They stutter and creep along filth-ridden streets, tattered sleeves hiding the blood as it seeps, far from the arms of mothers who weep. Turn away, cover your eyes, blind to the shame of the crimes you perceive as you hurry away from the flesh-eating streets. They wade through the scud of society's greed, shuffling their feet, hungry for succour then numbed by fulfilment of lethal need. Turn away pretend you don't see, blind to the shame of the streets of pain or blaming the victim for all our mistakes. They're slipping through cracks between fleshly paving; our brothers and sisters struggle and bleed and end on those streets. Who finds the dead and where are they buried? Do we really not notice? How can we not care? How can we not weep as they slip between the cracks created from selfish greed. Few of us focus and few of us see that there but for fortune or luck of the genes go him and her and you and me. There but for fortune go we. ©Jane Paterson Basil
You can't think straight. The reins were always slack. They slipped from your hands again. You can't remember when; could've been in your sleep or while you escaped into butterfly flight, clicking: once, twice, watching colourful wings flit... as if they could save you... anyway you let go or maybe those reins were stolen and now there is no escape from the claw that clamps your flesh, forcing you back into the cold of an echoing cave.
©Jane Paterson Basil
My father was a talented man. He drew, painted, pressed clay, carved stone into naked feminine shapes with big bums and tiny waists. He was practical, too. When my family moved to Devon, he mastered the art of plant husbandry, and grew much of our food. He pulled nails from reclaimed wood, saved metal scraps and screws, used them to build, to make tools. When I was eight, I helped him create a two-room caravan from waste. This space became a base for his creations. Wood, chisel and clay lived at the front end with his workbench. Hammers, drills and related accoutrements were neatly arranged on shelves. Beyond lay his photographic studio, complete with convenient divan and blankets. Everything had its place -- cameras, hammers and home-made pottery wheel of his design, powered by peddling a recycled bicycle -- all neatly in reach. When one of his scented women came -- her waist not that thin, her bum not that big, and her painted face never as pretty as in his imagery -- we knew The Artist Was At Work and we must turn away. When they left, some made a quick getaway, while others played innocent, dripping into the kitchen for a quick visit. My mother was friendly, polite, never accused, never raged or complained, ostensibly dismissing his sickening betrayals, gently raising them on the pedestal of art. No-one could have seen her pain, or known she was afraid. Yes, my father was a gifted man. Every possession was kept in its place. As an innocent child, I worshiped him. Then my breasts grew, and I began to understand the depth of his despot views: e-v-e-r-y woman's place was pressed in the palm of his grasping hand. ©Jane Paterson Basil Written for Word Of The Day Challenge: Practical
Morning brings a fragile visitation: the hint of a poem whose silken threads ebb and flow, playing hide-and-seek with my mind, gradually reproducing into compatible flecks which swim like dust motes on a sunny day. Words and phrases float through an open window: tender gifts bestowed by an unknown source; obscure miracles which mingle with the mix, transforming raw verse till it fits, displays a hint of beauty, and on occasion, blooms with exhumed truth.
©Jane Paterson Basil
©Jane Paterson Basil
This brave beauty has been buffeted by autumn's steely breath, robbed of its faded cape. Not one thread clung to shield it from winter chill. Twigs snap, strained limbs creak and break, yet victory is gained; the tree remains staunch, tall and erect. Vanquished by harsh wind, leaves crumble and decay into mulch to feed next season's stunning display.
©Jane Paterson Basil
Written for Word Of The Day Challenge: Reflect
With apologies to the oft-disputed author of ‘Twas The Night Before Christmas
It's a dim little Christmas we're having this year, stranded from family and friends we hold dear. Factions are splattered all over the place, there is fear and denial, ragr and bad grace. World leaders sit haggard on prickly fence while scientists struggle to make them see sense. Conspiracy geeks prittle predictable prattle and the papers continue to treat us like cattle. Mother is shielding and father is fraught by the dreadful cost of the gifts that he bought. Business is failing, his debts are a-growing, since Covid put paid to the seeds he was sowing. His children are sleeping in confident bliss faithfully dreaming of generous gifts. Santa has packed up his sleigh with great care, he's padlocked his storehouse and fed his reindeer. He's flying up high on his usual rounds; although visits are tricky, he won't let us down. Since rulings preclude him from entering chimneys he drops down the presents and flies away nimbly, with a groan in his throat and a tear in his eye; he'd be glad of a drink or a lovely mince pie, to fill his fat belly and give his heart ease - but he cannot risk catching a nasty disease. As he smoothly directs his crew through the air, he's pleased to be giving but filled with despair. He reflects that it's been a difficult year: There's lots of goodwill, but damn little cheer.
©Jane Paterson Basil
Winter had clung, its bitter wrap of ice-flinted snow suffocating fleets of sunny seasons, clenching my gut. Fevered hope pricked me with uneven heat. Faith was feeble, thin; a hand-spun fishing line, plucked from the gleam of halcyon days; it frayed and broke, frayed and broke, to be knotted again and again; my fumbling fingers fighting in vain to cease their trembling shake. In the end, estrangement felt safer, less painful, yet when it came, it bit, it stung; as events remained uncelebrated and months mounted, it ate me away. Sometimes, change is sudden: as if on a whim, the world spun, whipping up a conglomeration of fear and isolation, an unheeding pandemic of sickness and death, yet grace was the gift this year brought me; banishment hit him, helped him to battle his searing addiction; his demons had scarred him but now they were bleeding, while his wounds were healing; I could see they still ached, but Spring had returned. Reunited with my child, with pride and relief I can see he carries the family genes: the blood of the Phoenix surges through his veins. ©Jane Paterson Basil
Over the past few months, I’ve found it difficult to write. I put this down to the fact that my soul is less tortured. So, last Friday I began a poetry course which was offered by our County Council as part of a mindfulness programme, to help people through the difficulties of Covid, so it wasn’t really designed for poets. However, I thought it would be useful as a kind of refresher. The above poem is the fruit of my first session’s labours. I hope you like it x
You can't beat addiction by beating the addict; it will hitch up their need to reach for a fix. Shame on your actions, you showed no compassion. You oppressed and tormented and drove her to drink, then you slammed her and thrashed her, but she didn't sink. Throughout your life and long after you died her beautiful spirit and body survived. ©Jane Paterson Basil
Nobody told me you say: no-one explained; it seems at each road you pay a toll. Where crossroad meet, signposts scribe lies, or mud smudges each destination, you claim. You've lost control: you never know where the next path will lead. Looks like a dead-end street. Your hands shake, shame numbs your brain. So many mistakes. Nobody told you, you say, then you heap blame on those who are blinded like you. Loved ones tried, their words blurred by your need, your potential curdled by wild hurtle into dim thrill of needle and sleep. Deep sleep just short of eternal. Mornings bring cravings, day follows day filled with theft and sale, theft and sale to pay for your sleazy escape again and again. Always the same peppered with desperate efforts and creasing failures and cramping pain and careless mistakes and fleecing arrests and imprisoning cells while your head forever screams to be clean, while your need to appease the clamouring beast that clamps your frame and grabs your guts and clings to your skin and kidnaps your mind and steals your very being rejects the thought. ... How times change: these days you clean my home, cook my meal. We share expenses and I marvel at your strength of will. I ask you: what was the defining moment that inspired you to strive for the light? This is how you reply: I gazed at the signpost ahead and as I wiped the mud which had blinded my eyes, I read where each of three roads led. the first was a dire, familiar trail, the second pointed to sudden death. I chose the third road, the hard road, the right road, the sane road, the safe road, the stuttering shock. It was a toll I had to pay: that searing act of cleansing agony. I'm glad I grappled through the pain which led me back to hope and health. ©Jane Paterson Basil