Category Archives: Daily Post writing prompt

Avoiding the obvious title.


It brings up distant images, but none that I can use;
No, “Stump” does little for my literary muse.
I could describe a precipitous game I used to play
In which I lost a battle with a tree stump one day;
But I’m not in the mood and I’ve told it before
So you’d probably accuse me of being a bore.
Or I could write about the oak tree I used to climb
Which got cut down, but I can’t make it rhyme.
I could try to describe the stump I once found
Outside my home, just lying on the ground.
It hadn’t been lying there the previous day;
Yet right beside the hedge this tortured relic lay,
Looking like a human form writhing in pain;
Or a lost screaming soul that had gone insane.
I beg your pardon readers, What’s that you say?
You’re tired of my rambling?
I’ll call it a day.

Written for The Daily Post #Stump

©Jane Paterson Basil

The years pass


In the beginning
it is like this:
you are little and it is.
There is no will be,
no was in your memory.
Your existence is.
You are in this minute.

Learning comes
from beyond your consciousness;
you have no recollection
of being unable to do what you can do today,
no expectation of future ability,
and when you are happy or sad
that moment
of elation or pain
is all there is.

<> <> <>

Time passes all around you
and you don’t know when the knowledge began,
but it is as if you always understood the passage of time.
You think your memory stretches back forever
but you are only five
and though you try
you can’t recall
a time when you weren’t alive,
and you can’t imagine
that some day you will die
or even that you will age.
Life is a series of days that stretch on forever
in a complex but unchanging pattern.
You dread your sister’s Monday temper
but look forward to her weekend games
You have discovered your past,
know there is a future,
but mostly
you breathe the moment.

< <>  <>

You are eight.
When you don’t understand long division
you remember how reading
was once so difficult
and yet now it’s easy.
You think of all the changes that have taken place in your life,
all the things that you have learned.
You are clever and you know that one day
you’ll attain teenage status,
but thinking ahead to a time when
you’ll no longer be under the protection of your parents
is too distant,
until that horrific day when your friend
turns up looking miserable and you ask her what’s wrong.

She tells you her mother has died.

Something crashes, noisily, in your head
spreading crimson through your brain
thickening, blocking your ears,
constricting your throat.
There are no words
and when they finally come they are the wrong ones,
thrown out in panic, because all this is outside your experience,
and because suddenly you know that one day
what has happened to your friend
will happen to you.
You will be alone. It could be forty years from now
or it could be tomorrow.
You could come home from school
and find your mother dead.

At night, when you lie in bed,
the fears crash in
like vandals breaking the windows of a vacant property,
and they don’t stop kicking until you have cried yourself to sleep.
They won’t let you alone, and yet
you still don’t think of how it will be when you are grown up.
You tell people you want to be a journalist
but it isn’t real.
There is only the past, the present, tomorrow, next week
and your terror.

< < <>

Your teens
are driven by twin needs for excitement and love,
complicated by unsettling hormones
setting up battles in the brain.
You trip again and again,
rarely regaining your balance before a further fall.
You turn blind corners and scale forbidden walls.
You scale, you tire, you fail, you fall.
You scale, you tire, you fail, you fall.
it becomes boring, but you cannot stop
because you are lost in a lonely shadow
looking for something which you think
is out there.

Somebody says
you won’t find it until you find yourself,
You catch the the words as they tumble from his lips,
but they get jumbled on the way to your mind
and although you try you cannot untangle them.

You want to find your way in life,
but amidst all the confusion
you do not have the vision
or the time.

<> < <>

On your twentieth birthday,
looking back at your errant teens
you think you have learnt all your lessons
and there are no more mistakes to be made.
You’ve escaped your most recent error
and you’re having a good day.
You assume you’ve cast
a healthy pattern for your future,
but when you try to imagine the rest of your life
you picture yourself cartwheeling through a sunny meadow,
arriving at the other end with skin still fresh
and energy fizzing.

You don’t know you have just hit
that quintessential moment of youth.
You walk down the street feeling the spring of your feet.
Your spine stretches and the sky tickles your chin,
and when you laugh
your laughter scoops merriment out of a void,
pulling it from the throats of strangers.
You feel like the chosen leader
in a land you have freed from
the tyranny of misery.

You think the planet is turning
just so it can look at you from the best angle,
but for five minutes you own the world.
For five minutes you think that life
will always be that way.

You will live long enough to learn
that those five minutes were worth more
than your finest rose-petal romance.

< < <>

Forty years pass.
Forty years of missed prizes and misdirected action,
of rubbings-out and scribbled correction,
resulting in good and bad things,
many of them enduring long enough
to cheer or chill you as you age
and when you ponder it,
you know that if at any stage
you had seriously thought about your future,
you would not have dreamed that so many of your days
would be so infused with pain.
But then, if you had thought about your future,
it probably wouldn’t have.

You enjoy the better things you’ve made
and you’ve learnt from your mistakes.
It would have been no education
to have come through life unscathed.

<> <> <>

Posted for The Daily Post’s One Word Prompt: Clock

©Jane Paterson Basil


Written for:

“Is there a painting or sculpture you’re drawn to? What does it say to you? Describe the experience.”


The Church at Auvers, Vincent Van Gogh

I used to creep through to my father’s workroom and
find the book, sandwiched
between Michaelangelo, Manet; sometimes leaning casually
against Rodin or even Leonardo De Vinci,
finally recognised as an equal amidst those masters,
and as I sat, turning the pages
I imagined a connection;
felt I had an understanding of Van Gogh’s angst;
his passion, his tortured existence.
I thought I could see in those tawdry copies
the beauty of his vision and the talent of his hands,
but I was a child,
and what I worshipped was no more than a faded reflection.

Twenty five years later, visiting Paris
I was so excited that I merely glanced at the Mona Lisa.
I didn’t even have time for Raphael or Vermeer
in my hurry to see Vincent’s paintings.
I entered the room to the sound of people quietly crying,
trying to wipe their unstoppable tears without being seen.
On the walls there was such colour,
so many shades of orange, blue, and gold,
and more hues of green than could be imagined,
and at last I gazed on the authentic spendour,
bringing tears to my own eyes;
such tragic beauty torn from the man’s heart;
brushed angrily onto the canvas, and
I realised that I had never known
this artist who had ripped my senses
merely with those inferior imitations I had found as a child.
I had never understood the glory of his art, or his genius,
and neither had he.

But there was more to be seen.
One wall was taken up with
an enormous painting of the church at Auvers,
and there was a door leading to the next room.
The picture looked as if it was lit from behind,
so I thought the purpose of the door
was to let us see the illumination,
but when I went through,
there were no lights, and nothing
to explain the vivid glow that eminated from the paint.
I couldn’t silence my sobbing;
I bowed in reverence to this painting
created by the greatest artist I had ever known,
who had not been recognised until he was dead.

Closing my eyes I whispered:

Thank you Vincent. Rest in peace,
please, rest in peace.

©Jane Paterson Basil

You asked for it, WordPress!

South Brent: towards Ugborough Beacon

Image © Copyright Martin Bodman and licensed for reuse under this Creative Commons Licence

Yer, tis a sad day f’us all when we’m no longer aboe to unnerstan’ whut’r naeb’rrs is sayin, eem tho us speaks the saeme lenguidge, an’us’uz all borrn in th’s area. We’m losin’ ‘err lorco ‘er’tidge. Ode peopo die un’ words is lost. Babies is born an’ graws up lurnin’ the Queen’s ‘nglish frum the televis’n, which is a perfickly ‘ceptabo wae to spake, but ‘taint the way us used tuh talk ‘ere in Norrf Debm. ‘Tis a trag’dy.


It’s a sad day for us all when we are no longer able to understand what our neighbours are saying, even though we speak the same language, and were all born in this area. We are losing our local heritage. Old people die and words are lost. Babies are born and grow up learning the Queen’s English from the television, which is a perfectly acceptable way to speak, but it is not the way we used to talk here in North Devon. It’s a tragedy.

In response to WordPress Daily Prompt

Non-Regional Diction

©Jane Paterson Basil


at the end of the day
I would like to ban the phrase
“at the end of the day” because
at the end of the day, when people say
“at the end of the day”
it’s generally not the end of the day
that they are talking about,
even when the phrase is used
at the end of the day.

at the end of the day I am tired,
and it’s the end of the day now.
Sleep tight.

©Jane Paterson Basil

In response to The Daily Post’s writing prompt: “No, Thank You.”

In response to The Daily Post’s writing prompt: “Helpless.”


I saw her yesterday
a few paces away
sitting on a bench, back straight,
chin up, eyes staring towards hell

in twenty-nine years
since unhappily slipping from
the dark safety of my womb,
she had never looked so lost
and yet it was as if I
had been expecting that look
since time had begun

knowing that my intervention may
trigger a dangerous reaction, I
crushed my desire to swoop my child
into my arms.
I stood back and watched.

the man by her side
spoke soft words of comfort as
re-assuringly he caressed
the small of her back

her unchanging demeanor
told me she was all alone at
the bottom of the deepest well
all she could hear was the hollow
echo of his voice, as it bounced,
downward, against cold stone walls

I walked away unobserved
fear heavy within me
blood trailing from my heart

©Jane Paterson Basil

In response to The Daily Post’s writing prompt: “Community Service.”


you are beautiful
acknowledge your loveliness
know your strengths
defend their honour with your life
when the thief comes
to steal away your skills and abilities
with his belittling lies
accompanied by casual shrug
or red face and angry shouts
or sweetly, as if in kindness
with the addition of “useful advice”
don’t let him erode your beauty
close your ears to his noise
for by merely listening
you give him the power to
take it all away and leave you crippled.

you are beautiful
you may be a sleepy eyed puppy, a butterfly
a fish swimming free in a pond, or a frog
you may be a blushing rose or a wild dock
a boy with low grades or a golden girl
you may work in a call centre or in law
sleep on the streets or between silk sheets
you may be loved by many or by none
but you are beautiful
you are beautiful

©Jane Paterson Basil

In response to The Daily Post’s writing prompt: “Through the Window.”


apart from
the wet-room
in this little apartment
the view from the bay window
of my living room is my favourite thing

I look down from the second floor.
ahead of me the canopies
of bright leaved
deciduous trees rise up
cleaning the air even as it is
tainted by traffic on the main road
visible between the trunks and low branches

the vegetation hides a wedge of the town
but not the portion to the right of it
I always look beyond, further
to the right, where brick
and concrete have no place
where the tree-frilled fields live
and on the horizon are huge metal angels
that spin at the brush of the wind,
giving us a cancer-free way to
produce electricity

every day as I
work at my laptop
every day without fail
I look out of my window,
I see no cause for controversy
I see only beauty gracefully pirouetting
in harmony with nature’s tune

©Jane Paterson Basil