Monday, 29 August 2016

Love, a Flower for every Beat the Heart Skips OR Remembrance, Time in a Garden

Today, our thoughts fly to the victims of the recent devastating earthquake in Italy; the living and the dead.

Nature, as we have seen, is constantly reminding us that humankind, for all its progress through the ages, remains vulnerable. (As if we need reminding!) No less vulnerable, the human spirit, but also an indomitable life force.

Now, memories are no compensation for reality. Nothing and no one can compensate for the loss of a loved one; family member, lover or close friend. Even so, it has been my personal experience that memories can keep good times as fresh in our minds as when we first shared them, and in so doing any tears - in time -become more like spring rain than some relentless wintry storm.

Such is the power of love that that it will inspire the human spirit for generations to weather any storm, repair close-knit communities damaged by events beyond their control and, most importantly, concede love the victory over grief. 

Did I say it was easy…?

This poem is a villanelle.


In thoughts so near, so far away,
inspiration visits old Memory Lane;
love’s young dream, here to stay

Whether or not we choose to pray,
love will survive us time and again
in thoughts so near, so far away

Deep sleep, no guiding light of day
nor dark, only kisses like spring rain,
love’s young dream, here to stay

Come despair keeping life at bay,
cue for human love to take the strain
in thoughts so near, so far away

Though a body retreat world affray,
a good heart repeats its finer refrain;
love’s young dream, here to stay

Though life bury us in colours grey,
trust human goodness ever to remain;
in thoughts so near, so far away,
love’s young dream, here to stay

Copyright R. N. Taber 2016

Saturday, 20 August 2016

Separate Stones OR Getting the Better of Time

A number of readers have been in touch to ask if my poetry collections are still available. Well, I’m afraid not as they are out of print and I have no plans to publish further print runs or 2nd editions. However, I am in the process of preparing revised editions of each collection in e-format for Google Play; this will take some time, especially as I do not enjoy good health since I hit 70 last year.

I am also often asked for the link to an interview I gave Benjamin Richter, a student in multimedia journalism earlier this year. I have added it to several blog posts, but here it is again for anyone who may be interested. (You may not find it on the Internet.)

Love and hate are among the strongest of human passions, and can always be relied upon to leave a deep impression on us; so deep, it can last a lifetime and beyond. Love, though, is the more enduring and will always have the edge if only because it is a positive force for good; positive forces for anything less may well survive the test of time in terms of the human life span, but never the test of timelessness.


One summer we lay beneath a willow tree,
gazing at a fluffy, leafy, sky,
passionate branches like arms around me,
enduring river flowing idly by

Time then to laugh, play, see kingfishers dive
for shimmering scales defying capture
in vain, an inspired will to stay alive
to the last breath, like love’s gasping rapture

Daring to dream, we made that summer ours,
let joyful birdsong drown the river’s sighs
till autumn’s beating at heaven’s towers
brought us, half-listening, to the world’s lies

Though some mourn, scorn stones separating us,
let the willow weep for them, not our ghosts

Copyright R. N. Taber 2007; 2016

[From: Accomplices to Illusion by R. N. Taber, Assembly Books, 2007; rev. ed. in e-format in preparation.]

Thursday, 18 August 2016

Best is Best, No Finishing Line

I get angry when people comment along the lines of someone’s having no ambition.

Ambition means different things to different people and cannot be measured in terms of ‘success’ or ‘failure’; far too often these things are measured in terms of fame and fortune without taking into account someone’s success as a well-meaning, decent person; in the latter category, you will often find some of the poorest people in the world.

Whatever, we can only do our best, and if that is not good enough for some people...too bad!


I can be a friend or foe, take me as you will
to a corner of your heart and let me stay
to whisper sweet words of love and desire
in your ear, bring precious respite
from life’s trials, wars and sleepless nights
for worry, fear, dread of what the day
may yet devour. I can light your darkness.
Only, dance with me on the shadow-line...
win or lose

I can be a friend or foe, take me as you will
into a corner of your mind and let me stay
to whisper unkind words of lust and desire
in your ear where no respite
from life’s trials, wars, sleepless nights
for worry, fear, dread of what day may bring,
rain or shine. Come, and let's conspire
with our love of money to prove ourselves
again, and again

Yet, the human whole comprises parts
that may be taken for friend or foe
as it will, all it needs to fire the body,
mind, and spirit for good or ill,
young or old, discover how all that glisters
is not gold nor dreamers fools who live
and love each day as if their last,
see in me but distortions of  better selves
that faithless shadows cast

I'll lead you a fine dance on the shadow-line;
and you may best me yet, called Ambition

Copyright R. N. Taber 2007; 2016

[Note: This poem first appeared under the title 'Dirty Dancing' in 1st eds.,  of Accomplices to Illusion by R. N. Taber, Assembly Books,2007; revised ed. in e-format in preparation.]

Tuesday, 16 August 2016

Service Charge Included OR Ghosts, A (Prepaid) Ticket to Ride

Readers often ask if I am on Facebook or Twitter. No, I am not, but if anyone is interested in a regular (or occasional) email exchange or is ever in London and would like to meet up for a chat over a drink, coffee, meal (or all three) feel free to get in touch: -


Someone once accused me of lying and told me I would pay dearly for it when I die, as I would for any other sins. Well, I am not a religious person, but I was raised a Christian and am not unfamiliar with the Holy Bible. It has always struck me that Jesus of Nazareth spoke a lot of good sense. When a woman was about to be stoned, he is reported in the Gospels as saying, ‘Let he who is without sin cast the first stone.’

If sin embraces lies and other forms of deceit, wrongdoing, selfishness, bigotry and hypocrisy - to name just a few of the worse human traits - I dare say most if not all of us have sinned in one way or another. Some sins can be explained if not excused; others are inexplicable and inexcusable.

So what obscure life force is it within us that makes us sin, sometimes against our better judgement?  Whatever, we can rely on conscience to see we are not let off the hook.

I believe we make our own ‘heaven’ and our own ‘hell.’ To what extent depends on what we do - or don’t do - to deserve either or both. So when, as mythology would have it, the Ferryman comes to row us across the Styx, I see no reason why we should pay a penny more than we have spent a lifetime paying…one way or another.

Someone else once told me that Conscience is our salvation, not Belief, seeing to it that any bad in us pays;  it is the spirit of any good in us that the Ferryman lands on the shores of infinity. (Maybe that is why the poet in me sees and listens to ghosts, all of whom appear to mean well?)


A time must come when we shall die,
and what last steps do we take?
Do we pray or simply weep a goodbye
to all we’ve loved for life’s sake?

Will death us, a kinder ‘God’ restore,
peace of mind, innocence of a child,
or see us writhe in pain at a closed door,
pay the price for being of this world?

What is repentance, what does it prove
but sheer desperation to be rescued
from an eternity denied the spirit of love,
free fall in a well of all lies reviewed?

If life, it play fair at death’s home shore,
why pay the ferryman a penny more?

Copyright R. N. Taber 2005; 2016

[Note: This poem has been revised (2016) since first appearing in The Sound of Silence, TA-TI Edizone (Italy, 2005) and A Feeling for the Quickness of Time by R. N. Taber, Assembly Books, 2005; a revised version of my collection - in e-format - is in preparation.]

Monday, 15 August 2016

Rummaging the Archives OR Earth Mother, A Biography

Life is what it is; we make the best (or worst) of things. Everyone is different and no one has the right to judge another simply because they appear to aspire to less than their potential suggests. Fame, fortune, travel…these are wonderful achievements if and where the cap fits but aspiring to be nothing more or less than a good parent/person is no less wonderful, even more so perhaps for its invariably being less obvious (or newsworthy).

Whatever, we can always fall back on imagination...


Home truths, like near dead lilies on a lake
running dry

Lifelines, like veins of a turning leaf
come autumn

Desire, taking comfort in homemade soup
in winter

Wisdom, taking its cue from the first
cuckoo of spring

Ambition, but Jack Frost’s tablecloth spread,
our places laid

Passion, saving water lilies from a lake
running dry

Love, preserving archives lest humanity
need reminding what it is

Copyright R. N. Taber 2007; 2016

[From: Accomplices to Illusion by R. N. Taber, Assembly Books,2007; revised ed. in e-format in preparation .]

Saturday, 13 August 2016

War and Peace, the Bitter-Sweet Poetry of Being Human

War, more often than not, takes a cruel toll on Home Fronts as well as on the battlefield; it changes people, and in doing so can destroy relationships, inflict all manner of blows on family life, cause individuals to question the validity of any raison d’ĂȘtre on offer.

It is perhaps the greatest tragedy of humankind that it’s multi-ego has a problem with the notion of simply agreeing to differ


At war, injury or worse for victory’s sake,
not all survivors showing its scars;
at home, cradles rock and boughs break

Back home, safe passage no piece of cake,
many survivors too weary for tears;
at war, injury or worse for victory’s sake

See the battlefield, its finest heroes make
of women from Venus, men from Mars;
at home, cradles rock and boughs break

All roads to peace, too, their victims take,
for all we’re told an answer to prayers;
at war, injury of worse for victory’s sake

Where war makes waves across time’s lake,
find peace putting its faith in straws;
at home, cradles rock and boughs break

Shall history its peace with war ever make,
its windows on the world need no bars?
At war, injuries or worse for victory’s sake;
at home, cradles rock and boughs break

Copyright R. N. Taber 2010; 2016

[Note: Title (only) of the poem revised (2016) from the version that appears in 1st eds. of On the Battlefields of Love by R. N. Taber, Assembly Books, 2010; revised ed. in e-format in preparation.]

Friday, 12 August 2016

Animal Behaviour

I hate being referred to as a gay poet. I prefer to think of myself as a poet who happens to be gay. When I commented as such to someone only recently I was told it was much to be expected as people tend to be judged by/ remembered for their behaviour; it was put to me that my being gay was by far the more significant aspect of who I am as a person.


My being gay IS a significant part of who I am, but other aspects of a person’s individuality are every bit as if not more important than their sexuality.

The same person suggested that being gay was ‘unnatural’ and therefore more likely to ‘stick out like a sore thumb’.

Well, nature’s heterosexual majority, it would appear, is far more accepting and understanding of various species’ native traits in this respect than many among its human counterpart.
While there are a number of documentaries on You Tube about homosexual behaviour in animals, the link below will take you to my favourite video:


As I walked in the garden one day,
I saw a dog chase a cat into a hedge,
but cat kept its head,
spat and glared till dog backed away
and went after a squirrel instead,
but the wily squirrel was far too quick
and scampered up a tree
while the dog settled for chewing
on a bone left lying on the lawn

As I strolled out in a park one day,
I saw dogs chasing each other’s tails
and clearly having fun
till one glimpsed a cat in the distance,
hared off after it,
the rest on its heels barking madly,
but cat already gone
so began fighting each other viciously,
owners converging in alarm

As I went on a protest march one day,
riot police shields herded us into a corner,
tarring us all with the same brush,
(peaceful protesters and trouble makers)
but someone broke free,
police on their heels shouting madly,
soon catching up with the person
who was then brought down viciously,
dragged off crying in handcuffs

I spotted children observing a dog
taking no notice of a cat but to exchange
glances as if commenting
on the weird way we humans carry on,
now boxing in our own
or fighting, now hugging each other,
while a sparrow in a nearby tree
had to agree, all three alerted by history
to humankind’s split personality

Copyright R. N. Taber 2011