Monthly Archives: December 2017

Goodbye, 2017

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Goodbye 2017. I thank you with all my heart. The twenty-first century was hard for me until you came along, but you have given me all that I could have asked for. Finally, my family is whole again, and I thank you for all that you have done for us. Tonight, before I drink to 2018, I will raise a toast to you. I will never forget, or take for granted, the good things you brought to me. You gave me a future to look forward to. I now place my trust in the year that follows.

©Jane Paterson Basil

What’s That Word?

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Every day I rouse myself to almost write a rhyme,
it almost works almost well, almost every time.
I almost have an idea, I almost have a theme,
I almost have the words to fit into a tidy scheme.
It drives me almost crazy that I can’t finish it,
and almost every word I write looks to me like…

I’m searching for an epithet to end my little rhyme,
but now my mind is empty; it happens every time.
A goblin must have gobbled up every clever phrase
and perfect words have been mislaid within a foggy haze.
I search my mind for useful nouns as in this chair I sit,
but everything I come up with, turns out to be…

armpit?
counterfeit?
Split?
ill-writ?
Unfit?

Am I missing something obvious…?

©Jane Paterson Basil

Penning Cliches

She had long feared 
that one day, she may 
run out of words.
She envisaged
a 
 gradual
   loss, 
       an 
          increasing 
                inability 
                    to find 
                       the perfect 
                        adjective or verb;
                        a vague mental
                       disability resulting from over-use,
                    as if each word
                 was eroding.
              Words she rarely used, such as
            hiatus 
            and touchy
             would be 
                the first to go.
                    Complex words words like
                       deferential 
                         and predisposition
                          could soon follow, 
                          although 
                         and, if, and but
                       might stay with her 
                    until the end, 
               since they struck her as
       indestructible.

.

I read through what I’ve written, dismayed by my lack of logic. It would not be the least-used words that would vanish first. I begin again.

She had long feared 
the danger that 
 one day 
  she might run out of words. 
    She envisaged a
       gradual 
           loss, 
                 an 
                      increasing
                            inability 
                                to find
                                   the 
                                    intrinsic 
                                    adjective or verb,
                                   as if the less used words 
                                 had been suffocated by 
                              the airless space
                          in the attic of her brain.
                       She had not been 
                      ready for this uneeasy
                      feeling 
                       that someone
                          had crept in 
                               and stolen them,
                                       like a thief in the night.

.

I sigh: “Crept in and stolen them, like a thief in the night.” Is this to be my fate; to end my days penning cliches?

It comes to us all in the end.

There I go again…

.

©Jane Paterson Basil

To Everyone

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Our calendars tell us that 2017 is drawing to a close, and while I know that hours, days, weeks, months and years were designed purely to make the progression of time less confusing, yet still I will celebrate the arrival of 2018, along with the rest of the world.

I have so much to celebrate. It almost feels greedy to be the recipient of this degree of wellness.

I’ll rinse off the detritus of the early part of the year, and also the dirt of the sixteen years that preceded it, holding only happy memories in the archive of my brain. There will be no sad or fearful past to grieve over. It will be gone. My children will create a better  future for themselves.

Next year will begin, continue and conclude joyfully.

I’d like to mark the occasion by standing on a hilltop with my children, standing in a circle, holding hands as we wait for the sunrise. At the first sight of dawn we would break apart, and dance wildly around each other. That will not be possible, but I’ll think of something to make the filigree bonds that tie us as a family, glow silver in the light of a new era.

That’s a week away. Meanwhile, let’s celebrate Christmas.

Love and peace to you all, tomorrow and always,

Jane xoxo

.

©Jane Paterson Basil

Bobby

A soiled trouser leg
is tucked up beneath him, held down
by the weight of his ravaged body,
reminding me that I am one of the lucky ones
who have more than the average
quantity of legs.

His right foot
sits askew on the wheelchair’s footrest.
I straighten my back, as if to make up
for his crooked limb.

A paper bag
rests crumpled on his lap.
I think of fragrant Indian takeaways,
and of the free accompaniments my family receives
when we order a meal for all of us.

He grabs the bag with the eagerness of
a child on Christmas morning,
sliding down the banisters to join his parents
who grin beside a glittering tree,
eager to see his eyes lit by the thrilling surprise of a new bike
tied around with a wide blue ribbon.

He unscrews a cap and tips the bag
towards his cracked lips.

What lies in those years between
the glitter of a childhood Christmas,
and a brown paper bag concealing cheap white cider?
I want to ask, but it is too intimate a question,
so I just say “Hi, Bobby,” and walk on by,
the stench of a life gone sour
clutching at my stomach.

Grateful for the small attention,
he cries “Merry Christmas,”
in a ho ho ho voice like Santa.
Even those without hope follow protocol
at this time of year.

He doesn’t knew my name.
I am just one of those who have been kind
in the smallest way.

I expect I posted The Fairytale of New York last Christmas, and it’s likely I’ll post it every year until I expire. I make no apology for constantly advertising my favourite Christmas song ever 🙂

©Jane Paterson Basil

Self-pity

We never learned from where it hailed.
Maybe she was born with it,
but in the beginning it was a flimsy thing, and she
was a child, too ignorant of life and vocabulary
to do other than witlessly pet it,
but as she grew
she felt the need to give it credence,
as if ill-knitted martyrdom,
its split yarn spilling dropped stitches,
was her divine calling.

She should have killed it,
but she liked its perversity;
she nourished it with twisted truths and bitterly disguised lies
until it grew fat on her thin skin,
controlling every thought and whim,
isolating her from insiders and kin.

Intricately built, repeatedly tweaked
that it may scruffily encompass each new circumstance,
its exclusivity defended with counterfeit logic,
her jealously protected self-pity still reigns supreme,
while she is defeated by a need
to cling to
the familiar.

If her sweet voice calls you,
don’t fall into her simpering net.
Should she become a lover or a friend,
she’ll sift through her cellar for a well-worn falsehood
that fits her victim self-portrait,
adding your name to a fresh layer of blame,
then she’ll whisper cruel fantasies
of insults and belittlement into the ears
of the dwindling few who will listen and briefly beieve,
until all that remains is tumbleweed,
blowing along her abandoned street.

You may think her predictable defeat
would leave me the winner,
but I came for peace, not to compete,
and what is her ultimate purpose,
if not to lose?

©Jane Paterson Basil

New Age

When glory days gave way to night
(a dark that crept without relief,
its fisted hand tucked out of sight
yet stealing joy, just like a thief)
I bravely tried to stand and fight
and rise above my grief.

I wore my ashen sackcloth cloak
that told false tales of blood and steel;
my words were blurred by tears and smoke,
so close to truth; yet not quite real,
and in between, a murky joke
to mask the bitter feel.

You bravely took the cloak from me,
and cast it boldly to the ground,
then bathed me in sweet honesty
and wrapped me in this silken gown.
You changed the course of history;
farewell to Golden Brown.

A line is drawn through yesteryear,
while shining brighter than the day
a promise dazzles out the fear,
and wipes the ghostly shame away.
Though still I shed a secret tear,
I know you’re home to stay.

The fire did not consume my heart,
but as I fought its searing rage,
it shaped my humble scribblers art —
so as I enter this new age,
a compass point would help me start
the story on this page.

©Jane Paterson Basil

Ivor

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Ivor plumbs the depths
    seeking out the sneaky leaks;
        master of the pipes.

Ivor plumbs the depths
    working away with a wrench;
        prince of the porcelain.

Ivor plumbs the depths
    leaving sink fittings gleaming;
        king of the kitchen.

Ivor plumbed the depths.
    In the fresh, peaceful evening
        our hero can rest.

Written in a whimsical mood, for my lovely friend Ivor, who is not so green as he’s cabbage-like – an old saying from the North of England, meaning he’s not stupid.

©Jane Paterson Basil

A High Note

Before growing pains seeped

thick into my womb,

searing it,

staining it scarlet,

ripping my freedom to shreds,

exploding idyllic preconceptions,

pouring hormonal rust upon my skipping youth,

a green heart played innocent tunes

on a swelling rib cage.

The meadows rippled in reply,

and the stream tinkled in time to the childish beat.

The hills, too kind to disillusion me,

echoed my refrain

in three-part harmony —

yet nature couldn’t prevent

the betrayal of my burgeoning body.

I made painful mistakes,

edging around the shadiest patches,

mostly staying in safe places.

These days, the lost ones shimmy down slimy drainpipes

as if life is a cheap trinket to treat lightly

and toss aside,

while my heartbeat sings

a less vigorous song, muffled

by the grimy streets and the grainy patina of age,

yet now and again a high note

echoes through the trees.

.

©Jane Paterson Basil