Friday, 24 August 2018

Among Spring Flowers

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

Several homophobic religious readers have been in touch since I first published this post/poem on Good Friday in the Christian calendar, 2012. (I recently removed it - from my general blog - due to a growing frustration with the number of mostly anonymous comments to which I was unable to reply as they gave no email address; most readers who want to make contact (for whatever reason) are welcome to use the email address above and I enjoy what often becomes a  welcome exchange of views.)

I should add that I have friends of various religious persuasions who have no problem with my being gay and subscribing to no religion, among them some gay Christians for whom, especially, the poem was written. Besides, since when did two people disagreeing with each other prevent their being friends? Moreover, any conflict between a person's religion and their sexuality has less to do with a sense of spirituality than being expected to conform to dogma. 

Having been introduced to The Holy Bible at an early age, I continue to love its metaphor, parables and poetry, but cannot take it literally any more than I can believe Jesus of Nazareth was the Son of God although I have immense admiration for the historical Jesus. This is my personal view, and one I stand by just as I would expect someone with a different view to stand by theirs. Life would be very boring if we all agreed with one another, but that’s no reason to pick a fight either. [Hey, whatever happened to the notion of a civilised world?]

I appreciate that, to many others worldwide, the Christian Bible is a revered Holy Book and respect that just as I respect Christian and other religious Beliefs. However, I refuse to see myself ‘condemned for a heathen’ simply because we must agree to differ. 

Regular readers will know that I put my faith in nature long ago when religion offered me none of the things I sought in it, including a free sense of spirituality that I began to understand is very much a part of me long before I realised I am gay. Although it meant contradicting everything I had been raised to believe, discovering that religion does not have a monopoly on spirituality gave me a new sense of freedom, not only allowing but even encouraging me to simply be myself.

 AMONG SPRING FLOWERS 

I have heard flowers in spring
tell stories centuries old
including of Jesus, made a king,
not on Earth but in another fold 

A cruel crown of thorns, they lay
on a head bowed in such pain
that it drew upon mortal dismay
in a confrontation with Heaven 

He passed the test, rose to glory,
so they believe who follow
the Word on each page of a story
their young are raised to know 

Belief takes us beyond knowing,
where some of us will not tread,
so many wonderful stories tugging
at the sleeve, calling to be fed 

Non-belief or Faith, it’s a choice
we all make, for better or worse,
finding home truths in the stories
as we read on, chapter and verse 

If what I believe I can’t be sure,
having heard the tales, I can say
the Word is love and love is pure,
nor denied anyone for being gay 

Copyright R. N. Taber 2008

Sunday, 19 August 2018

Whatever...

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

Not one of my best poems but, having been the victim of my share of homophobic attacks over the years, one I felt compelled to write 


Sadly, readers continue to get in touch from time to time, again only recently, to say they have been the victims of homophobic attacks. It is scary and rocks self-confidence, but we have to get on with our lives rather than let the sick cowards win, yeah?

As for those religious fundamentalists and evangelical types advocating hell and damnation for homosexuals and tearing the socio-cultural-religious fabric of societies apart...they are no better than those thugs who resort to physical attacks on LGBT people. Indeed. they are worse since they are using religion to suit their own sick ends.   

WHATEVER...

Some say it’s cool to be gay,
there are laws to protect you and I;
blood and bruises say they lie

Thugs came with baseball bats
and chased us, my gay friend and I,
gesturing abuse at the sky

They beat us, six gutless morons
yelling how all gays deserve to die,
yet we survived to expose the lie

Some say it’s cool to be gay
in a brave new twenty-first century
professing to respect sexuality

Whatever, we’ll not be put down
(for long); the human spirit endures,
calling humanity out for its lies 

Copyright R. N. Taber 2007

Thursday, 26 July 2018

Nerves of Steel OR Gay in Karachi

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

The most important Human Rights award in Italy was awarded in December 2017 to a gay Muslim activist who was originally from Pakistan. The Italian Coalition for Freedom (CILD) chose Wajahat Abbas Kazmi as ‘Young Activist of the Year’


Wajahat Abbas Kazmi with notification of his award. 
(photo from the Internet)


Some years ago, I spent a very enjoyable evening in a gay bar where I met two guys from Karachi. I was pleasantly surprised as the only Pakistanis I had encountered previously were aggressive homophobes. Recently, I met up with them again while they were visiting the UK. It seems the tide is (very) slowly turning in Pakistan where there are more gay activists campaigning for acceptance and equality within the wider community than even just a few years ago. It is heartwarming news although always disquieting to discover that some parts of the world continue to disrespect Human Rights and get real about life in the 21st Century. 


NERVES OF STEEL or GAY IN KARACHI

Nerves of steel, here, in Karachi
where life may take a cruel turn any day
such as we, savaged for our sexuality

Born a good person, and born free,
yet living a lie (since truth denied its say)
nerves of steel, here, in Karachi

Absurd, that any 21st century city
should count among its taboos being gay,
such as we, savaged for our sexuality

Family, neighbours, look up to me,
yet mind-body-spirit as vulnerable as clay,
nerves of steel, here, in Karachi

Victims of a contemporary society
where majority bigots (even as they pray)
such as we, savaged for our sexuality

No regard for a common humanity
(of socio-cultural-religious icons an array);
nerves of steel, here, in Karachi,
such as we, savaged for our sexuality

Copyright R. N. Taber 2018




Monday, 23 July 2018

Fulfillment OR Gay in Brasilia

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

A reader living in Brazil has been in touch to say how much he and his partner enjoy living there. I have to say it makes a change to have someone send such a delightful, feel-good email; and it inspired this villanelle.

Cathedral of Brasilia 
(image taken from the Internet)

FULFILLMENT or GAY IN BRASILIA

Here, same sex couples live openly
far less looking over a shoulder in fear,
in this long-time LGBT-friendly city

Homophobes, a relative minority
(though just how many closets unclear);
here, same sex couples live openly

No closet approaches to sexuality,
Human Rights respected, and held dear
in this long-time LGBT-friendly city

While others fighting on for equality
(in a world whose prejudices made clear)
here, same sex couples live openly

Love poses no threat to that morality
that socio-cultural-religious groups revere
in this long-time LGBT-friendly city

Worldwide, a message for inhumanity
its peoples would do well to look-see-hear;
here, same sex couples live openly
in this long-time LGBT-friendly city

Copyright R. N. Taber 2018


Saturday, 14 July 2018

Coming in from the Cold OR Gay in Shanghai

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

There is room for cautious optimism for LGBT rights in China.

Raymond Can Chi-Chuen is the first openly gay legislator in Hong Kong and Greater China although Hong Kong remains a largely conservative society.


(Photo taken from the Internet]
Runners of the Shanghai Pride Run in June 2016 wore rainbow shoelaces at the start of the race:


Meanwhile, Gay Pride perseveres, and let's we wish everyone involved LOTS of luck, love and peace.


This poem is a villanelle  

COMING IN FROM THE COLD or GAY IN SHANGHAI 

In China, gay couples battle on
to regain equality as of old
across a present-day population 

Though an historical observation
bring us in from the cold,
in China, gay couples battle on 

What motive in non-recognition
of Human Rights, put on hold
across a present-day population?

Unable to marry, no legal adoption,
frozen out Society’s fold;
in China, gay couples battle on 

Far less financial-legal protection
(in a State’s deaf-blind fold)
across a present-day population 

Though we gay folks but human,
must we still suffer rejection?
in China, gay couples battle on
across a present-day population

Copyright R. N. Taber 2018



































Sunday, 17 June 2018

Deaf-Blind Psyche on a See-Hear Roll

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

Sometimes we seem to be going nowhere fast, and haven’t a clue what to about it. I felt that way for years. Plans I’d made about becoming a librarian after leaving school depended on my passing at least two A-level exams, but I only passed one. I drifted into my early 20’s with no clear sense of direction and finally decided to migrate to Australia. This didn’t work out, either, but gave me time to take a long, honest look at myself and work out a positive plan of action; this depended on my returning home as it became clear there was no future for me in Oz. As it happened, I couldn’t get a job and soon did just that. I signed up for a course of teacher training in Canterbury, but my first teaching practise made me realise that a hearing problem should not be underestimated. As luck would have it, I was able to transfer to the local university, finally graduating with a good degree in English and American Literature; this, in turn, made me eligible for a postgraduate course in librarianship.

Career-wise, I seemed to be on an even keel at last, but was still grappling with a sexuality I had been raised to believe was ‘sick’ although no longer a criminal offence for consenting adults since 1967. It would be another few years and a bad nervous breakdown later before I would not only be entirely at ease with being gay, but also see my sexuality as a sure positive rather than a defensive one, certainly no negative.

It would be four years after my breakdown before I was eventually able to get a job in my chosen profession, and have never looked back. The only fly in the ointment was a pressing desire to write, and there just weren’t enough hours in the day. In 1993, cutbacks in Local Government spending meant some compulsory redundancies while everyone else at the library where I worked was offered voluntary redundancy. I decided to be positive, accept, and work part-time. Again, I was fortunate enough to get enough work to support myself and try my hand at writing fiction and poetry until I retired in 2004. I didn’t become a best-selling novelist, but have a modest reputation worldwide as a poet and have no regrets. I see gay-interest poetry and fiction as alternative voices of the same genres and have enjoyed exploring and sharing both on my blogs. I only wish I had emerged from my deaf-blind chrysalis years earlier; no butterfly here, but a psyche with which I am no longer anywhere near as unhappy as I was some 50 years ago.

DEAF-BLIND PSYCHE ON A SEE-HEAR ROLL

So near, so far, dreams
in the heart desperate to break out
and go live, make themselves known
to an unsuspecting world

So near, so far, thoughts
fit for a positive mind-set playing
fast and loose with a vulnerable psyche
all but unfit for purpose

So near, so far, aspirations
persistently put down by jeers pulsing
a self-esteem deaf-blind to the landscape
of human potential…

Deep breaths and first steps,
picking up the gauntlet thrown down
by die-hard naysayers and doom-mongers
with little or no imagination

Learning the art of persuasion,
pitting it against any nemesis of faith
in the power of positive thinking to prove
a worthy winner over all else

A rush of adrenaline for playing
an active role in life’s amphitheatre
rather than sit with live ghosts in the gallery,
left wishing and hoping in vain

Bit between the teeth, not a time
to be resting on laurels, can do better,
need to take on new roles, new challenges,
critics welcome to any field days

So near, so far, nightmares haunting
a psyche afraid of being measured out
for better or worse according to expectations
thrust upon it by false impressions

Here-and-Now, assigned a lead role
in a past-present-future psyche poised
to explore the rolling see-hear landscape
of human potential

Copyright R. N. Taber 2018





Saturday, 9 June 2018

Open All Hours

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

I love hearing from readers around the world so if you ever just want to say hello any time or engage in an exchange of emails, always feel free to contact me at the email address at the head of every blog post. Needless to say, confidentiality will always be respected and I will always reply, but please bear with any delays. Seven or so years of living with prostate cancer, and a bad fall in 2014 that has left me needing a walking stick to get out and about, are taking their toll. I can’t socialise the way I used to and see far fewer people so emails help me to continue feeling a part of life’s ebb and flow.  Even so, I have some good friends, in both real and digital worlds; we keep in touch, even if we cannot get together as often as we’ like. Although in my 70’s now, I remain a positive thinking person despite the slings and arrows of old age, not to mention life’s inevitable ups and downs as experienced by us all, cradle to grave.

I have much to be thankful for. Regular readers will know that I attempted suicide in 1979 during a bad nervous breakdown behind which lay assorted causes, not least a very stressful relationship with my father, the death of my dear mother only a few years earlier and (at the time) doing battle with a sexuality I had been given to understand was shameful. As I came through all that and manged to get a job (lasting through till 2004 when I retired) a growing desire/need to explore all aspects of human nature in my writing - and share my findings - was paramount in effecting a slow but sure recovery. Sadly, I have since met many other men and women, boys and girls, all creeds and ages, fighting similar battles  for not dissimilar reasons.  

Whatever, I try to practise what I preach in always looking on the bright side of life; well, most of the time, anyway. Hopefully, my poetry gives this impression?

Meanwhile…

As I have said more than once on the subject of love, even lovers have no monopoly on love since love comes in all shapes and sizes; people, places, pets…loving any and/or all these can lift a sad and lonely spirit.

The love between two people, though, that is the kind of love either of its participants would die for, as many have, of course, marking the pages of world history with their blood; people who chose to put their love above any socio-cultural-religious conventions or dogma that professes to be well-meaning and rejects all accusations of inhumanity.

Gay lovers continue to fight bigotry and hypocrisy around the world; pro-gay legislation in some parts is to be applauded but - as I have also said many times - you cannot legislate for bad attitude. So those straight readers who email to ask why do I often write ‘defensively’ about the whole gay ethic given that ‘gays have never had it so good’  need to read up on the subject or even just take a good at some of their neighbours.

It is one of life’s greater tragedies that prejudice has always been alive and kicking in most if not all pockets of most it not all societies around the world.

OPEN ALL HOURS

Wherever a mind to love,
expect far more than passion,
but a creative force
beyond even the potential
for dreams to feed high hopes
to the sick at heart

Wherever a body to love,
find sharing an epic journey
across its Here-and-Now
the sum total of raison d'ĂȘtre,
above all earthly expectations,
world without end

Wherever the spirit of love
find art forms designed to let
human beings rise above
worldly limitations, go free
to explore beyond parameters
of all time and space

Mind-body-spirit, open door
to all that’s bright and beautiful,
where sun and stars
light our way through legend
and history, inspiring new takes
on the Here-and-Now

Mind-body-spirit, sanctuary
for love in all its shapes and forms;
running life’s gamut, yes,
but sure to find us together,
in its spring, though a hard winter
have its way with us

Copyright R. N. Taber 2018