Tuesday, 29 March 2016

The Survivor


Good or bad, we make the world we live in and it is up to all of us to try and make it a better one.

Humanity's rage to live for love and the greater good will always defeat its enemies in the end.

Looking on the bright side of life may not always be easy, but human beings have a natural capacity for love, in all its shapes and forms, and the more we can focus on that the better. 

(Did I say it would be easy...?) 

This poem is a villanelle.


Though bigotry and hate thrive 
among the world’s power brokers,
it’s love alone that will survive

Always, people willing to drive
forces for good to the aid of others
though bigotry and hate thrive

While terrorist-led plots connive
to mock this world’s peace makers,
it's love alone that will survive

Open heart and mind ever contrive
to expose the worst attention seekers
though bigotry and hate thrive

If life-giving forces as bees to hive,
a warning sting for bare-faced takers,
it’s love alone that will survive

Sure to keep Freedom's name alive,
frustrate its would-be code breakers;
though bigotry and hate thrive,
it’s love alone that will survive 

Copyright R. N. Taber 2016

Thursday, 10 March 2016

Clockwork Clowns

Loneliness is not only a sad condition but can also make a person bitter. We poets write about it, but it’s every lonely person’s private Hell and there’s nothing poetic about it all. The poetry comes with finding that someone special, often when and where you least expect it.

How long two lonely people having found each other will stay together may be anyone’s guess, but it’s a sure bet they will enjoy a taste of their own private heaven. Needless to say, the heart, too, has its seasons of which the most joyful (at any age) has to be spring.

Ah, yes, I remember it well...


It was a winter of the heart,
craving spring, hungry for summer,
wondering where they’ve gone,
those sounds of laughter haunting
the ear? Why a pillow by mine
and no one there? I’m walking down
a street and all I see is feet,
protesting about being on their own
too long, falling in with others,
insisting it is where they belong

Seasons passed, cycle of pain
turning me, clockwork clown, going
through the same old motions
of getting by (fixed smile, dry eye);
till one night during Happy Hour,
there you were. For a while we took
comfort in drowning together,
letting our glasses relate the way
life's meant to be, you and me
against the world till... (maybe?)

True to say, in each other’s arms
we agreed to stay a while, no weeds
deceiving passers-by but flowers
as bright as daffs after April showers,
tail of a comet on the Milky Way,
favourite songs played over and over
by a late DJ till everyone‘s running
for cover but us, left savouring dreams
to share, richer for richer, no poorer
for chancing our luck then and there

Copyright R. N. Taber 2004; 2016

[Note: An earlier version of this poem appears in 1st eds. of The Third Eye by R. N. Taber, Assembly Books, 2004; revised ed. in e-format in preparation.]

Wednesday, 9 March 2016

The Executor OR Configuring a Future for Planet Earth

I, for one, am sick and tired of being told I’m in the wrong by people because I happen to disagree with them; called a sinner because I don’t comply with dogma according to a religion to which I don’t even subscribe; generally having various social, cultural, religious and political views rammed down my throat…

What is wrong with agreeing to differ? Why can’t people live and let live, respecting each other’s differences instead of berating, even punishing them for their refusal to be bullied or emotionally blackmailed into changing a particular point of view? I would say moral issues aside…but certain socio-cultural-religious and political parties seem to have little respect even for those except when it suits them.

All I can say is that, I, in turn, have no respect for bullies.

This poem is a kenning.


I ensure the greater inheritance
to which humankind is born, regardless
of station in life or place in the world’s
way of things that ticks away according
to how strong we are, how much
we earn or even how the heart may yearn
for a kinder way of living among its kin,
boxed up as we are, ticked off then sat on
to try and keep us down

I ensure the greater inheritance
to which humankind is born, finer spoils
of every persuasion under the sun
if it chooses to look, see, hear and, listen,
play the chameleon (as well it may)
since few people see with the inner eye,
hear with the inner ear, preoccupied
as they are with ritual and religion diverting
attention from the bigger picture

I ensure the greater inheritance
to which humankind is born whose tragedy
is a potential for greatness
beyond the riches of its sheikhs and kings,
tunnel vision of clerics insinuating
its private space, claiming Squatters Rights
should anyone try to move them on,
any appearance of mutual negotiation
but paying lip service to reason
Call me human nature, configuring co-existence
with like forms, executor of a world’s inheritance

[Note: Revised (2016) from an earlier version in Tracking the Torchbearer by R. N. Taber, Assembly Books, 2012; revised ed. in e-format in preparation.] 

Monday, 7 March 2016

The Zen of Spring Cleaning OR Picking Up, Dusting Down, Starting Over

Now and then (probably not often enough) we pause to take stock of our lives. Sometimes we may find that life wanting. 

So, what then?  How many of us actually do something about it rather than shrug it off with that much abused saying, ‘That’s life…’? 

Whatever, it says a lot for the human condition, its capacity for picking itself up, dusting itself down and starting over…


Love, more than a word
to tide us over,
but a window on a world
running for cover

Left, a trail of broken ties
comprising loose ends
pointing to familiar places
and old friends

Time, but hands on a clock
we mistake for real,
blaming the vagaries of luck
on a turn of its wheel

Word and world in danger,
(bad dreams on cue);
a raging at impotent anger
ever clouding our view

Nature, an ever ready Here 
and Now, expecting us
to go for it, serve it better
than lost opportunities

Humanity, in the business
of excusing, learning
history's worst mistakes,
for spring cleaning

Life, ever picking itself up,
dusting itself down,
recovering nature's cup
of fresh spring rain

Copyright R. N. Taber 2005; 2016

[Note: An earlier version of this poem appears as The Zen of Window Cleaning in 1st eds. of A Feeling for the Quickness of Time, Assembly Books, 2005; revised ed. in e-format in preparation.]

Thursday, 3 March 2016

Nature Study OR X-Files on Planet Earth

Domestic abuse can happen anywhere in the world at any time. More often than not family members and/or friends and/or neighbours and/or teachers and/or work colleagues may have suspicions. It is not a subject on which anyone should remain silent for fear of being wrong. Better to be proven wrong than let a wrong continue and say nothing, surely…? 

Domestic abuse is not uncommon in any society; men, women, children, it can happen to anyone. Yet, the same people that will protest about environmental and Human Rights abuses will often remain silent about domestic abuse.  Where is the logic in that and what excuses can there be? Yes, well, plenty of excuses; even love - to its everlasting shame - is one of the masks perpetrators of domestic abuse often wear.


Brightness falling from the sky
like summer rain, makes flowers grow,
the world shine like rainbow trout
on a school kid's line at a local stream
who should be in the football team
but his dad beat him black and blue
where ma's laid out on the kitchen floor
and he daren't take a shower

Brightness falling from the sky
like acid rain, making the trees cry
as leaves die like fishes in the sea,
collector specimens neatly laid out
under glass for generations to see
how dead things appear to suggest
a history of human deprivation fro want
of a better education

Shadows, like corpses on the grass;
skylark, a near forgotten sound at a spot
where revelations in the clay suggest
a once-busy stream in a world earmarked
for the winning team, the rest of us
neatly laid out under corporate glass,
(preserved for a new century, a new class)
victims of abuse

Copyright R. N. Taber 2000; 2016

[Note: This poem has been slightly revised from an earlier version that appears in 1st eds. of Love and Human Remains by R. N. Taber, Assembly Books, 2001; revised ed. in e-format in preparation.]

Wednesday, 2 March 2016

A Child Is Born

There can be no greater gift parents can give their children than encourage them to develop a strong sense of personal identity, including sexual identity, and love them all the more for it. (There is no reason for personal/sexual identity to be at odds with its socio-cultural-religious counterparts if only the latter were inclined to less intransigent.)

No parent should expect to live the life they may have missed out on through their children. While this may be understandable in the sense that some parents want more for their children than they had when they were young, I have seen too many parents overstep the mark in their misplaced enthusiasm to recapture lost opportunities. Children and young people need guidance, of course, but there is a big difference between guidance and manipulation. We all need to  develop a sense of discernment that encourages us to make our own choices. Yes, mistakes will be made, that's par for the course from birth to grave.

My father was often heard to comment  about many things that ‘It’s all a game of bluff.’As I have grown old, I often finding myself saying much the same. As for who is bluffing whom, now that's the million dollar question to which many if not most of us can expect to spend a lifetime trying to decide.

Life is, indeed, the making of us, from the first steps we take to our last; full of opportunities taken, rejected or missed altogether, no one to praise or blame for how we turn out but the inner self that sees all, no place to hide.


A child is born
who needs must learn about life,
and signs pointing
to survival in a game that goes
by many names,
among them chance and bluff
where skill sidelined

A child is born
who needs must learn about trust,
and how to discern
where hypocrisy dares infiltrates
a humankind as likely to sail
under false colours as it is to play
honest broker

A child is born
who needs must learn that giving
is a finer art
than receiving, compassion
no sign of weakness
but demonstrating true strength
of character

A child is born
who needs must learn how to lean
on others besides
lending a helping hand
from time to time,
no shame in asking but sure proof
of maturity

A child is born
who needs must learn how lying
costs more than honesty,
more often than not leaving
a human heart
near bankrupt, if forced to keep up

A child is born
who needs must learn how neither
our stars nor betters
are ultimately responsible for us,
only ourselves,
as we, in turn, needs must look out
for each other

A child is born
who needs must discover that love
comes in all shapes
and forms, and to recognise them
for mind-body-spirit
intent upon a heart to heart with us,
and listen

A child is born
who needs must learn one lesson
above all else,
that we are as we are, with mind
and heart of our own,
no winner or loser in someone else's
life games

Copyright R. N. Taber 2010; 2018

Tuesday, 1 March 2016

The Yellow Balloon OR Whatever Happened to Children's Play?


Children across the world are expected to take its worst tantrums in their stride, but for how long…?

For the many caught up in its conflicts, the world must often seem a bleak place, any worthwhile future, for them at least, an all but impossible dream.

Of course, it is not all doom and gloom, but children should not have to snatch at happiness as and when they can; it should be the greater part of growing up. Yes, even playtime has its ups and downs, good times and bad, but that’s life, a learning curve for all of us at any age. 

True, the world today is a dangerous place, but children need to be reasonably prepared for, not scared of it. Besides, is not having to deal with parental and peer pressures enough without having to contend with being made to feel they are a disappointment for not fully participating in someone else’s second hand life or, far worse, struggling to survive a war zone? 

Whatever, indeed, happened to playtime?


playing with a yellow balloon,
mothers calling   
back home, as a mocking wind 
snatches it from tiny fingers,
dispatching it to drift mottled skies
weepy with satire?

chasing after a yellow balloon,
father calling
back home, but they play deaf
among innocent cries
inciting adventures, welcome respite
from secrets and lies

trying to catch a yellow balloon
beyond either reach or ken,
no sense of direction, quickly
consumed by angry skies,
menaced by cloud figures waving
smoking guns

observed in tears over a balloon
burst by a phoenix
rising from its everyday ashes
to heavens where sunlight
last seen glancing off shrapnel
slowly killing them

Children, in near and faraway places
picking up the pieces…

Copyright R. N. Taber 2009