Category Archives: dream

Nobody’s fool

If asked to describe himself, Billy would have said he had never been anybody’s fool. If anything he had been a leader, though where he led his friends is another question.

One deep velvet night he sleep-walked from the stillness of a boat into the silken waters below. His wet landing was as silent as the moon sliding across the sky. Treading water he saw that his canoe had disappeared. There was nothing but him and the huge, silent ocean, holding him in its cold embrace.

Knowing the way that he had come, he turned as if to swim to the shore, but it was more distant than he had thought it to be. The faraway beach was brightly illuminated as if it were mid-day. All his associates from former times stood together, at the water’s edge; the men who he had twisted into whatever shape fitted him, encouraging them to cruelty and crime and infidelity; the women he had seduced with promises, just to get them into bed, and then abused. Yes, he had been a leader of men and women too, and even from that distance he could see the proof of his leadership in the faces of his estranged children.

The effort of staying afloat was exhausting him. If he could get their attention he was sure someone would rescue him. He shouted for help and he waved, his arms splashing arcs of glittering diamonds across the dark, before disappearing like dampened sparks as they hit the brine.

All his old friends turned their faces his way, and each gazed at him coldly for a few moments, then turned and walked away from the shore, towards their homes and their loved ones.

Just one boy was left, staring out to sea, and it took a minute to trace the memory of the tale behind his face. Then he recalled the stolen car, telling Jim to get in, he was taking him joyriding. He remembered Jim’s unhappy look, and how much ot took to persuade him; his determination to terrify Jim and the surge of pleasure when Jim started screaming; his feeling of Devil-may-care, replaced by the fear that invaded the air, the sharp taste of tin, the explosive sensation beneath his skin, when the car went over the edge.

Billy couldn’t remember if he cared when he saw Jim’s bleeding head, but now he felt shame for his distant escapade. Jim shrugged and yelled into the waking light “Sorry I can’t help, but I’m dead.”

Billy turned away to hide his tears, and found he had drifted to a rocky island, with spiky trees that grew from the stones, and every tree had one giant leaf with a murky eye which stared as he climbed the beach, and although unease prickled beneath his skin, he was so tired that as soon as he reached a soft patch of ground he lay down, longing to sleep.

A fine white mist danced around him, it’s tendrils reaching into his mind, and as it thickened he examined the way he had led his life, the pain he had brought, the suffering he wrought with the selfish games he had played. With breaking heart he vowed he would change if it wasn’t too late. He would make up for all the wrong he did as soon as he woke from this illuminating dream.

Then into the mist strode Jim, arms outstretched; forgiving him everything, and at that instant he knew that he, too, was dead. Somewhere far away his cold shell would be discovered by a cleaner when she came to change the hotel bedding, and nobody would care, and instead of the feeling of dread that may be expected, all he could feel was relief.

©Jane Paterson Basil

Only dreaming

your dream
plump and rosy
atop the threatening void
and you long to
keep it, to be
touched by it, to be
saved by it
so you
strain to give it
a waking life and
this time
it slides out
in one piece
but it is
less fleshy
more messy than
you expected
it is, after all
not the baby
only the afterbirth

©Jane Paterson Basil

Levels of insanity

Last night I dreamed I was on a yacht

its cabin extended as I explored it, finding
many rooms
each inviting me to experience a different kind of madness

in the generous bathroom I curled up, screaming
while in a small boxroom I lay flat and silent on the floor
listening to the demon that shrieked inside my head
an open living area gave me room to run in circles
muttering, feeling my face distort and swell

I vacuumed the floor, thinking
this action would prove my sanity

once the detritus had been sucked away
I turned my attention to a brown door with a lift-up latch
which hadn’t been there before

a warning lifted the hairs on my skin
so lightly, so almost imperceptbly
that I was able to pretend
it was my imagination
allowing me to pass through

scarlet-carpeted stairs
led down to a sudden drop, and in a red room below me
strange machines moved with no purpose
no end game

I spotted an exit, beyond which
a woman struggled with an old-fashioned pram
bumping it down a lower staircase; the only way out
perhaps to escape the bedlam of this floor
or else to descend into yet more
unreachable madness

I turned away and retraced my steps
not ready to taste that level of insanity

fluff and grit was strewn
across the floor I had recently cleaned
reminding me that while everything changes
sometimes it follows old patterns

I sat on a bed
thinking to rock myself back to health

©Jane Paterson Basil

Corporate grass


I wondered
why the grass sown by corporate hands
was already a plush emerald carpet
and yet, still, on the rocky hill near my house
my seed lay fallow on arid ground

I glanced at my face in the mirror
surprised by the sight of my bald left eyebrow
where had the hair gone, and why?
I fed it with salve, rich with nutrients
and watched while it curled and
grew too long and thick to conceal, wrapping
around the hair on my head
trapping it

this new growth was midnight black
where once it had been blonde and fine
I took my scissors, and thinking to neatly trim it
I snipped, watching ringlets float to the floor
like feathers from the breast of a raven
leaving raw patches, charcoal stubble and stubborn wisps

but my home belonged to another, not me
I gazed around my irstwhile rooms in dismay
at the decay, the rubble and dirt
left behind by careless guests
hastely I cleared it away
then vacated, leaving the key
and making my way past the lush, deep corporate grass
I looked for another place to stay

I was woken by the sounds of my surroundings
I rose from my bed and looked out
to see that while I had slept
the corporate grass had been cut

©Jane Paterson Basil

In response to The Daily Post’s writing prompt: “Just a Dream.”

This poem describes a recurring nightmare I used to have.


They’re crawling at speed

and my leaden feet

are letting me down

while their chemical needs

fill their minds with treason

which blinds them to reason

and feeds them with fervour,

making them faster than me.

As they chase me

the weight of the air all around

is pressing me down

and all I can hear is

the sound of my fear;

my laboured panting

and heart-beat pounding

as it tries to escape through my ears.

The end of the alley is darkly looming

and I see no escape

from death’s grinning face

as the figures draw nearer

disturbing the air with their

fetid breath and their skin-flaying cries.

And then I see three doors before me,

and hope of escape

floods through my veins,

bringing adrenalin forth in its wake

to help me select

the correct door to take.

The first one is fakely fashioned and fancy,

foolishly aping the noble oak’s grain

The second is painted in pink plastic gloss,

and I know that an entry would offer no gain

the one that I choose

is ancient and flaking

and chipped, with the dust

of long years overlain

I grab at the handle,

it opens with ease and

welcomes me in

then ceases to be.

It’s served its purpose

and sealed me safely

away from the drug crazed,

desparate faces

that sink from my mind

as I survey this place.

Before me a corridor stretches and curves

and the walls are constructed

from industrial shelves

with broad sheets of metal

which tower around me,

above me so high I can’t see the ceiling,

and the shelves are stacked

with miriad treasures and trash

and boxes and cases of leather.

Though I feel a desire to stop and examine

the curious curio stacked all about,

I know I must hurry and find an exit

as the grumble of thunder

is crumbling the ceiling

and pieces of plaster

are dropping on me.

While I am racing

to find an escape route

I see that the treasure is all from my past.

The bagatelle board

that I loved as a child

is tucked at the back

behind an old dress

and further along looking

fresh and un-used

is a bottle of perfume I lost long ago.

There are dolls and fossils

and fairy tale stories

and memories of glorious days in the sun.

And preserved

in this heart-space I finally find

the fetish that’s held me

through all these years.

It was lost in the dust of

a moment of absence;

a rose from my lover so long ago.

Now the rain is seeping

and soaking the ceiling,

damping and swamping all that I was.

I redouble my hunt

to discover an exit,

and as I am running

I hear my possessions

collapsing and crashing

through the floor,

Then I turn the next bend

and I see the old door

which welcomes me warmly

so I quickly step through,

onto a platform

with the sky overhead

and a drop deep beneath me.

If I fall I’ll be dead

but the platform leads

to the top of a stone wall

where I will be safe

from destruction and death

I step from the platform

onto the surface of the wall so tall

and high above ground.

Surrounded by sun

in the wake of the storm

the place I have left growls

with ground-shaking sounds

as mortar is beaten

by deep-seated moisture,

subversively slipping its devilish drops

into my heart-space,

and breaking it down.

The building collapses,

and within it my history.

The bagatelle board,

the perfume, the rose,

are swallowed up

as the ground beneath opens,

covers, encloses them

leaving no trace of the past behind

Now looking around me all I can see

is a deep flooded landscape

with the tops of some trees

which remain bravely standing

with their trunks in deep water,

awaiting the moment

when their roots will lose hold.

And now I know

if you run from the danger,

you lose all of the good things

both hidden and clear.

They come as a package,

a mistery gift

in rainbow ribbon

soaked through with tears.


I awoke from this nightmare

and wished that the darkness

had eaten me whole

and left my shell,

to let others know

that I’d finished this lifespan,

my life on this earth

which seemed more like hell.

But I kept stepping forwards

for the sake of my family,

and my family sustained me

while my rose kept me well.

Enriched by kindness

I am finding my future,

and my steps are guided by love and goodwill.

I have many to thank

for the floods that have dried

and the trees standing

proud on every side.

The wall still stands

and I stand upon it,

the stones and the mortar

too strong to subside.

© Jane Paterson Basil