Wednesday, 24 February 2016

Human Potential, Artiste Extraordinaire


Sometimes if not often, it is easier to deal with if not (quite) face facts by weaving them in more digestible if not (quite) acceptable fictions. In this respect, at least, most if not all of us are (far) more creative than we (or anyone else) might care to believe…

HUMAN POTENTIAL, ARTISTE EXTRAORDINAIRE

We are many parts
comprising a complex whole,
something of a riddle
to the less discerning person
preferring to home in
on sound, intonation, inflexion
of voice, whether theirs
or not, to having any bigger
picture in sight

Working well together,
we parts of a complex whole
try to compensate
when one fails to properly
connect, hopefully
learning its lesson for failing
to acknowledge
its place in the bigger picture
that’s human nature

Ever up against it,
we parts of a complex whole,
this ‘live’ sculpture
created and recreated, worked
and re-worked
by wannabe Pygmalians
who haven’t a clue
what life is (really) all about,
and rarely get it right

Causing more harm than we mean;
home truths, ever on the turn…


Copyright R. N. Taber

Sunday, 21 February 2016

The World At Night OR The Quick and the Dead


All my life I have been both fascinated and appalled by the way nature and human nature have so much in common in terms of natural beauty and an inclination for violence; we may well put the latter down to the survival of the fittest, but does that make it right and if so, right for whom? Not the rabbit pounced upon by a fox or the fox ripped to pieces by hounds nor the mentally ill taunted to distraction by an ill-informed society or the elderly person similarly deprived of due care because they are considered expendable…

THE WORLD AT NIGHT or THE QUICK AND THE DEAD

I’ve walked living woods at night,
heard nightingales sing, watched
blackbirds to the nest homeward fly,
a shooting star prick an owl’s wing,
and trees sweeping stars from the sky;
I’ve seen rabbits outrun foxes,
badgers outwit trappers (now and then)
moles defy blindness, bats surface,
fireflies dissemble, Man in the Moon
snuggle up to a sleeping swan

I’ve walked living woods at night,
released a hare caught in a trap,
seen poachers retrieve, try to bag more,
harried only by time quickly passing
and an owl’s haunting cry. Once I saw
a fox catch a rabbit, rip it to pieces,
hid while badger baiters did their worst
in what they dare to call ‘sport’ while
fair Cassiopeia in a cloud took her leave;
( Eye can’t see, heart won’t grieve?) 

I let living woods loose in my head,
and they left me for dead

Copyright R. N. Taber 2007; 2016

Note: Revised (2016)  version of a poem that appears under the title ' A Nature Lover’s Dream’ in Accomplices to Illusion by R. N. Taber, Assembly Books, 2007; revised ed. in e-format in preparation.]








Friday, 19 February 2016

A Friend in Need OR Something to be Said for Basic Instinct


It is not only gay people who have a problem with sexuality given that part of its whole happens to be sex.  It is not uncommon for people to be wary, even afraid of sex, especially if they have been raised - intentionally or otherwise - in a sex-unfriendly environment. In some homes, sex is still a ‘not in front of the children’ issue so what are children supposed to make of that? Children are not fools; they  are frequently more intensely aware of what goes on around them than many parents or teachers appreciate.

Sex is fun, but sex in the context of human love can also be a very spiritual experience; there is nothing wrong with having fun, and no spiritual experience deserves to be put down simply because it does not necessarily relate to any religious experience.  As I have often said on my blogs, religion does not have a monopoly on spirituality; of all the parts comprising human nature, a sense of spirituality is one that deserves nurture but is all too often neglected where religious or cultural identity have a lesser or no role to play.

Some people, of course, simply have no real interest in sex and that’s OK. Others may well be confused by various socio-cultural-religious attitudes towards sex and sexual identity.

Could we all not benefit from being better educated about sex? (yes, I know I am repeating myself and probably will again.) There would be far less denial, confusion and bad attitude regarding sex if more schools would only discuss it with classes in a manner appropriate to the ages of the children and young people in them. No easy task, I agree, given how many children and young people will laugh and make jokes about sex. Would they perhaps be less inclined to do so, though, if we adults encouraged them to discuss the subject - in all its aspects sensitively and intelligently instead of suggesting it’s really a matter for the birds and bees?

In many cases, by the time any birds and bees get in on the act, most children have an idea in their heads about what sex involves. That idea needs to be expanded, clarified and discussed.

Since many parents find sex if not love too embarrassing a subject to raise with their own children, a family member can be called upon or someone to whom the child or young person can relate and for whom they have affection and respect. All too often, though, this does not happen just as far too many schools also shirk the task of educating their students about where sex fits into the complex jigsaw that is a life comprising love, pleasure, consideration and respect for others (and ourselves) among a gamut of emotions, not least a sense of spirituality. In my case, as regular readers well know, I take the latter from nature, but taking it from religion should not mean sex - as an expression of love and/or desire and/or the need to be physically close to someone for whatever reason - becomes demeaned in any way. In many cases, of course, it isn’t, while in others it most certainly is.

Colour, creed, sex, sexuality, these are part of a whole; it is the whole that counts so the greater our understanding of and respect for that, the better person we are likely to become; better equipped, too, for surviving the jungle that is human nature.

This  poem is a kenning.

A FRIEND IN NEED or SOMETHING TO BE SAID FOR BASIC INSTINCT

I am no foe,
though some consider me so
wherever they go,
whatever path they take
through life,
trudging sadly, skipping madly
or taking wary steps
among minefields left there
for the likes of us

I am a friend,
born to be with you to the end
of life’s journey,
even beyond halcyon days
and nights committed
to memory, transcending
any regret for times past,
inspiring a lasting spirituality
in the likes of us

See me for what I am,
as natural an ally as conscience
since you were born,
always on your side, forever
a trusty guide
(if you will but trust me)
my brief to rise
above any contentiousness
shown the likes of us

Only, acknowledge my integrity
who am called Sexuality

Copyright R. N. Taber 2011


Wednesday, 17 February 2016

Sunlight, Harnessing Imagination


A few days ago, I uploaded a new video/poem to my You Tube Channel. Some readers have said they cannot access you Tube for one reason or another so I am repeating both poem and video (see below) here today.

Like Graham’s video, the poem, too, invites the reader to focus the inner eye on whatever comes to mind and simply enjoy an experience in imagination inspired by sunlight among leaves. 

Imagination is a great gift, one that we all have if we only choose to use it, and better still, share it. 

As a means of sheer escapism, imagination can whisk us away from a world of terror and tragedy,and work the kind of magic on us that sees dark clouds make way for bright sunlight. Yes, there is an air of whimsy about the poem, but isn't that what imagination is all about?   

Never be deceived by whimsy; in a world of darkness and light, it has the power to bring light to even the darkest of darkness. Forget simile and metaphor. Whatever our reality, light will always be the greater life force even in death, whatever out colour, creed or sexuality, if only because the light of love is the greatest life force of all:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=utcO8cKlA3o

We thought the video - leftover footage from material uploaded to You Tube on another occasion - deserved to be used in its own right. If you are interested in seeing what else we have uploaded, feel free to visit the channel any time:

http://www.youtube.com/rogerNtaber

SUNLIGHT, HARNESSING IMAGINATION 

Where poetry chasing Time away
in leaves of red, green and gold,
the children of Apollo love to play

Let myth and legend have their say,
the very spirit of nature take hold,
where poetry chasing Time away

Where tears for fears would stay,
passing years see us grow old,
the children of Apollo love to play

Upon tides of life turning us grey,
return us bedtime stories told
where poetry chasing Time away

For halcyon hours of making hay,
rebel hearts breaking the mould,
the children of Apollo love to play

Come velvet night, allow the day 
its dream-time out of the cold;
where poetry chasing Time away,
the children of Apollo love to play

Copyright R. N. Taber 2016



Friday, 12 February 2016

The World this Weekend OR Postscript to Progress

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/R._N._Taber

[Update: April 15 2017]: It is Easter, when we should all be thinking of love and peace towards each other instead of the threat of a nuclear confrontation between North Korea and the United States of America. I can't recall anything quite like this since the Cuban missile crisis in 1962. I am am reminded by the song, Where Have All The Flowers Gone, that I first heard sung by Peter, Paul and Mary in 1962 although I confess I prefer the Joan Baez version (1967). When, indeed, will the conveniently anonymous yet all-encompassing 'they' ever learn? I love the song, not least because it made me think, just as it did a few minutes ago when I listened to it on You Tube:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iCAmQkmBrj8 

Some readers find it irritating that I link to historical as well as newer posts/poems while feedback suggests that others take a genuine interest. Possibly, if my blogs/poems survive my eventual passing from this world, posterity, too, may take an interest? I like to think so, but...who knows?]

Now, the poem below was written in 2002 but could have been written at any time in any century; an earlier version also appeared in an anthology - Daily Reflections, Triumph House [Forward Press] 2003 - and Ygdrasil, an on-line poetry journal, April 2005.

Some readers have questioned my use of the word 'Faith' in the last stanza. Well, as I have often said before on my blogs, religion does not have a monopoly on Faith. I chose to put mine in nature even as a child. 

Yes, The kind of spiritual strength that religious faith lends is important to many people and we should respect that. No less important to those like myself is the sense of spirituality we take from nature. More importantly, though, we need to have faith in ourselves...or how else can we expect it of others?

Where progress is a tool which we shape past, present and future, we need to make damn sure we get it right and write a living poem to last not an epitaph for the wind to wear down until no one can read what it says, or wants to…

It may be true that money talks, but it doesn't have the wit that words do.

This poem is a villanelle.

THE WORLD THIS WEEKEND or POSTSCRIPT TO PROGRESS

In pastures green or desert sand,
they haunt and pursue us,
history's lessons unlearned

Fear, much like a dead man’s hand,
appears sound, washed clean,
in pastures green or desert sand

Words,  drawn swords to the land,
ripping out its spleen;
history's lessons unlearned

Love, a well-worn but infinite strand
of hope on the world scene
in pastures green or desert sand

Time, a chance to make a stand
against war and pain,
history's lessons unlearned?

Faith would keep us safe and sound,
washing raw wounds clean;
in pastures green or desert sand,
history's lessons unlearned

Copyright R. N. Taber 2002; 2016

[Note: An earlier version of this poem appears in 1st eds. of First Person Plural by R. N. Taber, Assembly Books, 2002; revised ed. in e-format in preparation.]


Wednesday, 10 February 2016

L-O-V-E, Defining the Ageless Quality of Ageing


Some lovers are lucky enough to grow old together while the rest of us must be content with focusing on happy memories.  

For the inner eye, though, the line of vision is always the same, on love as it was at the start and always will be...

Oh, and who cares if the writer of a love poem is gay or straight? For that matter, why should anyone mind about someone else’s sexuality anyway? As for those who so love to bring God into the debate, if God created humankind, He (or She) also created our differences and is hardly likely to reject anyone for those differences since it is, after all, our differences that make us...no, not different, just human.

L-O-V-E, DEFINING THE AGELESS QUALITY OF AGEING 

If strands of grey in the hair turning white
and less subtle laughter lines in the face,
you smile, and my world is filled with light,
as tired limbs summon dignity and grace

If the voice sounding weaker than before,
its familiar lilt still sweet on the ear,
so the heart can but listen out for more,
happiest for knowing we’re together…

Time ever parts the world’s lovers too soon,
yet nurture of nature will have its way,
and who seeks among craters of the moon
will find flowers we planted there today

In good times and bad, see love’s light endure,
nor shall even death’s tears its vision blur


Copyright R. N. Taber 2012; 2016

[Note: An earlier version of this poem appears under the title ‘Line of Vision’ in Tracking the Torchbearer R. N. Taber, Assembly Books, 2012; revised version in e-format in preparation.]




Tapping Into Social Conscience


Few people set out to deliberately hurt others. It’s just a sad fact of human nature that some  are so blinkered to any if not all home truths that it’s just the way they are; we can take it or leave it.

With several people who have played a significant part in my life, it took 20+ years before I finally decided to call it a day. Since being diagnosed with prostate cancer in February 2011, I have written off more fair weather friendships. 

There was a time I’d have been philosophical to the extent of being stoical and simply accepted the situation, telling myself I was being selfish and others had their own lives to lead and resuming the friendship once this or that crisis to which I had been subjected and they preferred to turn a blind eye had passed. Not any more though. Since I turned 60 (I am 70 now) I decided that enough is enough, and time is too precious to waste on such people. .

So why do I feel so guilty about it...?

It is easy enough to jump to wrong conclusions or fall prey to false impressions passed on and further distorted by gossips, hackers and the like. I guess we need to give people - especially family and friends - the benefit of any doubts...don't we?  It works both ways, though...doesn't it?

[Update 2/2016: I still feel much the same way if not more so. Having spent nearly eighteen months learning to walk again after smashing up my foot in a bad fall during the summer of 2014, I now know for sure who my real friends are. I was housebound for five months during which relatively few so-called friends could be bothered to even pick up a phone for a chat, which would have meant a lot. Oh, I haven't given up on all my fair weather friends, but our association is much the worse for wear and I will see to it that I spend far less time with them than in future.]

This poem is a kenning.

TAPPING INTO SOCIAL CONSCIENCE 

I’ve run the gauntlet
of love, life, fun, and tears,
trying to make the best
of things rather than complain
about the worst years,
struggling to rise above
the pain human beings
inflict upon each other time
and time again

I turn to nature
for comfort and brief respite
from a daily torture
humanity asks me to endure
with all the dignity
and stoicism of someone
always expected to put
other people’s needs before
his or her own

I lie awake at night
wondering who or what
is wrong or right
amongst all that’s been said
and done in the course
of whatever merry chase
mischievous Apollo
and outcast Cassiopeia care
to lead us on

Judged indifferent, even unkind...
by hackers 'profiling' humankind 


Copyright R. N. Taber 2011



Sunday, 7 February 2016

The World Today, a Clear Case of Make or Break

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/R._N._Taber

[Update (April 15 2017): Can it really be that North Korea and the United States have brought the world closer to a nuclear war than ever before? Can even the world's leading politicians be so stupid as to do nothing, let alone even consider supporting the US should a diplomacy-inept president Trump launch some form of preemptive strike on North Korea? My opinion of world politicians has been at an all-time low for some years now, and I suspect I am not alone. I mean to say, how long before these power players start to get real about what is happening to ordinary people (not least down to their actions) in their own countries? The tragedy is, our fate lies in their hands. We can but hope that, on this occasion at least, political rivalries and divisions will be put aside in favour of some goo, old-fashioned commonsense.]

[Update (June 26 2016): Britain has just voted to divorce the European Union due to irreconcilable differences. However, the world remains a common humanity. We all need to do whatever we can to preserve and cherish its more positive values; peace and love to all - regardless of colour, creed, sex or sexuality - may well be under threat from all sides, but will resist all attempts to undermine and defeat them.  Common humanity is above any socio-cultural-religious issues; he or she who would deny that needs to get a better life.]

Meanwhile...

It would probably seem to an alien observing earth from another planet that humankind’s greater tragedy is that, essentially, nothing much changes. Take the war in Syria, for example, a humanitarian crisis of immense proportions, yet…nothing new there.

Oh, to the casual human observer, it may well seem that everything changes if only for appearances sake and that old chestnut, 'progress'. 

Ah, but to the inner eye?  Yes, well, I suspect any recorded changes as far as human nature is concerned are likely to be along the lines of some earnest historian's research or devout cleric’s optimism and any subsequent interpretations (or misinterpretations, as the case may (well) be…

Thank goodness for the arts, where all change is no change, and full marks for an honest if personal perception of those parts of a whole we call humanity that may or may not be fit for purpose.  

I sometimes wonder if we are not born into a union of Heaven and Hell (as interpreted by whomsoever) for its better and its worse, its richer and its poorer, its sickness and its health, so help us all. 

We are, though, free to do our best by ourselves and each other, and even allowing for failures and mistakes along the way, do our planet proud.  Any prospect of Armageddon is down to us, living in the Here and Now, just as any hope of survival will be down to future generations. We have a huge responsibility to the latter to make the world a better, kinder, peaceful place. What chance, though, I wonder, given the sheer fickleness of human nature...?

Qhatever, make or break, the kind of world we live i is down to each and every onw of us.

THE WORLD TODAY, A CLEAR CASE OF MAKE OR BREAK

The world today is full of pain and fear,
guns on the street, in the playground, the park;
drugs, like body bags lying here and there,
knives sticking in the back at home, at work

Where the War on Terror taking its toll,
people half afraid of their own shadows;
fanatics failing to make us look small
if still no letting up on suicide bombers

News at breakfast turning the stomach;
need pills to keep going, more to aid sleep;
no one seems to care about very much
except making money, getting into debt

The world today is full of pain and fear,
but love, too, and it's glad I am I’m here


Copyright R. N. Taber 2005; 2016


[Note: This poem has been slightly revised from the original as it appears in A Feeling For The Quickness Of Time by R. N. Taber, Assembly Books, 2005; revised ed. In e-format in preparation.]



Wednesday, 3 February 2016

The Gift Horse OR Lines on the Anatomy of Power


A few days ago, I uploaded a new video shot by my friend Graham Collett to my You Tube channel, reading a poem over it that I wrote for the occasion. Some readers have contacted me in the past to say they cannot access You Tube for one reason or another so I am posting poem and video here today. (See below.)

Alternatively, you may be able to access it directly on You Tube:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Q5zt3lkwT9k

OR Go to my You Tube channel and search by title:

http://www.youtube.com/rogerNtaber

The 4th Plinth is the north-west plinth in Trafalgar Square in central London, UK; set aside for a rolling program of contemporary art works. The current work depicts a skeletal horse in bronze. The artist, German-American Hans Haacke, says it is a tribute to economist Adam Smith and English painter George Stubbs. (The horse is based on an engraving by Stubbs taken from ‘The Anatomy of the Horse’ published in 1766.) Tied to the horse’s front leg is an electronic ribbon displaying live feed from the London Stock Exchange thereby completing the link between power, money and history.
There are many metaphors for wealth and power of which The Trojan (Gift) Horse of myth and legend is but one…

THE GIFT HORSE or LINES ON THE ANATOMY OF POWER

Measure of means, icon for history
gifted with beauty and power;
a horse, once tamed, a worthy ally

An ages-old metaphor for industry,
no less so for sport, and leisure;
measure of means, icon for history

Well trained, no more trustworthy
a vehicle of human endeavour;
a horse, once tamed, a worthy ally

Sometime victim of the inhumanity
human beings show one another;
measure of means, icon for history

Life force against worldly adversity,
(live metaphor for Earth Mother)
a horse; once tamed, a worthy ally

Imaging death as a skeletal memory,
elegy to nature and human nature;
a horse, once tamed, a worthy ally,
measure of means, icon for history

Copyright R. N. Taber 2016




Monday, 1 February 2016

Positive Thinking, Getting the Better of Dark Forces

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/R._N._Taber

[Update (Nov 7, 2016): Readers sometimes get in touch to ask just how positive t thinking person I am. Suffice to say perhaps that, having been diagnosed with prostate cancer in 2011 and treated with hormone therapy ever since, I still take a leaf out of Monty Python's book by always looking on the bright side of life. Indeed, I have opened a Just Giving page to help raise funds for Prostate Cancer UK with a poetry reading in London next year, and am optimistic that I will continue to elude the Grim Reaper long enough to deliver: https://www.justgiving.com/fundraising/Roger-Taber ]

Now, many of us have experienced hard times since the credit crunch began to bite and may well continue to do so for some time yet.

Recalling happier times can make us feel worse…until we pause to remember that what goes around comes around.

Happy memories are reminders of what we can look forward to again. Things won’t be the same, of course. Nothing stays the same for long, but develops and matures just as we do…for all life’s ups and downs along the way.

Now, the heart may well be familiar with an autumn that turned into winter far too soon for its liking, burying memories of its finest summers under layers of sadness and longing. Ah, yes, but we can always look forward to another spring, nature bursting with the joys of life and music, inspiring us to go with its flow, recover poor, damaged hope along the way, and set about the task of making it whole again. Besides, memory knows better than to ever (quite) let go of better days even during the worst of times.

I guess we just have to allow for hard times by ensuring we pave ole Memory Lane with more than enough good times to compensate…

[Did I say it was easy?]

This poem is a villanelle.

POSITIVE THINKING, GETTING THE BETTER OF DARK FORCES

Where angry winds blow
scary smoke rings,
a brave spirit, too, may go

Harvest home, we know
but sadness brings
where angry winds blow

Where naked fear on show
(peasantry among kings?)
a brave spirit, too, may go

Nature, daring us to follow
(dove or hawk’s wings?)
where angry winds blow

Where too few flowers grow
as dark winter clings,
a brave spirit, too, may go

Bonding with a late swallow,
of spring a robin sings…
Where angry winds blow,
a brave spirit too, may go


Copyright R. N. Taber 2009; 2016