Sunday, 15 October 2017

Death in Vegas OR Public Opinion, targeting Legends on Tablets of Stone


All our hearts must surely go out to the families and friends killed and injured in the recent Las Vegas massacre.

I have known Americans for and against existing gun laws in the U.S over many years; the latter, invariably sick of always being shouted down by those for whom any change in laws enshrined in the Constitution would be tantamount to an infringement of their human rights. Even some family members and friends of the many who have been killed or maimed in terrible shooting incidents like that in Las Vegas recently continue to demand what they seem to see as a natural right to protection by arming themselves. (How does stricter control of the sale of guns infringe anyone’s Human Rights?)

Many argue that existing gun laws in the U.S. should not be seen as having been inscribed on tablets of stone; not only more appropriate to its pioneer days than a modern America but also  responsible for continuing outbreaks of violence on its streets, including such carnage as witnessed in Las Vegas. Relatively rare such shocking events may be, at least on such a scale, but isn’t it high time for some serious, informed, common sense debate on the subject without the powerful gun lobby invariably getting the upper hand by such under hand tactics as accusing the opposition of disloyalty to - even betrayal of and disrespect for - their country’s finer democratic principles?

Readers may think that, as an Englishman, America’s gun laws are none of my business and they may well be right. Even so, people from all over the world visit the U.S. for pleasure and business. I enjoyed a 4-week stay there myself some years ago. Doesn’t everyone deserve to feel less at risk by antiquated gun laws that simply need tightening?  

Should any law be considered sacrosanct in its original form where a few common sense amendments might well save even just one human life? I suspect we all know what the dead would say if they had a voice so maybe it’s time they were given one…? Don't all those comprising democratic societies bear some responsibility for that?

'Any man's death diminishes me, because I am involved in Mankind...' John Donne

Ah, I can all but hear one American friend say, but Donne was an Englishman and the English have no idea about other cultures. That may well be true, but - not least because I am gay man, I am reminded of the African-American writer Ernest J. Gaines on record for asking, 'Why is it that, as a culture, we are more comfortable seeing two men holding guns than holding hands?'

Food for thought, at least, surely...?

DEATH IN VEGAS or PUBLIC OPINION, TARGETING LEGENDS ON TABLETS OF STONE

Country ways in the city,
music for building dreams by
for eye and ear

Grass growing greener
in a city pretending not a care
in the world

Celebration on location,
sunny faces wreathed in smiles,
poetry of joy

Suddenly, out of nowhere,
all is chaos, devastation, grudges
out of the past

Random shots at the sun
if only to show Man's darker side
(for what, sport?)

Ask the birds and the wildlife
whose freedom was meant to count
for something

Ask folks on Las Vegas Strip
one October evening about legends
on tablets of stone...

Copyright R. N. Taber 2017

London, UK, October 3rd 2017


Monday, 9 October 2017

A Leaf out of Time

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

Another old poem, this, recently unearthed under layers of dust in a cupboard; it reveals a love affair with rhyme that has lasted the best part of a lifetime although I seem to have rekindled  another on-off affair with blank verse recently.

At school, more years ago than I care to remember, we were sometimes given homework by our English teacher, ‘Jock’ Rankin the title of which would comprise just a few words. We were expected to o comment at any length (or brevity) on these words and what they meant to us; subsequently, the best comments would be shared with and debated in class another time.  One such title was Beginnings and Endings. After much head scratching, I asked my mother what on earth there was to say about beginning and endings other than they…well, begin and end?

My mother merely shrugged over the ironing, “It depends how you choose to see either, I suppose. I mean, some of us see endings as no more or less than beginnings that have run their course and are up for something new…”

Jock was impressed and asked me where I had found the quote. When I said, my mother, he asked me to thank her for making his day.

Oh, but I love autumn, so beautiful if tinged with sadness; memories of spring and summer held in safe-keeping by Earth Mother to be rummaged and enjoyed over and over through even the worst winters...

A LEAF OUT OF TIME

I floated on an autumn leaf,
in a world still half-asleep,
kept company with sparrows,
saw willow trees weep

I watched the hands of time
sign warnings to passers-by
concerning the fall of Icarus,
its so-easy How and Why

I saw a fox home in for a kill
heard its victim’s last cry,
protesting an ages-old truth,
a time to live, a time to die

I heard a camp queen singing
a love song, loud and clear,
lasting memories of a summer
though its winter draw near

Breeze dropping, the leaf too
that once had pride of place,
tossing me aside, end of a ride
through time and space

I fell into moss, no harm done;
indeed, a lesson learned,
how each new day, as being gay,
but turns in Nature’s hand

Copyright R. N. Taber 1982; 2017













Sunday, 1 October 2017

Lost in Thought, an Autumn Reverie


As a student of English and American literature at the University of Kent in Canterbury in the 1970’s, I enjoyed reading the works of Nathaniel Hawthorne. I dipped into his Notebooks and could  easily relate to this entry then just as, in my 70’s now, I still can, notwithstanding a mobility problem:

“I cannot endure to waste anything so precious as autumnal sunshine by staying in the house."

[Notebook, Oct. 10, 1842]

LOST IN THOUGHT, AN AUTUMN REVERIE

Autumn leaves on a lake
caught like flies in a spidery web
of glittering sunlight

Breaking free in a breeze,
skimming feisty ripples, courtesy
of a north-westerly wind

Some taking off, low fly past
over sad trees standing at attention
for once-time companions

Others, caught in a sudden lull,
returned to the lake or as prodigals
to the earth’s safe-keeping

Somewhere, woodlands sounding
its Last Post by way of acknowledging
all its seasoned veterans

Glittering sunlight on a lake,
dead leaves like flies in a spidery web,
observers lost in thought

Copyright R. N. Taber 2017



Saturday, 30 September 2017

Redbreast


There’s a wintry chill in the air. A neighbour remarked how she dreads winter, not least for its contagious sense of despair. True, in a sense, of course.  Even so the natural world never quite gives up on spring - however it may seem it has sometimes - and neither should ours.

(Photo taken from the Internet)
REDBREAST

A wintry frost,
but nature not (quite) done yet
with downpours
of splendid reds and gold,
so easy on the eye

A wintry smell
but nature not (quite) done yet
with the scents
of kinder seasons lulling humanity
into false hopes

A wintry song,
its message never (quite) finding
redbreast
preparing to make an heroic stand
against an ill wind

Redbreast, candles to help us see
through the dark


Copyright R. N. Taber 2017

Lines on the Fall and Rise of Everyman


Having a good clear-out yesterday, I discovered a forgotten poem among a pile of old notes and scrap paper; it is what was then an unusual departure from my predilection for rhyming verse, and possibly – if subconsciously - why I have returned to blank verse more often in later years.

As regular readers will be aware, writing poetry is as much a form of creative therapy for me as an art form. Today’s poem was written during the latter days of a nervous breakdown I had in 1979, just as I was beginning to see a glimmer of light at the end of what had been a very long, all but pitch black tunnel. By the time I had finished writing it (albeit untitled), the glimmer had become brighter, clearer, and promising better times ahead; a promise that was fulfilled although it would take some time yet.

LINES ON THE FALL AND RISE OF EVERYMAN

I used to so-dread storm clouds,
ganging up for the kill

I used to slump as tears go by,
wishing and hoping…

I used to let a singular teardrop
shipwreck a despairing self

I used to endure a so-heavy rain,
for its sense of empathy…

I used to, oh, so fear a red sunset,
signal for lonely nights

I hated dawn for its insensitivity
to a growing distress…

                 Until

Storm clouds, precursors to kinder
times ahead

Wondering as tears go by at nature’s
glittering kaleidoscope…

A singular teardrop, cue for restoring
the critical self

Heavy rain leaving a misty rainbow
to lift hopes sky high…

Red sunsets, promising peace of mind,
and love for the asking
Dawn’s first eager light and larksong,
inspiration for brave new days…


Copyright R. N. Taber 1982; 2017

Monday, 25 September 2017

Tellers of Tales, Singers of Songs

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

I have to confess that writing poems at the moment is my way of staying calm and positive in the face of various side-effects of a (daily) high dose of antibiotics following my recent operation on an infected elbow. At the same time, while rising above the threat of depression which once (years ago) all but consumed me, I am able to testify yet again to the healing power of nature. Regular readers will know that I take a strong sense of spirituality from this as opposed to finding it in any religion; where religions divide the world, nature remains a reassuring force for unity, bringing peace of mind enough to make room for stoicism, hope and inspiration.

Given the trail of destruction left in the wake of hurricanes Irma and Maria in the Caribbean, as well as  the terrible earthquake in Mexico, it may well seem insensitive  to speak kindly of nature where people’s lives have been so tragically affected. Yet, human nature can be no less perverse at times nor can its kinder, nurturing side be as relied upon as Earth Mothers to be always there simply for the seeking out. For me, reassurance is by way of inspirational
sights and/or sounds, which is perhaps why I am an agnostic.

Where G-O-D means different things to different people, for me it is nature.

TELLERS OF TALES, SINGERS OF SONGS

I listen to old trees,
that tell me tales of long ago,
seasons of childhood,
youth, and advancing years
in those I have known
and loved, others I’ve never met
or even heard of, such
is the poetry, prose and mystery
of a storybook meant
for inner eye and ear to seek,
hear, listen, learn

I weep by old trees
that tell me tales of long ago,
a History of Man
never found in library tomes
or any archives,
of war and peace within us all
as we endeavour
to reconcile certain home truths
with a responsibility
not infrequently out of sync
with basic instinct

I thrill to old trees
that tell me tales of long ago
of aspirations, hopes,
left shattered among the ashes
of disillusionment
yet rising on wings of a phoenix
to rediscover peace
of mind in that peculiar victory
over hard times
due all who cherish an innate
capacity for love

I engage with trees
shaping the slopes of Parnassus
with free verse,
rhyme and reason, spoken ballads
now put to music
telling of happenings so long ago
they may have been
but yesterday while comprising
all our tomorrows
in a rustling of leaves and birdsong,
rhythm of life

Copyright R. N. Taber 2017

Tuesday, 19 September 2017

Sunrise


Readers sometimes email me to say they find browsing the blogs a problem as there are so many poems. A good way is to use the search field in the top right hand corner to search under subject; e.g. family, positive thinking, history, war etc.
OR

Follow my Google+ site where I paste links to historical as well as recent posts/poems most days:


Oh, and if you enjoy at least some of the poems please recommend the blog/site to others... although I appreciate that poetry is not everyone’s favourite art form.

Meanwhile…

Not long out of hospital here and on a high dose of antibiotics to keep nasties like Sepsis at bay. I had a bad night and woke up suspecting I would have a bad day so decided to try and write my way out of what was not a promising start. Well, it worked, for me at any rate, and (who knows?) it may work for you, too. The power of positive thinking never fails to amaze me.

SUNRISE

Dark, my world,
animated shapes conveying
little or nothing
to ease a so-restless mind,
unquiet spirit

No cheery sounds
of laughter over corny jokes
or cheery singing
out of tune at the washing-up
after dinner for two

Nothing and no one
to home in on for comfort;
shoulders to lean on
but shades of wishful thinking
on scrap paper

Kafkaesque, dragging
on senses that, oh, but faintly
offer resistance,
yet creating just space enough
for breaking dawn

Light, proving a match
for its nemesis, now a gathering
of sun nymphs
inspiring wings of a skylark
to force an entry

Song, waking the heart
to possibilities and potential
enough for mind, body,
and spirit to be curious, wake up
to the challenges

Copyright R. N. Taber 2017


Sunday, 17 September 2017

A Sense of Arcadia

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

I am recovering well from my operation; so far, so good.

Meanwhile…

Just when I don’t think I have another poem in me… ( I am posting this poem on both blogs  because feedback suggests some readers only browse one or the other, and I like to think it may be of interest to everyone.)

A SENSE OF ARCADIA

As I walked in a wood
at twilight, a nightingale sang
to me of days gone by,
and I found myself recalling
that first time I told the world
I’m gay, and that’s how it is,
accept or reject me, your choice,
my life

The nightingale sang on,
about the good times and bad
such as everyone gets
to know (be they gay or straight)
so why the big deal
with sexuality? No harm done,
and bigotry doesn’t get to control
my life

Trees began a chorale
of love and peace as a sunset
pinked the sky,
and I found myself recalling
with a heavy heart
how we let prejudice and dogma
have their way with us, promising
a ‘better’ life

An audience of stars
watched as I wound my way
through the wood,
siding with me as I took my past
to task for a present
that only (ever) left me needing
to feel there had to be a kinder way
of life

An owl flew overhead,
hooting its applause, all nature
(or so it seemed)
thrilled for my having turned away
narrow thoughts
and judgemental jibes, consented
to the sum of my selves demanding
a life

Darkness fell, and silence
no less bitter-sweet than a sense
of being alone
in a magical world where positives
cast long shadows
and negatives are as moonlight
on leaves of grass
creating illusions easily read as signs
of life

Footsteps. Who’s there? Oh, it’s you,
my life…

Copyright R. N. Taber 2017

Tuesday, 5 September 2017

Come Harvest Home, Extracts from a Migrant's Diary

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

This may well be the last (new) poem I will blog before I go into hospital next week (Monday) for an operation on my infected elbow. As it is my right elbow and I am right-handed, keyboarding will almost certainly take longer for some time. Even so, I will link to posts/poems via my Google Plus site as and when I can. Meanwhile, I hope you will enjoy browsing the blogs.

This poem was inspired by a conversation with a migrant from war- torn Syria some months ago.

COME HARVEST HOME, EXTRACTS FROM A MIGRANT’S DIARY

Dreaming of distant lands,
sapphire seas, golden sands, treasures
of mind-body-spirit
equal to none, prize worthy of a poem,
can’t be counted out in coin  

Dreaming of distant shores,
where birds sing a welcome in the ear,
reflected in the shy smile
of a passer-by, equal to none for peace
and love, cue for a better life

Dreams of landing on the moon,
peering back through time and space,
seeing how Here and Now
offers so much more than once a place
to call home before crisis-hit

Waking to street sounds roaring
like a pride of hungry lions hunting prey
in a concrete jungle,
no sapphire sea, golden sand, birdsong
a warning, wishing them gone

Waking to damp stains on walls,
courtesy of landlords whose first language
a prose counted out in coin,
invested in one-upmanship, measure
of nouveau custom status 

Copyright R. N. Taber2017


Monday, 4 September 2017

Resurgence , the Ethos of Willpower


From time to time in the blogs, I have referred to a bad mental breakdown I had in the 1970’s, just a few years after my mother died. I was still in my 30’s, and a psychological mess for all kinds of reasons. It may be an overworked metaphor, but true enough to say I was drowning in a sea of confused and conflicting  feelings that had less to do with being gay than a sense of failure as a person, again for more reasons than I could begin to define. To make matters worse, there was no one in whom I could even begin to confide and there are limits to how anyone in a state of crisis, as I most certainly was, can cope with it on their own.

Inevitably, mind-body-spirit lost not only the ability to communicate in any positive form, but also the will to survive.  I experienced a complete mental breakdown with far-reaching consequences; in the short term, these were pretty dire, but in the longer term they saw me emerge a stronger, more focused person. I lost my job and did not work again for nearly four years. It was a terrible time and I would not have survived but for the support of some good friends who showed me the way back to Hope where all there had been was Despair; the rest was up to me.

Thankfully, mental health issues carry less of a stigma these days. Even so, the mentally ill person has not one battle on his or her hands but a series of battles. We win some, lose some, but practical as well as emotional support is needed before innate survival instincts start to kick in and a glimmer of positive mind-set appears at the outer edge of an all-devouring Black Hole; it is called motivation, and more often than not it is triggered by the return of a much missed sense of humour. 

“If I had no sense of humour, I would long ago have committed suicide.”
― Mahatma Gandhi

Fortunately, once rediscovered, I have not lost my sense of humour again since; it has helped me through 6+ years of coping with prostate cancer, inspired me to learn to walk again after a bad fall in 2014, and I dare say it will see me through an impending operation on my infected elbow and subsequent stay in hospital.


RESURGENCE , THE ETHOS OF WILLPOWER

Weary of fumbling
through a maze of ugly shapes;
nothing beautiful
to be seen or heard even
by the inner self,
its default to a positive mind-set
left for dead under
a mind-body-spirit anaesthetised
by helplessness, 
as in up against huge waves
of negativity,
no existential surf board, tired
of having a pathetic dog-paddling
pass for progress

World, acknowledging me
party to its ugliness.
bearing down on human senses
day after day
on the early morning commuter run;
a cacophony
of buses, trains and people anxious
to be on time
for places and faces they would prefer
to avoid, but needs must
as some ambivalent ethos drives
the human engine beyond its limits
without fear or favour

World, reconnecting me
(slowly but surely) with the beauty
of Below Surface,
fishes passing by without tossing
judgemental glances,
sharks causing a stir on the look-out
for sustenance,
not a fast buck to line the pockets
of designer gear
intended to impress or intimidate;
splendid rainbows
among coral spewing beer cans
along with other evidence of human
complacency and waste

Suddenly,
a so-weird glow of crabs and starfish
on the ocean floor
opening the inner eye to tales
of the unexpected
coursing the blood of living creatures
great and smell,
alerting us to danger, even death,
but also the wonders
of creation among which the greatest
has to be life itself,
its delights as well as hardships
around every corner if only by way
of ‘no pain, no gain’

Lungs bursting
with  no less self-doubt that before
but tempered
with hope of finding a kinder world
than I had sought
to quit without notice like a tenant
in high arrears
or that square peg in the round hole
of a workforce,
unwilling to face the situation
head-on, better
to imagine devils with human faces,
the easier to draw on a fund of excuses 
for opting out of it all

On terra firma,
concerned voices and helping hands
reaching out to me
to clutch, not as one all but drowning
but as someone else
encouraged to restructure a whole
whose parts
had broken loose from each other,
needed reconnecting
and (still) reshaping into a form
less representative
of the weaker links in any human chain
than its strengths

Copyright R. N. Taber 2017

Wednesday, 30 August 2017

Square One, Full Circle


I won’t be back with regular links to new and old poems for a good few weeks yet, but here’s a new poem one just to keep the ball rolling, and one I hope you will enjoy. I am not too well at  the moment, but expect to make good progress after hospitalisation on September 11th, hopefully for no longer than a week although I will need daily injections to keep infection at bay for up to six weeks.

Whatever, I can but continue looking on the bright side of life here, and succeeding…well, most of the time.

Now, most if not all of us know only too well that life is full of ups and downs, drawing us into various relationship triangles here, running circles around us there; we can but do our best to shape up on our own account, and may the best man, woman, girl or boy win. As for what we mean by 'best' or 'win'... well, how subjective is that? It depends on your point of view, I guess, and a poem can only ever hope to touch upon skeleton templates. 

My English teacher, 'Jock' Rankin - more years ago that I care to remember - once described the relationship between the reader and any piece of writing as putting flesh on the bones; not an uncommon analogy, but one that went over the head of a slow-learner 12 year-old. In time, though, I came to see how appropriate it is given that no piece of writing strikes any two readers in quite the same way, thereby taking on a life of its own for the reader/s and in the abstract; the latter, in the course of any subsequent discussion, being left to us to make of what we will. A good teacher will suggest interpretations without imposing any; we may well instinctively opt (at the time) for what we discern as the teacher's preferred point of view, but the best teachers provide food for thought that can last a lifetime. 

Needless to say, Jock was one of the best. Gillingham (Kent) Technical High School (now Rainham Mark Grammar) was all but irrelevant to my educational needs as I have always been a very impractical person, but I learned more from its teachers than anything on the curriculum, and for that I will always be grateful.

SQUARE ONE, FULL CIRCLE 

Dawn,
demanding we play our part,
do our best
to rise above the worst
society can throw
at us, contrive (or negotiate)
a winning streak
least likely to drag us back
to Square One

Noon,
challenging us to do (far) better
than our peers
if only to earn promotion
of the sort likely
to bring in enough to pay off
the credit cards,
stop the bailiffs returning us
to Square One

Sunset,
too soon for congratulations
on playing our part,
keeping society off our backs
(for now, at least)
long enough (we live in hope)
to take a step back,
get the measure of ourselves
in Square One

Night,
running a gamut of high hopes,
broken promises,
missed opportunities, pipped
to the post every time
by Fate’s favoured, among whom
we are as...chaff
in an ill wind blowing us back
to Square One?

Full Circle,
waking up to chinks in shutters
greeting us
with wicked winks and cheers
from town and field,
applauding our taking off (again)
on wings of a skylark,
if only to enjoy putting one over
on Square One
  

Copyright R. N. Taber 2017

Saturday, 26 August 2017

Conversations with Mind, Body, and Spirit

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

Some time ago, readers suggested I start a Google Plus site where I can link to new and historical posts as there are so many poems on the blogs to browse. However, there will be no such links for awhile as I will be admitted to hospital  shortly for an operation on my right elbow. (I am publishing this post on both blogs because not feedback suggests some readers enjoy browsing and don'y always go into my Google + entries if at all.)


Hopefully, I will not need to be an In-Patient for long, but will need daily antibiotic injections for up six weeks or so after the op so may well be out of action for a time time. especially as I am right handed! I may need to go to the hospital for these injections or it's possible a District Nurse will be able to visit me at home, especially as I have a mobility problem.  I guess it's all in the lap of the gods so will just play it by ear.  


I am not too worried about going into hospital as such or about the operation, but my bad foot often plays me up as does the hormone therapy that's treating my prostate cancer. Days are bad enough but it is hardly worth going to bed some nights because the hormone therapy makes me need the toilet so often. Oh, well,...Que sera, sera, whatever will be, will be...[Enter Doris Day in full throttle as in an exciting scene from 'The Man Who Knew Too Much' (1956)] Oh dear, showing my age again...!


Whatever, no worries, folks, and I ask you all to join me in always looking on the bright side of life …as I do since (finally!) managing to rise above the depression that plagued me for many years, not least by way of creative therapy in the form of, yes, writing, especially poetry.


Hopefully, I will be back soon. Meanwhile, feel free to explore both poetry blogs by entering any subjects in the search box: e.g. alcoholism, art, arts, bigotry, childhood, death, Doris Day, drug abuse, Ella Fitzgerald, family, hate crime, hope, imagination, Jo Cox, John Lennon, Kylie Minogue, life, love, Martin Luther King, multiculturalism, music, nature, peace, positive thinking, princess Diana, self-awareness, self consciousness, sexuality, Shirley Bassey, society, spirituality, street crime, terrorism, time, war, etc. 


http://rogertab.blogspot.com/ (General)


http://aspectsofagaymanslifeinverse.blogspot.com/ (Gay-interest)



also

http://rogertaberfiction.blogspot.co.uk/2016/05/news-updates-fiction.html (Fiction, gay/general)



and



http://www.youtube.com/rogerNtaber  [My You Tube channel where I read my poems over videos shot by my best friend, Graham Collett.]

Hope you will enjoy exploring in my absence Back mid-September once discharged from hospital.

Meanwhile…

Text-speak may well be as relatively a new phenomenon as the mobile phone itself, but mirror-speak is as old as humankind.

CONVERSATIONS WITH MIND, BODY, AND SPIRIT


L-I-F-E,

spiralling me downwards
from cradle to grave…
often when I least expect it,
leaves me clinging
for dear life at straws in an ill wind
raised by a helter-skelter
of events conspiring to drag me
beyond imagination,
test ego (and salvation) to limits
rarely conceived
even by those daily enduring
a world of nightmares

L-O-V-E,

spelling out such promises
as sweet dreams
are made of, offering (for free)
a magical mystery tour
of mind-body-spirit asking only
that I stay true
to the end of a line drawn
not (whimsically) 
in sand or clay, but in good faith
that 1 + 1 is equal,
to the sum of all its frictions
and I can add up

H-O-P-E,

bringing me the best of things
at the worst of times,
moulding the less savoury clay
of human nature
as a potter’s wheel might
its tasks in hand,
demanding the poetry of art
speak up for Beauty,
fair chameleon exposing masks
of the Beast
for human waste washed up
by the tides of life

Copyright R. N. Taber 2017
























Wednesday, 16 August 2017

It is what it Is...or is it?

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

Only recently, a reader emailed me to ask if I consider myself an agnostic because I am gay and, if not, why not…?

Over the years (I'm in my 70's now) I have lost count of the times I have been told by members of various religious groups that I will go to hell for being gay. (So God is a homophobe?) Evangelical Christians and the majority of Muslims are by far the worst, but I exclude none. (While Judaism is inclined towards a liberal attitude towards LGBT issues, most Orthodox Jews stop well short of sanctioning LGBT relationships.) For this reason, I am publishing this post/poem on both blogs since feedback suggests that not all readers visit my Google + site where I link to new and historical posts & poems on both blogs. Regular readers will know that I have every respect for all religious faiths, but as a human being (who happens to be gay) I have the right of reply.

At school, 50+ years ago, we were once asked to write an essay about ‘Secrets’. This was preceded by a class discussion on the subject during which we were all agreed that secrets are hard to keep, especially from family and friends. Someone made an unkind remark about gays not being ‘out’ to which the teacher responded with a wry shrug that “Time outs us all in the end. The trick is to get in first, before gossip and ignorance can do their worst.’ This comment livened up the debate no end, but I missed most of what was being said for dwelling on the concept of Time ‘outing us all in the end.’ It is so true. Gay or straight, it is a rare person that has no secrets; invariably these come out, if not during their lifetime then in the course of events following their death.

I only came out to a few people until a bad nervous breakdown in my 30’s finally rid me of all self-consciousness about my sexuality. Even then, though, I trod carefully through what I had known for years as a minefield of public opinion. The breakdown had lasted several years before I found the confidence to face the world again. During this time, I explored human nature through avid reading and writing poetry, both of which had already stood me in good stead at university.

Being gay is, of course, only one aspect of human nature, one part of a complex whole. It has always been the whole that interests me although, obviously, I have a special interest in the gay aspect. Some gay people seem to find it strange that I write general as well as gay-interest poetry. But…why not? Being gay is a very significant part of who I am, yes, but I can hardly ignore the rest of me, those other parts that make me who and what I am. Well, can I...?

In my 70’s now, I often look back and wish I had done things differently (as in ‘better’) but I guess we are all victims of our circumstances up to a point, and my circumstances have often conspired against me. Yet, I am no victim in the sense that I made my own choices, albeit not always the right ones.

Many who subscribe to a religion have told me I will forfeit Heaven and go to Hell although I suspect we make our own heaven and hell as our lives take shape by our own hand. So is death the end of all things, I wonder? I have no idea, but as a nature lover, take comfort from the way nature nurtures itself, and spring follows winter. Love, too, never dies even as lovers and loved ones pass away. I suppose I put what Faith I have in nature and love rather than in any religion since, from both, I have always taken a strong sense of spirituality. As to whether or not that sense of spirituality is seen as a sufficiently positive force in my poetry  to pass into living memory by way of my readers after my death, only time will tell.

IT IS WHAT IT IS…OR IS IT?

Time running out,
mind-body-spirit left floundering
among regrets
for missed opportunities, rushes
to misjudgement,
and plain, everyday mistakes
with consequences...
for there can be no payback
equal to the task
of making reparation for any flaws
in humankind

No sense of a God
likely to extend any forgiveness
to the likes of me,
unable to relate to any Heaven
(potential safe haven)
throughout a lifetime of struggling
to make sense of dogma
interpreted by Religion’s finest
as leave to preach
a Politics of the Heart making sense
of humankind

How then to approach
the End of Things in the absence
of any New Beginning
other than as some deactivated spirit
gone to ashes, dust,
someone else’s (imperfect) memory,
there to endure
a kindly ‘eternity’ that sits more easily
on the tongue than ‘death’
while advocating spiritual qualities
in humankind?

I have asked this of poems
that have dogged my every footstep
from child to senior,
no one answer offered (or confirmed)
but a sense of moving
through time (other than growing old)
acting out tales passed on
by ghosts about leaving footprints;
no one left behind
but (together) creating a continuum
called humankind

To each, our own way,
engaging with the greater mysteries
of life and death,
finding such comfort as we can,
pinning our finer hopes
on what’s better, kindlier, said
and done, wiser choices
than less so, promise nurtured
or left unfulfilled
for an indefinable social conscience
to define us as it will

Whatever, it is what it is, and Time
will out us all one way or another…

Copyright R. N. Taber 2017

Friday, 4 August 2017

Blood on the Bread OR Lord of the Flies Revisited

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

This villanelle was written on June 29th 2008. On the previous day, another young person had been fatally stabbed on London’s streets. Tragically, the poem is even more relevant now than it was then.

Official figures released by the Office of National Statistics (ONS)  in April 2017 showed a very significant increase in violent crime across the UK, much of it gang-related. Knife crime alone had increased by 14 per cent year on year by 2016 to levels not seen since 2011; a leap from 28,427 knife offences to 32,448.

The greater tragedy is that gang-related violent crime remains prevalent on the streets of many countries worldwide; such a waste of human lives where, more often than not, contemporary society fails to provide constructive alternatives offering potential solutions.

Whatever, these people commit violent acts by choice and the buck stops with them. If they have a conscience at all, they need to come to terms it, start steering a kinder course through life before they, too, become just another fatality statistic... and what kind of footprint is that to leave behind?

‘His [Jack's] mind was crowded with memories; memories of the knowledge that had come to them when they closed in on the struggling pig, knowledge that they had outwitted a living thing, imposed their will upon it, taken away its life like a long satisfying drink.’ - William Golding [Lord of the Flies, 1954]


BLOOD ON THE BREAD or LORD OF THE FLIES REVISITED

Don’t carry a gun or knife,
a young friend said;
show more respect for life

I want a career and a wife
(and a four-poster bed)
don’t carry a gun or knife

Let years of pain and strife
stand peace on its head?
Show more respect for life

Though gang rats run rife,
and blood on the bread,
don’t carry a gun or knife

Let me look, dress how I like
if it makes me feel good;
show more respect for life

Streets of fear, tears of grief,
saw him shot him dead;
Don’t carry a gun or knife;
show more respect for life

Copyright R. N. Taber 2008; 2017

[Note: This poem first appeared under the title 'Blood on the bread'' in Poetic Expressions, Poetry Now, 2009 and subsequently in my own collection, On the Battlefields of Love, Assembly Books, 2008; rev. ed. in e-format in preparation.]

Friday, 16 June 2017

All Our Tomorrows

Are the freedoms we enjoy being gradually eroded by invisible (and visible) Mandarins or Kingpins of Power?

Wealth is power, yes, but so is  influence and many who put themselves forward as our so-called ‘betters’ have plenty of that across the entire  socio-cultural-religious and political arenas  in which we live.

Free speech, yes, so long as it is not considered politically incorrect and that seems to be decided these days by which side of a particular divide one happens to be.

I am no racist. Neither, though, will I hesitate to speak out against bad attitude or behaviour no matter what colour, creed, sex or sexuality a person may be. Yet, the chances are – as has happened more than once – that I will be called a racist, feminist, bigot (for not subscribing to a religion) etc. etc. I am none of these things, and it goes against the grain not to speak out against someone whose behaviour I find offensive simply whatever their colour, creed, sex sexuality or political persuasion and, yes, even age. (My own generation can be a real pain in the proverbial at times.). Even so, I have to confess to having kept my feelings to myself more often than not in recent years simply to avoid the inevitable hassle. Is that common sense, I wonder, or simply cowardice?

Feedback over years of writing poetry and publishing much of it on the Internet suggests that many people from diverse backgrounds feel much the same way, that there are times when we are made to feel like puppets, poised to speak our minds until a jerk on invisible strings by some kingpin puppeteer advises if not demands our silence or, at best, extreme (diplomatic) caution…or there will be a price to pay.

I will be 72 this year, and I am becoming less and less enamoured with the world as it is now with each passing day. At the same time, I retain a basic faith in human nature, convinced that if we all try and do our best in our own little corner of the world, the ripples will spread to the extent that  it may yet become a better, kinder place no matter what goes on in its  socio-cultural-religious and political arenas.

There are more good people in the world than bad, people for whom peace and love are more, far more, than just rhetoric; it has always been that way, and always will be. Sadly, it has always been the more malevolent Kingpins of Power that, in getting away far too often with pulling our strings, continue to make their presence felt and voices heard.

ALL OUR TOMORROWS

Yesterday, a dark mood
descending into a recent grave
created by fall-out
from crises (local and worldwide);
even near comprehension,
of mind- body-spirit all but broken
by political forces alien
to free thinkers everywhere left
ploughing moral high ground,
slaves to this or that philosophy,
whatever cap fits…

Slaves, yes, bound to rebel
against those siding with kingpins
of wealth and power jockeying
(discreetly) for a prime position
in the greater  influence stakes,
claiming to have the best interests
of common humanity at heart
(local and worldwide) while nursing
such personal ambitions as likely
to go down as well with the media
as raising taxes

Today, no lighter mood,
rising among the ghosts of leaders
past and present to remind
those of us (local and worldwide)
why we helped put them there
(if only by default, considering
the alternatives on offer)
no matter gossip buzzing like flies
in corridors of power
about which  kingpins  plotting
whose downfall…

Kingpins of power, yes!
Always ready to load our excuses
on their backs under a cloak
of invisibility to avoid pricking
consciences of crusaders
(local and worldwide) for a way
of life less complicated
by a sense of kingpins composing
the poetry and prose
of destiny on our behalf, and we
having little say

Tomorrow, we will nurture
a more positive mood, rise above
rise above dark thoughts
about any Kingpins of Power
undermining us
at every step we take as we journey
through life…
reassert a native self-confidence,
an enduring spirituality
taken from natures, religion, either
of both (free to choose)

Free to choose, yes,
whether to have faith in ourselves,
(conceding any flaws)
and keep to a learning curve of love,
personal aspiration,
private ambition, social responsibility,
discerning wood and trees,
drawing in the best of whatsoever
and whomsoever
we may find, as we seek completeness,
journeying hopefully

Hopefully, yes, humankind
and nature working together to play
any Kingpins of Power
at their own game, introducing  mind,.
body, and spirit,
working in harmony, all the better
to see light triumph
over darkness, good over evils no one
can deny exist,
a legacy of enduring peace and love,
no end-game in sight

Copyright R. N. Taber 2017