Saturday, 15 November 2014

Mad, Mad, World, Everyday Gamut

Perhaps it is because I am growing old, but I take far less pleasure from living in London than I used to.  Even so, my life is here.  While I take much pleasure in its wealth of leisure facilities and history as and when I can, I remain acutely aware that I am passively complicit in this mad world of ours going about an everyday business that leaves much to be desired...

I suspect we all run a familiar gamut (to one degree or another) in cities and towns across the world.


Manic streets, paved with eggshells
(Oh, so politically correct...)

Big Issue drumming up passing glances
(Equal Ops prime suspect.)

Beggar and dog at the supermarket
(On the outside, looking in…)

Tailbacks on the home run, a nightmare
(No respect for Car is King.)

Blind man making his own way home
(Small change for a pickpocket...)

Arthritic bag lady taking up a park bench
(Move along, security alert!)

Hey, I bet that one’s a terrorist, see?
(Looks foreign to me...)

Thin is sexy or so we’re asked to believe
(Gorging on glossy magazines...) 

School kid mugged for a smart phone
(Better not to get involved...)

Teenage lovers sharing well-used needles
(What about HIV-AIDS?)

Shoplifters killing off the High Street
(Business as usual...)

Copyright R. N. Taber 2007; 2014

[Note: For overseas readers, who may not know, The Big Issue is a newspaper sold on the streets of the UK by homeless people; it gives them a regular income, and as if not more importantly helps restore their self-confidence and preserve their self-respect; see

An earlier version of this poem appears in 1st eds.of  Accomplices To Illusion by R. N. Taber, Assembly Books, 2007; revised ed. in e-format in preparation.]

Friday, 7 November 2014

Christmas, Glossing Over Missed Opportunities

At this time of year, people often tell me they are so looking forward to Christmas because they see it as a reason for celebration and renewal, usually more in a temporal than religious sense, as if Christmas will make everything bad in their lives so much better, keeping up the momentum until New Year, and then…?

Too often, the bubble of make-believe is burst soon enough as January arrives with all the indifference to human potential of a Grim Reaper.

We may not be altogether masters of our own fate, but life is what we make it. Mind and body may well be subject to external influences, sometimes of the worst kind, but the human spirit is better than that, and deserves to be given its head. The inner self knows us better than we think we know ourselves, and more of us need to listen rather than turn a deaf ear in favour of false (if attractive) promises the world often makes but has no intention of keeping.

Christmas, like all religious festivals is too often seen as signposting a sanctuary or at least some respite or escape from the harsher elements of life threatening to overwhelm us. Rarely, in my experience, will religion remove the threat for long; we need to build on the spirit and spirituality of peace and love (religion may have its share of both, but no monopoly), not be afraid to ask for help, and make a better life for ourselves on terms we will not flinch from meeting, no matter whether they are unacceptable to those who think they know us better than we know ourselves.


Rain soaking the shirt, jeans;
body responding freely
to Earth Mother’s call to live,
let live, and get real

Face upturned, glad to be out
getting wet, mind distracted;
domestic crises, work targets
and assessments wreaking
havoc (with the best intentions)
stifling that very inspiration
meant to persuade, encourage,
leaves us feeling like flies
feeding on garbage left out
for the bin men, fodder for stray
cats, dogs, homeless folks, waiting
for Christmas

Oh, we may have a job, home,
mortgage etcetera - but a life
to call our own…?

Some may beg to differ, thinking
through yet another staff rota
at supper or marking homework
once guests (finally) gone home
to snug beds, 1001 nights and more
besides of cramming heads,
misting-up eyes, asking questions,
stirring up more lies and half lies
meant to persuade, encourage, only
to leave us feeling like flies
on garbage left for the bin men
to dispose

Christmas comes, Christmas goes;
it’s the inner self knows best
how to make the most of a potential
too precious to waste

Copyright R. N. Taber 2005; 2018

[Note: An earlier version of this poem appears under the title 'Waiting for Christmas' in A Feeling for the Quickness of Time, Assembly Books, 2005; revised ed. in e-format in preparation.]

Saturday, 1 November 2014

In Good Company or R-E-M-E-M-B-R-A-N-C-E, Gifts Made to Last

Regular readers will know that I believe in the existence of ghosts in the nicest possible way. (There are less kind ghosts, of course, but they are of no concern to this particular poem.)

Now, at Easter or whenever... (When did remembrance ever play lackey to time?)


I went to your grave
on Easter day, a longing in the heart
to be near, as once we were

I knelt, unable to pray,
laid a bouquet of flowers at the stone,
glad to stay…
Someone wished me Peace,
said pain would pass and hurt grow less,
that you’d left but briefly,
but that’s not what I wanted
to hear, just to be with you once more
as once we were
A tugging at my sleeve,
but I wept, and would not, could not
leave without you;
gently now, lifting my face
to the sky, showing aspects of our history
like a home movie;
easy then to rise and turn away
from a stone and flowers, ours the gift
of eternity...

Walking hand in hand
through a cemetery, you and I, content
to be in good company

Copyright R. N. Taber 2002; 2014

[Note: Poem and title slightly revised (2014) from an earlier version that appears in 1st eds. of First Person Plural, Assembly Books, 2002; revised ed. in e-format in preparation.]