Category Archives: dark poetry

The Wolf

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Three bodies sat around a table;
a wolf disguised, as in a fable,
a bloodied victim, half chewed away,
and the predator’s next intended prey.

The bloodied victim had the audacity to survive. Bravely, she spoke to the intended prey, describing the tactics and weaknesses of the wolf. The wolf stammered excuses, but the woman in his sights was not a fool.

I was one of the three,
and, yesterday, I aquired a pile of knives.
Each one was etched with a
different
crime
against my sex
All the sins committed by you, the wolf, were represented.

I sharpened my knives with a fine whetstone.
Aggression and affection rubbed together, each clearly defined.
I had no love for you, only the desire to save a life.

Today I examine my prospective weaponry, silently interviewing every well-honed applicant for the post of accomplice to rough justice. Each stretch of steel sharply translates the rays of sun into a gleaming silver streak of lethal dreams.

I select the most stylish knife in my armory;
fashioned for filleting, its sleek blade
emerges, confident, from a welcoming wood handle,
elegantly narrowing
to a
pin
p
o
i
n
t
more threatening than Madonna’s famous bra.
Tenderly, I stroke it with my thumb.
I name it for you.

I picture a glistening film of crimson, the viscous drips weeping their shame at your lack of remorse.

I’ll hand you the knife, and wait
for the cutting slash, the stabbing thrust that will drive the spike through your flesh, into the unsleeping, penile heart of the matter.

I’ll watch your dispicable spirit simmer –
see you spit, but your spit will not reach.
You will have been hoisted by your own petard.

I’ll raise a victorious fist
for womens’ solidarity.

Finally,
I’ll drink (coffee) to the health of my new friend.
She drinks weak tea,
but with my tolerant nature
I view that as a minor misdemeanour.

The Daily Post #Spike

©Jane Paterson Basil

Who they may have become

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Some squeeze into lonely, ignoble deaths, leaving loved ones grieving, inconsolable, screaming the loss, their dreams stolen in that icy moment. No-one will never see the greatness of who their beloved may have become, if they’d lived another day.

Backs sag, knees bend, wet eyes watch the coffin drop, long years of pinprick horror forgotten — stolen by a final tickle in the vein.
So long they grieved, but not like this,
never like this.

Old tears swim through fishes’ salty fins
to swill in the ocean of lesser loss,
while this monumental pain will always taste the same.

It makes no sense in heavy heads which rattle with the muddled question of where the connection may be, between

the child with smiling eyes, whose chubby fingers reached for the rising sun, the girl who laughed to see stars in the night-time sky; the boy who cried when the dog died,
and that cold pair of letters that nudge together: O.D.

O.D. Odd. Ode. Overdose. Too much of something, somewhere beneath the skin. The old hands know that the first shot was an overdose. Too much of a drug that the body didn’t require, which twisted the mind into thinking the needle of death held the elixir of life.

Photos spill from pine tables in rose-garden homes, they pile upon worktops in slick city buildings. Suburban parents and council house tenants examine the pictures in search of their children, trying to find a way to bring them back again.

Painfully, they recall
the day he won the game,
the way she longed for fame.

They can’t escape the horrid thought that hammers in their brains: “Was I to blame for the fall?”

Misplaced guilt and memories increase the weight of pain,
but still it tastes the same,
still it tastes the same.

“Another day and he may have gone straight,”
“another day and she may have been great,”
“They may have seen the light,”
they say, and they may be right,
but tomorrow came too late,
too often, it comes too late.

Some struggle with hope, and some recover to become great.
These are the lucky ones, for whom tomorrow was not too late,
but they have to be brave to break the chain
that binds the brain with links of lies;
their wills must be strong.

Those who succeed should give thanks that the reaper
made the mistake of waiting
another day.

The Daily Post #Elixir

©Jane Paterson Basil

Sleep

Need to sleep…

In the fridge
delicious home-grown broccoli
~ a funny Mothering Sunday gift ~
slowly withers, as it waits
to become the best bit
of a favourite dish.

I sleep on.

Bruised avocados
flow through my dream.

Tomatoes split.
Leekage feeds silver threads of mould
which sit like velvet silk
on ruined red skin.

Cheese may start to stink,
but this house will not tumble or tilt
if I sleep on.

©Jane Paterson Basil

Phoenix

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It’s often when the world seems kind, the foe leaps in to steal your mind
of all the hope you’d held intact, and horror robs your brain of fact.
Rotating blades within the gut increase their stretch, til faith is cut.

It aches so much you can’t conceal the pain.
It cuts so deep you can’t conceal the pain.

The steel has reached your pounding heart, and sorrow’s played its bitter part.
Beneath your feet, the faithless floor tips and sways, while you implore
kind entities to feed your soul, yet screaming silence steals your goal…

and echoes that, this day, you’ve gone insane,
and you believe, this day, you’ve gone insane.

Hell’s bells then toll to tell the world the thread of life has been unfurled,
and Satan’s servants draw their claws, as teeth glint green in gnashing jaws.
You smell the sulphur, feel the pulse, as with a shudder, you convulse.

You tell yourself that you can take the strain,
You chant the mantra “I can take the strain.”

The Devil’s terror bends your bones, and you collapse, as he postpones
your future, by the coal-black joke of wrapping round you like a yoke.
Now panic rises; he erases all remaining hope-filled places.

Though bound and blind, you need to break the chain,
to live through this, you need to break the chain.

With drumsticks banging at your heart, with churning stomach ripped apart,
as arid lungs choke ragged breath, you sink towards ignoble death —
’til courage rising from the mire, brings you a hint of lifespring’s fire.

So thus you learn that you will rise again,
and now you know that you will rise again.

©Jane Paterson Basil

Still silent

 

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Sly
sunshine
serenades
Sally, staring,
~ sitting still, silent ~
seeming shyly serene.
Silken skin sweetly shimmers,
sheen suggesting summertime sweat.
Slowly she slides ~ so slowly ~ slipping
~ speeding ~ sinking southwards ~ slumping, senseless~
seated still. Someone sees; screams seer sky.
Small scarlet splashes seep, swelling,
staining Sally’s shorts, shirt, skin,
swamping sweat, soaking seat.
Somewhere, sirens sound ~
speeding, shrieking.
Still, silent,
Sally
stares

<<>>

A double etheree this time (100% alliterated) – still playing wordgames…

©Jane Paterson Basil

For Laura

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I’m seated by the window, watching boredom unfurl,
when you walk down the street, my dear depleted girl.
I focus my eyes on your wasted little frame;
hunt for a clue that something is the same;
a hint of that innocence I used to see;
the essence of your childhood personality;
something I can recognise that hasn’t changed;
a spark within your heart that’s not been rearranged;
a clue that you still attached to this family
in whatever odd way you may wish to be.

your unreachable proximity is baffling to me,
I watch you closely though I know you can’t see.
I’m unsure if in my absence you feel like my daughter;
it pricks me with guilt, makes me feel like a voyeur;
I’m spying like a stranger, an agenda in mind;
to steal away the limited freedom of your kind;
to lock you in my love or in a barred up cage;
ignore your screaming agony, your frothing rage;
strangle all the dealers who knock on the door,
until you finally appreciate what life is for;
when you rediscover a child’s sense of mystery,
and your hunger for drugs recedes into history.

You’ve passed the houses and you’re out of view;
I wish I’d left my flat and caught up with you,
but I know you’re needing something as you’re in a hurry,
and your answers to my questions would make me worry;
I shouldn’t inquire but there’s a limitation
on how many ways to have open conversation,
since you fell into a hole full of chemical highs,
while to everyone’s surprise, your body survived.
There’s so little of you left, but whatever you do
and whatever more you lose, I will always love you.

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©Jane Paterson Basil

Foul Frederick

When they cut the dead men down from the gallows they carry them to Newgate cemetary, and throw them into a pit where the tangled limbs of unnamed, unclaimed and unwanted convicts rot and stink in one mass grave.

On hallows eve each spirit disencumbers his crumbling bones from those of his neighbours, to walk alone, as, following his nature, he haunts, punishing those mortals who cannot forget him, or visiting those for whom he aches. Some malicious ghosts with a taste for tradition shamble in rattling chains, making a cacophoninous clank which grabs at the entrails of all unfortunate folk who hear, leaving them quaking in fear. Others, with theatrical flair, can be seen only through the corner of the eye; they disappear at the turn of the head. These phantom tricksters rustle papers in the corner of the room. They requisition the wind, which swings windows wide open. They slam doors shut. They sigh and moan while an eerie chill fills the firelit cheer.

Many of the victims of the hangman’s noose are innocent of the crime for which they were convicted and killed. Lost in endless misery they drift, desperate for deliverance from their dragging affliction. They appear in dreams, to be half-remembered when we awake in the deep of the night. Their stories slip and slide in our minds as we try to hold tight to them. In the morning they are an insubstantial smoky wisp which drifts, thins in the atmosphere, then disappears.

Foul Frederick steps on fetid limbs as they reach for the lip of the grave, kicking them back in, to land, bone on bone, with a clatter on the weakest, who wait their turn. With every kind of weapon, with fists and teeth and squeezing hands he murdered friends and foes and strangers, showing no favoritism, and less sympathy. He needs no sweet lips to smile at him, no kiss to warm his breath. He lived for the thrill of bringing screaming death to those who crossed his path. The people of London celebrated on the day that he was hanged.

The dread demon ghoul could have been a teacher in a ghostly school for all the tricks he knows. But he tutors nobody. His skills are for him alone. See him roam the darkened roads, grabbing the throats of foolish folk and desperate souls who walk the Newgate streets at night, lost and cold or reeling drunk, all of them fodder for his hungry hands. But this is no more than an hors d’oeurve. He hunts the pockets of the slumped body for a knife, and when he finds it, he is in his element.

Dawn finds Foul Frederick daubed in damp scarlet rags, beneath the soil, contentedly rotting away until next year’s joyous party, while the blood of last night’s losers soaks into the bones of innocent and guilty victims of Newgate Gaol.

On November 1st every year, screams and weeping echo through the streets of Newgate, strangled and slashed bodies are removed, blood is washed from the streets, and the hunt for the Halloween killer is renewed.

The Daily Post #Eerie

©Jane Paterson Basil