Monthly Archives: November 2016

Some time away

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Dedicated to my dear friend Calen.

*

“Live in the moment,” they say,
but when each moment weighs you down
breaks your back and bends your bones
you need some time away.

*

I’d like to take you on a break;
a holiday from this harsh place,
to a haven where we can be children,
if only for week,
where the sun shines directly on us
– not over in the distance, offering promises
too soon broken;
but where wishes come real for you and me.

We’ll breakfast in a zillion-star hotel.
Well dressed waiters will pretend we are respectable
– ignore our giggles as we point at their penguin tails,
then we’ll kick our heels and run, squealing,
to the beach.
We’ll collect coloured shells, look for strange creatures and crabs,
chase the sea as it recedes, eat icecream and not feel sick,
bury our feet in the sand,
then lie on our backs and dream.

After a few days, we’ll awake to find Autumn
has arrived in its russet glory.
We’ll wrap up warm, and walk down cool corridors
of maple and oak,
throw fallen leaves to the breeze,
and watch them fly one final time
before they sink into the soil.

We’ll play dress up in big high heels and floppy hats,
and whisper the secrets of kids.
I’ll talk about the funny lady that lives next door
with seven cats, one of them black,
and looks like a witch,
while you’ll tell me what your brother said he saw.

We’ll do all these things and many more;
maybe we’ll even shed a few childish tears,
but most of all,
we’ll throw our heads back, and we’ll laugh
uproarously.

And when the week is done,
we’ll go home to find time has been frozen;
everything will be as it was when we left,
but our short rest
will have given us the grit
to face tomorrow,
with a grin.

©Jane Paterson Basil

Autumn’s cruel joke

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Beyond my window,
Autumn beckons with false promise.
Bare branches bend their beckoning fingers
before the blue beyond where cottonwool clouds meander.
Baby breeze murmers at fall’s command;
“See the beauty,” it seems to say,
“I’ve mended the weather.
Come to me and I will fill your dreams;
Let you live one remembered childhood Sunday.
Come outside, come outside, and breathe my carefree air;
run with me, prance with me,
spin and dip and dance with me.
Be a child again.”

But I hide behind my door where I am safe
from those autumnal lies which taunt me so cruelly;
I know if I trust them, the spell will evade me.

A trick of the light will lead me to wander
in search of the joy of yesteryear’s freedom.

The brow of the hill will pull me toward it,
and when I arrive the goal will be yonder,
down in the valley, then on to the river,
and still my yearned-for destination;
those faraway trees and lush green meadows,
will be around many corners,
long miles beyond me.

A storm will steal up.
Thunder will crack,
and darkness will cover
the land all around me.
Rain will pelt me,
and flood will drown me.

©Jane Paterson Basil

Catalyst for survival

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Image credit, Wikimedia

all these years
my reasoning poet
my rhyming priest
you held me

hid beneath this keening ache
beats the rhythm of your sweet profanity
the shades of your rainbow passion,
the elegant grit of your reality

rivers of words drifted from your lips
inviting me to swim in your vicinity
they caressed my wind-bleached skin
sinking in, making my body sing

you have been
my catalyst for survival
all these years

droplets
collect in the cold air

all these tears
I rinsed from your guitar
drip into rippling pools around my feet
radiating Leonard-energy

worlds of love
that will never end

Leonard Cohen.
September 21st 1934 – November 10th 2016.
R.I.P. xxx

Today, I grieve. There is a void where my words used to be.
Maybe tomorrow I will be ready to celebrate his life.

©Jane Paterson Basil

For Laura

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I’m seated by the window, watching boredom unfurl,
when you walk down the street, my dear depleted girl.
I focus my eyes on your wasted little frame;
hunt for a clue that something is the same;
a hint of that innocence I used to see;
the essence of your childhood personality;
something I can recognise that hasn’t changed;
a spark within your heart that’s not been rearranged;
a clue that you still attached to this family
in whatever odd way you may wish to be.

your unreachable proximity is baffling to me,
I watch you closely though I know you can’t see.
I’m unsure if in my absence you feel like my daughter;
it pricks me with guilt, makes me feel like a voyeur;
I’m spying like a stranger, an agenda in mind;
to steal away the limited freedom of your kind;
to lock you in my love or in a barred up cage;
ignore your screaming agony, your frothing rage;
strangle all the dealers who knock on the door,
until you finally appreciate what life is for;
when you rediscover a child’s sense of mystery,
and your hunger for drugs recedes into history.

You’ve passed the houses and you’re out of view;
I wish I’d left my flat and caught up with you,
but I know you’re needing something as you’re in a hurry,
and your answers to my questions would make me worry;
I shouldn’t inquire but there’s a limitation
on how many ways to have open conversation,
since you fell into a hole full of chemical highs,
while to everyone’s surprise, your body survived.
There’s so little of you left, but whatever you do
and whatever more you lose, I will always love you.

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©Jane Paterson Basil

Autumn symphony

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from this
lofty window seat,
I watch the world below
in constant motion,
unaware of me.

if walkers looked this way,
I would be in their line of view,
but they seldom do.
they stroll by,
singly or in sets,
taking the air;
shooting the breeze;
pausing to roll a cigarette;
or, intent on their beckoning agenda
they rush forth, their eye on what is ahead;
unaware of the golden carpet of leaves,
which brush their swinging feet
as they shimmy with the wind.

children, freed from school,
skip alongside mums with buggies,
or dawdle, solumn and tired;
clutching thin bookbags,
with little thought of
kicking down the street
in a stream of prancing leaves,
to hear the rustling scratch.

 I don’t understand
the reason
they cannot see;
each burnished relic
from this summer’s growth
is a work of art to be treasured,
and when massed together
they are an orchestra,
impatient to play
an autumn symphony.

©Jane Paterson Basil

Rejuvenation

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Today the rhyme eludes my mind
and autumn sunshine fails to cheer;
leaves glow gold but I am blind;
submerged in murky thoughts and fears.
Sweet birds sing tunes to humankind,
but traffic clatter fills my ears;
mild reason is so hard to find
through bleary fog of bottled tears.

I wash my face and blot my eyes
to lift the mist that shrouds my soul,
then sit and watch the world, and try
to find a worthwhile, winning goal.
The shimmering trees and whimsy sky
soon lead me from that deadened hole;
with fresh-sprung hope I question why
I loosed my grip on self control.

©Jane Paterson Basil