All posts by janebasilblog

About janebasilblog

Jane sits around and writes a bit, then she does some other stuff, then she sits around and writes a bit more, then she eats something. Sometimes, at night, she goes to bed.

Zero Hours Contract

Gawd save us from the clutches of the blue-hued Tory crew.
Britannia boasts of glory but its roots is rotted froo.

They introduced austerity for us wot ‘ad the least,
An’ though suicide was risin’ they still ‘ad cheek to feast;
They stole the rights of workers til they matched the EU low,
But when us leaves the EU, what rights that’s left will go.

I lives from ‘and to mouth and I don’t know what to do
Cos I’m on a zero contract and me hours is far an’ few.
From time tuh time they calls me up an’ asks if I’s free
I jump froo ‘oops to get there when the call centre calls me.

Gawd save us from the reaches of the greedy Tory scum
Who fill their plates with tasty treats a don’t give us a crumb.

I cancels me appointments wiv the doctor and the bank
Me pain and plans for bankrup’sy mus’ take a lower rank.
I tips me scalding slops away into me chipped-up sink
An’ run to catch a bus, cos me moped’s on the blink.

I sit wiv uvver operatives in a chilly room
An’ in between the callers, me mind’s all doom and gloom.
I worry ’bout the NHS, an’ p’licin’ an’ the rest,
An’ the way that education fails at every test.

Gawd save us from the knuckles of the nasty Tory louts.
Whose silver-spoon advantages keep the riff-raff out.

I miss the last bus back an’ ‘ave to walk ‘ome in the rain,
They tells me I is lucky an’ I really can’t complain.
At least you’ve got a job, they says, but what they doesn’t see
Is that them what isn’t workin’ is better off than me.

Me mortgage isn’t paid and they say I’ll be evicted,
I can’t afford the water and a trip to court’s predicted.
I buy short-dated food, and the gluey lower brands
But the council tax is owin’, and I’m gettin’ red demands.

Gawd save us from the bludgeons of the bastard Tory bunch
We subsists on wat’ry soup while they eat steak for lunch.

I’ve only got one light bulb and me oven’s up the creek,
There’s water on me lino ‘cos a pipe has sprung a leak.
Me central ‘eating’s buggered and me bum is blue from cold
I’d go an’ sell me body, ‘cept me mirror says I’m old.

The work’ouses is gone, so that only leaves the street
An’ beggin’ for the stinkin’ rich to give us scraps to eat.
If they ha’n’t taken ev’rythin’ it wouldn’t be this way;
Though Thatchers dead, her policies live on to this day.

Gawd save us from the throwbacks of the lackey Tory pack.
Thatcher’s gang puts paid to all our efforts to turn back.

Soon I’m gonna exercise my democratic right
to say which side I wanna win a parliamentary fight.
Let’s chuck out all the Tories and ignore the libby dems,
whose opportunist antics in’t meant for us, but them.

The single issue Brexit party’s dodgy to the core,
and UKIP’s stingy racism’s a stance that I abhor,
and while I is impressed by our Jeremy’s ideals
them blue-striped Blairites in the pack is jammin’ up the wheels.

There’s several other parties takin’ part in this ‘ere race
from left to right to centre and a heap o’ about-face,
but the planet needs some lovin’ care as we all ‘ave seen,
so on the 12th December I’ll be voting Green.

Gawd save us from the clutches of the blue-black Tory crew.
Britannia boasts of glory but its roots is rotted froo.

©Jane Paterson Basil

Stain

When vile truth
shatters complacency, when his pupils
shrink to obsidian pins, he will refuse
to meet your eyes.

He will mutter:
It was only once or twice, just
for fun, just to try it out, just to find out, just
to know what it was like. You’re
too old to understand but I
can handle it. It’s not
a problem.

The years and the lies trundle by,
punctuated by multiplying shades of dread
until all that appears on each succeeding page
is smudged punctuation in black, brown
and blood red.

At night, drear bundles
slump in damp sleeping bags.
Bent heads sink. Limbs sag. Limp lips
beg change to spend on the devil’s silence.
As I pass the darkened bank, a man says:
Excuse me lady, have you got any…
I swivel my head, and see
my son’s face.

Outside Tesco Express
a second voice invades my space
and though I know he’s miles away,
again, I see his face.

To keep tears at bay
I formulate rhymes whose meter
matches my pace.

I despise my weakness
and hate the unbidden ache
that hides in my skin.

I need my bed,
but I fear the demon in my pillow
which won’t let me forget.

In sleep, my mind
plays playground games,
raging and grieving in turns.
For once I dream my son uncurls.
Washed clean of the streets,
he stands tall, his flesh
advertising vitality.

My joy negates all of the pain.

Yet when I wake
I know that nothing has changed;
the blood in his punctured veins
still stains my soul.

©Jane Paterson Basil

Introducing Joshua

Introducing my beautiful new grandson
Joshua Reuben Galliford
Born 10.27 pm Monday, 28th August
At Southmead Hospital
Birth weight 6lb 12oz (3.62kilo)

PART_1572701897535001002003004
Image: Joshua, 18 hours old.

With gratitude to the delivery team at Southmead Hospital. A special thank you to the amazing midwife, Sandy, who delivered him.

I watch,
knowing that which she
can only imagine, yet her agony
does not outreach her anticipation.
Even the searing pain fails
to twist her into anger
or fleeting regret.

As I watch, I remember
the first time I held her,
hoping that her life be joyous –
a hope which she now fulfils.

Sandy is reassuringly calm, but I detect a flicker of urgency as she glances toward the monitor, the instant before she tells Laura to grasp her legs, pull them toward her, and push. The baby needs to emerge very soon.

For an instant,
fear traps our lungs,
but Sandy silently commands
our trust. We exhale and it feels
like the room breathes with us.

Laura is magnificent,
as if she had given birth
a hundred times before.

My chest swells with pride
while I try not to enter the space
that exists between this mother
and her successfully married child.

Tomorrow, she will speak of trauma, not comprehending the strength she showed as her son was expelled from her womb. I will tell her she she was brave. I will say she made it look easy, but she will not believe me.

After a time,
the recollection of pain
will dim, becoming little more
than a tale she tells; an acceptable
paragraph or two
in her unique story.

One last push
and the room explodes with love.
Mother and son are skin to skin.
She holds him, kisses him.
He is beautiful.

She speaks his name, Joshua.
crooning in the soft tone that she used
all those months while he grew inside her.
He turns his head. His blurry eyes
seem to seek and quickly find
the face of his mother.

Birth
is a violent, traumatic act, and yet
within a minute or two of his emergence,
he is contented,enfolded by
my daughter,his mother,
his whole little world.

He recognises her.

When she speaks,
the very sound describes the deepest,
truest love.

In the days that follow,
Laura’s is the only voice
he responds to.

I leave my miraculous Phoenix
smiling softly, watching her long-awaited son
as he suckles at her warm breast.

PART_1572701892076001002
Didn’t she do well…

While this is about Laura, her husband deserves an honourable mention. Dave is a caring, experienced father who adores his new baby son.

©Jane Paterson Basil

24 Carat Gold

In dreams
I create a work of art, a three-dimensional protest against the British TV licencing Mafia-wannabes, and submit it to the Turner Prize Competition.

In dreams
I have acquired a boxy, out-dated television set, smashed the screen, arranged the shards to poke out at artistic angles from the frame like half-open windows, and covered every inch of the TV with all the letters I’ve received from the TV licencing bullies.

(In reality their letters of demand have been shoved through my door every few weeks for the past fifty-three months. Each one is addressed to “The Legal Occupier”. They promise visits, but never show. They threaten to take me to court, but they can’t; they don’t know my name, which is unfortunate, since, if they did, I would simply tell the judge that I don’t possess a TV, don’t watch BBC on my laptop or phone. I would say I had chosen not to waste time explaining that to my accusers, since all the letters insult me by clearly stating that they might not believe me).

In dreams,
a vintage towel roller lurks beside the TV, its stained towel printed with my perceived human rights and my complaints against the TV Licencing Company. This declaration is repeated one hundred times. Visitors to the Tate Modern are invited to pull the towel around the roller. The writing covers the whole towel. Since it is written backwards, a mirror faces the towel roller, but the mirror reflects nothing; it is coated with tar.

‘Cos, hey,
like,
this is Art, man –
gotta get the punters describing arcs with hands and arms,
stroking chins, discussing
the deeper meaning, chiming in, interrupting, pontificating,
claiming they get
what the artist is saying.

In dreams,
I am both artist and finishing touch; the component which makes the artwork whole. I stroll up to viewers as they intellectualise, a couple of twigs in my hair, sporting a torn brown coat decorated with drips of dried egg yolk and particles of synthesised vomit, swigging a half-drunk bottle of White Lightening while juggling six loaded carrier bags, one of which conceals a few fetid kippers. In my broadest Devon accent, I pipe up:

“You’m all talkin’ bollox. An allegory for the ‘uman condition? A metaphor fer the failure of society? Wot you on about? Looks like the artist was pissed off wi’ them robbin’ TV scumbags, but it ain’t art. Fart, more like.”

(In dreams,
I consider giving a demonstration, providing I can summon a respectable quantity of wind, but it’s not really my style, so I scrap the plan. In any case, since I would be repeating the action over and over for the duration of the exhibition, it would require me to eat mountains of beans in order to insure success, and I don’t relish the pain that would accompany digestion.)

In dreams
I offer them my card, revealing only the side which has my thumbprint on it. It looks filthy, revolting, like I’ve stamped it on with faeces. Most folks hold their hands over their noses, turn away in disgust, shake their heads, refusing it. Only the most shy or polite of visitors to the Tate modern take them, gingerly plucking one from my grubby hand, pinching the outermost corner. When they turn the cards over, they see my signature, written in black ink that has been laced with 24 carat gold. They look up in astonishment, but I’ve gone.

In dreams,
I win the Turner Prize.

Ten years later one of those cards sells at auction for £30,000.

In dreams.

©Jane Paterson Basil

High Plains Drifter

terriblepoetry_warning

I’m feeling destructively productive today – or to put it another way, I’m irresponsibly putting off doing all the practical things I need to do before going away to hold my daughter’s hand while she’s in labour. After all, why do today what you can regret not having done today, tomorrow? Oh yes, I’m in the grip of madness, alright.

Having already written one Terrible Poem this week, please forgive me if this little effort is no worse than mediocre; I seem to have used up most of this week’s supply of Terrible Poetification. This time, my poem is for the current Terrible Poetry Contest. Apologies to Chelsea for wasting her time; I know this rhyme doesn’t achieve the required extremes of cringiness, but I couldn’t resist…

This week’s specifics:

  1. The Topic‘s The Old West. Or, do The New West. Heck, do Midwest if that’s how you ride. Think of a song to sing on a campfire-smoke night, a shout to yell at those darn coyotes, or a rhyme to a cowboy from his sweetheart back home.
  2. Length is up to you, but many a cowpoke will doze off mid-ride if the trail gets too long.
  3. Rhymin’s up to you, partner.
  4. Most importan’ly, Make ‘er terrible. I don’t wanna see yer sorry hide back here till it is.
  5. Many a rough-rider can have a rough tongue, but sometimes lady folk read this blog. Keep yer comments to a civilized PG-13.

 

A drifter came whose hooded eyes
bore a hole through town-folks faces
and though the distant cloudless skies
revealed no darkening, shadowed traces,
and dusty streets withheld a warning,
the tides of change were set that morning.

Puffed up folks with secret past
came dressed up all respectable,
but in his soul, his truth held fast
he knew they were despicable.
They placed a star upon his chest
and paid him well to do his best.

He vowed that he would free the gang
of an opposing, greedy clan,
then chose a stunted, clownish man
as deputy, to serve his private plan.
Yet no-one but this man could see
the mist that held a mystery.

Though no-one guessed his hidden aim
his friend came close and boldly did say
“Stranger, you never spoke your name.”
The drifter squinted and turned away
towards the boneyard on the hill,
where recall held his gaze so still.

The townsfolk rallied to his call
to learn to shoot a rifle straight;
he fooled the people one and all,
and then he ordered scarlet paint.
They dipped their brushes when he said
that they should paint the buildings red.

A heavy gang rode down the hill,
and stared upon a scarlet joke.
They came to raid and maim and kill;
amid the mayhem, the foreshortened bloke
recalled the townsfolk’s shameful past
and recognised the drifter at last.

Some years before, one rain drenched night
a man was beaten in the square.
Although he begged with all his might,
he could find no mercy there.
Declared as dead, they buried him
beneath the bone-yard on the hill.

Corpse and drifter were one and the same;
vengeance was wrought by the man with no name.

high plais drifter

©Jane Paterson Basil

Hermaphrodite

terriblepoetry_warning

I seem to be a little out of sync. this week. Instead of composing a poem for this week’s Terrible Poetry Contest, I got confused and came up with a response one posted by Chelsea way back in July. Rather than apologise, I’ll blame my daughter’s impending motherhood. Her labour is set to be induced, and I’m all over the place.

Requirements for The Terrible Poetry Contest Week 34 (tut-tut! it’s now week 48).

  1. Topic: Animals and their pregnancy.
    Did you know the African Bush Elephant carries …well, an elephant for 22 months? That a male seahorse carries the babies (up to 1,500!)? Or that female Komodo Dragons can impregnate themselves without a male through a process called parthenogenesis?
    Did you know you’re going to write a poem about it?
  2. Just to make it more fun, I’d like the Length to be about Hallmark Valentine’s Day card-sized. Bonus points if you actually write it like a Hallmark Valentine’s Day card.
  3. Rhyme? It’s up to you.
  4. Mostly, just make it terrible. Whilst composing your note of affection, a pregnant elephant all the way across the ocean needs to raise its head from the water hole toilet and vow to spend its next 21 months making its way to your house…
  5. do know where babies come from; but if National Geographic can keep things clinical, I think our usual PG rating will suffice.

Additional a very wise person has asked if I would include the following word.

antediluvian

HERMAPHRODITE (a verse both tardy and terrible) 

The slime you ooze like TB spit
Incites desire; I cherish it.
Our sticky union filled my heart,
But we unglued and had to part.
Our antediluvian rhapsody
Meant almost all the world to me,
But should you once more be my guest
Please pardon me if I suggest
You lay the eggs while I retire
To dream of how you stoked my fire.
I love you, slug, but beg you see
How playing mother tested me.

©Jane Paterson Basil

Jigsaw

jigsaw1

I try to forget you
but when rain falls, I envisage you
clutched in a doorway
shivering in worn clothes
cold water leaking through gaping trainers, hunger
gripping your veins as you grope
with stolen or broken phones, hoping
to gain the sick trick of a fix.

I try to blank the grim movie
but my thoughts rebel, and now
you’re crunched in a torn sleeping bag
beneath a bridge, slow-smooched by the drugs
which stain your life-blood.

By day and by night, and as seasons change
I try to cast you from my mind
but a phantom breeze blows, exposing
the gap you left, flaying my flesh
in places where tiny arms once wrapped
snug around my neck, squeezing like only I
could save you from some nameless flood, where
eager nose nuzzled skin, where your head
nestled flush against the inverse curve
between my throat and left ear
as if we were matched components
of a jigsaw puzzle.

Now a piece of this puzzle is missing,
and I don’t know how long ago
I lost you.

©Jane Paterson Basil