Wednesday, 24 June 2015

Last Orders OR Calling Time on the Here-and-Now

As regular readers worldwide will know, I’ve been living with prostate cancer for 5+ years now and am doing OK. Hormone therapy continues to keep my PSA low and the cancer at bay. .

Time is precious; past, present and future. One day,  (hopefully not for a good while yet) the Grim Reaper will pay a visit, and my blogs will eventually disappear from the Internet.  Now, the blogs are the only record of my revised poems as well as many others that have not been published and are not included in my collections. I therefore intend, over a period of time, to publish revised editions of all my print novels and poetry collections in e-format to Google Play.


During my short time in Australia some years ago I met an elderly aborigine who attempted to explain the aboriginal concept of 'Dreaming'. In short, the Dreaming expresses a timeless concept of moving from ‘dream’ to reality which in itself is an act of creation and the basis of many Aboriginal creation myths. (It is significant that none of the hundreds of Aboriginal languages contain a word for time.) I cannot begin to express much of that myself, and would not presume to try. Even so, it is a concept I suspect any poet can easily relate to, especially one who firmly believes in a posthumous consciousness in the sense of spiritual 'presence (or ghosts) as I do.

Of all the love poems I have written, this has to be one of my favourites. A sudden need to revise the original as it appears in my collection was like a cry from the heart, reminiscent of Cathy's ghost calling to Heathcliffe in Emily Bronte's classic novel, 'Wuthering Heights'. [Oh, yes, in case you hadn't guessed, I am, among other things, an incurable romantic, always have been, and make no apologies for it. ]


May the last thing I ever see
be a lark dropping from the sky
the last thing I ever hear
its song of hope and good cheer

May the last thing I ever smell
be a heady fragrance of flowers,
the last dream I ever have,
this life we made, forever ours

May the last thing I ever feel
be the sensual touch of your skin,
the last of Earth we ever share,
a toast to love in homemade wine

As Time calls its ghosts together,
so shall we rediscover each other

Copyright R. N. Taber 2002, 2016

[Note: An earlier version of this poem was first published  in an anthology, A Ray of Light, Poetry Now, (Forward Press)1999 and subsequently in First Person Plural by R. N. Taber, Assembly Books, 2002; revised ed. in e-format in preparation.]

Sunday, 21 June 2015

Cry Me Sometimes OR Hard Choices

A colleague once asked me if I thought he was ‘betraying’ his late partner by finding happiness with someone else.

Well, why be lonely when you can be happy, and who would want anyone to be lonely anyway?

As it happens, they were a gay couple, not that sexuality has anything to do with love, loss, or moving on. Moreover, as I have said on the blogs more than once, moving on doesn’t have to mean leaving anyone behind. Love never dies, but remains an inspiration along life's journey and beyond. 

Ah, but never compare love and lovers; that isn't fair on anyone.

Now, yes, it’s good to cry sometimes, but let’s never forget how to laugh, love …and live.


Don’t cry me
because you still love me,
yet cry me sometimes
if only because it so happened
I couldn’t stay

Don’t cry our love
left in your safekeeping,
yet keep it safe
if only because love deserves
its say

Don’t cry the times
we’d always pull together,
yet cry me sometimes
if only because it so happened
I couldn’t stay

Don’t cry the mistakes
we’ll always be sorry we made,
yet cry me sometimes
if only for those we didn’t get
to put right

Don’t cry me
because time did the dirty on us,
yet cry me sometimes
if only for your being happy
with someone else

Copyright R. N. Taber 2011

Saturday, 20 June 2015

Slump, Flights of Tension to Fanciful Places

This may not be one of my better poems, but it has a certain therapeutic value, for me at any rate. 

Haven’t we all been there at some time or another, past caring and simply wanting to shut the world out, slump in a comfortable armchair and forget about everything and everyone for a while…?

The trouble with slumping is that it has a nasty habit of temporarily removing life’s more attractive distractions from the inner eye and insisting it takes us down the darker side of Memory Lane, thereby making us feel even worse…

At the time I wrote this poem, I was recovering from and reflecting on a very bad cold when a good ‘slump’ is just about all I’d felt like doing. 

For many years, writing a poem has been my way of not letting ‘slump’ get the better of me.


Slump in a chair, thinking about life
and all the people I’ve known,
wondering where have they gone?

Slump in a chair, thinking about life
and all the things I have done,
wondering where I went wrong?

Slump in a chair, thinking about life
and choices made from the heart,
wondering where fear played a part?

Slump in a chair, thinking about life
and lovers who promised to stay
but left within hours of a night or day

Slump in a chair, thinking about life
and all the years wasted on regret
where I should have stood up to fate

Slump in a chair, thinking about life
and every epiphany I’ve known,
wondering where did I go so wrong?

Slump in a chair, thinking about life
and growing older, weaker,
for knowing I could have done better

Slump in a chair, thinking about death,
and all the people I’ve known,
wondering if there’s a hell or heaven?
Slump in a chair, watching television,
soaking up soap opera friends ,
lost the plot, left wondering how it ends

Slump in a chair, fret about being alone?
Not this time (slam on the brakes);
will get my life back, whatever it takes

Copyright R N. Taber 2008

Wednesday, 10 June 2015

Dressing Table Wars

I suspect that aspects of the human self are as often at war with each other as suing for peace it is a confusing, even distressing scenario of which mind, body and spirit not unsurprisingly or infrequently grow weary, sometimes all at once, and we sink into depression.

Sadly, there is still a stigma attached to any form of mental illness, not least because few people understand it unless they have been depressed through it themselves or close to someone who has. It was much the same when I experienced a severe nervous breakdown some 30+ years ago. Few people understood what I was going through, and it was only after a long, lonely battle over several years that I began to feel well again. I even managed to find and hold down a job although it would be a few more years yet before the sense of fighting a losing battle would leave me once and for all. Well, not quite once and for all, but I can honestly say that my quality of life and resistance to despair improved beyond measure as the years passed. I still take a m low dose (25mg) of antidepressant nightly and – as regular readers well know – writing has been more a creative therapy for me than an art form even as a child. (I will be 70 this year.)

Being depressed is nothing like being fed-up; it is a soul-destroying nightmare from which the depressed person can take a very long time to awaken, if ever.  An invisible illness, it is easily misunderstood. Sadly, one of the last people to recognize depression is the depressed person him/herself. Uncharacteristic mood swings, aggression, rudeness, bouts of crying for no obvious reason, over-reacting and getting things out of proportion…all these can be signs of depression, likely to culminate over a period of time in a firm of mental breakdown unless professional help and support is made available.

While the best help and support can be provided by family and friends, not everyone has family on hand while some friends feel so let down by a depressed person’s attitude towards them that they drift away; they SEE the same person, but have no idea of the emotional turmoil that person is going through and which, if left unchecked, may well permanently damage his or her whole personality.

To be fair, none of us are mind readers. Even so, the more sensitive and discerning family member or close friend will suspect something is wrong. Suggesting to someone they may be depressed will almost certainly meet with a hot denial in the first instance. Please don’t give up, but stick with it, no matter how tough it gets; and it will get tough, almost as much for the person who is trying to help as for the person who is mentally ill.

There are degrees of mental illness, of course. Whatever, there is no shame in it, especially in the kind of stressful, even dangerous world we live in with stress often coming at us from all sides to such an extent and at such a rate that even the strongest body, mind and spirit feels under siege.

Depression is not a battle that can be easily won, and certainly not alone. If you are depressed, don’t wait, as I did, for depression to get the better of you. Strike first. Ask for help or at least try and express something of how you feel to someone you sense will understand and help you to help yourself. Easily said than done, as I know only too well… 


Wall, shining like a mirror,
shadows dripping drops of light
like sweat on a battlefield

Words, pitting foe against foe;
a roaring in the head like sounds
of battle in a silent movie

Wall, a white board left blank
to any suggestions from the floor
on the subject of peace talks

Words, advancing like armies
from the shadows, unspoken fears
firing blindly for unshed tears

Wall, questioning the nature
of the beast, philosophy left to run
a lonely gamut of home truths

Words, starting to make sense
of sensibilities modern life so loves
to camouflage in Rat Race gear

Wall, a collage of human selves
reflecting vulnerability to dark forces
and potential for common sense

Words, moving lips in a mirror,
rehearsing a plea for help in restoring
mind, body and spirit 

Copyright R. N. Taber 2015