Category Archives: dark

The Last Laugh

postal-32383__340.png

I got a soggy dog-lick-kiss, breakfast on a tray
with the dreaded birthday sentence: Fifty years today.
Gifts enshrined in angry bills, ring box on a tin can,
and on the bed beside me, my oh, so funny man.

I wouldn’t touch my breakfast; the tea was weak and cold,
the bread was stale, the marmalade thickly furred with mould.
I unwrapped all the presents; fake poo and inked perfume,
I threw aside a birthday card, then marched out of the room.

He chased me to the kitchen; he knelt on knobbly knees
to offer me the ring box, said: Please don’t be a tease.
He looked so hurt and serious I thought he was sincere.
I’m glad I chose to take it, or he would still be here.

I carefully prised it open, expecting glittery bling,
but in that stupid jewellery box there was no diamond ring;
no long-denied proposal, no promise from my champ –
curled amidst the velvet was a grubby postage stamp.

I glared at him in fury, but he waved my rage away,
and laughing shrilly, said to me: It’s for a holiday.
Climb into this box, I’ll add the stamp and the address
of any destination, North, South, East or West.

It might be midlife crisis, but I’m weary of his humour;
I wished a heart attack on him, or a most aggressive tumour,
so feeling thus disgruntled, I shot him through the head.
He’s curled up in an outsize box, not joking now he’s dead.

I’m posting him to Timbuctoo, with no return address,
So I will never get him back, and I’ll suffer no redress.
It’s funny what you think of, when you scrub a bloody floor,
kitchen units and two windows, one kitten and a door:

We met on Friday the thirteenth, an unlucky day for me,
but the thirteenth has returned; how unlucky now is he!
I don’t regret the past, and there’s something I will miss;
I’d like to give him one last breath and see him laugh at this.

©Jane Paterson Basil

.

Written for Three Things Challenge: thirteen, midlife crisis, past

©Jane Paterson Basil

Advertisements

Stiff Upper Lip

tea-1674830__340

This is your conscience speaking;

I know you feel
like flaying the next-door fiend,
leaving her festering in a smelly heap, to the applause
of almost every tenant on these three floors,

and you fantasise
about an unacceptable, inconceivable set-up with the bed-eyed,
dread-locked sex god you’re forever ogling
in the second-hand shop.

I realise you recently considered
ripping off your jeans and summer vest in the hey-day high street,
screaming “ I hear you knocking but you can’t come in”,
then running away, giggling.

and you are tempted
to tell that frosty screw what her silly victim –
her lily-livered excuse for a libertine loser – plotted to do
to you when she was at bingo, sandwiching his confused pseudo-love
between the pages of a detailed medical dictionary, as if
each irritating phrase was a ribbon-wrapped gift, every
trumped-up twitch and flickering heart beat a treat;
and yet he knew you didn’t want to swim
in anyone’s swan song, let alone
sink through his forlorn
funeral tune.

I understand
that – until you did it – you might think it funny
to cut off your extremities and wiggle your stumps,
singing “Look, no hands,
and no feet, either”,

and you have been dying
to tip your wardrobe through the window, crying, “look – it can fly”,
wait for the smashing crash to attract the neighbours’ attention,
then yell, “and so can I”,
and try.

It’s true that their lives are dull,
and it would give those old folks a thrill
to see your blood churning the earth into rusty mud
to feed the geriatric rose bushes,
but don’t.

This
is your conscience speaking, old bean;
don’t do any of the above – let us not forget
one is British; such activities are simply not cricket.
Extend your stiff upper lip; use it
to lift a kettle, then settle down
with a nice cup of tea.

.

©Jane Paterson Basil

Daughters of Eve

Eve1

WARNING: ADULT CONTENT… I got a bit carried away. If you expect to be offended, close your eyes to the sections printed to the right side of the page, in RED. They are not  essential components of the poem.

I am the spirit of a Biblical metaphor,
raised beneath a celibate sky,
nourished by fertile dirt’s clean creations,
nurtured by trees whose lenient branches
were cradles that rocked me, and whose growing leaves
gave glorious shade against the noon-tide haze. Nature
was my nursery, my playground, my adventure trail,
my safe, serene haven, a concert hall
where birds, conducted by seasons and sun
sang heavenly songs for me, to the backing
of ticking crickets and buzzing bees.
This was my Eden.

Since the original sentencing, endless generations have meekly bled away their weeping days, bones brittling  and crumbling away, juices sinking into the speckled detritus of history. Those with time and rage enough have fought for truth, yet still, by dint of my sex, I stand accused by those who would rule and defile me.

I offer you my defence:

It was another who plucked the fruit, not I.

I beg you to see that I had a wholesome balance and bounteous range of flavours within reach. Had I felt the desire for more variety, I expect there was a plentiful supply of untried legal foods in the nethermost regions of Eden.

The world was new; sophisticated tricks
to trap a virgin girl
had not yet been invented.
No budding rose, no dainty sweets to tempt my tongue,
no ardent vows or subtle wheedling
led me to my fall.
Neither did I simper or whisper lewdly wicked words
in man’s unyielding ear, or plot in any way
to take heart or prick as jewellery or trinket.
I did not know the form reflected in man’s eyes
was no more romping child but nubile wench,
until the moment that he grabbed me, forced my jaws apart.
and made me swallow. Even as I choked and retched,
failing to eject the stinking fruit,
he threw me to the forest floor
and roughly ravaged me, injecting me
with toxic stench that stole from me
the world that I held dear.

It was man who separated me from Eden.
Now he slyly lays the blame on Eve.

The judge glances down. Glossy prints display scars on sickened flesh. Documents testify to my ruptured hymen, but where is the record of the lies repeated since the dawn of creation, and what care has he for my suffering mind? I wait for the inevitable hoodwinking protestations.

Licking his lips, he looks my way, then promptly dismisses my pain. He claims circumstantial evidence, or says that I alone am to blame, citing historical temptresses, his finger pointing as he intones felonious accusations of the lascivious nature of all females, dating from Eve’s days.

His Honour’s cock
ticks out a seashore rhythm of lust, a foaming
hot blood throb concealed beneath His Honourably billowing gown.
A thickness of phlegm
sits heavy on his chest. A quick cough
dislodges it; affording him
a viscous dewdrop of pleasure, no more.
There are bigger things to shift, he thinks. His hidden hand
inches
toward the swelling itch. Fiddles. Just
a tickle of anticipation
which must later lead to a drawn out, ecstatic
scratch.
He visualises phallic fungi
thrusting capped heads through the thin throats
of calla lilies, shredding delicate membranes,
while his sensitive finger
gently strokes,
his finger, so slim,
so
similar
to a choir boy’s…
oh, yes.. A choir…
boy’s…
budding

From the witness stand, I interrupt
his surreptitious clutching.

I had the perfection of Eden, I say.
I had the wonder of childhood.
How could I dream of anything else?

Behind the bench,
the judge
massages
his groin
just…

just
a
little…

just a little…

more.

He regains self-control, postponing his goal until he’s alone. Gone are the golden days of summoning young scraps of flesh that would not dare threaten his authority or breathe a word of his greedily inflicted sadism. But he must not yet dwell on the tears. He must refrain from picturing so many pitiful pairs of defeated legs which limped so prettily away. It would only increase the emergency of release.

Soon he’ll be free to bolt his door, and summon every supreme detail.

He takes pains to concentrate, to focus
on closing the case.

Raising his gavel, he lets it slam.
He calls for order and proclaims the witness
guilty again.

Guilty of inciting rape.
Guilty of consuming the fruit.
Guilty of causing the fall.

Guilty down to my chromosomes.

.

That’s it, folks. Time to drop the subject…

©Jane Paterson Basil

The Man who Wanted to Save the World

homeless-845709__340

A seething gang of teens surrounds him,
mocking, calling him names,
Stealing his concentration,
but he will not be defeated; he’s here
to save the world.

Catcalls, insults and derision
almost overwhelm the voices in his head.
He will not listen; they are sent
to deflect him from his divine duty
to save the world.

He strains to hear the angel’s voice,
but the rudeness intrudes,
diluting essential information –
instructions which he is convinced
will save the world.

A Sainsburys receipt floats past his feet,
its jumbled numbers will reveal
a secret code for him alone,
he who was selected by the highest deity
to save the world.

As the youths close in, he strikes out,
screaming, spittle flying from his mouth,
splattering an angry face. Someone cries out
“He’s just a crazy crank, a tramp. Nobody will care.
Let’s have him, lads.”

A slip of paper escapes from a slack hand
to land in a spreading pool of blood. Absorbing the gore,
its empty message blurs as tears forget to fall
for the man who failed
to save the world.

Image supplied by Pixabay.

©Jane Paterson Basil

The Last Breath

sunset-3087145__340.jpg

They say
that life can end
in the blink of an eye,
but when the last breath
whispered from his lips,
his eyes were still,
and so were
mine;

still
and
dry

~

Our
weeping children
quickly left the scene, leaving me
to tie off ends as if I were his next of kin.
Strange to think his skin no more contained
his thoughts and hopes, his good and bad,
his lonely soul, his half-arsed plans,
his generous acts, his secret crimes,
his spongy rage,  his happy days,
his lifelong pain, his crazy lies,
his shrugged-off shame,
his efforts and his
failed amends.

“Goodbye,”
I said.

~

Leaving
to attend to
our children’s needs,
I fixed my face
in an attitude
of quiet
grief.

~

©Jane Paterson Basil

The Lift

up-and-down-1051248__340

“Doors opening.”

The recorded voice rang out clearly.

“Doors opening.”

Benny upended the bottle. A few seconds passed before he felt a small drop of moisture land on his arid tongue. It wasn’t enough to moisten his cracking lips.

Just before close of business on Friday afternoon, Benny had been asked to take a fresh bottle to the dispenser in the management suite. Several members of staff were already putting on their coats to leave as he stepped into the lift, which rose smoothly to the top floor and stopped. He heard the automatic message:

“Doors opening.”

But the doors didn’t open.

He had sounded the alarm, banged on the metal walls, shouted until he was hoarse, but to no avail. He’d hoped to alert the weekend cleaners to his plight, but if they had turned up at all, he hadn’t heard them, and they hadn’t heard him.

He knew the length of his shoes, so he had calculated the length and  width of the square of floor.  He even knew the meterage from one corner to the opposite corner, but he didn’t know how long he had been trapped. His only timepiece was a phone which currently lay on top of a cardboard box in the ground-floor storeroom. It felt as if he’d been in that stuffy box for weeks, but that wasn’t possible.

“Doors opening.”

He willed the empty bottle to produce another drop, wishing that he had a knife to cut into the plastic, so he could open it up and lick the last of the moisture from the inside.

He sank to the floor, no longer particular about the stale waste from his body soaking into his trousers, despite the shame he would feel when his unsuspecting rescuers arrived for work on Monday morning.

“Doors opening.” The recording seemed to have developed a mocking tone.

A bluebottle crawled through the space under the lift door, took flight, and landed on Benny’s face as he slept. Another followed.

Throughout the offices and on the streets, greedy teeth ripped into the fetid flesh of shoppers, housewives and workers who lay where they had fallen, eight days ago.

With so much to feast on, it was unlikely that hunger would send the rats in search of Benny’s entrails.

©Jane Paterson Basil

His Passing

The final fact floats free in chill November air.
Wispy theories seep through gaps into my living space;
a sluggish swirl too vague to disarrange my hair.

He is dead.
The pathologist estimates two weeks.

When I saw him last week, the wind
seemed to twist him, and his coat –
the coat he wore to keep the winter out –
his coat was out of step with him
as, tied closely apart, they swirled
in schizophrenic dance of love and hate,
flinging exhortation and despair to the wind.

As I watched him spin I had no way of knowing
he was a wraith struggling to escape
an unwelcome netherworld
and return to this place.

A wide road winds out of town,
its white lines blind to distance and insistent tick of time,
flowing past rural scenes and memories
that strangers keep between fading album covers
bulging with sunshine and smiles.
Still more fond secrets lie stored in the archives of their minds.

Distant kin we never knew
sleep silently beneath the fallen leaves;
so many griefs do not reach us.

We hold hands with those we choose, not letting go
until long beyond the final call.

The mindless road winds on to motorway,
passing towns and cities as it goes, while all the way
the straying ghosts of those we never knew
evade our sights;
we’re rarely touched by unknown spirits
passing through our skin.

Somewhere in the erstwhile smoke of London town
a mother weeps to hear the news:
she’s lost her errant son.
She holds no blame, yet that will not console her.

I dare not weigh her loss against his crimes
and what he might have done if he were still alive.
I cannot feel relief while she holds her hollow womb
and teardrops fall,
but it is sad that I don’t feel a twinge
of anything at all.

The police might be treating Joe’s death as suspicious. They’re on the street, keeping their questions low-key. They know him by his reputation and by his history. Those who may have expected to be future victims of his insanity are addicts too weak to be perpetrators. A woman who had been threatened by Joe was approached and told about his death. The police asked her a few questions. She was quite casual about the conversation when she spoke of it to my son. I’m glad she’s no longer at risk; she was bravely supportive toward my daughter after Joe beat her up.

In spite of the suffering he caused, I feel distanced from his death. Even when he was shouting threats up at my window, I felt separated from his circle of psychosis. As soon as Laura went into recovery, he receded into the murky past.

©Jane Paterson Basil