Trophies

The gulls cry to be fed
and the woman raises the sound on the TV.
Hungry for love, the gulls screech
and the woman preens her hair.
Desperate, they beg.
The woman 
slings slices of white bread 

They land just within reach

She straightens their feathers, takes 
them to a place where a man 
coils words around their beaks, their eyes
and shoots
framing their formal guise

The woman 
places the portrait 
on the living room wall.
The gulls see.
This must be love, they say.
The woman
Switches on the TV
to drown out their squall.

The gulls grow.
 raise families of their own.
Their polite poses  
crowd the woman's wall.
Not a hair out of place,
Many mouths saying “Cheese”
many obedient eyes gazing 
into a stranger's face.
He clicks, and it's done.
He clicks.
He clicks, and the children - for
they are children - stretch their muscles,
appreciating release.

The proud matriarch of three generations
turns from the TV
and and reaches to make space 
in her spick and span home
                                            for another trophy.
©Jane Paterson Basil

Agoraphobia

Jacket on, my fingers 
reach 
for the latch 
which leads me 
to the other side of the door
which would take me outside.

Its arrival is always 
sudden,  
sometimes a surprise, yet 
routine as the seasons, 
pumping through my veins like
a sullen child dragging me back, like
a whining child unwilling 
to go outside.

Out loud, I say
you can do this,
it's just laziness, 
but the tainted blood 
           shoots 
      needles 
through my heart.

I call myself a coward, 
recall the feats of my youth,
the heights attained, 
the dangers faced and erased, yet
my feet refuse to move and 
my hand is stayed inches 
from the door.

I say to myself,  I can do this
can't I?
Silence but for the hard beat of my heart.
I repeat:
Can I do this today?

No, yet 
I trip over the reply, doubting 
my level of intent, feeling shame, even 
as the shudders wither my brain - even
as the room sways.

I need milk and a dozen other things. Please 
let me do this today.

No. The reply comes from deep inside.
No no no.

I back away, 
back to safety,
back to my lair, 
my table, 
my chair. 
Defeated, I glare at the cars passing by 
beneath the grey horizon.

Milk, vegetables and eggs
will wait another day.

©Jane Paterson Basil

Message to an Addict

The only way to change is to embrace truth, and if you are able to do so it might help with your recovery. Sit in a safe place with all your guilt and shame. Be brave, allow it to breathe. Don’t try to smother it with drugs; it only comes back, stronger and more fuelled every time. If you have courage enough for that, you will become a better human being, finally able to make amends and move forward.

In Peace

When my parting breath 
  has exhaled all etchings of pleasure and gain, 
     releasing them to the blind breeze -
         when the milled shards of speckled pain 
           have quit my cooling heart, my leaden limbs, my stale brain -
           when no trace of shame or self remain - 
         build a pyre, pile it high,  
       roll my remains in a reclaimed sheet. 
      Weep if you will. but not for me:
       when you kindle the fire my ashes will fly:
         let them go as, barren, they float away:   
             think only of my freed soul
                  as it traces a trail along a veiled lane 
                    between river and trees 
                  home of our long-gone cloaked roams.
                In the dip where our arms reached,
                there shall I settle, 
                   there shall I lie, 
                           and there, in peace
                                          shall I rest for a while. 
                                                        
                                                   
 ©Jane Paterson Basil

Ghost

In long-gone days, the wraith
came at my beckoning, materialising clear
as a leaf in a clean running stream
brightly clad in nature's hues
With wings of light
she'd flitter through fields
greeting trees, spinning
in whirling dervish twirls 
till balance failed 
and
she fell 
helpless with glee
revelling in endless freedom

I watched her mount the Oak,
childish fingers clutching ever slimmer limbs
climbing
high 
higher 
Taunting a fleeting theory of God
challenging death 
placing her feet 
on the flimsiest twig
willing the wood to take her weight
even as she dared it to defy 
her credence 
that her breath 
would never cease

Frozen in time, the child 
remains forever nine

When the world growls and bites I call her
and she arrives.
She always shows  
consoling me through the years
with her reminder of joy
 
Time breathes mist over my eyes
and leads my senses toward a vacuum, yet still 
from time to time 
my wraith twists through 
the claws of time 
 lending me memories 
of crowning days. Her margins 
have long since blended into the landscape, 
her flesh faded to grey 
evaporating into smoke

Her diaphanous wisp
floats over fields and streams
beside my childhood home; the ghost
of the child who was me 
and I recall 
that once upon a time 
I felt immortal 
and believed I was free

©Jane Paterson Basil

One Bright Hue

You twist the cube,
try for one bright hue to fill your eyes, 
fumbling to build a blue wall 

that shines 
like a clean childhood sky, 

but the fingers fail and the cube bleeds, 
refusing to comply, its fuming patches 
bragging bitter truth,
describing the sickness that grins 
between the seams.
You drop the cube,
close your eyes 
and dream.

©Jane Paterson Basil

Written for Reena‘s Xploration challenge #196. Sorry, Reena, my WP editor has a glitch: hard as I try, I can’t get it to highlight the whole name of your post when creating a pingback.

Come into Oxfam (re-hashed)

Don't diss me sister; I'm a cool fashionista,
running with the times, an Eco A lister.
Dressed by Oxfam from my head to my toes,
elegant in every stitch of pre-cherished clothes
and feeling pretty nifty in my vintage hat --- 
fifty years more stylish than this season's tat.

I never understood; it's always been a mystery
why people steer clear of raiment with a history,
but the world is changing and the wise understand
it's grand to to be strutting in second-hand.
Our over-production will suck the planet dry ---
we cannot halt the damage unless we all try.
.
If you buy less new, it'll slow production down,
saving precious energy the world around,
so come on into Oxfam and rummage with me,
you never can tell what treasures you'll see.
It's better than the High Street shops in town ---
come with me to Oxfam and look around.

Labels lack soul and the prices are steep,
those showy little tags make folks look like sheep
or mannequins standing in a window display
trailing the fashion victims rags of the day.
Change your look, show your personality ---
come into the Oxfam shop with me.

When you learn about the projects that Oxfam holds dear
I hope that you will sign up to volunteer,
giving up a portion of your time for free,
learning new skills while you work with me
or any of the members of our friendly crew
who'd surely be delighted to get to know you.

If you ain't got the confidence I'll hold your hand,
and when you walk out the door you will understand
the reasons I spend my time like I do,
and buy pre-used instead of brand new:
I'm runnin' with the times, I'm a cool fashionista,
don't diss me sister, I'm an Eco A lister.  

©Jane Paterson Basil

Seems I’m all out of poetry. so I’ve been messing about with this one, which I wrote a few years ago... still not entirely happy with it.

Fairer Sex

A beautifully crafted poem penned by my guest poet, PW.

Abuse can take so many forms
the worst of which a bitch that's scorned
who shoots untruths from lips not hip each time her man takes stand or slips.

Her hands hold grip around your throat and with her words she bounds and chokes. No room to breathe, your freedom gone and with it youth, the truth along
with peace of mind and decent times - deceit then reaps to beat you blind. So blind in fact your tragic eyes can't see the traps or magic die.

Imagine why, I can't, can you? She kills the thrill of love so true then blues come back with blackness too to swallow up and hollow you. On borrowed time, the signs were clear as years of tears had disappeared the hope you held so very tight to live and love and bury spite. My plight can't end, my friends are hers to bend and break, my mates dispersed and curse me now just how she likes while I bleed red on beds of spikes.

She fed them lies and tied them well while hellish bouts of shouts and yells consume me still and fill my mind, an ever-growing hill to climb. So now I know, I start to grow and leave behind the crime and crows and start out fresh the best I can but torn, I warn the rest of man - don't be a sap, this patterns old. Be bold and brave, don't slave or fold and hold your head up high and cope, don't mope, just mend. I'm sending hope.

©PW

PW’s heartrending verse highlights the sad fact that men – as well as women – are sometimes subjected to repeated acts of abuse… yet their voices are rarely heard or listened to.

Kensington, Philadelphia

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