Category Archives: poem

Oh Dear; Deer.



My mother used to sing an old Irish folk song: –

I know where I’m going
And I know who’s going with me
I know who I love
And my dear knows who I’ll marry.

I have stockings of silk
And shoes of bright green leather
Combs to buckle my hair
And a ring for every finger.

O’ feather beds are soft
And painted rooms are bonnie
But I would give them all
For my handsome winsome Johnny.

Some say that he’s poor
But I say that he’s bonnie
Fairest of them all
Is my handsome winsome Johnny

For some reason, instead of “and my dear knows who I’ll marry”, my mother used to sing “but the deer knows who I’ll marry”.

I always wondered who “the deer” was. I’ve only just discovered her mistake…

©Jane Paterson Basil

Catalyst for survival

Image credit, Wikimedia

all these years
my reasoning poet
my rhyming priest
you held me

hid beneath this keening ache
beats the rhythm of your sweet profanity
the shades of your rainbow passion,
the elegant grit of your reality

rivers of words drifted from your lips
inviting me to swim in your vicinity
they caressed my wind-bleached skin
sinking in, making my body sing

you have been
my catalyst for survival
all these years

collect in the cold air

all these tears
I rinsed from your guitar
drip into rippling pools around my feet
radiating Leonard-energy

worlds of love
that will never end

Leonard Cohen.
September 21st 1934 – November 10th 2016.
R.I.P. xxx

Today, I grieve. There is a void where my words used to be.
Maybe tomorrow I will be ready to celebrate his life.

©Jane Paterson Basil

You ask

You ask how much I need you, but I explained;
I wish you had more sense in your tiny bird brain.
You ask how much I love you; I told you before,
You irritate my senses, you foolish old bore.

Hold the train, I won’t be a mo.
Hold the train, can’t you see I want to go.

You ask that same old question, did you mis-hear;
I’d love you to syringe all the wax from your ear.
You ask how much I need you, I’ll tell you true,
Until the twelfth of never I’ll not be wanting you.

Hold the train, I will not be long.
Here’s the train, release my arm and I’ll be gone.

You ask that same old question, did you mis-hear;
I’d love you to syringe all the wax from your ear.
You ask how much I need you, I’ll tell you true,
Until the twelfth of never I’ll not be wanting you.

I offer my almost sincere apologies to Jerry Livingston and Paul Francis Webster, who wrote The Twelfth of Never.

Unfortunately, the following video only shows Johnny Mathis singing the original version, as I haven’t yet persuaded him to record my lyrics. However, it’s really rather good, and I hope you’ll enjoy it.

The Daily Post #Tiny

©Jane Paterson Basil

A place called Jeopardy


Last Monday brought a hangover from hell
rang up my work, said I didn’t feel well
boss knew I’d been on a drinking spree
told me that my job was in jeopardy
On Thursday the same thing happened again
can you imagine my consternation when
In the blink of an eye I was in a strange land
full of rolling boulders and slipping sand
and though you may think this story is berserk
I was sitting at my desk from the office at work
Danger was apparent everywhere I looked
slitty eyes were glinting out of every nook
razors were raining down from the sky
I even saw a scorpion flying by
the earth beneath kept shifting and slanting
I could hear some invisible creature panting
jagged cracks kept opening in the ground
while fire balls exploded all around
0n my computer screen my boss appeared
laughing so much that he shed a tear
His eyes glittered brightly as he said to me
D’you like your new position in Jeopardy?


Written for The Daily Post Prompt #Jeopardize

©Jane Paterson Basil

#AtoZ Challenge Unicorn










when first we met he was a boy of eleven
and I was an unhappy woman selling cruelty-free products
in a secondary trading position close to his home.

I became fond of this child genius, whose acts of charity
patched up the holes where his friends should have been.
he raced around the street offering to assist the retailers –
pick up a pint of milk,
make a cup of tea.

with his well-practiced
magic tricks and brilliant invention
of impromptu verbal games, he irritated, amused
and finally fascinated everyone with brain enough
to appreciate the value of his company

often, after school, he’d visit me in my little shop
and we’d sit behind the counter talking metaphysics
or laughing as we played ‘if he/she was an animal,
what kind of animal would he/she be?’
even at that age, he was better at it than me.

I could see why his shallow contempararies were wary.
even though he didn’t know he was leaning
others could already sense which way he leant,
and they shied from his opposite quality.

I despised those children; in my protectiveness
making no allowances for the insecurities of youth

I introduced him to a girl in a similar situation
whose callously indifferent companions had deserted her,
and they soon built up a group that became a clan
of good friends who valued each other.

years passed and he came into his glorious own
his gangliness grew into the kind of gorgeous looks
that made a certain kind of man yearn
to be in his presence.

the day he said he could no longer see Unicorns
it was with a shy, but triumphant, smile

he was happier than I had ever seen him
but it took me a few moments to comprehend
that he had left his boyhood behind
and embraced his sexuality.

when only a child
he gifted me his determined sunshine
burying the sadness so deep that few could see
always giving, asking nothing in return.
no Unicorn had ever protected him.

I was glad that those mythical horses
would never again have the opportunity
to back away from his lonely call


©Jane Paterson Basil

#AtoZ Challenge #Starting again


this time,
perhaps for the first time
we are starting again.

this time
my eyes crinkle at the corners
as they stare bravely ahead.
the fear has been extinguished by a vision
of his glittering possibility.

this time
I do not tremble, hope or wish.
I do not wake, frightened, in the night.
I know I will stand fast if he falters;
he will not take me with him.

this time
I have had the strength to free him
from his ability to manipulate me.
we have come to an understanding;
a state of combined love and respect.

this time
I am not looking behind me
at the loss and the waste of our lives
I am not angrily recounting in my head
the forgotten promises and intentions.

this time,
this time, for the first time,
we have started again.

©Jane Paterson Basil

#atozchallenge Momentum


I recently heard the story of an addict who had been using for years, daily staggering through the same old game, hustling for the money to feed his habit before trailing after dealers to sell him his next inch of jaded relief. One day he was sitting in his regular patch when an old friend from school passed by. Without slowing his pace, the man turned slightly, and, glancing his way, said Are you still at it? in a disinterested tone, then continued on his way.

The addict stared after him, shocked by those few, simple words. Only he knows what images of the past crowded his brain, what feelings of loss at his wasted days, what thoughts of his shame and degradation – but in that blinding instant he made the decision to change, to embrace the future he had perhaps, long ago, in his schooldays, taken for granted.

He went into recovery, and now he repeats his inspirational tale to all who he feels may find it helpful.

I like to think that he thanked the school-mate for clicking the switch that gave him the momentum to change his life.

We all have moments of grace, when desire, strength and faith combine to make many actions that hitherto seemed too distant to consider, achievable, and the littlest thing can open our minds to great possibilities.

©Jane Paterson Basil