Thursday, 7 December 2017

In-Betweeners

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

When not directly involved, it is often possible to see both sides of an argument or divisive situation. We then, of course, leave ourselves open to the accusation that we’re sitting on the proverbial fence. Well, as my mother used to say, there is nothing wrong with that so long as we are prepared to jump down and take sides should the need arise.

Seeing both sides can help us to move a peace process along; it can also create further divisions and lose us friends among those convinced they are in the right so everyone else must not only be in the wrong but an ‘enemy’ for thinking so. (I dare say I'm not the only person to have been squeezed out of certain areas of circulation in that way.)

Yes, life can be tough for the in-betweeners of this world.

IN-BETWEENERS

Day is day
as night is night;
in-between, a twilight
always playing tug-of-war
with us

Love is love
as hate is hate,
yet we can always find an affinity
with both

Dreamers dream
as nightmares haunt,
infiltrating a native stoicism
in us

Beggars beg
while rich men profit
insinuating a sense of fatalism
in us

Brave is brave
as scared is scared,
yet we can always find an affinity
with both

Day is day
as night is night;
in-between, a twilight
always playing tug-of-war
with us


Copyright R. N. Taber 2017

Wednesday, 29 November 2017

Handfuls of Dust


I discovered the original version of this poem in a drawer while collating a collection in 2007; it was dated May 1979, only months before I had a nervous breakdown from which it would take me a few years to recover. 

Regular readers will know that I often revise poems, sometimes only slightly, sometimes drastically, but always significantly. This doesn't mean I lack confidence in a poem at the time, only that my perception of whatever feelings prompted me to write the poem in the first place have changes or at east shifted. Many poems in my early collections were  written long before I achieved any level of maturity as a poet although not all have been subsequently revised. I have no regrets about publishing them, though, if only because this maturation (an on-going process) fascinates me; hopefully, readers might find it - as well as the poems - of some interest too. too.

Meanwhile...

By all means let’s reach for the stars…but be sure not to strive so hard that we miss what is under our very noses.

HANDFULS OF DUST 

Reaching for the stars,
(only in lonely hours);
reaching for the moon,
(only for hope gone)

Reaching for a rainbow,
(only in sorrow)
reaching for sunbeams,
(only in daydreams)

Reaching to pluck clouds
from the sky
only making us cry

Reaching to savour songs
from leaves
flying in our faces

Reaching out to the world
on Main Street,
be a part of all that…

Reaching for imagination,
(only for motivation);
reaching for a redemption,
(only for salvation)

Searching for peace of mind,
among all humankind;
sure to find (let us dare trust)
more than handfuls of dust

Copyright R. N. Taber 2007; 2017

[Note: An earlier version of this poem appeared in 1st eds. of Accomplices to Illusion by R. N. Taber, Assembly Books, 2007; revised ed. in e-format in preparation.] 


Sunday, 5 November 2017

In a Word


When people used to ask why I consider myself an agnostic rather than an atheist, I found it a difficult question to answer in a way they might (hopefully) understand. That I subscribe to no religion is easy to explain in so far as religion is so divisive and in this sense alone (as far as I am concerned) the essence of hypocrisy, advocating peace and love but only on its terms.

Regular readers will know I find a sense of spirituality in nature to which I can relate while religion (any religion) strikes me as offering nothing but principles inconsistent with the values they purport to expound and expect of the individual. At the same time, the concept of an all-inclusive force for good in the world is one of which I may be sceptical but cannot dismiss, having experienced it at first-hand from men and women in all walks of life whom I feel privileged to call a mentor. So how do I see God, a force for good by any other name while rejecting any attempt to personify it?

My answer has to be nature.

To those who argue that God created the natural world, I would suggest that it is humankind that created the word God, not least by way of explaining away the inexplicable given that even the best scientists don’t have all the answers. while religion may well offer a safety-net of sorts for whatever, if anything, happens when we die, it is enough for me that spring follows winter.

For all its destructive powers, nature is more inclined to side with principles of growth and renewal far more meaningful (for the likes of yours truly) than any persuasive rhetoric expounded by clerics worldwide.

IN A WORD

I know not who,
what or where, yet I feel
its presence here,
in the very heart of me,
no less a part of me
than sun and rain to Day
or moon and stars
to Night, nurturing a world
that knows precious little
for certain once its rhetoric
all said and done,
body, mind and spirit
left in the dark
were a force for good not here,
there, everywhere...
urging us on to better things
and better ways
than else we'd know without
any sense of its light

Word, its cry assailing
The ear where none so deaf
that will not hear)
urging us to shed any shackles
of personal history
or public concerns, shed chains
for a joining of hands
in Peace and Love defying
any dogma complicit
in undermining self-confidence,
by making veiled threats

Copyright R. N. Taber 2001; 2017


[Note: This poem has been significantly revised (2017) from the original as it appears in 1st eds., 2001]

Wednesday, 1 November 2017

When Winter Comes


For many of us, November means we needs must brace ourselves for what could well be a hard winter ahead weather-wise. Others may well face a testing winter of the heart, wherever they may be, regardless of time and seasons. Some may well argue it’s a case of the survival of the fittest, meaning physically, and there is a lot of truth in that, but the physically weak can also be emotionally strong; strong enough to rise above depression, anxiety, everyday concerns …

We have but to give a natural lust for life its head and the chances are its predilection for positive thinking will, in time, rescue us from the pull of negative forces, bypass even the most heroic stoicism, and allow an innate optimism, Hope’s much loved bed-fellow, to once again play a leading role in our lives.

Wherever we may be in the world, whatever its weather patterns, day will always follow night just as winter will always follow spring on the calendar of nature and human nature alike; the latter, though, needs must find a way to turn on the power of mind-body-spirit to save its natural spiritedness from dying just long enough to rediscover that raison d’ĂȘtre which has to be as good a metaphor for spring as any other.

WHEN WINTER COMES

Oh, but when winter comes,
I look around and see trees stripped bare,
and petals in tatters where flowers
once lifted this heart now close to tears
for having watched the swallows fly south
that once greeted its spring

Oh, but when winter comes,
I look around at snowfall on the ground,
see children playing, laughing,
making merry with each other instead
of being glued to social media in a world
whose seasons rolled into one

Oh, but when winter comes
find the days grow shorter, nights longer,
all the more so for a prevailing
north wind wailing like some lost spirit
of summer trying to find its way back home,
familiar landmarks wiped out

Oh, but when winter comes,
I’ll see robins give the lie to defeatism 
in as sweet a song as ever there was
to fill a sad heart with hope for a future
beyond any wintry landscape’s implying
positive thinking is a cruel hoax

Oh, but when winter comes,
I’ll get together with friends, make light
of any feelings of empty days
or lonely nights for hearts beating in time
to what is, after all, but an overture to spring
composed-performed by nature

Oh, but when winter comes,
may divided societies around the world
yet join hands and dance
to the music of its time, fan any flickering
peace-liberty-fraternity into a flaming spring, 
the season of second chances...

Copyright R N Taber, 2017

Sunday, 29 October 2017

Ghosts, Judge and Jury


Much if not most of what we do and say - for better or worse, good or ill - has consequences for ourselves and/or others, either directly or indirectly, now or later.

Whether we accept or deny our part in any such consequences - for whatever reasons - we have to live with both reasons and consequences. This may be a good thing or a bad thing, depending on what we may have said or done or chosen not to say or do, as the case may be; since saying and/or doing nothing can have consequences of no less significance than being actively (or even passively) involved in a particular chain of events,.

Whatever, we are left with clear choices; accept responsibility, deny responsibility, lay it at someone else’s door altogether or delude ourselves that we are absolved of any blame (where any might be attached) if only because we could not possibly have foreseen how certain events, thus triggered, might unravel, especially  given the unpredictability of human nature.

Ah, yes, human nature… the most feeble yet probably the more convincing of all excuses for our own shortcomings, especially with regard to certain perceptive qualities we like to think of as an acquired wisdom and are therefore reluctant to admit we may have been misguided, not to mention downright wrong.

A colleague once commented on there being no point in dwelling on the graver mistakes we make as we go through life, how ‘The only thing to do is kill them stone dead and move on...’ - which has to be one of the best descriptions I’ve yet to hear of a posthumous consciousness inhabited by ghosts likely to haunt its owner evermore. Yes, we can (hopefully) learn from our mistakes and try to make some redress for them. At the same time, they are kin to those proverbial sleeping dogs, likely to wake and disturb even the most carefully constructed comfort zone at any time…

GHOSTS, JUDGE AND JURY

Now and then,
a ghost searches archives
of the human spirit
for mixed feelings to explore
and touch base
with a mind-body ethos
imaging a finger tip
pricked by thorns on a rose
drawing blood

Now and then
ghosts gather to consult
with each other
about the best ways to rectify
errors of judgement,
bring subsequent wrongs
to the attention  
of any directly (or indirectly)
feeding on them

Now and then,
a ghost will reason a need
to come clean
about such misdemeanours
as least intended
to result in hauntings
of the worst kind
for want of a broader (kinder)
take on life

Now and then,
a ghost will home in on us,
confront us
with such past-present-future
leftovers of time
as buried alive in the heart
by a seventh sense
naming names, hearing voices,
calling us out

As for what action
we may or may well not take
by way of an answer…
to each of us the same choices;
find a way to let ghosts
rest in peace at whatever cost
or disown Conscience,
block access to its archives once
and for all...?

Let the human ego
reinvent itself as and when it may,
it cannot unsay
what’s said or undo what’s done,
least of all rewrite
archives comprising life choices
and consequences
pertaining to the least favourable
self-portraiture

Self-discipline
demands things left unsaid, undone,
than let the worst in us
its gamut run until the best in us
is left undervalued
for darker shadows cast further
and lasting longer
for archives remaining vulnerable
to sensationalism

Copyright R. N. Taber 2017

Saturday, 21 October 2017

The Wreck, Permanent Access


Today's poem was inspired by the wreck of a boat found on mud flats in Grays (Essex) and photographed for blog readers by my close friend Graham Collett who also shoots the videos for my You Tube channel. There is, of course, no mist in the photo -  nor was there at the time - so you can see just what it was that caught my imagination. Once caught, it is only a matter of time before it is expressed in one or another art form by the observer's ever present if often unpredictable Muse; in my case, a poem.

[Photo by Graham J. Collett)

THE WRECK, PERMANENT ACCESS

Looming in an autumnal mist
as if out of nowhere…
a wreck once on its way,
who knows where
or why, even cares any more,
so many years gone by, tales told,
reworked, and told again?

Mildly protesting waves cradling
the cadaver like a family
anxious to save one of its own
any greater grief
from a lively imagination weaving
a tapestry of let’s- pretend memories
among various art forms

Dead wood, live spirit, ever ripe
for pickings by the inner eye
on the alert for choice moments
from nature’s archives;
likewise, an ear no less sensitive
to echoes of a past crowding senses,
reclaiming its voices…

Mist thickening, wreck vanishing
from view as if dying another
of a thousand deaths lent its tragedy
at the moment of its drowning
by such guardian ghosts as allow
mind-body-spirit permanent access
to nature and human nature

Copyright R. N. Taber





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

Nature and Human Nature, a Life in the Day 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.

NATURE AND HUMAN NATURE, A LIFE IN THE DAY 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

Breaking Dawn


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.

BREAKING DAWN

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