Friday, 1 December 2017

Snowfall


Snow is a mixed blessing; fun for kids and skiers, treacherous on untreated roads. Life , too, can be a mixed blessing, fun and treacherous at the same time…

SNOWFALL

It snowed that December Day,
(I remember it well);
precious moments, frozen in time
(wasted on braving it out)

All smiles, jokes and laughter
(camouflage for pain))
among ashes heaped like snowflakes
on a once-upon-a-love-affair

We shook hands, shared a hug
(as old friends might);
snowflakes like kisses on our cheeks
(life’s heat fast turning cold)

We’d agreed needs must we part
(where first we’d met)
a shutting down of blinds on sunshine
as snowfall to any hint of spring

As you turned and walked away
I glimpsed tears falling;
for you, for me, for us, I’d ask myself?
No answers, only more snow…

For years, I’d put on a happy face
(if always hurting inside)
until a day a sparrow called me O-U-T
and I (finally) dropped the act

Yesterday, the first snow of winter
left me vividly recalling
that other snowfall, and two gay lovers
scared to come in from the cold



Copyright R. N. Taber 2017

Thursday, 30 November 2017

Losing Heart, Finding Spring

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

Winter can be an especially desolate time of year for lonely people.  Ah, but if we promise ourselves another spring and do our best to keep that promise, well, who knows…? Luck is a fine thing, can strike anyone anywhere BUT we have to be in the right frame of mind to recognise it or it will more than likely pass us by.

The world will not come to us, we have to go out and find it. Yes, there are a lot of mean, nasty people out there BUT there are also a LOT of good, kind people too.

LOSING HEART, FINDING SPRING

In its bleak midwinter
a frosty spirit did moan,
life not the worth living
heart turning to stone;
no one I could confide in,
no one I dared say
that I had discovered
I am gay

A lonely Christmas over,
New Year out of sight,
what’s the point of living
where there is no light,
but a tunnel stretching
where no angels go…
in the bleak midwinter
long ago?

I heard someone calling
though no one there,
so dropped by at a bar,
and grabbed a chair,
found myself confiding
to a man in grey
how I had discovered
I am gay

I couldn’t stop talking
once I had begun;
a heavy load grew lighter,
tunnel all but run;
then my turn to listen
to how the man
in grey came to discover
he is gay

We chatted until closing,
agreed to meet again,
two hearts overflowing
as we parted then;
though the snowfall heavy
I gladly made my way,
cheering angels telling all
I am gay

Copyright R. N. Taber 2010; 2017

[Note: First published in 1st eds. of On the Battlefields of Love by R. N. Taber, Assembly Books, 2010 under the title, 'A Feeling for Midwinter'; revised ed. in e-format in preparation.]

Saturday, 25 November 2017

A Positive Take on Seagulls

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

I have read poems at a voluntary self-help group for gay men and women from time to time. Many of the people who attend are on welfare and/or have mental health problems and/ or alcohol or drug related problems. These are wonderful people, trying to help themselves and each other with precious little help or encouragement from outside the group. It is inspiring to see them pulling together in adversity and learning to take responsibility for themselves and each other; a lesson the less enlightened among the heterosexual majority would do well to learn instead of preferring to pass judgement on others.



A POSITIVE TAKE ON SEAGULLS

Coming together, supporting each other,
toes in the Sea of Life, getting a feel for the swim
rather than drown

Making an effort to come down to a shore
with seaweed and shells on shifting sands spread
rather than stay in bed

A part of the tide’s natural ebb and flow
yet frightened of a fickle nature, its highs and lows
but a Hall of Mirrors

Alone, it is hard to bear the happy sounds
of seagulls shrieking, applause for ice cream chimes,
hints at kinder times

In good company, easier by far to break free
of shadows stalking us, driving us to seek sanctuary
in cages of our history

Together, let’s imagine wings, flex and fly,
take heart from gulls rejoicing our seas, shores, sky…
no matter where or why

As rough or fair as any sea passage may be,
let us look to fellow voyagers, let a creative empathy
reconstruct our history

Coming together, supporting each other,
getting a feel for wings rising above, learning how
to trust in Nature’s love

[Note: This poem first appeared  under the title 'A Feeling for Seagulls' in Accomplices To Illusion by R. N. Taber, Assembly Books 2007; revised ed. in e-format in preparation.]

Friday, 24 November 2017

Love, Make or Break

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

We all experience degrees of  loss, despair and disappointment as we progress through life; many have more than their fair share of all three.  Yet, life goes on and we have to move on with it or let our emotions leave us dragging behind. I have known people who have succumbed to the latter and become very resentful and bitter individuals. While there is no easy route to ‘getting on with life despite everything…’ we all need to find one that is at lease manageable. It will often require courage,  determination, and a LOT of positive thinking.

Most of all, we need to rediscover hope, and re-invent ourselves along the way.

When a love affair ends because two people fall out of love with each other...well, it happens and moving on isn't too difficult. But when both partners love each other but one partner wants to tell family, friends and just about everyone while the other - for whatever reason - doesn't...well, that's a really tough one. There's a lot to be said for staying in a closet relationship if two people truly love each other; easier, though, when neither person feels he or she has a choice. The alternative scenario, though, will more likely than not prove too much to bear.  Moving on may well be a necessity but so, too, is the fact that love never dies...however much it may make us feel better to think otherwise.

I have been on both sides of that particular divide. I had realised I am gay by the time I was 14 years-old. To my shame and regret, though, I didn't have the guts to tell the world I'm gay for a good 25 years; I moved around a lot, was in/out of the damn closet like a jack-in-the-box, and only ever told a few people at a time. Once I'd finally come out to the world and stayed out, I couldn't face going back again, not even for love; pretending to be 'just good friends' with a lover was never an option even though I understood only too well where they were coming from.

LOVE, MAKE OR BREAK

Came a time, ties that bind
lay broken, the last star snuffed out,
harsh words spoken in anger
stubbornly refusing to be put to rout
by an army of emotions
demanding I stay, put things right
where (without meaning to)
I’d said only what was right for me,
all but forgetting you

Came a time, ties that bind
lay as corpses under the same sheets
where we'd come together,
planning our future, listening out
for a dawn chorus
we never really heard for words
spilled on my pillow
from lips kissing me, oh, so tenderly
but couldn't say, "I love you."

Came a time, ties that bind
ran barefoot into a low, misty dawn
without care or thought
for their salvation, crushing them
among dead grasshoppers
in a frenzy of shamed retreat after
hearing you answer, ‘No way!’
to letting the world in on the secret
that we two are gay

Ah, yes, but ties that bind
once broken can yet be repaired
with the patience and skill
brought to lovers the world over
since time began
by those called in with a will to craft
their reconstruction
with people skills handed down,
generation to generation

Yet, none so blind that will not see how
(for playing deaf to the Here-and-Now)

Copyright R. N. Taber 2010

Thursday, 19 October 2017

Flights of Fancy...or Pure Escapism?

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

Maybe it was the aspiring poet in me or simply because I have always been partially dead, but even as a child I was easily contented with my own company, especially with my head in a book or communing with nature. While my mother was OK with this, my father was critical of what he considered to be unbecoming for a boy. Thankfully, my brother was more ‘masculine’ so that took the heat off me a bit. Needless to say, my relationship with my father was never a good one; there was no father-son bonding, probably due his being a product of a generation scarred both by war and even more misguided stereotypes than my own would see. Children, of course, only come to understand such things in time. Meanwhile they can but rely on adults to point them in the right direction; what is right for them, that is, not, the mentoring adult. Fortunately, my mother was cut from a very different cloth to my father and I survive to tell the tale.

I grew up with very mixed feelings about how I should approach the world, family life and (not least) myself. Perhaps that is why I love everything about the natural world; for all its unpredictability, it exudes relatively less than its human counterpart. On the whole, nature  also suggests a greater sense - for me, anyway - of being on one’s side ; at least, not against anyone simply because he or she has a mind-body-spirit of their own that may not be in sync with some socio-cultural-spiritual ‘norm’. Having been raised to think being gay was terrible because it was ‘different’ I was never more glad of the sense of spirituality nature has always inspired in me. While my mother could not have cared less, the same could not be said for the rest of my immediate family or even some I looked upon as friends.

As a gay man In my 70’s now, I am SO glad attitudes towards homosexuality continue to change for the better in many countries and even among some intrinsically homophobic cultures. Even so, there is no room for complacency; more education is needed about how - whatever our colour, creed, sex or sexuality - we are all part of a common humanity and all, each in our own way…different.

Legislation to re-enforce Equal Opportunities and Political Correctness may well be steps in the right direction, but you cannot legislate for bad attitude which, in turn, invariably stems from ignorance of the issues involved (making the case for education) and/or a point-blank refusal to enter into any points of view other than one’s own.

As for my scepticism, that remains part of who I am, too, and most likely always will. At the same time, I am also a very positive thinking person; a contradiction, some will say, but then what’s one more contradiction in a world whose elected (or self-appointed) spokespersons contradict themselves for much if not most of the time…?

FLIGHTS OF FANCY...OR PURE ESCAPISM?

I’ve heard folks say I should get real,
and I do, as needs must…

Yet, I love to talk to flowers,
let them know I am here for them
and care whether they live
or die, much as I would have someone
care for me, watch out for me
as I make my way through passages
of time and space among crowds
jostling to be first in line for whatever
best is yet to come as rumoured
by those assumed to be in the know
if only because it would appear
they have the ear of Someone said
to really count for something
in a greater scheme of things high
on promise, short on detail,
scarcely a mention of any Plan B
as a better option if likely to adversely
affect profits

I’ve heard folks say I should man up,
and I do, as needs must...

Yet, I love to spread wings, fly
among (all) birds over cities, towns,
and dreary suburbs top heavy
with killer-by-stealth pollution,
escape to the countryside,
take off with ducks, swans and the like
on its waterways, nature’s answer
to frantic airport runways…
comment on city carbuncles, enthuse
about country cottages, get angry
about global warming, especially where
powers-that-be in denial refusing
to put it on various agendas just in case
they lose votes (or face) among any
who couldn’t really care less so long as
they don’t miss out on rewards of a (very)
pecuniary nature

I’ve heard folks call me a born sceptic
and they could well be right...

Yet, I’ll believe a sunset’s promise
of sunny or stormy days in the wings
before I’ll trust a politician’s word
that the shape of things to come is safe
if not (quite) secure in party hands,
prefer to take my cue from such cloud
and bird formations as nature inspires
from time to time by way of suggesting
we make due preparation, less need
for reparation such as any powers-that-be
might have us make for what turns out
to be their (only human) mistakes
and ours for listening to what we’d prefer
to hear rather than what any mind-spirit
might undermine for being less out of step
with the commoner (if only human) failings
of contemporary society

Let folks say of me whatever, needs must
as human nature drives

Copyright R. N. Taber 2017

Monday, 9 October 2017

De Profundis, a Tribute to Oscar Wilde

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

[Update, Oct. 2017]: This poet was on my general blog for a long time but I finally got fed up with homophobic trolls emailing me about it! Many thanks, though, to all readers who have contacted me to say you enjoyed the poem and/ or browsing sections of Tracking the Torchbearer.  Over the years, I have made a number of significant revisions to various (published and unpublished) poems and novels. Eventually all my print books will hopefully have been converted to revised editions in e-format but this will take some time. As I am in my 70's now, I may need to depend on someone else. Publishers - other than anthology publishers and poetry magazine editors - have never shown any interest in my poetry because I have always insisted on insist on including a gay-interest section so I have mostly self-published. Consequently, my collections have only been available in the UK. While costly, I have always more than broken even with sales, and more importantly been very encouraged by feedback from gay and straight readers alike.] RNT

Find below, a dedication poem to Oscar Wilde from my last (and final) print collection collection, Tracking the Torchbearer . I read it on You Tube beside a wonderful sculplture - 'A Conversation with Oscar Wilde'  by Maggi Hambling - that can be found in the Charing Cross area of central London.

Some readers say they often have a problem with playing clips from You Tube  so I am posting it here today as well. [The video is silent for most of the time except where I am reading the poem. Find details about the sculpture, in the description accompanying the video on You Tube]

If you have a problem playing the video below, it may be worth trying to access it directly:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VxcbIozftcE

Alternatively, to access my YouTube channel, go to:  http://www.youtube.com/rogerNtaber and search there.
  
The poem was written 30+ years ago as I began the long haul of recovery from a severe nervous breakdown; I have made few revisions to the original version.

DEDICATION

A TRIBUTE TO OSCAR WILDE
(1854-1900)

DE PROFUNDIS

I lay floating in an ocean of misery,
willing myself to drown
while dolphins kept me company
and Apollo lingered on

Sharks, they kept a hungry distance,
an albatross winged by,
while waves lent a gentle cadence
to twilight’s lullaby

Went into freefall to the ocean floor
and would have stayed,
but Apollo demanded of me more
while the dolphins cried

I let them have their way if reluctantly,
screaming for their motivation,
peering into a misty-eyed mortality,
without rhyme or reason

No one answered my question though
I strained to hear,
then twilight let a cloud pass through
and I found a poem there

Body of straw in that ocean of misery,
willing myself to drown,
I read an ode to life, love and a history
of peace after wars hard won

It told how little in life ever comes easy
including death…
such is the fickle nature of humanity
and ways of godmother Earth

I felt a poet’s passion take hold of me,
heard its voice in a seagull’s cry,
swimming me across an ocean of misery
to walk kinder shores, head high

I woke in tears still drenching my pillow,
began (slowly) to recover;
at chinks in the blinds, winks from Apollo
assuring me the worst was over

[From: Tracking the Torchbearer by R. N. Taber, Assembly Books, March 2012]

Tragically of course, for Wilde, the worst was far from over. 







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