Monthly Archives: October 2017

Trickery

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Boil the cauldron till it sings,
then add a pair of spider wings,
leaf of toad and bud of newt,
heart of fungus, rabbit’s root —
Throw them in and mix them up
to make a wicked witches cup.

Worm’s left leg and fishes foot,
frozen flame and snow-cap soot —
add a pinch of ghoulish youth,
a silent laugh, a liar’s truth,
hemlock toenails, adder’s hair —
fling them in without a care.

Eye of creeping pondweed slime
and other stuff that makes a rhyme
will finish off the recipe,
now stir it gently just for me.
Mash it up and make a paste —
not a drop must go to waste.

Now try this recipe on all
insurance men who come to call.
Smear it thickly on your face —
they’ll run away without a trace,
then wash it off, and you will see
your skin will glow more healthily.

Oh! what a foolish girl she is
that she should vainly take notice
of a stepmother like me,
and make my toxic recipe.
Her former beauteous, smiling face
now melts beneath a gruesome paste.

And what a clever witch am I,
I didn’t need tell a single lie;
The silly salesman ran away
to see her glowing green and grey,
and now the mirror will agree;
there’s no-one prettier than me.

©Jane Paterson Basil

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A Thought

You can’t reach
prunish age without a few
cracks and bruises,
and you can’t
always
protect your children.

We tell our tales,
then cheerfully say,
“the breakages
shaped who I became.”

This is true,
yet who among us
wants our children to
suffer the pain
that we went through
on the way
to where we are today?

I think of you,
an extended picture of youth,
yet I
see the wounds.

I could say
my arms were full
of food for the hungry,
of balm for the lame.
I could say there
were too many places,
too few of me
but you needed me too.

While I know
you don’t blame me;
don’t even know
that you’re broken,
I wish that I’d
held you more carefully,
and when you fell, mended you
more skilfully.

xxx

©Jane Paterson Basil

I Ran out of Space

Saw her from my window,
arms crossed
against every remembered
and forgotten loss,
cold-shouldering
her shadow, practicing
self-defence, envisioning
black scribbles
on the unwritten
pages of her book,
all hope stolen
by tenacious history
that still physically
clings.

Her walk is like yours,
her hair –
and not so long ago,
you, too, were closed,
hugging despair to
your ribs,
but you shared
every ache with me,
venting your rage,
cutting me with your pain,
locking me into
your danger, enabling me
to lead you to safety.

I loved all of you equally,
but, in midst of the melee,
I ran out of space
and, without complaint,
she silently fell away.

xxx

©Jane Paterson Basil

I am Here. (A ghostly poem)

WARNING – THIS POEM CONTAINS VIOLENT IMAGERY.

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Tickled out of gritty sleep by
a tingle of  marrow issuing into my dry
spine, I listen as the Church bells chime to wake
we dead, and I think my way
into the mortal world,
if only for today.

Six feet beneath
the earth, my gnarled bones stir.
Joints grate, to lock end-to-end, in preparation
for brief celebration of something akin
to life. A witchy weightlessness
lifts me through rotted timber and the fertile
decay of wormy graveyard dirt.

“I am here!” I think.

Dry organs reclaim remembered nests
beneath this ragged shroud. Muscle and gristle
rebuild – I have no vulgar need
for blood or nerves, and warming fat
has scant urge to return to this cold abode. Even the skin
is unwilling and thin. It hangs in sagging
strips; but I have no time
for primping vanity.

I jiggle, incomplete,
yet whole enough to dance a jig,to stretch and twist
without risk of sliding ribs, of brain
slipping through the gaping space where once sat
soft twitching lips which – but
the history of my lips is
of no consequence

I test my vocal chords:

“I am here,” my hoarse voice calls.

I am here,
looking upon streets still
filthy with the damned. Inebriated creatures stagger, indecently
swaying hips, displaying naked knees
for all to view, as they tout
cheap scarlet sin.
I see that the simpering hoardes of Whitechapel
still have sorely undeserved need of my special skills.
Though death has limited my abilities –
fingers that once were nimble can no more hold
a scalpel, no longer dissect a whorish
heart that recently
stopped beating – yet I have tested a few
phantom neck-severing tricks.

It was cruel to call me
Jack The Ripper; my knives were
surgical, my cuts
clean, and my art, while it was death to some,
was glory to me.
They criticised my calling; callously
ignoring my creativity, refusing me their gratitude, caring not a jot for
my history; they who never listened to the whispers
in the night, the voices that ordered me
– but enough; my psychological profile is not
to be picked over by you.

All you need to know is
that death has honed my hunger for the kill,
and on this day every year,

I am here.

©Jane Paterson Basil

All Hallows’ Eve

 

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All Hallows’ Eve approaches fast
when rotting dead come out at last,
and humans run and flee, aghast
to see the ghosts of days gone past
approaching through the evening mist
as cloudy shapes or smoky wisps,
who reach for you with open fist
protruding from a bony wrist.

Dead paupers and the hangman’s bait
drag heavy chains that clank and grate,
impatient from their year-long wait
in crowded grave at old Highgate,
while others play a sneaky game;
as floorboards creak, they sigh your name,
they slam your window, break the panes,
drip blood on walls and block your drains.

Though normal mortals hide away,
in terror of this haunting day
when skeletons from graveyards stray
to frighten folks in phantom way,
I have no need to turn and flee,
I prowl about impatiently;
I know his bones will hear my plea,
and drag themselves back home to me.

©Jane Paterson Basil

Dem Bones

Although we have a few days left before the ghosts come out to play, in the spirit of All Hallows Eve, I’d like to present a short Disney animation from 1929, the year after Walt Disney created the immortal Mickey Mouse. By the time I first saw this surreal film, it must have been around for about thirty-five years, but it didn’t seem dated, since our TVs were still in black and white. Even now – almost ninety years after it was made – it still holds its appeal for me.

©Jane Paterson Basil

Time. An Extreme ABC Poem

a
bottomless
chasm
deceptively
easing
favourable
green
hope
into
jewelled
kernel,
lending
me
no
overtime,
permanently
questing,
rolling,
slyly
ticking,
unceasing,
vast…
willfully
x‘ing
yesterday’s
zest.

Here’s another one for Mick’s Short Form Poetry Challenge. I don’t think this poetry form is officially recognised, since the only example of it that I can find is a poem I wrote myself,  and posted on my blog back in August 2015. Therefore I tentatively claim it as my own, and I give it the title Extreme ABC Poetry. It contains 26 lines, each line begins with a different letter of the alphabet, and the lines run in alphabetical order. The difference between my extreme form and the standard form of ABC poetry is that each line contains only one word.

©Jane Paterson Basil