When my parting breath has exhaled all etchings of pleasure and gain, releasing them to the blind breeze - when the milled shards of speckled pain have quit my cooling heart, my leaden limbs, my stale brain - when no trace of shame or self remain - build a pyre, pile it high, roll my remains in a reclaimed sheet. Weep if you will. but not for me: when you kindle the fire my ashes will fly: let them go as, barren, they float away: think only of my freed soul as it traces a trail along a veiled lane between river and trees home of our long-gone cloaked roams. In the dip where our arms reached, there shall I settle, there shall I lie, and there, in peace shall I rest for a while. ©Jane Paterson Basil
Category Archives: poetry
One Bright Hue
You twist the cube, try for one bright hue to fill your eyes, fumbling to build a blue wall that shines like a clean childhood sky, but the fingers fail and the cube bleeds, refusing to comply, its fuming patches bragging bitter truth, describing the sickness that grins between the seams. You drop the cube, close your eyes and dream. ©Jane Paterson Basil
Written for Reena‘s Xploration challenge #196. Sorry, Reena, my WP editor has a glitch: hard as I try, I can’t get it to highlight the whole name of your post when creating a pingback.
Come into Oxfam (re-hashed)
Don't diss me sister; I'm a cool fashionista, running with the times, an Eco A lister. Dressed by Oxfam from my head to my toes, elegant in every stitch of pre-cherished clothes and feeling pretty nifty in my vintage hat --- fifty years more stylish than this season's tat. I never understood; it's always been a mystery why people steer clear of raiment with a history, but the world is changing and the wise understand it's grand to to be strutting in second-hand. Our over-production will suck the planet dry --- we cannot halt the damage unless we all try. . If you buy less new, it'll slow production down, saving precious energy the world around, so come on into Oxfam and rummage with me, you never can tell what treasures you'll see. It's better than the High Street shops in town --- come with me to Oxfam and look around. Labels lack soul and the prices are steep, those showy little tags make folks look like sheep or mannequins standing in a window display trailing the fashion victims rags of the day. Change your look, show your personality --- come into the Oxfam shop with me. When you learn about the projects that Oxfam holds dear I hope that you will sign up to volunteer, giving up a portion of your time for free, learning new skills while you work with me or any of the members of our friendly crew who'd surely be delighted to get to know you. If you ain't got the confidence I'll hold your hand, and when you walk out the door you will understand the reasons I spend my time like I do, and buy pre-used instead of brand new: I'm runnin' with the times, I'm a cool fashionista, don't diss me sister, I'm an Eco A lister. ©Jane Paterson Basil
Seems I’m all out of poetry. so I’ve been messing about with this one, which I wrote a few years ago... still not entirely happy with it.
This brave beauty has been buffeted by autumn's steely breath, robbed of its faded cape. Not one thread clung to shield it from winter chill. Twigs snap, strained limbs creak and break, yet victory is gained; the tree remains staunch, tall and erect. Vanquished by harsh wind, leaves crumble and decay into mulch to feed next season's stunning display.
©Jane Paterson Basil
Farewell to Jenny
while I wrote remote history, last night
while I revived lowlights of my life, last night
while I cried over a spilled note, last night
even as you entered
the scented season of life.
– long before the sickening Fall –
– ere grief’s canker grew organic form –
your roots being gnawed
by flown protectors of your youth
while your sore heart languished between
the spectral hands
of the child
of your womb.
that everyone died on;
a truth that consumed you.
sullied your cloak of bright colours,
choking your willow courage, yet you fought
far past the darkest hour, beyond the point
ate your rainbow disguise.
Untiringly you stitched, yet
each time you tried to repair
the flimsy attire
the thread broke.
I waited, somehow knowing
that we would meet some day. Long before
I saw your face, I sensed your breath on my cheek as if
your spirit whispered to me, yet I did not guess
that our acquaintance would be
We met but once,
a singular meeting which conceived
an embryonic friendship, aborted
by the decree that would
steal you to eternity.
Jenny, it was an honour;
for in those brief moments
you exceeded my hopes.
you must have shed
a lake of tears deeper than
the raging stream that swept her
to her death. Now
the flood ebbs, eased by your stilled flesh.
Today and for evermore,
may you rest
with your daughter
©Jane Paterson Basil
I never expect you, yet
I am ever sure that soon
you will reach my door,
your smile, your eyes, your body talking,
communicating all that I have longed for and all
that I refuse to dwell upon.
It rushes in as I lay aside the simple “sorry” on your lips,
mouthed beneath the clamour
of celebrating heart, racing pulse.
You are here.
I don’t mind that you dined
on Dutch courage before you arrived.
We’re both of us breaking the rules,
you renaging on a vow made for life,
me evading thoughts of your wife.
You need another drink.
Still I don’t mind.
You are with me again,
shoulders shrugging your duties away,
Germanic eyes pale as ice, yet
like a welcoming sky on the day that Spring arrives,
your lopsided smile issuing a silent enquiry.
How could you doubt my constancy?
Reading my body’s response,
you display ivories I’ve been longing to see.
“I’ll get my coat,” I say.
Dipping into the living room,
I relate a hasty Dear John to a misbegotten distraction:
“He’s come for me.
You can finish your coffee and take
the back way out once I’ve gone.
It’s been fun. Sorry it’s so sudden, but
I have no time for his tears. At this moment
he repels me.
It’s not my fault, I tell myself –
I always told them no-one
It’s true I am cruel,
but I think only of you and now
you are here.
You you you.
Maybe when we say
our last goodbye
I’ll train to be kind to those
who don’t compare to you.
we drive to a village pub,
stepping into a hubbub
instantly hushed by the arrival
of two outsiders.
As conversation resumes
we choose a quiet corner of the murky room.
You get the drinks while I
shake off memories of the void;
pointless days stretching to months,
faking pleasure with insipid imitations of you,
playing the field without reason
in a game where I cheat, don’t care if I kill,
where nobody wins and no healing takes place,
failing to fill a space while I wait for the one man
who leaves me intact.
As you bend to place the drinks on the table,
that rebellious forelock of blonde hair
flops across your face. As always,
you shake your head to move it,
and as always, your effort fails.
A kitten wakes inside me, chases a tickly ball of wool,
nudging the overfilled bucket of adoration in my chest,
spilling it everywhere.
I love, love, love you.
Wherever I go, love keeps me company,
pumping through these veins,
blowing in the wind, catching in trees,
filling me, stroking my flesh, its tendrils
caressing me, embracing everything I see,
yet still your presence
By the time we leave you’ll be three sheets.
You’ll drive slowly, perhaps your tyres will clip the bank,
but I trust you to keep me alive, like in the days
before I knew of your duality;
All those times you practiced knife throwing skills
while I lay, limbs akimbo
trusting that the knife would miss my armpits and thighs,
I neither knew nor cared whether
it was luck or skill
that guided the knife.
You take my hand.
I burrow into your shoulder.
Sounds issue from our lips;
inconsequential things that describe
dinners, histories, bricks,
while our spirits hold their own conversation..
You, my beloved one, my breath, my home.
You love us both, and that’s fine by me.
I ask only for your happiness.
Any joy that might come my way is a bonus.
Were I in your shoes, I would find it hard to choose
between homemaker and adventuress.
The clock ticks, timing each moment.
Later I will memorise this;
clutch it close for when I am alone.
It’s time to go home.
We sit in your car, letting it idle while
we pretend it is easy to say goodnight.
After a while you turn the key,
leaving silence. At this stage,
secrets trail silver streaks in the wake
of each word we speak,
me and my supreme, loveable drunk,
so we share light kisses, lips barely brushing,
sticking to the limits we set,
sitting on separate sides of the clutch.
Written for Paul Sunstone over at the café philos, in response to his brand-spanking-new
->->->-> poetry prompt <-<-<-<-
This was the day that I was finally going to catch up with the blogs, see how my friends are doing. But I got an email from Paul. I don’t know how to say no to him, so my time has been spent writing, and you all know how I hate to write. The poem doesn’t fulfil all the requirements, but the moving finger writes, and having writ, it makes an obscene gesture and moves on.
©Jane Paterson Basil
We Loved So Well
We loved so well
with a depth I treasure to this day,
yet I don’t regret
that age might erase my memories,
or fear that all vestiges of it
will be stripped away when we cease to breathe,
since throughout eternity,
the waves we made will reverberate.
we are no less than butterflies
whose wings barely disturb the air,
no more than Kingfishers dipping their beaks,
causing ripples that indiscernibly adjust
the course of the stream,
yet together with Dinosaurs and Frankenstein’s sheep,
together with all sentient beings that swim fly and creep,
together with all creatures that have ever been,
together everything current and ceased
beneath the sky that leads to infinity,
though we be tiny, finite,
our energy echoes forever.
We loved so well
with a love which will kiss the earth
*(as it gently recovers our vacated flesh.
Flowers will bloom, worms will flourish)
and the earth will listen to the wind
singing our story
*I’m not sure whether I should keep these two lines, since they might detract from the romantic mood of the poem. Hence the faded writing. Opinions please?
©Jane Paterson Basil
Ode to a Fool
You see this flesh
and you want to possess me.
Since you are terminally thick
you misconstrue my jests as reality.
Even my insults are erogenous to you
since you don’t understand simple sentences.
and though I slap away your feeble grip
still you think you can heal me
by hiding your pricked-up mess
in the opening between my thighs.
You speak of love
as if it’s a gift which cannot but hold my interest;
a treat that must surely fascinate
*(She said “Love? Lord above,
now you’re tryin’ to put me in love.”)
Looks like you’re too late, mate.
Better men have tried,
but worse men got there first.
You missed the train by miles.
If you’d been there with your fists fifty years since,
you could have licked the rapist and changed my history,
but you were busy with some silly missus,
making your own mistakes, shouting down deaf alleys,
cursing, boozing, losing at pool,
the two of you taking turns to screw up your kids,
and I wouldn’t have looked twice even then.
*Lyric from Free; All Right Now.
©Jane Paterson Basil
He ignores my birthday,
waves away Mothering Sunday,
is always on the take,
but he gave me a pig; a frail paper pig
during his prison time.
Confined to solitary for an inside crime,
the man woke to find a lonely child —
the ghost of my son —
in his abandoned soul.
Engaging his flare for origami
he reshaped a pale scrap of waste,
wrote ‘Oink Oink’ on its flank,
and smuggled it past the screws
when I visited him in jail.
I snuck it through the creaking gates
which locked me back in freedom;
a gift of love from a lost one
to a searching mother.
He came home,
but I couldn’t find my child behind his eyes
and he was blinded by the habit
of hiding in his hooded life.
Since he skipped town for the city,
I’ve scrubbed away the filth,
scrapped the waste
he left scattered in his wake.
Thirty years of memories lie buried
in a crate beneath impediments
I save in case of rain,
yet the pig —
the paper pig he made for me —
the pig stands guard upon my shelf,
defending one last inch of who he might have been,
and hinting at the chance of change.
I lift him up and purse my lips
to blow the dust away,
and even though I banish hope
since hope might bring me pain,
with gentle hand I place the pig
back on the shelf again.
©Jane Paterson Basil
The Distance Between
if time was a kindly two-way lane
I’d turn my laden truck around and speed toward the East,
blanking the maggoty road-kill that festers yet
on the tracks of your pickled yesteryears
your needle pricks
your blood and spit
your flinging tantrums
the wars you fought with phonic swords fast-honed on flowing tears;
your armies marched to split my walls
which let in gales of filth and fear
leaving me in defeat
with nothing to eat but the waste from the streets.
You grinned while I choked on the gruesome mince
as if I was having a treat
but your smile couldn’t hide the spin of your mind
or the pit beneath your feet
driving in a straight line until your skin is smooth,
accelerating to let my lorry leap the fall,
then lifting my toes for the peaks of the show.
Never leaving the road,
I would pursue my goal
until I nestled the warm weight of my youngest child,
you, my only son,
your arms enveloping my neck,
fresh-formed fingers hooking my hair,
finding my ear lobes,
nose pressing my throat,
your caress needy,
like a thief or a breast-fed cub,
your possessive caress
in that heavenly rush
your sweet, owning caress
would be my destination,
and the things I know
would sink in an ocean of parental ecstasy.
But time is not a two-way lane;
it’s a taut chain that leads forward
to obscurity, obliterating diamonds in its wake.
If I concentrate
I can synthesise a fleeting sensation of the elation
brought by each childish embrace;
a hint of silver that glitters
beneath the skin of a silted stream,
yet I cannot feel your breath on my neck
or the texture
of your skin warming mine,
and linear time
has no way to erase
the mistakes of the distance between.
My son is currently banished from my life, but I hold him in my heart. I will not capitulate and I will forge forward in life, but I grieve for him and hope that one day he will return to the family that loves him.
©Jane Paterson Basil