Monday, 25 April 2016

Epiphany on the Doorstep or L-O-V-E, Servicing and repairs

Sometimes, when human relationships fall apart at the seams – for whatever reason – I think we give up on them too quickly. If any relationship is worth having, it is always worth at least trying to save. 

Hopefully, the other person will have the same idea.

As for waiting for the other person to make the first move, that’s rarely a good idea if only because the chances are he or she will be thinking along much the same lines.  

We don’t lose face (and far more) by coming forward, only by holding back.

Like many of my poems, this one was inspired by a couple I met by chance in a cafe one day. We got chatting while waiting for the rain to stop. It transpired they were on a second honeymoon after almost divorcing...


It was at a House of Broken Dreams,
where many like us gone before
to salvage what wreckage they can,
among leftovers lying on the floor

You would hover on the front doorstep,
anticipating the Collector's killing
of once dear (if piecemeal) aspirations, 
swept away, ostensibly for recycling

Wearing a knowing smile, the Collector
(as always) when he makes a call,
would rummage, and then take his pick
of cast-offs, once tagged 'sentimental'

I joined you there, confessed secret fears
(for the future, loneliness beckoning);
you confided yours, we shared hot tears
for a lifetime of deaf-blind reckoning

All but strangers if still the best of friends
(together, yet apart, all our lives);
suddenly, at our House of Broken Dreams,
we glimpsed hope in each other’s eyes

Shared epiphany,  as the Collector came by
(once, invited to take what he will)
both agreeing to look home truths in the eye,
cease pretending a penchant for free fall

Needless to say, sending the Collector away,
we lived to let love find a way, win the day...

Copyright R. N. Taber 2008

Sunday, 24 April 2016

Among Friends, Music to the Ears

Today’s poem - another villanelle - was first written in 2002 and published in an anthology the following year before I included it in my collection.

Why do I make revisions at all?  During the process of preparing my collection for publication to Google Play in e-format, I find myself dissatisfied with some poems for reasons not always obvious, even to me; most, it has to do with how a poems ‘flows’ – or doesn’t, as the case may be.

Given that I’ve never really got along with most members of either my immediate or extended family, good friends have always been especially important to me. (Yes, even those of the ‘fair weather’ variety.) As I grow old (71 now and live alone) I am, oh, so thankful to and for good friends. and value our friendship even more.  


Come the darkest, longest night
or saddest sunny day,
find friends, making it alright

At one with moon and starlight,
for losing their way
come the darkest, longest night

Wherever a weepy half-light
gone charcoal grey,
find friends, making it alright

Find home fires burning bright
(shaping our clay)
come the darkest, longest night

Where fear looms, tigers about,
(myth, hearsay…)
find friends, making it alright

Oh, but what sweeter respite
than such rights of way…?
Come the darkest, longest night,
find friends, making it alright

Copyright R. N. Taber 2003; 2006

[Note: An earlier version of this poem first appeared in an anthology, Where the Words take You, Anchor Books [Forward Press] 2003 and subsequently in The Third Eye by R. N. Taber, Assembly Books, 2004.]

Saturday, 23 April 2016

Blues, Listening Therapy for a Troubled Mind

This may not be one of my better poems (!) but one I enjoyed writing; a reader got in touch to say she was 'an emotional wreck'  (I know the feeling!) and asked for a poem to cheer her up. 

I played around with this poem one evening and sent it. Later, the reader said it had encouraged her to stop feeling sorry for herself and ‘go and find Somewhere Town’.

Years ago when I was struggling to recover from a severe nervous breakdown, an artist friend suggested I listen to some Blues. When I expressed scepticism, he simply said, Believe me. nothing is more uplifting than to know despair is universal and you're not alone.' Another friend (a musician) agreed, insisting that 'The sheer emotional intensity of Blues takes you where you where the mind needs be to start over, way above and beyond where the heart is too scared of losing its safety net to even want to try.' 

That's all very well, I thought, but meaningless...until I spent an hour or so one day listening to some great Blues...

It worked, and I started to get my life back.


I had the Blues,
was close to breaking down.
just kept rolling on
towards Nowhere Town,
heading north of the sun,
veering west at the moon;
be sure there’s a Nowhere Town
for everyone

I sang the Blues,
whole world egging me on,
nowhere else to run
but Nowhere Town;
folks laughed and cried,
didn’t take me for a clown;
be sure everyone  sings the Blues
in Nowhere Town

Through the Blues,
I saw a knowing wink declare,
it’s a dead loss here,
so try going somewhere
south of the sun,
a little east at the moon,
where there’s a Somewhere Town
for everyone

Blues, they don't ever let me down;
destination, Somewhere Town…

Copyright R. N. Taber 2008

Friday, 22 April 2016

Humanity, Greater than the Sum of its Stereotypes

Like many gay people, I have been physically as well as verbally abused for being gay. Homophobia, racist, religious intolerance...once, these made me angry, bitter and resentful. Now, at 70 years-old, they just makes me sad, very sad.

We are a common humanity. As I have said many times and will say again, we need to respect each other for our differences not fight over them; try to support each other as and when we can even as we are (sometimes) struggling to get to grips with life  ourselves.

Is that really too much to ask?

When push comes to shove, what does anyone's colour, creed, sex or sexuality have to do with their humanity anyway?

Now, inhumanity, that's another story...

Yes, we all know it makes common sense…so what holier-than-thou fool threw that out of what window on the world centuries ago, I wonder?


There is a place in this life
for everyone,
space enough in this world
for everyone,
love’s flowers enough to share
with everyone,
happy hours enough to care
for everyone

There is a place in this life
for everyone,
pain enough in this world
for everyone,
inhumanity enough laid bare
to everyone,
healing ways enough to care
for everyone

There is a place in this life
for everyone,
(gay or straight) in a world
for everyone,
individuality enough to share
with everyone,
humanity enough (surely?)
in everyone

Though hard choices imposed
on everyone,
divided voices superimposed
on everyone,
let humanity make time enough
for everyone,
happy hours enough to care
for everyone

So come on, world, out with it;
what’s your problem with that?

Copyright R. N. Taber 2008

Wednesday, 20 April 2016

Majesty, Evergreen or Open Window on an Island History

Today Queen Elizabeth 11 is ninety years-old, the longest serving monarch in British history. Here’s wishing Her Majesty a very Happy Birthday.

(Photo taken from the Internet)

There will be tributes paid across the world far greater than mine, but I could not let the occasion pass without marking it on the blog.

(Photo taken from the Internet)

Her Majesty at 90 and three kings-in-waiting,
(Photo taken from the Internet)
This poem is a villanelle.


Sixty-four years on the throne,
dedicated to serving her country
a much loved, respected queen

A sunny smile for any occasion
marking milestones of pageantry,
sixty-four years on the throne

Classless greetings for everyone
unfazed by royalty, icon of dignity,
a much loved, respected queen

Her innermost thoughts unknown
to those she serves daily, faithfully,
sixty-four years on the throne

Horse riding, a life-time passion,
imaging a very human personality,
a much-loved, respected queen

No abuse of wealth of position
through years of political history;
sixty-four years on the throne,
a much loved, respected queen

Copyright R. N. Taber 2016

Extracts from a Poet's Diary OR Reading Between the Lines

We talk about 'blind' instinct, but there is a native instinct that know us better than we know ourselves, and it is anything but blind; it has a clearer sense of what to do in situations where any brooding, thinking self hasn't a clue.

In February 1969, I sailed for Australia (as a would-be migrant) on the SS Southern Cross from Liverpool. While it was a huge mistake in many ways, it was also one of my better decisions.

In short, I was running away from the UK - and a family that had no idea of how much of a psychological mess I was or of share their of blame for it - rather than going to Australia. Gay relationships ‘between consenting adults’ had been decriminalised in 1967  but it would be many years before society as a whole began to accept us, if grudgingly. In 1969, I had left school five years earlier but saw myself as having no career prospects and was still a long way from becoming truly reconciled with my sexual identity.

While I will always have a great affection for Australia and the people I met there, I arrived with neither enough money nor qualifications to fulfil my dream, even in the longer term. During the six-weeks crossing, however, I’d had plenty of time to think and reflect on my motives. I found myself homing in on home truths that appalled me. Was I really such a coward?

So, yes, on the face of it, Australia was a disaster but I returned to the UK not (quite) with tail between legs but as different person, more self-confident than I had ever felt before and determined to shape my life in a positive way. In spite of a severe nervous breakdown in my 30’s, I like to think that, in general, I have succeeded.  (I have battled with depression all my life but any gay angst has only ever been part of the emotional equation albeit a vital one.)

It is up to all of us - gay or straight - to make the best of things, not the worst, and be positive about ourselves, each other and life in general even when the immediate future may be looking on the bleak side. That’s when the human condition comes into its own, now a pussycat, now a roaring lion. Mind you, everyone has lapses of self-confidence in self and in humanity from time to time, including me.

If the journey to Australia nearly 50 years ago was a nightmare, my stay there was an epiphany. My return to the UK marked the kind of new beginning the poet in me had been lusting for without any real sense of either the what or the how, only the why.


Mouth gone dry, sweat
soaking the brow;
I am left wondering
why it should attack now,
this animal lust
for freedom, open spaces
far, far, away from city faces
and grubby streets

Mouth gone dry, sweat
soaking the brow;
I am left wondering why
it should strike now,
this hunger for adventure,
need to prove something
although what or to whom
remains to be seen

Mouth gone dry, sweat
soaking the brow;
I am left feeling excited
if scared of a caving in
rather than a pressing ahead
with some heady fiction 
well aware its return thread
so easily broken

Looking to play the hero
or merely wishing
to please myself for once
instead of always
putting head before heart,
doing the ‘right thing’
(but right for whom after
all's said and done?)

Rage, burning, a life-long
learning in flames;
passion, a feisty yearning
to escape this caged-up 
non-life, a Here-and-Now
parody of a lion’s den
where the mouth gone dry,
sweat soaking the brow

Who is it, this other 'Me'
writing up emotions
half killing me to admit
in these early hours
where conscience seeks
respite in its humanity
as if its poetry were indeed
a match for its sword?

Copyright R. N. Taber 2004; 2017

[Note: The last stanza has since been added to the original version of this poem that first appeared under the title, ‘A Poet’s Diary’ in  The Third Eye by R. N. Taber Assembly Books, 2004; revised ed. in e-format in preparation.]

Monday, 18 April 2016

Lines on Life Forces, People Skills, and Hard Choices OR Contemporary Society, Carousel

We all experience degrees of  loss, despair and disappointment as we progress through life; many have more than their fair share of all three.  Yet, life goes on and we have to move on with it or let our emotions leave us dragging behind. I have known people who have succumbed to the latter and become very resentful and bitter individuals. While there is no easy route to ‘getting on with life despite everything…’ we all need to find one that is at lease manageable. It will often require courage,  determination, and a LOT of positive thinking.

Most of all, we need to rediscover hope, and re-invent ourselves along the way.


Once, ties that bind
lay broken, the last star snuffed out,
harsh words spoken in anger
stubbornly refusing to be put to rout
by an army of emotions
demanding I stay, put things right
where (without meaning to)
I’d said only what was right for me,
all but forgetting you

Once, ties that bind
lay as corpses under the same sheets
where we came together,
planning our future, listening out
for a dawn chorus
we never heard for words
spilled on your pillow
from lips you had kissed so tenderly
making you turn from me

Once, ties that bind
ran barefoot into a low, misty dawn
without care or thought
for their salvation, crushing them
among dead grasshoppers
in a frenzy of shamed retreat after
hearing you answer, ‘No way!’
for letting the world in on the secret
that we two are gay

Ah, but ties that bind
once broken can yet be repaired
with the patience and skill
brought to lovers the world over
since time began
by those called in with a will to craft
their reconstruction
with tools of its ancient art passed
generation to generation

For every tie left broken by despair,
a choice: move on or attempt repair

Copyright R. N. Taber 2010

Sunday, 17 April 2016

Home Birds OR Flights of Fancy, No Passport Required.

One person may love to travel the world, another may prefer to stay at home. The only reason either may envy the other is if they are unhappy with their status quo, in which case it is up to them to do something about it.

Happiness means different things to different people; it can be elusive, yes, in which case all the more reason to look at why we are unhappy…and DO something about it.

Me? Yes, I like to travel, but at heart I am a home bird and cannot honestly say I would change that. I am happy enough in my own way. There are aspects of my life I would like to change, of course, like not having a partner to share it, and growing old with all its associated slings and arrows, but there is not a lot I can do about either so I enjoy what is good about my life and ignore the rest. (Well, most of the time.)

I once heard one friend tell another that he needed to grow up, get away from home and see the world. "You can't go through life travelling third class in books, TV and films." I will never forget the reply: "Why not? Everyone I love is here, and I love this place. Besides, I only ever travel first class, and it doesn't cost the earth. Oh, and I don't need a bloody passport either." The friend shrugged, lost for words. His companion disappeared into the local public library.


We’d stroll miles of golden sands,
my love and I, happily holding hands,
exchanging dreams of foreign lands
we wished ourselves to be, suspecting
from the start we’d never go there
if only for knowing, at heart, we were
but home birds

We’d share our dreams with waves
and foam (promising to find them a home)
while seagulls would swoop
to greet us and lift our hopes on wing,
putting passing clouds
in the know so they would give us rides,
we home birds

Now, showing its age, that lustre,
of golden sands we’d stroll holding hands
mile after mile, and its seagulls
rarely yell friendly greetings any more,
where even waves and foam
appear to have less affinity with shore
or home birds

Even so, happy memories to share
of far places we got to know, oh, so well
for clouds crossing time and space,
glad to carry two dreamers on their backs
and put us down wherever...
a part of us forever, binding us together,
we home birds 

To love, its mystery, and no need to pity
its home birds

Copyright R. N. Taber 2012

Thursday, 14 April 2016

Contemporaneity, Shades of Misperception

This Age of Technology is also an Information Age with information available to us at the press of a button. How much of this, though, is reliable or even correct? Although it is a good 50+ years since I left school, I well recall being taught how to discriminate fact from speculation, points of view from an extended imagination which only just falls short of pure fiction.

Often, I hear people tell me they like to speak their minds, and I am all for it. More often than not, though, they are repeating parrot fashion something they have heard or read about with which they happen to relate; relating, however, and agreeing are not the same thing. We need to investigate further in order to reach an informed conclusion.

While many of us have strong opinions on various subjects, we need to respect that others may agree to differ. Better still, we need to be able to support out opinions with information gained from reliable sources. At the same time, we should not dig our heels in to such an extent that we cannot be drawn into alternative arguments which may lead us to reach an altogether different conclusion.

If a closed mind is a dull mind, an open mind is a lively one although sitting on the proverbial fence is not an option and we need to feel confident about deciding where we stand, and be prepared to be counted; that way, the human animal remains free and uncaged by misleading information or propaganda.


I will crush you in my grip,
oh, but slowly, relishing the torment
of each victim fallen
into a trap of his or her own making
but deserving better (perhaps?)
than finding me there, rendering
any bid for freedom
no more or less than a pathetic
waste of time

If I show mercy now and then,
be sure it is but part of a darker design
intended to give
more false an impression even
than I gave you,
who thought you knew your self
far better than I
and (like many a loser) misjudged
the enemy

Like others who enjoy another’s pain
I shall relish reminding you time and again
of what it is you have do me
that has given you to me like a sacrifice
to Gods of Desire
having their wicked ways with you,
only to toss your remains
where I wait to chew away at live flesh
on the bones

Call me Misperception; room for pity 
in societies feeding on the likes of me

Copyright R. N. Taber 2010

Friday, 8 April 2016

Victory, Hard Won OR Peace, Soft Target

Today’s poem was first published in Poetry Monthly International, August 2009 [A UK poetry journal, discontinued in 2008] and subsequently in my collection the following year. 

Now, it is not only courage and a sense of duty on which the professionalism of men and women around the world fighting for peace and justice turns but also - perhaps especially - discipline. While no poem of mine can hope to do them justice, I felt it appropriate in this instance to employ the discipline of a villanelle

On the face of it, every war and conflict has its winners and losers. Yet, to win or lose is rarely as simple as victory or defeat. Whatever, is it not to the world's everyday heroes fighting for a better, kinder, safer, world - while being moved about on this or that Battle Front like pieces on a chessboard by those more concerned with playing power games - to whom humanity owes the greater debt?

Most of us enjoy peace and quiet at times when we can be reflective about people and places dear to us, past and present, escaping (if only temporarily) from the hustle and bustle of everyday life. We should reflect, too, on those men and women to whom we owe such precious moments, so many of whom suffered injury and death so that (hopefully) their people might (eventually) live in peace and quiet; something of which (far) too many in this world of ours can (still) only dream.


On old Memory Lane, all is quiet
for those who fought a war to end war
so we may make our peace with it

Among cries of the fallen, a shout,
(At ‘em lads, at ‘em, that’s the score!)
On old Memory Lane all is quiet

They bore old age, faces firmly set
to do them proud who had gone before
so we may make our peace with it

We will always be in their debt,
dead and wounded on a foreign shore;
on old Memory Lane all is quiet

We must never even try to forget
those whose freedom’s colours wore,
so we may make our peace with it

War, war and still more of it yet;
on the landscape of love, a weeping sore;
on old Memory Lane, all is quiet
so we may make our peace with it

Copyright R. N. Taber 2009; 2016

[From: On the Battlefields of Love by R. N. Taber, Assembly Books, 2010; revised ed. in e-format in preparation.]

Thursday, 7 April 2016

For Pity's Sake OR Ringing the Changes

We all grieve for loved ones when they die. While every birthday, anniversary, and other special occasions will be hard to get through, the first is possibly the worst. True, as time passes, it becomes easier to live with loss. But, no, it’s never easy.

Loss, like love, is always with us. Remembering loved ones can be very painful. We miss them so.  At the same time, we know they would not want us to be in pain. On the contrary, they would have us be glad for happy times we spent together, celebrate love’s flowering perennial, a petal for every dream we ever had, a leaf for every precious moment of lives much resembling the lights and darks of spreading foliage.

As for grief, we need to let it ring the changes so that moving on may bring us peace of body, mind, and spirit for its leaving no one behind.


Among bells, a single cry in the night,
summoning all my senses to reply
as if to some lonely body taking fright
at having to contemplate it may die

The cry, it painted me a dream one night,
of a graveyard lit by a weepy moon
where someone knelt in a pool of light
as anonymous as the faceless stone

The ghostly figure looked up at the stars,
following a trail never grown cold,
where the bells carried news of us to Mars,
of rediscovering joy in a sorry world

No ghost, only a two-in one soul ringing
the changes for love, a peace song

Copyright R. N. Taber 2009; 2016

Friday, 1 April 2016

Spring, Waking up to Life Forces OR Nature, Inspirational

Spring is in the air, season of new life and hope although this sorry world continues to turn as oblivious to positives as to negatives. We human beings, on the other hand, while we, too,  continue our daily lives, we can but look to the former for the inspiration  to carry on just as we must shoulder the latter in order to survive the worst of global conditions and human nature.  

Being positive when the immediate outlook appears bleak is possibly the greatest challenge we face in life. For my part, I always tell myself that spring follows winter, and - trite as it may sound - it has seen me through some BAD times.

May the joyful spirit of spring be with you all regardless of colour, creed, sex or sexuality. (Oh, and none of us have to wait till spring, either, but may well anticipate it by nurturing our own eternal springtime of the heart...)


April showers
in clouds above, promises
of springtime,
tears for a lifetime
of such love 
and loss, joy and sorrow 
haunting us...
thereby remaining a part 
of us forever,
never (quite) leaving us
on our own to run
(oh, so self-consciously)
the eternal gamut
of socio-cultural-religious
relationships coercing
nature and human nature
for selfish gain
if only to get the upper hand
over any secular society.
or ethos known to embrace
sexual identity

April showers
in darkening skies, closing in
on daily lives
trying to make the best of things,
put the worst behind,
bearing in mind a long winter
passed, asking only
of human hearts to open (at last?)
to a side of human nature
that’s less judgemental,
seeking even to be instrumental
in brokering peace
among enemies, encouraging
(mutual) respect)
for multiple differences
of opinion, faith, lifestyle choices,
in a world that rejoices
a civilized society's championing
Human Rights 
for its majorities, minorities too,
no cronyism.

As life-giving showers come and go,
so we, our selves, aspire to know

Copyright R. N. Taber 2007; 2016

[Note: This poem appears has been revised since appearing under the title 'A Feeling for Spring' in Accomplices to Illusion by R. N. Taber, Assembly Books, 2007[