Friday, 14 February 2014

That's Life, 21st Century

‘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...  Wishful thinking, perhaps, but but hope springs eternal.


Can’t get on a bus, school kids
won’t walk half a mile;
stuck on a train, points failure,
(blame the weather);
arrive at work later than usual,
half the staff rung in sick;
Start to get things done - and
the IT 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,
the better to give a mind-body-spirit
every chance of making good
and breaking free of what 'society'
would have us take in our stride
because that's the way it is, take it
or leave it...except we can't

Copyright R. N. Taber 2001; 2018

[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, 2000.]

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