Monthly Archives: September 2017

Geometry of Life

circle_spiral

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.

<–<–@


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words_for_peace.jpg

Country: Uganda

Language: Luganda

Word for Peace:

Emirembi

(Apologies: No pronunciation available)

.

©Jane Paterson Basil

Devastation

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

Reena-week-6

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?

A SPECK OF ENERGY

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:

STORM11.jpg

awakens my

elecric energy

and makes me feel

powerful1.jpg

©Jane Paterson Basil

Emergence

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.

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Words for Peace: South Africa.

Peace in Africaans :

Vrede

Find the pronunciation HERE.

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©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

reeling.

“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

crazy.

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

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

drunk.

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

midnight

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

inspired,

but
you need to
take your

medication,

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

wondering

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

ability.

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

know

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
tomorrow?
You don’t

know.

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

then
remember

your

medication.

Tomorrow,
you will

be

focused

.

Words for Peace #4

Welsh:

Heddwch

You can find the pronunciation HERE.

©Jane Paterson Basil

Civilisation

strategies

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
 
Kapayapaan
.
For pronunciation, go to https://forvo.com/search/kapayapaan/
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Grateful thanks to Raili, who supplied today’s word.

©Jane Paterson Basil

The Kiss

kiss12

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:

Fred.

©Jane Paterson Basil

The Low-Down.

tentative.jpg

Oh Gloria, you’re glorious
your face is quite adorious,
but it must be most laborious,
to paint it up just foree us.

Please bear with me – I have a point to make…

I’ve been reading my old posts, with a view to deleting some. It’s a time consuming task, since I keep going to the posts, and reading the comments below. I’ve come to the conclusion that, with the exception of three or four which I shouldn’t have posted, I’m going to leave them be, since they are a part of my story.

What comes across more than anything, as I read, is how traumatised I was, up until this year. My honesty was less a virtue than a response to stress and grief. My life has changed dramatically since then. For some years my addicted son and daughter gave me little cause to hope that they would survive for much longer – let alone go into recovery – and whenever hope presented itself, its visit was brief, leaving me more devastated than before.

I had to take tough action, so I pretty much cut myself off from them. It was recommended by my support group, my family and my friends, and I knew it was the right thing to do. It’s called ‘release with love’, but it didn’t feel like love, and apart from the freedom from daily crises, I didn’t feel particularly released. Although I knew that my abandonment might give them an opening into recovery, I suffered a terrible sense of guilt. I feared that they might give up on life, thinking I didn’t love them, that they may genuinely need me, that they may die because I wasn’t there to resuscitate them. At times I missed them terribly, while at other times I was furious with them. A combination of superstition and shame prevented me from speaking of these things, even at my support group.

My refusal to engage with their addictions was part of a series of good and bad events which occurred in a serendipitous order, and resulted in them both going into recovery. So in the last six months, my life has changed dramatically. I wouldn’t go so far to say that I am now well – every time I make that claim a physical or psychological crisis follows – but I’m often happy. It feels as if I have had a reprieve. However, I am all too aware that this reprieve could be taken away, since recovery is a precarious condition. I celebrate the strides my children are are taking, but these celebrations are sandwiched between panic attacks and debilitating hours of both horror and depression.

If you speak to any realist in my position, I think they would agree that, although there is less cause for trauma, anxiety levels can increase, or rather change shape, when someone they love goes into recovery. Hopes are raised, the stakes become higher, and we often find ourselves in a state of shock. It’s a strange twist that is all to familiar to many of us.

I am recovering, but life contains a series of falls and recovery; it carries us along particular routes, and we are shaped by our experiences along the way. I am not the person I may have been in different circumstances; I cannot guess who that person would have been. Come to that, I can’t know how any other circumstances may have shaped up. As my eldest daughter said to me a year or two ago, when my life was atrocious: it could be that what we have now is the best possible result of our lives so far.

Since my children went into recovery, I have found it increasingly difficult to write. When I manage to write, I often don’t finish what I have started, or if I do, I don’t like it enough to post it, and this brings me to Gloria. I wrote the ridiculous rhyme about Gloria in response to yesterday’s word prompt. When it was inside my head, it seemed funny – albeit inane – but typed out I could see that it wasn’t. It’s a perfect illustration of my current state of mind, and the reason I’m not posting much.

Today’s word is ‘tentative‘, which is appropriate, since I feel a tentative pride in having managed to compose this, and I will post it, even though a large part of me doesn’t want to. It has taken me hours of tentative writing to finish this post and when I press ‘publish’, I will do so tentatively. This is a tentative step towards getting back into a proper blogging routine, and overcoming my recently acquired, literary shyness.

Press publish, Jane…

Press publish…

NOW!

PS. I forgot to add today’s word for peace, dedicated to Raili, who kindly supplied it. Maybe you can engineer an opportunity to use this word in the next twenty-four hours.

Words For Peace #2
 
Finnish:
 
Rauha

 

©Jane Paterson Basil

Peace #2

peace symbol.png

One word,

spoken by the gentle,

whispered in prayer by quiet souls of faith,

breathed into the air by those who hold out human hope,

sobbed and gasped and beseeched

by the oppressed.

One word, a wish issued

by imploring lips that speak for

you and me, its plea reaching across

the dipping curves and stretched flats of

our burdened planet as it struggles

for its next breath.

One word which will not

be choked back or swallowed by the

butt of a gun pressed into the

tender necks of the

persecuted.

One word whose meaning

we must never forget, whose need

we must understand, no matter

what language

we speak.

One word articulated

by each race and every loving creed.

One word that could

change the

world.

One word:

Peace.

.

Although my intentions are good, I don’t always remember to credit those who inspire my posts. This post was inspired a beautiful post written by Tinasharma.

Those of you who know Raili, will also know about her Steps for Peace. Every day she puts a peace-inspiring quote at the bottom of her post. I wanted to join Raili in doing something to promote peace, and this post has given me an idea. At the bottom of each of my posts, I will write the word Peace in a different language, and I’ll try to learn to say that word in every language I can. It carries the most important message I can impart to any stranger.

My passion for words has been known to carry me away. In case I sometimes forget to carry out my promise, I apologise in advance.

My first Word for Peace is in Hindi:

shanti

Shanti

I wrote this post before I saw Reena’s Exploration Challenge for this week, but it fits the requirements perfectly, so I’ve linked it to her post, which is well worth checking out – maybe you’d like to join in. These are the two images she has used to inspire our writing:

longing.jpg

challenge-4-prompt.jpg

©Jane Paterson Basil

Secret

 

bookshelves1.jpg

Serenity stands in the corner of the room, staring across at my bookshelves. She is motionless, and I wish she’d go over and pick out whatever book she’s interested in. Following her line of sight, I try to figure out which book it is; I suspect it’s ‘PostSecret’, a brilliant idea conceived in Frank Warren’s inspired mind. For those who don’t know, Frank Warren invited members of the public to write a secret on a postcard and send it to him, anonymously. Some of these secrets are funny and some are shameful, while still more are frighteningly sinister. Many of those who submitted their secrets said that it helped them to heal their hidden wounds.

Maybe Serenity wants to send Frank Warren a postcard, or maybe she sent one, and is wondering if it is included in his book; if so, I can understand why she doesn’t take a look while I am in the room.

I stroll casually over to the bookshelves, and peruse the spines as if I’m just looking for something interesting while I pass a lazy half-hour. When I reach the book in question, I pick it up, with a practiced air of indifference. I don’t want to make her feel as if I’ve been reading her mind.

As for Serenity, her gaze doesn’t falter – she remains looking at the gap that I’ve left. She doesn’t even glance my way as I take my seat at the table. I’m impressed by her determination not to give the game away.

I turn the pages. The first secret is merely a claim of many secrets, but none are named. I doubt that is her secret.

One says “I know you don’t really like me. Please stop pretending.” It could be that one; she certainly lack confidence. I read on, assessing possibilities as I go, dismissing the majority for a variety of reasons.

He’s been in prison for to years for what I did. 9 more to go.” It shocks me, but I don’t think it’s anything to do with Serenity.

I used to fertilize a ring on my lawn, and every time I mowed it, IT GREW. My parents still think it was aliens.” Amusing, but no.

I ate all the blueberries, and they were delicious.” Unlikely; she’s not interested in food.

I’m terrified of not existing.” I think she’s more terrified of existing, but I could be wrong.

I turn the page, and there it is, on page 61 – but to make sure, I pass it by and read on.

When I was a teenager I used to babysit my next door neighbour’s son. When he was asleep I would go into their bedroom and go through their drawers. I found a packet of condoms. I put a pin through the middle of each of them, and thus ensured myself another 5 years of babysitting.” No. I don’t think she likes small children, and she’s not that enterprising.

I once wrote an X-rated letter to my boyfriend who broke up with me before I could give it to him. … I gave it to my next boyfriend.” Nope. Serenity is a life-long celibate.

Income from teaching creative writing:$32,654.00. Income from writing creatively: $0.00.” No.

When my friends go on diets, I discourage them. This is because I want them to be fatter than me.” No. I’m her only friend, and she’s thinner than I could ever be.

I love having my period. It gives me an excuse to be bitchy and irritable and to take naps.” That’s not Serenity. She’s never bitchy and irritable.

I still believe my childhood bear is real. I am in college. I still talk to her… when no-one else is in the room.” Serenity doesn’t have a bear, and she’s not very talkative anyway, but this postcard begs the question; why would people think this girl’s bear is not real?

I stole your duck and took it to San Francisco.” No chance.

I read to the end of the book, and after a furtive glance at Serenity – who still remains motionless – I go back to page 61, to the secret which jumped out at me, and I feel sure that if she is the author of any of the words in this book, it is these:

I feel blank inside.”

I’m posting this in the hope that someone out there can advise me. How can I help Serenity?

I asked her if she’d mind me taking a picture to add to this post. She didn’t reply, but I sensed that she liked the idea. She has a certain style, and a penchant for scarves, which, with my help, she ties in unusual ways and wears as dresses. I know she’s proud of these creations – they seem to be her one real interest in life, and she always seems pleased when I bring a new one home,  but she gets few opportunities to show them off, since she never leaves the flat. Her latest garment is a huge scarf which I found in our Oxfam shop. Although she prefers rare hand-embroidered vintage silk and wool, she was thrilled with this one. I’m sure you’ll agree she looks beautiful in it.

She stands in the corner of the room, barricaded behind the arm of the sofa because she doesn’t like being touched. There was an unfortunate incident a few years back, when I took a  job which required me to live in a tent for six months. She doesn’t like camping, so she moved into the window of Oxfam until I came home. The incident occurred while she was there. It was an accident, but it left her mentally scarred.

Serenity-stares.jpg

 

It’s just occurred to me – maybe she wasn’t staring at the book. Perhaps she has difficulty with her sight. That may explain several of her problems.

I think I’ll take her to Specsavers.

©Jane Paterson Basil