Monthly Archives: January 2018

Sarcasm

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“Only Truth matters. I know the truth; there is no God,”
he proclaimed.

I placed my hands together as if in prayer or worship. With rounded eyes I exclaimed:

“In human form, you appear as insignificant as a speck of dust in this massive, shape-shifting galaxy, which, in itself, is comparable to another – albeit larger – speck of dust floating amid the infinite galaxies beyond, and yet your mind apparently contains great knowledge. Surely you are the highest God, and yet you deny your deity. I bow down to your sacred wisdom and supremacy, but above all, I bow to your remarkable humility.”

I could read his mind:

“But… but…” it said.

Ha! So much for his honours degree in philosophy.

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©Jane Paterson Basil

Purpose

Sometimes it hurts,
and you see no purpose,
no need for the needles of pain.
No reason to search for why it occurred,
or to learn the lessons tucked deep in your brain.
You yearn for a way to rearrange history,
return to yesterday,
change its shape.

You weep and you rage,
you try meditation,
but the answer keeps slipping away.

So you weep and rage,
you rage and you weep,
pain fills your your dreams whenever you sleep
and increases when you awake.

You see no reason,
but you search for a purpose,
if only to soothe the hurt.

Grief heaps up, seemingly endless.
Death is around you, shrouded and soundless,
it threatens your loved ones and rattles the door.

In the still of the morning,
you pick at slim thoughts as you try to assuage the pain.
They dispel like salt in simmering water
and the suffering returns again.

Nobody tells you you’re trying too hard,
and the healing is contained in your subconscious brain.
The only way to access the reason
is to cease entertaining your own narrow theories,
stop looking for answers to your thin queries.

You need to keep active, deal with each day,
make peace with the pain and breathe it in.
Open to the gentlest faith you have hidden
no matter what shape that faith may take.
Whether you connect with the collective consciousness
or follow the lead of a sacred deity
or trust in planet or your brothers and sisters,
hold it within; don’t leave it to stray.

Live life, and love in the best way you’re able,
yet store some spare conscious space in your soul –
but don’t stand waiting for something to fill it,
it is up to the purpose to wait,

it will come to you when you are ready,
and on the highest level,
you will be well.

©Jane Paterson Basil

The Noise Machine

Shaped like a little nissen hut, it arrives, pulled by a grey van.

About a metre high, it is the colour of a canary and it has a round lid on top. I recognise the blue initials on the side. It is owned by the Housing Association.

A man gets out of the van and attaches a cable to its side. He unrolls the cable, puts the plug end through the community room window.

He strolls inside, evidently to push the plug into a socket and switch it on.

An intrusive mechanical Noise ensues. I think someone must be using a chainsaw in my kitchen. I go to check, but no, The Noise is roaring from hollow inside the yellow mystery.

The Conveyor of  Noise absents himself, leaving The Noise Machine to do its job of producing The Noise.

I close the windows. The Noise hammers at the panes, forces its way through the double glazing, squeezes angrily through the cracks. It will not be crushed or diminished.

I shut down the thingies and batten the whatsits, but The Noise continues to crash through, battering at my senses.

I study the yellow machine.  The Noise. must be contained in the yellow belly of the mini-hut.

I wonder where The Noise came from – what is its natural habitat?

What does it look like?

How does it reproduce?

What does it feed on?

What are its dreams?

Is it an endangered species?

How was it caught – with nets, or with a lure of kindly words or sweet treats which cunningly led it to the nissen hut, through the trapdoor at the top, and into its dark prison?

Is it well cared for, are its needs being met? I can guess the answers, and I don’t like them.

The entrapment of The Noise presents many ethical questions.

Two hours pass noisily. The Conveyor of Noise returns, goes into the community room.

Above a sudden silence, I hear the welcoming lullaby of cars passing along the road nearby.

The Conveyor reappears, rolls up the cable, detaches it from the tucks it into the passenger seat of the van, lumbers around to the driver’s seat, climbs in, and drives off, towing The Noise Machine – doubtlessly satisfied that he has enriched the lives of the few dozen tenants in this block of sheltered homes, with the sounds of wild machinery, imprisoned in a canary coloured, undersized nissen hut. Freed from the ear-splitting attack by the poor, incarcerated Noise, I am moved to pity. painfully aware that only the sound escaped; the essence is still contained.

Sometimes, an animal rescue woman brings cats and dogs to the community room, where special needs and elderly residents are free to pet them, while they listen to a talk.

Maybe the Noise Machine is intended to enrich our lives in a similar way.

It doesn’t work for me.

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The Daily Prompt’s word for today:  Conveyor

©Jane Paterson Basil

I Shall be Still

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In exercise 3 of The Sandbox Writing Challenge, Calen asks “What prevents you from being still?”

This is the answer that came to me:

As a child,
I exercised a wild kind of control —
play-fighting with nature,
playing my countryside games
as I schemed to fly,
dreaming of coasting over open fields and shady lanes.

Wings on my heels, working with the wind,
sometimes leaning into it to see if it would hold me,
rebelling, balancing precariously above a precipice
while a mild gale tried to blow me over.

Leaping from tuft to tuft of green, knowing
where the sucking bog lurked, unseen,
keeping clear of the mud,
feeling high.

Climbing trees, elated, safe
from skinned knees and careless slips,
sure of myself as my hair tangled in the breeze.
and I breathed greedy helpings of summer sky.

Marching upstream,
kicking feet, splashing sprays of liquid diamonds
that sparkled on freshly freckled flesh.

Laughter bellowing from my belly.

Building dams of rocks and clay,
only to smash them –
revelling in the battle against water,
and in the sudden rush of feigned defeat.

Swimming against the flow, making the water go
where I chose.

Over time, your stubborn cross-flow builds momentum.
Torrents flow and banks are broken,
Whirlpools form as if from nowhere.
It takes a while to know that you are sinking,
and longer still to find your loved ones
swirling in a deeper hole,
drowning in the distance.

Dragged down
by so many years of weak decisions.

Not a warrior after all —
I had lost control.

Buffeted by the results of a vast range
of calamitous actions, meandering ways and artist’s haze —
of all those lost and loping days,
I clamber to the shore
and struggle to put the river back on course.

I cannot rest until
I have corrected its direction.

Soon, my children will all be well,
and I shall be still —
at least for a spell.

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©Jane Paterson Basil

Where there’s Muck

 

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Patrick MacTaverty was brash in his depravity;
his habit was to excavate his every gap and cavity.
His shamelessness was infamous – sickening and unpleasant –
he dug away with mild disdain no matter who was present.
He was known in local restaurants, in the corner shop and library,
for ignoring every plea and threat and all attempts at bribery.

He shovelled at his eyes and ears, and in his mouth and nose,
he flung off shoes and smelly socks, to delve between his toes.
His heights of degradation would defy imagination;
there clearly there was no limit to his inner salutation
while he wiggled spindly fingers deep within each hollow part
as if to wave a greeting to his tonsils, brain and heart.

Aquaintances and strangers always gasped and were appalled
when he loosened up his belt and they saw his trousers fall.
His naval display was his greatest pride and joy –
a showcase for his dug-out waste from the day he was a boy.
The orifice extractions drove the viewers to distraction,
owing to the acrid odour,  rotting matter and compaction.

A dog appeared from nowhere – all claimed that it was mad
when it bit off Patrick’s fingers – but most of them were glad.
Furthermore, once he ceased collecting  murky treasures,
the mess turned sweet and friable by soft and silent measures,
and out of his round belly button mounds of flowers grew –
some were well-known species, but others were quite new.

Now Patrick’s makes a fortune from the sale of blooms of class –
which serves to prove the saying true, that ‘where there’s muck there’s brass’.

Brass = money.

©Jane Paterson Basil

Balance

Swaying like
a drunk weaving his way home,
I veer between the level pavement of truth
and the deep ditch of kindly
hypocrisy.

Mud on my left shoe,
a clean shine on the right,
my soul freed, only to be stifled
and freed again, while I stagger –
hanging on to what matters
as I balance the colours
of motherly love.

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©Jane Paterson Basil

Nowhere to Go

Will someone restrain this dominant male
who simmers with rage from his head to his tail,
yet hides it beneath a wrapping of smiles
and flattering words and shimmering wiles.
He pulls out his history and smudges the files,
stretching the inches and shrinking the miles,
then lays me down on cracked and torn tiles,
blinding my mind as my flesh he defiles.

Will someone please free me from this man
who puts in the boot whenever he can;
a boot that’s concealed by a subtle disguise
as a kindly look or a word to the wise,
or misunderstanding, or a fault in my eyes,
or a generous gift of mini-pork pies.
He pretends to be hurt and he looks at his feet,
when I remind him once more that I never eat meat.

Will someone please help me, I have to escape
from the crushing abuse and the practiced brain-rape.
I’ve tried every way that I know to stay strong,
but he’s chipped me away for far too long,
and everything about me seems so wrong.
I’m floating in nowhere, stuck on a prong.
I’m stupid and worthless, I don’t belong.
There’s nowhere to go, but I need to be gone.

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There are those who despise women caught in this horrific trap; folks who say “It’s her own fault. She could leave if she wants to. She must enjoy the abuse.”

They are mistaken. They they lack both empathy and imagination.

Never under-estimate the destructive skill of the brain-rapist. If you get too close he will tear you apart. He is likely to leave you mentally crippled, unable to escape until he chooses to let you go. Even then he might continue to play cat-and-mouse with you, begging you to come back, promising he’s changed. He will use your family and friends in order to get his way. He’ll trick them, make them believe that he loves you, that you will be happier with him. He’ll get your children to beg you to reconcile with their dad. Don’t be fooled.

You might be determined to make it work. Maybe you’ll tolerate being given no grip on the purse-strings… being presented chocolates when you are dieting… being accused of flirting when you say hello to a man you work with… watching your partner deliberately pretend to be in love with your worst enemy… seeing him buy your favourite perfume for her birthday and saying that it is HER favourite, wrapping it carefully… picking up a cheap fake sandalwood spray from the pound shop for your birthday… pushing away a meal that you know he likes, saying “That looks awful, I can’t eat it” whenever you have guests to dinner… suggesting, from his disgusted glance, that you’re a mess when you’ve taken particular trouble over your appearance… never doing an ounce of restoration work in the crumbling house, yet becoming annoyed when you pick up the timber, the plaster, and the tools, and set to.

You start to get the message – you are worthless, you are ugly, boring, irritating, clumsy, stupid, dumb, crazy, deluded, sluttish. You are nothing, yet still you have to pander to his whims. You must find money for his half-baked business ideas, even though he holds all the cash. You have to wash and iron the clothes that your thieving stepson changes out of twice a day to save himself from showering.

He somehow manages to cheat you out of the deeds to the house that you alone paid the deposit on (from the sale of your previous home). You ask that your stepson’s fish tanks be confined to his bedroom. Within weeks someone has bought seven tanks. They’re scattered through the living room and hall. The smallest is four feet long. The house belongs to him and his son. At best, you are a skivvy. Your children are less than that.

Your stepson makes your four-year-old daughter put her hand in the piranha tank. He pushes cake into her face at her fifth birthday party, to humiliate her. He pimps up his bedroom with new carpet, picture, bedding. He buys new clothes and can’t afford to give us  housekeeping money. What little cash there is starts to go missing. You make meals out of nothing. You set a trap for the thief, already knowing it is your stepson. 

You win a round; you throw your stepson out. He goes back to his mother, makes now friends, learns a new trade; house burglary.

The house gets repossessed because you so-called partner hasn’t paid the mortgage. He’s spent all the money on a fax machine which he doesn’t need, a car which he has to arrange to be stolen since he can’t afford the repayments. It’s just another insurance scam to add to all the others. 

Friends, family, strangers are all thrown into this pot of poison to be fed to you in bruised and burnt portions.

You watch your children walking in the rain with holes in the bottoms of their shoes, keep your mouth shut when he steals from shops. You tidy up the mess he leaves whenever he carried out a task, apologise when he discovers you forgot to put the toolbox away after using it yesterday – even though you’ll be using the tools today. He interrupts with childish jokes when you try to discuss something important with a family member or friend. He pulls the rug from under your feet, day after day, in every way he can.

Although you know he’d never hit you, you feel physically sick when he gets angry, and his anger is always simmering beneath the surface. He lies and cheats his way through life, often with no cause. 

Your daughter has holes in her shoes again, but there’s no money for new ones, as he’s just gone out and spent a stupid amount of money on a navy pleated skirt and beige twin-set from the Scotch Wool shop. He knows you wouldn’t be seen dead in it; that’s what makes it the perfect choice. A few weeks later he buys you an XXL man’s tee-shirt emblazoned with the slogan “Dip me in chocolate and throw me to the lesbians”. He acts offended, pretends to think you’d find it funny. You have friends who are lesbians, and they weren’t amused, either.

You fall ill. You are ill for weeks. The pain increases until you can’t leave the house without help. He refuses to take you to hospital. You get worse. One night, your six year-old daughter finds you curled up on the stairs, unable to move, afraid you are about to die. She wakes the only sensible person in the house – her eight year-old sister, who calls for an ambulance. You are put on antibiotics, but you’re ill for months. You later find out that the infection had been left for so long that you could have died. He tells you he wasn’t to know you were so ill.

While you are bedridden, things happen behind closed doors. You don’t find out about them until years later after you’ve escaped him…

You are surprised when he agrees to go with to see a marriage guidance counsellor. You think that maybe he wants to be in a happy relationship after all. The counsellor is a woman. Blinded by his charm, she hangs on his every word. She tries to hide, it, but she thinks you are a neurotic fool. Everything you say is turned against you.

You hate her for adding to the damage, yet you begin to doubt your judgement, your sanity.

You get up in the middle of the night, walk to the bridge over the river, watch the scummy water swirl. You think of your children, your mother, try to weigh your pain against their love. You have no value. You are worse than shit on an acrobat’s shoe. You try to jump, but you see images of your children in the grasp of that man, with nobody to protect them; your children with no mother to watch them grow. You go home, climb into bed, lie right at the edge so there is no risk of any part of you touching the monster who sleeps. 

You take that 3 am walk again and again, each time recycling the same thoughts. Deep down you’ve always known you’d never jump, but it’s reassuring to feel you have the option.

You try to find ways to feel worthy, working harder and harder in every way, cooking, cleaning, knocking down walls, designing, stripping woodwork, waxing, rendering, sawing, screwing together custom shelves, making everything from scratch out of whatever you can find. For some reason he demands your presence when Eastenders is on. You obediently sit through it, trying not to wriggle while the unlikely story painfully unfolds. He slackens your strings and you slink away to finish painting the bathroom cabinets you built, not understanding that he resents your ability to do so many things well; that every time you pick up a hammer and knock in a nail, it’s comparable to constructing your own coffin. On the other hand, if you didn’t do these jobs, he would be angry that the place was so decrepit.

He enjoys attacking your political views, your ethics and your compassionate nature. He belittles everything you stand for, everything you do, everything you are, his every action, word and look designed to destroy you.

There are big things, like the way he sabotages your efforts with the children, and crazy, petty things, like the coffee issue. For twenty years he never drinks coffee in front of you, saying he doesn’t like it. After you leave him, you will learn that he enjoys coffee, but since it is your choice of drink, he must oppose you. 

You sing loudly to drown your thoughts, but you can’t ignore how the abuse goes on and on and on. Always you are in the wrong.

If you tell your friends, few of them believe you – even if they have seen a couple of his games. He always covers them up with a joke, or finds a way to wrong-foot you – or they don’t care, because they are flattered by his attention… but some… some know. Some recognise it the moment they set eyes on him. Some shudder, and never want to be anywhere near him again.

They are the wise ones; the intuitive, insightful, unshakeable angels.

They are your saviours.

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©Jane Paterson Basil

Red

carrot-33625__340Why do people walk so slow,
Ain’t they got no place to go?
They won’t let me forge ahead –
a mist descends in specks of red.

They strut along with bags and thighs,
then turn and look me in the eyes.
A gap appears, but far too narrow
to fit the smallest autumn marrow.

They gasp to see their small mistake
and every inch they quickly take.
“Let me past,” I boldly cry,
“or face a deadly duel, and die.”

They pay no heed, but mockingly
slow their pace and grin with glee.
I face them with my trusty carrot,
but turnip tops are all they’ve got.

Do you think I have no chance
as I begin my fighting dance?
“Why, two on one?” you brashly say;
I’ll give you two on one today.

They stand their ground, and face me bravely.
My carrot makes them into gravy.
My goodness, what a sorry sight…
I raise my carrot, take a bite.

Rage and vengeance; both are red –
it’s time to hurry home for bed.

©Jane Paterson Basil

Candid Camera.

This is just a quickie, if you’ll pardon the pun…

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She couldn’t resist what she saw
when she gazed at her brother-in-law.
He slipped her a key
thinking no-one would see
through a solid wood bedroom door.

But sometimes walls contain eyes
that record our deceit and our lies.
Their passion was brief
and their randy relief
preceded a nasty surprise.

A candid camera had caught ‘er
doing what she didn’t aughta.
her behaviour so lewd
was what started the feud
with her mother’s other daughter.

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©Jane Paterson Basil