Sunday, 17 September 2017

A Sense of Arcadia

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/R._N._Taber

I am recovering well from my operation; so far, so good.

Meanwhile…

Just when I don’t think I have another poem in me…

A SENSE OF ARCADIA

As I walked in a wood
at twilight, a nightingale sang 
to me of days gone by,
and I found myself recalling
that first time I told the world 
I’m gay, and that’s how it is,
accept or reject me, your choice,
my life

The nightingale sang on,
about the good times and bad
such as everyone gets
to know (be they gay or straight)
so why the big deal
with sexuality? No harm done,
and bigotry doesn’t get to control
my life

Trees began a chorale
of love and peace as a sunset
pinked the sky,
and I found myself recalling
with a heavy heart
how we let prejudice and dogma
have their way with us, promising
a ‘better’ life

An audience of stars
watched as I wound my way
through the wood,
siding with me as I took my past
to task for a present
that only (ever) left me needing 
to feel there had to be a kinder way
of life

An owl flew overhead,
hooting its applause, all nature
(or so it seemed)
thrilled for my having turned away
narrow thoughts
and judgemental jibes, consented
to the sum of my selves demanding
a life

Darkness fell, and silence
no less bitter-sweet than a sense
of being alone
in a magical world where positives
cast long shadows
and negatives are as moonlight
on leaves of grass
creating illusions easily read as signs
of life

Footsteps. Who’s there? Oh, it’s you,
my life…

Copyright R. N. Taber 2017



Monday, 4 September 2017

Resurgence,, the Ethos of Willpower

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/R._N._Taber

A mental breakdown can happen to anyone so I am publishing this post/poem on both blogs.

From time to time in the blogs, I have referred to such a breakdown I had in the 1970’s, just a few years after my mother died. I was still in my 30’s, and a psychological mess for all kinds of reasons. It may be an overworked metaphor, but true enough to say I was drowning in a sea of confused and conflicting  feelings that had less to do with being gay than a sense of failure as a person, again for more reasons than I could begin to define. To make matters worse, there was no one in whom I could even begin to confide and there are limits to how anyone in a state of crisis, as I most certainly was, can cope with it on their own.

Inevitably, mind-body-spirit lost not only the ability to communicate in any positive form, but also the will to survive.  I experienced a complete mental breakdown with far-reaching consequences; in the short term, these were pretty dire, but in the longer term they saw me emerge a stronger, more focused person. I lost my job and did not work again for nearly four years. It was a terrible time and I would not have survived but for the support of some good friend who showed me the way back to Hope where all there had been was Despair; the rest was up to me.

Thankfully, mental health issues carry less of a stigma these days. Even so, the mentally ill person has not one battle on his or her hands but a series of battles. We win some, lose some, but practical as well as emotional support is needed before innate survival instincts start to kick in and a glimmer of positive mind-set appears at the outer edge of an all-devouring Black Hole; it is called motivation, and more often than not it is triggered by the return of a much missed sense of humour. 

“If I had no sense of humour, I would long ago have committed suicide.”
― Mahatma Gandhi

Fortunately, once rediscovered, I have not lost my sense of humour again since; it has helped me through 6+ years of coping with prostate cancer, inspired me to learn to walk again after a bad fall in 2014, and I dare say it will see me through an impending operation on my infected elbow and subsequent stay in hospital.


RESURGENCE, THE ETHOS OF WILLPOWER

Weary of fumbling
through a maze of ugly shapes;
nothing beautiful
to be seen or heard even
by the inner self,
its default to a positive mind-set
left for dead under
a mind-body-spirit anaesthetised
by helplessness, 
as in up against huge waves
of negativity,
no existential surf board, tired
of having a pathetic dog-paddling
pass for progress

World, acknowledging me
party to its ugliness.
bearing down on human senses
day after day
on the early morning commuter run;
a cacophony
of buses, trains and people anxious
to be on time
for places and faces they would prefer
to avoid, but needs must
as some ambivalent ethos drives
the human engine beyond its limits
without fear or favour

World, reconnecting me
(slowly but surely) with the beauty
of Below Surface,
fishes passing by without tossing
judgemental glances,
sharks causing a stir on the look-out
for sustenance,
not a fast buck to line the pockets
of designer gear
intended to impress or intimidate;
splendid rainbows
among coral spewing beer cans
along with other evidence of human
complacency and waste

Suddenly,
a so-weird glow of crabs and starfish
on the ocean floor
opening the inner eye to tales
of the unexpected
coursing the blood of living creatures
great and smell,
alerting us to danger, even death,
but also the wonders
of creation among which the greatest
has to be life itself,
its delights as well as hardships
around every corner if only by way
of ‘no pain, no gain’

Lungs bursting
with  no less self-doubt that before
but tempered
with hope of finding a kinder world
than I had sought
to quit without notice like a tenant
in high arrears
or that square peg in the round hole
of a workforce,
unwilling to face the situation
head-on, better
to imagine devils with human faces,
the easier to draw on a fund of excuses 
for opting out of it all

On terra firma,
concerned voices and helping hands
reaching out to me
to clutch, not as one all but drowning
but as someone else
encouraged to restructure a whole
whose parts
had broken loose from each other,
needed reconnecting
and (still) reshaping into a form
less representative
of the weaker links in any human chain
than its strengths

Copyright R. N. Taber 2017

Sunday, 3 September 2017

G-A-Y, a Social History


An infected elbow means I am not at the P C keyboard much at the moment, but here's a new poems anyway.

As regular readers well know, I belong to a generation raised in an era that saw gay relationships as a criminal offence; homosexuality was a dirty word and gay-bashing more prevalent a hate crime than even racist motivated attacks. In some parts of the world, times have changed for the better although, as most if not all of us have discovered the hard way, there is no legislating for human nature's being accountable to itself.

Yes, there are now many gay people of both sexes whose families and friends have no problem with their sexuality, but there are also many others who - by whatever means, for whatever reasons – are made to feel they have no choice but to say nothing; a choice all the more tragic for being made not out of any real sense of shame for their sexuality but real love for those unable or unwilling to accept it.

Many people insist ‘blood is thicker than water’. While I have good reason to dispute that, I prefer, in any case, to believe that true love, if not always the stronger, is by far the better and worthier match for hate any time and the more enduring. A favourite quote of mine, all the more profound for its simplicity, springs to mind:

‘Darkness cannot drive out darkness; only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate; only love can do that.’ - Martin Luther King, Jr. [A Testament of Hope: the Essential Writings and Speeches]

G-A-Y, A SOCIAL HISTORY

At home, G-A-Y
was a dirty word (or worse);
at school, G-A-Y
was fuel for bullies and bigots,
scapegoat…
for home truths in dark closets;
at work, GA-Y
was something best left hanging 
on staff room gossip

Slowly, but surely,
political correctness entered
the arena,
pro-LGBT legislation, a warning
to any among  
socio-cultural-religious forums
bent on feeding
a feeling for hate crime like milk
to a new-born

Slowly, but surely,
G-A-Y began winning hearts
and minds…
if only among those dismissive
of formative years
teaching poor regard for a common
humanity under cover
of shaping socio-cultural-religious
nemeses to order

At home, G-A-Y
becomes no less of a dirty word
for being ignored;
at school, G-A-Y might well be OK
with (some) parents
but only so long as it stays well clear
of the curriculum;
at work, G-A-Y making the best
of good intentions

On the street, G-A-Y
starting to coming out, get a life,
despite the bullies
and bigots hogging headlines meant
to expose flaws
in any social history while (invariably)
perpetuating stereotypes...
for all Stonewall’s (still) chipping away
at tablets of stone

Copyright R. N. Taber 2010

Saturday, 26 August 2017

Conversations with Mind, Body, and Spirit

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/R._N._Taber

Some time ago, readers suggested I start a Google Plus site where I can link to new and historical posts as there are so many poems on the blogs to browse. However, there will be no such links for awhile as I will be admitted to hospital  shortly for an operation on my right elbow. (I am publishing this post on both blogs because not feedback suggests some readers enjoy browsing and don'y always go into my Google + entries if at all.)

Hopefully, I will not need to be an In-Patient for long, but will need daily antibiotic injections for up  six weeks or so after the op so may well be out of action for a time time. especially as I am right handed! I may need to go to the hospital for these injections or it's possible a District Nurse will be able to visit me at home, especially as I have a mobility problem.  I guess it's all in the lap of the gods so will just play it by ear.  

I am not too worried about going into hospital as such or about the operation, but my bad foot often plays me up as does the hormone therapy that's treating my prostate cancer. Days are bad enough but it is hardly worth going to bed some nights because the hormone therapy makes me need the toilet so often. Oh, well,...Que sera, sera, whatever will be, will be...[Enter Doris Day in full throttle as in an exciting scene from 'The Man Who Knew Too Much' (1956)] Oh dear, showing my age again...!

Whatever, no worries, folks, and I ask you all to join me in always looking on the bright side of life …as I do since (finally!) managing to rise above the depression that plagued me for many years, not least by way of creative therapy in the form of, yes, writing, especially poetry.

Hopefully, I will be back soon. Meanwhile, feel free to explore BOTH poetry blogs by entering any subjects in the search box: e.g. art, arts, bigotry, childhood, coming out, family, hate crime, human nature, HIV-AIDS, imagination, life, love, music, nature, positive thinking, Princess Diana, romance, self- awareness, sexuality, sexual identity, spirituality, terrorism, time, etc. 

http://rogertab.blogspot.com/ (General)

http://aspectsofagaymanslifeinverse.blogspot.com/ (Gay-interest)


also

http://rogertaberfiction.blogspot.co.uk/2016/05/news-updates-fiction.html (Fiction, gay/general)


and

http://www.youtube.com/rogerNtaber  [My You Tube channel where I read my poems over videos shot by my best friend, Graham Collett.]

I hope you will enjoy exploring in my absence Back mid-September once discharged from hospital.

Meanwhile…

CONVERSATIONS WITH MIND, BODY, AND SPIRIT

L-I-F-E,
spiralling me downwards
from cradle to grave…
often when I least expect it,
leaves me clinging
for dear life at straws in an ill wind
raised by a helter-skelter
of events conspiring to drag me
beyond imagination,
test ego (and salvation) to limits
rarely conceived
even by those daily enduring
a world of nightmares

L-O-V-E,
spelling out such promises
as sweet dreams
are made of, offering (for free)
a magical mystery tour
of mind-body-spirit asking only
that I stay true
to the end of a line drawn
not (whimsically) 
in sand or clay, but in good faith
that 1 + 1 is equal,
to the sum of all its frictions
and I can add up

H-O-P-E,
bringing me the best of things
at the worst of times,
moulding the less savoury clay
of human nature
as a potter’s wheel might
its tasks in hand,
demanding the poetry of art
speak up for Beauty,
fair chameleon exposing masks
of the Beast
for human waste washed up
by the tides of life

Copyright R. N. Taber 2017






















Wednesday, 16 August 2017

It is what it Is...or Is it?

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/R._N._Taber

Only recently, a reader emailed me to ask if I consider myself an agnostic because I am gay and, if not, why not…?

At school, 50+ years ago, we were once asked to write an essay about ‘Secrets’. This was preceded by a class discussion on the subject during which we were all agreed that secrets are hard to keep, especially from family and friends. Someone made an unkind remark about gays not being ‘out’ to which the teacher responded with a wry shrug that “Time outs us all in the end. The trick is to get in first, before gossip and ignorance can do their worst.’ This comment livened up the debate no end, but I missed most of what was being said for dwelling on the concept of Time ‘outing us all in the end.’ It is so true. Gay or straight, it is a rare person that has no secrets; invariably these come out, if not during their lifetime then in the course of events following their death.

I only came out to a few people until a bad nervous breakdown in my 30’s finally rid me of all self-consciousness about my sexuality. Even then, though, I trod carefully through what I had known for years as a minefield of public opinion. The breakdown had lasted several years before I found the confidence to face the world again. During this time, I explored human nature through avid reading and writing poetry, both of which had already stood me in good stead at university.

Being gay is, of course, only one aspect of human nature, one part of a complex whole. It has always been the whole that interests me although, obviously, I have a special interest in the gay aspect. Some gay people seem to find it strange that I write general as well as gay-interest poetry. But…why not? Being gay is a very significant part of who I am, yes, but I can hardly ignore the rest of me, those other parts that make me who and what I am. Well, can I...?

In my 70’s now, I often look back and wish I had done things differently (as in ‘better’) but I guess we are all victims of our circumstances up to a point, and my circumstances have often conspired against me. Yet, I am no victim in the sense that I made my own choices, albeit not always the right ones.

Many who subscribe to a religion have told me I will forfeit Heaven and go to Hell although I suspect we make our own heaven and hell as our lives take shape by our own hand. So is death the end of all things, I wonder? I have no idea, but as a nature lover, take comfort from the way nature nurtures itself, and spring follows winter. Love, too, never dies even as lovers and loved ones pass away. I suppose I put what Faith I have in nature and love rather than in any religion since, from both, I have always taken a strong sense of spirituality. As to whether or not that sense of spirituality is seen as a sufficiently positive force in my poetry  to pass into living memory by way of my readers after my death, only time will tell.

IT IS WHAT IT IS…OR IS IT?

Time running out,
mind-body-spirit left floundering
among regrets
for missed opportunities, rushes
to misjudgement,
and plain, everyday mistakes
with consequences...
for there can be no payback
equal to the task
of making reparation for any flaws
in humankind

No sense of a God
likely to extend any forgiveness
to the likes of me,
unable to relate to any Heaven
(potential safe haven)
throughout a lifetime of struggling
to make sense of dogma
interpreted by Religion’s finest
as leave to preach
a Politics of the Heart making sense
of humankind  

How then to approach
the End of Things in the absence
of any New Beginning
other than as some deactivated spirit
gone to ashes, dust,
someone else’s (imperfect) memory,
there to endure
a kindly ‘eternity’ that sits more easily
on the tongue than ‘death’
while advocating spiritual qualities
in humankind?

I have asked this of poems
that have dogged my every footstep
from child to senior,
no one answer offered (or confirmed)
but a sense of moving
through time (other than growing old)
acting out tales passed on
by ghosts about leaving footprints;
no one left behind
but (together) creating a continuum
called humankind

To each, our own way,
engaging with the greater mysteries
of life and death,
finding such comfort as we can,
pinning our finer hopes
on what’s better, kindlier, said
and done, wiser choices
than less so, promise nurtured
or left unfulfilled
for an indefinable social conscience
to define us as it will

Whatever, it is what it is, and Time
will out us all one way or another…

Copyright R. N. Taber 2017

Monday, 19 June 2017

G-A-Y, News from Bulgaria

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/R._N._Taber

I have met people from all over the world in London, one of many reasons why I love living here even if is overcrowded and the air pollution is killing people. A few years ago I met a young man from Bulgaria who expressed open amazement at ‘how easy it is to be gay in London.’

“Is, Bulgaria very gay-unfriendly then?” I asked.  “Not openly no”, he told me, “and it is not illegal to be gay in my country. Even so,” he sighed, “It is not easy to be gay in my country either.”

Is it easy to be gay, anywhere, I wonder? Easier here, perhaps, or easier there…but easy…? 

More often than not, gay men and women worldwide invariably find themselves swimming against this or that socio-cultural-religious tide even in so-called ‘liberal’ societies while those that are less liberal turn a blind eye to homophobia or find ways to encourage it without appearing to abuse our human rights to extremes. Some societies, of course, are still living in the Dark Ages and make us out to be enemies of the people…especially where that particular epithet belongs to those in positions of influence and power who just love to work the moral high ground, especially when it pays off so well.

This poem is a kenning.

G-A-Y, NEWS FROM BULGARIA 

I dare anyone to suggest
I discriminate against this person
or that, yet am brazenly
(if diplomatically) selective
about whom I serve
when push comes to shove
on such occasions
as there are reputations to me made
or all but broken

I dare, indeed, well able
to run rings around any opponent
whose first language
is not mine, for none so effective
as the rhetoric of reason,
designed to conceal motivation
while worthy enough
at face value to be well researched
for future reference

I defy anyone to find fault
with how I do my job, taking care
to keep within boundaries
obvious even to less moral citizens
found strutting our streets
as if they were foreign investors
taking us for a ride,
there are a variety of ways
to skin a cat

You know me, always on the case,
appearing to side with justice…


Copyright R. N. Taber 2017

Sunday, 18 June 2017

Answering Back

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/R._N._Taber

Regular readers know full well that I do not subscribe to any religion. I consider myself an agnostic, preferring to take a (strong) sense of spirituality from nature in whose life forces I do not discount the work of a greater power. At the same time, I respect all religions, even though few (if any) respect neither my being (actively) gay nor my agnosticism. We are all free to make our own choices in life and should not be so quick to condemn any into which we cannot enter ourselves…for whatever reason. (It has been my experience that many people who insist they are not judgmental, prove by way of word and deed to be among the most judgmental. We are all different and it is our human right to be different.

I have met gay people from various socio-cultural-religious backgrounds who remain in the closet regarding their sexuality for fear of offending religious leaders who cannot reconcile sex and sexuality with religious. My understanding f God is that no God would want these people to suffer as they do, some terribly, from a sense of guilt no God worthy of the name would impose upon anyone.

More than once it has been put to me that I should put aside my gay ways and reconcile myself to a way of life likely to find favour with God as laid down in Holy Books; in my case, the Holy Bible. God, though, did not write any Holy Books, humankind did, and who’s to say how much was lost in translation and/or shaped in such a way as most likely to appeal to select writer/s and readers alike.

ANSWERING BACK

Being gay is no sin
a priest told a gathering
of gay men, women,
and gay-friendly souls;
the sin, it lies
in practising (gay) rites
of sex, even worse
for taking such pleasure
in them as cannot
(ever) be justified in the eyes
of any God
according to any religion
whose dogma
needs must be respected
by all followers,
no exceptions made for a select
minority of gays

Being gay is a life force
in me, spoke up someone
among the audience,
just as that blessed sense
of spirituality
I have (always) taken not only
from my religion
but also such life forces
all around us…
as in nature’s predilection
for renewal…
nor less so in a common humanity
whose needs,
(spiritual as well as temporal )
deserve common respect,
no exceptions made  for a select
minority of clerics

The priest begged
to differ, quoting passages
from Holy Books
that rang hollow for being taken out
of context and century,
even dogma, given its intention
to underwrite  
a sense of peace and love taken
from life forces
common to mind- body- spirit,
bent on reinforcing
a spiritual well-being independent
of any religious dogma,
audience reserving a human
right of reply,
likely to fall on many a deaf ear
in Church arenas

Copyright R. N. Taber 2017