so often characterizes everyday life and urban landscape. 

Now, about the video/poem…

The Roman City of Verulamium slowly declined and fell into decay after the departure of the Roman Army in AD 410. However, its ruined buildings provided building materials to build the new monastic and market settlement of St Albans which was growing on the hill above, close to the site of Saint Alban's execution. In the Norman Abbey tower, you can still see the Roman bricks removed from Verulamium.

Much of the post-Roman development of St Albans was in memorial to Saint Alban, the earliest known British Christian martyr, executed in AD 250 (the exact date is unknown, with scholars suggesting dates of 209, 254 and 304). The town itself was known for some time by the Saxon name 'Verlamchester'. A shrine was built on the site of his death following Emperor Constantine's adoption of Christianity as the religion of the Roman Empire. In the 5th century a Benedictine monastic church was constructed.

St Alban’s cathedral (formerly St Alban’s Abbey) – officially the Cathedral and Abbey Church of St Alban – is a Church of England cathedral church at St Albans, England.  At 84 metres ( 276 ft) its nave is the longest of any cathedral in England.  With much of its present architecture dating from Norman times, it became a cathedral in 1877 and is the second longest cathedral in the UK after Winchester. Local residents often call it ‘the abbey; although the present cathedral represents only the church of the old Benedictine abbey.

The abbey church, although legally a cathedral church, differs in certain particulars from most of the other cathedrals in England: it is also used as a parish church of which the dean is rector. He has the sane powers, responsibilities and duties as the rector of any other parish.

For more information, see: Wikipedia:

Yet again, I am indebted to my dear friend Graham Collett for the video and subsequent editing. Unfortunately, time and weather have prevented us from uploading any new material to my channel until now. We hope you will enjoy both video and poem.

Regular readers will know that I am not a religious person although I like to think I have a strong sense of spirituality albeit taken from nature rather than any religion.  An appreciation of beauty, though, is all inclusive, and this agnostic poet feels no less entitled to be as appreciative as anyone else.

As for homosexuality, transgender, and religion...there would be no need for anyone to be made to suffer any sense of guilt or inner conflict were the leaders of all world religions to but practise what they preach about peace and love to all humankind instead of being so selective about how they choose to interpret their Holy Books.


Abbey, cathedral,
what’s in a name that’s given
temporal form, created
by human hand to preserve
the spirit of peace,
love, searches for raison d’etre
among all who pass by,
regardless of colour, creed, sex
or sexuality?

Monument to history,
recalling dark and finer deeds
of humankind,
so we may remember those
who lived and died
for love and peace, celebrating
one, St Alban, here,
inspiring we ordinary people

To some, it is religion
that draws them to a holy place,
anxious to follow
in the footsteps of a Man of God
while others seek answers
to haunting questions
of daunting pillars, stained glass
windows, and altar crosses asking all
and nothing of us

God, raison d’ĂȘtre,
what’s in a name that’s given
temporal priority
in humankind’s eternal search
for origins of an identity
to which (or whom) it can relate
before ‘too late’ by this
or that reckoning of human mind,
body, and spirit?

Abbey, cathedral,
an open invitation to pilgrim,
tourist, passer-by,
each and every one of us,
to simply enjoy
its presence, inhibitions forsaken,
and (if only secretly)
hedge our bets on a safe passage
through eternity

Copyright R. N. Taber 2013


Friday, 4 October 2013


Some readers may be interested to know that I have posted Chapter 1 of a new serial, Catching Up with Murder on my fiction blog. 

Hopefully, readers who enjoyed Predisposed to Murder will also enjoy meeting up with many of the same characters and discovering how they first came together.

Catching Up with Murder is available in paperback from amazon and could well be described as a black comedy in parts; it is not a gay novel as such, but has a strong gay story line that becomes clear and takes off in Act II:


It has always struck me how curious it is that some words used to describe human nature can mean different things to different people in exactly the same circumstances.  Not surprising, though, since everyone's take on life (and people) is different depending on how various socio-cultural-religious, age, economic and political factors conspire to directly affect our personal lives, and therefore our opinions. (Whatever, we need to be wary of rushing to judgement and/or being fooled by a sweeping take on stereotypes; there is much to be said for 'judge not lest ye be judged.')

This poem is (another) kenning or 'Who-am-I?' poem:


I am not always where I should be
and sometimes you will find me
wearing the face of human cruelty,
lashing out at anyone who dares
stand in my way, stamping on them
as if they were but vermin, ready
to excuse, even glorify the choices
I make, supposedly for other than
my own poor sake

I do not always assume the part I am
expected to play on the world stage
or in such corners of the human heart
that are open to anyone to view who
cares to curry favour with me, though
usually only to be rewarded, in turn,
with such gestures of rank or position
that serves best who watch and listen
or be brought down again

I am not always the villain of the piece,
sometimes deserve applause, bowing
with due modesty, accepting credit due
for brave acts beyond the call of duty
(includes acknowledging my sexuality)
or services to humanity as nature meant
for me provide, rejecting a darker side
that still (I must confess) lurks just below
an awe-inspiring surface

Walking tall, for good or bad, nor denied
what’s mine who am called, Pride…

Copyright R. N. Taber 2008