Thursday, 27 October 2016

The Hand that Rocks the Cradle

By now readers will know the so-called Arab Spring (2010) has left those countries involved no better if not worse off than before. Well, that's world politics for you...

Civil war has all but broken out in Libya yet People Power continues to make its voice heard across North Africa and the Middle East, ordinary men and women desperate for democratic reform and risking their lives for it.  The human spirit is strong if vulnerable, proving time and time again that it can and will rise above tragedy.  Perhaps, though, if more Western politicians even half understood Middle East politics and neither side did not always assume they know best...

Nature and human nature, they give and they take away. Perhaps, though, if it were even just a shade less inclined to reflex actions that demand it bite the hand that feeds it, humankind might yet find itself in better shape to prevent itself going to the dogs of war that have haunted its every step since the beginning of time...?

The poem first appeared in Poetry Monthly International (2010) and subsequently in my collection.


There’s a hand that caresses the first buds of spring
and bids them grow;
it moves among summer corn in time for harvesting
by courtesy of Apollo

Where autumn’s leaves making ready for its turning,
it bestows a blessing;
when winter brings us to our knees, of life despairing,
it beckons us to spring

Where we run the gamut of love, hate, peace and war,
find, too, Earth Mother;
let Her fair hand caress and smooth the troubled brow
or we destroy each other

The question arises, dare we bite the hand that feeds us
and face the consequences
or do we accept it in a spirit of goodwill to all humanity,
put aside our differences?

Beware, or the hand that rocks the cradle may let it drop,
our world break up,
needs must, we learn to read the hand that’s writing us up
or else…Armageddon

Back to school

Copyright R. N. Taber 200; 2016

Note: This poem was first published in Poetry Monthly International, February 2010 and subsequently Tracking the Torchbearer by R. N. Taber, Assembly Books, 2012.]

Monday, 24 October 2016

Two Poems for Halloween

Halloween is almost upon us. Yet, it is not only at Halloween that we hear talk of ghosts at various social events and celebrations.

Now, Halloween is reputedly a time for witches and warlocks. So did witches and warlocks have no time for love? Moreover, what of their sexual persuasion, and who are we to make assumptions? As for ghosts…I dare say we all have our share of those.

In effect, Halloween is just a date on the calendar. We may well associate it with ‘Trick or Treat’ but I suspect most if not all of us find ourselves playing mind games now and then; with our various selves as well as with others, and they with us. (Let’s face it. Halloween isn’t the only time some of us love or even prefer to wear masks - metaphorically speaking, of course - so no one can read our faces.)

True, Halloween may well be as good a time as any to choose whether to let our ghosts persist in personifying our worst nightmares or invest them with benign fantasy and give peace of mind a fighting chance, whatever it takes. Gay or straight, though, who needs Halloween for that...?

Now, what’s this, general and gay interest poems for Halloween on the same page?

Many people (gay and straight alike) ask why I don’t necessarily treat gay-interest poems as a separate literary form, culture or issue. (Why should it ever be an issue?)  By default, I have gay-interest and general blogs although my fiction blog includes general along with gay-interest fiction and my Google Plus site also includes both gay-interest and general poems. .

As I have said before on the blogs, as far as I am concerned, no art form deserves to be singled out for its content alone in so far as that content relates to any sexual persuasion. In a nutshell, a poem is a poem is a poem just as a person is a person is a person, regardless of any LGBT or heterosexual associations. It is what goes into a poem and what readers may (or may not) get out of it that matters; the same principle applies to any art form. As for people it is not what but who a person is that's important, how and where he or she matters to others, not their sex or sexuality nor, for that matter, religion or ethnicity. 


One Halloween at a full moon,
come the witching hour,
live wires humming our tune

You had left me, oh, too soon,
life tasting, oh, so sour,
one Halloween at a full moon

Walking on, an autumnal rain
but a heavenly shower,
live wires humming our tune

A hand slipped gently into mine
like spring to a flower,
one Halloween at a full moon

Love, treading a rare timeline,
kept me company there,
live wires humming our tune

It lifted me, a spirit all but divine,
sure to last forever,
one Halloween at a full moon,
live wires humming our tune

Copyright R. N. Taber 2009; 2016

[Note: This poem appears under the title ’Taking on Halloween’ in Tracking the Torchbearer by R. N. Taber, Assembly Books, 2007; revised ed. in e-format in preparation.]


Come Halloween,
I met a warlock, as wicked looks
as I’d ever seen

Full lips at my ear
murmured a spell that effectively
made us disappear

Into a candlelit place
he swept me, on wings of a night
configuring my face

In a mirror, a stranger
took my measure, quick heartbeat
sounding no danger

A fire was lit in my soul,
my body fuelled by its welcome heat
till first light fell…

The warlock only smiled
and a fierce kiss said I was free to go
back into the world

I told him I’d prefer to stay,
nor had his charms been wasted on me,
but let me see I’m gay

Gladly, into a glorious dawn,
we moved on, warlock and I, soulmates,
spoils of Halloween

Copyright R. N. Taber 2007

Monday, 17 October 2016

On the Nature of Love

I have often heard people say they feel they have missed out on love, and it saddens them because they feel life has left them feeling incomplete.  Perhaps they have never been ‘in love’ or a partner has died young or a lover may have let them down in their eyes…

Whatever, love is neither so easily defined nor confined to the context of being ‘in love’. As I have said before on the blogs (and dare say will say again) love takes many shapes and forms that can be as real, inspiring and life-shaping as a lover.

Me, I haven’t had a steady partner for many years and we only had a short time together, but knowing him was a learning curve in many ways, not least in learning to take nothing for granted, especially love. It is possible, even likely, that platonic love between good friends can be as enriching in its own way as the love shared by lovers. A love of certain places or simply for travelling and experiencing new places can be wonderful nor less so the love of home life and everything it means to us, even if we rarely if ever step out of that particular comfort zone.

Different people want and need different things from life, but so long as we keep our eye on love, and always remain aware of and nurture its presence, the least likely we are to ever look back on our lives and find them wanting.

Few people, in my experience, can say they feel wholly fulfilled, Yes, I envy those that can, of course I do, but we should never let envy of others blind us to our own blessings, even when the latter sometimes seem somewhat thin on the ground; be assured they will pick up, but only if we open up to them, fill our senses with them, see them for what they are through our own eyes, not someone else’s.  Yes, I know it’s pretty obvious, but SO many people fail to see the proverbial wood for trees planted by someone else.

As for sexuality, it embraces love, yes, but love is bigger than that, and anyone who believes in love needs to be big enough to admit it, socio-cultural-religious prejudices notwithstanding, or they are say the least.

‘Where there is love, there is life.’ - Mahatma Gandhi


Hey, listen out…

Hear that lasting beat 
whose remit to feed
the sweetest memories
to a hungry heart.
long after its life force
carried away
on wings of a day set aside
for sorrow

Hey, look there…

Discover cloud shapes
whose remit to relay
best (and worst) times
to an inner eye
long after losing sight
of friendly faces
to hands on a wall clock
stuck fast

Hey, have a smell…

Where grass is greenest
and leaves bring
the scent of summer roses
to the mind
all but closing down
in keeping
with a winter all but gone
to earth

Hey, get the taste…

For honey on the tongue
on what we may
liken to a ‘soul’ having left
its lasting imprint
on such as we may care
to call ‘spirit’
in the lamentable absence
of a poem

Ever get the feeling…?

Earth Mother, nurturing
the beauty
of our seasons going
full cycle,
constructive comment
even on dreams
of each hopeful tomorrow
left unfulfilled

Hey, reach up, touch…

Where the heart beats out
its hopes
for such peace and love
as may or may not
run true, but much the more 
worth the dreaming
for filling all my senses
with you

Copyright R. N. Taber 2016

Sunday, 9 October 2016

Pictures in an Exhibition

A reader from Switzerland has emailed me to ask - as people often do - why a poet writes fiction. Well, there is poetry of a kind in fiction too. I needed to try my hand at writing novels, partly because I knew I would enjoy it (as I did) and partly because i suspected it would bring me closer to an understanding of human it has; as, indeed, do all the arts, each in their own way. Take fiction; it is not all about plot, but creating characters, good and bad. The writer needs to explore the various interrelationships of mind, body and spirit. Hopefully, this has also made me a better poet... but that, of course, is up to you, my readers, to decide.

Most of my novels - published and unpublished - remain in serial form on my fiction blog. Each serial is preceded by a separate synopsis post. It wa my original intention that as each complete novel  would be published to Google Play in e-format and removed from the blog. but a number of readers have emailed to say they cannot access Google Play. For this reason, I will be publishing my gay-interest crime novel 'Blasphemy' to the blog again while continuing to make it available on Google Play. All my novels on the blog are listed at: 

It seemed a good idea to publish today's poem here (see below) at the same time as answering a number of queries about publishing my novels (and poetry collections) as e-books to Google Play over the next few years, thereby, making those that have only ever been on sale in the UK available to readers worldwide. UK sales were not too discouraging; first (and only) print runs sold quite well. Even so, I am definitely more of a poet than a novelist, although I enjoy writing fiction, and sheer enjoyment has to be as good a motivation as any.  [Few publishers have shown much interest in my fiction and not all those serialised on the blog have been published in print form; copyright to each, though, remains exclusively mine.]

A librarian in public libraries most of my working life, it would both amuse and sadden me to see hot-blooded heterosexual readers hovering  near the counter until no one else was waiting before presenting any gay-interest items (a novel,  DVD, biography of a gay icon etc.) to be issued or discharged. Many libraries have now installed issue/discharge machines that will spare them any such embarrassment. Yet, why be embarrassed?  Imagination is an Open House. I can only put it down to human nature’s preoccupation with a ‘guilt by association’ ethos and habitual inclination to jump to conclusions.

I wrote this poem while thinking about writing my first novel, ‘Dog Roses; a Gay Man’s Rites of Passage.’ The book was never published except on the blog. No publishers were interested, but that did not matter. By the time I had finished writing it, I realised why I had so needed to write it in the first place. Putting aside aspirations of fame and fortune (just as well) I needed to stop thinking about exploring human nature through fiction as with poetry, and just get on with it, give it my best shot. I have no regrets; it provided no less as rewarding an experience as poetry but via different routes and from different angles. (As for so much as a hint of talent, well, that’s something else altogether…and up to you to form your own opinions.)

I used to regret not being able to paint, draw, compose or play music... until it came home to me how all the arts share a common source; the writer, composer, painter, whatever. needs must get as close to human nature as any gardener or farmer to the very soil we feed and which, in turn, feeds us. How far the analogy can be carried, of course, depend as much on the nature of the soil or genre as that of any of us reaping its rewards; reader, listener, observer, all have no less a part to play than whomsoever's hands planting whatsoever seeds.

This poem is a villanelle.


Exploring the human condition,
its good, bad and ugly
life forces stranger than fiction

Any flaws demanding attention,
(for all a subtle simplicity)
exploring the human condition

Nature, its greater contribution
side-lined by humanity;
life forces stranger than fiction

Exposed, a common retribution
(reasoning a moral propriety)
exploring the human condition

Satirised, a political observation
of this life’s tragicomedy;
life forces stranger than fiction

Society, pictures in an exhibition
for whomsoever cares to see;
exploring the human condition,
life forces stranger than fiction

Copyright R. N. Taber 1997; 2016

Thursday, 6 October 2016

Tides of the Heart

Love can be as fickle as it is desirable, while sometime misinterpreted as fickle when simply unable to reach a decision for one reason or another.

Could it be that many of the world’s lovers (LGBT included) need to talk to each other more…? Even love can be guilty of taking too much for granted…

Whatever, can any of life’s challenges be tougher than faced by the long distance swimmer on tides of the human heart…?


Sat on a beach,
watching the waves
roll in, out,
and back again…
like love’s promises
to me

Just out of reach,
waiting for your love
to roll in, out,
and back again…
like the finest poetry
and prose

Winging, calling
to you among sea birds,
now high, now low,
nature’s wry comment
on humanity’s tides
of life

Alone on a beach,
its beachcombing hearts
on the look-out
for any such as ours,
among love’s flotsam
and jetsam

Copyright R. N. Taber 2002; 2016

[Note: An earlier version of this poem first appeared under the title 'Secrets, Ebb and Flow' in an anthology, As Waves Pass By, Poetry Now (Forward Press) 2002, and subsequently in my own collection, First Person Plural by R. N. Taber, Assembly Books, 2002; revised ed. in e-format in preparation.]

Tuesday, 4 October 2016

Art, a Measure of Home Truths

An art teacher at my old school once told the class that we should not only learn how to look at art but how also to feel it. That was a good half century or so ago, but I am grateful for the tip to this day.

When we look at a painting, for example, it is obvious what we are looking at; less obvious is what lies behind the painting, how the painter saw his subject through inner eye and various absorbed impressions. The artist’s choice of colours and their shades, the force of certain brushstrokes, all are clues to what he or she is saying not only about his or her subject but  also about themselves.

The best art forms are not only delightful on the eye (or ear) but also draw us into them and thereby into ourselves. In this way, many art works survive centuries and a posthumous consciousness remains available to be tapped into by the discerning art lover who may not even be an expert, simply open to ‘live’ impressions.

The Ancient Greeks, of course, produced one of the earliest well-developed examples of gay art. Going their own way from other ancient cultures, the Greeks considered free adult male sexual attraction to be both normal and natural. Gay people  like me were spared tortuous closet years imposed on us by public/cultural opinion; it is one of many modern tragedies that it remains the case for far too many of us worldwide.


Studying me, it’s likely
that far more
than all you see will touch
mind, body and spirit,
sufficiently firing imagination
to give inspiration
a voice for home truths
ghosting paths of times past
and present…

Observing me closely, find
the inner eye
homing in on brush strokes,
the lighter here
and heavier there, colours
chosen for warmth
or cold, and touches of light;
dark, dreamy twilight,
moody gloom…

Seeing is not always (quite)
believing that creativity needs
an audience;
desires one, yes, if only to share
impressions of mind,
body and spirit laid bare
in such a way
as to make a presence felt
that would out

Art, a psycho-creative presence
redefining subject and audience

Copyright R. N. Taber 2016

Saturday, 1 October 2016

Spirit Lake

Several readers who cannot access You Tube on their own computers for some reason and have seen the video on someone else’s have asked me to reinstate it on the blog.  (See video below). Many thanks, by the way, for their kind comments regarding my blogs.

The original You Tube video is available at:

OR access my You Tube channel and search by title:

The lake at Stourhead (NB ‘Spirit Lake’ is simply the title I have given to the poem that I read here and video footage) is artificially created. Following a path around the lake is meant to evoke a journey similar to that of Aeneas's descent in to the underworld; passages telling of Aeneas's journey are quoted in the temples surrounding the lake.

Read more about Stourhead on Wikipedia:

The video is one of three shot by my close friend Graham Collett, and I wrote the poem especially for the occasion. We hope you will enjoy both.

This poem is a villanelle:


World of peace and tranquility
(looking out for its own); 
Earth Mother’s greater legacy

Time playing games with history
(myth into maturity grown);
world of peace and tranquility

Dreamland lake in all its serenity
(solitude, yet not alone);
Earth Mother’s greater legacy

The very best of prose and poetry
(open minds freely shown); 
world of peace and tranquility

Watch ripples pausing at eternity
(life force unknown)
Earth Mother’s greater legacy

Each heart, wing, flower and tree
(life arts, ever windblown);
world of peace and tranquility,
Earth Mother’s greater legacy

Copyright R. N. Taber 2014