Friday, 19 December 2014

G-A-Y, Winter Warmers

Some people warn against looking back and insist we should only look forward. I see where they are coming from, but as I get older, in the (early) winter of my years, I take great pleasure in mulling over and sifting through happy times if only to gloss over any lingering unhappiness. Moreover, I come through the experience feeling more ready, willing and able to take on whatever the future may have in store, including death. 

No, I am not being morbid. Death is as much a part of life as life itself so where’s the harm in thinking about it sometimes? Thinking about issues can lend them a degree of familiarity in the mind’s eye; the more familiar we are with them, the less afraid we become.

While I’ve had more than my fair share of ups and downs in life and had to cope with regular bouts of depression since early childhood, I count myself fortunate that I am still here to tell the tale.

If relatively few of my poems are strictly autobiographical, there is a lot of ‘me’ in all of them as I try to home in on light in darkness, good amongst bad, warmth from cold, and pass it on…for others to make of it what they will, relate to even, hopefully feel less troubled and more positive about...everything.  


The hair is greyer
than yesterday;
one more furrow
on the brow;
sight less clear than
it used to be;
hearing gradually
getting worse

What now?

A loving heart beats
as yesterday;
no fewer dreams
to inspire;
looking back on good,
bad and ugly;
glad to be gay and out
of the closet


Counting blessings
on falling stars;
seeing (so clearly) this
and that mistake;
could have done better
yet am who I am…
Whatever, we can but do
our best


Copyright R. N. Taber 2002; 2014

[Note: An earlier version of this poems appears in 1st eds. of First Person Plural by R. N. Taber, Assembly Books, 2002; revised ed. in preparation in e-format.]

Saturday, 6 December 2014

G-A-Y, A Learning Curve

I have lived alone for many years, but it was not always that way, and I will always feel the same warm glow I like to think made me a better person for travelling love’s learning curve…


I could not believe I am gay;
it went against everything told and taught,
yet catching sight of you every day
urged me to account for tears on my pillow
every night

I tried to refuse you entry
to my dreams with some safer distraction
than an emerging sexuality,
but you would always invade, relish centre
of attraction

One day you suggested a meal
at your house, implying others joining us,
but not long after my arrival
I understood no one else would be coming,
and grew nervous

I wanted to leave, needed to stay,
slowly relaxed, began to unwind, feel free
to let my body have its way
with the heart’s desires, for all its growing

When you kissed me, I nearly died;
you instantly withdrew, a tableau of dismay,
till my kinder senses rallied
and I finally embraced the sure knowledge
I am gay

Soon after, I told family and friends
we were together, lovers, and must make of it
what they will…
Most would rather accept love’s finer ends
than shut me out

I could not believe I am gay;
it went against everything told and taught,
yet loving you more each day
exposed any lies, dried any tears shared
each night

Copyright R. N. Taber 2014

Tuesday, 11 November 2014

G-A-Y, Doppelganger

I was not always openly gay, having grown up as a youth and young man at a time when gay relationships were a criminal offence and considered a sin but most religions. 

Now, thankfully, the broader-thinking West at least has learned to accept that being gay is genetic and no more unnatural than being born. Sadly, though, not everyone among the heterosexual majority shares this enlightened view. Across the world, even in the so-called ‘liberal’ West, gay boys and girls, men and women, are growing up in a gay-unfriendly environment, encouraged to believe they are the lowest of the low for being gay.

It took me some time to stop feeling self-conscious about being gay, to understand (and act on it) that we must never let anyone put us down for our sexuality, least of all ourselves.


I once walked narrow streets
in the bitter cold and dark of winter,
body, mind and spirit
crying out to be heard, trusted,
loved, and free

No one in those narrow streets
gave me a second look or seemed
to care that I was in crisis,
duped into believing I had no right
to even be there

I paused at a bright shop window
whose lights and colours turned me
into a patched-up clown
(minus wide smile) in a circus ring,
raining sawdust

Suddenly, a burst of wild applause
for my doppelganger clowning it up
in the window and loving
every minute, soaking up applause
like spring rain

I raised a smile, a chuckle, a laugh,
and continued along the narrow streets
that seemed broader now,
people nodding and smiling at me,
a common humanity

Apollo peeped from behind a cloud
as if to complement a metamorphosis,
welcome a lonely gay man
into the human race, its prejudices
melting away

Now, as I walk those same streets
in the bitter cold and dark of winter,
body, mind and spirit
rejoice for having found a voice, love,
and freedom

Copyright R. N. Taber 2014

Tuesday, 4 November 2014

A (Gay) Poet's Take On Autumn

People often tell me they find autumn a sad month because it means winter is closing in, but as I have often pointed out on my blogs… after winter, spring.

Better, surely, to look forward to spring than dread winter?


Autumn leaves

Drifting by my window
like dreams I have nurtured
with love and care
in the garden of my life
where some flowered
in their season while others
were battered by wind and rain,
never to be seen again

Autumn leaves

Whirling by my window
like dervishes in a frenzied
dance of life and death,
sustained by a rage to seize
the day, come what may,
on the battlefields of my life
where I have risked all to prove
a born capacity for love

Autumn leaves

Clinging to my window
as Apollo clings to the last patch
of blue before sunset,
bids nature and human nature
rest easy on hard won laurels,
so-brief enough reprieve before
another rude awakening to a world
falling on its sword

Autumn leaves

Ripped from my window
like pages of memory best left
to wind and rain
while I enjoy each dreamy leaf,
petal and blade of grass
found in the garden of my life
whose choirs heard singing each day
of my pride in being gay

Autumn leaves, tears of Earth Mother
for any that cannot see beyond winter

Copyright R. N. Taber 2014

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?)


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,
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…


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.]