Sunday, 2 April 2017

On Taking Responsibility OR In Pieces


Regular readers will be aware that I suffered a severe nervous breakdown in 1979. As I began to recover, so I started writing again as much by way of creative therapy as any natural love for the art form. Following an indescribable struggle with mind, body and spirit, I finally regained a sense of ‘normality’ and was fortunate enough to dig myself out of that Black Hole, unemployment, and return to work a few years later. In 2005, I began publishing poems, self-publishing the only option open to me as no literary agents or publishers wanted my gay-interest material and I refused to leave it out.

This poem (a villanelle) has been significantly revised since I published in 2005, itself a (lesser) revision of a (handwritten) version written during the 1990’s. Not one of my better poems, perhaps, although its place in the history of my poetry of no small significance. 

For years now, I have been striving to (a) reach out to readers, (b) share an inner learning curve, and (c) reconcile form and content in my poetry in a way that does some justice to its art form; it has been a long journey, and not over yet. To critics who suggest I should not poet poems until I and they are ‘ready’ I can only say that, having sowed various seeds, I am never quite clear how they might grow until they flower; sometimes they remain but seeds or may sprout shoots that refuse to flower or may flower in ways that are true to a picture on the seed packet.

One way or another, we have to take responsibility for ourselves; playing the blame game never got anybody anywhere hast unless it’s a Black Hole like the one I crawled out of years ago into a self-awareness that insisted I stop playing Jack-in-a Box about being gay and learned to take responsibility for and a pride in a better, kinder self than any which life experience had all but succeeded in moulding me into hitherto.

I’m 71 now, and still learning…

ON TAKING RESPONSIBILITY or IN PIECES

We broke the pot,
(Earth Mother cried)
up to us to mend it…

Birthdays forgot,
(the old beggar died)
we broke the pot

Loyalty split,
(so our ‘Betters’ lied?)
up to us to mend it

Peace, it could not
get the better of pride;
we broke the pot

To each our lot;
though humanity divide,
up to us to mend it

Marking the spot
where hope all but died;
we broke the pot,
up to us to mend it…

Copyright R. N. Taber 2005; 2017

[Note: A version of this poem first appeared in A Feeling for the Quickness of Time by R. N. Taber, Assembly Books, 2007; revised ed. in e-format in preparation.]

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