Monthly Archives: September 2017

Geometry of Life


The secular consider it linear,
while the spiritual envisage a circle,
but what ever shape your footsteps trace
keep them on a level base,
and don’t slide into a spiral.




Country: Uganda

Language: Luganda

Word for Peace:


(Apologies: No pronunciation available)


©Jane Paterson Basil



Michelle #103

A furyed lake of rain recedes,
surrendering domestic secrets and children’s treats
smashed and sullied by nature’s ruination.

The silvery stars,
too far away to see the devastation,
are innocent of blame
for their untimely celebration.

Fair-weather trees in mock jubilation
display a tactless splash of freeze-framed fireworks
proclaiming sham victory
as if sarcastic imagery is a witty way
to cover up the tragedy.

Shattered lives are revealed by eyes
reflecting desolation,
as friends and strangers nobly rise
to aid the restoration.


Written for:

 Michelle’s Photo-Fiction 103 – with a bit of poetic licence; the above image doesn’t display a hurricane’s devastation, but I feel it’s appropriate,

and  The Daily Post’s Word Prompt: Witty

©Jane Paterson Basil

A Speck of Energy

Reena’s Exploration Challenge


With grateful thanks to Reena who this week asks us:

What is it that makes you feel powerful? What is that strength which makes your time on this planet worthwhile?


When Spring rains tease, and make believe
this year there’ll be no splashing seaside days —
no beach ball play, no sandy feet, or plastic spades —
I smile to hear my friends’ predictable complaints,
then, when fickle summer deigns to show its heated face,
I bathe in its flirtatious fleeting phase.

When sunny haze gives way to skittering breeze
that flutters fading flags from yawning trees,
to drop them all in heaps
on forest floors and fields and lawns,
it saddens me to see them crackle in the gardener’s autumn blaze,
and turn to ash as if they have
no valid place in fenced-in, trim hedge symmetry,
yet even boot-black ash has energy,
and with a ready partner, synergy ensues.

The winter wind and snowy cold bring mixed emotions to my bursting soul,
but all in all, each season has its virtues.

I’m humbled by the size and quantity of life. I often wonder how I signify,
impotent as I am to rectify the cruel wrongs I see,

but then I feel approaching storm
whose electricity, far from numbing me with fear,
elates each atom of my fumbling frame.
With rising thrill I lock my door and run outside to face the gale
and find a hill to climb
that I may watch the angry might of lightening
illuminate the sky, and hear the thunder rumbling to remind me:
this is power, and it is mine.

It may strike me down,
or it may let me live, but whatever the decision,
I am an invincible, though infinitesimal, grain of matter,
an intrinsic speck of the energy of this astonishing organism
we call Planet Earth,
and, having been created at her birth,
Neither you nor I can be destroyed,
only repeatedly altered in form.

Some future day my nutrients may feed a seedling
or keep a mighty tree alive;
a tree which will contain me even after its trunk crumbles
and it bows to a fresh partner,
preparing to dance to a new tune
in the megalithic cycle of life.


Or to put it another way:


awakens my

elecric energy

and makes me feel


©Jane Paterson Basil


You may think the string of incidents were diffident coincidence
in a realm of hellish dissidence where a sea of dread precipitance
threatened to consume her as she bowed down in subservience,
her subversive habit stealing all her health and wealth and sense.

You may think the chain of happenings were merely complex happenstance,
but when I confessed her story with an air of stirring urgency,
describing her submergence in that churning pool of murk,
friends and strangers prayed for her, without a word of urging,
and although it seemed at first that recovery was hesitant,
my curled-up girl was rising into gradual emergence
in increasing increments like trilling choruses in dirges,
and every surge built up my trust that balance would return.

You may think the list of incidents were accidents of chance,
when her vicious ex gave vent to his violent vindictiveness,
immediately following a solution I’d been offered
by a kindly friend who proffered his own home as her address
to give her safe support and an escape from this vicinity,
and far from being reticent about a change of residence
to an unfamiliar city, livid marks around her face
gave instant sense of danger, and wisdom took its place.

You may think the string of incidents were no more than coincidence.
You may say that it was happenstance; a strung-up chain of chance,
but whatever the reason, she’s been clean for this last season,
so I kick darkness into innocence, as I freely sing and dance.


Words for Peace: South Africa.

Peace in Africaans :


Find the pronunciation HERE.


©Jane Paterson Basil

Another Day

You’d like to write, but your cupboards are empty, so you pick up your bag and dash to town.

On the way you decide to drop into Oxfam, but once there you find work to do, so you set to. Soon, all else is forgotten. You buy lunch and carry on.

Someone called Rose phones. You’ve missed a meeting. You say you don’t know a Rose, and no one told you about a meeting.
She mentions the Job Centre
and it sends you


“The meeting is on Friday,”
you wheeze, but no, it was today,
and now it’s too late to attend, but
you get away with the mistake
since she knows you’re
halfway to


She generously
tells you it’s okay,
and arranges to see
you when you come
back from

While helping
carry donations from
a car to the shop you spot a man
slumped senseless on step across the road,
so you check to see he’s not dead,
and discover he’s dead


Soon after five o’clock
Karen locks the shop. You check that the man across
the road is still breathing, then go home, where the cupboards
are still bare. You can go shopping after you’ve composed a poem.
The phone rings. You’re supposed to be at a family dinner.
Leaving the flat, you take a route past the Oxfam shop.
You’re pleased that the slumped drunk is gone.

You have a riotous evening,
returning home after


and you try to write;
try to expand on an idea which
only moments ago


you need to
take your


so you go to the kitchen and
reach for the pills but
the phone rings
you press the
green icon


what to do next.
A distant voice brings you
to your senses and you hold
the phone to your ear for

fifty-five minutes.

For almost an hour
you must be the oracle,
the one who has the answers
no matter how hard the questions
No matter how your brain
may doubt your


You are Mother.
You have struggled forever to
see your children well
so you must


all the thoughts in your daughter’s brain, and if she can cope
with the unexpected change she made to her care plan three hours ago.
Is she being over-confident? Will her heart stand the strain, will she
collapse, will she weaken, will she sink, or will she rise to the
occasion in the amazing way you think she can? What is she
really thinking, and will the doctor support her
decision, or will he say she must carry
out her plan with precision?
Is it all going wrong, or
is it proving better
than you could have
possibly hoped?
How will it go
You don’t


You don’t know,
but the questioner must not know that.
Once off the phone,
you start to




you will




Words for Peace #4



You can find the pronunciation HERE.

©Jane Paterson Basil



Amidst the towering rocks and speckled sand, far beyond our village, scattered, dust-clothed debris hunkers, the meaning of each piece a mystery to be puzzled over.

The old ones tell tales that have been passed down through generations. No doubt, with each telling, some details have shrunk, while others have swelled.

They speak of a long-lost existence called civilisation; a way of being that was better than this. They say there are clues in the artefacts that rust and decay in the sun and rain. They say these are scraps of something called machine, which made life easy, and that something called electron made it fun. Furthermore, humankind once had the voices of giants, which could be heard from the place where the sun rises all the way to where it sets. They had wings to fly high up in the sky, even to the stars.

They claim that those who went before could swim for weeks beneath the sea inside a waterproof hut, constructed from the twisted lumps of stuff that sinks into the wasteland where children are discouraged from playing; the stuff as hard and dead as stone that never shrinks or grows, but only feeds the weeds that dig their roots around their seams. The stuff that they made machine from.

Safely stored deep in dry caves are thousands of oblong blocks of a flimsy material called paper, and each piece is spread with intricate marks called writing. There are pictures too. The old ones think that some of them are pictures of machine and electron, but no one knows which ones they could be; the world must have been very different then – even some of the drawings of flowers and trees are unfamiliar.

It is said that these oblongs are our heritage. The old ones, and some of the young, try to make sense of them, since some say that they are messages from the Gods; instructions on how to build the world the way it was before.

They say this would be a good thing, but I’m not sure.

I think about machine and electron, about the loud talking and the flying and the swimming beneath the sea.

I wonder what happened to the civilisation race. Where did they go, and why did they leave just a few behind? Did they die, as some say, or did they go to live on the blind side of  the moon, as others believe?

It is evening. Children dance and play in the dusk, lovers lean toward each other. The old ones smile contentedly and share our traditional jokes, which make us all laugh, while the rest of us absorb the peace as each of us carries out a given task.

At this time of day, everybody is contented. It is too dark to see the writing and the pictures, so nobody speaks of civilisation. That is breakfast-time talk.

Surrounded by my people, I crouch over the pile of wood in the centre of our village, rubbing two sticks together. As the fire builds, you lift the big pot onto it. Bending down, you place your hand on my swelling belly. As I look into your eyes, I see a bright reflection of flame, and it brings a revelation;

Civilisation is a word for people living a civilised life, being civil. Civilisation must surely mean peace, and we have it right here. We don’t need machine.

Although my story strays a little way from the requirements, this was written for Reena’s Exploration Challenge Week 5  Maybe you would like to join in with this thought-provoking challenge.

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.Words for Peace #3

Today’s word for peace comes from the Philippines. It is in Filipino (tagalog). Tagalog is the first language of 28 million people in a country that has 185 languages. 

Filipino (tagalog) word for Peace
For pronunciation, go to
Grateful thanks to Raili, who supplied today’s word.

©Jane Paterson Basil

The Kiss


A thin mist sprinkled fine moisture
onto freckled skin, my hair
swelled with liquid gems as I held a
child’s fragile hand in mine;
I, the mighty protector.

The predator stepped with ease through the flesh
of a leaf-scented dream. Dressed
in guise of kind benefactor he offered food
and a dry place to stay.
Details of the walk of gloom which led us to that hellish room
lie shrouded in my mind, yet

still I hear
the grating click of iron in the lock behind me, as I surveyed
a dishevelled bedroom scheme, still I feel
the shock of his punishing kick
to my child’s shins, the sharp slap across the face as he spat
an accusation of laziness, and demanded
my son clean the place. On a naked

mattress that shamelessly displayed
a sordid history in every thread of stained ticking
two women, each with a young son, lay passive
their stoned eyes betraying
blurred focus while slack mouths
slurred flattering words;
burred crumbs scattered by the vanquished,
to placate the jailer.

I silently swore at the
folly of my faith in generous acts; we three females
were slaves, captured for bawdy sex, while our children
were taken as drudges of a another sort.

Finding us all trapped, I began to hatch a plan to stab
the villain in the back, smash the door and
make an escape, but as I glanced around I spied a
silent man crouching in a corner, almost
screened by a drape, his forlorn gaze aimed
at the floor. Turning in his direction to determine
what role he played, I saw his face, the face
I see when velvet sheets of sleep gently envelope me;
the face I’m sure I’ve adored for centuries and more;
the soul-mate I have always known and yearned for.
I knelt before him, and as our eyes met
he recognised me. Our mutual joy
erased all fearful thought.

I reached for him,
and our lips joined.

In fuming rage, the predator
pulled me from that short embrace. He threw me
down, and leaped upon my shuddering frame. In his eager haste
he tore my clothes while needled fingernails
clawed blood from my veins. I fought
in vain against the filth and pain as he came
closer to forcing his way into me, my
feeling of degradation reaching a peak. With a jolt I

woke to find myself at home, the ghost of
ravaged rags and ravening attack softened by
the honeyed phantom
of a loving kiss upon my lips,
but as I rose to consciousness, a searing surge
of grief and loss
swallowed sweet relief.

I’m not sure I want to analyse this particular dream, but if anyone out there feels like having a stab at it, be my guest… and maybe you can give me some clue as to who that idealised dream man is. I can describe him, if that would help… 🙂

Words for Peace #3

Norway and Sweden share the same word for peace. It should be an easy one for English speakers to learn, since it’s a commonly used masculine name – and it makes me giggle, since I know a rather angry person who goes by that name.

Swedish and Norwegian:


©Jane Paterson Basil