Monthly Archives: March 2017

Circle

territory

See my feet?

Imagine them being at the centre of a circle two meters in diameter.

Intimate friends and family and may stand toe-to-toe with me, within the ring. They may reach for my hand, put an arm round my shoulder, and in greeting or for comfort, give me a hug.

Those in need are also welcomed in, if my presence may help.

Aquaintances and associates may place their heels several centimetres within the line, but not come too close without my willing agreement. Fake affection is not permitted.

Those who would do harm to me, my loved ones or even an innocent stranger, must stay away from my territory, lest I invade theirs with my tapping fingers.

Written for The Daily Post #Territory

©Jane Paterson Basil

Who they may have become

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Some squeeze into lonely, ignoble deaths, leaving loved ones grieving, inconsolable, screaming the loss, their dreams stolen in that icy moment. No-one will never see the greatness of who their beloved may have become, if they’d lived another day.

Backs sag, knees bend, wet eyes watch the coffin drop, long years of pinprick horror forgotten — stolen by a final tickle in the vein.
So long they grieved, but not like this,
never like this.

Old tears swim through fishes’ salty fins
to swill in the ocean of lesser loss,
while this monumental pain will always taste the same.

It makes no sense in heavy heads which rattle with the muddled question of where the connection may be, between

the child with smiling eyes, whose chubby fingers reached for the rising sun, the girl who laughed to see stars in the night-time sky; the boy who cried when the dog died,
and that cold pair of letters that nudge together: O.D.

O.D. Odd. Ode. Overdose. Too much of something, somewhere beneath the skin. The old hands know that the first shot was an overdose. Too much of a drug that the body didn’t require, which twisted the mind into thinking the needle of death held the elixir of life.

Photos spill from pine tables in rose-garden homes, they pile upon worktops in slick city buildings. Suburban parents and council house tenants examine the pictures in search of their children, trying to find a way to bring them back again.

Painfully, they recall
the day he won the game,
the way she longed for fame.

They can’t escape the horrid thought that hammers in their brains: “Was I to blame for the fall?”

Misplaced guilt and memories increase the weight of pain,
but still it tastes the same,
still it tastes the same.

“Another day and he may have gone straight,”
“another day and she may have been great,”
“They may have seen the light,”
they say, and they may be right,
but tomorrow came too late,
too often, it comes too late.

Some struggle with hope, and some recover to become great.
These are the lucky ones, for whom tomorrow was not too late,
but they have to be brave to break the chain
that binds the brain with links of lies;
their wills must be strong.

Those who succeed should give thanks that the reaper
made the mistake of waiting
another day.

The Daily Post #Elixir

©Jane Paterson Basil

Sleep

Need to sleep…

In the fridge
delicious home-grown broccoli
~ a funny Mothering Sunday gift ~
slowly withers, as it waits
to become the best bit
of a favourite dish.

I sleep on.

Bruised avocados
flow through my dream.

Tomatoes split.
Leekage feeds silver threads of mould
which sit like velvet silk
on ruined red skin.

Cheese may start to stink,
but this house will not tumble or tilt
if I sleep on.

©Jane Paterson Basil

Long weekend

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It’s been a long weekend, starting on Friday afternoon. Laura was with me in my flat when I received a call from the inneffectual stand-in Supervisor of this sheltered housing complex (our lovely permanent Supervisor, Sandra, has been ill). He told me that it had been reported that Laura was in the building, and her ban was still standing, so she must leave immediately and not re-enter.

Laura was banned from the complex about fifteen months ago, as a result of a noise complaint. She was in psychosis at the time. She endangered nobody in the building, nor would she have at any point, but I was very shaky and her confused, aggressive presence increased my anxiety.

I have twice since been refused an assured tenancy due to this disturbance. It’s up for review next month and I was told I could expect it to be granted if there is no further trouble – but they said that six months ago, and changed their minds without any good reason.

Even a ‘lifetime’ ban from a shop tends to expire after a year or so, if there’s no cause to extend it, but I wanted to talk to Sandra as I felt that she’d support me in getting the ban squashed. However, she’s had a lot of illness lately, and I never managed to catch her when she was in the office. The few things I’d noticed about the stand-in hadn’t been promising.

So the ban was still in place when Laura got beaten up by that monster, and ran to me for support. Naturally I took her in – it’s in a mother’s contract, written in capitals. It overrides landlords rulings, and I didn’t think there would be a huge problem anyway; her behaviour is now beyond reproach. She hasn’t stayed with me every night, and we’ve arranged for her to move to safe place far from here, soon.

Laura was about to go out when I got the phone call. I told her what had happened. She raised no objections, even going so far as to comfort me, assuring me everything would be OK. She left to meet a friend, and I went down to the office to speak to the drippy stand-in nitwit, who at least made sympathetic noises and gave me a number to call.

I spoke to a secretary who said I’d get a callback from the appropriate officer. I wasn’t surprised when I didn’t. This was Friday; the weekend was looming. I prepared the food we’d planned to cook together, then we met and ate together, outdoors. She said she had somewhere safe to stay. I knew that her ‘safe’ place would put her at risk of weakening and using drugs, but I had to let her go.

On Saturday we met in the morning and again in the evening, dining on a park bench as we watched the sun go down. She said she had somewhere better to stay than the place where she’d been the previous night. We parted.

Yesterday was Mothers Day. It began with a lunchdate with my two elder daughters and their families. After lunch we all went to the park, where the little ones romped and played. I left them at about 4pm to meet Laura. We enjoyed a pub meal with coffee and followed it up with a long walk, sitting down every so often, as I tire easily these days. She said she was going back to the place she stayed on Saturday. I reminded her that we were having lunch with my sister today, and she was excited about it. She and my sister have a special bond. Sadly, Christine’s house is too crowded for a short-term guest.

She left me at about 7pm, walking in the opposite direction to the cosy sofa that was to be her bed for the night. She told me she had to see a friend first, but I knew she was going to a dealer’s house. I can spot the signs, however subtle.

This morning I couldn’t contact her. I went looking for her at the address where she should have been – she doesn’t know that I know it – but nobody was in, and I felt her absence stretch backward – I could sense that she hadn’t been there last night.

I came home, and – wonder of wonders – Sandra was back. I saw her through the office window, so I went in to ask if she’d seen Laura press the buzzer. She hadn’t and she made me sit down and tell her the whole story, then dialled 101 for the police, and handed me the phone. The police treated her disappearance as an emergency. As there were serious concerns for her safety she was put on the missing person’s list. A police officer quickly arrived to take down more details.

Meanwhile, Sandra got hold of the housing officer, and told him he must speak to me urgently. She was asked what she’d have done if she’d been in charge on Friday. She said she would have said Laura should stay with me.

As the policeman was about to leave, I got a phone call – from Laura. I was right – she never reached that safe sofa. She’d spent the night at a dealer’s house. It wouldn’t have happened if Laura had been with me.

The police officer arranged to meet her somewhere outdoors as she didn’t want to lead him to the dealer’s house. On the way to meet him, she bumped into her brother, Paul, who was out looking for her (he had a pretty good idea where she would be, and he was right). She’s had an aversion to her father’s home for some time, but between us, Paul and I persuaded her to stay there tonight, safely away from this town.

Thanks to Sandra’s intervention, the housing officer phoned me, but he said he had to speak to another officer before allowing  Laura back into the building. He asked if I knew of any official who could vouch for her, and I gave the drugs services – it was my only choice. He promised to try to get back to me tomorrow.

This evening I rang Laura. She was happily surrounded by Paul, his girlfriend, her dad, and the cat who disgraced herself on Saturday. She says she may stay there again tomorrow night. There was laughter in her voice.

And me? Maybe I’ll be able to eat some cereal, fruit and yogurt. A meal would be too much to cope with. I’m walked off my feet, my brain’s been fried by constant radioactive calls, and I need some sleep, but for the moment all’s almost well with my corner of the world.

Later, I’ll deal subtly with NNND (nasty neighbour next door), who made the complaint. She hates being caught telling tales, and she’s so bitter and twisted that she can’t stand to see people happy. I’ll give her my most sarcastic smile, and sweetly thank her for giving Laura the opportunity to meet a couple of helpful housing officers AND to prove herself worthy of entering the building. Maybe I’ll get Laura to help me with the garden. The added advantage there would be that NNND would see the other residents stopping to talk to Laura. She’s an attractive, personable woman, and quite a few of them like her.

Sweet revenge…

©Jane Paterson Basil

How high is the fridge

 

I was with my friend, Elaine, this afternoon, when my son rang me to tell me about an achievement. He had some free time on his hands, as his girlfriend, who likes to be called Krusti, (though she’s not crusty) wasn’t around. Mid-sentence, he suddely started making “Ugh! Errr! Yuck! What the…” noises. I asked him what was wrong, and he shouted:

“The cat’s done a crap on the fridge. What’s going on? Why would she do a thing like that? It’s horrible. It’s a classic cat-shit – you know, the kind that can’t be anything but cat shit. I’ve got to go now. I have question her about it. She’s got some explaining to do.” (He has a close relationship with his cat, and thinks he may have been a cat in a previous life, so he was probably serious.)

He came out with a few shock-horror expletives, then tried to excuse her by saying that maybe she’d been unable to get outside in time. He repeated that he was going to find Rusty and interrogate her about it, and put the phone down.

Roaring with laughter, and with tears in my eyes, I told Elaine what had happened. My explanation went something like this:

“(Ho ho hee hee), Rusty (gaffaw), Rusty’s done a (hahahahaha) crap on the fridge, and Paul has gone off to (roar, choke, cough) question her. I expect he’ll try to make her clear it up.”

Elaine looked at me stonily. “I don’t think that’s funny,” she said.

I carried on laughing, at the same time trying to remember Paul’s exact words, so that she’d share the joke. I mentioned that he thought Rusty may not have been able to get outside.

Now she looked puzzled.“Jane. It’s not funny… how high is the fridge?”

I’d never seen Elaine so po-faced. She usually laughs at the things I find funny. Being too slow to come up with “Dunno, but it smells pretty high right now,” I stood up, and held the side of my forefinger against my forehead.

“How did she get up there?” she asked.

I explained. “There’s a window beside the fridge. She’d have jumped onto the sill, and then onto the fridge. She often gets up there.”

“What?” She shook her head as if to loosen the dust of disbelief. “Has she ever done anything like that before?”

I couldn’t understand why she was so upset by my hilarity.

“No, she’s usually very clean, apart from all the hairs on the carpet. She’s long-haired, so it’s a bit of a nightmare hoovering up after her.”

“What?” she said again, but she must have decided to gloss over the hair issue, since she added “Why would Krusti crap on the fridge? Is she mad?”

That finished me. It took a while to splutter out the words “not… Krusti… Rusty…. the cat.”

Finally she saw the funny side, but by then, I almost needed medical attention, and by the time she’d stopped laughing at the misunderstanding, so did she.

You may call me squeamish, but in the interests of good taste, I chose to forego an image for this post. 😉 🙂 😀

©Jane Paterson Basil

Phoenix

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It’s often when the world seems kind, the foe leaps in to steal your mind
of all the hope you’d held intact, and horror robs your brain of fact.
Rotating blades within the gut increase their stretch, til faith is cut.

It aches so much you can’t conceal the pain.
It cuts so deep you can’t conceal the pain.

The steel has reached your pounding heart, and sorrow’s played its bitter part.
Beneath your feet, the faithless floor tips and sways, while you implore
kind entities to feed your soul, yet screaming silence steals your goal…

and echoes that, this day, you’ve gone insane,
and you believe, this day, you’ve gone insane.

Hell’s bells then toll to tell the world the thread of life has been unfurled,
and Satan’s servants draw their claws, as teeth glint green in gnashing jaws.
You smell the sulphur, feel the pulse, as with a shudder, you convulse.

You tell yourself that you can take the strain,
You chant the mantra “I can take the strain.”

The Devil’s terror bends your bones, and you collapse, as he postpones
your future, by the coal-black joke of wrapping round you like a yoke.
Now panic rises; he erases all remaining hope-filled places.

Though bound and blind, you need to break the chain,
to live through this, you need to break the chain.

With drumsticks banging at your heart, with churning stomach ripped apart,
as arid lungs choke ragged breath, you sink towards ignoble death —
’til courage rising from the mire, brings you a hint of lifespring’s fire.

So thus you learn that you will rise again,
and now you know that you will rise again.

©Jane Paterson Basil

Building Stockholm

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“Capture me,” he said. “Make me your slave. Step on my face, take my wages, make me pay to decorate your mansion. Please, make me your slave.”

“Please, make me your slave… please.”

She listened, too mean and greedy to resist. Together they built a Stockholm den. He sweated and whimpered, lifting bricks, slipping in his dripping blood, while she became the cream of screamers, the boss of abuse, and he, the  castrated, slave.  

His bones grew old with her; grew cold beside the witch’s bitter flesh, her skin, thickened by chill trickery, folded into wrinkles. Her manifold control led him to an empty den, where he felt the chill of twenty winters, his distant gaze forever skimming the unreached heat of as many summer seasons.

From his dungeon, he dreamed of plump women primping in flimsy summer silk, stained the colour of dimpled sex – stilettoed angels riding white geldings – and wishes one would save him.

She’d speak soft words of love, and he’d lay roses on a pillow, where golden hair flowed into his eternity. His prison would lie between clean, scented thighs, and he would gleefully serve his time, hearing her whisper:
“Be mine,
forever, be mine.”

His bones grew old with the witch; yet still blood heated the extremities each time he dreamed of sheer summer silk.

A minor mission leads you past his prison, maybe a wish for milk, or a brisk stride. You ride no mutilated horse, wear no silk, own no stilettos, but his eyes strip off your crisp linen, remove your blue denim, dress you in red, give you stick-on angel wings, and sit you on a neutered white equine.

And yet: “Capture me,” he begs you, “make me your slave. Step on my face, take my wages, make me pay to decorate your mansion. Please, make me your slave.”

Through rusting bars he gives gifts of flowers and sweet promises, seeing your key, and thinking you will use it to set him free.

His education doesn’t run to Stockholm syndrome, and you’re not that bothered anyway. Figuring he should find his own way out, you amuse yourself, running a bunch of keys across the rusting rods, as he reaches, hungrily, for you, on lucky days grabbing your hand, or clumsily caressing a strand of hair, but Stockholm syndrome holds him there, between he who he has shaped into an angel, and the witch. After some months have passed in this way, frustration, desperation, love, or lust leads him to bend the thin bars, and – with a guilty glance at his ugly captor – step out of his den.

You shrug. Even if it mattered, it would be too late, and it doesn’t matter anyway. But you have been dragged into the game of three, so you play in some indifferent way, while the witch grinds her teeth, and retreats into the west to plan her strategy.

He looks to the East, where golden hair flows into his obsolete eternity.

“Capture me,” he cries. “Make me your slave. Step on my face, take my wages, make me pay to decorate your mansion. Please, make me your slave.”

The crone’s old-fashioned three-fold plan is drawn; mildly entertained, you fold your false wings and watch the first wet offensive, as raging rhetoric foams and spits from her aging throat, only to be pressed back by his desire for those sweeter meats which have driven Stockholm Syndrome into a deep sleep.

Next, she sets the spoilt daughter on him; wraps her round his neck, but Stockholm Syndrome sleeps on, letting him wriggle free, but she – seeing symptoms of weakening – leaps, feet flying, into her final, foolish strategy.

Crying like a crocodile, she says she’s sorry for the misery she imposed – the daily dose of insults, the criminal damage, the black-and-blue bruising, the theft and the greed. She claims she has seen the light, and promises that from this day on, she will worship at his feet.

Stockholm Syndrome stirs and is woken by pity. He forgets she is a scheming witch, and though he has no wish to be with her, his wilfulness bends to her will.

He finds you on your imposed gelding, and begs to keep your friendship, hints at secret meetings. His body speaks louder than his lips. His tears dampen your wings, loosening them. A weight is lifted from your back as they flutter and fly, to be taken by the wind.

“Capture me,” he murmers. “Make me your slave. Step on my face, take my wages, make me pay to decorate your mansion. Please, make me your slave.”

Yet he seems to think the wings still cling, and to believe he needs to be sweetly enfolded in them, though his deepest wish -hidden only from him – is to be squeezed between them, so tight that he can’t breathe. He can’t perceive his own strange, dank deviance.

You  think of the many symptoms of his extreme idiocy, and you give him a pitiful smile. He is declaring his unending love even as you turn away, refusing to make him your slave.

The witch approaches, and rubs her skin against his. At his first flinch, she knows that her victory is hollow. She has won his company, but lost most of the control he teasingly forced upon her. He loves you, and it shall ever be so, but you wouldn’t make him your slave, so he returned to the only Stockholm he will ever know.

At last they have a couple of things in common. They watch each other from opposite ends of the room, staring, glaring through icy eyes, and they cry, each for their own, lonely loss. They share a supreme, stupendous, mutual stupidity, of which they had both shown strong symptoms from the beginning. He’s afraid to leave, and she refuses to let go.

And what of you? Fortuously stripped of your silly, misfitting wings, you feel whole. You give a wicked grin, you are happy to be free of the idiosy, but you do not forgive rejection. Walking beneath their window, you raise your voice and sing:

You hear the clear, painful clink of twin sets of chains. A naughty giggle escapes your throat, to grow and become an uncontrollable guffaw, as you picture two puppets pulling each other’s strings, and becoming hopelessly entangled, and you know they are both to blame.

An echo fills the air: “Capture me, make me your slave. Step on my face, take my wages, make me pay to decorate your mansion. Please, make me your slave.”

“Please, make me your slave… please.”

 Laughing heartlessly, you step up your pace, and walk jauntily away.

Written for The Daily Post #Symptom

Stockholm syndrome is a condition that causes hostages to develop a psychological alliance with their captors as a survival strategy during captivity. These feelings, resulting from a bond formed between captor and captives during intimate time spent together, are generally considered irrational in light of the danger or risk endured by the victims. Generally speaking, Stockholm syndrome consists of “strong emotional ties that develop between two persons where one person intermittently harasses, beats, threatens, abuses, or intimidates the other.” – Wikipedia

©Jane Paterson Basil