Monthly Archives: February 2018

Fire and Snow


From my window, I watch the snow as it dances to the tune of the wind. Unhurried, it rises and sinks, slowly floating toward the ground. It seems too casual to weave a thick blanket, yet the ground becomes increasingly white. Please let me be snowed-in tomorrow. Let the roads be impassable.

If I do much more, I fear I might end up throwing all of my possessions out of the window onto the garden below.

When they ask me why I did it I’ll tell them they are no longer required. If they mention the damage to the flowers, I’ll tell them that they are no longer required, either.

I’ve spent weeks trying to clear my ex-partner’s house on my own. He died a couple of months ago. My son lived there with his girlfriend and he’s been given notice to quit as it’s a rented property. So far, Paul is incapable of making any decisions about what to keep and what to discard. He didn’t want to let anything go until he’d decided, so I’ve been piling his dad’s stuff in my small flat.

I haven’t got room for all of the furniture, and Paul won’t need most of it anyway, so my daughter and her fiance drove down to help, over the weekend. We took some stuff to a charity shop, and we brought a lot over to my small flat. Laura and Dave have been wonderful. I don’t know what I’d have done without their help. I don’t even drive.

It was too late to arrange for any of the charity shops to take anything away, so on Saturday night we had a massive bonfire. It wasn’t my idea, but I was beyond caring. A sofa, three reclining chairs, two leather armchairs, a king-size bed and a lot of other items were burnt to a cinder. There was still more than enough left to fill a one-bedroom flat.

That was intended to be the end of my duties. They have to be out tomorrow. Paul’s girlfriend’s father had vaguely agreed to hire a van for today and tomorrow, collect the things they wanted to keep, and put them in his storage unit. He was also going to dump what was left over. I had a premonition that he would let them down. I was right. I don’t think he ever really intended to help. He’s not even going to let them use his storage unit.

My nephew and sister-in-spirit have kindly agreed to step into the breach. We have nowhere to put the items like the cooker, fridge, freezer, washing machine, a large chest of drawers and their bed, so I’m hoping the landlord of the house we’re clearing will agree to let us store it in the shed outside the house. The place will have to be gutted before it’s fit for new tenants, which will take a while.

We’ll collect their clothes and personal items. I’ll have to somehow find space for them in my flat until they are rehoused. It’s a good thing I’m a genius when it comes to space-saving. I spent today neatly packing what I already have of theirs into the smallest area possible (this includes and Ikea chest of drawers, two Ikea cupboard units, two tall shelf units, a large coffee table, a wardrobe,some smaller pieces of furniture and a lot of boxes of sundries), and separating what I think they won’t immediately need.

My living-room sofa is piled up with bags of goods to be delivered to Oxfam. Under the window I have boxes of tools which I hope to find a home for. By tomorrow evening, I doubt that there’ll be more than a narrow corridor between my bedroom door and my bed. Owing to Paul’s mental health issues, the council are legally bound to rehouse them, so from tomorrow night they should have temporary accommodation. I hope they get rehoused soon.

Until I spoke to my nephew, about twenty minutes ago, I was almost at the end of my tether. I was afraid to allow myself to cry. If I gave in to it now, I might never stop.

Exhaustion is making me weak: I’m bending in the direction of  self-pity.

Mothering never ends.


©Jane Paterson Basil

Conflicting Emotions



Conflicting emotions cluster,
stumbling through grey matter, 
as they fight to be top of the pile.
Low thoughts, high thoughts,
where, how and why thoughts.
Grief and elation, hell and damnation,
botched conversations, recovered relations,
lost revelations, failed determination,
dead ideas and un-shed tears,
day-to day chores and clamouring causes
 all perspire
   while they battle for regard,
       colours blurring to mustard and rust,
               verity becoming encrusted
                           in the annals
                                         of my mind.

©Jane Paterson Basil

Bus Driver


Dear driver, you
don’t know me;

Maybe you dislike
your job and your wife,
you might even hate your life, but that
is no excuse for the fuming stare which says
“I despise you.”

You block my smile, your expression suggesting that you consider me a minor criminal. If you think this is not a designated bus stop just say so, or check with your boss. You’ll find you are wrong, while to continue in ignorance is an unwise mistake to make.

Meanwhile, why not try a compromise;
stop treating passengers like undesirable wasps
to be stomped on by your
callous eyes.

Don’t you know
that very day you make the world a little colder
for yourself, as well as for others?

Do you like being a lonely island?

Friendliness should be high on the list of priorities when hiring bus drivers. At the very least, it could be part of their training.

I used to insinuate myself
between the bars of barbed little fences such as yours,
persuading snickering scorpions to be
more amicable, but recently,
I’ve run out of energy.

It’s time for folks like you
to get wise to your public duty
and treat passengers more like friends.

©Jane Paterson Basil

No Place to Go


When he enters,
his animal scent clears out the buyers and browsers
and the assistant exits in haste.

I wonder if other charity shops blocked him.
Few operate like Oxfam.

Smiling like he’s a friend,
I take shallow breaths though the nose,
keeping my mouth closed except to speak.

He tells me he got a twenty quid drop and needs to buy jeans.
I ask for his size, and pick out two pairs.

“I’m just a drunk,” he slurs, his eyes
clutching at mine as if to defy me to deny
a universal truth.

I refuse to be intimidated.
“Not just a drunk,” I reply. “At your core, you are who you have always been. You have your history, your memories, your moments of reflection. Once you played in the street, or climbed trees. Once, you laughed at your own antics and believed
you were free.”

“Don’t be pedantic,” he growls,
“and tell me where I can have a shower.
I shit my trousers and I need to get clean.”

He’s been waved away away by every hand I recommend.
Then I remember the leisure centre.
We both pretend to believe that he might receive help there.

As he staggers off along the street,
sleek and limber legs reject his presence. Even the pavement
hardens itself against his weaving feet.

From her place in the past, my mother looks askance.
Tears skitter in the sky as I speak to the breeze.

“I treated him like a human being.”

My mother agrees. That is true, at least.

“If I lived somewhere different,
I would have invited him back.”

My mother silently absorbs the lie;
her kindness inhibits her from lecturing me.


©Jane Paterson Basil

The Conjurer


He conjures fancy travel or a picnic in the park,
a nightmare in the city, or a fumble in the dark.
He conjures up confusion and he puts you in the wrong,
he makes believe you’re evil, and he says you don’t belong.

He sweeps away your knights and pawns, and always wins the game;
he’s a rhino in disguise, but he looks both meek and tame.
He steals your self esteem, your possessions and your soul,
and yet it he gains no joy when he knows he’s met his goal.

He conjured from existance your ambition and desire,
he threw your family heirlooms upon a blazing fire,
he jumbled up your children’s lives with cunning tricks and treats,
he hollowed out your brain with a range of warlock feats.

He practised his dark magic on those who got too close,
he tried to break the spirit of the one he loved the most.
He waved his magic wand, and made all others blind;
so watching from a distance, his every act looked kind.


They wrap him up in satin, and the mourners tell their tales
of an angel of compassion, whose goodness never failed.
They fondly wipe a tear away, while you repress a sigh –
even from his coffin, he can conjure up a lie.


I respectfully request that my readers look upon this poem as fiction. As a poet, I couldn’t resist today’s Word Prompt: Conjure, but it only tells a fraction of the story of one who tried to be a better man, despite his snapping demons.


©Jane Paterson Basil

Rare Blood


I’ve been insulted by WP’s electronic brain, which has blocked me from following any more blogs, because it suspects me of following blogs purely in order to get them to follow me. Apparently I am following too many blogs, and it looks suspicious. At the time of learning this, I was had eighty-eight on my list. I suspect that this is not a particularly high number. I have been blogging for a little over three years. If I was simply looking to increase my following, by now I would have followed (and, no doubt, subsequently unfollowed) thousands of blogs – which I haven’t.

If the technology that highlights the problem was more advanced, it would see that I never follow a blog without first having – or at least starting – a conversation with the blogger. It would record the fact that, if I follow someone, I also want to get to know them better.

It was recommended that I cease following a few blogs, in order to be able to follow others. Seeing no other option, I took the advice given, and ceased following ten blogs which I would have preferred to keep, in the hope that I would be able to follow new ones – although it occurred to me that this is an action I’d regularly take if I was guilty as accused; drop those I’m following and find new ones to follow in order to be noticed. WP’s advice plays into the hands of bloggers who only follow others in order to receive follows.

Well, anyway, it hasn’t worked yet. I still can’t follow new blogs.

I’m grateful to the support staff member who advised me. She opened up a dialogue, and  helped me to sort out another issue which I had – one which was preventing me from receiving notifications of new posts from blogs I was already following. She is not responsible for what the WP technology is telling her. I’m also pleased that WP is dealing with the issue of bloggers touting for follows in this way. I notice I no longer seem to be getting those kind of follows. I don’t like being followed by folks who have no interest in me or my poetry, and I wouldn’t insult another blogger by playing that game.

I can’t really understand why I am under suspicion, but maybe it’s all down to patterns. We each make our own pattern in this world. This pattern is shaped by our genes, our experiences and our choices in life. While every pattern is unique, most of them fit into an understood category – even those that stand out as being unusual. These unusual ones could be compared to the blood group, AB negative – the rarest of the bog-standard blood groups. However, there are many far more unusual blood groups, the rarest of which is believed to be be RH-Null. It has been suggested that Rh-Null has a close connection with extra-terrestrial beings, although I make no comment on that.

 Maybe my pattern is as rare as Rh-Null. I don’t think the WP bots are programmed to deal with my abstract design.

 Just because I look like an extra-terrestrial, it doesn’t mean I am one.

.Beam me up, Scotty.


©Jane Paterson Basil


Like a Sister

My friend,
you are like a sister to me. I regret giving you
the impression that I’m pushing you away.
Please forgive me.

When we speak, the words
get shuffled and swallowed by my throat, so I’m
writing this in the hope that it will explain my difficulties.

At present, I have so little time between tending to my responsibilities and I need
to breathe; to
listen for the clean


that sits lightly beneath my clamouring brain. Lately, I yearn
to separate my clashing thoughts and
in turn,
that I might extract
peace from this confusion.

Please be patient with me, yet
understand this; while I yearn to amass
an ever greater wealth of empathy, I am neither
lonely or deeply unhappy. I find myself in a position
of unlikely privilege, and will do what I can
to fulfil the duties which this
particular privilege brings.

Soon, I anticipate

Should you be absent
from my life on that day
it would be a tragedy, but I
have seen your loyalty –

you will not desert me.

Thank you for
embracing me with your friendship.
You are important to me.


©Jane Paterson Basil

Go Gently, old Friend


Go gently, old friend.

Leave only
sweet ashes, drifting
through minds that
sift away
the silt.

of confusion and pain
are the dust in our tears;
we rinse them away.
What remains is a
kind reminder
of the
of your life.

Gone is the child
who reached for hands to hold,
the child who hungered for a loving touch.
Gone are the fists that rained cold blows
on your bewildered sensibilities.
stealing away what might
have been.

you are free.

Go gently, and rest in peace.


©Jane Paterson Basil



Listening to the eulogy
I am reminded that one man can be a plethera of unique characters
depending on the angle of sight

Each if us sees him from our separate space, our spectacles constructed of smooth shapes and shards which glint in varying shades,
each piece tinted by a disparate need, a belief or desire
each reflecting its own shade and hue
or casting dark shadows that blind the sight or tell the truth

Often, the light changes the closer we venture
though some folks see no more than he wants us to see,
as he covers his flesh in clean monk’s habit
or dons pure white angel wings

They have no way of knowing that later he might crack the distorting lenses
and give us a glimpse of the truth

Gazing at the blown-up photos of the handsome man as he smiles in his prime
I’m reminded of my sense of surprise as he regaled me with his impish light, his unusual humour
his silverfish image of one who was kind

The eulogy tells of memories held
of stories birthed long before I beheld him –
tales of a father who nurtured his children
who never gave in to anger or sulking, who played no games of manipulation;
to a father and a man who was good and true.

This isn’t the time to pick holes in the rosebud input of those who hold honeyed visions close
It’s a moment to reflect and remember the man – his innocent efforts, great strengths and rare skills
and to remind ourselves that all of us have our own limitations
and there’s no way of telling how we’d react
to the exact set of circumstances he experienced
from the day he was born
to the second his last breath softly informed us
that the moment of death and peace had come.

©Jane Paterson Basil