Beauty and the Psychopath

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The earth’s surface
spans five hundred and ten square kilometres;

its Imperial reach
is one hundred and ninety-six point nine miles;

if every human stood still for one minute
and studied the scene
we might see hunger, iniquity, pain;

we might witness
every kind of suffering

~ this world is too complex to be forever kind ~

yet if we could gaze
with a cleanly aesthetic eye

devoid of empathy
for the frog that’s crushed beneath the boot,

we might find beauty in every millimetre;

we’d envisage beauty
in every razor blade, in every frightened face,
in every tainted pool
that steep out through the uniform
to sink into the rusting battle field;

it’s easy to appreciate a sunset
or the wavering boughs of a willow tree,

but tucked in a desert

in the arid waste where death exalts,
as, throwing back his cape

he rides the rays of  an allegiant sun
that roasts flesh from hollowing bones, leaving skulls to fade
in shifting hills and sandy vales

there is enchantment, whether scanned
from the height of an aeroplane, or gleaned
through a microscope
as we peek at the secrets of a single grain.

and on a motorway

on a wide tarmac trail
which breaks meadows in its wake,
snaking city limits, displaying the detritus of terminal mishap;
twisted metal, stains left by fractured death
and splattered brains

we find banks piled with riotous harmony
where flowers despised by tidy garden rules
are gems that shine on nature’s winsome breast.

In an iniquitous hidden room

in a bolted cell of jailor’s shame,
dank with acrid stench of psychopaths
intent on tearing sacred, private silk,
raping, molesting, shredding flesh in a hell
where madmen claim the purity of sin
where sadists taste their sour disgrace,
and relishing it, declare it sweet

the girl lies,
hair matted with filth and tears,
a child born with the essence of perfection,
a woman
who grew from woman’s womb.

.

This poem has veered a long way from its original intention, but I went with the flow – which suggests that I might be getting back on form 🙂

Note to self; it would require two people for it to work as an orated poem.  Stanzas written in black would be best spoken in a gentle tone; those on the right, by an increasingly threatening one. The purple line in the middle would be spoken in duet.

©Jane Paterson Basil

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Pain

At
the apex
of pain, my spirit
slips  to  a  safe  place;
watches  curtains  billow,
plucks daisies, thinks about cake,
then loses its kindly grip.

Always, when I fall,
I land on the
k
n
I
f
e
.

Each slash feels like
the worst

~ the final ~

the killer
c
u
t
.

I stagger to my feet,
disguise the festering gash across my face
so it looks like a smile.

Each time
I tell myself it will never
happen again.

I
t
will never happen
a
g
a
I
n
.

.

I was going through my poetry with a view to polishing up the best of it so I can submit some to literary magazines – that old chestnut; anybody who knows me well will be aware that I usually end up getting my knickers in a twist and losing confidence.

Oh well…

This poem shocked me, bringing back the memories, although none of it seems real now. I’ve edited it slightly – changed it from 3rd person to 1st person. Was that a good or bad idea? I originally wrote in the 3rd person in order to suggest it wasn’t about me – to separate myself from it. My gut feeling is that my original idea was better. Any suggestions?

Am I nearly there yet?

.

©Jane Paterson Basil

Mysteries

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Physicists forge forward,
white coats flapping
like Messianic messengers’ wings
as they fly urgently around corners
racing to dine on Science,
masticating fact,
slurping maths,
spewing heretical pips and chips of maverick bone
into the spittoon of fools and false magic.
Caught within the limitations of scientific instruments,
they gloss over the cracks of universe and you,
yet still
insoluble mysteries seep through.

.

Word of the Day Challenge: Gloss

©Jane Paterson Basil

Perspective

perspective.jpg

Viewed from the moon
I am helpless as a raindrop
drying on the African plain,
an invisible crease
in the slithering ribbon of history.
Yet next to an amoeba
I am a galaxy,
imperious as the sea.

Similarly,
in the eye of the universe, each planet
is a dust-mote, blown away in a moment;
to the neutron, a speck of dust
is an enduring planet.

Word of the Day Challenge: Imperious

My Friend Johnny

Devon rolling hills nr Bickleigh
(Image Credit: Euro Cheapo)

Drenched by clotting dregs
of a cold-custard day,
too sluggish to juggle saucepans,
plates, food,
I watch cars, and muse,
thinking of armour,
of armies,
of uniforms marching
in single file as if in practice,
yet each with its own destiny.
Some face battle, others flee,
while a few
have been granted
official leave.

Monotonous shades of grey,
white vans, showroom red, more grey.
Sighting the next white van
I rise from my seat; this one
is unique;
embellished with wide wheels,
custom headlights,
boastful
tribal
decals.

“Johnny!”, I cry,
waving like one who welcomes
the first sunrise.
tenderness fills me
as this childhood enemy
who became a friend
drives by.

From this reach
he cannot hear or see me,
but “Johnny”, I whisper with a grin
thinking of how we meet
in the street to speak
of everyday things with an ease
that contradicts distance, remembering
the time he stroked hair from my eyes,
the sweep of his fingers
behind my ear;
intimate, yet more easy
the touch of lover; more like
a brother.

As Johnny’s van rolls out of sight
the evening sun escapes a bluffing cloud.
Effervescing rays needle light
through maple leaves,
seeking
to burnish an oasis
that grows between me
and the road.

The oasis swells.
Trees rise through concrete,
meadows stretch; nature’s blankets
woven in hues of gold and green
whose wild-flower hedges
stitch the patchwork of Devon together.

I burn fifty-five calendars
and race through fields.
Reaching the bank of a stream, I leap,
hair flying, feet finding purchase,
toes curling around smooth rock,
cool water a shock
that soothes and surprises.

Johnny waits on the other side.
No more do I despise his fear of drowning
or distrust his efforts to survive.
In turn, he doesn’t mind my wild eyes.
Like me, he is a child,
we are each ourselves;
He holds out his hand, wraps it around mine
and pulls me to his side;
I am home with my family,
ambling with Johnny,
Johnny, forever  my friend.

.

©Jane Paterson Basil

Musical Hypocrisy

Today, the Haunted Wordsmith posted Jeannie C. Riley’s Harper Valley PTA. It always reminds me of The Son of Hickery Holler’s Tramp. Both songs are about mean-minded, small-town hypocrisy. I was in my teens when these songs came out, and I still remember how  real the protagonists were to me. I wanted to march right over to Harper Valley and give the PTA a piece of my mind, backing up the ticking off they’d already received. Then go on to Hickery Holler and adopt the kids.

If I was more organised, I might choose one day a week to post music. Since I’m not, I’ll just continue to throw in the odd record on a random basis. This is the original version, sung by O.C. Smith.

Here goes:

 

That’s it, folks.

Yellow newlyweds and greedy breeders

ATTENTION! ATTENTION!

THESE POEMS WERE GENERATED

BY A CRAZY MACHINE.

NOT BY ME!

While I was searching for a useful tool for helping to shape concrete poetry (which seems to have vanished without trace) I found a free poem generator, so just for fun, I gave it a go. After selecting the free verse option I was asked to type in three words. The generator chewed on my words for a moment, then requested a further three, related to three new words it had spat back at me.

In no time at all it coughed out this strange list of phrases:

Greed

The drive that’s really climb,
Above all others is the ardent ambition.
Artistic, ardent ambition.
Does the ardent ambition make you shiver?
does it?

An astonishing avidity, however hard it tries,
Will always be eagerness.
Does the astonishing avidity make you shiver?
does it?

Better breeding is multiplying.
multiplying is better breeding.
Does the better breeding make you shiver?
does it?

Anyone who knows me well will be aware that I go in for overkill. Here’s the hilarious second poem it wrote for me, inspired by a different set of word prompts. I expected it to be romantic…

Marriage

A wonderful wedding, however hard it tries,
Will always be celebration.
Wonderful wedding.
Does the wonderful wedding make you shiver?
does it?

The unify that’s really married,
Above all others is the warm wed.
Now ringed is just the thing,
To get me wondering if the warm wed is marital.

yellow, nervous newlyweds sings like romantics
Nervous newlyweds are yellowish. nervous newlyweds are irrational,
nervous newlyweds are chickenhearted, however.

So there you have it: nervous newlyweds sings like romantics. However, in addition to their skin being yellow – a point that is repeated in case you weren’t paying full attention – their hearts come from chickens.

Finally, I requested rhyming couplets. For this I was asked to submit a larger group of words. The resulting rhyme is… unusual. I was hoping for a poem about a road-sweeper and a psychiatrist. Maybe that’s what this is; it’s hard to tell.

See the laughing of the shunter,
I think he’s angry at the hunter.

He finds it hard to see the blouse,
Overshadowed by the angry dormouse.

Who is that screaming near the broom?
I think she’d like to eat the elbowroom.

She is but a black analyst,
Admired as she sits upon an annalist.

Her shameful car is just a prescription,
It needs no gas, it runs on subscription.

She’s not alone she brings a baccy,
a pet beaver, and lots of laxey.

The beaver likes to chase an alternation,
Especially one that’s in the association.

The shunter shudders at the hilarious armadillo
He want to leave but she wants the morillo.

Maybe it’s better at haiku, but I don’t have the heart to find out.

 

shiver (2)

 

In case you feel like playing silly buggers, here’s a link to the generator. If you do, don’t be mean; please share the results.

©Jane Paterson Basil