Category Archives: Poetry

Scarlet Pimpernels

 

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So many sunny childhood days
I sat by that enchanted Spring,
gazing at the ruby blooms,
awaiting angels on the wing
to whisper Urith’s Holy truth;
sweet Urith, murdered in her youth.

Sweet Urith, murdered in her youth.
sliced by scythes whilst in her prime,
by pagan farmhands, fighting Christ,
a faith in God her only crime,
and where she fell, fast sprung a well,
and pimpernels, the deed to tell.

And pimpernels, the deed to tell,
grew where poor Urith’s life’s-blood lay
sprinkled by that virgin belle.
Though centuries have passed away,
the spring still trickles water clear,
and pimpernels bloom very year.

And pimpernels bloom every year.
These modest flowers mark the space
where Urith lay in silent death,
reminding all who pass that place
of Chittlehampton’s hallowed youth;
Saint Urith, martyred for God’s truth.

Yes! I’ve finally done it! I’ve written the poem I wanted to write about Saint Urith. I’m happy with this one. As soon as I’ve posted this, I’m going to do a little dance.

©Jane Paterson Basil

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Hypocrisy

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Vice is pouring from humankind’s pores,
we’re thieves and conmen and pimps and whores,
we’re dealers, receivers and peeping perverts
on the constant lookout for greedy perks.
Some will do anything while some specialise
but most of us use common tricks and lies.

What can you expect when the heads of the land
are crooked and immoral and underhand;
uplifting the rich and crushing the poor,
discouraging peace and glorifying war,
while the media plays games to corrupt the mind;
twisting every human story they find.

And the people look out of their windows and say
What’s gone wrong with the world today?
There’s Junkie John, he’s been stealing again
and I hear the police have arrested young Ben
for selling crack cocaine and speed;
army conscription  is what they need.

They turn from the window as the doorbell rings
and John is outside with tasty things.
They pull out cheese and a leg of  lamb,
a pack of salmon and a large chunk of ham;
fifteen quid the lot, a pretty good price
for keeping our country in a state of vice.

They freeze all the meat and they tell themselves
they couldn’t afford honest food on the shelves.
If it wasn’t for Junkie John’s rotten thieving ways
they’d sometimes be deprived of proper food for days.
Then they fire up the Mac and rest their tired feet
while they trawl the ether for a new three-piece suite.

Written for The Daily Post #Vice

©Jane Paterson Basil

You can’t have that

If you’re pining for a treat I can bake you a cake
If your living room is dowdy I can redecorate
If your clothes are in rags I’ll sew anything you need
If you want fresh food I’ll grow vegetables from seed
If you need cheering up I’ve compassion by the score
But please don’t ask me for anything more

I can landscape your garden, carve your pet’s tombstone
make a hanging mobile from rags and bone
I can build a wall or a kitchen or a pine bookcase
I can act like a fool to put a smile on your face
I can do most things with reasonable skill
but there’s just one desire that I cannot fulfil

I can write you a poem about the sky or the sea
about what I used to do or how I’d like to be
Or a tidy little story in a choice of genre
to encourage you to giggle or to cry or to ponder
I can weave you a tale of success or mystery
but I cannot write lies into my history

history has shaped me into what you see
without my history I wouldn’t be me
it’s made me an expert on love of every kind
and love’s nearly driven me out of my mind
you can have my assistance or advice with any task
but you can’t have my loving so please don’t ask

Written for The Daily Post #Expert

©Jane Paterson Basil

A verdant shade of green

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I was different than the others
those village children who
had never known another culture
children who displayed the same colours –
boys were blue and girls were pink
while I was a verdant shade of green
and they had never seen a creature like me
nobody told me to repaint myself
but they turned away from me
so I tried to be the same
I learnt the words they used
practicing them in privacy
and I returned to the others like
a labourer to a wedding
who rushes to put on a suit but
omits to remove his mud-splattered boots
and his hard hat
boys were blue and girls were pink
but I was a verdant shade of green

I ran from the village square
past familiar trees to the river
and stared down at my rippling reflection
seeing only beauty
boys were blue and girls were pink
but I was a verdant shade of green
which shone through my thin camouflage

Written for Writing 101 Poetry Day 9 – Camouflage

©Jane Paterson Basil

Freedom: a cliche

You ask me what is freedom,
setting my thoughts in motion,
taxing my over-wraught brain;
filling it with broken ideas.

Free to roam, free to leave, free the soul,
Free love, free with my affections,
wild and free, free as a bird, freefall,
freedom of thought, freedom of speech,
a free-for-all fight
for freedom;
a free country.
Freedom comes at a price.
After years of imprisonment they freed Nelson Mandela.
He freely undertook the duties of a hero and diplomat,
working tirelessly for the concept of freedom.
He died quietly,
and now his spirit soars free.

Written for Writing 101 Poetry – Day 5:

It’s already Friday for some of you; let’s head into the weekend with the wise words of @impossiblebebong, whose Day 5 prompt is on the theme of Freedom.

©Jane Paterson Basil

Spilt-second

He said goodnight to the driver, and leapt from the bus, fingers clutching his greasy chips. In his haste 
for the savour of salt on his tongue
he ran into the road,
blind to the light
of the car's headlights 
and moving too fast to stop as I shouted a 
         terrified warning. The breaks screeched, but the car 
                            didn't stand a chance of halting.
                                        In my screaming brain
                                                   all motion
                                                       slowed
                                                         down
                                                       before
                                               the dire crack 
                                     of head-on impact.
                             My son;
                    my son was bounced into the air,
             flipped by the nose of the bonnet;
        his chips scattering, cascading.
     I saw him hurtling head first towards the ground
    and my brain raced.
    I saw his head shatter on the tarmac,
      the splash of blood
         and the scarlet puddle that swelled
             around his lifeless self.
               My anguish was too great to contain
               so, from a distance,
              I watched my feeble frame
           crouch beside my child,
        lift his broken head onto my lap,
     hearing keening sobs erupt from within me.
   a siren wailed.
  They took my dead son away.
 as I watched the tail lights recede
a sudden movement clicked me back to reality
his death had been no more
than a vision of the expected future
and he was still falling, but; 
in a split-second miracle
he had contorted in the air,
raising his shoulders and his head,
giving him a safe delivery.

                   He 
               wasn't dead.
       He wasn't dead or even hurt.
  As his incredulous audience marvelled    
I hugged him close,  crying out my relief.
Over and again,  the poor car-driver said                      
“he was right in front of me. I braked but 
 there was nothing I could do!” I uttered 
   words of comfort and agreement, but 
     I knew only time would heal his 
      unfounded shame.  While Paul 
       struggled to free himself 
        from my shaking embrace 
          I clung to him tight,
           hearing a muffled 
            complaint leave 
               those lips:
 
  “I was really longing to eat my chips.”

Written for Writing 101 Poetry – Day 4

This really happened. Paul was thirteen years old, and it was his second close brush with death, but years later,  more were to follow…

©Jane Paterson Basil

Silence

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                  greedily
              I stretch out the day,
           while beyond the window 
          the silence of the empty road 
          declares that the world is in bed.
            evening lights ceased twinkling 
             several hours ago.
             my friends, my enemies,
          and everybody in between,
       give in to their magic dreams,
     or dance a horizontal insomniac jig
    in damp and tangling sheets.
    adolescents whisper,
     subversively giggling with their sisters
       sharing a schoolgirl iniquity.
          lovers spoon together
           sweaty, semen slick, all passions spent
           until the morning rise.I write as the chill
          of dawn's subtle hint
          glimmers on the horizon,
           willing my eyes to stay open,
             my guilty wish to be left alone
                temporarily fulfilled.

Writing 101 Poetry Day 3
“For Day 3, @rohitofficial offers us a prompt on a theme we all care about: Sleep.”

©Jane Paterson Basil