Category Archives: despair

Fickle hope

If I was death I would slay the cruel and foolish hope
which fills my brain with wicked trickery;
optimistic fiction posing as reality.

Never more would I be its slave
It would not be there to trap me on the brink,
then wait, wait a day or a week
and drop me back into the bitter, heart-rotting river of loss,
letting me hiccup and choke before sinking in tear-slicked grief;
timing it to agonising perfection,
then reaching with half-rinsed hand, grabbing me
and again lifting, lifting me that little bit, pulling me to the edge,
air drying my dripping frame with electric breeze,
showing me re-mastered images of reconstituted love ones
fully healed and smiling at their family.
Never freeing me to face the final pain
and crawl out alone, to build an honest strength;.
The tinny key to my regeneration.

©Jane Paterson Basil

That cracked and pitted path

Note to family and friends: please don’t be alarmed by this poem – this is a response to Esther Newton’s Weekly Challenge, and refers to the situation a year ago.

Medical mutilation is her means to an end,
a dirty deviation that I cannot mend.
It’s messed with her mind and it’s made her mad,
stealing all the inspiration she once had;
everything she tells me is a misinterpretation,
most of what she sees is wild hallucination.
Her fading head is fetid with foul fabrication,
and her family are drowning in devastation.
She shouts allegations of spies in the trees,
of worms beneath her skin and injected disease.
She threatens and she rages and she begs and she pleas:
Why don’t you ever listen to me?
She stomps to the bathroom and she locks the door,
not caring that I know what she’s in there for.
She knows I forbid the filthy drugs within my home,
but selfishness is part of the addict’s syndrome.
At one a.m. she’s yelling and she hasn’t stopped at four,
when finally I’m forced to push her out of the door.

Despair, like an iron maiden, crushes me in,
re-piercing my scarred and broken skin.
My knocking knees weaken and I sink to the floor.
I remember no yesterday, no future dawn;
no memory of the happiness we knew before,
nor the slightest hope that she may be reborn.
Rusted iron blood clogs my veins,
clanks and clammers in my brain,
and though I try to stand, I try in vain.
So this is it, I think, I will not rise again

I take deep breaths to banish from my head,
all of the recriminating things she has said
and all of paranoid drug-induced inventions,
while I try to focus on my intentions.
I lie on my back and I meditate
on how to return to a positive state.
She’s been well before, and whatever the cost
she can be well again; all is never lost.
Whatever the danger of Laura’s reproach
I’ll ring the doctor and we’ll find a new approach.

I’ve re-established hope at last.
I’ve found my way back to that cracked and pitted path.
I wonder if the devil will feel my wrath,
or whether he’ll achieve the final laugh.

©Jane Paterson Basil

You Can’t Tell


We used to like to play in the nearby farmyard. We would run and hide in the sheds and outbuildings, jumping out from behind derelict equipment, climbing in and out of rusty machinery, evading sharp edges and hidden pitfalls.

Sometimes we’d go to the barn where the hay was stacked. We’d burrow into it, making nests and dens. Wayward hens often bedded there to lay unfertilised eggs in the scratchy heat. They would eventually abandon them when they didn’t bear fruit .

We’d find these eggs, weigh their brown, oval perfection in our childish hands, gently pile them up, and when we had plenty, we’d throw them against the fence, smashing the shells, and watching their innards splat.

Sometimes the yokes were golden and fresh, and we would be guiltily disappointed at the waste.

We were watching for the ones which were dirty green.

We stood well back so the stench wouldn’t hit us.

When you look at the shell of an egg, you can’t tell whether it is healthy or rotten.

I couldn’t tell by looking at my son,
until he smashed himself against the wall.

© Jane Paterson Basil