Category Archives: poetry

Tramp off, Trump

Don’t tell me about zero tolerance. I can see
your compassion is at point zero.
How dare you wipe your stinking feet on UK soil,
and how could our misfit PM have the cheek to welcome you,
her skin turning pink at the thought
that her harsh measures are too gentle for your sort.
Who would think she
would ever be considered too touchy feely?
Have you seen how gives to the rich what she steals from the poor,
whistling while Brits fling themselves from bridges?
Come to think of it, that’s right down your street.
As we say around our way, with our irritating gift
for understatement:
It won’t do.

Go home; go back to the USA,
face the shame of your Texan cages.
Set the children free, give them back to their families,
then lock yourself away
and throw away the key,
or pass it to your worst enemy…
if you can figure out who that is.

.

He’s gone now – off on a plane, no doubt to see what damage he can do next.

This poem was a lot longer, but I felt it best to cut out a lot of what I wrote, and the clichés are deliberate…

©Jane Paterson Basil

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Cold Where Women Are Wet

Written for the Sandbox Writing Challenge 2018 – Exercise 25

girl-in-trash

“Do you see something of yourself in this little child?
If so, what?”


You ask what it was like.
Your brows furrow as I describe multiple rapes,
imaginative beatings.

Terror of death.
Cringing hatred blurring the vision.
Images of crazy pistons, runaway trains.
Bruises burns broken bones invasion pain
bruises burns broken bones invasion pain
bruises burns broken bones invasion pain.

You ask:
given my past,
why the promiscuity?
Once, I hunted for excuses,
citing the tail end of the hippie era.
“Everybody was doing it.”
Still the question:
“But why you?”

I could tell you what the records show.

Looking back,
perhaps I was trying to re-enact
the horror, that it might shrink, morph into
a joke or a commonplace memory,
and I thought it could make me
normal, mistakenly believing that frequent practice
between the sheets in all weathers, on the beach on balmy nights, under trees on starlit evenings, on the back seats of a cars, in wheat fields and deep grass, in gardens, behind cinemas, in derelict buildings, under bridges, next to rivers, in my best friend’s den, in strangers’ garages, in  my grandmas shed and that failed time in a smelly public inconvenience, 
would give me a taste for it.

I’ll admit the thrill of each easy catch.
Ego-tripping through pubs and parks, a skilled actor
playing the part of a sylph, twisting hearts, tweaking dicks.
Hiding my dearth beneath a pretty face,
swaying wet-dream curves, displaying a fake sparkle which
splintered
as alien lips kissed the throat that used to choke,
and hands, so like those that wrapped around my neck,
stretched toward my shuddering breast.

Gritting my teeth,
smothering screams,
cold in the places where women are wet,
shamefully failing at pleasure.
Forever unsure
of my cause.

You wonder
how I feel about the past.

I’ll shrug and tell you
the child who dragged her baggage
through hiccuping failure, whose sleepwalking feet
crushed wilting daisies, whose foolish errors
infected the next generation,
finally grew balls

Fresh air embraces me,
leads me into a waltz. Together, we celebrate
the familiar gift of menopause.

Your brows furrow.
You’d like to know how I am now.

How kind of you to ask.
I am like most of us; I have walked and run,
slipped on banana skins, been kicked
by beasts and healed by love.

I retired from lugging dust.

I am well.

.

©Jane Paterson Basil

Stiff Upper Lip

tea-1674830__340

This is your conscience speaking;

I know you feel
like flaying the next-door fiend,
leaving her festering in a smelly heap, to the applause
of almost every tenant on these three floors,

and you fantasise
about an unacceptable, inconceivable set-up with the bed-eyed,
dread-locked sex god you’re forever ogling
in the second-hand shop.

I realise you recently considered
ripping off your jeans and summer vest in the hey-day high street,
screaming “ I hear you knocking but you can’t come in”,
then running away, giggling.

and you are tempted
to tell that frosty screw what her silly victim –
her lily-livered excuse for a libertine loser – plotted to do
to you when she was at bingo, sandwiching his confused pseudo-love
between the pages of a detailed medical dictionary, as if
each irritating phrase was a ribbon-wrapped gift, every
trumped-up twitch and flickering heart beat a treat;
and yet he knew you didn’t want to swim
in anyone’s swan song, let alone
sink through his forlorn
funeral tune.

I understand
that – until you did it – you might think it funny
to cut off your extremities and wiggle your stumps,
singing “Look, no hands,
and no feet, either”,

and you have been dying
to tip your wardrobe through the window, crying, “look – it can fly”,
wait for the smashing crash to attract the neighbours’ attention,
then yell, “and so can I”,
and try.

It’s true that their lives are dull,
and it would give those old folks a thrill
to see your blood churning the earth into rusty mud
to feed the geriatric rose bushes,
but don’t.

This
is your conscience speaking, old bean;
don’t do any of the above – let us not forget
one is British; such activities are simply not cricket.
Extend your stiff upper lip; use it
to lift a kettle, then settle down
with a nice cup of tea.

.

©Jane Paterson Basil

Where Charity Ends

childpoverty1

The cash
tempted them
with its accessibility,
so, with itchy fingers, they drove
to the shops.

They purchased
silly hats for Ascot,
nifty jackets to match the fashion,
trainers imported from dim Asian sweatshops,
nasty plastic bracelets for no special reason,
dresses that hungry children had studded with beads
so secretaries could look like hippies when they hit the festival fields.

They slurped greedy treats
while on TV screens, malnourished children
struggled to breathe.

“Charity begins at home,” said mum,
speedily switching to BBC where a documentary
displayed equally disturbing images. “We can’t
let the kids see this,” said dad,
and switched channel again.

“We have no money for a third holiday
since the kitchen extension was so pricey,” said mum,
“and we can’t afford to improve our second home
as we’ve just had to pay for your shiny red
penis extension in the garage,”
she added.

They ordered takeaway
and ate cake while they waited.
When the food arrived they struggled through
a few bites before pushing their plates away,
complaining that they were stuffed.
As mum scraped pizza into
the obese garbage bin,
she wondered why
she had so little
appetite.

Meanwhile, in Somalia,
less fortunate mothers wept, while
an unspecified number of starving children
quietly died.

.

©Jane Paterson Basil

Dimpled Fingers

child poverty

.

Dimpled fingers
that reeked of crayon and ink,
riffled the fat book whose images depicted
thin children with unfamiliar skin-tones
from different races.

Blatant deprivation
is not pretty. The charity knew this.
Skin was scrubbed and wrapped in clean clothing.
The touched-up, sunrise smiles of these cute kids
seduced even the school-yard bully.

We each paid
our fisted shilling and took an image home.
Girls chose girls, and all knew which boys
were school-yard romance material
by what gender they selected.

It felt virtuous;
saving the children of the world
at the cost of a shilling.

My own photograph girl
boasted exotic black-sheep curls,
milky cocoa skin, ebony eyes that, even
through the monochrome, looked as if the whites
had been soaked in my my mother’s bag blue.
Her smile suggested a regular pastime
of birthday treats, an ignorance
of hunger and misuse.

My mind reeled; beneath
a shameful pride for my ordained,
yet eager participation in the important cause,
lay a guilty sense of possession, as if, for a single shilling
I had purchased this air-brushed ambassador for the tortured masses
whom the charity had prudently picked for prettiness;
In addition, I wriggled with a lonely wish
to know her;
to be her virtual sister.

Beyond these minor concerns
was a passionate desire to see change;
for the planet to become a safer place,
for the suffering
to cease.

My high ideals
did not admit reality;
I expected that our annual shillings
would banish misery and lack of subsistence
from the lives of the children
of this planet.

~

Years swept by.

Astronauts
explored the moon while Governments explored the possible profits
of war.

A millennium ended.
Technology crept, climbed and finally soared, defining our living rooms
and our lives.

Nations made threats
that ended in more bloody wars, boxing the love and spreading hate
and death.

Measuring each stretch toward maturity,
we graduated, reproduced, relocated, renovated,
decorated, celebrated, degenerated, regenerated, ruminated, educated,
succeeded, failed, grieved, raged, made ready
for a fresh generation.

My dimples have long since creased into wrinkles.

And still,
after all that we have done and seen,
millions of children
suffer and die,
too weak
to fight,
too broken
to
cry.

~

Thanks go to Ivor, who inspired this poem with his recent rash of compassionate posts about the suffering of children.

©Jane Paterson Basil

Fiction Planet

fractal-662894_64

Fiction Planet is a crazy place
unknowingly created by the human race;
with it’s ever increasing wish for fiction,
there’s never the risk of dereliction.

It’s a world that never fills to overflowing,
constantly stretching, endlessly growing,
while every writer throughout age and time;
in tales long and short, in prose and rhyme,
creates more protagonists to join the throng
of fictional characters, both weak and strong;
carelessly scribbled or seamlessly drawn,
old as the hills or recently born.

Every character in every tale
is instantly despatched, without fail,
to a rocket-ship, soon to be hurled
onto the surface of a far-flung world,
complete with their views, their histories and lives,
the secondary characters; friends, foes and wives.

Thin personalities with watery expression,
written with no talent in a hurried session,
travel with oddballs whose unlikely obsession;
unusual habits and peculiar repression,
are fascinating foibles to make them more real,
your interest to excite, your faith to seal.

Misfortune and cruelty, joy and pleasure;
every kind of fiction is here by the measure
There are ‘orrible murders by the score,
ghosts, fiends and zombies, blood, guts and gore.
Stories intermingle, tangling inextricably;
they change and distort and whirl inexplicably.

Sex scenes steam on rain-speckled streets.
Car chase leaves tyre marks on black satin sheets.
Oldies cry “Ahoy!” as their creaky hips
limp across storybook pirate ships.

Oily business men stroke local cheese,
cheesemakers in markets sell secretaries knees.
Spaceship doors open and wives appear,
husbands break rules that their aliens hold dear.

Alice is trapped in Arabian nights,
little boy blue is winning fisticuff fights.
Tommy Tucker bravely climbs up the spout
when along with Bo-peep he gets washed out.

Baa-baa-black sheep is pulling out its thumb
and finding a spider as big as a plum.
Flower fairies wander in the city of angels,
Jack and Jill have fallen into Aesop’s fables.

A dragon has eaten the princess with the pea,
and the mad hatter’s buddies aren’t coming to tea;
they’re sitting in rows in a Dickensian school,
while Peter Rabbit rolls out the golden rule.

The whole mad planet should be overflowing
since hoards are arriving and not a soul is going,
but day by day, the planet keeps growing
and there’s no indication that activity is slowing.

When the last living writer has ceased to breathe,
there’ll be no new arrivals, and nobody will leave;
no joy of birth on that planet in the sky –
and no final grief; storybook folk can never die.

.

©Jane Paterson Basil

Call it what you will

maya-writing-1

I cannot scroll down to the future
to reveal the mysterious code
written in hieroglyphics
upon sacred, hardened sandstone.
The time might come when the reason
glows out from a golden tome,
but I cannot predict what life I may meet
or what the penance or prizes might be,
though I stare at twisted shapes
and question reality,
and I hope that one day the reason
will be read from a hallowed page,
but although I can’t know I don’t believe
any truth will be shown in that way to me.

I squint down the street where babies
discover their fingers and toes.
I gaze at their faces and wonder
what their future might hold.
Even a mother can’t tell
if the future’s a river of honey,
or a motorway paved with stolen money,
or a misconceived living hell.

I roll past the stuttering changeling,
that grew from the child with wide eyes
who visualised dreams in the clouds of the skies,
then watched them evolve and go scudding by,
curling to misshapen needles and knives,
death on the streets and mouths that yawn wide
in shouts of hatred and silent screams,
and what went wrong with his dreams?

What ill-wind blew his dreams out of shape?
How do so many innocent babies
become haunted orphans and fiends,
and when will the suffering end?

Maybe one day the reason
will be read from a shimmering sheet
and when truth is revealed we’ll fall to our knees
filling the air with our thanks and our pleas,
as we burn in flames or take ring-side seats,
but this is not my belief.

Some say that we’re ants on a dung-heap,
some say we are angels supreme,
but we’re all of us sentient beings
on planet that used to be green.

I search for the secret message,
but the only thing I can see
is the wildest guess in a world that’s a mess
and although it suggests that faith is a boon,
we need to change the future,
and we need to do it soon.

.

For The Sandbox Writing Challenge 2018 – Exercise 23, I allowed a stream of consciousness to came flooding in…

©Jane Paterson Basil