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.

The Theatre of Life

Sometimes
I feel like a bad actor 
in a play I thought not to rehearse. 
fudging my lines, 
smudging the plot.
Sometimes  my mind slides to 
a distant place and time
and I forget I'm on stage.
The fans must surely 
perceive I'm a sham.

Sometimes it's like
I've failed an audition
for a part in a thing called The Human Race
and having been banned 
from the theatre of life
                                       due to some kind 
                                        of failure or something I lack 
                                        that no-one explained
                                        and I don't understand
I've broken through the roof 
and am watching the acts
with my back to a grey-blue sky.

                                        Sometimes 
                                        I see evil, destruction,
                                       hunger, need and corruption
                                       and I find myself screaming again and again
                                       Not In My Name
                                       Not In My Name.
                                       At least it was not me
                                      who stole a killers role in the play.

Sometimes I know I am inept with those 
who sprang from my womb 
and I think of the myriad ways 
in which I have failed, yet 
I see 
their wisdom,  insight and grace
and feel forgiven.
I am inept with friends 
yet they see me, understand, love
the why and what of who I am.
Even strangers like 
the incomplete face I display to the world,
so I leap from my peeper's perch,
my alien ship,
to embrace the living earth.

Sometimes I cognise, re-cognise
I belong.
I am real.

©Jane Paterson Basil

Improvidence

Today 
             fell
into paperback fiction, bled 
into bundles of black ink sheets
each smudged moment
mutely becoming my shamed history.

Once 
I might have wished
to re-read the book in reverse;
to sweep today's waste  
into my hands, re-absorb 
those hours and minutes:
recycle them to better use. Once 
I would have felt remorse 
but today I shrug, 
say I enjoyed the read 
and brew a cup 
of Earl Grey. 

Such improvidence on my part:
in prime my feet 
paced trusty ground.
Now I stand small at the base 
of a vast hourglass whose sand sifts 
over my face
                            to smother my  sagging flesh.
.

©Jane Paterson Basil

Trophies

The gulls cry to be fed
and the woman raises the sound on the TV.
Hungry for love, the gulls screech
and the woman preens her hair.
Desperate, they beg.
The woman 
slings slices of white bread 

They land just within reach

She straightens their feathers, takes 
them to a place where a man 
coils words around their beaks, their eyes
and shoots
framing their formal guise

The woman 
places the portrait 
on the living room wall.
The gulls see.
This must be love, they say.
The woman
Switches on the TV
to drown out their squall.

The gulls grow.
 raise families of their own.
Their polite poses  
crowd the woman's wall.
Not a hair out of place,
Many mouths saying “Cheese”
many obedient eyes gazing 
into a stranger's face.
He clicks, and it's done.
He clicks.
He clicks, and the children - for
they are children - stretch their muscles,
appreciating release.

The proud matriarch of three generations
turns from the TV
and and reaches to make space 
in her spick and span home
                                            for another trophy.
©Jane Paterson Basil

Agoraphobia

Jacket on, my fingers 
reach 
for the latch 
which leads me 
to the other side of the door
which would take me outside.

Its arrival is always 
sudden,  
sometimes a surprise, yet 
routine as the seasons, 
pumping through my veins like
a sullen child dragging me back, like
a whining child unwilling 
to go outside.

Out loud, I say
you can do this,
it's just laziness, 
but the tainted blood 
           shoots 
      needles 
through my heart.

I call myself a coward, 
recall the feats of my youth,
the heights attained, 
the dangers faced and erased, yet
my feet refuse to move and 
my hand is stayed inches 
from the door.

I say to myself,  I can do this
can't I?
Silence but for the hard beat of my heart.
I repeat:
Can I do this today?

No, yet 
I trip over the reply, doubting 
my level of intent, feeling shame, even 
as the shudders wither my brain - even
as the room sways.

I need milk and a dozen other things. Please 
let me do this today.

No. The reply comes from deep inside.
No no no.

I back away, 
back to safety,
back to my lair, 
my table, 
my chair. 
Defeated, I glare at the cars passing by 
beneath the grey horizon.

Milk, vegetables and eggs
will wait another day.

©Jane Paterson Basil

Message to an Addict

The only way to change is to embrace truth, and if you are able to do so it might help with your recovery. Sit in a safe place with all your guilt and shame. Be brave, allow it to breathe. Don’t try to smother it with drugs; it only comes back, stronger and more fuelled every time. If you have courage enough for that, you will become a better human being, finally able to make amends and move forward.

In Peace

When my parting breath 
  has exhaled all etchings of pleasure and gain, 
     releasing them to the blind breeze -
         when the milled shards of speckled pain 
           have quit my cooling heart, my leaden limbs, my stale brain -
           when no trace of shame or self remain - 
         build a pyre, pile it high,  
       roll my remains in a reclaimed sheet. 
      Weep if you will. but not for me:
       when you kindle the fire my ashes will fly:
         let them go as, barren, they float away:   
             think only of my freed soul
                  as it traces a trail along a veiled lane 
                    between river and trees 
                  home of our long-gone cloaked roams.
                In the dip where our arms reached,
                there shall I settle, 
                   there shall I lie, 
                           and there, in peace
                                          shall I rest for a while. 
                                                        
                                                   
 ©Jane Paterson Basil

Ghost

In long-gone days, the wraith
came at my beckoning, materialising clear
as a leaf in a clean running stream
brightly clad in nature's hues
With wings of light
she'd flitter through fields
greeting trees, spinning
in whirling dervish twirls 
till balance failed 
and
she fell 
helpless with glee
revelling in endless freedom

I watched her mount the Oak,
childish fingers clutching ever slimmer limbs
climbing
high 
higher 
Taunting a fleeting theory of God
challenging death 
placing her feet 
on the flimsiest twig
willing the wood to take her weight
even as she dared it to defy 
her credence 
that her breath 
would never cease

Frozen in time, the child 
remains forever nine

When the world growls and bites I call her
and she arrives.
She always shows  
consoling me through the years
with her reminder of joy
 
Time breathes mist over my eyes
and leads my senses toward a vacuum, yet still 
from time to time 
my wraith twists through 
the claws of time 
 lending me memories 
of crowning days. Her margins 
have long since blended into the landscape, 
her flesh faded to grey 
evaporating into smoke

Her diaphanous wisp
floats over fields and streams
beside my childhood home; the ghost
of the child who was me 
and I recall 
that once upon a time 
I felt immortal 
and believed I was free

©Jane Paterson Basil

One Bright Hue

You twist the cube,
try for one bright hue to fill your eyes, 
fumbling to build a blue wall 

that shines 
like a clean childhood sky, 

but the fingers fail and the cube bleeds, 
refusing to comply, its fuming patches 
bragging bitter truth,
describing the sickness that grins 
between the seams.
You drop the cube,
close your eyes 
and dream.

©Jane Paterson Basil

Written for Reena‘s Xploration challenge #196. Sorry, Reena, my WP editor has a glitch: hard as I try, I can’t get it to highlight the whole name of your post when creating a pingback.

Come into Oxfam (re-hashed)

Don't diss me sister; I'm a cool fashionista,
running with the times, an Eco A lister.
Dressed by Oxfam from my head to my toes,
elegant in every stitch of pre-cherished clothes
and feeling pretty nifty in my vintage hat --- 
fifty years more stylish than this season's tat.

I never understood; it's always been a mystery
why people steer clear of raiment with a history,
but the world is changing and the wise understand
it's grand to to be strutting in second-hand.
Our over-production will suck the planet dry ---
we cannot halt the damage unless we all try.
.
If you buy less new, it'll slow production down,
saving precious energy the world around,
so come on into Oxfam and rummage with me,
you never can tell what treasures you'll see.
It's better than the High Street shops in town ---
come with me to Oxfam and look around.

Labels lack soul and the prices are steep,
those showy little tags make folks look like sheep
or mannequins standing in a window display
trailing the fashion victims rags of the day.
Change your look, show your personality ---
come into the Oxfam shop with me.

When you learn about the projects that Oxfam holds dear
I hope that you will sign up to volunteer,
giving up a portion of your time for free,
learning new skills while you work with me
or any of the members of our friendly crew
who'd surely be delighted to get to know you.

If you ain't got the confidence I'll hold your hand,
and when you walk out the door you will understand
the reasons I spend my time like I do,
and buy pre-used instead of brand new:
I'm runnin' with the times, I'm a cool fashionista,
don't diss me sister, I'm an Eco A lister.  

©Jane Paterson Basil

Seems I’m all out of poetry. so I’ve been messing about with this one, which I wrote a few years ago... still not entirely happy with it.