Beauty and the Psychopath


The earth’s surface
spans five hundred and ten square kilometres;

its Imperial reach
is one hundred and ninety-six point nine miles;

if every human stood still for one minute
and studied the scene
we might see hunger, iniquity, pain;

we might witness
every kind of suffering

~ this world is too complex to be forever kind ~

yet if we could gaze
with a cleanly aesthetic eye

devoid of empathy
for the frog crushed beneath the boot,

we might find beauty in every millimetre;

we’d envisage beauty
in every razor blade, in every frightened face,
in every tainted pool
that seeps through limp uniform
to sink into the rusting battle field;

it’s easy to appreciate a sunset
or the wavering boughs of a willow tree,

but tucked in a desert

in the arid waste where death exalts,
as, throwing back his cape

he rides the rays of  an allegiant sun
that roasts flesh from hollowing bones, leaving skulls to fade
in shifting hills and sandy vales

there is enchantment, whether scanned
from the height of an aeroplane, or gleaned
through a microscope
as we peek at the secrets of a single grain.

and on a motorway

on a wide tarmac trail
which breaks meadows in its wake,
snaking city limits, displaying the detritus of terminal mishap;
twisted metal, stains left by fractured death
and splattered brains

we find banks piled with riotous harmony
where flowers despised by tidy garden rules
are gems that shine on nature’s winsome breast.

In an iniquitous hidden room

in a bolted cell of jailor’s shame,
dank with acrid stench of psychopaths
intent on tearing sacred, private silk,
raping, molesting, shredding flesh in a hell
where madmen claim the purity of sin
where sadists taste their sour disgrace,
and relishing it, declare it sweet

the stolen one shudders,
her hair matted with filth and tears,
an innocent born with the essence of perfection,
a woman
who grew from woman’s womb.


This poem has veered a long way from its original intention, but I went with the flow – which suggests that I might be getting back on form 🙂

Note to self; it would require two people for it to work as an orated poem.  Stanzas written in black would be best spoken in a gentle tone; those on the right, by an increasingly threatening one. The purple line in the middle would be spoken in duet.

©Jane Paterson Basil

40 thoughts on “Beauty and the Psychopath

  1. A cleverly structured poem, your contrasting imagery from one side to the other was superb, and set-up your dramatic finale… I’d be more than pleased to read it with you one day….. (Have you tried webcam, with Messenger or Skype)

    Liked by 2 people

    1. I’d have a go at it, except that I have an aversion to being seen on a movie screen. As far as I know, I’ve only been videoed once in my life. I know this sounds silly, but it scarred me.

      But I’ll bear it in mind, in case I ever feel brave xxx

      Liked by 1 person

        1. Could be interesting, with the contrasting accents, but how will a sweet guy like you manage to to sound threatening?. You’ll have to imagine yourself as Vlad the Impaler, or Atilla the Hun 🙂


          1. Ivor the horrible… I’m listening to Leonard Cohen’s, Tower of Song – memorial concert 2017, held in Montreal. I’m loving it, (tears and tissues) it’s on YouTube, have a look. 😊. If you can’t find it, I’ll email to you 😆 xxx

            Liked by 1 person

  2. Great post.

    Cleverly proving Einstein’s theory that “everything is happening all at once.”

    It is how we perceive it that creates our reality.

    The post script invites a reread or perhaps a re-hear in the voices described. That itself enhances the “voices” spoken.

    Plus I appreciate the reveal of “This poem has veered a long way from its original intention, but I went with the flow”

    I’ve a post brewing that has a connected non sequitur, whilst flipping a coin if it should be two posts.

    Liked by 2 people

      1. You have not invented a new form, but you have crafted a totally-awesome-freaking-hard-to-pull-off example of contrapuntal poetry. this is hard to do, but is extremely satisfying when it works, and like you said in the above comments, it took a lot of work and concentration to produce, but flows like an effortless conversation of two worlds talking both to and past each other. dVerse poetry pub did a challenge prompt on contrapuntal poetry this last May, and I have never successfully produced one, but yours is both engaging and powerful. Here is the link to the prompt and discussion on the dVerse site. Jane, you would be right at home at dVerse by the way, it is a friendly bunch of poets, come play with us sometimes. Lona.

        and here is the link for the dVerse prompt tonight, can be fun, I take part maybe 2-3 times a month.

        Liked by 1 person

        1. Thank you for the information, and the glowing compliment, Lona. I’ve considered submitting poetry to dverse – and a couple of other decent sites – but every time make plans, I lose confidence and become convinced that my poetry is worthless. It’s late now, but I’ll click on the links tomorrow.

          Liked by 1 person

          1. Your contrapuntal is amazing! I have never been able to do one. There is a verve and a life to your writing. As for dVerse, it is just no pressure girl, jus c’mon, jus a frenly bunch.


  3. By the way, I once read that Stalin’s torturers were shot and replaced every 18 months or so because they became incapable of performing their duties. I’ve wondered if they were recruited from ordinary men or if an effort was made to find sadistic men. Whatever the case, they’d fall apart after about 18 months, if I recall.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. That’s interesting, if it’s accurate. Stalin’s paranoia resulted in the killing of many of his loyal subjects. Maybe he simply imagined they weren’t capable of carrying out the job. On the other hand, he gave orders and expected obedience. He might not have thought it mattered whether the torturers enjoyed their job – until it turned out they couldn’t cope with it.

      Liked by 1 person

  4. I read this a couple of times and every time I read it I found a newness, much like a kaleidoscope, the patterns changing, reshaping and lo there is something new.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Ivan Karamazov would have argued that the suffering of the girl is not worth all the beauty and meaning that might arise from that suffering. Alyosha Karamozov would not have cared about the price, would not give back his ticket, but would just get down to business and dry her tears, and therein Alyosha is beautiful. I love this poem, the world turns so much on the prism we view. The desert is beautiful after all.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you again, Lona. I took another look at the poem and feel I could improve it. I write with a hot hand. Although I edit before posting, I often find that my poems benefit from a rest while I distance myself from the topic. I expect I’ll return to this poem and edit it again at a later date.

      Meanwhile I’ll read up on Alyosha Karamozov.

      Liked by 1 person

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