Sunday, 29 June 2014

Memories on a Pillow

Now, it is always good to remember someone with love. Oh, yes, and how! Yet, love, too, sometimes needs to move on. 

As I have said on my blogs many times, remembrance does not mean leaving love behind. Trust the human body, mind and spirit to always find a way, carrying its life force to pastures new so flowers that slept in winter can bloom again if never quite the same but, rather, like reworked pictures and text in a storybook that remains, nevertheless, a firm favourite.

If one quality of the human spirit might be said to  outshine all else, it has to be its capacity for love... in all manner of wonderful ways; loving people, places, animals.... love does not  discriminate.


I tied my heart
with string, deposited it
in a drawer with a pair of cuff links
and a blond hair

Like a child,
I’d go there just to look
as if contemplating illustrations
in a storybook

I flung open
the drawer (par for love)
and buried my treasure under a pile
of new shirts

Ready to put away
wishful thinking, cufflinks
and hair, cut the string keeping us 
in a time warp

You and me, pages
of a story now all smudged
and yellow where I share my pillow
with another

Copyright R. N. Taber 2002; 2016

[Note: An earlier version of this poem - under the title 'Storage and Retrieval' appears in 1st eds. of First Person Plural by R. N. Taber, Assembly Books, 200; revised e. in e-format in preparation,]

Friday, 27 June 2014

L-I-F-E, Poetry in Motion

When I am struggling with depression, it can often feel like I am in a gloomy room with no windows, just lots of doors, and every door I try is locked. In desperation, I yell for help, but no one comes. I stare at my hands as if expecting to find help there. The lifelines on each palm leap out at me, and do a little dance. My fingers make a grab for them, anxious to return them where they belong. Suddenly, I am left holding a key and know instinctively that it will turn in the lock of the next door I try.

Oh, the lock may well be stiff, and the key take some turning, but I persevere in the sure knowledge that beyond the damn door there has to be something better than being stuck alone and scared in a darkened room; a life, for example.

Ah, the wonder of imagination, not unlike a lotus flower surviving the murkiest depth as nature intended although I guess any old metaphor or synonym for survival will do so long as the inner eye can focus on it, and stay focused.  Yes, it may take a while, but for me at any rate, it’s how I (eventually) find myself back in business. 

You don't have to be a writer or even into the arts at all; gardening, painting and decorating, any form of creative therapy is likely to get the better of depression. Don't expect quick fix, but persevere and give yourself a fighting chance to get back on form... and if you know anyone suffering with depression, please give them a helping hand and (even more importantly) a helping ear. 


Sometimes when I’m feeling low
I’ll enter paintings on walls,
engage with crowds at market fairs,
let history course my veins,
giving selfhood a new dimension
and fresh direction, letting
a lazy inner eye know we’re back
in business

Or I might stroll along rugged cliffs,
communing with waves below,
pause to chat with a friendly peasant
whose lot more harsh
than I will ever know, text books
do justice or any sympathy
with poverty even begin to bring
it home...

An old farm house might invite me
to join its ghosts in a hearty meal,
the inimitable smell of home baking
lingering long after we’re eaten,
reviving my other senses, replacing
lethargy with motivation
enough to find satisfaction in putting
imagination to work

Copyright R. N. Taber 2012

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

Tuesday, 24 June 2014

Ghost Story, a Cautionary Tale

Regular readers will be aware that my interest in ghosts and a posthumous consciousness contribute to other themes in many of my poems, especially later ones. 

Now, I have seen people put in hours (and years) of unpaid overtime in various occupations for precious little thanks.  The cost to the worker in terms of family and social life, not to mention his or her health, is immeasurable. 

It may well be a sweeping statement (a general truism all the same) but the more a worker does, the more management is likely to let him or her do until such a time as it no longer suits management, for one reason or another.

We all try to be conscientious at work, but there is such a thing as overkill…

Time is never on our side  so it is down to each and every one of us to get our priorities right; work will always be high on the list, yes, but making time for ourselves, family and friends should be our number one priority since for them, too, time is not on their side and we never know for how long we may have them in our lives. I often hear people say, 'When I retired I will...' but by then it may well be too late. Besides, not everyone makes it to retirement...

Time is, at the very least as unpredictable as it is fickle. As for any work ethos, we need to take it seriously, of course, while at the same time making sure it does not prevent us getting a (real) life.


Over a period of years,
I could never help but notice
the slim, shadowy man
always waiting at my bus stop
never caught one

None of my business
of course, but eventually I asked
(pretending to care)
just what on earth he thought
he was doing there

He flung me a sad grin,
‘Well, no need to catch a bus,
been dead a good while...’
‘You're a ghost?’ I even managed
a wry smile

His laughter was kindly
(no cause for fear) ‘I love meeting
buses, watching faces
heading home, see lights coming on
in their eyes…’

‘I read between every line,
(the love, the strain) observe them
glance at their watches,
cursing time for its never taking

‘It's all there - behind
the eyes, polite smile, creased brow;
hope, love, fears,
laughter, doubt, like a shopping bag
of groceries…’

‘It's the lonely ones
who really get to me, chasing a trail
that never ends;
so many good people, too busy even
for family and friends."

‘Rich or poor, famous
or an anonymous face in the street,
needs must…
family and friends first, the work ethic
a worthy second best…’

I asked him to read my face
with some misgiving. He chuckled.
‘No need. Who has time
for a ghost has a lot to make up for
to the living.’

I'd been working late again,
and after chatting with the ghost
I wondered all the way home
which one of us was truly dead or alive
the most

Years on, same bus stop,
(been partying, and had a skinful)
my love and I saw someone  
talking to the wall, and passionately
wished them well

Copyright R. N. Taber 2000; 2014

[Note: An early version of this poem appears in 1st eds. of Love And Human Remains by R. N. Taber, Assembly Books,2001; 2 revised ed. in e-format in preparation.] 

Sunday, 22 June 2014

All Dressed Up and Nowhere to Go OR Time to Get Real

Who has never been there, all dressed up and nowhere to go, making-believe we’ll have just as  good time staying in on our own, and who’s lonely anyway…?

Too right, it’s not a good place to be. 

So...?  Be positive. Find yourself a kinder place to be, and don't waste time thinking about it. Better, surely, to enter into the process of building self-confidence than pressing self-destruct?  If human relationships are a minefield, the trick is learning to avoid the mines not the relationships. (Did I say it would be easy?)


Tables in a room, Happy Hour,
forced laughter booming like canon
across no man’s land;
lots of food and drink so let’s not think
about tomorrow, mind
the draughts or a Here and Now  
gone honky-tonk

Singing along to the radio man
(sure to cheer us up if anyone can?)
while old gods tease us
about the rights and wrongs of strings
we pull on each other
left banging on doors, crying to be
let in for pity’s sake

Dreams, footprints left by chairs
across a floor, toys seen better days,
their owners never (quite)
grown out of old inhibitions or found
better ways to spend an evening
than with life fictions sure to cut us
to the quick

There's a whole world out there 
waiting to be discovered, people too,
who need someone to share lives
that haven't measured up to expectation,
thereby stifling earlier aspirations;
Yes, time to get real and no, it's never
too late..

Copyright R. N. Taber 1997; 2014

[Note: An earlier version of this poem (minus alternative title) first appeared in poetry magazines (Community of Poets, 5, 1995 and Reach, 5, 1997) before I included it in 1st eds. of Love And Human Remains by R. N. Taber, Assembly Books 2001; 2rev. ed. in e-format in preparation.]

Saturday, 21 June 2014

Looks Familiar OR Time, Pages in a Photo Album

Clouds tell many stories, not least our own...


Lying in the grass,
studying the sky as cloud faces drift by
like the years of my life from cradle
to now, wondering where did they go,
and why, how…?

Grandpa and grandma,
long since gone to dreams in the urn;
family and friends I have loved,
and those who freely gave their love
in return

Teachers, liked or loathed,
rarely understanding how hard
some kids find it to be good
at this or that so get into trouble
at an early age, and few bother
to turn the next page in their history
so - misery!

Prisoners’ faces, too, putting
on a show, believing they know
they are done for, puppets
made to wriggle and squirm
on all-invisible strings, even pray
for better things, but to what, where,
or whom…?

Faces in a global room
looking out, always too scared to shout
for Love and Peace
as Apollo and today’s tin gods
make sport with us

Lying in long grass,
studying the sky as cloud faces drift by
like the years of my life from cradle
to now, wondering where did they go,
and why, how…?

Copyright R. N. Taber 2001; 2014

[Note: An earlier version of this poem appears in 1st eds. of Love and Human Remains by R. N. Taber, Assembly Book, 2001; 2nd (revised) e-edition in preparation.]

Thursday, 19 June 2014

Love, Time Traveler

Love is as global as it is eternal, like centuries of birdsong composed by Earth Mother and meant to be enjoyed by everyone; no more or less so for its acolytes being gay or straight.

Lovemaking is as natural as a flower’s petals opening up to sunlight; no more or less so for its lovers being gay or straight.

If beauty is in the eye of beholder, the inner eye needs to see the clearer; no more or less so for our being gay or straight.


Days are getting longer
and hope is beating stronger
though its pain lasts even
longer than the joy of being
at one with Earth Mother

Evenings stay lighter longer
and love is growing stronger
though its pain lasts even
longer than the joy of being
at one with Earth Mother

This world is no stranger
to a humanity put in danger
by its own, can but look
back in anger at our turning
a deaf ear to Earth Mother

Days are getting shorter
and hope is beating fainter
though its sweet dreams
last forever for their being
at one with Earth Mother

If the world darken sooner
and its lovers hurting longer
yet hear its heartbeat all
the stronger for their being
at one with Earth Mother

Come a world darker or lighter,
we are one with Earth Mother

Copyright R. N. Taber 2010; 2014

[Note: Published as 'Shades of Eternity' in 1st (print) eds. of On The Battlefields Of Love by R. N. Taber, Assembly Books, 2010; e-edition in preparation with revisions.] 

Wednesday, 18 June 2014

Curtain Rising on a Sense of What's What

Sometimes we wake up and wonder why we bother. Time then to force ourselves to prepare for another day, throw open curtains and windows, breathe in deeply, imbibe the sweeter sounds and smells of life and let them inspire spite of everything that seems to be working against us.

Now, nature may be as fickle as humankind, but we only have to open our minds to acknowledge its capacity for life, love, and peace to feel invited and inspired to share in it all…and let sheer willpower do the rest.

No? Try it, and see.


Heart feeling top-heavy,
an ache in the soul,
and no one even here
to listen, everyone on vacation
or an answering machine

OK, well, let’s try again
to see life’s worthwhile,
sunshine through a misty rain
making flowers grow,
trust heavens in the know
to wipe tears, put smiles
faces lined with pain for going
that extra mile with many
who then let us down (badly),
longing for loved ones
far away or dead to hug us tight,
make everything all right

Listen! The trees are singing
in country, city, and town;
Look! Children playing, lovers
wishing on stars, life-forces ever
reaching out to us…

Copyright R. N. Taber 2007; 2014

[Note: An earlier version of this poem appears in 1st eds. of Accomplices to Illusion by R. N. Taber, Assembly Books, 2007; 2nd (revised) e-edition in preparation.]

Monday, 16 June 2014

The Music Makers

This poem, a kenning, has mysteriously vanished from the blog and I am reinstating it today by popular request.


I am the lovesick composer at the keys
of a Stradivarius, the man or woman
swimming against the tide in a splendid
sea of laughter, wondering if maybe
he or she who taught them how to play
will come after them today, tomorrow,
or another time, sing a love song as old
as the sea in the ear of one who longs
for even more

I am the lark soaring to welcome the sun,
bringing hope to sleepyheads stirring
on tearstained pillows, man or woman
daring to trust in another, demanding
answers to questions haunting the mind
like ghosts striving to clear a pathway
to love for the living, lift the last obstacles
remaining, sing among larks and rise
into clear skies

I am the nocturne sent to lure us along
the Milky Way, leaving trails
few astronomers will rush to identify
for fear of exposing such secrets
as men and women have found in stars
reading like notes of a love song
since Creation, inspiration for generation
upon generation, signatures of nature
to love’s endeavour

I bring to the spirit of music and dance,
an expertise called Endurance

[From: On the Battlefields of Love by R. N. Taber, Assembly Books, 2010]

Sunday, 15 June 2014

Dreamers Awake. Going for Gold

It is only human nature to go for gold in life...whether it’s passing an exam, winning a sports event, or some one’s heart. Sadly, it is also human nature to beat ourselves up if we don't find it. some, lose some. The important thing is, never feel a failure (or let anyone else make you feel that way) if things don't work out quite as you'd hoped; each and every one of us deserves a pat on the back, at the very least, just for giving it our best shot. No one can do more.

As for finding whatever gold it is we seek at the end of whatever rainbow, well, that's just the start; holding on and living up to it...that's something else altogether.

This poem is a villanelle.


As every dreamer (waking) knows
it's agony and ecstasy
in this life’s weepy highs and lows

Love, a going for gold that shows
real true grit humanity
as every dreamer (waking) knows

Out of dreams, inspiration follows 
a bitter-sweet reality
in this life’s weepy highs and lows

Missing out on home goals throws
us but temporarily...
as every dreamer (waking) knows

Watch time lends all its tomorrows
to shades of immortality;
in this life’s weepy highs and lows

By nature, the human spirit grows
to bear the fruits of its maturity
as every dreamer (waking) kmows
in this life’s weepy highs and lows

Copyright R. N. Taber 2012

Saturday, 14 June 2014

Free Spirit, Beautiful Mind

We hear speak of a common humanity for which a common denominator has to be love. [Well, doesn’t it?] so whatever happened to either in the global scale of things?

There is much love in the world so how about we start sharing it out more fairly and cease discriminating against those of whose social, sexual, political, religious or cultural identity happens to be quite different from our own. 

As I have said so many times on the blogs, one person’s take on another person’s differences, works both ways. Being different, though, does not make us right or wrong, only human.

Religious fundamentalists need to keep in mind that the God of their religion created all humankind in His (or Her) image not theirs. The arrogance of these people...


Love embraces all that is beautiful,
(doves of peace winging freely);
London, New York, Baghdad, Kabul,
anxious not to be seen its enemy

Love stands for all that is beautiful
(doves of peace drinking its tears);
London, New York, Baghdad, Kabul
prey to a world feasting on its fears

In love we are beautiful, made whole
(doves of peace never discriminate);
London, New York, Baghdad, Kabul,
making a show of demonizing hate

Love, a fair measure of the shortfall
in life cultures, religions, politics;
London, New York, Baghdad, Kabul,
(adrenalin junkies looking for a fix)

Love, bitter-sweeter fruit of Creation,
a freedom of heavens, earth and sea,
laughter and tears, hell and salvation,
defining (and redefining) humanity

Wherever life persuasions under fire,
love may lose battles, but not the war

Copyright R. N. Taber, 2009

Friday, 13 June 2014

Sun Worshippers OR All But Baring All

Some new readers have asked if there is a recording available of my informal poetry reading on the 4th plinth in London’s Trafalgar square back in 2009 as my contribution to Sir Antony Gormley’s One and Other ‘live art’ project.  Unfortunately, there isn’t one, but you are welcome to make a note of the link:    [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, all love the sunhine although I am no sun worshipper (as such) because I have very sensitive skin which even the best sun creams don't protect. Oh, but for those who can lie in the sun to their heart's content...heavenly, indeed!


Lying on the sand
letting the sea lick our feet,
listening to waves
like the heartbeat of a god
crashing against
the temple of its Being,
sending adrenalin
flowing through the veins
of acolytes thinking
to serve a Higher Power
than priests playing
mind games of their own
with our lives,
thoughts, ideas, faiths
likely to inspire
man, woman, child, across
land, sea, air, to bring
their joys, sorrows, hopes
for a (far) better life
to the altar of self-sacrifice,
arms and legs spread,
heads bowed, eyes closed,
listening for that still,
small voice, ever engaging
in a sense of spirituality
inviting a sense of our being
at one with its creation

Apollo among other gods
looking on blankly
as humankind all but bares all
on the sand, letting waves
tickle toes, and (who knows?)
even trying to understand

Copyright R. N. Taber 2005; 2012

[Note: This poem has been slightly revised from the version that appeared on the blog in 2009 and in A Feeling for the Quickness of Time by R. N. Taber, Assembly Books, 2005; rev. ed. in e-format in preparation.]

Wednesday, 11 June 2014

A Seasonal Magic

Some years ago,  I confided to friend (always an inspiration) on his 80th birthday that I sometimes felt scared of growing old. The lively 80 year-old in question told me not to worry. ‘Me, I think of myself as a tree going through its seasons, time after time, every one different and each, in its own way, as magical as any that have gone before,’ he said with a wry grin. .

‘What about winter?’ I asked sceptically.  

‘Time to enjoy a good rest and conserve our energy for whatever (or whoever) may be just around the next corner,’ came the unhesitating reply.

‘What if there’s no one and nothing?’ I persisted.

My elderly friend threw back his head and roared. ‘Well, if you’re that much of a pessimist it’s probably no more than you deserve.’

We both laughed, and I have never feared growing old since.

 (Image taken for the Internet)


Often, as spring is fading,
I spot a face in clouds I know well,
as sure as a late lark working
the magic of its ages-old spell

Often, as summer is fading,
I hear a voice in my ears I know well,
as sure as a fine rain seducing
the trees with its ages-old spell

Often, as autumn is fading,
I feel caresses on my skin I know well,
as sure as a fair wind rising
to Earth Mother’s ages-old spell

Often, as winter is falling,
I surrender to an embrace I know well,
as sure as home fires reworking
what passes for an ages-old spell

Where a season’s colours fading
like the dream we knew only too well,
other lovers are discovering
the magic of its ages-old spell

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

Tuesday, 10 June 2014

Lines on Nights-Before and Mornings-After

This poem has been significantly revised from the original as it appears in my collection. Why do I make revisions at all, especially where poems have already appeared in poetry publications elsewhere in their original form? To be honest, I am not really sure. Some poems I don’t revise in the least; others, as I read them from a distance of several years or more, seem to cry out, to a greater or lesser extent, for change.

As a poem is being read and interrelates with the reader, it takes on a life of its own. How much of a life and what shape it takes will depend, of course, as much on the reader as the poet. Could it be perhaps that even poems - like many of us as we grow old(er) - would welcome a makeover of sorts?

I can live with living alone, not least because I am a fairly self-contained person. At the same time, I wake sometimes to a bleak feeling of emptiness that I would never experience upon opening my eyes  to love-ines on the ceiling while listening to the gentle breathing of someone next to me. Moreover, it is a feeling to which  I suspect no single person, whatever their sex or sexuality, would ever claim a monopoly,


The touch of your cheek
like damask on mine;
playful fingers, eagerly

Watching a crescent moon
play hide-and-seek.
an occasional star venturing
to peek…

Clouds drift down, cover
the world’s lovers
with a handkerchief stained
shades of blue
for all the lights, darks
and in-betweens
of human loves, joy, grief...
marking pearly brows

Distant hum of an aeroplane
waking the senses
to a rare  reality hinting
at immortality

Your lips homing in
on mine,
eager tongues breaking free
of all bondage

Heaven-sent  embraces
gathering pace, spinning us
on the Earth’s axis,
spilling us like drops of dew
from spreading petals
come break of day, exuding
incredible scents of  a lifetime's

Pink triangle of dawn,
risen to a chorus
of nature’s lasting blessing
on our finer triumphs

At peace in your arms,
no sweeter rest
for having no dread of waking
from it alone

Copyright R. N. Taber 2004; 2011

[Note: An earlier version of this poem under the title 'Heaven's Handkerchief'  appears in The Third Eye by R. N. Taber, Assembly Books, 2004; revised ed. in e-format in preparation.]

Monday, 9 June 2014

Sunny Days, Passing Storms

Many if not most of us have to weather a winter of the heart at some time during our lives; sometimes a winter that never quite passes, but surrenders to spring and other, kinder seasons of life as it proceeds to beat for the best rather than the worst of times. It is then we most need to be reassured that we are loved; it is love, and love alone, that comforts us and will see us through to another spring. It may be the love of family, friends, or perhaps a pet. Whatever, can there be anything sadder than a person having no love in their life to which they can turn for comfort and inspiration in his or her hour of need?

I once worked with a Home Library Service. Among many lovely people I visited on a regular basis was a very old lady who lived alone. I asked her once if she was lonely. She replied, “In the sense that I miss people, yes. But how can I be lonely for long in the company of so many ghosts who love me as I love them? Memory, you know, doesn’t have to be a well of tears. It can just as easily be a garden of all things bright and beautiful that will never stop growing unless you stop caring for them. Stop caring, “she added with a dazzling smile, “and you’re all but dead already.” 


Wintry sunshine, breaking through
a fine mist of fun things done,
summer places known, kinder times
to memory consigned yet gladly retrieved
now and then when we are lonely, to enjoy
all over again like a toy always kept
in a special place that’s yours, mine, ours,
for rediscovering things that matter
more than rose-tinted tears of self-pity;
the simple joys of peace of mind
secured by friendship’s hugs, kisses,
cuddles, confiding poems, making plans
(though they be but daydreams)
and caring about each other, even apart;
let fiction against fact conspire
to distract us and a storm break, together
we’ll weather whatever challenges
the dark side of nature may throw down
or a gossipy neighbour just across the street,
curtains (forever) unsubtly twitching

No friendship is surer than upon itself
freely feeding or love as enduring,
no matter that some seize any opportunity
to redefine, malign its intimacy...

Copyright R. N. Taber 2007; 2014

[Note: An earlier version of this poem appears in first editions of Accomplices To Illusion by R. N. Taber, Assembly Books, 2007; revised edition in e-format in preparation.]

Saturday, 7 June 2014

On Cherry-picking Life-force Metaphors and Straws

As regular readers will know only too well, I like to think I have a strong sense of spirituality but find it - along with a sense of raison d’être - in nature, not religion. (I find dogma more imprisoning than enlightening.) At the same time, I am often accused of hypocrisy because I use religious metaphor in many of my poems.

For me, the more sensitive, imaginative, and spiritually enlightening passages in Holy Books are metaphors for humanity, its weaknesses and strengths.

Raised a Christian, I have never been able to take the Bible literally, but always found much food for thought in it and poetry to enjoy. I admire the historical Jesus of Nazareth as a man ahead of his time who spoke good sense and encouraged the kind of open mind and heart that many so-called Christians today would do well to follow.  

We have much to learn from founders of all the world’s religions.  So, yes, I often use religious metaphor in my poetry, and don’t consider this makes me a hypocrite.

Readers of my gay-interest blog often contact me on the subject of religion versus sexuality. Among them, ‘Julie M’ who wrote to say that she too ‘turned to nature for spiritual strength and reassurance after my religion failed me, a lesbian, when I needed it most.' Others have written to say they have been disowned by their family and friends for making life choices (not necessarily to do with sexuality) considered ‘inappropriate’ in the context of various socio-cultural-religious traditions.  [As the title of a poem of mine asks, whatever happened to love?]

This poem is a villanelle.


Passive spectator to war,
the last tree left standing, evergreen;
God, a first and last metaphor

Tested like Adam (all the more)
by a world’s dark intentions unseen;
passive spectator to war

Eve called out for a whore
by busy minds hastily swept ultra-clean;
God, a first and last metaphor

Snake in the grass and more…
making of nature something obscene,
passive spectator to war

Behind the kitchen door,
preparing to feed off a television screen,
God, a first and last metaphor

Presuming to keep the score,
let one coin outshine a leaf’s dawn sheen;
passive spectator to war...
God, a first and last metaphor

Copyright R. N. Taber 2007; 2014

[Note: An earlier version of this poem appears under the title 'God's Metaphor' in 1st eds. of Accomplices To Illusion by R. N. Taber, Assembly Books, 2007; 2nd (revised) e-edition in preparation.]

Friday, 6 June 2014

From Start to Finish, the Ethos of In-Between

Should mind or spirit taking turns to rock the body in nature’s makeshift cradle at any given moment in time get carried away by life’s anxieties and threaten to tip us out, we can but trust the other to find a way to break our fall


child eyes privy to the world’s
home truths

Light shade,
left babysitting a moth’s need
for reassurance

Door slams,
rocks the cradle. Bully at large,
(Oh, but where?)

Moth and child
losing faith in any sure certainty
sent into free fall

makes a catch, applies wrappings
of make-believe

Bully, spotted
riding a pale horse into obscurity

Moth, goes free
once someone happens by and by,
turns the light off

blank pages indulging a penchant
for denial

Peace (of sorts)
rocking our insecurities from cradle
to grave

Copyright R. N. Taber 2012; 2014

[Note: A slightly different version of this poem appears under the title 'The Babysitter' in Tracking the Torchbearer by R. N. Taber, Assembly Books, 2012; rev. ed. in e-format in preparation.]

Tuesday, 3 June 2014

Rascal on the Run OR Human Potential in the Abstract

‘Around the rugged rocks, the rugged rascal ran,’ was meant to be nothing more than an introduction to alliteration in the course of an English lesson when I was about 12 years-old. Yet, even as my teacher spoke those words, an image was forming in my mind of some unfortunate lad dressed in rags, bare feet bleeding after running round rugged rocks for no reason other than it was something to do, better perhaps than…well, whatever. (Being in school on a lovely summer’s day perhaps?)

That image will always hunt me. Childhood was no bed of roses, and sometimes the going would get rough. I’d find myself running round and round various rugged, metaphorical rocks unable to break whatever vicious circle of existence pursued me. Break it, though, I did, time and again if only by exercising mind over matter, a strategy that has served me well throughout my adult life.


Around rugged rocks, a ragged rascal
runs …into a story-poem as (gradually)
mind and spirit start homing in  
on artful shadows penetrating a mist,
outline of a child chasing shadows,
doing battle with hidden fears, taking
a pride of sorts in wiping away the first
of, oh, so many tears

Sea sounds, music to the child’s ears,
fun waves splashing on dream holidays,
TV family laughing, applauding…
till time to wake, give wishful thinking
the elbow, start climbing up walls
where giant spiders have ears, tell tales
enough on cry-baby bed-wettings to give
even a rascal the shakes

One times one is one, two times two
(time to tie a shoelace, heading for a fall)
distant voices jeering, clapping a rascal
made to stand in front of the class, object
of pretend martyrdom, subject of abuse,
taking a pride or sorts in refusing to shed
a solitary tear, allying with artful shadows
dampening red hot coals   

One times one is one, two times two
(shoelace a sloppy bow, heading for a fall)
dispassionate voices, chasing a rascal
through the streets of town for truanting,
preferring to get high with crack-heads
than some bottomless pit of name-calling
created especially for those unable to keep up
a semblance of appearances

One times one is one, two times two
(best designer gear, evidence of a fall)
no character references for the court,
gets twelve months, no surprises there
for a rascal despatched to learn (or teach?)
a trick or two about climbing walls
where giant spiders with ears and eyes
make short work of flies

Sea sounds, in young-old ears,
fun waves splashing on dream holidays,
TV family laughing, applauding…
till time to wake, give wishful thinking
the elbow, start climbing up walls
where giant spiders have ears, tell tales,
carry knives or guns, and not to kill flies
or give rascals the shakes

Around rugged rocks, a ragged rascal
runs…into a story-poem likely to haunt
generations of children weaving
fictions around lives unfit for purpose,
branded liars and tantrum throwers
for a want of articulation on an absence
of real understanding in a world obsessed
with its own worldliness

Copyright R. N. Taber 2014

Sunday, 1 June 2014

The Zen Guide to Eating Out

I have eaten out several times with friends lately, and it was a real tonic, especially as I have not been feeling too well. It doesn’t have to cost a lot either.

Whether the meal is excellent, average or could be better…there’s nothing quite like eating out (or in) with old friends. We chat a lot (with or amongst each other, not on our phones!) which is all part of the fun. Mobile phones are great in SO many ways, BUT you can't beat face-to-face conversation. Some people, especially among the young, should try it more often while we older ones need to lead more by example lest it become an all but forgotten art.

This poem is a villanelle. [OK, I take a few liberties with 'hidden' rhyme - as regular readers will know I am inclined from time to time - but isn't that a poet's prerogative...?]


Welcoming and airy,
ever a good place to eat,
cue for good company

Bubbles of memory,
seducing us on the street,
welcoming and airy

A hint of strawberry
worthy of a summer meet,
cue for good company

Shades of a history,
regular Sandman’s beat,
welcoming and airy

Heavens, an eternity
to argue, ponder and wait,
cue for good company

A scrumptious reality
for mind, body, and spirit,
welcoming and airy,
cue for good company

Copyright R. N. Taber 2005; 2018

[Note: An earlier version of this poem appears in A Feeling for the Quickness of Time by R. N. Taber, Assembly Books, 2005. I posted a revised version on the blog in 2014 and have recently revised again in the light of critical feedback from readers, which I always take seriously.]