Friday, 29 January 2016

A Common Irony

Now, every religion has its own Belief while some of us cannot believe in (any) religion.

Who’s to say who’s right or wrong?

Should we not give everyone the benefit of the doubt, each going his or her own way while taking care to share the better, kinder, principles of a common humanity? Some religions treat any diversion from its dogma as a cardinal sin. Whatever happened to that freedom of the human spirit to express itself in its own way, and who has the right to condemn someone for acting in good faith if not within dogma's stricter parameters?

Religion is meant to be about love and peace...and mutual respect for another person's spiritual identity, whether or not it relates to the same religion or any religion at all if only because religion (as I discovered for myself even as a child) has no monopoly on spirituality.

A sense of spirituality is common to us all, just as it is down to each and every one of us to tap into it
if and how we choose. Yet, what is a cause for celebration is so often marked by those who should know better as a cause for division.


Religious festivals are times
people come together,
are good to one another, braving
dark and stormy weather

Religious festivals make merry
come rain, snow, winter mist,
find sunny smiles not on any list
left by old Jack Frost

But you can’t always believe
all they so love to feed us,
like comfort and joy at Christmas
(just ask the homeless)

No, you cannoot always believe
everything they tell you,
be the preacher Christian, Muslim,
Sikh, Jew or Hindu…

Religion (not God) is the listener
ever turning a deaf ear
come Ramadan, Diwali, Passover
and Easter once a year

In truth, we should learn to respect
Faiths across the world,
ironically divided by a single word,
a comfort zone called ‘God’

Who and what should we believe
when so many use religion
for their own ends, as ammunition,
back-up for a safe h(e)aven?

All religions encourage suspicion,
led by Masters of Ceremony
demonstrating a penchant for irony
behind a mask of spirituality

Copyright R. N. Taber 2009; 2016

Thursday, 28 January 2016

Armageddon, an Artists's Impression

What are we doing to the planet? How many more trees must be felled, wildlife lose their habitats (and lives) on land and in the seas before humankind realizes how short sighted it is being? (The old adage is so true, that we rarely - if ever - appreciate what we have until we lose it.)

Will future generations forgive us? (I suspect with great difficulty if at all.)

It is all very well to acknowledge global warming, but how much longer can we shrug off any blame for it? it? The time to make reparation is by positive action NOW, surely? How many more world conferences and all but meaningless gestures before our politicians risk upsetting this lobby or that and get to grips with the longer-term consequences of playing ostrich?

Too lightly, many people continue to brush such questions and issues aside. After all, they argue, there is plenty of time to save the planet.

Ah, but is there…?

Yes, our politicians claim to empathise with Green campaigners but could they perhaps do (far) more to back up their word with actions…or could it be they are but paying lip service to increasing electorate (and business) concerns?

At school, I once overheard my Religious Education teacher refer to Armageddon as 'the death of plain common sense' to which my art teacher commented that it would be an appropriate theme for graffiti art among the corridors of power just about anywhere in the world. 70+ years on, I am inclined to agree with both.


The sky is red
where once it was blue;
trees turning yellow;
streams, trickles of blood
on a baby's cot...
Time, caught taking a nap
in Earth Mother’s bed

The forest is dead
where once trees grew tall,
birds would nest,
one beast best another
as required…
by nature’s rule of thumb,
its kingdom come

The world, gone quiet
where once people played,
would laugh and sing,
yet sure to best one another
as required…
by nature’s rule of thumb,
our kingdom come

The sky is red
where once it was blue;
trees, turning yellow;
streams, but muddy footprints
left by Earth Mother
seeking the lost children
of Armageddon

Copyright R. N. Taber 2010

Monday, 25 January 2016

Wake-Up Call OR Skylark, Icon for a Free Spirit

I suspect many if not most of us are inclined to misinterpret images conjured up by our dream selves, failing to see them as warning signs and as good a reason as any to take a closer look at ourselves…

The dawn chorus, for some of us, can be something of a wake-up call in more ways than one, lifting spirits and appealing to a bold imagination and spirituality, but only if we let it.

Too often, we get stuck in  psycho-emotional rut of our own making and we need to listen to nature's song, tap into its freely flowing potential for positive thinking.


Glad chorus
greets a dawn birthing
a Brave New World,
poor copy of Eden’s
fairer face

Love in the air,
snakes in long grass,
good and bad
sharing our burden
of choice

Lark, skylark,
dear symbol of light
and beauty,
victim of Man’s
sheer apathy

Let us not dwell
on any fears haunting
our pillows,
all that’s between us

Follow the skylark,
take a cue from nature,
seize the day
for the beauty we see
in one another

Copyright R. N. Taber 2000; 2016

[Note: This poem is a later version of the original that appears in 1st eds. of Love and Human Remains by R. N. Taber, Assembly Books, 2000 as ‘Alarm Call’; revised ed. in e-format in preparation.]

Friday, 15 January 2016

Never let a Wrinkle have the Last Word

I was 70 on the last winter solstice, and more than one person has expressed well-meaning sympathy for my growing old. Well, I am happy enough...most of the time.

Yes, I get aches and pains in unexpected and often inconvenient places and, yes, my treatment for prostate cancer doesn’t exactly agree with me. Even so, whenever I start feeling sorry for myself, and lamenting my lost youth, I recall a lovely old lady in her 90s whom I used to visit when I was on the staff of a local Home Library Service. She was housebound, and suffered with severe arthritis, but had a smile for everyone. I asked her once how she coped with not being able to get out and about. "Oh, but I do," she said without hesitation. "I read, watch videos and TV, listen to the radio...and let my imagination take me places you cannot imagine. Yes, I miss walking, of course I do, and neither my eyesight or hearing are are too good these days, but imagination...well, that lasts forever just so long as we give it its head and don't let real life have its wicked way with us..."

Life is what we make it at any age.  We all want different things from life, and it is down to each and every one of us to get the most out of the time we have, on the best terms available to us, instead of constantly brooding on the worst.

Did I say it was easy?


Growing old can be scary,
but there’s not much we can do
about it…?

So shall we take the dog
for walkies, put the world to rights
with next door’s cat, indulge
in some chat TV, watch a DVD
and leave it at that?

Ah, but there’s more
to life than our practising
the art of killing time
even if time is no friend
(or real enemy either)

Oh, and I haven’t heard
from so-and-so for ages so time
to get in touch and find out
when we can meet up, catch up,
(maybe even make up?)

The grapevine has it
a new class is starting up;
Now, was it art, crafts
or yoga? No matter, time enough
to find out more

I’ve always wanted
to do things folks said I couldn’t,
see places they said
I really shouldn’t ‘at my age’
(Yes, even then...)

Although time does us
no favours (or is it vice-versa?)
we can put records straight,
marginalise wishful thinking
and regret

Time to wake up, get up,
make up for missed opportunities,
(at least in part) though aches,
pains, and all sorts may have lots
to say about that

Time to call on an old pal
(Will Power) to haul him out
of his comfy armchair
and make damn sure he’ll start
pulling his weight

If growing old can be scary,
there’s no end to what we can do
about it…

Copyright R. N. Taber 2013; 2016

Tuesday, 12 January 2016

Making Peace with Progress (On the Waterways of Britain)

I wrote today’s poem to accompany the video my friend GrahamCollett shot some time ago for my You Tube channel (a team effort). Feedback suggests that some readers cannot always access You Tube so you can watch it here (see video at the bottom of this page) and listen to me reading the poem  over it OR tune into it directly on You Tube:

Alternatively, if the link does not work, go to my You Tube Channel and search by title:

After my being incapacitated for over a year following a bad fall in August 2014, we thought it would be a good idea to test new video software with some earlier - previously unpublished - footage  before proceeding to edit/post the next (recent) video/poem to You Tube comprising footage of The Gift Horse sculpture on the 4th plinth in London’s Trafalgar Square. Watch this space…]

The video shows a section of the Kennet and Avon Canal, a waterway in southern England made up of two lengths of navigable river linked by a canal; the name is commonly used to refer to the entire length rather than just the central canal section. In all, the waterway incorporates 105 locks, one of which you can see in the video. The two river stretches were made navigable in the early 18th century, and the 57-mile (92 km) canal section was constructed between 1794 and 1810.

In the late 19th and early 20th centuries, the canal gradually fell into disuse after the opening of the Great Western Railway. In the latter half of the 20th century the canal was restored in stages, largely by volunteers. After decades of dereliction requiring much restoration work, it was fully reopened in 1990. Since developed as a popular heritage tourism location for boating, canoeing, fishing, walking and cycling, it is also important for its wildlife.

This poem that I read over the video (also in the Description on You Tube) is a villanelle.


On the waterways of Britain
(many neglected for years)
Man and nature as one again

Compensating for acid rain,
find honest sweat and tears
on the waterways of Britain

Ever mindful of loss and gain,
(Oh, spirited volunteers!)
Man and nature as one again

A testament to industry’s pain,
toiling through its centuries
on the waterways of Britain

Hosting the occasional swan,
even water voles and otters,
Man and nature as one again

Among such, pages written
of a nation’s finer endeavours;
on the waterways of Britain,
Man and nature as one again

Copyright R. N. Taber 2016

Monday, 11 January 2016

Spring Fields

We are constantly reminded of the resilience of nature and human nature to rise above even the worst winter may throw at it. So, too, we see evidence of that enduring penchant of human mind, body and spirit for the kind of creative therapy that lifts us out of despair and carries us into spring. What happens then, of course, is no secret where nature is concerned; new life, indeed. As for mind, body, and spirit, these can but reunite and do their best to rise above the worst and wing us along with the skylark, perennial metaphor for hope renewed and dreams reworked…that never (quite) went away.


When winter comes,
its days so long, cold, and dark
where do dreams fly
that once rose with the lark,
kept us company
in spring fields bringing new life
to each flower, each tree?

When winter comes,
dimming even the brightest spirit,
what happens to hopes
that once nested in the heart,
kept the mind company
in spring fields bringing new life
to each flower, each tree?

When winter comes,
poverty sure to leave its mark,
to whom do they turn,
faced with life choices as stark
as keeping the heating on,
putting food on the table, buying
clothes for the children?

When winter comes,
snowflakes like failing heartbeats,
how do they survive,
forced to beg on busy streets
for the right to be free
of winter’s worst, a helping hand
from everyday humanity

When winter comes,
its days so long, cold and dark,
drive mind, body and spirit
to image wings of the same skylark
that kept us company
in spring fields bringing new life
to each flower, each tree

Where winter comes,
companion north wind blowing,
sparing no one,
find hopes and dreams creating
a bold new tapestry
of spring fields bringing new life
and hope to ailing humanity

Copyright R. N. Taber 2013; 2016

Sunday, 3 January 2016

A Growing Sense of Where Reason Fears to Tread

As I grow older (70 now) I can’t help wondering if I may well have made fewer mistakes in life had I put more trust in heartfelt sensibilities and less in the (arguably) devious designs of reason.

Whatever, what is done is done and can never be undone although (sometimes) compensated for if only in part…provided we have (or can find) the heart for it.


Days, weeks, years,
stretching across a wasteland
like a disused rail track
where ghosts play
at mind games to confuse us
about time lines

Time lines, in a haze
of remembrance playing fast
and loose with Memory
where conscience
pulls our strings and leads us
into shadowy places

In shadowy places,
wandering as lost and alone
as a child whose parent
has, just for a moment
let fall the clinging  hand
into unbearable space

An unbearable space,
this freedom once longed for
with, oh, such passion,
promising the rush
of adrenalin sure to come
with responsibility

Responsibility, moral
obligations where bucks stop
at a scary self-searching
where none so blind
as dare not see, play deaf
to home truths

Home truths, eroding
comfort zones, pulling rugs
from under feet bent
on standing up
to be seen scoring points
over alternatives

Alternatives, for better
or worse, we’ll never know
unless given a voice,
allowed to speak up
put their case from heart,
mind, and spirit

Heart, mind, and spirit.
stretching across a wasteland
like a disused rail track
where ghosts play
at mind games to confuse us
about unshed tears

Copyright R. N. Taber 2016