Monday, 21 December 2015

A Christmas Memory

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/R._N._Taber

Christmas is not a happy time for everyone; it is also a time for missing loved ones no longer with us.  

Happiness may not last, but it is never truly lost. The trick is to take stock of happy memories and nurture that happiness ( not add itto a growing heap of regrets) thereby sowing the seeds of an inner peace and love for years to come…

Whatever Christmas may mean and bring to you, here's wishing everyone joy in peace and love always,

Roger T

A CHRISTMAS MEMORY

I heard a robin singing
just as the dawn was breaking
on Christmas morning,
distant bells (as ever)  promising
Peace on Earth

I saw a couple kissing
where noon was loudly chiming
as if applauding
true love (as ever) promising
Peace on Earth

Dark clouds gathering,
the air, it smelled of snowing
though sunlight glowing
and Christmas roses blooming
Peace on Earth

Time to be leaving,
yet not (quite) so dark our parting,
no matter the years passing,
our love (as ever) an enduring
Peace on Earth

Copyright R. N. Taber 2015






Wednesday, 16 December 2015

Counting the Cards OR Who's Missing...?


I don’t send Christmas cards because I am neither a religious nor ‘Christmassy’ person. I send poems to many people, but most prefer to have a card they can put on the mantel so visitors can count and see how popular they are. It came as no surprise to me, therefore, that when I stopped sending cards. most people stopped sending one to me. After all, you can’t put a poem on the mantel…

Some people tell me I should send Christmas cards anyway (why bother with a poem?) if only to let those who matter to me know I am thinking of them or keep in touch with those I have not seen or had much contact with for a long time. 

Not seen or had much contact with for a long time? Why not seen or had much contact with for a long time…if they matter to us?

Too often I hear people say they have not contacted someone because he or she has not been in touch with them. Well, if they really matter to us, should we not try and find out why…?  A visit, telephone call, letter, email, skype…we all have the means to get in touch by at least one or other of these means. If we don’t, something is seriously wrong that people to whom we supposedly matter need to know about. 

So who’s asking…?

COUNTING THE CARDS or WHO’S MISSING…?

Festive bells bringing
good news across this sorry Earth,
wringing comfort and joy
from all those needing to believe
in a godly saviour’s birth;
Oh, reason not the need,
they would have us all be sure,
but keep ourselves snug
by some cosy fire if only to feed
heat and light to despair

Winter solstice passed,
and now it’s the Christian’s turn
to answer questions
on flaws in natural laws exposed
by the origins of religion;
little or no harm done
on days when Apollo joins the fight
to save the heart’s cockles
from faltering, till cash for its meter
runs out at dead of night

Early hours, shivering
and demanding answers of a God
inclined to turn a deaf ear
on material demands like how best
to keep out the cold;
where spiritual sustenance
always on hand, available in prayer,
even arthritic souls 
obliged to get out of bed, trust they
won’t catch pneumonia

Spending on a charity card
to loved one, friend and neighbour;
best wish them well
on the mantel (for everyone to see)
than save for the meter
or if we meet in the street,
they will find a way to make clear
that mean-spiritedness
is not in keeping with the spread
of Christmas cheer

Where Christmas (or any) cards
a roll call for those who play a part
in our lives, big or small,
it should be those plainly missing
that strike mind and heart
hardest of all
and to whom the spirit of human love
turns to help investigate
reasons behind any absences
before it’s too late

Conscience pricked about someone?
Get personal; pay a visit, telephone...

Copyright R. N. Taber 2011; 2014



Tuesday, 15 December 2015

Tree of Life, Gift of Love OR Christmas, Nurturing a Sense of Inclusion

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/R._N._Taber

It’s easy to get downhearted because Christmas seems to be all about finding money we don’t have for presents, cards, stocking our cupboards with assorted goodies etc.

Then something happens to make us think again and give us (and Christmas) a new lease of life...

Christians celebrate the birth of Jesus. Son of God or no, Jesus was a Man for all Seasons. Whatever our religion or non-religion, should we not always try to celebrate the spirituality we give and take from it in our everyday lives, preferably in a spirit of peace and love, no matter what or where or who?

Some Christians, for example -  even clerics -  reject gay people (including family members) because they interpret the Bible as telling them to do so. The Bible, perhaps, not Jesus. The God of the Old Testament is all but made redundant by the New. Jesus taught that God is no God of vengeance and intolerance, but the very opposite. If I were a Christian or subscribed to any religion, there is no way I would believe God is a homophobe. Thankfully, for humanity's sake, there are many Christians and other religious-minded people who feel the same.

As I have said before (being of a repetitive nature) our differences don't make us different, only human. Take the humanity out of religion and all the ritual and prayers become pointless.

TREE OF LIFE, GIFT OF LOVE or CHRISTMAS, NURTURING A SENSE OF INCLUSION

Once 
I found a Christmas tree
discarded in the street,
some of its branches cut away,
the rest looking shabby
(to say the least) needles already
turning shades of brown
like crumbs of toast, a sorry
specimen indeed, and few
passers-by would have spared
a glance, but something
in me responded to that tree
so I bent down, picked
it up, took it home, placed it
in a tub of earth and recall
thinking, oh, how good it was
to restore a sense of dignity
to the spirit of a sad little tree
that, surely, would die,
yet not without playing a part
of sorts in Christmas,
even with someone like me,
hardly the smiling face
of joyous festivity!
I found two dusty baubles,
some sad-looking tinsel
and a lopsided star...
Even so, it seemed to me
the little tree took on
an positive air of triumph,
and celebration, things
 I’d much preferred to forget
at this time of year

By the 25th, it had taken root,
a sight for sore eyes indeed,
one I felt a need to share, 
with a joy and pride felt before, yes,
but never quite like this feeling
for - Christmas


Copyright R. N. Taber 2004; 2016

[Note: This poem first appeared under the title 'A Feeling for Christmas' in A Feeling For The Quickness Of Time by R. N. Taber, Assembly Books, 2005; revised ed. in e-format in preparation.]

Sunday, 13 December 2015

Siding with Christmas OR Imagination,Taking a Sleigh Ride


You don’t need to be religious to appreciate the spirit of Christmas. Religion - Christianity or whatever - is meant to be about peace and love, a fact history may well be inclined to dispute. Whatever, there is a feel-good factor about religious celebration that I suspect its founders would not disapprove. For all the evil and hardship in the world, there is also much good, and for that we must be thankful and spread the word.

The human spirit may the epitome of stoicism and resilience, but both feed on hope and the kind of inspiration we see all around us in good people everywhere no matter what their colour, creed, sex or sexuality.

The likes of terrorists and psychopaths such as Islamic State, Boko Haram, and Al Qaeda cannot hope to get the better of the finer human spirit for all the dastardly acts they may inflict upon mind and body.  Small comfort for their victims perhaps, but light, at least, at the end of a long, dark tunnel; a light their attackers will never see for all they may attempt to call upon religion to excuse their behaviour. I am not a religious person, but neither do I need to be in order to understand that religion is an inspirational way of life not an excuse for barbarism; nor, for that matter, is it an excuse for anti-social behaviour at any level.

How many religious celebrations, I wonder, are enjoyed by those simply playing at religion and/or hedging their bets regarding mortality …?

SIDING WITH CHRISTMAS or IMAGINATION, TAKING A SLEIGH RIDE 

Rudolph, the red nose reindeer
has a very shiny nose,
and makes a wish every year
that on Christmas Eve
it won’t just be cold, but snows,
creating a Christmas world
of peace and love, too rarely   
more real than a beautiful dream
painted on a card

Hey, there, Frosty the Snowman,
Santa’s on his way
so be sure to listen for jingle bells
for quite possibly his elves
have loaded a surprise for you
to ease the bleak midwinter,
rework every child’s imagination,
sure to invite even the holly and ivy 
in on the magic

Christmas time, mistletoe and wine,
cause for celebration,
no matter our social, cultural, sexual
identity or even religion
for the Spirit of Christmas brings
hope, love and peace
to mind, body and spirit, shades
of darkness transcended into angels
on wings of light

Oh, Christmas tree, oh, Christmas tree,
as good a metaphor as any…
  

Copyright R. N. Taber 2013

Thursday, 10 December 2015

Christmas Dreams


Some people think I am an oddball because I don’t celebrate Christmas. Well, for a start, I’m neither religious nor a very Christmas-oriented person. Yet, as regular readers well know, I like to think I have a strong sense of spirituality although I find it in my relationship with nature rather than from any religion.

I often spend Christmas Day on my own and enjoy watching some great DVDs and not having to make an effort for anyone. Selfish, perhaps, but this time of year beings back many bad and sad memories, and I prefer to get through it in my own way. Yes, I may get a wee moody now and then, but on the whole I can relax and do my own thing in my own way without any well-meaning people telling me what I should do or how I should feel.

Even so, a part of me relates to what is meant to be a celebration of peace and love and togetherness. (Could it be an element of pagan in me, having been born on the winter solstice…?)

Whatever, I wish all family, friends and readers peace and love now and always.


CHRISTMAS DREAMS

What does Christmas mean to me?
Peace and love need no Christmas tree,
no decorations, no Christmas fare,
just the right to exist everywhere

What does Christmas mean to me?
The sum of all I am that’s my history;
trying to do better by each new day,
be a better person, come what may

What does Christmas mean to me?
Beggars on our streets (give generously);
No in-fighting on the wings of a prayer
from church, mosque…no matter where

What does Christmas mean to me?
(A cure for HIV-Aids… oh, let it be!)
Come, make every day Christmas Day,
respect one another, straight or gay

What does Christmas mean to you?
But listen to your heart and answer true;
confide in best friend, worst enemy,
peace and love need no Christmas tree

Copyright R. N. Taber 2007; 2014




Wednesday, 2 December 2015

Engaging with Potential OR Squaring up to Time

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/R._N._Taber

How often, I wonder, do we convince ourselves time is not on our side as an excuse for doing nothing?

Sometimes, we need to square up to Time and reconcile it with whatever we have in mind. Otherwise, years on, we may well find ourselves rummaging our past and finding it badly wanting, ourselves, too. We have only to look up and see cloud faces looking critically down on us to understand where the blame lies.

As I grow old (I will be 70 on the winter solstice) I find myself having to live with many such lost opportunities and subsequent layers of wishful thinking prior to my  (finally) discovering the self- empowering nature of positive thought. (Even regrets don’t have to be totally negative in the sense that we can learn from our mistakes …if only we make time to do so.)

We need to believe in ourselves if we stand any chance at all of making a better, kinder world for all of us. So don't let anyone put you down for whatever reason but explore your potential and make the most of it.  We can but try. Oh, and however things turn out, be happy, and never let anyone make you feel you could do better and are  are settling for second best. The chances are, they are jealous that making the most of who you are has made you happy while they regret not having tried harder themselves. 

 Oh, and happiness comes in all shapes and sizes, of course, so never let anyone judge you, either, Everyone's potential is different and tailored to different aspirations. As I have said many times on the blogs, those differences don't make us different, just human,

 ENGAGING WITH POTENTIAL or SQUARING UP TO TIME

Peering down a pit of years,
pin-prick of light at the bottom
reminiscent of birth;
bleak, timeless walls rising
like dark threats,
reminiscent of waiting graves
conjured up
by each day’s passing, homing in
on ends of beginnings, beginnings of ends,
nemeses of ideology

Peering down a pit of years,
letting a tear drop to the bottom,
reminiscent of a dream,
ripples of light chasing potential
into a nothingness
reminiscent of an empty cage
as conjured up
by each day’s passing, homing in
on ifs, maybe’s, would have, should have,
no excuses

Peering up at passing clouds,
putting names to faces I have loved,
reminiscent of meaning
despite neither answers or questions,
only heartbeats
reminiscent of raindrops on a petal,
potentially destructive,
but unable to break the spirit of stem
or flower, beginnings and endings nurtured
by Earth Mother

Peering across a garden lawn,
restoring sight enough to open mind,
body and spirit
to the enduring spirituality of life,
love and peace
that cannot deny prison, pit or cage,
but knows better
than to let either surfeit of questions
or want of answers leave us in the dark
from womb to tomb

Trust body, mind and spirit
to flush out inner, kinder, better selves,
reminiscent of solutions
to unanswered questions left to climb
bleak, timeless walls,
spurred on by pin-pricks of light
competing to engage
humanity with pride for homing in
on timeless heavens, no end of potential
in its sights

Copyright R. N. Taber 2015

Wednesday, 25 November 2015

Armageddon, Early Warning Signs

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/R._N._Taber

Readers (gay, straight, male, female, all ages) sometimes get in touch when they are visiting London and we meet up for a few drinks and/or a meal and generally put the world to rights. I always enjoy these meet-ups so never hesitate to email me if you want to get together for a friendly chat about… whatever. Email me anyway, if you happen to be in the mood.  I always reply to emails, but don’t allow comments because they take up too much space.

I must thank all those readers who emailed me when I was housebound for nearly six months after my accident last year. Our exchanges were a welcome relief from pain and boredom.

Now, men and women of all socio-cultural-religious backgrounds have fought for peace, and are still fighting towards the same end. Yet, I sometimes look around at the alcoholics, drug addicts, mentally ill and homeless people on our streets, not to mention those with a glazed look in their eyes as if they are not sure where they are going or why…and wonder, whatever happened to peace and is Armageddon perhaps closer to us here on the Home Front than any of us realise…?

We can do more for the less fortunate in our societies, surely, or could it be the case that the well-heeled among us, including many world leaders to be found in various echelons of various societies (not excluding political or religious) believe peace is little more than a public relations issue, well worth exploiting but as a distraction from self-interest rather than a permanent end in view?

And what is peace? It is not simply a matter of feeling secure. We may feel secure in our homes, jobs etc. if far less so in this Age of Austerity and the ever-present threat of so-called Islamic State and other terrorist groups, but how far are we ever at peace within ourselves? If we don't watch out, we may well meet our own Armageddon. (Regular readers will know that I believe positive thinking is the key to winning even those battles we may appear to have lost...in love, war, and all our other - less obvious perhaps, but no less significant - dealings with human nature, especially in relation to self-esteem.)

No easy answers, for sure. But maybe we should start asking the right questions?  No one wants to look in a mirror and see the enemy. If world peace is an elusive ideal, we CAN make peace with ourselves and each other, trusting its ripples spread...

This poem is a villanelle.

ARMAGEDDON,  EARLY WARNING SIGNS

Turning on the heat;
flowers dying too soon,
bodies in the street

Short straws, long wait,
larks singing out of tune
turning on the heat

Time, running out
of craters on the moon;
bodies in the street

H-E-L-P, a last shout
above denials of acid rain
turning on the heat

No-hopers on a rout,
chancing an about-turn;
bodies in the street

So what's it all about?
(never too late to learn);
bodies in the street
turning on the heat

Copyright R. N. Taber 2003; 2017

[Note:This is a later version of a poem that first appeared  in an anthology Caught in Time, Poetry Now (Forward Press) 2003 and subsequently in The Third Eye by R. N. Taber, Assembly Books, 2004 - of which a revised ed, in e-format is in preparation.]

Monday, 19 October 2015

Eyewitness OR Epiphany on the Streets, Engaging with Mortality

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/R._N._Taber

We all complain about the quality of our lives from time to time, some more often than others. It can take a tragedy to put things into perspective.

Life is for living. Everyone has his or her own perspective on life. We all want different things and that’s how it should be. [Thank goodness we are not a race of clones…yet] Nor should we let some well-meaning person try and live his or her life through us.

Sometimes, it can take a tragedy to make us realise we should never (as we are sometimes inclined) take anything or anyone for granted. Our ambitions, aspirations, dreams…Yes, these are are ours and ours alone, yet worth so much more with the willing participation and active encouragement of those we care about; even so, not everyone will understand, and it’s down to us to make what we can of it all. .

So let’s get on with it, and give it our best shot, make the best rather than the worst of whatever life throws at us...while we still can.

EYEWITNESS or EPIPHANY ON THE STREETS, ENGAGING WITH MORTALITY

I saw someone dying in the street,
a man crying his heart out;
no last, moving words of love
and comfort, body, barely stirring
under a blanket

Blue eyes on a cloud white as snow,
wondering why the crowd won’t
let go, wishing it would, yet afraid
it might, and what would happen then
to the poor cloud?

Is there really a place called Heaven
that will take us in, make pain
go away, carry us on angel wings
where love and peace breathe new life
into dead things?

What is Death that we should fear it,
seek sanctuary, and who’s to say
God knows best, isn’t an invention,
alternative vision to the worst of nature
that is and is not human?

Parents say this and teachers say that,
while hymns and prayers are sweet
on the ear but fail to ever make clear
just how affairs of the spirit truly relate
to any happy-ever-after

Cloud and Death in human form
moving on in an ambulance,
sirens shrieking, crowd dispersing,
no one chancing any knowing glances
penetrating their defences

The crying man was but (like me)
a passing stranger caught out,
briefly sharing (rats in a sewer)
the mentality of survival, ever turning
on eluding The Catcher

The sun came out, shone in our faces;
from a nearby market, lusty shouts
and smells, odour of mortality spent,
returning me to family and friends, often
taken for granted

Now, I think no less of weepy heavens
for angry clouds, feel humbled
by the reworking of a street tragedy
adding to Time’s, oh, so temporary reality,
a lasting epiphany

Copyright R. N. Taber 2004; 2015


[Note: This poem has been revised (2015) from an earlier version that appears under the title An Accidental Life in 1st eds. of The Third Eye by R. N. Taber, Assembly Books, 2004; revised ed. in e-format in preparation.]

Sunday, 11 October 2015

Homework OR A Growing Sense of Being on the Wrong Learning Curve


http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/R._N._Taber

A slightly different version of today’s poem first appeared in an anthology, The Scene is Set, Poetry Now (Forward Press) 2002 and CC&D (Scars Publications, U.S.) the same year, and subsequently in my collection; it also appeared in Ygdrasil, A Journal of the Poetic Arts (an on-line monthly webzine) in 2005.

I spent many years working as a librarian in public libraries. Young people would come in to do their homework and I would ask them how they were getting on at school. Their responses would vary from politely indifferent to openly hostile towards the school environment as they saw it. I would nod, smile, and try to sound encouraging. It was hostility, though, that would invariably trigger memories of my own schooldays when homework would inevitably get me thinking about matters other than what I needed to be getting on with for school the next day.

Homework taxes the brain and sends all kinds of messages into the mind, not all of which are directly relevant to the matter in hand; a stressful process, yet curiously liberating. It isn’t healthy to close our minds to what is going on (at any age) either in the world at large or, more importantly, within ourselves.

I used to wonder sometimes if teachers and parents understand how scary homework sessions can be. It would strike me that few do or they would be helping us answer more questions about life and human nature than any regular hypothesis considered suitable \(by whom, I used to ask myself?) for homework.

Among my teachers at junior and secondary schools, there were a few who taught me more than a relatively narrow curriculum allowed. I may not have been able to articulate on this particular learning process for years, but especially as a teenager - it sowed seeds of thought embracing mind, body and spirit that I sensed required nurture. By way of their many throw-away comments and occasional voiced opinions about all sorts, I accessed aspects of philosophy of which I would otherwise have been left ignorant, helping me to develop an affinity with various life forces providing lasting food for thought that has influenced, guided, helped and supported me all my life.

While all the rest made me feel much like a caged bird anxious to be free, this was a real learning curve, one which university would expand upon and help clarify way beyond the relatively limited scope of academia, truly an education for life…one which, of course, never ends.

HOMEWORK or SCHOOLDAYS: A GROWING SENSE OF BEING ON THE WRONG LEARNING CURVE

Photos by the bed,
posters on the wall, press cuttings
on a chair
likely to hit the floor if someone
opens the door
so the door stays shut,
keeping strangers out
while anxious faces debate
human rights, pollution,
nature conservation, salvation,
education, discrimination,
traffic congestion, political correctness
(on the face of it),
safer sex, drugs, always having
to be alert;
a clamour of everyday voices kicking
what passes for the soul
like a football across the room;
conscience, scoring an own goal every
now and then

So many questions, few answers, lies,
half lies, part truths,
and home truths like moths flummoxed
by a light bulb

Please, someone, open the damn door
(not meant to stay shut) and let us out

Copyright R. N. Taber 2002; 2011

[Note: An earlier version of this poem appears in first editions of A Feeling for the Quickness of Time by R. N. Taber, Assembly Books, 2002; revised ed. in e-format in preparation.]


Monday, 21 September 2015

Heartbeat OR Waking Up to the Power of Positive Thinking

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/R._N._Taber

Please remember that my blogs do not accept comments, but I always reply to emails. Some readers have said they have problems using AOL; in which case try taberroger@yahoo.com. I look forward to hearing from you.

Now, who hasn't despaired now and then of even getting up in the morning?

People sometimes tell me that they have given up on love. I tell them, never even think about it.. Love can happen along just when you least expect it. Besides, as I’ve pointed out many times on the blogs, love expresses itself in many shapes and forms; it doesn’t have to be sexual. Love between lovers is special, yes, but then any love is special; for family, friends, pets, even places.

Give up on love and we might as well not bother to get up in the morning, for all life is worth without love in it. We just have to see what’s on offer and GO for it. Take me, for example. On days when I feel down and there’s no one around to talk things through with (or I may not feel like talking to anyone anyway) I’ll most likely take myself off to be by the sea for the day, often Brighton (Sussex) because I love everything about the place and always feel so much better for going there.

Oh, and as regular readers will know, just because I am not religious and don’t accept the God as portrayed by various religions, doesn’t mean I'm not receptive to succour from a sense of spirituality. Only, I get it from nature, not religion.

This poem is a (yes, another) villanelle

HEARTBEAT or WAKING UP TO THE POWER OF POSITIVE THINKING

No heart beating in vain
under anaesthetising darkness
at a new dawn

Left wondering when
(if ever) its turn for happiness…?
No heart beating in vain

Will sleep’s half-open
portals close on or let in distress
at a new dawn?

If dreams bring pain
where life and death paths cross…
no heart beating in vain

Late invitation
to troubled souls seeking redress
at a new dawn

Where light bursting in,
nature filling us with its life-force,
no heart beating in vain
at a new dawn

Copyright R. N. Taber 2005; 2015

[Note: Revised (2015) from an earlier version that appears in 1st eds. of A Feeling for the Quickness of Time by R. N. Taber, Assembly Books, 2005; revised ed. in e-format in preparation.

Saturday, 19 September 2015

Whispers in the Wind


History is a great teacher of love and peace; the pity is that humankind is (such) a slow learner…  

WHISPERS IN THE WIND

Whispers in the wind
like autumn leaves, ever drifting
time and space…

Love poems in the heart
like tears of a rose, harbinger
of autumn

Hymns to nature voicing
hunger for change and peace
of mind

Bogeyman at every corner
waiting to pounce, force-feed us
its prejudices

Drop-ins along every street,
ready to lend an ear, teach us
fight-back

People of all persuasions
asking no more of life than love
and peace

Grim Reaper harvesting
humankind’s failure to settle
its differences

Whispers in the wind
like deaf ears, perpetually drifting
time and space…


Copyright R. N. Taber 2015


Tuesday, 8 September 2015

Landfall, Infinity OR L-O-V-E, Rest in Peace


Now and then, readers of one or other (even both) my poetry blogs  - all ages, both sexes, gay and straight - email to say they are in London or coming to London and would like to meet up for a chat (about anything and everything) over a few drinks or a meal. I always enjoy these get-togethers, have met up with some very interesting people and keep in touch with many of them if only by email. So feel free to contact me any time, even if a meet-up is never likely to be on the cards. While I don’t allow comments on the blogs, I will always reply to emails; a lively exchange of views and opinions is always fun.

Dreams and daydreams are more a part of us than we care to admit, carefully – or even carelessly - stored away in some shadowy corner of the mind waiting for sandmen to come along and explore, rather like a children  rummaging through the contents of an attic and turning it into an adventure as only children can. Quite possibly, too, they instinctively recognize the worth or worthlessness of whatever they find there…as only children can.

Like it or not, few if any of us leave childhood – or at least its natural instincts – behind altogether; naivety and innocence may be tiresome from an adult perspective, while both harbour an honesty unfettered by the so-called ‘wisdom’ that comes with maturity and invariably urges discretion if not total restraint…for (our) survival’s sake if nothing (or no one) else’s.

LANDFALL, INFINITY or L-O-V-E, REST IN PEACE 

Sun going down,
leaving our daydreams to float
on waves of twilight
where some are sure to drown,
others washed up
on green-gold shores of infinity,
the rest left drifting
on a vast sea of darkness,
flotsam and jetsam
of human nature to be claimed
in the passing of time
by that old beachcomber, Sleep,
and re-appraised,
reworked by sandmen, guardians
of our secret selves

Twilight dimming,
anticipating thoughts drowning
beneath wintry waves
of abandoned hope, ambition,
darker aspects of nature
and human nature sure to drag
the human condition
into an unfathomable despair
were they not there
to watch over us, keep us safe
in dimensions of Being
beyond its everyday assumptions,
painting picture-poems
on closed eyes anxious to open
closed minds

Man in the Moon
overseeing black holes for worms
and makeshift coffins
made up of pillows, duvets and sheets
where monsters lurk, waiting
to pounce unawares on consciences
left exposed and vulnerable
in the absence of any conscious effort
to make the kind of excuses
we need to half-believe in or spiral
into a state of half-living,
inciting us to try and beat The Reaper
as his own game,
losers all, we bit players in the greater
scheme of things

Sun resurfacing,
lending passage to lion and lamb
and all of nature’s own
going about the business of living
much as we human beings
if more protective and protecting
of its species and spaces
in spite of the world’s demanding
of Earth Mother far more
than its share of natural resources,
but all’s fair…(so they say)
and the human beast needs must
be the best of a bad bunch
occupying Her territories, fighting
over them for centuries

Cold light of day,
taking us through everyday motions
many if not most of us
think of as living, taking for granted
every ripple, every wave,
carrying us to the very edge of a world
created for ourselves,
all-comers welcome while remaining
in their seats lest they rock
this Ship of Fools chartered by ‘betters’
to take the rest of us
towards a landfall some call ‘Heaven’
where no going down
of the sun, no pillow promises made
at dawn cruelly broken

Man on a Mission
like a dog at a bitch on heat inciting
priority attention
as becomes nature’s motivation to fill in
time’s blank spaces
with living, loving, thriving species,
meant to mature,
(since such is the cycle of natural life)
by filling in their own blanks
with living, loving, thriving issues,
and any black holes
with light enough to show we were here,
we bit players, we flotsam
and jetsam, we bringers of all history
coasting shores of infinity

Copyright R. N. Taber 2015

Saturday, 29 August 2015

Home Truths, Martyrs to Love


A reader once got in touch to say he feels such a fool because he can’t help loving his girlfriend even though she continues to see other guys. 

That same day, there was an email in my In Box from a gay guy relating how he could not get even begin to get his head around his boyfriend's wanting an open relationship. While I, personally, would walk away, I do not underestimate either the power of love  or of well-meaning (if often ill-advised) pressure from family and/or friends - reminding us of our various 'responsibilities'; in other words, we mustn't be seen to let the side down. (Better to let ourselves down...?)

What can I say except these are among many men and women around the world who, for centuries, have settled for less - sometimes far less - in a relationship than, at heart, they desire and need. Some people, of course, can live with open relationships; for others (like me) it is asking too much.

It has to be one of the saddest facts of life that many potential partners cannot always see the other person’s take on love or…each other. Yet, many of us will settle for a one-sided relationship than no relationship at all, and the threat of loneliness; the latter reason perhaps why the world is full of martyrs to love.

Relationships between two people can only work if both partners want it to work, and neither should forget that everyone has a choice.

HOME TRUTHS, MARTYRS TO LOVE

You warned me not to fall in love with you,
that it was sex alone, never love, spurring us on,
for love is only for fools (you said) its course
set and steered by wet dreams; we worldly types
know better (you said) while tonguing words
of intimacy as if rites for a benign conspiracy

Keeping up appearances, it was nothing more
(never love) fuelling inspiration. Gladly I’d let
your fine body take mine, clung to the hope
that you’d come to love me, despairing as each
frantic, mindless, orgasm ripped through us
like that double-edged sword we call honesty

A culture of hypocrisy concealing human needs,
never quite able to satisfy the loneliness it feeds
  
Copyright R. N. Taber 2007; 2015



Saturday, 22 August 2015

Progress, Bitter-Sweet or N-A-T-U-R-E, Broken but Never (quite) Defeated


A slightly different version of today’s poem first appeared in the Poetry Now [Forward Press] anthology series, London and Home Counties (2001) I included it in in my second collection the following year. Somear. Some readers may well prefer the original, but as regular readers of the blog aware, I am often inclined to give in to a feeling for revision where certain earlier poems are concerned. I see revisions as extensions of a poem, not simply replacements. 

Now, can we honestly call the rape of our forests and woodlands…progress?

Humankind needs to balance its own humanitarian needs with the needs of nature to help sustain them. If we are not careful, nature will get the upper hand sooner rather than later, destroy us before we can destroy it or even ourselves. 

Whatever, to the victor, the spoils as the march of today’s Titans of big business and entrepreneurial skulduggery proceeds all but unchallenged and unchecked...

PROGRESS, BITTER-SWEET or N-A-T-U-R-E, BROKEN BUT NEVER (QUITE) DEFEATED

Shadows gathering
like crowds for an execution;
storm clouds rumbling
like a malediction on the planet;
challenging us to bow out
here and now or put things right
(if it's not already too late);
for our children, prepare a future
in harmony with nature

In a spotlight of sunshine,
luminous corn circles invoking
the mystery of eternity,
human parts all but played out,
hearts put to  rout,
hounded by a native savagery
plaguing the purer, simpler, 
beauty of a common humanity
haunted by history

To nature, allow its dignity
or ‘progress’ a poor victory

Copyright R. N. Taber 2001; 2015


[Note: A slightly different version of this poem appears in 1st eds. of First Person Plural by R. N. Taber, Assembly Books, 2002; revised ed. in e-format in preparation.]

Friday, 21 August 2015

Visions of the Mind


Sometimes, we do our best, and yet it never seems to be enough for some people while others simply take our efforts for granted.

Yes, it hurts when all we seek is a little encouragement, and all we seem to have to show for it is grains of sand.

It is so often the case that people do not mean to cause hurt, yet fail to see their comments as a parody of their finer feelings towards us.

We all need to think before we speak sometimes, learn to acknowledge and trust our better instincts, formulate our ideas with care instead of (all too often) falling prey to so-called 'public opinion'.

Easier said than done, though, this refusing to either rush to judgement on others or let ourselves fall victim to those rushing to judgement on us.

Whatever, praise is no endgame in itself but a by-product of succeeding - as far as anyone can - in finding and being true to ourselves. Moreover, I suspect Nietzsche makes a valid point: “So long as men praise you, you can only be sure that you are not yet on your own true path but on someone else's.”  ― Friedrich Nietzsche

VISIONS OF THE MIND

Alone on a beach
among restless white ponies
panting heavily,
rearing at me for they know
a storm is coming,
although not yet a while;
time yet to let me see
the Old Man smile as I drop stars
through tearful fingers
relentlessly measuring out
the rest of my life

Air hot and stale
like the stillness of a coffin,
funeral prayers
long since dead and gone,
tossed to playful waves
as we’d throw a much loved dog
a bone and watch it run,
tail wagging, anxiously homing in
on its reward
for whatever, only ever needing
to deserve praise

No bones here,
only flailing limbs of ghosts
in dark water
striving for landfall, but sure
of nothing,
like flotsam and jetsam taking turns
to see which will
fall into loving hands anxious
to shape an art form
if for no other reason than needing
to deserve praise

What to do?
Needs must…choose well
or wait for a stampede
to render me less than hoof prints
in the sand,
all human potential left
to natural erosion
unknowingly hastened by fishers
of men rushing to judgement
if for no other reason than needing
to deserve praise

Nothing for me here,
but rage and pain in a pool of stars
at my feet,
urging me to leap feisty pony,
let it take me where it will,
escape not only storm but wreckage
as sure to follow as day
follows night and tides of humanity,
the course its nature sets us
if for no other reason than failing
to deserve praise

Yet, treasures to be had,
sparkling views of sea, sky and sand
filing the inner eye
with memories of (far) kinder times
filled with faith in dreams
nurturing mind, body and spirit
no matter where the spotlight
on everyday lives may choose to fall,
urging that we follow the course
nature sets us if for no other reason
than deserving praise


Copyright R. N. Taber 201; 2015

Monday, 17 August 2015

Love, Open All Hours


Readers often comment that my love poems could apply to anyone, gay or straight. Well, that's the whole point.

Regular readers will know that my partner died long ago. We did not have many years together. Yet, our love is a part of me still and always will be. At the same time, we should never compare lovers or even friends because that’s not fair on anyone.

Invariably, we change as we mature; so, too, does love. If we're lucky, we mature together.

Sometimes, for all kinds of reasons, love falls behind. Meanwhile, the lock on our heart's door may well need removing. Nothing will be the same. Yet, if two people want each other in their lives, it is always worth leaving the door open. Be
sure, it’s not the dead who keep the door shut; only the living can do that. True love never knowingly closes the door on itself.

As I have said many times on my blogs, moving on does not mean leaving anyone behind. 

LOVE, OPEN ALL HOURS

The day you died,
I tossed my heart in your wake,
could but weep
for its loss, letting mine break…
Why you had gone,
no one thought to confide
as I watched you into the sunset
on a pale horse ride

Where had you gone?
I fiercely rejected all speculation
for believing  
in a custom made hell or heaven;
the last words I heard you say
were on living this life to the full
as yours passed away like sunshine
come nightfall

I looked up, saw a cloud
steal your sweet smile  just for me,
felt your kisses like rain
inspiring this poor body of mine
to live, even love again…
I watched the cloud move on
with thanks for its letting my heart  
know where you had gone

Long after you died,
a new love is making vows I yearn
to return, return…
Born again, risen like the phoenix
from the same sweet smile
I’ll see in every passing cloud
where you’ll look to reassure me
it’s no betrayal

Copyright R. N. Taber 2013; 2015


Saturday, 15 August 2015

Minder OR Human Spirit, Secret Self



Strange, isn’t it, how some words, events and people stick to the memory like glue? Could it be they press buttons we rarely if ever choose to press ourselves?  For example, there is a pub in Old Street (London) called The Masque Haunt. I once overheard a complete stranger comment  as he looked up at the name, ‘Now, that’s life. Oh, yes, that is life…’

I have often reflected on how the inner selves that come together to create human identity  are a motley crew; invariably, they adapt to a variety of circumstances, performing accordingly for a variety of people in a variety of ways, depending on why we have (consciously or subconsciously) brought them into play in the first place.

This poem is a kenning.

MINDER or HUMAN SPIRIT, SECRET SELF

I tell people what to do
and where to go, putting them
in their place
where needs must, advise how
not to lower the eye,
but appear relaxed to all intents
and lesser purposes,
direct the semblance of a smile
to complete the illusion

I fulfil the role of showman,
 treading no boards, just dreams
(nor gently either)
inciting the coward to bold acts
likely to pass for bravery
by the less discerning observer,
appropriately applauded
by an audience with its own ideas
of entertainment…

I hunger for a share of glory,
albeit behind scenes played out
to (near) perfection
by conscience and consciousness
at centre-stage
of everyday deceptions produced 
by circumstances
and directed by those old stand-bys,
diplomacy and discretion

Minder-Carer of a human condition
some call Self-preservation

Copyright R. N. Taber 2015