Wednesday, 29 October 2014

Charging Up for Change OR Swinging Sixties, History v Myth

Oh, but I remember the frumpy fifties so well…as if they were but a few years ago instead of half a century…! The leap in to the 1960 gave us all a welcome shock. Looking back, though, how much do we recall as it really was and how much has been airbrushed along the way by a cult mythology...?

Oh, but where DOES the time go, eh?


Oh, those formal, frumpy fifties!
BBC TV announcers
in evening dress even in the afternoon…
Glued to the radio (hangover
from a bleak wartime) while the likes
of Bronco, Cheyenne, Wells Fargo
and Wagon Train harvest rich myths  
of the old American West
for future generations to look back
with pride, the shame
of Wounded Knee left to Hollywood
with poor excuses

Off ‘n’ away with post-war blues,
we’re looking good…

Enter, skiffle and Lonnie Donegan
before rock and roll began
to take root and Juke Box Jury
woke us all up from days
of ballroom dancing to bold frontiers
of disco (forget the Lone Ranger
and Tonto); Mods and rockers fighting
each other for tabloid headlines,
girls adapting their hemlines to more
than simply fashion…
boys discovering drainpipe trousers
and winkle-picker shoes

Off ‘n’ away with post-war blues,
let the good times roll…

Along came Z-cars, eagerly elbowing out
dear old Dixon of Dock Green
(shortly doomed to bite the dust along
with Bronco and the rest);
the sixties taking over, Beatlemania
on a par with world religions,
politics fair game for anyone free
(supposedly) to indulge controversial
opinions of their own
so long as nothing likely to offend
Cold War ethics among gentlemen spies
and old boy networks

From frumpy fifties to swinging heaven
or wistful imagination…?

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; revised edition in e-format in preparation.]

Tuesday, 28 October 2014

L-O-V-E, a Growing Passion

I am not getting on too well with either my fractured ankle or the hormone therapy for my prostate cancer, but writing love poems always cheers me up. Although I have not had a partner for many years, the memory of our love always lifts my spirits whenever they hover at the edge of some abyss and contemplate going into free fall...

One of my favourite songs is 'All The Way', beautifully sung by the late, great Frank Sinatra in the movie, The Joker is Wild; it starts, 'If somebody loves you, it's no good unless they love you/all the way/ through the sad and lean years, and all the in-between years, come what may...

Love, though, can be something of a lottery, and you have to be in it to win it.


I built a sandcastle for you,
but you kicked it down with infant feet,
and made me cry buckets

I wrote a love poem for you,
but you threw a typical teenage tantrum,
and tore it into tiny pieces

I composed a pop song for you,
and everyone loved it except the person
for whom it was intended

I painted a portrait of you,
but you didn’t care for the way I see you,
and cold-shouldered me

I made a solemn promise to you
that I’d love you forever, no matter what,
and we kissed...

We made love together, bonding
with eternity, transcending a born intimacy
and centuries-old creativity

Together, we built a castle
to withstand all temporal waves, reaffirm
the spirituality of creativity

Copyright R. N. Taber 2012

[Note: This poem first appeared under the title 'Making Sure of Love' in Tracking the Torchbearer by R. N. Taber, Assembly Books, 2012; revised ed. in e-format in preparation.]

Saturday, 25 October 2014

Past-Present-Future, a Collective Responsibility

Any tears in the ozone layer will not mend themselves unless we all become more pollution conscious... worldwide.

Those leading politicians, with fingers in various Big Business pies, may well choose to play down the long-term effects of polluting the planet, but need to cut the rhetoric and act NOW or risk plunging future generations into an Armageddon scenario…


In the rain, an acid rain, you’re there
sharing the burden of my despair

Let the world roll out another century,
consigning us to memory,
clouds forbid the sun and heavens weep;
in my dark, your light I’ll keep,
till this mere flesh no more can stand
and Death lends us a hand
as through a graveyard in a gentle rain
we ghosts will walk and talk again

In the rain, an acid rain, you’re there,
sharing the burden of my despair

Though our world blast into infinity,
consigning us to the galaxy,
yet seedlings shall survive, endure
in Mother Nature's loving care
till songbirds, in time, return
to the killing fields of Everyman,
redeem a so-sorry history of acid rain
till humankind ghost us yet again

In the rain, an acid rain, we’re here
sharing the burden of their despair

Copyright R. N. Taber 2007; 2014
[Note: An earlier version of this poem appears as ‘Easing the Burden’ in Accomplices to Illusion by R. N. Taber, Assembly Books, 2007; revised edition in e-format in preparation.]

Friday, 24 October 2014

Potential for Inspiration

A colleague once remarked, not a little facetiously, that poets think they have the answer to everything.

Oh, but I wish!

At school, some 50+ years ago, my English teacher, Mr Rankin, (a Scotsman) once commented to the effect that life is all about discovery, and that is all about asking questions. 'Stop asking questions,' he told us, 'and you might as well be dead.'

Oh, but YES.

So what is life all about? Why are we here?  Different people, different answers, but it’s asking the question that counts, and makes us who we are.


What is life, but to have lived at all?
What is death, but all we‘ve not missed?
What is love, but to have loved at all?
What is beauty, but its flowers in a mist?
What is desire but to know desire at all?
(What is loss but by its light never kissed?)
What are dreams, but a life unfulfilled?
What are regrets, but art’s timelines?
What are hopes, but the inner eye’s take
on seasonal colours?

What is life, but to have lived it all?
What is death, but refuting all we missed?
What is love, but to have loved it all,
the beauty of its flowers in a spring mist?
What is desire, but to have desired it all,
loss but shadows where its light has passed
in a dream, the stuff a common humanity
lets pass for peace where its regrets run
with its hopes along timelines recording
art’s penchant for copycat?

In being moved to ask just one question
lies the potential for inspiration

Copyright R. N. Taber 2012

Wednesday, 22 October 2014

As Time Goes By

Time passes; we change, grow older, yet a loved one’s image remains much the same, ageless and timeless in our eyes… 

If we take an hourglass as a metaphor for life, time passing should never be thought of as its  gradually emptying but as its constantly in need of topping up...with all the emotional resources available to us, especially love.

This poem is a villanelle.


Brown hair, shades of grey,
whatever path I pursue;
time, ever slipping away…

Fun childhood days at play,
youth’s wild ways too;
brown hair, shades of grey

“Let’s laugh, not cry!” I say
(some wishes come true)
time, ever slipping away…

For every weepy Blues day,
golden moments too;
brown hair, shades of grey

Late, love, it came my way,
gave my heart to you;
time, ever slipping away…

Forever, love vowed to stay,
life’s tangled strands undo;
brown hair, shades of grey,
time, ever slipping away…

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; revised edition in e-format in preparation.]

Monday, 20 October 2014

The Scream

We all have our share of disappointments and frustrations in life, sadness and tragedy too, upon which demons pounce and often never (quite) disappear. [Demons from long-ago closet years as a teenager and young man when gay relationships were illegal here in the UK haunt me still, but less so as time goes by.]

Looking back at my life and looking inwards at my inner self, I can track the scream just so far…then either it stops or I stop looking, I am never sure which. I know I will hear it again, but in the meantime, there is life to be lived and its pleasures to be enjoyed. As for the scream, it may well haunt me, but as I discovered long ago, it can’t hurt me…unless I let it.

Do you, too, hear a scream? It is silent, yet sometimes I think it is the loudest sound we will ever hear, shaking the whole body now and then as if it were no more than a leaf in a storm.  I guess the trick is to ride out the storm and find comfort in anticipation of its passing and the sun coming out again…as it will…as inevitably as human nature calling upon its greater strengths and making the best rather than the worst of...whatever. 

'The Scream' by Edvard Munch (1893); image from Wikipedia. One of several versions of the painting "The Scream" (title: Der Schrei der Natur, 'The Scream of Nature') at The National Gallery, Oslo, Norway..


Five years-old and looking for a scream
that I knew damn was there but never came
so I put it down to imagination,
too young to articulate on the surrealism
of self-destruction

Fifteen years of looking for a scream
an awakening sexuality poised to overwhelm
so I put it down to imagination,
old enough to argue with the prejudices
of convention

Twenty-one years of looking for the scream,
echoes of a poorly read poem like a bad dream,
so I put it down to imagination,
blamed home-school-work environment
and birth sign

Thirty-five years of looking for the scream,
mind in freefall, body drenched in its own sperm;
tried it out on imagination
but all I discovered there was a sense
of getting even

Fifty-five years of looking for the scream,
first heard in the womb, always hurting my ears,
put down to an imagination,
fed at the breast of one-upmanship
and religion

Sixty-five years, still looking for a scream
that’s doing my head in, barracking a spirituality
pinning hopes of salvation
in a common, credible, liberal humanity
left to the imagination

No killing it, but running the scream to earth
at the moment of death

[London, June 2010]

Copyright R. N. Taber 2010

Sunday, 19 October 2014

It's Never too Late for (Love) Poetry

Sometimes we so wish we could put the clock back and let life and love return to the way they once were. Oh, but especially love!

It is never easy to let go of love. Even when mind and spirit are close to admitting defeat, the body nay well have other ideas…

Sometimes, it’s already too late…even for the poetry of love.

Ah, but there’s always tomorrow… isn’t there?


As I lay on a pillow thinking of us,
you opened the door and came in,
crossed to the bed, lay down beside me,
cradled my head, swore you loved me,
would see me through my agony
(knowing you’d cheated on me again)
begging to share a bed left as sad
and lonely as that shroud in which our love
left to lie, letting fly a desire to write
the final page of a gloriously dark history
that had seen us feeding off our need
for one another, making believe we were
in love and nothing else mattered
but a sure rising to a heaven of sorts
on wings of mad desire, its flames
devouring us, little left of us but ashes
once over and done, we fallen angels
(time and time again) having braved a fire
even a phoenix would never dare

Unless (a familiar whispering in the ears)
we quit this soap opera of ours, rediscover
the sheer poetry of hope, even peace…

A tempting offer, love almost persuaded
by our tears till suddenly it saw through
the disguise and told us straight (enough lies)
but restless desires had other ideas
and chose for us (as we knew they would)
the bitter-sweet prose of fallen heroes
nor was it some God punishing us for hadn’t we  
already seen to that ourselves?

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; revised edition in e-format in preparation.]

Monday, 13 October 2014

Monday, Monday...

Readers are always asking for the link to my informal poetry reading on the 4th plinth in London’s Trafalgar Square in 2010 by way of being my contribution to Sir Antony Gormley’s One and Other ‘live sculpture’ project. Be warned, though; the whole thing lasts an hour:

Now, this tongue-in-cheek poem has been slightly revised since appearing in my collection and on the blog in 2007. I wrote it in 2003. Since then I have retired but…I still hate Mondays!


Monday morning,
one eye on a glorious dawning
through paper thin curtains
covering us much like a shroud;
hearts stopping, a relentless
ticking of bedside clocks arousing it
to a semblance of beating, 
like a bored child tapping fingers
on whatsoever happens along
to distract from the business in hand
of having it knuckle down
to what’s expected, without so much
as any reward or time off
for good behavior from acting
the epitome of perfection,
if only to impress those who need
(or demand) to be impressed,
best impressions leaving the rest
struggling to keep up…

Oh, but that won’t do, have to show
who’s who, stand tall, be counted
as well worth our salt among so-called
‘betters’ - prove our daily stars
not so far out after all, even if night
skies are more likely to shoot us
in the back, leave us gibbering wrecks
after playing at sex, losing the game,
and waking up with a killer hangover,
contemplating going to work in terror,
more than likely to be gobbled up
by some mad 'n' mean gossip machine
playing you-can-tell-me-I-won’t-tell
that just may have something going for it,
beats an unholy devotion to overtime
no one gets paid or even a thank you so
by immaculate, swivel chairing gods
on six figure salaries and getting a kick
out of fiddling expenses…  

Oh, yes, and all for what? Get laid, 
(so drunk we forget anyway…)

Monday, Monday, GO AWAY

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; revised edition in e- format in preparation.]

Sunday, 12 October 2014

Friends Reunited

True friends care about each other and show it, through thick and thin. It is a rare thing, these days, friendship. Too often we think we have a good friend, and then he or she not only stays away when we need them most but also manages to put the blame on us for the fractured friendship.

Friendship works both ways. Too many people are so wrapped up in themselves they only see it as a one-way trip.

Sometimes a friend may be depressed or feeling so low they have no room in head or heart for anyone else while the condition lasts. As good friends, we need to be there for them no matter what…or how can we expect them to be there for us?

The selfish view some people take, that if a friend has not been in touch they won’t contact them either, is not what friendship is all about.

I count myself so lucky to have some good (real) friends.


I knocked at the door,
again, again, and yet again;
no one came

Eventually, I turned away,
drifted lonely as a cloud - and
then returned

I banged on the door
again, again, and yet again;
no one came

Angrily, I turned away,
ran until exhausted - and
then returned

I yelled at the door
again, again, and yet again;
no one came

Sadly, I sat down
on a step wondering - why
no one listening?

I called at the door
again, again, and yet again
till someone came

[From: A Feeling For The Quickness Of Time by R. N. Taber, Assembly Books, 2005]

Saturday, 11 October 2014

A Poem in the Making OR Postscript to a Love Affair

Update (August 2016): A number of readers have asked if I plan to publish a separate collection of my love poems. Since no publishers have shown any interest, I guess the answer has to be ‘no’. However, most are on the blogs even if they have been excluded from collections for one reason or another.

I have also been asked to repeat the link to an interview I gave a postgraduate student of multimedia journalism:


A friend once commented that all his greatest regrets had one thing in How many of us, I wonder, might well say the same?


When you are lying very close to me
and my fingers are playing with your hair,
I could stay like this through eternity,
so full, this poet’s heart, of love and care

The warmth of your body inspiring me
to write sonnets on the walls of my heart,
my spirit rising to such ecstasy…
it can never contemplate we should part

Alas, part we must, and this spirit weep,
though these eyes stay dry or you may discern
how I dream of us, awake and asleep,
for some lessons some lovers never learn

Yet, missing you keeps you a part of me,
and our lives, though separate, poetry

Copyright R. N. Taber 2005; 2014

[An earlier version of this poem (slightly revised here) appears in 1st eds. of A Feeling For The Quickness Of Time by R. N. Taber, Assembly Books, 2005; revised edition in e-format in preparation.]

Tuesday, 7 October 2014

The Rose

I recall writing today’s little poem in 2003 after pausing to admire a rose in someone’s garden.

My mother loved roses, as did my late partner. Both died many years ago. They never met, yet here I was bringing them together in my thoughts, years on. How strange and sometimes incredibly moving that memories can be triggered, as if my magic, by the slightest thing, past and present fitting perfectly into each other like pieces of a jigsaw.

Will I ever be a perfect fit into someone’s jigsaw, I wondered…? And what will the complete jigsaw look like, mine or anyone else’s …?

It is no coincidence, I suspect, that the trigger for such thoughts, and indeed a poem, should embrace such visions of the heart as beauty, peace, and love.


One by one
its petals fell away,
dead in the sun,
fed to the clay

We helped it grow,
wished for blooms
at side-windows,
in our dreams

If winter keeps
no flower in view,
a rose but sleeps
like you

Let seasons pass,
remember us…

[From: The Third Eye by R. N. Taber, Assembly Books, 2014]

Sunday, 5 October 2014

Who Do We Think We Are? OT Potential for Autobiography

We are not only creating our own personal history with every thought we pursue, but also writing our autobiographies with every step we take.

A daunting prospect…


There’s a reality that is but a dream,
life stories told in quickly turning pages
nor the amateur fiction it may seem,
tracking the poetry and prose of Ages

Wherever ordinary men and women 
share life’s adventures (everyday heroes),
life’s ‘failures’ exceeding expectation,
its poor getting by on election promises

The self, exposed to ever prying eyes
waiting to catch us out, see us take a fall;
mind, trying  to make sense of chaos,
spirit, left struggling to rise above it all

Half the world pressing on with ambition,
the rest of us left trailing imagination

Copyright R. N. Taber 2005; 2014

[Note: An earlier version of this poem first appeared in Ygdrasil, Journal of the Poetic Arts (December 2004) and subsequently in 1st eds. of A Feeling for the Quickness of Time: poems by R. N. Taber, Assembly Books, 2005; revised edition in e-format in preparation.]

Friday, 3 October 2014

World Cinema: Clouds, Pointing Fingers at Distant Thoughts

Today’s poem was first published in CCandD magazine, Scars Publications (US) 2,000 and subsequently in my collection.

I love world cinema. I watch it in clouds every day. Like all good cinema, as well as entertaining us, a cloudy sky is inclined to make us thoughtful...


Spread on a coat,
hands on hips,
watching clouds
like movie clips;
a coming together
of shadows,
words unfamiliar,
world cinema;
two fingers touch,
marking a twin
celebration, cautious
main feature, re-make
of a classic,
better left well alone
for television?

Clouds, camera, action…

Copyright R. N. Taber 2000

[From: First Person Plural by R. N. Taber, Assembly Books, 2002.]


Wednesday, 1 October 2014

V-A-N-I-T-Y, Conversations with a Mirror

How many of us, I wonder, and how often, dare look to our shortcomings and confront home truths...?

How many more of us, I wonder, act upon what we discover?

This poem is a villanelle.


Mirror, mirror on the wall
all you see I'd share;
talk me true, walk me tall

Mind-Body-Spirit in freefall,
racing heart laid bare;
mirror, mirror on the wall

Pride, answering Ego's call
to pose with flair,
talk me true, walk me tall

Inclined to pose as the Jekyll
in Hyde’s lair;
mirror, mirror on the wall

To the toll of any warning bell,
I'll turn a deaf ear;
talk me true, walk me tall

Home truths haunting me still,
(lies, lies, I swear...);
Mirror, mirror, on the wall,
talk me true, walk me tall

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; revised edition in e-format in preparation.]