Category Archives: drugs

Who they may have become


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



Last year, though drug-riddled and ill, still she wanted to please me. She saw a vintage sewing machine – my favourite make – in the window of a charity shop. She thought of me, and asked to see the manager, who told her she could put down a deposit. The manager knew it was for me – we go way back to schooldays, when we used to spend our weekends together, sitting on five-bar gates, swinging our legs, flaunting our budding sexuality, watching cars go by, and getting into scrapes with unsuitable dates, using each other as an excuse for escape. But that’s another story.

When I next saw Laura, she asked me if I would like a sewing machine, and I gruffly said that all I wanted for my birthday was for her to be clean.

She bought the machine anyway. It weighed a ton, but she carried it back to my flat, and I was grateful. It was beautiful, and worked like a dream. I thanked her, gave her a hug and told her I loved her, but I couldn’t resist smiling sadly, and saying, “Maybe I’ll get that other gift next year.”

I turned 62 yesterday. She gave me a book and a lovely card, hand-made by her, but most important of all, she delivered the miraculous gift I had been longing for.

Laura is clean.


Laura was a child of spirit, born into a world of flesh, and she didn’t adapt in the way that most of us do. She spent her childhood confused and unhappy, but she was brave. She tried to fit into a world that understood her no more than she understood it. She was beaten down, time after time. The day came when she couldn’t take another beating, and she turned to street-medication.

She has felt, and witnessed, things that we cannot imagine. She knows what the bottom of the pit looks like, because she’s been there – in a place where we have never been, because our hearts beat differently.

I knew that she had to witness pure darkness before she could see the light, so I turned away from her. It was horrible – I looked down on her from my safe window, saw her staggering by, and felt my insides shredding. I coped by being angry, by feigning indifference, by talking to Serenity, my mannequin, by chanting affirmations – any way I could, I coped. I woke some mornings terrified that she may have died in the night, all alone – yet knowing she hadn’t, as I would have felt it as her life ebbed away.

She was sliding on black ice. She slid until there she was in utter darkness, with her eyes closed. When she opened them again, there were glints of light twinkling in the distance – not one, but many. There was her boyfriend Joe, me, her sister, Sarah, and other family members who never stopped loving her – and not only those, there were many – twinkling away, in this country, and all over the world – in America, Australia, Canada, Africa. I hope you all know who you are – all you who sent your good wishes, your healing thoughts, your love and your prayers – she saw your light. I know I’ve mentioned it several times, but I can’t get over what you have all done for her.

Laura’s 31 now. She’s no longer a schoolgirl; she no longer has to try to fit into a tight box for the convenience of school or society. She can practice her own unique dance, and she will be admired for it. She’s been burnt and frozen by life. She’s been cut, bruised,and fractured, but her scars make her more beautiful. She is her own person, brave, strong and creative. She’ll achieve her own kind of greatness.

Joe says that when the world points its finger and speaks of the mistakes of others, they speak out of ignorance. They don’t know the background. They don’t know that what they call a mistake may have been the right thing for the individual at that particular time, or that it may have seemed like the only choice available. I think he’s right.

We have a lot to learn from those who have climbed out of that dark pit.

I’m in shock, and for once it’s happy shock. I keep finding myself smiling about nothing – except that it’s not nothing. It’s all-consuming.

©Jane Paterson Basil

In the Street


Saw him in the street today.
I could say we passed like strangers,
but it wouldn’t be true.

Years of  abuse
curled like vapour
in the grey space between us.
I caught the rueful look on his face,
maybe shame, maybe regret at having lost
his power to use me.
He limply lifted his hand in vague salute,
and my view willingly slid from his face.

He didn’t slow his pace –
neither did I.

After we’d passed each other by,
I felt chilled relief;
throughout the vacant years of addiction,
I have clung on to a fake picture of a wonderful son.

I don’t know when he went, or understand why,
but he died, leaving but a shallow crust,
to be squatted by the horror I saw
in the street today.

Maybe I need to grieve,
but it feels like I’ve been grieving forever.

Please don’t criticise,
nor empathise or sympathise.
Don’t tell me he’s still there, or that he cares;
don’t treat me like an innocent,
or like a green beginner ~
I may be too brittle to take it;
I may break.

©Jane Paterson Basil

Leave me alone


Today you rolled into the shop
too wasted to be wise and stay out of my face;
the promised coffee cake replaced by oddly assorted items;
passata; puy lentils;
a pack of dried apricots and a jar of spice.

I refused a proffered pasta dish
(dehydrated for longevity);
I’ve tried it before and didn’t like it.

I blame myself for this intrusion –
the last time we spoke I told you I didn’t want to see you
until you had something to give.
and here you were – giving me mismatched ingredients
for a meal.

You usually take from me, so this made a change.

Your hands shook, the left one was black, as if
from that greasy ash I used to see printed on my table,
by my sink and on the bathroom floor.

Ugly images flashed by in dripping scarlet; blood
splashed across walls;
darkening drops blotting your clothes,
insulting my senses.

Needles, ripped vitamin e sachets,
little tin cups.
filthy soot, blood, blood blood.

Impossible to forget the horror borne for so long.

Here in the present, your body,
unable to keep hold of the accepted code of behaviour,
briefly convulsed, and as you recovered
you told me you were tired, but the jerks recurred,
and with them the excuses.

Why do you always think I’ll believe your lies?
I wish that you would realize I’ve seen the signs
a thousand times or more.

Your friend Slick slunk in an opposite doorway.
offering me an unknowing opportunity.
I made no comment except to suggest you go home to bed,
then I waved, and Slick crossed the road to speak to me.
We chatted about my flat, then, quick as a flash I
asked him what you were on.

Slick didn’t know what had hit him.
He batted his unthinking reply back to me:
It’s OK, Paul hasn’t used that, he’s only had Pregabalin.

As if I didn’t know.

So sad that Slick should think I’d be relieved.
He’s too deeply entrenched in the scene to face the fact that
any street drug is lethal for an addict.

I told you to leave me alone, turned my back
and returned to my work in the Oxfam shop.

Please, leave me alone.

I want you to go away;
that I may neither see or hear from you
until you are clean.

The Daily Post #Realize

©Jane Paterson Basil

His final binge

it was several years ago.
maybe by now the parents’ grief has caught up with them.
he had been a wild child, a troubled youth
and when he began absorbing chemicals
the neighbours probably whispered together,
nodding their heads and agreeing that it was inevitable.
the speed fed his brain, made him feel he was finally alive;
pulled from his head
so many important things he suddenly discovered he needed to say.
but the day came when he knew it was time to call it a day
so he drank alcohol instead.
later, and with difficulty, he even gave that up,
limiting himself to a little weed in the evenings.

I sometimes think that if I hadn’t helped him to fulfil his dream of visiting India
he would still have a reason to keep breathing,
but instead he realised his fantasy,
came home, put a bottle to his lips,
and began his final binge.
a few weeks later he collapsed and died.

after the funeral his parents drank tea on the lawn
when offered sincere commisarations,they loooked on,
confused, beffuddled, perhaps only able to take in
that this was more than just another thing their son had done.

©Jane Paterson Basil

Outside my sanctuary

outside, vague mist
tints the winter air with grey,
rain clings to the window, begging entry, but
I will not let misery into my sanctuary

she has done it this time;
cut off her sticky road to death
with a final, mind-blowing drug theft.

already she has caned her cache,
grabbed less than a week ago;
a four-day gouching binge,
and now she is finished;
hated for what she did,
she cannot reach the dealers.
most of them have changed their profession,
and she has robbed the only one left who would give her
not only the time of day, but drugs for free.
there is no-one to turn to, even if
she had the money to pay.

addicts have no sympathy for the enforced solitude
of one who swept the town clean for her dangerous delight
so, she is rattling, well, thanks to her they are rattling too.
It may rain all night, but she has dried up the supply.

beyond the thin mist that fails to drown me,
is a mud-slicked path to a rain drenched cottage
whose walls offer no sanctuary for those who rage within.

I am drained of the will to pity the father
who so carelessly composed this destructive, unfinished symphony.
I used up all of my pity on the most serious victims
of his ear-splitting quavers and minims,
and now there is little pity left
even for my sick children,
who sit carefully apart,
each sunk in their
own, individual

already my hopeful son
is looking upwards, climbing slowly,
seeing a light twinkle, fade, and return a little brighter,
but my daughter sits atop a self-made mountain of difficulty and fear,
in a stinking, vomit-strewn room, wriggling, groaning,
clutching at her stomach now that
there are no longer any straws to grab.
a pariah now, her only option is rehabilitation.
I cannot dwell on her twisting agony, only in the hope
that she will soon be free within her mind;
although in three days she expects
her body to be transported
to prison,
for the crime of shoplifting,
followed by a spate of gross stupidity.

outside, the mist still fights for survival.
I refuse to let it enter my sanctuary.

I paste the faintest wry smile across my face.
my whirling dervish has been guilty of a deluge of evil crimes
committed against her family, friends, enemies
those she loves, those she hates
and even those to whom
she is indifferent.
they litter her history
in various states of health and decomposition

but she is to be punished for the crime of shoplifting
and failing to abide by the court’s decision.

©Jane Paterson Basil

She left me snowdrops

she sends
innocent looking texts
begging my attention, with
overblown love, extravagant kisses
and oft repeated claims of how she longs
to see me,of how greatly she misses me
her words sometimes timerous,
occasionally belligerant
but more often with
faint humility.

she left me snowdrops

however her words sound I need to ignore them,
sincere they may be; I know she adores me, but I also know she wants to destroy me
and as the months stretch, my grief for her recedes an inch
as if she were already dead

but she left me snowdrops
fragrant snowdrops, promising spring
and fresh beginnings

I get regular reminders of her damaging acts,  her statements
to the cops, exempt from facts, false allegations of rape and abuses,
directed at any man who flatly refuses to satisfy her single important aim
by feeding her collapsing greedy veins, and anyone who’s careless enough to care,
will quickly fall into her snare. her former beauty has long since fled,
so she sells ugliness and shame instead. there are plenty
of men with degraded tastes; there are plenty
of men with a longing to abase.

but she left me snowdrops
snowdrops, shy, downcast, not quite meeting my eye
fragrant snowdrops, promising spring
and fresh beginnings

I know her serenade is designed to trap
once she’s lulled me to sleep she’ll bite and snap
she has a dangerous ability to drive me mad
stealing my mind of all the sense I have

but she left me snowdrops
snowdrops, my greatest floral weakness
snowdrops, shy, downcast, not quite meeting my eye
fragrant snowdrops, promising spring
and fresh beginnings

she is broken, I am ripped
I understand she wants to slip
beneath my skin, and break me apart
so she can sink her teeth into my heart
thinking it will finally make us one
tie us in a death-knot
that can never be

so she left me snowdrops
my beloved, lost child left me snowdrops
tiny, dripping tears

©Jane Paterson Basil