Category Archives: poetry

Catalyst for survival

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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

droplets
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

For Laura

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I’m seated by the window, watching boredom unfurl,
when you walk down the street, my dear depleted girl.
I focus my eyes on your wasted little frame;
hunt for a clue that something is the same;
a hint of that innocence I used to see;
the essence of your childhood personality;
something I can recognise that hasn’t changed;
a spark within your heart that’s not been rearranged;
a clue that you still attached to this family
in whatever odd way you may wish to be.

your unreachable proximity is baffling to me,
I watch you closely though I know you can’t see.
I’m unsure if in my absence you feel like my daughter;
it pricks me with guilt, makes me feel like a voyeur;
I’m spying like a stranger, an agenda in mind;
to steal away the limited freedom of your kind;
to lock you in my love or in a barred up cage;
ignore your screaming agony, your frothing rage;
strangle all the dealers who knock on the door,
until you finally appreciate what life is for;
when you rediscover a child’s sense of mystery,
and your hunger for drugs recedes into history.

You’ve passed the houses and you’re out of view;
I wish I’d left my flat and caught up with you,
but I know you’re needing something as you’re in a hurry,
and your answers to my questions would make me worry;
I shouldn’t inquire but there’s a limitation
on how many ways to have open conversation,
since you fell into a hole full of chemical highs,
while to everyone’s surprise, your body survived.
There’s so little of you left, but whatever you do
and whatever more you lose, I will always love you.

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©Jane Paterson Basil

Foul Frederick

When they cut the dead men down from the gallows they carry them to Newgate cemetary, and throw them into a pit where the tangled limbs of unnamed, unclaimed and unwanted convicts rot and stink in one mass grave.

On hallows eve each spirit disencumbers his crumbling bones from those of his neighbours, to walk alone, as, following his nature, he haunts, punishing those mortals who cannot forget him, or visiting those for whom he aches. Some malicious ghosts with a taste for tradition shamble in rattling chains, making a cacophoninous clank which grabs at the entrails of all unfortunate folk who hear, leaving them quaking in fear. Others, with theatrical flair, can be seen only through the corner of the eye; they disappear at the turn of the head. These phantom tricksters rustle papers in the corner of the room. They requisition the wind, which swings windows wide open. They slam doors shut. They sigh and moan while an eerie chill fills the firelit cheer.

Many of the victims of the hangman’s noose are innocent of the crime for which they were convicted and killed. Lost in endless misery they drift, desperate for deliverance from their dragging affliction. They appear in dreams, to be half-remembered when we awake in the deep of the night. Their stories slip and slide in our minds as we try to hold tight to them. In the morning they are an insubstantial smoky wisp which drifts, thins in the atmosphere, then disappears.

Foul Frederick steps on fetid limbs as they reach for the lip of the grave, kicking them back in, to land, bone on bone, with a clatter on the weakest, who wait their turn. With every kind of weapon, with fists and teeth and squeezing hands he murdered friends and foes and strangers, showing no favoritism, and less sympathy. He needs no sweet lips to smile at him, no kiss to warm his breath. He lived for the thrill of bringing screaming death to those who crossed his path. The people of London celebrated on the day that he was hanged.

The dread demon ghoul could have been a teacher in a ghostly school for all the tricks he knows. But he tutors nobody. His skills are for him alone. See him roam the darkened roads, grabbing the throats of foolish folk and desperate souls who walk the Newgate streets at night, lost and cold or reeling drunk, all of them fodder for his hungry hands. But this is no more than an hors d’oeurve. He hunts the pockets of the slumped body for a knife, and when he finds it, he is in his element.

Dawn finds Foul Frederick daubed in damp scarlet rags, beneath the soil, contentedly rotting away until next year’s joyous party, while the blood of last night’s losers soaks into the bones of innocent and guilty victims of Newgate Gaol.

On November 1st every year, screams and weeping echo through the streets of Newgate, strangled and slashed bodies are removed, blood is washed from the streets, and the hunt for the Halloween killer is renewed.

The Daily Post #Eerie

©Jane Paterson Basil

Trussed

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you trussed me like a goose to this old bedfame
you told me a lie, said it’s a just a game
twenty hours later, I’m still tightly trussed
feeling like my bladder is about to bust
I’ve tried to work loose, but no can do
it makes me wonder, why did I trust you?

The Daily Post #Trust

©Jane Paterson Basil

This love of mine

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Fresh
this love of mine
like the unfurling buds of a beech tree in spring
yet evergreen
like the yew we lay beneath that day, beside the stream
and you, like that firm yew tree
strong enough to lean on
ever young to me

Warm
this love of mine
like the bricks that soaked in the summer sun
yet giving
like roses that day they opened their buds, displaying radiance
for all to see, but you said
their fragrant show
was just for me

Golden
this love of mine
like swirling leaves dying in the autumn breeze
yet alive
like my love; from that far-gone night when first I saw your face
until this lonely dreaming day
my love has survived
unchanged

Pure
this love of mine
like sparkling icicles in a winter waterfall
yet constant
though tomorrow, the ice may melt and drip, then rush away
I remain faithful to our stolen moments
through the seasons
of my life

©Jane Paterson Basil

Quality

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I’m always proudly saying that I ain’t a lady;
using common phrasing to accentuate my case.
my inverted snobbery precludes accepting charity,
but includes buying products from second-hand shops.
a foodmarket foray finds me tracking down the labels
saying BOGOF, half price, got to go today,
but still I am careful, mustn’t be too wasteful;
don’t want to find myself throwing food away.
I never buy newspapers, new toys, war paint;
they serve little purpose and they clutter up my space.
you could call me cheapskate, pennypincher, skinflint,
and it may be true but I’m not devoid of taste;
most of my possessions are of sovereign quality;
I shop with care so not a penny goes to waste.
It’s not that I am clever;  I don’t claim to be original,
there are plenty of others who shop in this way.
the ecology’s in trouble, and I dispise the economy,
so I heartily hope these numbers grow every day.

The Daily Post #Original

A mystery

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while
cities sleep
I sneak into his arms

feel his heart
beating
for me

who
is
he

is he
really here
with
me or

is he
a misty
lingering
spirit

who
but me
(and maybe he)
can say if this is
fiction or
reality

is it a
dream or do I
creep to his room
while cities
sleep

to
you
who read
my truth or fantasy
it’s a mystery
but not
to
me
who
holds this
secret close
and never
lets it
go

©Jane Paterson Basil