Monthly Archives: December 2018

Christmas Catatonia

Both day and night
I keep my windows opened wide,
inviting chill winter air
to reside in my bones.

Voices from outside break into my thoughts;
greetings, brief weather-based talk,
merry Christmas and goodbye.

Along the road beyond,
motorists consider last-minute gifts
they plan to buy,
While they whizz through supermarkets picking up too much food.
Soon they’ll scrape the waste into the bin,
saying that next year
they won’t get so carried away,
adding that everyone had a good time
and that’s the main thing.

In the distance, I picture busy shops,
imagine men choosing frillies and fripperies in an instant,
irate mothers queueing to pay
for Uncle Ray’s aftershave,
grandma’s pot-pourri.
While they grab extra chocolates just in case,
children wriggle,
itching for the big day.

In houses all around, parcels
pile high beneath Christmas trees.
Soon, floors will be festooned
with discarded ribbon and glittery litter.
Kitchens will be fragrant with rich flavours.
Kids will bounce and shout,
too overwhelmed to play with new toys.
Grandparents will recall when Christmas
contained both less and more.
Families will be cosy
behind closed doors.

Tables will be lined up in church halls,
serving turkey to the dispossessed.

The date for posting gifts and cards
has passed.
While there is still time
to buy gifts,
I cannot whip up a miracle
inspiring this hiccupping brain
to make it right.

With windows opened wide
I feel the winter air
bite my bones.
I focus on the cold,
noting that my emotions are not frozen,
only edged
with ice.

This year, all I can provide
is love, and a crossed-finger vow
that the ice
might melt

©Jane Paterson Basil

Christmas Challenge – My Way


I’ve been tagged! Thank you to the bag lady, who tagged me in this Christmas question thingy. Check out her link to find a plethora of interesting stories and snippets.

I’m told that rules are made to be broken. I’m requested to answer ten questions and tag three other bloggers., but instead, I’m inviting all who feel like inspired to join in. These are the questions:

1. How do you celebrate Christmas?
2. Do you have a favorite Christmas carol or hymn?
3. Do you like snow?
4. What is your favorite contemporary Christmas song?
5. What does your Christmas dinner table look like?
6. What is your favorite Christmas memory?
7. If you could take a paid two week break this time of year, what would you do and why?
8. Do you have a favorite Christmas book or piece of literature?
9. Is there a Christmas movie that you don’t like?
10. Do you have a favorite Christmas special?

Here Goes:

1. I wake up as late as possible on Christmas day. I linger over breakfast and take my time opening Christmas gifts, dreading the moment when I have to face the world. At the allotted time, I put on a merry expression and walk to the house of one of my two elder daughters, to be surrounded by flying children and raucous hilarity. Within five minutes of arriving I remember that I like Christmas after all.

2. My favourite hymn; In the Bleak Midwinter, would not be everyone’s choice. It’s the first – and possibly the only – song I ever sang solo to an audience. I was eleven. The event was the school’s annual nativity play.

3. I love snow – the beauty of it, the still silence it brings. I can pretend that everything bad has been buried beneath it – that when it thaws our planet will be cleansed, ready to start afresh.

4. I expect – in the UK at least – 9 out of 10 voters would choose The Pogues and Kirsty McColl’s Fairy Tale of New York. I stand firmly in that camp. It’s brutally honest, and yet oddly romantic. I could listen to it every day of the year.

5. Hmm – my [family’s] Christmas table… Before the meal it groans with food. Afterward it looks like a bomb site; I have rather boisterous grandsons. My daughters use wipe-down plastic tablecloths. When the children are all grown up, perhaps it will be replaced with tasteful cotton or linen, and my daughters will mourn the departure of mess.


Embed from Getty Images


6. I have two favourite Christmas memories. The first one is obvious; waking up before it was light and emptying my stocking. The second occurred nine months before the birth of my first grandchild, back when it was my job to host the Christmas dinnner. We’d invited my daughter’s boyfriend, Mark, over for the day. He hadn’t had much of a childhood as his mother had married a notorious bully who’d inflicted permanent physical and mental damage on him – before social services took him away – but he knew what Christmas was about. Maybe he invented a Christmas he had never known. He made the day perfect. It was the last Christmas he saw, so I’m glad he spent it with us. He left us the best gift ever, although we didn’t know it at the time; that night my first grandson was conceived.

7. If I could take a paid break at Christmas, I would probably do exactly as I do now; stare at the ceiling and wish I could figure out what to buy people.

8. When my children were small I bought a beautifully illustrated copy of The Night Before Christmas, and pulled it out to read to them each Christmas Eve. My daughters have continued the tradition. That’s my favourite Christmas book.

9. I don’t like Christmas movies in general, so rather than list them, I’ll ll you the ones I do like: A Christmas Carol (the Alistair Sim version), It’s a Wonderful Life (James Stewart), and Miracle on 34th Street, starring the incredible Mara Wilson.

10. As for Christmas specials, I don’t have a TV. When I lived with my parents, we kept ours firmly switched off over Christmas. Christmas is a family time, and I feel that television discourages communication.

©Jane Paterson Basil

Sweet Annihilation


Our ancestors were four escapees from a jellybaby factory who persuaded a kindly eagle to carry them high into a distant mountain where they might live in safety. These industious jellybabies immediately set to the task of sourcing ingredients for gingerbread, and built two little gingerbread houses. Jellybaby nature being what it is, by and by baby jellybabies emerged. The settlement was extended to make room for a growing community. It became a thriving village. We jellybabies are sweet, gentle folk. We don’t eat sentient beings, instead relying on gingerbread alone for our sustenance.

The few quarrels that ensued between villagers were generally caused by a naughty jelly-tot taking sneaky bites out of a neighbours picket fence, or a gaggle of jelly-teens dismantling a gingerbread shed in food-fight frenzy.

Aside from that, life was ideal as long as we stayed out of the sun, which tended to make us sticky. That was why the hospital was built. All too often, two jellybabies would adhere to each other and have to be surgically separated. Imagine the embarassment of an amorous couple, the humiliation of struggling – in flagrante – to reach the jellyphone and call up emergency services, the shame of being transported on a stretcher all along the street the the hospital – jelly-neighbours politely averting their gaze or pointing and whispering, jelly-tots sniggering and asking awkward questions.

As you can imagine, during surgery, it was the jellymen who came off worst.

And there was that time when all the grown-ups had a massive party, drank a little too much gingerbread wine and went outside in the heat of a July day to join hands in a circle and do the hokey-cokey.  We kids had fun feeling our feet while our parents were getting their hands freed by the doctor, who had fortunately not attended the party.

No community is perfect, but ours was as close as it comes. We were peace-loving. We trod lightly on the land.

We were happy until the humans beat their way to our door.

Huge fingers grab me, squeezing my waist, winding me. two giant eyes glint, with no trace of hatred, only gleeful anticipation. Acquisition. Satisfaction.

A voice thunders in conversational tone, “Head first. Always.”

Giant teeth bear down on me. Spittle from overblown saliva glands rain from the glistening mouth, drenching me. 

“Please don’t, I’m a…” I squeal.

<> <> <>

Written for The Haunted Wordsmith’s Daily Writing Challenge.

©Jane Paterson Basil

Hell on Earth


It might be
the feeling of falling,
the expanding mushroom,
or the looming forms of the killing  gang
which triggers your  manic panic,
freeing the strangled scream
that brings you back.

In sleep
you cannot maintain that level of terror,
so you wake.

While you wait for your heart
to locate its resting beat,
you rationalise,
navigating the nightmare,
plotting its course,
hunting its cause.
You remind yourself
it was only a dream.
Reaching for reassurance,
you progress from chewed candy meditation
to itemising your brightest blooms,
plucking up jewelled previews
until you feel safe.

But when
every day
you wake slowly and late
your brain un-sieged by devilish make-believe,
yet you are the embodiment of dread,
you know your hell is real.


©Jane Paterson Basil


Leisure and pleasure fit together
like fish and fin or bird and feather.
What use is life if devoid of leisure
and what use is time if devoid of pleasure.

Written for FOWC: Leisure. Think of it as a word doodle – I wanted to try out poetry on WP’s new Gutenberg editor. I don’t like it AT ALL, so I’ve gone back to  an ancient editor, which I can only activate from the drop down menu on the left side of the screen.

I’m wondering if there’s a connection between the Gutenberg activation and my inability to use the  ‘like’  button on WP sites which have their own domain name. Maybe it messes up the settings somehow. Does anyone have any ideas on that? 

Oh well…

©Jane Paterson Basil

‘We Will Not Be Silenced’

The anthology, We Will Not Be Silenced – the brainchild of women’s collective Whisper and the Roar – is now available from Amazon.  I am honoured to have two of my poems represented in the book, an offer my sincere congratulations to everyone who has been involved, on its successful arrival into the world.

Profits from sales of the book will be ploughed into assistance for the survivors of abuse.

You can read more about the book HERE

If you haven’t yet purchased a copy, you can do so HERE.