Wednesday, 21 January 2015
This is an early poem, written some years ago and only recently (slightly) revised.
While many of us may well look in a mirror and see beyond the image confronting us, how many of us, I wonder, actually go there? It took me a good while to understand that being gay is an integral part of who I am and to deny it meant letting voices from my past dictate my future. Those same voices were already responsible for a serious mental breakdown (some 30+ years ago) and the road to recovery led to my deciding that it was high time I found a voice of my own and let it take me wherever…
G-A-Y, FACING FACTS
Looked in the mirror, and what did I see?
Tears where a smile should be;
Walked into the mirror, and where did I go?
Back to a place I used to know;
Put an ear to the mirror, and what did I hear?
Nothing I had not heard before
Looked around that place, and what did I see?
Dark shadows ganging up on me;
(Nowhere to run, hide or expect sanctuary)
Fear would be the death of me;
Put an ear to my heart and what did I hear?
Nothing I had not heard before
Such love in my heart, and where did it go?
Out of the closet I used to know
Closet slammed behind me, what did I do?
Began making things right with you;
Confronting a sorry world, what did we see?
Home truths in the grip of hypocrisy
Looking love in the eye, and what does it say?
‘Never let bigotry win the day…’
Walking out in the world, where do we go?
Wherever its kinder faces on show;
Put an ear to the world and what do we hear?
Nothing we have not heard before
Copyright R. N. Taber 1982; 2015
Monday, 12 January 2015
Someone once told me that it's no good expecting to just fan the flames of love; we have to be prepared to jump right into them. True enough. Firstly, though, we all need to find someone to help get them started.
As the song goes…
‘C’mon baby, light my fire...’
G-A-Y, LIGHTING FIRES
Whenever we make love,
the heat of its passion brands
our names on the heart,
lips parting to kiss, receive
tongues of fire, conspire
with nature’s finer beauty
to reignite its spirit in the poetry
of our lovemaking,
burn us (yes!) just as witches
were once burned at stakes
for daring to repudiate status quo,
be true to the inner self
no matter how the outside world
may (more often than not)
bury head in sand rather than let
its naysayers stand up
and be counted, content to deny
countless centuries of lying
to children about graffiti sprayed
wherever bigotry lifts
its ugly head, and loves to claim
the moral high ground
Enter me, let us join together
in ecstasy, make our peace
with a world too busy turning
on its own pretty rhetoric,
to see that love means (far) more
than wearing a badge with pride
for being, oh, so socially, culturally,
religiously, politically ‘correct’
Meanwhile, gay lovers the world over
(still) made to run for cover…
Copyright R. N. Taber 2004; 2015
[Note: an earlier version of this poem appears as ‘Pyromania’ in 1st eds. of The Third Eye by R. N. Taber, Assembly Books, 2004; revised edition in e-format in preparation.]
Tuesday, 6 January 2015
One of the most hurtful things anyone has ever said to me was that I would not see my friend again after he died because he (being gay) would go to hell while I (still in the closet at the time) would be in heaven. Everyone had liked my friend, including the person who made the comment.
I was clear about my sexuality at the time, but years of being made to feel some kind of freak meant that only a few people I trusted knew I was gay. I had unsubscribed to religion years earlier so the threat of hell didn’t touch me. What did touch and hurt me was the suggestion that gay people should be punished for their sexuality alone. The more I thought about it, the more I became convinced that this is utter rubbish. While I don’t believe in a God, as such, I find comfort, joy and spirituality in nature.
Maybe I see ‘God’ in nature but prefer to call it something else. Whatever, of this I am certain; if there is a God along the lines various Holy Books tell us, He (or She) is no homophobe. Nor is that just the poet in me speaking or because I’m gay, but what nature tells me every day.
I am sometimes criticized for ‘getting romantic’ about death. There is, of course, nothing romantic about dying. At the same time, the experience of loving someone who has died is one that transcends life, love, and even death. Various socio-cultural-religious bigots who would have us believe this does not apply to gay lovers are but demonstrating an incredible ignorance of the human condition.
We live, we die. Without love and romance, why bother? Moreover, we should remember that love comes in all shapes and sizes; partner to partner is but one form of loving albeit one of the most precious. We can make it big in the fame game or get rich one way or another. But fame lasts only for a select few and it’s no use to us once we’re dead. Nor can we take a pot of gold to the Great Beyond.
Ah, but love…
Yes, love we get to keep, such is its timelessness.
G-A-Y, LINES ON IMMORTALITY
You wear jeans, your shirt is white;
hair, a crown of gold in the soft twilight
like a god in fields spring green,
the most beautiful man I’ve ever seen
I watch in awe, rooted to the spot
as you chat with flowers, this tree, that bird
in a voice as sweet as Pan’s own flute,
the most beautiful sound I’ve ever heard
I catch your eye, rush into your arms,
savour full, moist lips crushed against mine,
a murmuring of centuries-old charms
turning midwinter on my tongue into wine
Too soon you leave, yet sweeter my agony
for a love that lends us immortality
[From: Accomplices to Illusion by R. N. Taber, Assembly Books, 2010]
Monday, 5 January 2015
It always upsets me whenever anyone gets in touch to say they are being bullied at school or at work, hounded at home or in the street or whatever, wherever, because certain people know or suspect they are gay. Being treated for prostate cancer, it doesn’t do much for my self-confidence either when certain well-meaning people suggest I should amend my take on religion ‘in case things don’t work out.’ Even so, as regular readers may well be weary of hearing me say, I am content to put my trust in nature.
There is no excuse for homophobic behaviour unless it is sheer ignorance. So I am posting today’s entry on both my general and gay-interest blogs in the hope that the more vulnerable gay reader may take heart and the less enlightened heterosexual (regardless of sex, colour, creed, age or position in society) take note.
There are many facets to identity of which sexual identity is but one. As I have often said, it is the whole that counts.
Regardless of social, religious, cultural or, yes, sexual identity, we should be judged, (by those who set themselves up to judge) for our approach to life and people; kindness, respect, a capacity for compassion and other forces for good should not be undermined, as they often are, by our mistakes and failures. Most if not all of us make mistakes. Most if not all of us fail at something sometimes. Worse, we may fail other people, however unintentionally. We might think we have failed ourselves, and that may be true although I suspect we are often too hard on ourselves. Life is tough, and few of us survive emotionally and/or psychologically and/or physically unscathed by all it throws at us from time to time. Human nature is a complex organism; a living organism, not a machine.
The natural world, too, is a complex organism and one to which we can all relate and are related. So I have little time for people whose socio-cultural-religious bigotry insists that Earth Mother (God by any other name?) would condemn anyone for their sexuality alone. Certainly, none of the Holy Books - including the Quran - imply this is the case. Oh, ‘devout’ Christians can quote Leviticus at us, but that is Old Testament and it is the New Testament that counts if you are a follower of Christ. Besides, relatively few Jewish people are homophobic and Judaism has its roots in the Old Testament. [I will never understand why so many religious-minded people are homophobic when the Holy Books they claim to revere are not.]
GOOD HEAVENS or G-A-Y, FOLLOWING NATURE
Godly people have asked me
why I ‘flaunt’ my sexuality;
I say, flaunt it I never would,
but (surely?) openness has to be
a force for good
Godly people have despised me
for ‘soiling’ my identity,
asking why I feel no shame
for staining my natural integrity
with a ‘dirty’ name
I tell these godly people I’d rather
tell the truth than be a liar
to please to them and their kind,
suggest they look within themselves
for other axes to grind
Godly people have maligned me
for defending my sexuality,
as anyone with integrity would
when openly accused of resisting
a force for good
Godly people have pitied my soul,
for placing it in such peril
by a penchant for mortal sin
that would see me burn in Hell,
disowned by Heaven
I tell these godly people, I’d rather
be left to die on barbed wire
than toe this Faith's line or that
although I remain in the line of fire
for refusing to submit
Such godly people, they walk away,
despairing of anyone gay,
unable to accept the likes of me
are proud to hear Earth Mother say,
‘Child of mine, go free.'
Ah, but even godliness can deceive
(some wear it on their sleeve)
denying sex, colour, sexuality,
much the same rites of passage
defining all humanity
However and wherever the inner eye
sees God (or not) who can deny
spirituality but suffers terribly
from leadership skills left to get by
on prayer and hypocrisy?
Faith takes many shapes and forms,
transcending everyday norms;
a key to open up hearts and minds,
confident in how it performs
to keep asking the right questions
Could it be their guarded hostility,
(the godly people who tell me
I’m a poor ‘sinner’ for being gay)
derives from a repressed humanity
demanding a right of way?
Besides, no religion is fit for purpose
that would deny gay people a voice
Copyright R. N. Taber 2011
Saturday, 3 January 2015
This poem takes me back to my (much) younger days and helps me forget I will be 70 later this year..
As a teenager and younger man, I used to prefer sex with older men. Now, I am the older man. Oh, dear, is that not so scary? It often strikes me that time doesn’t just fly, but zooms past me as I grow old(er). [Not old, not quite, not yet...well, maybe…]
Since I was diagnosed with prostate cancer in February 2011 and began hormone therapy, I confess I have lost all interest in sex. Mind you, I don’t miss it (blame the hormones) and take great pleasure in my memories, often drawing on them for my poems. Yet, who knows? Maybe if I met the right person even at this late stage in my life…there’s always companionship…and Viagra…
This poem is a villanelle.
FOUND OUT or G-A-Y, ON THE PHYSIOLOGY OF PERCEPTION
Eyes of gentle grey
telling lies that are true
(seeing I’m gay)
Lovers at play,
dark skies turning blue;
eyes of gentle grey
Some might say
I was vulnerable to you
seeing I’m gay
Truth on its way
in a loving word or two,
eyes of gentle grey
No pressure to stay.
Oh, but how I wanted to,
seeing I’m gay
Came out one day,
perceiving my self in you;
eyes of gentle grey
seeing I’m gay…
Copyright R. N. Taber 2005; 2014
Copyright R. N. Taber 2005; 2014
[Note: An earlier version of this poem appears in 1st eds. of A Feeling for the Quickness of Time by R N. Taber, Assembly Books, 2005; revised ed. in e-format in preparation.]
Friday, 2 January 2015
We spend a lifetime listening to nature, but how much do we really hear, and to how much of that do we relate and act upon…?
G-A-Y, MAKING PEACE WITH NATURE
I imagined birdsong asking
what I was doing,
dying of wishful thinking
I heard grasshoppers telling
tales on my dreaming
of embracing, being kissed
I heard a honey bee buzzing
to just about anyone
willing to listen, I’m in love
catching me out still thinking
of telling you one day
that I am gay, but scared
of losing you
and I can hardly see for all
you’re telling me
through tears, in denial
and declaring loud and clear
(for anyone to hear)
how you and I rediscovered
Life and love, flying
wherever our time taking us;
gay lovers cocking an ear
to nature’s song, and singing
Copyright R. N. Taber 2014
Thursday, 1 January 2015
Several readers have asked for the link to my You Tube channel:
Now, in some parts of the world (even in the UK) there are those who continue to condemn us for being gay and say it is a sin. Well, we know better and so does the kind of God various Holy Books speak of even if some followers of this or that religion choose to interpret them otherwise to suit themselves. But as the Christians are always telling us, ‘Let he (or she) who is without sin cast the first stone.’
For many, 2015 will be a trying year, with further national spending cut-backs in many countries, including the UK. Even so, here’s wishing you all a very happy and peaceful New Year. May any bad times melt into happy memories and any potential molehills not become mountains. Should tragedy strike (as it can for any of us) forget about time being a great healer, it isn’t. There will always be times when the pain seems no less than it was at the start. Yet, carry all your happy memories with you and be sure to discover that moving on doesn’t mean leaving anyone behind. [If that sounds trite, I’m sorry. But it’s true...as I have discovered for myself.]
good intentions winging high,
birds of a feather
art stripping us of all illusion
layer by flowery layer
prejudice raising an ugly head
for the media
lives put at risk on battlefields
(what use, prayer?)
Love on stand-by to compensate
Peace, oasis among leafy palms
(was it ever really there?)
societies clinging to a bent straw
(call it, culture?)
Hope championing our humanity
as it has and will forever
Copyright R. N. Taber 201; 2014