Friday, 28 February 2014

Love in the Air OR Love and Let Love

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

Oh, but spring, a renewed zest for life, love, nature...always so much a part of us even as winter would have its wicked way with us. Winter cannot win, though, while spring simply hibernates...and who says the spirit of spring ever hibernates...?

Now, love comes in all shapes and sizes and is just about everywhere you look from childhood through adulthood to our older years. We just have to keep our minds and hearts open, and have no stereotypical ideas about love’s ideal

Nothing and no one can live up to an ideal. But if growing up is all about getting real, it doesn't have to take anything away from the everlasting beauty of love...unless we let it.

As for gay love…Well, love doesn’t discriminate against us so by what right do people?

We may well happens to think a couple in love are not suited to one another for one reason or another, but it is not up to us to impose our feelings on them. However well-meaning any uninvited interference or intrusion concerning the affairs of others, even loved ones, we need to be there for then, not cold shouldering them because they choose not to take our 'advice'.

Various socio-cultural-religious issues need to translate into love just as they were invariably intended before certain individuals and groups chose to impose their own interpretations.

Personal integrity needs to embrace the wider implications of human love or what worth social, cultural, religious or political identity? (Yes, and sexual identity too.)

As I have said before on the blogs, our differences do not make us different, only human. We may nurse misgivings, even downright disapproval about the love two people plainly have for one another, but it is neither our business nor right to judge or reject them because they conflict with socio-cultural-religious values imposed upon us since birth. The world changes and we need to change with it, clearly discriminating between human values and human vanity as we do so.

Dis I say it was easy?

This poem is a kenning.

LOVE IN THE AIR or LOVE AND LET LOVE

Sworn to ride a dragon
across the world,
home course preferred,
winging our way across skies
a cloudy grey for the sun,
as joyfully (if often fearfully)
we, our seasons run,
whatever the damage done
by nature or Man

Let winds blow, rain gnash
its teeth at us, cyclones
crash into our poor defences,
smash every window, door,
sending cars flying, leaving us
but recourse to initiative,
mind over matter where hearts
dare disprove the universal cynic,
the wavering doubter

Sweet song of a nightingale
lights up our darkness,
heaping comfort on loneliness…
Come dawn, voice of a lark
homing in on us at the very edge
of history, encouraging us
to focus once more on a kinder
landscape than left worn and torn
by nature and Man

To myth, legend, and fairy tale,
I, love, bring its own reality

Copyright R. N. Taber 2003; 2013

[Note: An earlier version of this poem first appeared in an anthology, My Love, 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.]

Tuesday, 25 February 2014

One OR Potential for Multiplication


Regular readers will be aware that I have a history of depression since early childhood. (In those days, depression in children was barely recognized and usually looked upon as a predilection for tantrums.) 

Today’s little poem was written while I was still recovering from a serious nervous breakdown some 30+ years ago. I recently discovered and (slightly) revised it after struggling to decipher a page of scribble in an old exercise book. It may not be one of my better poems, but served me well at a time when my self-esteem was at rock bottom and I needed to find a way back into the general swim of everyday life. 

At the time, I felt very isolated, not least because I recognized that I was not mentally fit for purpose and there was little real help to be had, especially from the medical profession. At the same time, two former work colleagues were very supportive, and for that I will always be very grateful, while writing as a form of creative therapy helped me worth through the worst of my external anxieties. In time, I was able to take on a new job, rebuild my life and look forward in hope instead of back in distress.  


ONE or POTENTIAL FOR MULTIPLICATION

Where one is in a minority,
one deserves a voice
for its colour, creed, sex 
or sexuality

Where one is in a minority
one deserves a choice
for its colour, creed, sex
or sexuality

Where one is in a majority,
one needs to listen 
to minority voices if only
for its sanity

Where one is in a majority,
one needs to respect
issues of colour, creed, sex 
and sexuality

In a minority or majority,
one plays its part
in whatever we have to say
for ourselves

In a minority or majority,
one deserves better
than being shouted down
by anyone else

Copyright R. N. Taber 1982; 2014

Monday, 24 February 2014

Art of Fiction, Heart of Life


I often hear adults say of children that it is a shame they have to grow up. I agree, but not for the reasons I suspect they have in mind.

On entering a store recently, I held the door open for a stream of men, women and children rather than have it slam in someone’s face. No one said ‘thank you’, and one woman called me a sexist pig. Should the same thing happen again (as it invariably does in contemporary society) they can let themselves out, and I will stand well back. Mind you, if the door slams in someone’s face I dare say I’ll get the blame for not holding it open.

Oh, well, that's life.

As a child, I loved reading myths, legends and fairy stories. As an adult, I began to realise that many are an entertaining metaphor for real life. Even so, not all magic is wishful thinking. Yet, the same imagination that fed on those stories so long ago continues to see me through the same need for escapism some 50+ years on. The trick, of course, lies in learning to separate fact from fiction, wishful thinking from reality, naked truth from bare-faced lies....

ART OF FICTION, HEART OF LIFE

Storytellers would have us believe
that once there was magic in the world,
a time when we all sang songs
of peace and love till a twilight fell
that had us playing hide-and-seek
among ruins of halcyon days confined
to make-believe

Storytellers would have us believe
that once there was chivalry in the world,
a time when men opened doors
for ladies without their being accused
of sexism, nor would a lady mind,
but take pleasure in being noticed so,
by way, too, of common courtesy  

Storytellers would have us believe
that once there was the stoicism of Penelope
who contrived to remain faithful
to the love of her life without being accused
of pandering to her man,
rather of ingenuity for putting a unique
spin on love

Storytellers would have us believe
that the old gods were jealous of each other,
interfering in the ways of humankind
that played them at their own games and won,
tore down their temples,
created a copycat Olympus
on Capitol Hill 

Storytellers would have us believe
that once there was magic in the world,
a time when we all sang songs
of peace and love till a twilight fell
that had us playing hide-and-seek
among ruins of halcyon days confined
to childhood

Copyright R. N. Taber 2011

[Note: I confess have really enjoyed trying my hand at fiction from time to time; if interested, go to: http://rogertaberfiction.blogspot.co.uk/2016/05/news-updates-fiction.html on my fiction blog where most of my novels (published and unpublished) are serialised.]


Thursday, 20 February 2014

Darkness, Be My Friend OR A Feeling for Ghosts


Several people among my own generation have told me recently that they are scared of growing old alone and especially of dying alone. 

Now, as I see it, no one need grow old or die alone even if we live to a ripe old age and have outlived everyone who ever meant anything to us in our lives.

Kindness may sometimes seem in relatively short supply these days, but there is plenty of it about. Be sure, too, there is such a thing as the kindness of ghosts, and our kinder ghosts will never abandon us.


DARKNESS, BE MY FRIEND or A FEELING FOR GHOSTS

I sat in a comfy armchair,
flicking through pages of a novel,
characters kind, unkind,
and none would be coming
to see me;
I stumbled on a creaking stair,
looked down at the hallway below,
kind ghosts waving,
but none would be coming
to help me

I sat on the edge of my bed
flicking through a photograph album,
kind ghosts comatose
so none would be coming
to hug me;
I lay my head on the pillow
reading love letters pasted on the wall,
but no kind shadows
to take me away, only old age
and dreams

I snuggled under the duvet
recalling the clean smell of fresh sheets,
a safety-net of blankets,
the haunting kindness of memory 
pinioning me;
I closed my eyes, surrendered
to the first sandman with a kind smile
for halcyon days
when life was full, its loving cup
spilling over

As for darkness, yes, I’d be feeling afraid
but for its kindness having the last word

Copyright R. N. Taber 2011


Monday, 17 February 2014

Summoned by Ghosts


I have learned to live with ghosts. Ghosts can be good company. They are no threat and have a place in our lives. The trick is not to confuse their hopes and aspirations with our own (as we may well have done to our cost when they were alive).

Death is nothing to fear, but life must always take priority. That may sound like commonsense, but I have known people haunted by ghosts to the extent that they might almost be one of them.

There are times when we are particularly vulnerable. A sense of loss leaves us especially open to persuasive voices that may be well-meaning, but don’t always understand how our best interests can be served. When this happens to me as it does from time to time, especially at night and during early hours, I turn to Earth Mother, and invariably find the reassurance I seek.

SUMMONED BY GHOSTS

Come a late hour’s whim,
witness home hills turn to silver ghosts,
shades of midnight’s children
playing with stars, prisoners of the moon,
unable to sleep, anxious of dawn

Above, chance to watch an owl’s
graceful flight., see it circle, swoop, soar,
but can only guess at its prey,
victim, too, of a night that’s no friend
to the vulnerable, lonely…

I have wandered, asked questions
of shadows always mocking me, teasing me
with solutions, chasing grey rabbits
across dark meadows, party to a sad mind’s
convolutions...

At last, hills and sky hosting a new day
sure to keep less welcome ghosts at bay

[From: Love and Human Remains by R. N. Taber, Assembly Books 2001.]

Sunday, 16 February 2014

The Longest Day OR Reunited with Hope

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

This is a favourite poem of mine, not least because it is autobiographical. I wrote in the early stages of recovery from a severe nervous breakdown some 30+ years ago. As I read it again, I am reminded of that terrible period in my life and how, eventually, I came through it, discovering along the way that there is very little help or sympathy out there for people with mental health problems. Years on, feedback on this poem and others I have written about depression suggest to me that little has changed in that respect.

Now, as regular readers know, I am not a religious person, but have always thought of myself as having a strong sense of spirituality, only I take it from nature not religion. Having been wracked with mental health problems all my life, I could not have risen above them without it.

THE LONGEST DAY or REUNITED WITH HOPE

Knocking on doors, nobody there…
Called on the phone, no replies…
Tried the local surgery (come back
in three days) and, sorry the Samaritans
are busy; went to church in desperation,
but - closed for restoration; found
a priest for advice (a kindly man) but
if I didn’t mind, he had a Bible class
at ten…

Even stopped people in the street…

Did no-one care, and where was God?
Glanced at the sun as a huge cloud
passed over, saw people run for cover
(what’s the use?). Walked on and on,
no pride or purpose; mile after mile…
Darkness couldn’t come too soon.
Glanced at the moon – and something
in the Old Man’s smile made me feel
less alone…

Lit a candle in my soul that led me home

Copyright R. N. Taber 2001; 2014


[Note: Slightly revised from the original that was first published in Love and Human Remains by R. N. Taber, Assembly Books, 2001; subsequently, in an anthology, Fragments of Faith, Triumph House [Forward Press] 2002 and also read on Poetry Please, BBC Radio 4, 2005.

Friday, 14 February 2014

Citizen, 21st Century OR As-and-When, that's Life


‘It’s a life for a crust!’ my mother would often exclaim with mixed amusement and stoicism to us kids.

Half a century on, and growing old, I understand only too well what she meant.

This poem was written at the turn of the century, published in an anthology the same year, and has resulted in a number of emails from readers (of all ages) to say how much they can relate to it. Some years on, I have to say I don’t find much changed...

Oh, well, c’est la vie.

As my maternal grandfather would often say, ‘Better a plodder than a plonker be…’

We plodders are (on the whole) a happy breed if struggling sometimes to rise above the natural chaos of nature and human nature. We try to make the best of things, refuse to be cowed (for long) by the worst,. and trust common sense will (eventually) impose order (of sorts) on our surroundings...  

Here’s wishing you all Happy Days.

CITIZEN, 21st CENTURY or AS-AND-WHEN, THAT'S LIFE

Can’t get on a bus, school kids
won’t walk half a mile;
stuck on a train, yet another
points failure;
arrive at work later than usual,
half the staff rung in sick;
Start to get things done - and
the system goes down;
mad rush to meet Management’s
deadline, only to learn
it's been extended again;
no relief (or lunch);
long afternoon, more than ready
to make the Home Run;
soon, feet up, relaxing (I wish!)
but family strife, no easy life;
a stressful stroll through streets
paved with fool’s gold,
feeling old, and youths sneering
at wrinklies in designer gear;
cyclist hurtling along the pavement
sends shoppers running for cover;
resentment boils over. I stand firm;
cyclist takes a nasty tumble;
a cop across the street rushes over,
takes my details, warns me
I’ll get a letter, says folks my age
really should know better

Peace at last on a quiet hill as dusk
settles on this, my cruel city;
world without pity, but so beautiful;
kite flier, taking on a rough wind
with laughter, joy and pride, proof
(as if any needed) of humanity's
predilection for turning a blind eye
and/or deaf ear as and whenever 

Copyright R. N. Taber 2001; 2017

[Note: An earlier version under the title Citizen 2000 first appeared in an anthology, Through Life’s Window, Poetry Today [Forward Press] 2000 and subsequently in 1st eds. of Love and Human Remains by R. N. Taber, Assembly Books, 2001; 2nd  (revised) e-edition in preparation.]


Thursday, 13 February 2014

Sometimes Love is a One-Way Street


Although I have not shared my life with anyone (for long) since my partner was killed in a road accident many years ago, that doesn’t mean  I’ve  never met anyone else for whom I’d have given just about anything to share its ups and downs in the way only loving partners can. Life, though, always had other ideas.

Gay or straight, I suspect few of us are never visited by impossible dreams about someone of whom we had high hopes in the love stakes but our feelings were not returned or even with whom we may once have been  ecstatically intimate, but who lived (and loved) only for the moment…

This poem is a villanelle.

SOMETIMES LOVE IS ONE-WAY STREET

My eyes begging sleep,
stay open for you;
heart, starting to weep

Thoughts I cannot keep
from rushing through;
my eyes begging sleep

Words of love I’d heap
tenderly on you;
heart, starting to weep

Arms that would keep
you safe life through,
my eyes begging sleep

Desire, child of the Deep
few can subdue;
heart, starting to weep

Come dreams, I’ll reap
a harvest rare and true;
my eyes begging sleep,
heart starting to weep

Copyright R. N. Taber 2005; 2011

[Note This poem has been slightly revised from the original version that appears under the title 'Unrequited' in 1st eds. of A Feeling for the Quickness of Time by R. N. Taber, Assembly Books, 2005; rev. ed. in e-format in preparation.]



Wednesday, 12 February 2014

Taking Stock OR One, Meaning Me


People often tell me that as we grow old(er) we spend more time looking back because there are fewer reason to look forward, and it is this ‘negativity’ that  drags us down and others with us. I don’t agree. Looking back can be inspirational, stirring mind and spirit as once it was stirred by the sheer energy and imagination of earlier years, to that sense of spirituality intrinsic to nature and human nature and which may or may not have anything to do with religion.

True, taking stock of one's life can be a scary business; we invariably find self and life wanting. Yet, it can be a comfort too, reminding ourselves that we are but human and our failures are as much down to that as our successes. It reminds us, too, that we are as we are, live as we live…and there is time yet to open our eyes to more of the same (and its multiple variations) before they close forever upon one perspective at least on the art of being human.

I wrote this poem (a villanelle) in a reflective mood on Brighton pier. As regular readers will know, I have been going to Brighton since I was a very young child and my mother would take me during school holidays. I will be 69 later this year so have a lot of taking stock to do from time to time.

It is so true that taking stock of our lives may not always be as rewarding a process as we might like, but it can (if we let it)  help us remember who we are, how we got this far, and even (maybe) lend us the insight to right a few wrongs, make good some mistakes, identify and work through the fears as well as the strengths that drive us...

TAKING STOCK or ONE, MEANING ME

On Brighton pier,
engaging a feisty sea,
defying my fear

Child of yesteryear
calls (tearfully) for me
on Brighton pier

Images dear and clear,
feisty waves cheerfully
defying my fear

Wind high, sky clear,
swathes of fair memory
on Brighton pier

Listen, and I can hear
a world in true harmony
defying my fear

Great Bear, Little Bear,
(guiding us into eternity);
on Brighton pier,
defying my fear…

Copyright R. N. Taber, 2005; 2013

 [Note: A slightly different version of this poem appears in 1st eds. of A Feeling for the Quickness of Time by R. N. Taber, Assembly Books, 2005; 2nd (revised) e-edition in preparation.]


Tuesday, 11 February 2014

Waste


Today’s poem first appeared in CC&D, Scars Publications (US) v 191, 2008 and subsequently in my collection.

Now, life is short and time precious. I look around sometimes and am brought close to tears for witnessing so much waste…

WASTE 

Orange peel in the gutter, discarded
like human waste of time

Bird droppings (clues to Nature’s opinion
of progress in the world?)

Doggie droppings left by those without
a thought for anyone else

Celebrity snappers vying to get one over
on the more popular press

Pages torn from newspapers, flapping
like manifestos at elections

Bounty hunters, tracking our every move
on social media databases

Raindrops, Earth Mother's tears for death
on the streets, hate crime...

Blood stains, graffiti on a prefabricated
wall of silence (no witnesses)

Orange peel in the gutter, poet's testament 
to a growing sense of waste

Copyright R. N. Taber 2010; 2016

[Note: This poem has been revised since it first appeared on the blog and  in On the Battlefields Of Love by R. N. Taber, Assembly Books, 2010; a revised ed, in e-format in preparation.]


Sunday, 9 February 2014

Love Endures OR Open House on Freedom Road


The great thing about love is that it does not discriminate with regard to ethnicity, religion, sex or sexuality. 

Nor, I suspect, would any God if we are to believe the general tenor of Holy Books without interpreting them to suit this or that particular point of view as so many clerics of all religious persuasions are frequently inclined. [While I, personally, cannot relate to religion, I can relate to nature and who's to say what we call 'God' isn't everything that is nature?]

Only people deliberately choose to discriminate against others. Thank goodness the more enlightened among humankind remains a majority (if only just in some parts of the world) and love endures. 

Be sure the love enjoyed by gay and transsexual men and women worldwide is no less natural or precious than the love enjoyed by any among the heterosexual majority; nor does it deserve that its integrity should be called into question by some blinkered bigot who enjoys the sound of his or her voice, especially when invoking a sense of power over the more gullible and/or vulnerable among us. 

It makes me so angry when I hear the less enlightened in societies worldwide trying to convince young gay people otherwise; invariably they resort to emotional blackmail, often bringing sensitive family and religious issues into play which, as far as I'm concerned, only goes to show the extent of their desperation to prove themselves right and the rest of us wrong.

LOVE ENDURES or OPEN HOUSE ON FREEDOM ROAD

It was midwinter, but in your arms,
a summer’s heat,
on your lips, a taste of spring

Snow flurries kindly wrapped us up
in cotton wool
hid us from cruel prejudices

Spring came, its songs of love and joy
in our hearts,
outing us to family and friends

Come summer, we’d run hand in hand
this gauntlet and that
of sneers, jeers, crass remarks

By autumn, we were sick of persistently
being dumped
on piles of red, dead, leaves

Come midwinter, we moved in together,
gave a party,
and those who came were glad for us

Seasons come and go, but in your arms
a summer’s heat,
on your lips, a taste of spring

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

Saturday, 8 February 2014

Blossoms in the Dust


Now, love doesn’t care whether about our colour, creed, sex or sexuality .so why should anyone?

This poem is for lovers across the world who find themselves caught up in a tangle of outdated, misguided stereotypes wielding this or that socio-cultural-religious sledgehammer doing its best to grind them to dust…

BLOSSOMS IN THE DUST  

You’ll come naked to my dreams
and breathe life into me,
repair my body at its fraying seams,
fill me with ecstasy

You’ll croon a love song in my ear,
play on the same guitar
I bought you for Christmas the year
we first kissed each other

You’ll make love to me, our passion
a bitter-sweet hymn to Creation
for I must wake too soon, too soon,
at time’s cruel persuasion

Yet, parting, as Apollo says we must,
we shall stay as blossoms in the dust

Copyright R. N. Taber 1982; 2010


Wednesday, 5 February 2014

No Stigma for HIV/AIDS or Human Nature, Mixed Messages

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

'When we walk away from global warming, Kyoto, when we are irresponsibly slow in moving toward AIDS in Africa, when we don't advance and live up to our own rhetoric and standards, we set a terrible message of duplicity and hypocrisy.' John F. Kerry]

This poem first appeared on the blog in 2009 and has since been requested by ‘Moira’ and ‘Simon K’ whose respective partners died of HIV-related infections.

Regular readers will know that I feel very privileged to have once been asked to write a poem (also on the blog) for DAMSET, an AIDS Educational Trust; thanks to the dedication and tireless efforts of those involved, the Trust has been responsible for creating a memorial mural in Bournemouth (near the pier entrance) to people who have died of AIDS across Dorset. Many of the tiles were designed by schoolchildren and I think it is wonderful (and not before time) that something so practical, imaginative, and sensitive has been created to promote HIV-AIDS Awareness. For years, tourists as well as local people will get the message while enjoying the tribute at the same time.

For more about DAMSET:

http://www.aidsmemorial.info/memorial/id=73/dorset_aids_memorial.html

I feel especially privileged that my poem - Autobiography of a Beach - has been included in the mural. [If you want to hear my reading of the poem on my You Tube channel, just click on the video at the end of this post.]

NO STIGMA FOR HIV/AIDS or HUMAN NATURE, MIXED MESSAGES

A neighbour had AIDS, and that’s why
some people speak of him
as if he were a dog that caught rabies
and had to be put down

He was a good man, some people say,
often whispering in my ear
(as if loath to confide a great sin)
that he was gay

He was a kind man, some people seem
anxious I should believe, as if
making reparation of the kind worn
on a perfectly ironed sleeve

He was an honest man, various people
are quick to cry as if
on the defensive after being caught out
in a well-honed lie

He was a lovable man, and had AIDS
although some people
won’t say that, as if in denial of a word
that deserves they get it right

A good, kind, honest, lovable man dies
of AIDS, and some people
(still) blame it on gay men as if they
have a monopoly on promiscuity

Copyright R. N. Taber 2012; 2014

[Note: A slightly different version of this poem first appeared in CC&D magazine v 212, Scars Publications (USA) 2010 and subsequently in 1st eds. of Tracking the Torchbearer by R. N. Taber, Assembly Books, 2012; revised ed. in e-format in preparation.]




Tuesday, 4 February 2014

Memo from a Passing Cloud OR Sound Advice


Most if not all of us fancy we see faces in clouds from time to time, clouds that travel the world over. 

Maybe, then, we should listen to as well as watch out for faces in passing clouds from time to time…?

Fanciful, you say?  Yes, of course, but sometimes what we digest can do us a whole lot of good…so long as we can keep it down  rather than throw it up because we feel guilty for fancying it in the first place.

MEMO FROM A PASSING CLOUD or SOUND ADVICE

Listen to the rain
telling tales on people
running for cover

Listen to the trees
telling tales on people
cutting to the quick

Listen to the birds
telling tales on people
shooting them down

Listen to the fishes
telling tales on people
poisoning the seas

Listen to the worms
telling tales on people
doctoring the soil

Listen to the wind
telling tales of people
on life support

Listen to the people
marching for the planet
while we still can


Copyright R. N. Taber 2010

Monday, 3 February 2014

Confidante OR Understudy for the Heart


I should like to say a big thank you to those readers who email me now and then to ask how I am coping with my prostate cancer. Generally speaking, I feel fine although I get very tired some days, not that winter is a particularly inspiring month anyway.

Now, being philosophical about my prostate cancer is one thing, but I have to confess to moments of panic and low spiritedness. That’s when I turn to spending time with friends…

Looking back on my life (very selectively) I can recover peace of mind whenever I want. Writing helps. Oh, there are plenty of bad memories too, but that’s where the art of careful selection comes in. I guess it’s the same for everyone. Difficult times can make us vulnerable, edgy, and even scared. So what better course of action than to create another good memory to add to those we already have? Hey, presto! Suddenly, it is easier to stay calm, reach a more positive perspective on life, reap the finer rewards only peace of mind can bring.

It may not last long, peace of mind, but there is always recourse to the same archive of happy memories to restore it again and again for as long as it takes. Yes, probably a lifetime. Oh, and we should never forget that life is not about pleasing other people all the time, trying to be being a good friend and confidante; we need to make time for ourselves too.

This poem is a kenning.

CONFIDANTE or UNDERSTUDY FOR THE HEART

I wait
in the wings, ever willing,
never failing to relieve
a fellow player stumbling
into everyday dramas,
comedies, darker scenarios
and Mummer’s Plays
reaching out to an audience
up for applause

I help clarify
those arguments between
mind and spirit
ever turning over choices
of words, trying
to keep to a script of sorts
reworked more times
than memory dares mull over
its mistakes

I lead
from the heart where heads
make ever-increasing
circles, a fragile conscience
debating intention,
direction, and motivation
without coming to a conclusion
most likely to earn a standing
ovation

Rely on me, a friend of the kind
offering peace of mind

Copyright R. N. Taber 2011


Saturday, 1 February 2014

Tell-Tale Mind


How many of us, I wonder, show ourselves to others as we really are rather than whom we would like them to think we are? Many people seem to think I am a strong person and very self-confident. Yet, nothing could be further than the truth. I portray a fictionalized version of myself in which I believe, because I have never quite managed to work out what it is about my real self that I can believe in.

Sometimes, when we are discussing mutual friends or colleagues with other friends and colleagues, even members of our own family with other members of the family, we are not infrequently surprised by what we hear and may even wonder if we are talking about the same person. I guess we present a different persona to different people. Yet, those personae are all the same person. So are we, I wonder, all caught up in our own fictions?

I have kept faith with my sexuality since I came out as an openly gay person many years ago, and am certainly not ashamed of being gay. At the same time, all those formative years of having to lie because being gay was a criminal offence have left their mark. In those days, I had to create an alternative persona in order to survive. On the one hand, there was the conscientious if not very bright schoolboy; on the other, there was the shy, scared teenager struggling to come to terms with an awakening sexuality and finding ways of satisfying it that would have shocked just about everyone I knew. I’d cruise for sex and love-hate every minute of it. I was like a good-bad character in a novel. My life, for years was a split reality. Even now, years on, no one knows or will ever know how much so or just how much of that split personality remains.

Oh, I am no Jekyll and Hyde, but if someone were to ask, ‘Will the real Roger Taber stand up please,’ it would be a motley collection of characters that step out of the storybook that is my life.

This poem is a villanelle.

TELL-TALE MIND 

I’d show the world what I would be
(as if make-believe pays)
but the mind, it tells tales on me

Terrified, as I confront adversity,
a sailor on angry waves,
I’d show the world what I would be

‘Be brave, go free,’ love told me,
quick to learn its ways,
but the mind, it tells tales on me

From nature, I take my humanity
(lost in a temporal maze);
I’d show the world what I would be

I have kept faith with my sexuality,
(mastering its ways)
but the mind, it tells tales on me

The heart, it seeks refuge in poetry
(from its nightmares);
I’d show the world what I would be,
but the mind, it tells tales on me

Copyright R. N. Taber 2009; 2011


[Note: Yes, I know I’ve been oversimplifying in my preamble and not saying anything original, but readers often ask what lies behind a poem, what prompted me to write it in the first place. Besides, I am writing a blog, not an essay on the human psyche.]