Sunday, 31 August 2014

Close Encounters with Dark Forces OR Getting the Better of Despair

Reading a newspaper, watching or listening to the News these days is enough to make the strongest spirit wilt.

We could be forgiven for thinking the world is terminally ill.  Yet, the human spirit has wrestled with dark forces since the beginning of time and remains essentially undefeated; bowed, even cowed sometimes, but for all the battles it may lose, it will always win the war…one way or another.

Rogue elements of human nature kind may do their worst, but - to misquote a line from Shakespeare’s Merchant of Venice - the quality of human goodness is not strained, but falls like the gentle rain from heaven upon the place beneath…


Darkness coiling around,
a wintry wind hissing at the ears,
the world like a snake poised to strike,
confusion suckling its fears

Black sky descending,
a shroud on battered mind and body,
wishful thinking cowering in a corner,
inner eye straining to see

Huge puffballs threatening
to smother even Hope’s weak breath,
as she struggles with a near blind spirit
to outwit an untimely death

Suddenly, out of nowhere,
a winking, blinking star appears,
unnerving the snake, nurturing mind
and body with history’s tears

Revived by its light, touched
by a centuries-old enduring lust
for survival, inner eye recovers its sight,
time triumphing over dust

Pin-pricks of light in the black,
challenges gathering momentum,
calling on the spirit to stir its host body,
and find its way back home

Copyright R. N. Taber 2014

Saturday, 30 August 2014

Islamic State (So-Called); Rivers of Blood, Sea of Hate

[Update. March 23 2018]: Hearts across the world will be reaching out to the families and friends of those killed/ traumatised by events near Carcassonne in southern France earlier today; indeed to all the people of France, tragically no stranger to such atrocities. First reports are suggesting a link to so-called Islamic State. The terrorists can, do, and will bring fear and grief wherever they go...but they can never win if only because there is more humanity than inhumanity across the world and the former, for all the hurt it may suffer, remains indestructible.

[Update. August 18 2017]: Re-publishing this poem/post is becoming frighteningly familiar. All good hearts cannot help but go out to the families and friends of those killed and all those injured in two horrific terrorist attacks in Spain; one yesterday and another in the early hours of this morning. It is awful enough when natural events like the recent mudslide in Sierra Leone cause devastation and death, but terrorism is a deliberate, human act and all the more horrific for that.

[Update. May 23 2017]: Events in Manchester last night have shocked and horrified the civilised world. Our hearts and thoughts fly not only to the families and friends of the dead and injured, but to anyone who was there, and may well be haunted by this senseless tragedy forever. One death is one death too many, but the ever growing total from terrorist attacks around the world must not deflect a common determination to give the greater good of human spirit a free rein to rise above it all and express itself in such acts of all-inclusive kindness as we have seen in the past; as good a message as any to terrorists that they will not and cannot win.

[Update, March 22 2017]: Our thoughts this morning are especially with the families and friends of those who died and were injured in yesterday's terrorist attack in London. Those who witnessed the attacks on Westminster Bridge and outside the Houses of Parliament will have seen scenes likely to stay with them for the rest of their lives. We can only trust that time will be kind to everyone in helping to alleviate their distress. As for the terrorists, whoever they may be, the bastards can never win if only because the better side of human nature and the natural goodness in people is stronger by far than anything they can throw at us.]

[Update, Jan 2nd 2017]: Yet again our hearts go out to the families and friends of victims and survivors of yet another terrorist atrocity carries out by so-called Islamic State, this time at a nightclub in Istanbul on New Year's Eve. The same, of course, applies to the victims of the latest car bomb attack in Iraq (Baghdad). Around the world, fanatics attached to I S strike at the very principles of our personal freedoms, but they will not emerge victorious in the ultimate endgame...if only because the majority of human kind are better than they can ever hope to be.]

[Update, Dec 20, 2016]: Our hearts go out to all the families and friends of those killed and injured in what appears to have been a terrorist attack on a Christmas market in Berlin yeaterday. Terrorists are worse than just murderers; they have no conception of decent humanity beyond their own warped idealism.  But humanity is comprised of a stronger resilience to attack than these sick minds can possibly conceive; its innate goodness WILL triumph, although the road ahead be long and many more tears shed before terrorism (and all hate crime) hangs its head in shame and concedes defeat.] 

[Update, June 26th 2015: I am sure most if not all readers will join me in utter condemnation of the murderous attack by Islamic State fanatics on innocent civilians in Tunisia, France and Kuwait yesterday. Our thoughts today are with the victims, their families and friends for whom life will never be the same again.]

[Update, November 14th 2015: Yet again, the so-called Islamic State have caused carnage. It is claiming responsibility for the deaths of many innocent civilians in Paris last night and I am sure all my readers hearts go out to the family and friends of those killed. The bastards will not win. The principles of democracy, freedom and the humanitarian values upon which they are founded and from which they will always take their strength and survive, no matter what, WILL prevail.]

Regular readers will know that I try to record certain world/national events as well as my personal relationship with body, mind and spirit and various communications with nature. My collections reflect this, too. 

I once had the idea that, centuries on, someone might come across my poetry in a time capsule and see that, for all the early twenty-first century was a mess, the finer qualities of human nature endured, survived and overcame even the atrocities committed by Islamic State (formerly ISIS) in the name of a form of Islam Muslim friends, acquaintances, and colleagues have assured me for years that no true Muslim would countenance

This poem is a villanelle.


A raging tide, Islamic State,
(creating floods of fear);
rivers of blood, Sea of Hate

Religion, at the Devil’s Gate
(password ‘power’ here);
a raging tide, Islamic State

Good people left to their fate
(even the sun sheds a tear);
rivers of blood, Sea of Hate

Women and children but bait
(up for grabs, world media)
a raging tide, Islamic State

Islam dragged into disrepute
(its peace lovers in despair);
rivers of blood, Sea of Hate

Poisonous radicalism at root,
(no care for Earth Mother);
a raging tide, Islamic State;
rivers of blood, Sea of Hate

[London, August 30th 2014]

Copyright R. N. Taber 2014

Thursday, 28 August 2014

Sanctuary OR Thoughts on Growing Old

Many years ago, someone told me that the best thing a person can do with his or her life is to be sure to create as many happy memories to fall back on during less happy times. Oh, but how true! ]

Growing old can be tough, painful and lonely for some if not many of us although, of course, old age has no monopoly on any of these. Happy memories are not for crying over because they are in the past, but for celebrating and providing a sanctuary of thoughts as we run the gamut of life's harder times, thereby making the Here-and-Now less tough, painful or lonely...if we let it; they may also inspire us to create more such memories because  it's never too late all the while we can raise a smile and laugh enough to encourage others into our lives. As my dear, late mother once commented, no one enjoys the company of a perennial whinger.


When I walk in the Valley of Memory,
all those I have loved greet me there,
light in their eyes like the sun in summer skies,
past harsh words, beyond pain or care

When I walk in the Valley of Memory,
I rejoice to be all that I can,
mistakes redeemed, life all that it seemed
to the child I was and young man

When I walk in the Valley of Memory
lambs among wolves play at ease,
rain washed clean, the grass growing green,
flowers, icons of love and peace

When I walk in the Valley of Memory,
a breeze recites poems in my ears,
trees sing songs about rights instead of wrongs
and all raison d’ĂȘtre reappears

Whenever I leave the valley, as I must,
for the world as it is, a sorry place,
I feel safer for knowing it’s there for the going
as a cold wind rips at my face

Copyright R. N. Taber, 2014

Thursday, 21 August 2014

Human Nature, the Archives

Since the beginning of time, history has been recorded in various art forms in caves, palaces, tombs,  wherever…proving if nothing else that in the sense that human nature runs the gamut of good and bad, it remains, like time itself, an essentially constant factor in an ever changing world.

This poem is a villanelle.


Hieroglyphics on a stone wall
revisiting war and peace,
we creatures great and small

Demands that we ignore a call
to heed the bigot’s cause;
hieroglyphics on a stone wall

To each our own, walking tall
in Earth Mother’s eyes,
we creatures great and small

Where pride anticipates a fall,
find religion on its knees,
hieroglyphics on a stone wall

All things bright and beautiful,
compensating for our tears,
we creatures great and small

Lines left barely decipherable
marking out life histories;
hieroglyphics on a stone wall,
we creatures great and small

Copyright R. N. Taber 2009

Saturday, 16 August 2014

W-A-R, Crucible of Remembrance

Now and then, I receive emails from ordinary men and women who have lost loved ones in one or other of the world’s a war zones, and seek peace of mind.

Every death deserves a poem. Sadly, though, the Muse cannot keep pace with it all. As for peace of mind, there is little enough of that to be found in a war zone, whether it be in Ukraine, Syria, Iraq, Afghanistan, Gaza…wherever.

Let us give some thought, too, to the survivors of those life-or-death battles around the world in which involvement they may, rightly or wrongly, take pride, while I suspect they, like the rest of us, can but struggle to find words to justify it all. Oh, plenty of excuses under cover of various socio-cultural-religious-political camouflage, but justification in real (human) terms...?

We should also bear in mind, of course, that we are all but human beings trying to do what we think is right; there are casualties on both sides of any conflict, their loved ones, too, left behind to try and pick up the pieces of a fragmented life.

Tragically, while love may well nurture dreams that last forever, the world’s power-hungry vultures from various quasi-cultural/ religious/political backgrounds are inclined to do the same for its nightmares.


Blood on the grass, blood on the mud,
evening skies spilling the blood
of dying and wounded on sand, on sea,
sacrifices meant to set the world free

Blood on the hands helping comrades
to call out and challenge Hades;
blood on the pillow, blood on the sheet
where love’s worst nightmares meet

Blood on the ceiling, the lamp shade too,
bloodshot eyes still weeping for you;
bloody, the colour of your lips and warm,
defying nightmares to save a dream

Blood on the grass, blood on the sands,
rites of passages no one understands;
though it shed blood (in whatever name)
to a common humanity, the same dream

Copyright R. N. Taber 2010; 2014

Friday, 15 August 2014

Sometimes Love Doesn't (Quite) Make It

Gay or straight, man or woman, I dare say there are a good few people out there whose hearts have been stirred if not broken by a romantic interlude on holiday…or just about any time, anywhere.

Oh, but romance can be so fickle. Love, now that’s something else, and where there’s life…


I’ve strolled in green hills
felt summer’s fingers in my hair,
raindrops like kisses,
envying leafy songbirds
free to fly where they choose
as nature intended,
lying on a bed of heather
its scent invading all my senses
just as you (still) do

We’d stroll in green hills
where you’d run fingers in my hair,
(pausing for kisses)
and write love songs
for the birds, fly where we chose
as nature intended,
lying on a bed of heather
its scent invading all our senses,
all but conquering us

I’ve walked grubby streets
felt summer’s fingers tease my hair,
raindrops like tears,
envying couples holding hands
their sweeter life choices
(or nature at play?)
wishing them kinder places
than sure to invade all the senses,
keep the spoils

Once, we were songbirds flying high
till a north wind exposed us for a lie

Copyright R. N. Taber 2010

Tuesday, 12 August 2014

(Other) Secret Agendas OR Ongoing Repair Work on Fractured Societies

Who needs aliens? You don’t have to be paranoid to imagine shadowy figures in the world, not only treading its corridors of power and conspiring to access our own living rooms but which will almost certainly bring us to the very edge of Armageddon one day if only to give humanity a final push and send us all into freefall…from which only a select few are likely to survive.

The public face of the world leaves much to be desired. Thank goodness then for those people from all socio-cultural-religious backgrounds ever bent upon exposing misleading stereotypes and  redundant traditions to help bring the whole socio-cultural-religious ethic into the 21st century regardless of the risks to their personal safety from die-hard bigots, religious fundamentalists, and those faceless mandarins that have stalked the corridors of power for centuries whose primary concern is self-interest.

No one person can change the world, but if everyone but does their best in their own little corner of it, hopefully the ripples will spread…


Secret agendas,
writing treaties in various tongues
on a mother’s heart,
smiling at young lovers cavorting
in comic strip cartoons

Secret agendas,
providing a eulogy for the failures
of its multi-cultures,
observing how occupied territories
live on empty gestures

Secret agendas,
inciting revolution among dreamers
who would face facts,
repair broken words to make good
well-heeled intentions

Secret agendas,
dropping lovers in black holes blown
by would-be martyrs,
sending letters home written on scraps
of roadside shrapnel

Secret agendas
shooting down deaf-blind stargazers
for darker centuries
than this, light years on since we first
let battle commence

Copyright R. N. Taber 2008

Monday, 11 August 2014

Plight of the Yazidis OR Another Bloody Stain on the Landscape of Religion

[Update: May 2018:The plight of the Yazidi people continues...]

[Update: November 15th 2015: The Yazidi people continue to suffer indescribable atrocities at the
hands of the cowardly murderers calling themselves Islamic State. Iraqi Kurds have retaken Sinjar from IS so there is light at the end of the tunnel for this minority group, at least for now. Out hearts go out to them and hopes that these I S psychopaths will eventually be wiped from the face of the earth as they deserve.]

Tens of thousands of Yazidis - mostly women and children - were forced to flee to Mount Sinjar, in north-west Iraq when the militant Islamic State (formerly ISIS) recently overran the Sinjar region.

The Yazidis have been surrounded by the militants for days in blistering heat, and with little food or water. Many have died. Thanks to the actions of the Kurdish peshmerga forces and US air strikes targeting the militants, many have now been able to cross into Syria and return to Kurdistan, but many others remain trapped. 

There have been reports of anyone refusing to convert to Islam being summarily executed by Islamic State, taken into slavery, and even buried alive.

All religious fundamentalists are a disgrace to their religion and to humanity. When will they ever learn...?

[Update, May 3rd 2015: Thousands of Yazidi men, woman and children have been massacred by so-called 'Islamic State' in northern Iraq.  Yet, acts of such appalling abuse against humanity and Islam continue to attract followers, especially among young, disaffected Muslims across Europe. ]


Victims of a radical Islamic obsession
men, women and children, no safe haven,
under siege on a mountain

Misunderstood by many for centuries
(a common perception, devil worshippers)
a veil over the world’s eyes

Defiant, proud, pursued into the glare
of a sorry world’s shortcomings and media,
focusing on their terror

Islamic State (ISIS) as dark a force as evil,
rallying to a flag as black as any terror-devil
might well raise at will

World, wringing its hands at their misery,
does what it can, little enough for the Yazidi
children of the century

Islamic State, swathe of horrific obsession,
raping body, mind and spirit of a pure religion,
impregnating a generation

London, August 11th 2014

Copyright R. N. Taber 2014

Thursday, 7 August 2014

Extracts from an Autobiography of Time

It was 1964 when I first heard Pete Seeger sing Where Have All The Flowers Gone?  I was 17 years-old and moved to tears. I told my mother, adding that I felt such a fool.

‘Never regret tears,’ she said. ‘Only fools never cry. It’s tears that oil the wheels of Time, and without Time there would be no way of carrying our memories to a safe place where we can access them whenever we feel the need…’

'That's daft,' I said.

'No, dear,' she said, 'that's history...'

This poem is a villanelle:


Where time, it passes us on,
so we pass on in time
like a flower, its season gone

No wintry world ever reborn
in love’s springtime
where time, it passes us on

Find peace on Earth forsworn,
(poetry forsaking rhyme)
like a flower, its season gone

Find all sacred songs written
to give God a name…
where time, it passes us on

On its battlefields dearly won,
glory buries its crime
like a flower, its season gone

Be it a molehill or mountain
may the human spirit climb
where time, it passes us on…
like a flower, its season gone

Copyright R. N. Taber 2008; 2014

Tuesday, 5 August 2014

Figures in a Landscape OR Home Truths, Chief Protagonists in Art Forms

For the benefit of any new readers, I should perhaps explain that I also upload historic as well as current blog posts to Google Plus. I regularly add and remove these so readers can access up to about 30 poems without having to trawl 1,000+ poems on my blogs. It seems to work well, and feedback has been very encouraging so I will continue:

Regarding my You Tube channel, it appears that some viewers have not realised they should keep the sound on to catch the poems I read over the latter videos nor that the poem is also included in the description that accompanies each video. Hopefully, this information will add to your enjoyment as Graham and I have a lot of fun shooting the videos and writing the poems. We don’t have a state of the arts video camera, though, so don’t expect a BBC level production:


Among all art forms, it is possibly a painting that brings us closest to considering home truths we prefer to keep at bay...? Could that be because all art probes the secrets of nature and human nature that, as we connect with and relate to it, in one way or another, we cause at least some to surface? 


Colours, plain enough
to see, tricks of light
portraying the same scene
if differently, discerning inner eye
homing in selectively

Familiar enough backdrop;
humanity busy scrapping,
hell-bent on settling old scores
under the very noses of arguably
elected ‘betters’

Society stripped of dignity,
its integrity left wide open
to question, hypocrisy ripped
away like ozone, ways of seeing
increasingly less clear

Earth Mother going it alone;
world conforming
to tribal identities, a conflicting
evolution, pictures in an exhibition
up for speculation

Copyright R. N. Taber 2002; 2014

[Note: An earlier version of this poem appears in 1st eds. of First Person Plural by R. N. Taber, Assembly Books, 2002; 2nd (e-edition) in preparation.]

Saturday, 2 August 2014

Time, a Run-Around Life

I love nature, and as a child never understood one of my mother’s favourite sayings about people unable to see the wood for the trees.

It took a while, but I finally grew up and found out…the hard way.


we played chase games   
in a dead-end street,
happy enough, but wishing
kid’s stuff over, time for a go
at living for real

we chased each other
for career success,
happy enough, but wishing
we had more time to make a go
at living for real

we played a chase game
with someone else,
happy enough, but sensing
we were somehow falling short
of living for real

we chanced to meet up  
in a busy street,
happy enough, but sensing
others were making a better go
of living for real

to take stock of dead-ends,
let imagination
run free, take a chance
on each other, start having a go
at living for real

Copyright R. N. Taber 2014