Saturday, 24 December 2016

Darkness, the Poetry of Mixed Feelings OR The Scenic Route to Daylight

A friend who (like me) has not had a good year confided that he almost dreads the year  drawing to a close because he fears what next year may bring. He is 80, and (for years now) inclined to think every Christmas will be his last. In my book, that’s as as good as saying he’s afraid to wake up and face a new day in case it is worse than the day before. Oh, I get it, I really do, but negative thinking never got anyone anywhere they would prefer to be.

Me? As regular readers know, I try to take my cue from Monty Python, always looking on the bright side of life, no matter what, even when the view is a wee murky.

Besides, where some people take inspiration and comfort from religion, I take mine from nature…and doesn’t spring always follow winter?


In the absence of light,
not a soul in sight, nor star or moon,
yet whisperings
in a passing breeze urge calm
as kind ghosts return
to fill a lonely heart with love
and urge us all
to seek peace of mind, be at ease
with ourselves

Does the heart play deaf
for fear of pain returning to haunt
a mind hosting
too many regrets that so relish
any prompting
to haunt, taunt us, make us
feel small
where no shadows even
to take our side?

Oh, but listen, listen, listen
to what friendly ghosts have to say
about seizing the day,
the better to let sweeter dreams
drive the Bogeyman
far away, unwilling to return,
risk further humiliation
where happy hauntings sure
to drive him out

Though a mind be as restless
as a wintry sea on some lonely shore,
let the heart say its piece,
hear it out, let it ease  body’s aches
and pains, inspire
the human spirit to picture moon
and stars looking down
on us with a twinkle in each eye,
anticipating a new day

Copyright R. N. Taber 2016

Sunday, 18 December 2016

Not just for Christmas

For years now I have written a general and gay-interest Poem for Christmas and sent it to everyone on my contact list instead of a Christmas card, not least because (as other poems on the blog may well illustrate) I am not a particularly Christmassy person.  It is my pleasure to share this one with you; the other will appear on my gay blog and both will appear on my Google Plus site. (Although I have a gay and general poetry site, as far as I am concerned, a poem is a poem is a poem, regardless of content which is why I am pleased to post both on Google Plus.)

Incidentally, some of you may be interested to know that I am giving a sponsored poetry reading for Prostate Cancer UK on World Poetry Day, May 21, 2017. I will not only be celebrating having seen my poetry in print for 60 years (my first poem appeared in my school magazine, 1957) but also living with prostate cancer for 6+ years. Not everyone who wants to come will want to donate, of course, but do come along if you can. More details at:

As I am not a religious person, Christmas means nothing to me in that sense. While I can appreciate and respect the fact that religious festivals are important to those who wish to celebrate their religion, it often seems to me that any messages of love, peace and goodwill to everyone are little more than empty words. 

Religions are only closed shops, though, if their followers choose to make them so; many if not most (but not all, thank goodness) have closed hearts, open only to those who follow its dogma to the letter. (Heaven forbid, anyone should ‘deviate’ even in the name of humanity). Any inhumanity is easily put aside for a Heaven that’s any sheep’s reward for not having the temerity to stray from the dogmatic fold as preached by ‘betters’ who would appear to have His (or Her?) ear. 

Some readers may think my Christmas poems disrespectful, but I can assure you that it is not towards religion that I am so minded but towards those who - in my experience - pay little more than lip service to the major lessons (any) religion professes to preach; e.g. peace,  love, equality, respect and fairness among a common humanity…

Thank you for reading my blog/s, hope you have found plenty to enjoy, and here’s wishing you all a VERY Happy Christmas. 


A pet is not just
for Christmas
nor should December
have a monopoly
on spreading peace 
and goodwill

Love is not just
for Christmas
nor should celebrating
any religion
mean shutting one
up or out

Caring is not just
for Christmas
nor can token gestures
of goodies
repay neglecting
the real thing

Mind, body, spirit,
have no need 
of fairy lights on trees,
or even and being seen 
going to prayers

Let’s celebrate
the heart
that’s open all seasons
and all hours,
no one turned away,
no excuses 

Copyright R. N. Taber 2016

[Note: More ‘Christmas’ poems can be found (on both my general and gay-interest blogs) by entering ‘Christmas’ in the appropriate search field.]

Tuesday, 15 November 2016

N-A-T-U-R-E, Imaging Eternity and Transcending Known Parameters

It seems to me that we often overlook the simpler pleasures of life in our enthusiasm for the more exotic or whatever is most likely to impress family, peers and neighbours. A friend once commented, ‘We never know long we’ve got so all the more reason to cram in as much as we can while we can.’ I get that, but not everyone is a crammer; we all want different things from life and just because someone does not appear to have a lot to show for his or her life doesn’t mean they have not live it, in their own wat and time, to the full.

Now, every so often, someone asks me why I often write about death. Well, as a positive thinker, I try to be as positive about the inevitability of death as I do about making the most of each day as it comes, no matter what it may bring. Besides, I have been living with prostate cancer for nearly six years now so shying away from death is not an option. Not that I have any intention of letting the Grim Reaper have his way with me just yet! (Better to be positive, surely?)

It has been suggested by those who do not know me very well that I should ‘find God’ and therefore need have no fear of death. They mean well, of course, but I have never been able to relate to any religion or idea of a personified ‘God’. Nor am I am an atheist, though, but more of an agnostic in as much as I do believe in a sense of spirituality that enhances our customised vision of the world; outwardly and inwardly. However, as regular readers well know, I take that sense of spirituality from nature, not religion.

Oh, and why, too, do I have a particular fondness for robins? Well, not least because they are survivors, known to see out the worst winters if only to sing in another spring, reminding us all that, of all nature’s gifts, hope has to be among the best on offer. (And should hope die in some bleak winter of the heart? Well, as spring follows winter so, too, perhaps might we…?) 

Such is a sense of spirituality as I see it or if you prefer, the Landscape of Imagination from which so much of my poetry takes its inspiration, both mutually inclusive in my view.


No one ever lays flowers,
comes even to rework old times,
but an old tree reads poems
that passes for a fitting eulogy,
and a robin sings

No memorial marks the spot,
none have cause to pause this way,
but shadows make a play
for life at Apollo’s pleasure,
and seeds grow

Each of four winds has a say
in how the tree needs must recite;
leafy branches acting out
rhythm, rhyme, blank verse,
(all weathers)

Mark how seasons play a part,
anticipating nature’s every mood,
overseeing a predilection
for happy-sad shades of green,
amber, red and mould

No let-up by day or night,
the tree passing on its every nuance
of sight and sound to each man,
woman and child with any feeling
for the natural world

Nature may well see us through
time’s ever-changing kaleidoscope,
yet humanity has far more say
than any leaves in what patterns
it may shape us…?

Ah, but such is human nature,
it may yet branch out on leafy whim
to make, break, let rise or fall
such passions of the human heart
as a robin sings
Roger N. Taber (2016)

Thursday, 3 November 2016

Nature, Poetry of Remembrance

Update (May 2016): A reader has been in touch to ask for the link to an interview I recently gave a student at my old university (some 40+ years ago) about my poetry for a multi-media project on 'an interesting person'. It was fun. Moreover, it warms the cockles of this septuagenarian's heart to know people still find me interesting. Unfortunately, this reader used the Comments button, but did not include an e-mail address so I am posting it again here.]  (NB. Copy into your browser to access this link.)


My mother died in 1976. I once asked her what she wanted out of life. She replied, ‘All I ask is that people remember and think well of me after I’m dead. I'd so like to be more than a photo on the mantelpiece," she added almost as an afterthought. 

What more can any of us ask for, eh?

Oh, I didn't quite get it at the time. I do now. Oh, yes, especially in springtime when I go for a walk in the countryside; I can see her smile and hear her voice everywhere I look... or... when I get home and listen to Shirley Bassey, her favourite singer...or... visit an art gallery and enjoy the Turner landscapes she loved...

Art, like nature, is always with us. Nature, though, is very much a living organism in its own right while art relies on the observer (or listener) to achieve much the same. Memories, too, are always with us, especially those surrounding loved ones. Yes, art can stir memories. Nature, though, offers a more direct route, reminding us that all living things, not just people, have their seasons, pass away and come again...

For me, it is this sense of spirituality that nature offers which transcends precious memories into a life-force in a way no religion ever could, and gives the poem its title.


Come a time I’ll close my eyes forever,
never again observe a waking day,
think of me with love as a new sun rises,
and weep not, but look for me there

Come a time I’ll close my ears forever.
hear dawn’s sweet chorus no more,
think of me as heavens make glad music,
and weep not, but listen for me there

Come a time my senses fail me forever,
never again smell a rain-kissed earth,
think of me as flowers open their petals,
and weep not, but walk with me there

Come a time we’ll have run life’s gamut,
may the dream that was ours never fade,
but merge into Earth Mother’s natural art
created for all our sakes and we for it

Copyright R. N. Taber 2007; 2016

[Note: This poem first appeared under the title, 'Rhetoric of Mortality, Poetry of Life' in Accomplices to Illusion: poems by R. N. Taber, Assembly Books, 2012; rev. ed. in e-format in preparation.]

Wednesday, 2 November 2016


[Update: Oct 6, 2017]: The 2nd Invictus Games, created by Prince Harry, and the only international multi-sporting event for  wounded, injured and sick service men and women, have been a great success, not only - and most importantly - in helping the participants to rise above any disability and all the emotional baggage that goes with it, but also in helping able-bodied audiences around the world to appreciate their efforts; disabled people are far too often stereotyped, even all but written off because the less enlightened see only the disability, not the person. More yet needs to be done for war veterans worldwide to encourage those who feel undermined and undervalued by virtue of this or other disability to give them a shared purpose in life, restore self-esteem, let them feel appreciated for who they are and for their self-sacrifice on our behalf without any sense of being patronised. Three Cheers for Prince Harry for having the sensibility and insight to found the event; his mother would have been very proud of him for it.]

November 11, Armistice Day, will see the commemoration of an armistice signed between the Allies and Germany at Compi├Ęgne, an agreement that ended the fighting on the Western Fron that went into effect at 11 a.m. Paris time on 11 November 1918. While it marked a victory for the Allies and a complete defeat for Germany, it was not a formal surrender; although the armistice ended all actual fighting, it took six months of negotiations at the Paris Peace Conference to conclude a peace treaty, the Treaty of Versailles.

Today’s poem first appeared under the title, Epilogue in the on-line poetry journal, Ydrasil (2009) and Poetry Monthly International (2010)before I changed the title yet again for my collection. (It sometimes takes a good while for me to feel 'right' about a title.) I wrote it soon after a former soldier I’d met in a bar had been telling me about a friend and former comrade who was in prison. The friend has been found guilty of attacking an ‘innocent’ party who had been goading him about looking better in uniform than in a suit. Apparently, he was on probation at the time. My companion commented, ‘It’s hard. You go to a war zone a whole person but each time you come back it’s like something more of that person is missing. Part of you dies out there or goes AWOL at the very least. I guess how much so is different for everyone…’

Many ex-service personnel (anyone, anywhere) need help to adjust to everyday life once they are home again either on leave or after being discharged. While it is important to help the injured and support the bereaved, there are also men and women who carry no visible signs of having been to war, but are just as much in need of our support and understanding as well as (in some cases) professional counselling. 

The man in the bar told me something else. ‘You have to be tough to fight, really tough. Show any weakness, and if the enemy doesn’t get you, your own side will. Back home, it can often feel like there’s a total stranger living in your skin and the chances are you don’t like that person at all. It's like the old self is all but dead. Sometimes the best part of that old self will make its way back, sometimes not. I dare say it’s the same for both sides in any war…’

All disabled people - regardless of colour, creed, sex or sexuality - are an inspiration, of course, heroes of battles they face daily; win some, lose some, but never losing the will or resolve to get the better of both disability and the misleading stereotypes it so often attracts.

This poem is a villanelle.


I so look up to you with love and pride
for all the best qualities you nurture,
whose light rekindled that all but died…

That first time you went to war, I cried
while you but longed for adventure;
I so look up to you with love and pride

In Iraq, your worst fears chose to hide
behind a ‘true grit’ human nature
whose light rekindled that all but died

In Afghanistan, you fought side by side
with the bravest, a born again warrior;
I so look up to you with love and pride

You saw friends killed or injured, tried
to see hell as part of a bigger picture
whose light rekindled that all but died

You seemed to take it all in your stride,
even carrying coffins on your shoulder;
I so look up to you with love and pride,
whose light rekindled that all but died…

Copyright R. N. Taber 2012; 2016

[Note: This poem appears under the title 'Missing, Believed Killed' in 1st eds. of Tracking the Torchbearer by R. N. Taber, Assembly Book, 2012; revised ed. in e-format in preparation.]

Thursday, 27 October 2016

The Hand that Rocks the Cradle

By now readers will know the so-called Arab Spring (2010) has left those countries involved no better if not worse off than before. Well, that's world politics for you...

Civil war has all but broken out in Libya yet People Power continues to make its voice heard across North Africa and the Middle East, ordinary men and women desperate for democratic reform and risking their lives for it.  The human spirit is strong if vulnerable, proving time and time again that it can and will rise above tragedy.  Perhaps, though, if more Western politicians even half understood Middle East politics and neither side did not always assume they know best...

Nature and human nature, they give and they take away. Perhaps, though, if it were even just a shade less inclined to reflex actions that demand it bite the hand that feeds it, humankind might yet find itself in better shape to prevent itself going to the dogs of war that have haunted its every step since the beginning of time...?

The poem first appeared in Poetry Monthly International (2010) and subsequently in my collection.


There’s a hand that caresses the first buds of spring
and bids them grow;
it moves among summer corn in time for harvesting
by courtesy of Apollo

Where autumn’s leaves making ready for its turning,
it bestows a blessing;
when winter brings us to our knees, of life despairing,
it beckons us to spring

Where we run the gamut of love, hate, peace and war,
find, too, Earth Mother;
let Her fair hand caress and smooth the troubled brow
or we destroy each other

The question arises, dare we bite the hand that feeds us
and face the consequences
or do we accept it in a spirit of goodwill to all humanity,
put aside our differences?

Beware, or the hand that rocks the cradle may let it drop,
our world break up,
needs must, we learn to read the hand that’s writing us up
or else…Armageddon

Back to school

Copyright R. N. Taber 200; 2016

Note: This poem was first published in Poetry Monthly International, February 2010 and subsequently Tracking the Torchbearer by R. N. Taber, Assembly Books, 2012.]

Monday, 24 October 2016

Two Poems for Halloween

Halloween is almost upon us. Yet, it is not only at Halloween that we hear talk of ghosts at various social events and celebrations.

Now, Halloween is reputedly a time for witches and warlocks. So did witches and warlocks have no time for love? Moreover, what of their sexual persuasion, and who are we to make assumptions? As for ghosts…I dare say we all have our share of those.

In effect, Halloween is just a date on the calendar. We may well associate it with ‘Trick or Treat’ but I suspect most if not all of us find ourselves playing mind games now and then; with our various selves as well as with others, and they with us. (Let’s face it. Halloween isn’t the only time some of us love or even prefer to wear masks - metaphorically speaking, of course - so no one can read our faces.)

True, Halloween may well be as good a time as any to choose whether to let our ghosts persist in personifying our worst nightmares or invest them with benign fantasy and give peace of mind a fighting chance, whatever it takes. Gay or straight, though, who needs Halloween for that...?

Now, what’s this, general and gay interest poems for Halloween on the same page?

Many people (gay and straight alike) ask why I don’t necessarily treat gay-interest poems as a separate literary form, culture or issue. (Why should it ever be an issue?)  By default, I have gay-interest and general blogs although my fiction blog includes general along with gay-interest fiction and my Google Plus site also includes both gay-interest and general poems. .

As I have said before on the blogs, as far as I am concerned, no art form deserves to be singled out for its content alone in so far as that content relates to any sexual persuasion. In a nutshell, a poem is a poem is a poem just as a person is a person is a person, regardless of any LGBT or heterosexual associations. It is what goes into a poem and what readers may (or may not) get out of it that matters; the same principle applies to any art form. As for people it is not what but who a person is that's important, how and where he or she matters to others, not their sex or sexuality nor, for that matter, religion or ethnicity. 


One Halloween at a full moon,
come the witching hour,
live wires humming our tune

You had left me, oh, too soon,
life tasting, oh, so sour,
one Halloween at a full moon

Walking on, an autumnal rain
but a heavenly shower,
live wires humming our tune

A hand slipped gently into mine
like spring to a flower,
one Halloween at a full moon

Love, treading a rare timeline,
kept me company there,
live wires humming our tune

It lifted me, a spirit all but divine,
sure to last forever,
one Halloween at a full moon,
live wires humming our tune

Copyright R. N. Taber 2009; 2016

[Note: This poem appears under the title ’Taking on Halloween’ in Tracking the Torchbearer by R. N. Taber, Assembly Books, 2007; revised ed. in e-format in preparation.]


Come Halloween,
I met a warlock, as wicked looks
as I’d ever seen

Full lips at my ear
murmured a spell that effectively
made us disappear

Into a candlelit place
he swept me, on wings of a night
configuring my face

In a mirror, a stranger
took my measure, quick heartbeat
sounding no danger

A fire was lit in my soul,
my body fuelled by its welcome heat
till first light fell…

The warlock only smiled
and a fierce kiss said I was free to go
back into the world

I told him I’d prefer to stay,
nor had his charms been wasted on me,
but let me see I’m gay

Gladly, into a glorious dawn,
we moved on, warlock and I, soulmates,
spoils of Halloween

Copyright R. N. Taber 2007

Monday, 17 October 2016

On the Nature of Love

I have often heard people say they feel they have missed out on love, and it saddens them because they feel life has left them feeling incomplete.  Perhaps they have never been ‘in love’ or a partner has died young or a lover may have let them down in their eyes…

Whatever, love is neither so easily defined nor confined to the context of being ‘in love’. As I have said before on the blogs (and dare say will say again) love takes many shapes and forms that can be as real, inspiring and life-shaping as a lover.

Me, I haven’t had a steady partner for many years and we only had a short time together, but knowing him was a learning curve in many ways, not least in learning to take nothing for granted, especially love. It is possible, even likely, that platonic love between good friends can be as enriching in its own way as the love shared by lovers. A love of certain places or simply for travelling and experiencing new places can be wonderful nor less so the love of home life and everything it means to us, even if we rarely if ever step out of that particular comfort zone.

Different people want and need different things from life, but so long as we keep our eye on love, and always remain aware of and nurture its presence, the least likely we are to ever look back on our lives and find them wanting.

Few people, in my experience, can say they feel wholly fulfilled, Yes, I envy those that can, of course I do, but we should never let envy of others blind us to our own blessings, even when the latter sometimes seem somewhat thin on the ground; be assured they will pick up, but only if we open up to them, fill our senses with them, see them for what they are through our own eyes, not someone else’s.  Yes, I know it’s pretty obvious, but SO many people fail to see the proverbial wood for trees planted by someone else.

As for sexuality, it embraces love, yes, but love is bigger than that, and anyone who believes in love needs to be big enough to admit it, socio-cultural-religious prejudices notwithstanding, or they are say the least.

‘Where there is love, there is life.’ - Mahatma Gandhi


Hey, listen out…

Hear that lasting beat 
whose remit to feed
the sweetest memories
to a hungry heart.
long after its life force
carried away
on wings of a day set aside
for sorrow

Hey, look there…

Discover cloud shapes
whose remit to relay
best (and worst) times
to an inner eye
long after losing sight
of friendly faces
to hands on a wall clock
stuck fast

Hey, have a smell…

Where grass is greenest
and leaves bring
the scent of summer roses
to the mind
all but closing down
in keeping
with a winter all but gone
to earth

Hey, get the taste…

For honey on the tongue
on what we may
liken to a ‘soul’ having left
its lasting imprint
on such as we may care
to call ‘spirit’
in the lamentable absence
of a poem

Ever get the feeling…?

Earth Mother, nurturing
the beauty
of our seasons going
full cycle,
constructive comment
even on dreams
of each hopeful tomorrow
left unfulfilled

Hey, reach up, touch…

Where the heart beats out
its hopes
for such peace and love
as may or may not
run true, but much the more 
worth the dreaming
for filling all my senses
with you

Copyright R. N. Taber 2016

Sunday, 9 October 2016

Pictures in an Exhibition

A reader from Switzerland has emailed me to ask - as people often do - why a poet writes fiction. Well, there is poetry of a kind in fiction too. I needed to try my hand at writing novels, partly because I knew I would enjoy it (as I did) and partly because i suspected it would bring me closer to an understanding of human it has; as, indeed, do all the arts, each in their own way. Take fiction; it is not all about plot, but creating characters, good and bad. The writer needs to explore the various interrelationships of mind, body and spirit. Hopefully, this has also made me a better poet... but that, of course, is up to you, my readers, to decide.

Most of my novels - published and unpublished - remain in serial form on my fiction blog. Each serial is preceded by a separate synopsis post. It wa my original intention that as each complete novel  would be published to Google Play in e-format and removed from the blog. but a number of readers have emailed to say they cannot access Google Play. For this reason, I will be publishing my gay-interest crime novel 'Blasphemy' to the blog again while continuing to make it available on Google Play. All my novels on the blog are listed at: 

It seemed a good idea to publish today's poem here (see below) at the same time as answering a number of queries about publishing my novels (and poetry collections) as e-books to Google Play over the next few years, thereby, making those that have only ever been on sale in the UK available to readers worldwide. UK sales were not too discouraging; first (and only) print runs sold quite well. Even so, I am definitely more of a poet than a novelist, although I enjoy writing fiction, and sheer enjoyment has to be as good a motivation as any.  [Few publishers have shown much interest in my fiction and not all those serialised on the blog have been published in print form; copyright to each, though, remains exclusively mine.]

A librarian in public libraries most of my working life, it would both amuse and sadden me to see hot-blooded heterosexual readers hovering  near the counter until no one else was waiting before presenting any gay-interest items (a novel,  DVD, biography of a gay icon etc.) to be issued or discharged. Many libraries have now installed issue/discharge machines that will spare them any such embarrassment. Yet, why be embarrassed?  Imagination is an Open House. I can only put it down to human nature’s preoccupation with a ‘guilt by association’ ethos and habitual inclination to jump to conclusions.

I wrote this poem while thinking about writing my first novel, ‘Dog Roses; a Gay Man’s Rites of Passage.’ The book was never published except on the blog. No publishers were interested, but that did not matter. By the time I had finished writing it, I realised why I had so needed to write it in the first place. Putting aside aspirations of fame and fortune (just as well) I needed to stop thinking about exploring human nature through fiction as with poetry, and just get on with it, give it my best shot. I have no regrets; it provided no less as rewarding an experience as poetry but via different routes and from different angles. (As for so much as a hint of talent, well, that’s something else altogether…and up to you to form your own opinions.)

I used to regret not being able to paint, draw, compose or play music... until it came home to me how all the arts share a common source; the writer, composer, painter, whatever. needs must get as close to human nature as any gardener or farmer to the very soil we feed and which, in turn, feeds us. How far the analogy can be carried, of course, depend as much on the nature of the soil or genre as that of any of us reaping its rewards; reader, listener, observer, all have no less a part to play than whomsoever's hands planting whatsoever seeds.

This poem is a villanelle.


Exploring the human condition,
its good, bad and ugly
life forces stranger than fiction

Any flaws demanding attention,
(for all a subtle simplicity)
exploring the human condition

Nature, its greater contribution
side-lined by humanity;
life forces stranger than fiction

Exposed, a common retribution
(reasoning a moral propriety)
exploring the human condition

Satirised, a political observation
of this life’s tragicomedy;
life forces stranger than fiction

Society, pictures in an exhibition
for whomsoever cares to see;
exploring the human condition,
life forces stranger than fiction

Copyright R. N. Taber 1997; 2016

Thursday, 6 October 2016

Tides of the Heart

Love can be as fickle as it is desirable, while sometime misinterpreted as fickle when simply unable to reach a decision for one reason or another.

Could it be that many of the world’s lovers (LGBT included) need to talk to each other more…? Even love can be guilty of taking too much for granted…

Whatever, can any of life’s challenges be tougher than faced by the long distance swimmer on tides of the human heart…?


Sat on a beach,
watching the waves
roll in, out,
and back again…
like love’s promises
to me

Just out of reach,
waiting for your love
to roll in, out,
and back again…
like the finest poetry
and prose

Winging, calling
to you among sea birds,
now high, now low,
nature’s wry comment
on humanity’s tides
of life

Alone on a beach,
its beachcombing hearts
on the look-out
for any such as ours,
among love’s flotsam
and jetsam

Copyright R. N. Taber 2002; 2016

[Note: An earlier version of this poem first appeared under the title 'Secrets, Ebb and Flow' in an anthology, As Waves Pass By, Poetry Now (Forward Press) 2002, and subsequently in my own collection, First Person Plural by R. N. Taber, Assembly Books, 2002; revised ed. in e-format in preparation.]

Tuesday, 4 October 2016

Art, a Measure of Home Truths

An art teacher at my old school once told the class that we should not only learn how to look at art but how also to feel it. That was a good half century or so ago, but I am grateful for the tip to this day.

When we look at a painting, for example, it is obvious what we are looking at; less obvious is what lies behind the painting, how the painter saw his subject through inner eye and various absorbed impressions. The artist’s choice of colours and their shades, the force of certain brushstrokes, all are clues to what he or she is saying not only about his or her subject but  also about themselves.

The best art forms are not only delightful on the eye (or ear) but also draw us into them and thereby into ourselves. In this way, many art works survive centuries and a posthumous consciousness remains available to be tapped into by the discerning art lover who may not even be an expert, simply open to ‘live’ impressions.

The Ancient Greeks, of course, produced one of the earliest well-developed examples of gay art. Going their own way from other ancient cultures, the Greeks considered free adult male sexual attraction to be both normal and natural. Gay people  like me were spared tortuous closet years imposed on us by public/cultural opinion; it is one of many modern tragedies that it remains the case for far too many of us worldwide.


Studying me, it’s likely
that far more
than all you see will touch
mind, body and spirit,
sufficiently firing imagination
to give inspiration
a voice for home truths
ghosting paths of times past
and present…

Observing me closely, find
the inner eye
homing in on brush strokes,
the lighter here
and heavier there, colours
chosen for warmth
or cold, and touches of light;
dark, dreamy twilight,
moody gloom…

Seeing is not always (quite)
believing that creativity needs
an audience;
desires one, yes, if only to share
impressions of mind,
body and spirit laid bare
in such a way
as to make a presence felt
that would out

Art, a psycho-creative presence
redefining subject and audience

Copyright R. N. Taber 2016

Saturday, 1 October 2016

Spirit Lake

Several readers who cannot access You Tube on their own computers for some reason and have seen the video on someone else’s have asked me to reinstate it on the blog.  (See video below). Many thanks, by the way, for their kind comments regarding my blogs.

The original You Tube video is available at:

OR access my You Tube channel and search by title:

The lake at Stourhead (NB ‘Spirit Lake’ is simply the title I have given to the poem that I read here and video footage) is artificially created. Following a path around the lake is meant to evoke a journey similar to that of Aeneas's descent in to the underworld; passages telling of Aeneas's journey are quoted in the temples surrounding the lake.

Read more about Stourhead on Wikipedia:

The video is one of three shot by my close friend Graham Collett, and I wrote the poem especially for the occasion. We hope you will enjoy both.

This poem is a villanelle:


World of peace and tranquility
(looking out for its own); 
Earth Mother’s greater legacy

Time playing games with history
(myth into maturity grown);
world of peace and tranquility

Dreamland lake in all its serenity
(solitude, yet not alone);
Earth Mother’s greater legacy

The very best of prose and poetry
(open minds freely shown); 
world of peace and tranquility

Watch ripples pausing at eternity
(life force unknown)
Earth Mother’s greater legacy

Each heart, wing, flower and tree
(life arts, ever windblown);
world of peace and tranquility,
Earth Mother’s greater legacy

Copyright R. N. Taber 2014

Monday, 26 September 2016

Getting Under the Skin

We all need something or someone at some time in our lives, but asking for help is not always easy; sometimes, pride gets in the way or we may well be at such a low ebb that we cannot get the words out.

There is no shame in asking for help; the first step is acknowledging to ourselves that we need it while the next (sometimes the hardest) is finding someone we can trust to listen without judging us or simply telling us what they would do in our situation.

Failing at the second step is invariably down to the inability of many if not most people to use their knowledge of a person to be able to offer constructive advice. We are individuals, all different; telling someone what we would do in their situation is rarely much help.

The listener is the greater source of inspiration because any advice forthcoming will be based on what he or she has heard; heard us out, encouraging us now and then by all means, but not interrupting or prompting along lines we think the other person is trying to say,

Need is not always obvious; too often, it is left to fester simply because there are none so deaf as will not hear. Where the listeners of this world are a rare breed, the friend who listens is a friend indeed.

This poem is a kenning.


I haunt the human spirit
as an alley cat might its territory,
fight off every challenge
until grown weary with battles,
ready to admit defeat,
yet without (quite) conceding
surrender of the kind
that sheds dignity like a second skin
for caving in to despair

I worry the human mind
as a dog might a flock of sheep
that knows no better,
simply goes with basic instinct,
chancing life and limb
to the farmer that will shoot
on sight, worth the risk,
beats gnawing away at an old bone
just because it’s there

I taunt the human heart
where expectation often misled
by parental satisfaction,
peer-led competition, egged on
by target-centred education…
chalices passed from generation
to generation, mistakes
coursing its veins like a slow poison
too often left untreated

Call me poor, inarticulate Need;
on life’s leftovers, I feed…

Copyright R. N. Taber 2016

Friday, 23 September 2016

The Challenge

Some readers cannot access You Tube for one reason or another. One such reader has been in touch to ask me to post this poem/video on my blog, having seen it on You Tube at a friend’s house. (See bottom of the page for the video.) The reader asks why I bothered to film clouds; there a story behind it my fascination with them. Indeed, I have written several poems about the inspiring nature of clouds.

I wrote this poem in the early 1980’s. I was over the worst of a nervous breakdown resulting in several years of unemployment and struggling to recover a sense of ‘normality’ (whatever that is). I had started a new job, and although it would take a good few years yet before I felt really well, it was motivation enough to sustain me; this, along with my having begun writing again a couple of years earlier.

As regular readers know, writing has always been the best form of creative therapy for me, given that I am someone who has been prone to depression since childhood.

Cloud shapes (in good and bad weather) not only fascinate me, but have long been a source of inspiration for my poems, also my novels. [If interested in the latter, by the way, you will find them in serial form on my fiction blog apart from Blasphemy which I recently uploaded to Google Play.] All my novels and poetry collection are out of print and I hope to upload revised versions to Google Play over the next few years; that is to say, so long as the Grim Reaper doesn’t have other ideas as I will be 71 in December, and have already been living with prostate cancer for 5+ years.

Readers who can access You Tube may prefer to click on the link:


Go to:  and search under title.

Let's face it. Whoever and wherever we are, life itself is a challenge, the biggest any of us will ever face; we may win a battle here, lose a battle there, while the final victory lies with whomsoever discovers his or her innate humanity and is guided by it in the face of a sorry world's inhumanity on all sides. 

At my secondary school, some 50+ years ago, we were often asked to read poems aloud from an anthology. I well recall a boy in a 4th year class responding to a teacher's criticism of his reading aloud of a poem as 'lifeless'. "Sorry, sir," my classmate said, "but I don't like reading poetry. To be honest, I don't get poetry. "A challenge you have no interest in rising to, eh?" said Mr 'Jock' Rankin, our English teacher. The boy nodded. "All the more reason to rise to it," said Jock, "Life is all about rising to challenges. Think of the poem as an opportunity to shine. Better to rise to it than let it pass you by. You may well get shot down by your critics, but better that than shooting yourself in the foot for seeing someone else shine." The boy shrugged, said nothing, and was told to sit down. Another boy read the poem well, with feeling. On another occasion, months later, the first boy read a poem aloud so well, we all applauded...


There is a bridge between clouds
where we pause
who ponder on the purpose
on living just to die,
where the spirit unfulfilled,
the heart strayed
across certain boundaries society
has imposed (conventions)
so much the better to disguise
its worst intentions

There is a bridge between clouds
where we pause
who ask why the world below
has let us down…or did we
let ourselves and each other down
in the end
for never ceasing to demand more
than our fair share
of whatever peace and love
to be found there?

There is a bridge between clouds
where we’ll wait
our turn to cross…or be left
wishing deeds undone,
words unsaid, lies left creeping
under the tongue,
never to see the cold light of a day
when we must answer
to all its invidious shadows
may have heard us say

We can but cross, we children of Earth,
rise to the challenge of life over death

Copyright R. N. Taber 1984; 2010; 2016

Saturday, 17 September 2016


Visitors to the UK who have now returned to Australia have asked me to repeat the post/poem that accompanies one of the Avebury videos on my You Tube channel. It appears they enjoyed visiting Avebury with English relatives who later showed them the channel, but for some reason cannot access it now they are back home.

I have always been fascinated by ancient history so was delighted that Graham chose to pay special attention to the magnificent stones that comprise Avebury Henge. Of, but the tales the stones have to tell!  [Discover more about Avebury Henge on Wikipedia.]

Readers who can access You Tube may prefer to click on the direct link:

OR any readers can view the video below.

We felt that a build-up to the poem might help give the viewer something of a feel for these incredible icons of ancient times which is why it comes in later than in other clips.

For other videos on my You Tube channel. Go to:


Where some may but marvel at old stones,
the inner eye discerns far more,
history restoring dead flesh to its bones,
relating times past, creating folklore

We can but ask how the circle came to be,
search within the stones for an answer,
discern (or imagine) stark images of history,
walk away enthralled if little wiser

Look, read in the stones tales of long ago;
everyday lives, everyday ways
of making love, fighting wars, baking dough,
whatever tune each piper's sponsor pays

Splendid creations of sun, wind and rain,
secrets hidden in ageless metaphors;
Earth Mother's diary of her grief and pain
for humanity's neglect of its sores

Oh, omnipresent monoliths marking time
until Armageddon strikes the Earth;
love poems made to surrender their rhyme,
reason fighting madness for all its worth

Yet, whatever the future has in store for us,
be sure lessons are and will be written
in brave stones such as these by its survivors
to engage with humanity and pass on

Henge, the poetry, power and magnificence
of a ravaged Earth's sacrifices to existence

Copyright R. N. Taber 2011; 2016

Friday, 16 September 2016

A Gardener's Tale

Every child is special just as every child is different; the same might be said for most if not all living things, each and every one with certain characteristics defining its individuality.

My mother loved gardening. She saw herself as foster mother to the plants, flowers and wildlife she took under her wing. "It's much like bringing up a family," she once commented wryly, "they give far more pleasure for pleasure's own sake than by way of any compensating for what's best forgotten..."

This poem is a villanelle.


Proudly, much like a lover,
a flowering of its time like no other,
creating a living border

Watching it grow, mature,
as per laissez-faire of Earth Mother;
proudly, much like a lover

Every second, minute, hour,
dreams to share in, store and nurture,
creating a living border

Mixed emotions undercover
yet rising to every occasion (whatever)
proudly, much like a lover

A pupil-apprentice to nature,
the best part of any past-present-future,
creating a living border

Humanity, common gardener,
marking the fruits of selfless endeavour
proudly, much like a lover,
creating a living border

Roger N. Taber 2016

Friday, 9 September 2016

The Architect

Few of us can say in all honesty that we have no regrets, and have made no mistakes. Even so, there is no point in crying over spilt milk. (As good a philosophy as any, I say.) Besides, sometimes we need to make mistakes in order to discover our true path in life; we can but try and learn from them and move on. Life is a learning curve, after all.

When I look back at my worst mistakes I can also see how some good has come from having made them. Whatever, if you want to do something badly enough, I wholeheartedly agree with giving it a go; if it turns out to be a mistake, better regret having tried and failed than wonder how things might have turned out. [Story of my life…] Besides, all poetry needs must expose at least glimpses of life's negatives if only to encourage its positives to shine through. 

I am often asked by heterosexual readers if I regret including gay-interest poems in my collections and if it has damaged my reputation as a poet in the wider arena. The answer is ‘no’ to the first question. As for the second…yes, it has probably adversely affected my reputation as a poet in the wider arena (and why the arts media practically ignore me) but…no, I have no regrets.

While I can't expect to please everyone with every poem I write (nor do I exclude myself) but have received some lovely emails from readers all over the world who enjoy reading them. What poet can ask for more?  Although I do not allow comments - too many idiots spoiling posts for genuine readers, and I leave social media well alone for the same reason - do feel free to email me any time on any subject. I will always reply as soon as I can. If you don’t like my poetry, but still want to exchange points of view, no problem.

Contact; with ‘Blogs’ or ‘Poems’ in the subject field.

This poem is a kenning,


I move without favour or prejudice
among men, women, children;
to whoever calls me out, I will
always answer, no one denied
the music I bring, Blues I sing;
rich, poor, famous, infamous, saints
and sinners…welcome to tap
into a wisdom some like to call Fate,
lessons learned too late

I touch without favour or prejudice
the loose thread missing a button,
that odd sock, empty vase in rooms
yawning with boredom for what’s
on TV and must have heard that CD
a thousand times (surely?) though
any sound has to be better than none,
answerable (finally) to a plaintive purr
beside a lap tray set for one

I bury without favour or prejudice
forgotten dreams, misspent ideals,
all wishful thinking on falling stars
meant to light a kinder, better world
that’s not meant to be though
we mull over old letters, photos, poems,
home videos…as dead as the cat
whose meow we miss and listen for
at every mealtime

Call me Regret, architect for half-lies
configuring a Bridge of Sighs

Copyright R. N. Taber 2007; 2016

[Note: A slightly different version of this poem appears under the title 'Regret' in 1st eds. of Accomplices to Illusion by R. N. Taber, Assembly Books 2007; revised ed. in e-format in preparation.]