Monthly Archives: September 2016

Dear childhood self


sweet little start of me
through ancient mist I see you
aping our mother’s daily routine
washing yesterday’s dollies dresses
while she scrubs the sheets
concentration creasing your cute face
as you rinse and squeeze the tiny pieces
your fingers bleached and shrivelled by the task

and later
you mix a cake
grinning in vanilla-kissed contentment
while she cooks dinner
for your father, your brothers and your sister

a ginger cat curls round young calves
his tail tickling your giggly knees
his unpredictability tripping your feet

I see you
distant as as the stony stream
flowing around the stones
in the crook of our childhood valley
silent as a graveyard angel
frozen in the photographs of my imagination

I tried to keep you near
but you sank away
clinging to what you thought you could keep forever
instead of growing with me

I miss you
and what I expected to be

©Jane Paterson Basil

Awesome Sylvia

As #some of my followers are aware, I occasionally update an old poem, to make its meaning clearer. Today I offer you  a nice little poem by William Shakespeare – or Bill Shaky, as he’s known by all his mates – and my translation into comtemporary language.

First, Ole Shaky’s effort, which I’m sure people understood back in the day:

Who is Silvia, what is she?
That all her swains commend her?
Holy, fair and wise is she;
The heavens such grace did lend her,
That she might admired be.

Is she kind as she is fair?
For beauty lives with kindness;
Love doth to her eyes repair.
To help him of his blindness;
And being help’d, inhabits there.

Then to Sylvia let us sing,
That Silvia is excelling;
She excels each mortal thing
Upon the dull earth dwelling;
To her let us garlands bring.

Now comes my own (rather more modern) take on it. I think you’ll agree it makes more sense:

who’s Silvia, what’s she got
to make all those randy guys rave about her?
well, she’s religious, blonde and clever.
she borrowed her grace
just to get blokes’ tongue’s ‘angin’ out.

ok, so is she nice as well as blonde?
‘cos good looks an’ kindness are shacked up together.
Mr Love runs over to ‘er eyes and jumps in,
so’s ‘e can see again,
an’ it works, so he goes to live there.

let’s sing a song to Silvia
about ‘ow awesome she is.
she’s better’an anyone else
living on this this boring planet,
so let’s give ‘er a bunch of flowers.

My apologies, Mr Shakespeare, if you happen to be turning in your grave. I only parody those for whom I have the utmost respect – poor writing is parody in itself.

Now I’m going be very brave – or very foolish – and click publish.

©Jane Paterson Basil

Making it real


at the start
the laughter was a facade
a false face
to cover up the hurt
but it would rise until I could not contain it
pumping up through my chest
thinly contained in generous bubbles
soon to break in the freedom of the atmosphere

opening my larynx in its hysterical longing
to be heard

and then bursting away

shattering the dark present
hurling it into the past
or into some future
that was not yet my concern

making me well for precious minutes

The Daily Post #Facade

©Jane Paterson Basil

Your sick spirit


did you think
your words had smashed me?
did you really think you’d mastered the skill?
did you?
I must disagree

if you had any intelligence
a pale trace of intuition
or the vision to see beyond your warped mirror
you would know
I was already broken

your smoky, errant wind disturbed the air
just a smidgeon
shifting, dislodging the shattered bits of me
stealing their tenuous balance
causing my feelings to crash noisily around your feet
but it was a softer landing than you imagine
it was the work of a weekend
to mend the marks you wrought on my soft tissue

as for you
will your sick spirit ever heal ?

The Daily Post #Disagree

My apologies for returning to this tired subject – the prompt prompted me 🙂

©Jane Paterson Basil

I want you to know

I want
you who may become unravelled
by your children’s addictions,
to look at me,
and say
“She survived, and so will I.”

I want you to know
there is life after that day
— that frozen moment —
when you become a drooling ball of pain,
falling to the floor,
whimpering half-finished prayers
to a deity you’re not sure you believe in.

I want you to know,
as your limbs become numb,
as your heart screams,
even as you beg
for relief from
— I want you to know —
though it may claw you over and over,
sweep you into a tornado of terror
— I want you to know, and to remember —
you can rise from it every time,
and you can smile,
even laugh again.

I want you to know
that your life is precious,
and I pray that you’ll gain solace
from this knowledge;
you are not alone.

©Jane Paterson Basil

For Jane

I have to reblog this – not because it’s written for me – although I’m proud to see my name on the title, and not because it’s written by a friend – although his support and friendship means more to me than I can say; but because it is the best poem I have ever read on this subject.

Going solo


Dan and Ann were keen on writing reams of rhymes in tandem;
Dan accepted challenges both obvious and random:
So when the one word prompt ‘Unfinished’ came to hand,
He suggested they should pen a funny poem without an end.

But Ann was feeling angry; said she had a bad headache;
She told Dan not to be “so self-obsessed for goodness sake,
I’m sick and tired of writing silly rhymes, you foolish man.”
Then Dan determined he would write his poem without Ann.

He muttered and he mumbled, ’till the steam came from Ann’s ears,
She nimbly kicked him from the house, dispite protests and tears.
Poor Dan he felt dismembered by this sudden turnabout;
No more within he had to pen a funny poem without.

Upset by this unhappy state, poor Dan became unstuck.
He scratched his empty, vacant head; but what a bit of luck;
A ten ton truck lost all control and drove right through his home,
Squashing Ann but bringing inspiration to his poem.

Now angry, aching Ann is sadly buried without trace,
But if you look at Dan you’ll see a smile across his face;
He’s published his short ode, that resourceful little man,
In five words; thus:


by Dan
lacking …

The Daily Post #Unfinished

©Jane Paterson Basil

To define you

to define you
I could write a thesis
study your life, your metaphors and their meanings
fill a million pages with puny words of praise

to define you
I could cup my tears in thankful hands
and offer them up,
dripping from my fingers, as an unfinished description
of your beauty

to define my love for you
I could cut my wrists, and with the blood
paint your lyrics across my skin
I could set your famous blue raincoat in stone
and kiss its hem

but you are unique
and only one definition will do

to define you
and all that you have been,
and will be to me
I only have to say your name:
Leonard Cohen

©Jane Paterson Basil