Monday, 13 October 2014

Heart to Heart OR G-A-Y, a Plea for Common Sense


Several emails from readers worried sick about the reaction of family and friends to their coming out prompted me to write today’s poem.

If acknowledging to ourselves we are gay is traumatic experience, coming out to friends and family can prove even more so. Even these days, not everyone is too happy about it even if they won’t say so. In my experience, this is often because so many straight people have no understanding about what it means to be gay, not least because they have neither really thought about it nor had a chance to discuss it, calmly, objectively and intelligently either at home, school or wherever. Consequently, they remain hung up on misleading, invariably offensive stereotypes that continue to attach themselves to gay men and women in the minds of the less enlightened among the heterosexual majority.

The problem with political correctness is that too many people are afraid to say what they really think. How can we put people right unless we know what they are thinking? There is nothing worse than being tolerated. Sexuality deserves better. For a start, it deserves respect.

A heart to heart can work wonders. (Did I say it would be easy?)

G-A-Y, HEART TO HEART or  G-A-Y, A PLEA FOR COMMON SENSE

Dear family and friends,
see how, come what may,
it really makes no difference
I’m gay

I’m the same person,
that’s sharing with you
the same heartfelt conviction
love is all

If love but conditional,
where does that leave us
as supposedly more spiritual
than beasts?

I crave love and peace,
and if you loved me once,
why should you love me less
for my sexuality?

Infant, now grown
no less a Child of the Earth
or free to run with nature’s own
for being gay

Copyright R. N. Taber 2001; 2014


[Note: An earlier version of this poem appears in 1st eds., of The Third Eye by R. N. Taber, Assembly Books, 2004; revised edition in e-format in preparation. ]

Saturday, 11 October 2014

What Goes Around, Comes Around (OR) G-A-Y, On the Long Arm of Coincidence



For as long as I can remember, Brighton on the East Sussex coast has always been a gay-friendly place. Many years ago, I met someone there with whom I had a brief fling that lasted all of one day. It was raining and we spent most of the time in his hotel room. It was my first experience of sleeping in a four-poster bed.

In recent years, I met up with an old friend who introduced me to someone with whom he had been at school some 50 years ago…who turned out to be the same young man (much older now, of course) I’d met that rainy day back in 1966. In those days, of course, same sex relationships were still illegal in the UK.

Incredibly, we recognized each other at once. Confiding some but not (quite) all to our mutual friend, we seized an opportunity later to take a trip down Memory Lane…in more ways than one.

True enough, it is a fact of life that, more often than not (one way or another) what goes around comes around …eventually.

This poem is a villanelle.

WHAT GOES AROUND, COMES AROUND

What goes around, comes around,
no matter, gay or straight
as spring seeds to wintry ground

Let time, our mistakes, compound
(love will always see us right?)
what goes around, comes around

As dogs of war run peace to ground,
see humanity put to rout…
as spring seeds to wintry ground

In all nature, no finer, sweeter sound
than love songs killing hate
what goes around, comes around

Let martyrdom, its myths compound
where light and darkness mate
as spring seeds to wintry ground

Where sexuality dares speak its mind
(or society construct a closet)
what goes around, comes around
as spring seeds to wintry ground

[Brighton, East Sussex, March 17th 2010]

Copyright R. N. Taber 2010


Thursday, 2 October 2014

G-A-Y, Win Some, Lose Some


I suspect most if not all of us have been there, when sex is (temporarily) enough and a relationship just isn’t on the cards.

Have fun, but be careful out there…

G-A-Y, WIN SOME, LOSE SOME

We got raunchy in a sauna
but didn’t get very far;
people kept interrupting
and we really weren’t
up for an orgy so we drove
into the country,
had sex among the trees,
songbirds nesting
above, indifferent and snug
as you please

Bodies kindling each other
like rolled newspapers
to a flame, plagiarizing
soap opera storylines
till dawn when we rose,
passion faded
like the moon, got real
and went home;
I didn’t ask for his number
or give mine

We both knew there wouldn’t
be a next time…

Copyright R. N. Taber 2002; 2014

[Note: Slightly revised from an earlier version that appears in 1st eds. of First Person Plural by R. N. Taber, Assembly Books, 2002; revised edition in e-format in preparation.]

Monday, 29 September 2014

G-A-Y, Immortal Beloved


Regular readers will know that my partner and I only has a few years together before he was killed in a road accident, and that was a long time ago. I think about him every day. Yes, I am often sad because I miss him, but it is a sadness tempered with the joy of having loved him and been loved in return; it always lifts me, and rams home the message that love never dies.

I experimented with drugs in my long-ago youth until someone told me that you can never get higher than getting high on love. So who needs drugs? Oh, but that is so true. Love is the only high worth having if only because it lasts the longest, continuing to let people like me access a spiritual dimension that has nothing to do with either religion or sexuality...and why should it?

G-A-Y, IMMORTAL BELOVED

My gay love gave to me a yellow rose
so I would always recall in my heart
how love, if tended, nurtured, always grows
like the truth only wisdom can impart

My gay love gave to me an apple green
so I would recall with each eager bite
that what was, is now, and always has been,
a Tree of Knowledge shading Eden’s light

My gay love gave to me a gentle kiss
to which my heart responded with its all,
a thank you for a lifetime of summers
whose birdsong a metaphor for the soul

My gay love passed away some years ago
but ever lives on in me, this I know…

Copyright R. N. Taber 2005; 2012

[Note: This poem has been slightly revised from an earlier version that appears under the title The Truth About Love in 1st eds. of A Feeling For The Quickness Of Time by R. N. Taber, Assembly Books, 2005; revised edition in e-format in preparation.]



Sunday, 28 September 2014

G-A-Y, a Haunting OR When Love Loses Out to (So-Called) Convention



Years ago, many gay men and women would get married or even enter a religious order rather than confront their sexuality head-on and learn to live with and enjoy it. For a start, for those to whom  it is important part of mind, body and spirit, religion should not be a path to fulfillment, not a means of escape.

It is one of our modern tragedies that gay people worldwide are still growing up in a gay-unfriendly environment and seeking escape rather than fulfillment.

G-A-Y, A HAUNTING or WHEN LOVE LOSES OUT TO (SO-CALLED) CONVENTION

When I was a young man,
I tried out dating girls because that’s what young men
are expected to do

I couldn’t understand
why I felt so attracted to another man as I’d been told
it was a sin

I tried to stop these feelings
overwhelming me, but couldn’t get you out of my mind
no matter how I tried

You haunted me
day and night, couldn’t concentrate for long on anything
but you

I so needed to know
more about your body, mind, and spirit than making love
in wet dreams

I’d hold you close,
kiss your smiling mouth, entwine with your naked body,
let it into mine

I can but remember
that starry night we had when you said you loved me too,
but being gay was not for you

At your wedding
the radiance of your smile spread like summer, won over
everyone but me

Copyright R. N. Taber 2010


Wednesday, 24 September 2014

Past Imperfect OR Where the Road is Bare, Plant Trees


Many years ago, I had a Russian boyfriend. (I would love to visit Russia. Yes, in spite of President Putin’s anti-gay stance. One day, maybe…) His name was Anatoly and he was studying here. He answered to Nat although I’m not sure even he knew how this had come about. He was not only a genuinely nice guy but also good looking and a brilliant cook. In short, he was every gay man’s dream of a partner and way out of my league, or so I thought. Yet, somehow Nat and I became more than friends during his stay here.

Nat is the only boyfriend I’ve ever had who loved poetry. (Yes, even mine.) I missed him a lot when he returned to Russia and hoped we would stay in touch, but Fate had other plans for us. About three years later, I received a brief note that has been forwarded from several different addresses to say he was getting married to ‘a girl called Anna.’ It was just as well he hadn’t put an address or I would probably have caught the next plane to Moscow.

While my poetry is a diary of sorts. no one but me will ever know which poems are based on my own life or on observations of other people’s lives or just wishful thinking on all our parts. It is not surprising then that, as I browse my poems, faces, places and circumstances spring to mind that may be directly related to the poem or simply passing at a tangent to it. So now I find myself thinking about Nat and wondering what happened to him, hoping he is happy, but concerned that a hot-blooded young gay man should have chosen to marry. Has Anna made him happy? Do they have children? I will probably never know.

None of us are perfect nor do we live perfect lives. Yet, it is in those very imperfections that the roller coaster ups and downs of everyday existence lie. Whether or not we are feeling quite up to the ride is another matter…

As I grow old(er) I find myself looking back on the past and regretting much of it for one reason or another.  After all, where has my life brought me but to this growing old alone…and me with such a capacity for love?

Oh, but a pointless exercise, this negative stuff, I agree. Better by far to engage in some positive thinking, be glad for the parts regret cannot reach and try to be that person regret could never touch. Easier said than done, but methinks well worth the effort or old age is likely to be even less of a picnic than old bones would have it…

PAST IMPERFECT or WHERE THE ROAD IS BARE, PLANT TREES

Smoky haze on a lonely road,
rogue leaves falling one by one
like faces in a Hall of Mirrors
reflecting such multiple fractures
of times past, hints of joy
and laughter mangled by tears,
as those I have loved and lost
gazing anxiously through my fears;
a merciless naming of parts
(success, achievement…) heads
turned by the darker side
of fulfillment, tiny flames licking
at what we care to call 'soul’

Smouldering seasons lost
to wisps of smoke, scalding caresses,
half-truths let drift with a smile;
familiar faces rallying at such times 
of need as this, reassurances
once betrayed and tossed aside,
now returning to haunt
the self-centred manipulations
and errors of judgment
that brought us here, fuelling a pyre
of purpose-built paranoia;
time to put life’s illusions to rout
and its angrier fires out

Look, and find a hunchback called Pain
planting trees on New Memory Lane

Copyright R. N. Taber 1999; 2014

[Note: An earlier version of this poem first appeared in the anthology Duende, Poetry Today [Forward Press] 1999 and subsequently in 1st eds. of Love and Human Remains, Assembly Books, 2001; alternative title added 2014; revised edition in preparation in e-format.]


Monday, 22 September 2014

G-A-Y, Coming Together OR Love, Triumphant


For gay people living in a gay-unfriendly environment, being openly gay can be hard, sometimes impossible (punishable by death in some countries!). In the end, though, love and a sense of personal identity will find a way…

G-A-Y, COMING TOGETHER or LOVE, TRIUMPHANT

Come light of day
to midnight’s soul,
a love that’s gay

Dark swept away,
hearts made whole,
come light of day

Open hearts pray
(yet no glad bells toll)
a love that’s gay

Cold feet of clay,
a wake-up call
come light of day

Breaking away,
(no backs to the wall)
a love that’s gay

Let the world say
what it will;
come light of day,
a love that’s gay

Copyright R. N. Taber 2005; 2014

[Note; Slightly revised (2014) from an earlier version that appears in 1st eds. of A Feeling for the Quickness of Time by R. N. Taber, Assembly Books, 2005; revised edition in e-format in preparation.]