Monthly Archives: September 2019

Serenity

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I named her Serenity,
since her quasi-gentle presence
lightened my darkest times.
Back then she reigned over the living room
and I shared my pain with her.
She never spoke or even sighed, yet
yet it soothed me
to make-believe she empathised.
When my situation improved, I faced the truth:
if I pricked her skin,
it would not bleed.
Her hollow chest was cold, and I
was tired of her indifference.
Yet I wrapped a coat around her shoulders
before showing her the door.
She blanked me, her head
lacking think-matter,
so I consigned her to the bathroom.
These days she belies her name;
guests leap in shock; some even blurt
a strangled scream
to see my mannequin standing guard by my toilet bowl.
She fails to make THEM feel serene.

Written for Godoggocafe’s Tuesday Writing Prompt: SerenityI couldn’t resist it, since I have a mannequin called Serenity. They recommend that the piece should be written in 10-15 minutes, so I haven’t polished it up.

©Jane Paterson Basil

Stapelia

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Stapelia, Stapelia, your beauty makes me sigh,
yet I fear precipitation might be drawing nigh.
Stapelia, Stapelia, how marvellous your bloom,
but a sickly stench of carrion invades my living room.
Stapelia, Stapelia, do you have no shame?
I sense I’m going to vomit, and your flower must take the blame.

Stapelia Variegata bears lovely blooms – but they stink like rotting meat. My plant has lots of buds. I can’t help admiring her… from a distance.

©Jane Paterson Basil

To Mary: This Too Shall Pass

When I consider
the frazzled reams of verse, written
when sinews simmered with rage,
when organs ached with dread and grief

when dams burst and words tried to drown sorrow
when fires failed to singe the fighting remains.
I picked through ashes even as the flames blistered my skin,
and still, he drove his bloodied psyche
between my ribs, piercing
the heart of me

I feel
remote
from those emotions

feels like a marathon masquerade of misery that I
mistook for reality, holing myself up
in the host’s attic, beneath
an old crate of broken memorabilia,
away from friends who might have explained
that the gates of hell
were paper mache stage props
and the pit was the cracked lens
of a reclaimed camera obscura.

When I single out a poem, I revoke details;
the nature of conflicts and pain inflicted,
but from a
distance,

as if I’m watching a documentary
or reading a book featuring the anguish of other families
skewered by other offsprings’ addiction,

Empathy for the innocents
seeps into me, yet when I read a verse
from this strangling chapter, I realise it was my life.
Memories  bite;
my heart contracts and my toes
instinctively curl away from a mud slide
that has safely flaked and dried.
At such times, I summon your voice –
your voice, with its warm Northern edge –
sharing your mantra,
gifting me the truth that calmed you
whenever the mud of the morass
threatened to engulf your chest;
“This too shall pass.”
“This too shall pass.”

New growth
breaks through decay,
willing the frayed remnants of pain to dissipate.
I take a breath of clean air
and luxuriate
in the mellow texture of grass
tickling my feet.

Dedicated to my friend Mary Beer. Mary, you are an Amazon whose words gave me courage, whose friendship made me feel less alone from the start, and whose strength continues to inspire me. When I was at my lowest ebb, it was the echo of your voice which ran through my mind: this too shall pass.

I posted this on my other blog a few months ago. I’ve edited it a little and added it to this blog so that you might read it, Mary xxx

Grit

The grit of a dozen
imprisoned
rhymes
scrapes my mind,
straining to be arranged,
aching to stain virgin paper with blurred shades
of sorrow and rage.
I will not, I say:
I will not, I cry:
I will not write this piece of me,
for to write is to bleed.

The pain never dies,
but if left in peace it might rest,
it might sleep awhile.
I’ll deny my psyche’s keening request; I will not try
to unravel the gravel which scars my soul,
and I will not weep
for one who was lost
long ago.

©Jane Paterson Basil