Ivor plumbs the depths
    seeking out the sneaky leaks;
        master of the pipes.

Ivor plumbs the depths
    working away with a wrench;
        prince of the porcelain.

Ivor plumbs the depths
    leaving sink fittings gleaming;
        king of the kitchen.

Ivor plumbed the depths.
    In the fresh, peaceful evening
        our hero can rest.

Written in a whimsical mood, for my lovely friend Ivor, who is not so green as he’s cabbage-like – an old saying from the North of England, meaning he’s not stupid.

©Jane Paterson Basil


A High Note

Before growing pains seeped

thick into my womb,

searing it,

staining it scarlet,

ripping my freedom to shreds,

exploding idyllic preconceptions,

pouring hormonal rust upon my skipping youth,

a green heart played innocent tunes

on a swelling rib cage.

The meadows rippled in reply,

and the stream tinkled in time to the childish beat.

The hills, too kind to disillusion me,

echoed my refrain

in three-part harmony —

yet nature couldn’t prevent

the betrayal of my burgeoning body.

I made painful mistakes,

edging around the shadiest patches,

mostly staying in safe places.

These days, the lost ones shimmy down slimy drainpipes

as if life is a giveaway toy to treat lightly

and toss aside.

Lately, my heartbeat sings

a less vigorous song, muffled

by the grimy streets and the grainy patina of age,

but now and again a high note

echoes through the trees.

©Jane Paterson Basil



Spent a long time waiting for the coming of age,
waiting to wake with the wisdom of a sage,
waiting for patience to replace teenage rage,
waiting for childishness to disengage.

It creeps up slowly and you’re never done
with learning life’s lessons one by one.
As the last one ends, another’s begun
and soon you know that it’s part of the fun.

Life is awash with pleasure and pain,
it’s an oddly constructed, uneven chain;
some links are intricate, while others are plain,
some look too delicate to take the strain.

Whatever the condition of your current link,
whether it is flimsy or folded by a kink,
this could pass far faster than you think;
the blink of an eye might find you in the pink.


Make the most of your talents each day,
never be fazed by what doubters say;
don’t let temptation lead you astray;
live your life in your own unique way.

©Jane Paterson Basil


Can’t read or knit or go to buy my daily bread.

Staring at the window without focus, an inch from the jaws of paralysis.

Will it continue like this until I am laid to rest?

The principle victim might beat addiction,
and push temptation away,
But for sisters and mothers and all of the others
the danger is always in play.

Tried to hold it at bay, but last night it crept up from behind, encroaching on my peace of mind, floating just beyond my vision like a fruit fly scouting for the sweet rot to feed on, and finding it in me.

Thannie’s funeral was today, and I feared what the wake might bring.

So many premature deaths, but – apart from the worst one, so long ago, –
this is the first one that has occurred since he ripped away the chemical curtain.

Tried to sleep through it, but I woke stiff with dread of what he might do after the coffin passed through the doors. I choked down my breakfast and read for hours, struggling to stop the words from blurring, determinedly working the words into sense, my limbs heavy with the effort of pretending that I wasn’t scared.

Tried not to call him, until I could stand it no more.

His voice flowed strong across the line, and I could tell the ogres had fled at the sight of his tears. He was as safe as he could be.

Need to take some exercise, but my legs still refuse to work, and there’s a wall between me and the front door.

I knew that ringing him wouldn’t help. Someone’s trying to break in. There’s no rationality to this. My hands are shaking. It’s dangerous outside. There are people with knives. This isn’t me. None of this is real. I have to break through the wall and return to sanity.

I want to phone him again, but I mustn’t. I’m putting all kinds of imaginary dangers into my head, to avoid the fear that he’ll use. Images of knives and the smell of death on my hands are distractions, to stop me from thinking about what really frightens me.

He’s not going to use. I mustn’t ring him. I have to remember what my coping strategies are, but I can’t concentrate.

I’m afraid that if I stop writing what little courage I’m holding onto will fall apart.

To all the people who loved Thannie, I’m sorry. Today should be about him. It’s horrible that he died.

And to my son, I’m sorry that my faith weakens when I think of your grief. It’s not your fault.

©Jane Paterson Basil

If the Tables Were Turned

Please tell me, what would you do
if you were confined in a zoo
and all of the animals
from lizards to camels
strolled around pointing at you?

Now tell me, how would you feel,
if you were encased behind steel
while the chimpanzees
watched your antics with glee
and laughed at you eating your meal?

So, what if the tables were turned?
It’s time the corrupted ones learned
just like human beings
those creatures have feelings
and all of us should be concerned.

Inspired by the Government’s recent faux pas (how’s that for an understatement?) over the sentience of animals.

©Jane Paterson Basil

This Serene Evening



As dusk scribbles violet trails in the sky,
the beam of lights increase, widening and illuminating
this serene evening.

Seeping ghouls have been banished from the scene,
and as yesteryear’s polluted pool descends into the well of memory,
I breathe clean tranquillity.

Inhaling the soft heat of ascending peace,
I kick aside the pale desire that it had swept in
earlier in my day.

Grateful for each painful lesson in humility,
I deny access to niggly regret and obsolete pity
as withered dregs of sorrow ebb away.


I struggled with this. I wrote it for The Daily Post’s Word Prompt – before I realised that “Serene” was today’s word for the Photo Prompt. Oh well…

…Oh Well: the best thing Fleetwoood Mac ever recorded – which has no connection with my post, but… oh well…

©Jane Paterson Basil