Friday, 17 June 2016

G-A-Y, A Growing Affinity with Pinks OR Never Give Up on Happy-Ever-After

Today’s poem was written in 1998. It is autobiographical in so far as it is meant to convey something of a growing child’s passion for myths, legends and fairy stories; arguably, (since I was not conscious of being gay at the time) these prepared me for a world in which gay people might well be called upon to do battle with dragons breathing fire, but would emerge heroic, each in his and her own way.

By the way, the old-fashioned carnation name ‘pinks’ comes from the serrated flower edges, which look as if cut with pinking shears. The name of the colour pink is said to come from these perennials, which have been popular in gardens for hundreds of years. 


Boy in the garden
on a white horse,
saves a fair maiden, lets legend
run its course…
Youth in the garden
declines to play,
rejects a fair maiden, lets gossip
have its wicked way

Man in the garden,
close to the earth,
looking to heaven for salvation
and rebirth…
Tired eyes, all but closed
to humanity’s misgivings,
stung by smoke rising - from
a bonfire of its vanities

Come, ride a white horse
across the sky...
Higher! Yet, no heart for maids
or dragon’s fire…
Below, perfumed pinks
in secret gardens,
tokens of some Happy-ever-After
notion of Heaven?

Copyright R. N. Taber 2001; 2016

[Note: An earlier version of this poem appears under the title 'An Affinity with Pinks' in 1st eds. of Love and Human Remains by R. N. Taber, Assembly Books, 2001; revised ed. in e-format in preparation.]

Tuesday, 14 June 2016

(Another) Crime Against Humanity OR G-A-Y, No Stranger to Hate Crime

The full horror of events in Orlando, Florida, in the early hours of Sunday morning (June 12th) when a lone gunman opened fire in a gay nightclub, killing 49 people and injuring many others, some seriously, is only now starting to hit home among gay communities worldwide. 

If, as it would appear, the perpetrator was inspired by so-called Islamic State, it begs the question how many others are being similarly radicalised and groomed to commit other outrages just about anywhere in the world?

Gay or straight, we cannot be intimidated by the threat of terrorism even if, as many have discovered to their cost, it is no empty threat. All we can do is remain vigilant, report any suspicions to the appropriate authorities, and get on with our lives.

Yes, I have said much the same thing on other posts and in other poems, but as my mother (and my English teacher) used to say some 50+ years ago, if something is worth saying, it is always worth repeating. Moreover, I do try to vary how I express much the same thing in poems, blog posts, and everyday conversation. (If I fail, I can only agree that I must be one of the most boring people on the planet.)

Tragically, crimes against humanity are nothing new and have been repeated, in one form or another around the world, through the ages; more often than not, they are politically motivated. Rubens’ painting, ‘Massacre of the Innocents’ relates to Herod the Great’s ordering the killing of every male child in Bethlehem in a desperate attempt to kill baby Jesus whom he saw as a potential threat after a visit by the Magi; according to the Gospel of Matthew. [Photo copied from the Internet.]

This poem is a villanelle.


A sickness of the human condition,
spread by terrorist propaganda
strikes at the heart of civilisation

Gay folks, out and about, having fun,
ever trolled by social trauma,
a sickness of the human condition

In a Land of the Free, Constitution
promotes a gun-toting agenda,
strikes at the heart of civilisation

Many oppose tighter gun legislation
in the light of the War on Terror,
a sickness of the human condition

Few voice concern for a generation
where a biased, foxy, media
strikes at the heart of civilisation

Wherever discrimination and division 
fuelling a socio-cultural burner,
a sickness of the human condition
strikes at the heart of civilisation

Copyright R. N. Taber, 2016
(London, June 14, 2016)

Thursday, 9 June 2016

Cue for Life OR G-A-Y, the Sky's the Limit

As a closet gay teenager 50+ years ago when gay relationships were a criminal offence here in the UK, it was ironically a Church of England minister (who insisted gay people would go to hell) that helped me through what were very traumatic years. Whenever you feel lost, he would say, look to God in Heaven for directions.

I did not go looking for God as I was already disillusioned on that count, but I did find myself gazing up at the sky one day and saw cloud shapes resembling two men holding hands and smiling down at me. After that, I coped with my secret life far better and with far fewer doubt as to whether or not I really had lost my way.

Yes, of course, it was all in my imagination. Even so, the heavens seemed to be telling me something, and who was I, a potential poet no less, to turn a blind eye? 

As for God, whatever we understand by that, I saw God and nature as inseparable one from the other even in those long-ago days. Consequently, I have never felt the sense of spirituality I take from nature rather than religion in the least threatened by being gay. 

This poem is a villanelle.


I take my cue for life from the sky,
where the sun winks back at me
among clouds spelling out, G-A-Y

Too often, the world makes me sigh
with frustration, rage, anxiety;
I take my cue for life from the sky

Now and then, people make me cry
until I find an answer to bigotry
among clouds spelling out, G-A-Y

Often advised to let sleeping dogs lie
than let them wake up to reality,
I take my cue for life from the sky

Once, told to hide my true self and lie,
I found an anthology of sexuality
among clouds spelling out, G-A-Y

Walking tall and holding the head high
can test even sense and sensibility;
I take my cue for life from the sky
among clouds spelling out, G-A-Y

Copyright R. N. Taber 2016

Wednesday, 8 June 2016

G-A-Y, No Plan B OR Getting the Better of Denial

It is possible to be in denial of love, probably because we have an ideal in mind to which nothing and no one can ever (quite) live up.

It can take a while sometimes to understand that we don’t have to compromise on the ideal, just stop closing mind, body, and spirit to the possibility of loving someone and being loved in return…and trust love itself to do the rest.


He only wanted my body,
nothing else from me, no half share
in dreams and aspiration,
didn’t care a jot for my opinions
about politics and religion
messing us all about while pretending
to toe some party line
towards some supposed ‘greater good’
sure to be haunting us all

He only wanted my body
and since the attraction was mutual
I was okay with that,
and it made a pleasant change to skip
dull small talk, exchanges
of autobiographical anecdotes if only
to set the scene,
but strip off unselfconsciously, enjoy sex
for its own sake, no strings

I only wanted  his body,
weary of guys with domestic agendas
like wanting to settle down
and play out a happy-ever-after fantasy
in an affordable house
with adorable children courtesy of laws
permitting gay couples
to marry, adopt, even live ordinary lives
among ordinary people

I only wanted his body,
not in the least attracted to some nebulous
social stratosphere
dominated by a heterosexual majority
that sees gay couples
as a tolerably minority, here to stay
only as reiterating
some politically correct code of ethics
half the world won’t endorse

We only wanted sex,
no ulterior motive such as falling in love,
wanting the spend
the rest of our lives together, give sceptics
a run for their money,
share bad times as well as good, survive
not only to tell the tale,
but go one better, be stronger than ever
just for staying together

We only wanted sex,
from the first moment we saw each other
across a crowded bar,
going back to his place later, certain only
about being intimate,
no letting mind and spirit into the equation
but for being feisty,
living the moment as if it might well be
we’d never see its like again

That was the idea, until we hit
on a plan B in the first, cold, light of dawn,
wrapped around each other,
loath to part company despite a tsunami
of doubts and reservations
that (eventually) we saw off with a kiss
which lasted long enough
to help us understand about love on a roll
this, our second time around

Copyright R. N. Taber 2016

Saturday, 4 June 2016

On Having the Last Laugh OR G-A-Y, Turning Tables and Influencing People

I once met a guy in a gay bar who told me he was not openly gay and asked how I ‘deal’ with my sexuality in the ‘real’ world. I told him how I used to think I had to ‘deal’ with it because, well, because… until I saw that the only ‘because’ was of my own making and I would never be free to be myself until I let it go and drown itself along with all the other excuses many if not most of us - gay or straight - so love making for not doing something.

"But people…" he began. I stopped him in his tracks and pointed out that ‘people’ are different; good and bad, wise and bigoted, open-hearted and closed-minded. Life is about seeking out and siding with the best, and taking the worst in our stride.

Now, it may well be true that most truisms are trite if not sweeping statements, but many make a point worth pondering upon. For example, ‘Laugh and the world laughs with you has to be a better cue for living than having it laugh at you…surely?


Years ago, people made me cry
for telling me I well deserved to die
and they would not give me the time of day
just because I’m gay

Years ago I kept myself to myself
like an unwanted toy on a dusty shelf
rarely coming out, felt obliged to hide away
just because I’m gay

Years ago, I hid my sexuality
from a prying heterosexual majority
until a day I paused long enough to ask why
I should live a lie…?

I came out to the world at last,
facing up to and overriding my past,
sided with satire to confuse any would-be foe
let that tell them where to go

Once, I cracked jokes in a bar,
everyone laughed, shouted for more,
till a lone voice mocked my sexual persuasion,
only to be shouted down

Years ago, I was a fool to myself
gathering dust on a toymaker’s shelf;
fortunately (eventually) I got a life, and had fun
laughing the bigots down

Copyright R. N. Taber 2016

Monday, 30 May 2016

Bending Nature's Ear OR G-A-Y, As the Wind Blows

There are a number of documentaries on You Tube about homosexual behaviour in animals; the link below will take you to my favourite video:

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 of its own.

Is it any wonder then that as a gay teenager and young man long before gay relationships were decriminalised here in the UK, I found not only comfort but growing sense of spirituality in nature sadly (still) lacking in any religion regarding potential subscribers who happen to be gay.  (Members of the Church of England hierarchy who maintain that it is OK to be gay so long as we are not having sex have to be living in cloud cuckoo land!)


I’d let squirrels swinging upside down
on a washing line
into certain secrets I preferred to keep
from family and friends

I‘d tell next door’s cat touching base
with its favourite haunts
how it’s a shame many humans so love
pass judgement on others

I’d hold forth to a vixen watching cubs
venturing into the open
on humankind’s fetish for hypocritical
hearts and minds

I’d confide in the sun, moon, and stars
that many Earth folk
might well be happier for engaging less
in one upmanship

I’d commune with nature and company
about divided societies
more likely to fight over any differences
than respect them

Finally, I got around to telling the wind
I am gay and to pass it on;
if all nature can live with that, humanity
can take or leave it 

Copyright R. N. Taber 2016

Friday, 27 May 2016

G-A-Y, The Divided Heart OR Mixed Feelings

Some people are bisexual while others can relate to the opposite sex but prefer their own, yet feel - for whatever reason – unable to be open and up-front about it. Such men and women are frequently criticised by gay and straight people alike, but who are we to judge?

The Japanese have a saying ‘I no naka no kawazu taikai wo shirazu.’ (Literally: A frog in a well does not know the great sea.)  In other words, people are satisfied to judge things by their own narrow experience for not knowing any different.

Regular readers will know I do not subscribe to any religion, but I had a Christian upbringing and I reckon Jesus was spot on when he told those anxious to sentence a woman to be stoned to death for adultery as according to the law, ‘Let him among you who is without sin cast the first stone at her.’ (John 8:7)

Myself, I probably relate more closely to words attributed to Bob Marley, “Who are you to judge the life I live? I know I'm not perfect - and I don't live to be - but before you start pointing fingers...make sure your hands are clean!”

This poem is a villanelle.


A tourist I met from Japan one fine day
much prefers sex with a man,
confessed his heart reminds him he’s gay

A family man, he keeps regrets at bay
by getting on with life as best he can,
a tourist I met from Japan one fine day

He said he liked me (what could I say?)
Although married with three children,
confessed his heart reminds him he’s gay

He needed to let his heart have its way,
(mine, playing catch-me-if-you-can)
a tourist I met from Japan one fine day

He only had a few hours, not even a day,
shed tears for his devotion to a woman,
confessed his heart reminds him he’s gay

Home truths, he said, must be kept at bay
or crush even a good person to ruin;
a tourist I met from Japan one fine day
confessed his heart reminds him he’s gay

Copyright R. N. Taber 2016