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

Child of Parnassus

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, configuring half-lies
for poetry’s own 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.]

Thursday, 1 September 2016

M-E-M-O-R-Y, Selective Notes on the Human Condition

Who are we? What are we? Where are we at in life’s journey, and how long may we stay? Where next, and what will we find around the next corner? More of the same, perhaps, or better, worse…? 

Whatever, we can but continue trying to work through, make sense of those parts of us that make up the human condition; in so doing, shape and reshape ourselves and each other, hopefully for the better than worse.


Names, names, more names
rushing the mind
like commuters for their train

Faces, faces, and more faces,
collage of the heart…
like pictures in an exhibition

Places, places, and more places,
focusing the inner eye;
home movies at a birthday party

Good days, bad days, and so-so
ganging up on us
in a well-meaning consciousness

Regret, regrets, and more regrets,
like grains of sand
measuring us out in an hour glass

Mind, body, spirit, and all it takes,
getting the better
of our worst fears, come what may

Copyright R. N. Taber 2016