Saturday, 31 May 2014

A Measure of Creativity, Good-Bad Poetry of Illusion

The cover for my collection On the Battlefields of Love (see below) was photographed by my friend Graham Collett, a graphic designer who also films and edits my You Tube channel, working wonders with my barely fit for purpose video camera; it shows the folly by the lake at Virginia Water just outside London. There was much evidence of repair work going on at the time that Graham had to Photoshop out to convey the bigger, better, picture. We were both struck by the creative power of illusion; it was like hanging on to a dream and experiencing it at its very best only seconds before having to wake up and let go…

Virginia Water was first dammed and flooded in 1753. Until the creation of the great reservoirs, it was the largest man-made body of water in the British Isles; the woodlands surrounding it have been continuously planted since the middle of the 18th Century


Like a folly satirizing our history,
love takes to task its fears;
nature’s last laugh on humanity

Home truths, the blackest comedy
imposed on we poor actors
like a folly satirizing our history

Glistening like a vision of eternity,
a lake of glad-sad tears;
nature’s last laugh on humanity

Watch how feisty skies effectively
feed on the world’s prayers
like a folly satirizing our history

Hear the trees compose a melody
falling mostly on cloth ears;
nature’s last laugh on humanity

Illusion, left to cascade prettily
down centuries of applause
like a folly satirizing our history;
nature’s last laugh on humanity

(Virginia Water, UK. May 9th 2009)

Copyright R. N. Taber, 2009; 2012

[Note: The poem was accidentally omitted from the volume, but later included in another collection Tracking the Torchbearer by R. N. Taber, Assembly Books, 2012; revised ed. in e-format in preparation.]

Thursday, 29 May 2014

Landfall, Human Spirit

We have no choice regarding our being brought into the world; all the more reason, in my opinion, why we should be allowed choices regarding how we live and even leave it. I, for one, would not want to stay if my quality of life (as I see it) was such that I felt unable to give to or take from it as I would like.

We should never underestimate or shrink the capacity of children and young people to think for themselves, the more so as they grow into a subtle if inarticulate awareness of the world into which they have, unasked, been brought.

Now, I have always maintained that quality of life is more important than life itself while how an individual assesses his or her quality of life will vary considerably since we are not (yet) a race of clones. As for so-called ‘success’ and ‘failure’, they are very over-rated and far less important than aspiring to goals where the very process of aspiration helps make us (hopefully) better and kinder human beings.

Everyone sees life differently and wants different things from it. We should respect that at every level of society; home, school, workplace etc. Children and young people are not vessels for the aspirations of parents or teachers; they have minds of their own and should be encouraged to develop the moral stamina to make their own way in life.


Faces, competing
to offer a helping hand
where I cower
in my corner from wind
and acid rain eroding
a world ever whimpering
in pain

Hands, reaching out
to drag me into the world,
urge me stand tall
among rats running rings
around human beings
looking on and/or placing

Hopes, aspirations
and pipe dreams staking
a claim on me, tossing
fistfuls of straws where left
to surf a perfect storm
on my own, make for a safe

Eyes, closing, as sure
as the world’s blood, sweat,
and tears customizing
its tee-shirts with this or that
social, cultural, political,
or religious divide, no place
to hide

Ocean of voices,
a crashing hypocrisy urging
I strike a balance,
take its swell in my stride,
do tin gods proud,
last spotted strutting cloud

Landfall, blanket
of noises (potential choices)
and new senses
wrapping me in silver foil
to keep me warm
and safe from harm, peace
in our time

Sleep, a welcome friend,
world without end…

Copyright R. N. Taber 2001; 2014 

[Note: An earlier version of this poem first appeared in an anthology All Our Tomorrows, Triumph House (Forward Press), 1999 and subsequently in Poetry Monthly (43) the same year before I included it in Love And Human Remains by R. N. Taber, Assembly Books, 2000.]

Wednesday, 28 May 2014

An Affinity with Ghosts

We need to measure time in seconds, minutes, hours and days etc. to give our very existence a semblance of structure; similarly, we need language to communicate and try (at least) to make sense of it.  Time and again, though, I get the feeling we are working from false premises. Certainly, means do not necessarily justify ends which, in turn, as often as not, prove to be unfit for purpose. They may well satisfy some of us some of the time, but what about the rest of us and all that leftover time?

For a bigger picture than even the most detailed archives convey, we can but try to read between lines we so love to draw in sand (and the arts) if only to explore the spaces and establish an affinity of sorts with the immeasurable and indescribable…


Where wintry days  
would have left us hanging
by dark memory’s thread,
returned to life in the flicker
of a sparrow’s eye seconds
before closing another window
on the world

Shadows, a gathering
of ghosts around weepy graves
littered with fading flowers
(and leftovers for crocodiles)
pooling a-political
policies of positive thought
to share without fear
or prejudice wherever eyes
to see, ears to listen,
lips capable of movement
without strings,
the human heart engaging
with centuries
of its learning and unlearning,
the human mind
discovering and rediscovering,
shaping and reshaping,
working and (ever) reworking
parodies of human nature,
cartoons giving its home truths
a run for their money,
will-o'-the-wisp in the wind,
affinity with ghosts
and Earth Mother preparing
to leave tracks
for blind voyagers across time
and space…
mocking humankind’s obsession
with raison d’ĂȘtre
as distorted by a penchant
for alter-ego
as measuring the immeasurable
if only to prove it can be done
for sanity’s sake - or Everything
is Chaos

I spotted the bird,
they shot, and caught it,
a sticky red heat
on bare hands clinging
to life, faint pulse
denying death a victory
until nature in its wisdom
giving it the nod

Will-o'-the-wisp, stuff of nature
in every beat the heart skips

Copyright R. N. Taber 2014

[Note: A will-o'-the-wisp is an atmospheric ghost light seen by travellers at night, especially over bogs, swamps, or marshes. It resembles a flickering lamp and is said to recede if approached, drawing travellers from the safe paths. The phenomenon is known by a variety of names, including jack-o'-lantern, friar's lantern, hinkypunk, and hobby lantern in English folk belief, and is well attested in English folklore and in much of European folklore.]

Monday, 26 May 2014


Life offers a variety of landscapes, each one a challenge; how we react to these challenges,   defines who we are…but never believe that is written in stone; we all have choices and, yes, we all make mistakes.

While some mistakes can never be properly rectified, and may well haunt us all our lives, we can at least try and compensate for them. Never easy, but a small price to pay for peace of mind if a fragile one, yet strong enough, too, to survive the cut and thrust of human nature in response to which, for good or bad, we shape and reshape our very identity from cradle to grave...

I once asked a friend why he loved so exploring and didn't the potential dangers worry him ? He shrugged. "It's in the blood," said, but the trick is to know when and where to stop. That's in the blood, too," he added with a disarming grin. A good enough template for life for anyone, I thought at the time...and still do,

Oh, and as my mother would often tell me, the only way to think is positive ...or it's downhill all the way.


Forgotten dreams, lost causes,
a mountain of broken promises
daring us climb and conquer,
save ourselves and each other;
higher we climb, farther away,
yet bringing us closer every day
to a scary, grey, loneliness,
weeping landscape of distress

A faery mist issuing a threat
to those seeking an easy way out,
nature is not (yet) done with us
in denial of its greater mysteries;
kind faces in clouds beckoning,
frail ego and willpower conspiring
to revive an all but dead hearth,
kiss the sky and inherit the earth

Ghosts, sharing our tears,
wiping clear a window on years
that have not been kind to us
nor we to ourselves or each other;
parting now, eyes wiped dry,
Apollo advising let live, let die,
time to descend the mountain,
into the heartlands of its creation

Forgotten dreams, lost causes,
a mountain of broken promises
daring us climb and conquer,
save ourselves and each other;
no easy way up or even down
only (potentially) peace of mind
in scaling peaks of desperation,
making peace with imagination

Fearful, yes, yet anxious to be seen
colouring grey landscapes green

Copyright R. N. Taber 2010

Saturday, 24 May 2014

Getting it Wrong

I often look at contemporary UK society and don’t like what I see; more litter louts; more people strung out across pavements so other cannot pass; more folks on the MP3 players or mobile phones who have no awareness of their immediate surroundings and expect everyone else to get out of their way; more elderly people having to stand on crowded trains and buses where the majority of those sitting down are under thirty-five; even more occasions when it’s a case of first in the bus queue and last (if at all) to get on the bus…the list is endless.

My first boss at a public library where I worked after leaving school (in 1964) told me that a public library is a microcosm of society. It is so true. You meet all types in libraries. As many if not most public library services in parts of the UK have gone into freefall so, too, has society. Good manners, for a start, seem to have flown out of the proverbial window. Few people say ‘please’ or ‘thank you’ any more, but take any services rendered, even everyday acts of kindness for granted. On the streets of London, the majority push, shove, everyone for themselves without as much as an ‘Excuse me please’ or a ‘Sorry, I pushed you into the road or against a wall. If you complain, the chances are you will be verbally or even physically abused. The last time I shouted at a cyclist riding on a busy pavement who sent me sprawling as I came out of a shop…I was told, ‘F***k off, you old fart!’ Needless to say, I continue to protest.

Thankfully, there are many exceptions; if we look hard enough, we will see the bigger picture, and find some lovely people out there…


Bus stops, anarchy;
assault-by-default on mad,
rush hour trains

Death on our roads,
date rape in bars, gun law
on angry streets

Disabled access
in key places leaving  much 
to be desired

Perverts coasting;
hypocrites anxiously taking

Minority groups,
milking political correctness
for all its worth

Human rights,
where the machinery of justice
badly need oiling

getting the better of worsening 
world scenarios

Copyright R. N. Taber 2005; 2018

[Note: An earlier version of this poem appeared under the title 'All the Wrong Pieces' in an anthology Upon Reflection, Poetry Now (Forward Press), 2004 and in  A Feeling for the Quickness of  Time by R. N. Taber  (2005)]

Tuesday, 20 May 2014

Electric Storm

Whatever our colour, creed, sex or sexuality,  it is the same for lovers and would-be lovers everywhere; if falling out is like a power cut, making up has all the natural thrills of an electric storm...


We were arguing,
(I forget why) and I stumbled,
fell into your arms,
struck by a sudden electric storm,
your lips, moist and warm
on mine, feisty red-hot tongue
prising them apart,
paralysing every muscle,
my heart folding in
on its epicentre like petals  
under siege

We broke away,
appalled by what we thought
we could see in our faces;
rage, fear, pain… like flashes
of lightning,
a hard rain falling like the tears
of old gods, home truths
lashing out at us like the wind
dragging vulnerable leaves
from brave trees as ever it pleases,
nature teases

We stared at each other,
wide-eyed creatures, less afraid
we’ll come to harm
than a situation caught us out;
no time to duck and dive,
but…a coming alive
in the throes of lightning flashes,
closing in on each other
by way of acknowledging
heavens above taking our part,
nurturing the earth

Storm passed, fragile hearts
unfolding all the stronger, flowers
opening up 

Copyright R. N. Taber 2004; 2014

[Note: An earlier version of this poem appears in 1st eds. of The Third Eye by R. N. Taber, Assembly Books, 2004; 2nd (revised) e-edition in preparation.]

Monday, 19 May 2014

Ghost, a Posthumous Consciousness

I believe in ghosts just as I believe in an all-embracing posthumous consciousness or presence to which each of us contributes and in which everyone plays his or her part in a spiritual dimension that does not even recognise so has no need to measure any human concept of time. I do not mean 'spiritual' in any religious sense either, but in a far wider, more inclusive sense and continuum than it strikes me any 'closed shop' religion can offer.


I have sat with the great
at a round table chewing flesh
off bones

I have fought at battles
won and lost, let vultures pick
the bones

I engage with political
and religious leaders disputing
old bones

I’ve been good and bad,
done right and wrong for a bag
of bones

I have shared a beggar’s
patch, withering looks freezing
the bones

I have lain in The Road,
felt the wheels of time crushing
my bones

I urge the young to read
(and learn) from the home truths
in our bones 

I urge the old to be heard,
breathe fire for the next phoenix

Copyright R. N. Taber 2014

Saturday, 17 May 2014

First Symphony, Play On...

Who can ever forget the first time they made love, and discovered that religion does not have a monopoly on spirituality...? 

'If music be the food of love, play on...' [Shakespeare, Twelfth Night]


The first time we made love,
I was nervous and shy,
didn’t quite know what to do,
was scared you might
feel let down, disappointed

in me, that I wouldn’t
send the same electric shocks
through your whole body
as you were passing into mine
with every deft caress,
each lingering kiss on my lips,
gently tongued apart
for strawberries and cream
on a summer’s day that must
(surely?) last forever

My fears melted away
as I felt more at ease and safe
with you, learning how
to respond to the inspired
rhythm of your body
as it taught me a symphony
of sex as composed
by the spirits of Love and Desire
and adored by lovers
everywhere since time began;
fine men and women
discovering brave new worlds
in each other nor only
by serving the better interests
of procreation

Let love, as and when, redefine
the creative nature of salvation

Copyright R. N. Taber 2008; 2012

[Note: An earlier version if this poem appears in 1st eds. of On the Battlefields of Love by R. N. Taber, Assembly Books, 2010; 2nd ed. in preparation.]

Friday, 16 May 2014

Love's Take on the Universe

Love, like time, is a continuum…


The day you died,
I so yearned to follow you
across time and space,
create our own special place
in the universe

Yet, even as I cried,
my tears like your kisses
on my face,
nurtured our special place
in the universe

Like fresh spring rain,
tears and kisses conspired
with love and death
to return its ghosts to Earth
in living verse

Yes, even as I cried,
my tears like your kisses
on my face,
created our own special place
in the universe 

Copyright R. N. Taber 2013

Thursday, 15 May 2014

I, Person [Not Box]

No one likes to be stereotyped, and I mean anyone not just gay men and women. 

Worse, is being subjected to verbal/physical/ psychological abuse simply because we don’t tick the ‘right’ boxes; right for some people, that is.  So what can we do about it? 

As a child, I was sometimes bullied and teased (by adults as well as peers) because I had a very bad lisp. I finally confided in someone and asked what I should do. ‘Don’t do anything,’ I was told, ‘just be yourself, and when these nasty people see they are not getting to you, they will get bored and stop. Too often, we only see what we want to see in others, for better or worse. The trick is to let everyone know that what they see is what they’ll get, end of story. The chances are they will respect you for it. They may not like you, but they will respect you…’

Years later, this advice served me in very good stead when I came out as a gay man.

This poem is a villanelle.


Be brave, and to the self be true
(none of this playing a part);
let others see, for looking at you

Bigots, though (relatively) few 
leave good folks sick at heart;
be brave, and to the self be true

We all run life’s gamut, it’s true,
(few of us make a good start);
let others see, for looking at you

Gossips have little better to do
(innuendo, a poison dart…);
be brave, and to the self be true

Get a life, and then see it through
(challenge the stick, try carrot);
let others see, for looking at you

Just rewards may well seem few,
(don’t let it break your heart);
be brave, and to the self be true;
let others see, for looking at you

Copyright R. N. Taber 2009

Sunday, 11 May 2014

Deep River OR Fishing for the Twinkle in Time's Eye

A friend who, like me, lives on his own, commented that he would so love to find someone special with whom to share his life, but simply didn’t have the time, what with work and seeing to the shopping, laundry, keeping the house clean and everything else that needed to be done. Fair enough, but how often do we wonder how other people manage to find the time for leisure activities and generally enjoying life? If the answer is often, then we need to make time too or risk life dumping us in some metaphorical river carrying us along with the rest of its human waste…  

We are often told that the cut and thrust of modern life is all about prioritizing. (How managers and supervisors, not to mention politicians love that word!). Well, making time to get a life needs to be a priority, too, surely? Oh, of course things (relationships?) don’t always work out as we'd hoped (in my case, more often than not) but there is so much in life to miss out on; we need to pause for thought, and then make time to GO FOR IT. True, we all have our limitations, but as a teacher at my old school once pointed out, limitations are a challenge not an excuse.

My dear late mother once told me, ‘Always make time to reflect on life because it’s food for thought that makes the feast all the more enjoyable.’ Wise words, indeed!


A man by a river is always there,
often fishing, now and then sketching
or gazing into the air as if watching
birds in flight only, invariably,
there are none in sight as light on a face
all grizzled and worn (at first sight)
seems to shed all trace of care,
take on a saintly profile, a beauty rare,
sublime, less in thrall to time
and place than the river passing us by,
emanating centuries of loving, dreaming,
despairing of ever finding whatever
we dare not cease seeking if half scared
of naming, growing weary of hoping,
trying to express in the ways we look, talk,
pressing on regardless, feeling alone
even in crowds, begrudging time to pause
for breath (forget positive thinking)
half expecting to find Someone ‘out there’
(but where, and if we do, what then?) 

‘A strange man,’ people mutter and move on,
few pausing to ask why he’s always there,
by a river, often fishing, sometimes laughing
or just gazing into thin air (at what, ghosts?)
deflecting a general incapacity of native curiosity
to translate into… an oral perspicacity leading
to whatever, but something (surely?)
that has to be better than this mere moving on
like a river...

Copyright R. N. Taber 2005; 2014

[Note : An earlier 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.]

Saturday, 10 May 2014

The Walker OR Creative Therapy for Couch Potatoes

I can confirm that spring here in the UK is not the season it used to be; blame global warming, tricks of memory, whatever…

A neighbour remarked only recently that, ‘Before we know it, winter will be here. Our weather these days is not only unreliable, but so defeating...’

Defeating...? I beg to differ.


I’ll walk among trees today,
watch leaves fall, even hear autumn

I’ll cross green fields,
catch a flypast of swallows not (yet)
for turning

I’ll stroll a feisty twilight,
a soft, golden glow like altar candles

I’ll confess a world not done
with me yet on a moon, for its lovers,
still rising

I’ll take each season to task
for any joyless echoes among choirs
sweetly singing

I’ll resist any erosion of senses
by a north wind bent on giving tears
an airing

I’ll let Earth Mother embrace me,
feel loved where waves of loneliness

I’ll defy body, mind or spirit
to defeat me notwithstanding worldly

Copyright R. N. Taber 2012

Friday, 9 May 2014

Observations on the Human Nature of Cats

When I was much younger (I was born in 1945) I used to play with a local stray cat that would cadge food, shelter, and affection from just about anyone, until it grew old and didn’t want to do much other than laze around yawning for much of the time.  Every now and then, though, it would throw me a knowing look as if to say, ‘I may be getting old, but I can still climb trees in my sleep. One day you’ll know what I mean.’

Yes, well, that cat never said a truer word…

[Photo from the Internet]

No feeble cat, I haunt people and places
I have loved, glimpse in smiling faces
a hint of pain and weariness but quickly
overcome by a strength of spirit
and zest for life, feeding me the same
though I am lost for words, cannot
name this feeling in me that puts a spring
in my step, clears blurred vision, warming
bones that have seen better days

Home cat, alley cat, pedigree, strayed,
pacing the same boundaries laid
when the appetite for territory strong
and I made my presence felt among
peers, not always for the best of reasons
it has to be said, but my seasons
well spent, better instincts no less reliable
for feeling my way when Top Cat disagrees
for seeing, sadly, through misty eyes

To each living thing, a time must come
to set the spirit free, surrender
all temporal claim to a body seen us
through good times and bad,
made grave mistakes, done us proud,
no undoing or (ever) going back, 
on chances given us to make amends, 
live and let live among old enemies, never
having to forgive old friends

Black cat, white cat, tricks of light;
tiger, tiger, burning bright…

Copyright R. N. Taber 2004; 2014

[Note: An earlier version of this poem (under the title Year of the Cat) appears in 1st editions of The Third Eye by R. N. Taber, Assembly Books, 2004; 2nd (revised) e-edition in preparation.]

Thursday, 8 May 2014

Moon Under the Water, a Timely Encounter with Hope

I am often asked for a CD of my poetry reading on the 4th plinth in London's Trafalgar Square in 2009 as my contribution to Antony Gormley's One and Other 'live sculpture' project. There are no CDs of participant’s but I have posted a link to mine below. Be warned, though, the whole thing last an hour. (To watch others who took part, simply remove my name from the end of the link and browse.): [For now, at least, this link needs the latest Adobe Flash Player  and works best in Firefox; the archives website cannot run Flash but changes scheduled for later this year may well mean the link will open without it. Ignore any error message and give it a minute or so to start up. The video lasts an hour. ] RT 3/18

Now, we all have our ups and downs, the latter possibly at their worst after nightfall and in the early hours. As for getting through the darker, rougher, landscapes of life, be sure Hope is on hand even when we feel most abandoned and alone; we have but to acknowledge her...


She strolled as silent as light
to stand by my side;
together we watched moonlight
surf a rolling tide

She took my hand, held it tight,
said not a word
as we watched a jaded starlight
across the water glide

She led me to the water’s edge,
shadows dipping low,
night train sobbing on a bridge
like a war widow

She squeezed my hand, let it go,
trod softly on moonlight,
its sylph-like waves grieving so
for the death of night

She did not call on me to follow
yet I heard her voice
filling a heart left dark and hollow
for given no choice

She sung a song of truth and lies,
urging I live life to the full
where moonlight’s bridge of sighs
gives way to dawn’s chorale

I returned home, day’s light clear
if cheeks stained with tears,
mail train raising a hearty cheer
for the world’s survivors

[From: Tracking the Torchbearer by R. N. Taber, Assembly Books, 2012]

Wednesday, 7 May 2014

Ghosts, a Love Story

Today’s poem has not appeared on the blog since 2008 and was written for all lovers everywhere whose love, for whatever reason, is frowned upon by family, friends and those who would have us in a socio-cultural-religious stranglehold,

It is high time certain people put their socio-cultural-religious bigotry aside and accepted the fact that we are all equal in a common humanity and that none of us can help with whom we fall in love. Here in the UK, for example, many immigrants bring their historical prejudices with them; the result is many scared boys and girls, men and women having to tread on eggshells between the world from which their families came and the one in which they are growing up. [Multiculturalism is a fine concept in theory; in practice, it has a lot to answer for.]

Love does not recognize the various socio-cultural-religious differences and self-perpetuating boundaries that many societies around the world are inclined to do, including some that profess to be democratic.

As I have said before on the blogs, we should all of us always remember that our differences don't make us different, only human.


At the farthest edge of twilight,
wrapped in a misty sky,
we’d haunt the shores of love,
you and I

We’d pause at its quiet places,
fall into each other’s arms,
enjoy Earth Mother’s embraces,
employ her charms

Let kisses tasting of yesterdays,
closing on us like stars,
shape all the world’s tomorrows
set aside for lovers

Our bodies joined as day to night,
we’d surf life’s raging sea
at the farthest edge of a twilight
hinting at eternity

Come splendid night, we’d lie
and wonder at its glories;
each star, a kiss shared by lovers
in other centuries

At daybreak, dreamers waking
to walk where angels fear
for love where there for the taking,
its enemies ever near

On a cruel sea of local dissent,
among wreaths of flowers,
we were dispatched prematurely
to the stars

At the farthest edge of twilight,
wrapped in a misty sky.
we‘ll haunt the shores of love,
you and I

Copyright R. N. Taber 2007; 2014

Tuesday, 6 May 2014

The Crowded Sky OR Ghost Riders

As a child, I would love creating stories in my head from cloud ‘figures’. People would laugh and tell me I’d grow out of this fantasizing. Well, some people still laugh, but I’m glad I still feel inspired by clouds even 68+ years on.


I’ve seen ghost riders
chasing sandmen into storm clouds
and leaves fly

I’ve seen ghost riders
throw a sandman into a dark place
and trees cry

I’ve seen ghost riders
pluck such as I from fragile shelters
and no one notice

I’ve seen ghost riders,
others like me into this sorry world’s
worst nightmares

I’ve let ghost riders
drag me from my armchair, re-awaken
my consciousness

I’ve let ghost riders
rescue me from assault by prime time
TV advertising

I’ve let ghost riders
force me to face my more fragile selves

I’ve let ghost riders
trample a rainbow, watched it crumble,
only to re-assemble

One by one, ghost riders
falling away, till nothing left to say they
are even history...

Except me

[From: Tracking the Torchbearer by R. N. Taber, Assembly Books, 2012]

Monday, 5 May 2014

Love in a Mist

Life may well be a rollercoaster ride, but we can always rely on love.

Love, too, of course (more often than not) can be a rollercoaster ride, but I put it to you that we can always rely on it to penetrate even a mist of tears (for wishful thinking?) thereby re-asserting itself as the only constant feel-good factor in our lives…


Even the sun took time to cry
as we parted, you and I,
not knowing if we’d ever meet again,
heartbeats in a misty rain

We swore to write every day,
be true, come what may,
fear of never seeing each other again 
killing us in that misty rain

I watched you go, saw you turn,
felt blown kisses start to burn
a hole in my heart where we had been,
left to ghost a misty rain

The sun stayed behind a cloud
as I named my love aloud,
leaving a summer wind to bear my pain
on the wings of a misty rain

Autumn passed and winter too,
yet I heard no word from you;
heartbeat, an illusion, hope on the wane,
love’s dream but a misty rain

Suddenly, the sun reappeared
from behind a tearful cloud,
shining for us, we lifeless flowers reborn
in the sweetest of spring rain

Birds sang all that glorious day
for lovers (straight and gay);
echoes of Earth Mother’s eternal refrain
if sometimes in a misty rain

Copyright R. N. Taber 2012; 2014

[Note: This poem has been slightly revised since written in 2008 and subsequently included in 1st editions of Tracking the Torchbearer by R. N. Taber, Assembly Books 2012; 2nd (revised) e-edition in preparation.]

Sunday, 4 May 2014

War and Peace, Elements of the Human Condition

I have been watching the BBC2 TV series, Generation War: Our Mothers, Our Fathers that follows the lives of five German friends during World War II. It is an apt reminder of not only the horrors of war but also how the real victims of any conflict are those ordinary men and women, on both sides, struggling to survive and left to pick up the pieces both as it progresses and when it is all over. Events in various parts of the world today - Syria and Ukraine to name but two - are a cruel reminder of history’s penchant for repeating itself.

This year, 2014, is the 100th anniversary of the outbreak of World War I. It is especially disturbing, therefore, even if only (dangerous) rhetoric, that President Arseny Yatseniuk of Ukraine should be accusing Russia’s President Putin of trying to start World War III. He also warned the crisis in his country could spread throughout the rest of Europe. We may like to think such a thing could never happen, but history tells us differently.

People fight, initially at least, because they believe or are led to believe they are in the right and any opposing force has to be in the wrong. It is one of humanity’s greater tragedies that there are at least two sides to every conflict, and that we believe or are led to believe we are free to choose if only for freedom’s own sake. Yet, win or lose, the Mandarins of Power, for all they may well undergo a cosmetic transformation,  remain free to stoke the ashes, penetrate the dust, and go about their business in much the same way as before…


Ready to fight,
kill or be killed for the right
to live, be free,
and let others, too, go free
from whatever cage
imposed on us by powers that be
last glimpsed haunting
shadowy corridors, responsibility
taking cover in morality

In the thick of a war
against the inner self, denying
mind, body, and spirit,
intent only upon survival
of the fittest,
no time to consider the weak
and vulnerable except
to defend a moral high ground
for their sakes

Battles lost or won,
history will make out it was all
for the best
in the longer run of humanity’s
kinder attributes,
winners and losers joining forces
to create a better world,
take a more constructive view on
bettering its betters

Ashes, to ashes, century to century;
opposing forces, same cover story

Copyright R. N. Taber 2014