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.


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

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...


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)
to bequeath our children 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 its history

‘Progress’ a bitter-sweet victory
over an earthly vulnerability

Copyright R. N. Taber 2002, 2018

[Note: An earlier version of this poem appears in the Poetry Now [Forward Press] anthology series, London and Home Counties (2001) and subsequently in First Person Plural by R. N. Taber, Assembly Books, 2002.]

Friday, 21 August 2015

A Positive Take on Desperate Choices

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


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 leaving
its mark... 

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 attention

Nothing for me here,
but rage and pain in a pool of stars
at my feet,
urging me to leap a 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 find peace...

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 each other

Copyright R. N. Taber 201; 2015

Monday, 17 August 2015

No Betrayal

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. 


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, the Selfie Gene

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.


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

Wednesday, 5 August 2015

Dead Cool, Macho Man

Overheard on a bus:

TEENAGER 1: It’s all very well for people to say don’t carry a gun, but what do they know, yeah? It’s dead cool, right? Besides, you gotta protect yourself. F**k the do-gooders. What kind of world do they think we live in? You gotta get real, yeah?

TEENAGER 2: What if someone gets hurt, killed even?

TEENAGER 1: So it ain’t gonna be me, right?

TEENAGER 2: I dunno…

TEENAGER 1: (Rising to leave as bus stops) You dunno know f**k all.

An elderly lady sitting next to me shook her head, "He’s right about one thing. What do we know about the world they live in? And whose fault is that, I wonder...?"

I said nothing. What could I say?

This poem is a villanelle.


Finally, managed to get me a gun
and spreading the word,
didn’t ask who’ll carry my coffin

At first, life was a buzz, good fun,
but all that disappeared;

finally, managed to get me a gun,

Needed to prove I was someone,
get me some street cred;

didn’t ask who’ll carry my coffin

Shouting at just about everyone,
but no one ever heard;
finally, managed to get me a gun,

Joined a gang, mustn't let 'em down,
show I was shit scared;
didn’t ask who’ll carry my coffin

Got into a street fight, shot down
dripping with blood...
Finally, managed to get me a gun,
didn’t ask who’ll carry my coffin

Copyright R. N. Taber 2010; 2015

Monday, 3 August 2015

Innocent Until Proven Human (As Defined by Rites of Conscience)

I once saw a foal and a child born at different times of the same day. One had no conscience and would remain a picture of innocence; the other would soon become wise to the ways of the world and learn to manipulate them…one way or another.


Every birth, a celebration,
history redeeming
the very nature of creation

At break of day, an ovation
for each living thing;
every birth, a celebration

From its time of hibernation,
a glorious spring;
the very nature of creation

At the heart of every season,
find love enduring;
every birth, a celebration

If history pauses for no one,
find in its evolving,
the very nature of creation

Seeds of a world’s salvation
here for the nurturing;
at every birth, celebration,
the very nature of creation

Copyright R. N. Taber 2009; 2015

Sunday, 2 August 2015

Brush Strokes OR Catcher in the Eye Done Good

Years ago, I saw a painting in an art gallery that has made me reflect on the beauty of memory, capturing and preserving a precious moment in time. Yes, a photograph can do much the same, but a painting is so much more than a photograph; it reads aloud to the inner ear, thus inviting the inner eye to appreciate its every deliberate brush stroke in much the same sense and sensibility as one might appreciate iambic meter in a poem. As with all creative endeavor, the art lies in its artlessness, artist rewarding observer with an insight to a process that requires we tap into reserves of feeling of which the chances are we are not consciously aware.

Memory may fade, but the art-poem remains a part of us and will be sure to manifest itself in our approach to life, love, nature and human nature…; indeed, to  just about everything.

‘Oh,’ I hear some people say, ‘but that’s only if you have the imagination…’ Bollocks, to that! Imagination can and does work on our consciousness, yes, but it also works on the subconscious, possibly to even greater effect. So never let anyone lead you to believe you have no imagination; the human condition is better than that even where, sometimes, human nature fails us. 

Imagination is that Catcher in the Eye of which we may or may not be well aware but which, in any case, remains one of the sweeter mysteries of the human condition. 


Young girl with daisies
in the hair darts across a greeny field;
though brooding sheep
keep a sidelong watch on playful lambs,
the merry scene
attracts a frisky foal, prancing
at a boundary fence


Young girl with daisies
in the hair glimpses a pretty butterfly,
gives laughing chase;
one tangent wing at a finger's tip,
angel face glowing
hope’s pink blushes, elusive happiness
caught on canvas

Copyright R. N. Taber 1974; 2001