Category Archives: free verse

Conflicting Emotions

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Conflicting emotions cluster,
stumbling through grey matter, 
as they fight to be top of the pile.
Low thoughts, high thoughts,
where, how and why thoughts.
Grief and elation, hell and damnation,
botched conversations, recovered relations,
lost revelations, failed determination,
dead ideas and un-shed tears,
day-to day chores and clamouring causes
 all perspire
   while they battle for regard,
       colours blurring to mustard and rust,
               verity becoming encrusted
                           in the annals
                                         of my mind.



©Jane Paterson Basil
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Bus Driver

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Dear driver, you
don’t know me;

Maybe you dislike
your job and your wife,
you might even hate your life, but that
is no excuse for the fuming stare which says
“I despise you.”

You block my smile, your expression suggesting that you consider me a minor criminal. If you think this is not a designated bus stop just say so, or check with your boss. You’ll find you are wrong, while to continue in ignorance is an unwise mistake to make.

Meanwhile, why not try a compromise;
stop treating passengers like undesirable wasps
to be stomped on by your
callous eyes.

Don’t you know
that very day you make the world a little colder
for yourself, as well as for others?

Do you like being a lonely island?

Friendliness should be high on the list of priorities when hiring bus drivers. At the very least, it could be part of their training.

I used to insinuate myself
between the bars of barbed little fences such as yours,
persuading snickering scorpions to be
more amicable, but recently,
I’ve run out of energy.

It’s time for folks like you
to get wise to your public duty
and treat passengers more like friends.
.

©Jane Paterson Basil

No Place to Go

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When he enters,
his animal scent clears out the buyers and browsers
and the assistant exits in haste.

I wonder if other charity shops blocked him.
Few operate like Oxfam.

Smiling like he’s a friend,
I take shallow breaths though the nose,
keeping my mouth closed except to speak.

He tells me he got a twenty quid drop and needs to buy jeans.
I ask for his size, and pick out two pairs.

“I’m just a drunk,” he slurs, his eyes
clutching at mine as if to defy me to deny
a universal truth.

I refuse to be intimidated.
“Not just a drunk,” I reply. “At your core, you are who you have always been. You have your history, your memories, your moments of reflection. Once you played in the street, or climbed trees. Once, you laughed at your own antics and believed
you were free.”

“Don’t be pedantic,” he growls,
“and tell me where I can have a shower.
I shit my trousers and I need to get clean.”

He’s been waved away away by every hand I recommend.
Then I remember the leisure centre.
We both pretend to believe that he might receive help there.

As he staggers off along the street,
sleek and limber legs reject his presence. Even the pavement
hardens itself against his weaving feet.

From her place in the past, my mother looks askance.
Tears skitter in the sky as I speak to the breeze.

“I treated him like a human being.”

My mother agrees. That is true, at least.

“If I lived somewhere different,
I would have invited him back.”

My mother silently absorbs the lie;
her kindness inhibits her from lecturing me.

.

©Jane Paterson Basil

Like a Sister

My friend,
you are like a sister to me. I regret giving you
the impression that I’m pushing you away.
Please forgive me.

When we speak, the words
get shuffled and swallowed by my throat, so I’m
writing this in the hope that it will explain my difficulties.

At present, I have so little time between tending to my responsibilities and I need
private
moments
to breathe; to
listen for the clean

silence

that sits lightly beneath my clamouring brain. Lately, I yearn
to separate my clashing thoughts and
examine
each
one
in turn,
that I might extract
peace from this confusion.

Please be patient with me, yet
understand this; while I yearn to amass
an ever greater wealth of empathy, I am neither
lonely or deeply unhappy. I find myself in a position
of unlikely privilege, and will do what I can
to fulfil the duties which this
particular privilege brings.

Soon, I anticipate
calm.

Should you be absent
from my life on that day
it would be a tragedy, but I
have seen your loyalty –

you will not desert me.

Thank you for
embracing me with your friendship.
You are important to me.

.

©Jane Paterson Basil

Go Gently, old Friend

daisy

Go gently, old friend.

Leave only
sweet ashes, drifting
through minds that
sift away
the silt.

Memories
of confusion and pain
are the dust in our tears;
we rinse them away.
What remains is a
kind reminder
of the
best
times
of your life.

Gone is the child
who reached for hands to hold,
the child who hungered for a loving touch.
Gone are the fists that rained cold blows
on your bewildered sensibilities.
stealing away what might
have been.

Now
you are free.

Go gently, and rest in peace.

.

©Jane Paterson Basil

Limitations

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Listening to the eulogy
I am reminded that one man can be a plethera of unique characters
depending on the angle of sight

Each if us sees him from our separate space, our spectacles constructed of smooth shapes and shards which glint in varying shades,
each piece tinted by a disparate need, a belief or desire
each reflecting its own shade and hue
or casting dark shadows that blind the sight or tell the truth

Often, the light changes the closer we venture
though some folks see no more than he wants us to see,
as he covers his flesh in clean monk’s habit
or dons pure white angel wings

They have no way of knowing that later he might crack the distorting lenses
and give us a glimpse of the truth

Gazing at the blown-up photos of the handsome man as he smiles in his prime
I’m reminded of my sense of surprise as he regaled me with his impish light, his unusual humour
his silverfish image of one who was kind

The eulogy tells of memories held
of stories birthed long before I beheld him –
tales of a father who nurtured his children
who never gave in to anger or sulking, who played no games of manipulation;
to a father and a man who was good and true.

This isn’t the time to pick holes in the rosebud input of those who hold honeyed visions close
It’s a moment to reflect and remember the man – his innocent efforts, great strengths and rare skills
and to remind ourselves that all of us have our own limitations
and there’s no way of telling how we’d react
to the exact set of circumstances he experienced
from the day he was born
to the second his last breath softly informed us
that the moment of death and peace had come.

©Jane Paterson Basil

Purpose

Sometimes it hurts,
and you see no purpose,
no need for the needles of pain.
No reason to search for why it occurred,
or to learn the lessons tucked deep in your brain.
You yearn for a way to rearrange history,
return to yesterday,
change its shape.

You weep and you rage,
you try meditation,
but the answer keeps slipping away.

So you weep and rage,
you rage and you weep,
pain fills your your dreams whenever you sleep
and increases when you awake.

You see no reason,
but you search for a purpose,
if only to soothe the hurt.

Grief heaps up, seemingly endless.
Death is around you, shrouded and soundless,
it threatens your loved ones and rattles the door.

In the still of the morning,
you pick at slim thoughts as you try to assuage the pain.
They dispel like salt in simmering water
and the suffering returns again.

Nobody tells you you’re trying too hard,
and the healing is contained in your subconscious brain.
The only way to access the reason
is to cease entertaining your own narrow theories,
stop looking for answers to your thin queries.

You need to keep active, deal with each day,
make peace with the pain and breathe it in.
Open to the gentlest faith you have hidden
no matter what shape that faith may take.
Whether you connect with the collective consciousness
or follow the lead of a sacred deity
or trust in planet or your brothers and sisters,
hold it within; don’t leave it to stray.

Live life, and love in the best way you’re able,
yet store some spare conscious space in your soul –
but don’t stand waiting for something to fill it,
it is up to the purpose to wait,

it will come to you when you are ready,
and on the highest level,
you will be well.

©Jane Paterson Basil