Category Archives: poems

Cupboard of Love

Freed from

the 3D phantoms

that haunted me, robbing

this mother’s multi-shelved

cupboard of love and of

empathy, leaving me

hungry, stealing

the trust that

they would

come

back

to me.

Freed from

the terror of the crypt

by their twin recovery.

Oh happy, happy

release.

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©Jane Paterson Basil

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Outside

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.

Outside,

sleepy daylight kisses a

streaked goodnight across the sky,

a squawking seagull briefly obscures my 

view of the setting sun and the breeze

riffles copper confetti from the trees.

I watch awhile, wishing I was as

interesting as an oak leaf, as

focused as rising sap, as

strong as wood, and

as brave as a

tree.

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©Jane Paterson Basil

Indomitable # a poem

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Standing on the window ledge polishing the glass,
petrified pedestrians staring at my ass.
Don’t think about the pavement thirty feet below;
hang on to the window frame and don’t let go.
When the windows are clean, the battle is won;
you call it risky but I call it fun.

The disused viaduct is surprisingly high,
If I was to plummet I would surely die.
The protective fence is no wider than my shoe –
close your eyes tight if I am scaring you.
Ten steps to go, and I’m feeling driven,
you call it madness but I call it living.

Lying in the park in the middle of the day,
just around the corner from the kids at play.
Frankie is practicing his knife-throwing skill;
every near miss is giving me a thrill.
Watching his smile as he hovers above;
You call it dangerous but I call it love.

Image of Castle Hill Viaduct. At some point before I moved to the area – in my teens, a fence was built along each edge of the bridge, to make it ‘safe’.

©Jane Paterson Basil

An Announcement in Poetry

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He lit her fire and felt the radiating glow
that lay unkindled through the blunted, charcoal years,
and now, at 3 am, her eyes are closed, her frame in safe recline
while he and I discuss the coming celebration
as if we were alone.

I think that she’s asleep,
but David knows that when her name is spoken,
her lovely eyes will open, and she’ll surprise me with a dazzling smile
which, had I questions in my head, would reconcile them, every one.
She’ll rise up fast and cross the room to kiss his head,
then sleepily retrace her steps to lie back down again,
while both of us devour the sight of reclaimed beauty.

It happens every time.

This is no fickle game, no touch-and-go,
no trumped-up love to end in tears,
no dirty trick to try her luck,
no shameful scam to make a buck.

She’s gone so far beyond her ruinsome loyalty to dangerous desires,
and found a life that’s richer than a pirate’s buried chest of gems.
I watch and know she’ll never lose herself again.

I catch his eye, and it is like a sibling’s hug.

This marriage is no sacrifice, no grateful gift for what he did.
My daughter found a home in him, a home she never knew before.
I love this trying, loyal man who loves to disagree
with all the views I hold most dear,
this roughly mined black diamond who saved my child’s life.
I love our friendship, love our differences and little wars,
but most of all I love the way he loves my daughter,
and I’ll be proud to call him
son-in-law.

This rhyme is artlessly arranged, but I won’t change a word of it. It’s the only way I know to finally share my daughter’s forthcoming marriage to Dave.

Image: My sleepy girl before she decided it was time to lie down on my sofa and go to sleep, while Dave and I watched over her, discussed wedding plans, and generally enjoyed an all-nighter.

©Jane Paterson Basil

The Words

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.

I don’t have the words
to describe how he saved me; how many times he
untied me, his voice cradling me, his
words raising me to a place where I could see the
raised, grey veins feeding the leaves, the
infinite gaps between the atoms, the
perfection of profanity, the
surprised depth of my tenacity, the
secret sinews that stretched for me,
the verdigris beauty
of our cracked
humanity;

I don’t have the words
to say what he was to me.
If he crept inside my head, he
could write my truth for me.

He, and only he
whose honest bricks were
shaped from human frailty and faults;
from love and hate and pain and ecstasy,
from hope and desperation, and finally, from peace,
who showed us places we could almost reach,
who raised his turgid alter high
and humbly gifted it to us.

I don’t claim exclusivity,
my keening sigh is echoed
by a million souls with feeling,
but when he ceased breathing,
I wept for unsung songs
that were destined to be digested and dispersed
in the dank earth by cemetery worms,
and while I believe he was ready

we weren’t.

.

Dedicated, with friendship and gratitude to Ivor, who, in conjunction with Leonard Cohen, inspired this poem.

©Jane Paterson Basil

A Terrible Intimacy

week-8

I have skittered around the jagged rim of it –
have cringed from its septic snag, standing well back,
pressing against the walls of my cell in the undisguised hell of my life,
thinking to escape its gnashing teeth.
I’ve hidden behind a false smile or fallen with
silent or searing scream while the buzzing in my brain kept
sanity away and all the time I believed
I was being brave.
Don’t give in to it. Don’t let it in or
the monsters will carry you away.
It will scratch your skin, but if you have the will you can
be a wisp of smoke, a ribbon of unreality, you can
cease to be if only for the moment. You can
die in spirit so the hurt won’t reach you. You can
escape the worst of it.

And suddenly it engulfs you, all of it, every last bit, every
truth and falsehood they dripped into your head, every
needle that they pushed through the skin designed to protect
those children you loved even as they were forming in your womb,
and you feel it all, every attack and defence, everything
they broke within and without, everything
they did, everything,
every last pain that they inflicted,
every
single
minute of it.

It’s all there, every inch if agony they
pushed into themselves and you. It’s a force that fills
your body, works its way between the
layers of muscle and fat, courses
through the bloodstream and presses against the flesh. It
pulls you to the floor, drags you into a foetal position.
You’re panting like a dog, fighting
to gain control, but it holds fast to you, until
finally your fight is all gone.

That’s when it loosens its grip a little, leaving
you free; free to allow its firm embrace, free to feel
it flow through you, around you, above and below you.
It sweeps through you like
a clean spring of pure love or pure hatred, and now that you have
made your peace with it, you’re no longer sure of the difference
between agony and ecstasy. There is only the fact of it,
the unity, the bond between you and this caressing pain.

You lie with it awhile,
feeling your heartbeat decrease,
hearing the blood cease its humming,
noticing the world become still,
returning its embrace.

You have loved
and you have lain with men,
but now you know you have never let them in.
You have never allowed this
terrible intimacy.

It’s neither the best or the worst moment of your life,
and it is nothing in between these extremes;
it just is. It is all of you and none of you.
It is horror and fulfilment and emptiness.
It is all and nothing.
It is home.

Soon you will continue your life.
Nothing external will have changed, but you will
breathe,
and for a while you will remember
how to cry.

Written for Reena’s Exploration Challenge #Week 8

©Jane Paterson Basil