Monthly Archives: August 2016



In ’61 I fell in love with words;
their multiple shapes;
the way they taste as they escape from the mouth;
how different combinations calm or excite.

And I have practiced
to make small musings sound big.
I take a secret or open truth and expand it;
throw it into the sky;
this offered gift may land on your head,
bruising like heavy metal
stinging like skittery nettles in spring
or tickling like a brindled feather,
depending upon what mood I am in.

So, you are younger than me
with further to journey,
but we are equal.
Your truth is told as if to a friend,
calmly, clearly, without gimmicky bells or whistles,
in the beautiful words you were born to speak.
Your voice will be heard and some day
your ethical wisdom may prevail.

We reach across the generations;
across lonely deserts, burning wilderness, mountains, oceans;
across festive towns, weeping cities, peaceful protests, war zones;
across diverse rituals and customs,

and as two poets,
in mutual respect;
in sisterhood;
in sincerity;
we meet.

Written as a tribute and a gift, to my lovely new friend over at The Grateful Dead.  I heartily recommend  a visit.

I’ve been rhyming lately, but this couldn’t be written in rhyme as it would have lost some of its meaning.

©Jane Paterson Basil




Vice is pouring from humankind’s pores,
we’re thieves and conmen and pimps and whores,
we’re dealers, receivers and peeping perverts
on the constant lookout for greedy perks.
Some will do anything while some specialise
but most of us use common tricks and lies.

What can you expect when the heads of the land
are crooked and immoral and underhand;
uplifting the rich and crushing the poor,
discouraging peace and glorifying war,
while the media plays games to corrupt the mind;
twisting every human story they find.

And the people look out of their windows and say
What’s gone wrong with the world today?
There’s Junkie John, he’s been stealing again
and I hear the police have arrested young Ben
for selling crack cocaine and speed;
army conscription  is what they need.

They turn from the window as the doorbell rings
and John is outside with tasty things.
They pull out cheese and a leg of  lamb,
a pack of salmon and a large chunk of ham;
fifteen quid the lot, a pretty good price
for keeping our country in a state of vice.

They freeze all the meat and they tell themselves
they couldn’t afford honest food on the shelves.
If it wasn’t for Junkie John’s rotten thieving ways
they’d sometimes be deprived of proper food for days.
Then they fire up the Mac and rest their tired feet
while they trawl the ether for a new three-piece suite.

Written for The Daily Post #Vice

©Jane Paterson Basil

You can’t have that

If you’re pining for a treat I can bake you a cake
If your living room is dowdy I can redecorate
If your clothes are in rags I’ll sew anything you need
If you want fresh food I’ll grow vegetables from seed
If you need cheering up I’ve compassion by the score
But please don’t ask me for anything more

I can landscape your garden, carve your pet’s tombstone
make a hanging mobile from rags and bone
I can build a wall or a kitchen or a pine bookcase
I can act like a fool to put a smile on your face
I can do most things with reasonable skill
but there’s just one desire that I cannot fulfil

I can write you a poem about the sky or the sea
about what I used to do or how I’d like to be
Or a tidy little story in a choice of genre
to encourage you to giggle or to cry or to ponder
I can weave you a tale of success or mystery
but I cannot write lies into my history

history has shaped me into what you see
without my history I wouldn’t be me
it’s made me an expert on love of every kind
and love’s nearly driven me out of my mind
you can have my assistance or advice with any task
but you can’t have my loving so please don’t ask

Written for The Daily Post #Expert

©Jane Paterson Basil

Did you die?



You are with me again, your eyes supplicating, then the skin of our spirits clash in a loving embrace which my body does not risk.

I love you. I will always love you. I want to cup your face in my hands, run my fingers down the lines in your cheeks, furrowed since last we met.

I crave to take back the years, change the pattern of time and live in you, thrive in you, die in you, and when our bones crumble to dust I want the wind to lift us, so I may fly with you

My daughter clasps my arm and my heart separates.

I chose my fate forty years ago and I wouldn’t have it any other way. Rather than break your family I made my own, but I beg for a short time with you, so she backs away as I drop a promise in her eyes. I will not uninvent my children.

Your arms wrap around me. Cheek to cheek we speak in single words representing sentences, paragraphs, chapters of our loss. Our mouths meet, eager for one final kiss, but as our lips touch you fall asleep.

The phone rings, waking me, and a voice steals you from me, calling me back from your cooling jaws.

Fear drags at me as the tears form.

Was this a dark dream or did you die in my arms?


©Jane Paterson Basil

Putting words into my mouth


careful phrases that explain
how I only want you for a week or a day
and tell you this is no more than a game I play
you pick out particular words,
store them away
to cut and paste
into a sentence that says
I want you too, I need you too,
I feel the loving way you do.
poor fool, the only one
who’ll get hurt
is you.


©Jane Paterson Basil


on the grey roof below my window
youthful seagull flaps and crows
harassing a bored parent
who turns with an irritated shrug of her wing
as if from a stranger

fledgling follows, begging
persisting in his  ruthless lament
threatening, ready to peck
but each time he approaches she backs away

I watch the dippy dappy flapping dance
and my imagination prompts me to translate:
“mum, I’m huuungry. pleease feeed me…
“What’s in your craw? I’m hungry.


Mum’s been silent, but she’s had enough.
She opens her beak and she screeches
high pitched, as if in grief
then opening her wings she lifts from the roof
and flies away.
baby struts, his webbed feet flapping angrily
his brindled feathers fluffing like
cotton exploding from a pod.
he struts, he fluffs, he flaps, he crows,
he struts and fluffs then craps and flows
flying, lifting, wings batting, beating, then stilling
as he slides the slipstream
looking for his dinner

on the ground
two sisters quarrel like seagulls

one stomps off
the other follows, growling
“Wait for me.”

©Jane Paterson Basil





Creeping vines
twist around bloody roses,
encasing her body like armour;
circles of thorns, like a
silent threat
decorate her brave flesh
in a failed bid to protect her.

If you think she is dangerous
you’ve misread the signs.
Witness her numbing pain;
feel the white space that surrounds her.
I could say I’ve known her to break
but she was broken long ago,
and the cracks were never erased.

I want to find a way to make her whole;
dissipate the gaps in her soul.
I don’t know if this is love
or compassion or both,
but her sudden laughter is like a gift,
like the sunrise,
like a child’s kiss, like a hug from my sister,
giving me a lift;
making me feel worthwhile,
but when her eyes fade to the distance
I am bereft, knowing she has slipped
into bleak self-loathing.

I tell her she is a success
and  she can think I’m crazy
as long as she trusts what I say.
It’s true she hasn’t slayed all her demons,
but they have sharp teeth and strong defences.
Bravely, day by tiring day
she fights to keep them at bay,
and to me
she’s an Amazon.

I would like her to know
that although we only meet in passing,
I am her friend.

Written for The Daily Post #Witness

©Jane Paterson Basil

Out of control

      you stand, 
        you will never 
witness these floating insanities.
        They're so far
      from your
   plain                                          I'm
                                        this  game
                                     is a torture
                           without clear rules or conclusions
                                     to be played
                                          while the
      like a
     careless tightrope walker 
     knowing  even  as  I land 
              there is no-one  
                   at fault 

Written for The Daily Post #Witness

©Jane Paterson Basil

Who needs TV…


A golden globe
floats amid a small break in the grey,
its glow raining rays of light,
painting a silver lining.
The sun sinks
washing peach silk over the whole sky,
and as it retreats
funereal mauve bleeds in,
pushing peach into a narrowing horizontal gash
which darkens to orange.
The grieving sky thins to watery blue,
blotting out the flash of flame,
letting sweet night descend.

©Jane Paterson Basil