Category Archives: dark poetry

A Different Poem

You aimed your insipid quill at my head,
scratching for glib metaphoric descriptions of shallow waters,

scribbling ill-conceived inaccuracies
while your bitter heart
flattered you with fairy tales of poetic skill,

piddling insults on exercise paper
with the optimistic aid of a gold-plated pen,

pretending Dylan depth
where only an inch of silt sprawled.

Have your short-shrift eyes ever stared into a clear sky,
while you pondered your dimensions,

Have you held a silvery moon in your hands,
and just for one instant, did its supreme beauty
sweep away the stench of snarling beasts,

have you reached for a penny to feed your soul,
felt it slither between your fingers,
seen it plummet to the chasm beneath your feet,
and felt yourself slide.

have you spooned tatters of fading glitter into your heart
just to keep it beating,
even as your head fought a call for six feet of crushing soil,

have you asked the question, and heard silence in reply,
and did you find your way to the next chapter
through a tangled network of collapsing tunnels.

Have you safely reached a clearing filled with spring fragrance,
and known that you were only a guest in this calm haven,
resting for the next leg of your journey.

Did you breathe deeply of the clean air,
and appreciate the fragrance of wild rose and meadowsweet,
fixing your mind on the vision of delight
while mud sucked at your feet.

Did you.

If, since your last effort,
you have travelled in my vicinity,
I give you permission to write a different poem
about me.

Written for The Daily Post #Shallow

©Jane Paterson Basil

A Flurry of Dust

padlock-1

This is all that is familiar; this prison and its skeletons, the barren garden, and the gate; the gate, its frame aggressively clinging to walls too high to climb, its peeled paint drawing the shape of a threatening grin, its rusty padlock keeping her in, and the knothole in the middle, like a single eye, watching her as she plots.

She makes scattered plans that she doesn’t believe in; she’ll scale the wall too high to climb, smash the locked gate, eradicate its seeing eye.

Her brain is distracted by the ticking of a long gone grandfather clock.

Yellow macs and matching hats and days when rain brought indoor games and laughter shaped her every day and noses pressed upon the panes. Breathing misty, steamy shapes, fingers doodling crude cartoons, dismissing hints of stormy gloom, while mother in another room cooked a meal and baked up treats, and weekends seemed to last all week and freedom was a word she heard, and she believed that it referred to prisoners set free, but now she knows that it described the way life used to be.

She shakes away the memories, looks through her glazed prison window, scrabbling for the gist of her plan. Like all others, it has crumbled, or it lurks in the towering wall, somewhere in the cracks where dusky shadows imitate the faces of those she has known.

But no, the past cannot free her now.

Staying inside where she feels safe, she studies the gate, muddied by splashing rain. She longs for escape, but has no faith in her capabilities, so she waits for something to change; for the hinges to give, the padlock to rot away, the timber to splinter and break; meanwhile occupying her spare time with dreams of what has been.

Years go by. Time paints the grime of existence on her window pane. Spiders weave their webs and hide in wait for flies. Bit by bit, her view of the gate is obliterated . Coming to terms with the increasing murk,  she gives up on the window.

Drips from yesterday’s deluge leave a fading patch on the floor. Above it, bright canary coats and hats hang against the door. Scribbles appear in the glazed mist, brightened by a backdrop of trees rinsed clean by a summer shower. She holds a tea party for plastic people with vintage clothes and poseable limbs, plays tic-tac-toe with her sister, totters, giggling, in grown-up clothes and shoes. She revels in the sound of laughter; feels it teasing her throat. She inhales the scent of vanilla. Her  mother calls from the pantry, and she follows the aroma of freshly baked cakes.

Beside the gate, a dandelion breaks through arid land; its brave petals opening to embrace life. The gate swings wide, and the world waits outside for one whose sentence was self imposed. The bolt had not been shot. The gate had not been locked.

Yet, free at last, her spirit eats cake, savouring every last crumb, while in the lonely room, her body slumps, to be welcomed by a flurry of dust motes which briefly float free, and with soft caress, come to rest on her cooling flesh.

The Daily Post #Gate

©Jane Paterson Basil

The latest poem in my motheringaddicts blog…

motheringaddicts

armour1.

I loved you

with a mother’s heart,

thinking my love could save you,

but I was a fool, slave to your determination,

lost in your control from the start.

Your supremacy has been hacked away,

but you still have the power

to cut me apart.

.

Liquid armour

sweats through your skin,

your skillfully smelted weapons rust,

corroded by a war that you could never win.

You sought cheap freedom from pain

but found yourself in chains,

battle-scarred limbs

weakly reaching to steal alms

from scattered compadres and thieves.

.

Once the lady of deceit

soared through clean veins

bringing laughter and a peaceful relief,

your inner warnings melting on a sticky spoon,

your synapses giggling in denial of disease.

.

Did you feel that moment

when the switch flicked from want to need?

Did it creep up silently, like age sneaked up on me,

Or did it swipe…

View original post 40 more words

The Ballad of Dreadful Cecil

pestle-and-mortar

Cecil was a vile pretender
whose cruel disguise was retail vendor;
in market stalls all round the county,
he set up alluring bounty
of stone and marble kitchenware,
then sat in wait upon a chair.
He displayed to avid eyes
pestles and mortars of every size.

On his stall, the largest vessel
was devoid of matching pestle.
“Where could it be?” I hear you ask –
Why; in his hand, and tightly grasped.
Before I tell you of his ruse,
you need to know it won’t amuse,
for he was evil to the core –
a scofflaw who loved blood and gore.

If a housewife took a shine
to a pestle quite divine.
he didn’t sell it as he aughta,
but hit her with his mighty mortar,
then hid her underneath the table
just as fast as he was able,
making sure that no-one saw
her collapse upon the floor.

It gave him joy for many years
to cause such agony and tears –
but one fine day he came a cropper
via a woman in a topper;
when he hit her on the head
she pretended she was dead.
He didn’t know that her dark hat
had deflected his hard bat.

He had caught a clever sort
strong of body, quick of thought;
She jumped up and pushed him under –
was that lightning, was it thunder
he heard crashing in his ears,
summoning his deepest fears?
No, the poor old wormy wood
had taken all the weight it could.

The table smashed to smithereens
to the sound of Cecil’s screams
from beneath the splintering table –
it was like the fall of Babel.
Stoneware hit his back and head,
turning concrete bloody red.
As he desperately wrestled
He got tangled in the trestle.

So enmeshed was dreadful Cecil
he was buried with his trestle.

My best friend challenged me to write a poem with the last two lines ending, respectively, in Cecil and Trestle. This was the result.

©Jane Paterson Basil

Gotcha

abstract tree_cave

.

The tunnel shimmers with a tempting threat;
….its marbled darkness beckons and repels.
……..Her instinct is to flee this place, and yet
…………some hunger in her quickening soul rebels.

She stoops to taste the water at her feet,
….and gasps at fruity flavours rich and rare,
……..Bending low she sups the nectar sweet,
…………then steps into the cave without a care.

Reflections from the water light the walls,
….to.dance with twisting shadows of the tree,
……..Behind her, warning silence weakly calls,
…………But she’s enchanted by the leaping filigree.

The air grows dank, and scratches reach her ears.
….She hears an evil grunt, and rasping breath,
……..a distant, deadly scream awakes her fears,
…………then silence reigns, as if a breath is held for death.

The grunts resume, and splashing sounds ensue
….like clumsy footsteps searching out their prey.
……..Her horror deepens; she cannot construe
…………from whence they come; they echo everyway.

The light retreats and deepest darkness falls
….within the depths of that unhallowed hollow,
……..while lumbering evil bounces off the walls;
…………she knows not which dread trail to follow.

All at once she sees the apperition,
….the gnashing teeth and angry threads of drool.
……..She screams in fearful recognition…
…………the teacher drags the truant back to school.

.

Gotcha… (inspired by an image I put together in an idle moment)

©Jane Paterson Basil

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 raddled 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 now know that their 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 squint at pictures in search of their children, eyes stinging as they make believe there is a secret hidden behind their youthful skin that will bring them back to life again.

Weeping, 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 to beat the Devil at his evil game.

Those who win are grateful that the reaper waited
until it was too late to stake his claim.

Should you ever meet a recovered addict in the street,
know that it is an honour to be in his company.
In his weakest hour he has risen from his bed,
kicked away the painkilling killer
and writhing through sickness and agony of body and brain,
has beaten foul fiends the like of which you and I have never seen,
to come out cleaner than we may never be,
and to become much more than he may otherwise have been
even if he had always been clean.

The Daily Post #Elixir

©Jane Paterson Basil