Monday, 21 December 2015

A Christmas Memory

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...the joy of an open mind, free spirit and kind heart, no matter what manner of hurt this life inflicts.


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…?


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

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.


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

Christmas, the Great Pretender

Even as a child, I had a love-hate relationship with Christmas.Like most if not all children, I loved the festivities and (of course) the presents, but my father would always find a way to spoil Christmas for me and drive home the conviction that it was all a beautiful fantasy, a dream, and sooner or later needs must reality start biting again, fiercer even than any winter.

Regular readers will know I am not a religious person although 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 well be 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 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,  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. Religion for the true believer 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 …?


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 for fantasy any…

Copyright R. N. Taber 2013

Thursday, 10 December 2015

Christmas, All Inclusive

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. (Regular readers will know that I have nothing in common with my own family and those with whom I have got on well, loved even, are no longer with us, but that doesn't mean I don't wish the rest every happiness.)


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

Squaring up to Potential

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,


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