Category Archives: Uncategorized

Everything In Its Place

 
 
 
  
 My father was a talented man. He  
 drew, painted, pressed clay, carved stone 
 into naked feminine shapes with big bums and 
 tiny waists. He was practical, too. 
 When we moved to Devon, he
 mastered the art 
 of plant husbandry, and grew 
 much of our food.
 He pulled nails from reclaimed wood,  
 saved metal scraps and screws, used them  
 to build, to make tools.
 When I was eight, I helped him 
 create a two-room caravan from waste.  
 This space became a base 
 for his creations. Wood, chisel and clay lived 
 at the front end with his workbench.
 Hammers, drills and related accoutrements 
 were neatly arranged on shelves. 
 Beyond lay his photographic studio, complete 
 with convenient divan and blankets. Everything  
 had its place -- cameras, hammers and  
 home-made pottery wheel of his design, powered  
 by peddling a recycled bicycle -- all
 neatly in reach.
 
 When one of his scented women came -- her waist 
 not that thin, her bum
 not that big, and her painted face never 
 as pretty as in his imagery -- we knew 
 The Artist Was At Work 
 and we must turn away. 

 When they left, some 
 made a quick getaway, while others 
 played innocent, dripping 
 into the kitchen for a quick visit. 
 My mother was friendly, polite, never 
 accused, never raged or complained, 
 ostensibly dismissing his sickening betrayals,
 gently raising them on the pedestal 
 of art. No-one could have seen her pain, or known 
 she was afraid.
 
 Yes, my father was a  
 gifted man. Everything  
 was kept in its place. As 
 an innocent child, I worshiped him.
 Then my breasts grew, and I began to understand  
 the depth of his despot views:  
 e-v-e-r-y woman's place was
 pressed
 in the palm  
 of his 
 grasping 
 hand.  
 
 
 ©Jane Paterson Basil 

 Written for Word Of The Day Challenge: Practical

Obscure Miracles

 Morning brings a fragile visitation: 
 the hint of a poem whose silken threads
 ebb and flow,
 playing hide-and-seek with my mind, 
 gradually reproducing into compatible flecks 
 which swim like dust motes 
 on a sunny day.
 
 Words and phrases  
 float through an open window: tender gifts 
 bestowed by an unknown source;  
 obscure miracles which mingle with the mix,
 transforming raw verse till it fits, 
 displays a hint of beauty, 
 and on occasion, blooms 
 with exhumed truth. 

©Jane Paterson Basil

Poor Old Santa

Written for Word Of The Day Challenge: Reflect

With apologies to the oft-disputed author of ‘Twas The Night Before Christmas

 It's a dim little Christmas we're having this year,
 stranded from family and friends we hold dear.
 Factions are splattered all over the place,  
 there is fear and denial, upset and rage.
 World leaders sit haggard on prickly fence
 while scientists struggle to make them see sense.
 Conspiracy geeks prittle predictable prattle
 and the papers continue to treat us like cattle.
 Mother is shielding and father is fraught
 by the dreadful cost of the gifts that he bought.
 Business is failing, his debts are a-growing,
 since Covid put paid to the seeds he was sowing.
 His children are sleeping in confident bliss
 faithfully dreaming of generous gifts.
 Santa has packed up his sleigh with great care,
 he's padlocked his storehouse and fed his reindeer.
 He's flying up high on his usual rounds;
 although visits are tricky, he won't let us down.
 Since rulings preclude him from entering chimneys
 he drops down the presents and flies away nimbly,
 with a groan in his throat and a tear in his eye;
 he'd be glad of a drink or a lovely mince pie,
 to fill his fat belly and give his heart ease -
 but he cannot risk catching a nasty disease.
 As he smoothly directs his crew through the air,
 he's pleased to be giving but filled with despair.
 He reflects that it's been a difficult year:
 There's lots of goodwill, but damn little cheer.   

©Jane Paterson Basil

Spring

 
 
 
Winter
      had clung,
  its bitter wrap of ice-flinted snow 
             suffocating  fleets 
                       of sunny seasons,
          clenching my gut.  
                     
Fevered hope 
            pricked me 
                    with uneven heat.   
      Faith
          was feeble, thin;
                 a hand-spun fishing line, plucked 
                          from the gleam of halcyon days;
            it frayed and broke,  
               frayed and broke, to be knotted  
                                          again and again;  
     my fumbling fingers fighting in vain 
                   to cease their trembling shake.
 
 
 In the end,             
                estrangement
       felt safer, less painful, yet when it came,
                    it bit,
                            it stung;
                  as events remained uncelebrated and months  
       mounted, it 
                   ate me away.
 
Sometimes, change is sudden:
 
as if on a whim, the world spun, 
whipping up a conglomeration of fear and isolation,
an unheeding pandemic of sickness and death, yet 
 
grace 
 
was the gift this year brought me; 
banishment hit him,
helped him to battle his searing addiction;
his demons had scarred him 
but now they were bleeding, while 
his wounds 
were healing;
I could see they still ached, but
Spring 
had returned. 
Reunited with my child,
with pride and relief I can see
he carries the family genes:
the blood of the Phoenix  
surges 
through his veins.
 
 
 
©Jane Paterson Basil
 
 

Over the past few months, I’ve found it difficult to write. I put this down to the fact that my soul is less tortured. So, last Friday I began a poetry course which was offered by our County Council as part of a mindfulness programme, to help people through the difficulties of Covid, so it wasn’t really designed for poets. However, I thought it would be useful as a kind of refresher. The above poem is the fruit of my first session’s labours. I hope you like it x

Reprimand

You can't beat addiction by beating the addict;
it will hitch up their need to reach for a fix.
Shame on your actions,
you showed no compassion.
You oppressed and tormented and drove her to drink,
then you slammed her and thrashed her, but she didn't sink.
Throughout your life and long after you died
her beautiful spirit and body survived.

 
 
 
©Jane Paterson Basil 

Cultivation


Weed,
you spit. 
Anarchist,
you accuse.

You snap stems,
discard seed,
grasp leaves, dig dirt 
until each root is forcibly freed, 
or maybe you apply herbicide
for ease

"Die, weed, die
you cry with glee. Double dahlias
are what we need. Chemical feed
will raise crowds of blowsy blooms
from cultivated seed"

Bees leave
to seek pollen that they
can reach

Along steamy streets
pockets of green tickle pavements
reaching to conceal heaped waste
which feigns
innocent sleep

Beyond greedy shops,
magnates' dreams emigrate overseas 
to where labour is cheap, and workers 
too poor to complain. 
Industrial relics rot in the rain, 
Britain's shamed industry, obsolete. 
Filth, obscenely tipped into rivers,
fails to biodegrade.

Far from plastic parade and urban decay, 
wide roads surrender to narrow lanes,
white lines submit to green blades, and hedgerows
exhibit kinship between living species,
yet earth's tilth 
tips into sickness; trees strain
to erase our mistakes 
and seasons
struggle to progress.

A frayed leaflet
flitting in the wake of a chance breeze
asks:

Which Path Will You Take?

©Jane Paterson Basil

Paul’s Words: 2

swallow- paul2

Just lemme fly, I’ll death defy.
I miss the bliss, regrets and lies.
I wished for this, I’ll testify to dish Death’s kiss
and let me die…

A change of plan please if I can.
I’ve spanned and scanned of all lands and sands,
and stand a brand new, handsome man,
with standing, standards and a clan.

I cannot stand those scams I ran,
I danced and sang, while ranting slang,
I sang my sting to land it in.
It’s branded in, I planned to win.

There’s more to this than meets the eye,
ignore the shit, the streets passed by,
the struggle and the drugs,
I’ve tumbled into humble love.

©Paul David Ward

Since the lockdown, I have strayed further than ever from my blog. My normal activities have been replaced by gardening; sowing seeds, watering them, pricking them out, and clearing space in a disorganised communal garden that had to be cleared of masses of montbretia, ivy, creeping buttercup, dock, dandelions, bindweed, wild garlic, three-cornered leak (often mistaken for wold garlic, but even more invasive and less useful in the kitchen) and several kinds of annual weeds. I’ve been moving – or dispensing with – ill-placed plants and pruning untidy or overgrown shrubs.

I am exhausted from the time I roll out of bed until I crawl back in. My back and my legs constantly ache. My emotions are released: I cry at the drop of a hat.

And… I am happy, filled with a joy that is far less tinged with fear than could be expected during this pandemic. My son and I are rebuilding our relationship

When I took out the restraining order on my son, I knew the risks and they terrified me, but I also knew that the risk of not doing so was greater. For years I had been losing the bright, funny son that I loved so much. I had watched him turn into a sick, drug raddled, destructive stranger. He had to strike out on his own; to do or die – perhaps literally. I had known for a long time that I couldn’t help him to survive.

He didn’t die. He suffered, and that terrible suffering brought him back to the fold. We have not yet spoken since there is a danger that my voice could be a trigger for him, so the only contact I have with him is through text messaging. He sends me his poems and tells me what he’s been doing (deep cleaning and decorating his flat, drawing… and writing, of course), what he would like to do (he’s looking for voluntary aid work, but his record could go against him).

The blood of the phoenix runs through his veins. In addition to having cut out drugs and alcohol, he’s also in recovery from an abusive relationship with a very damaged young woman. He says his poetry helps him to work through his issues. He’s agreed to me posting some of his poems, and I am honoured to do so. 

 

Paul’s Words

sun-rays

Can it be our planet breathes?
It breathes through weeds and leaves on trees.
It seems to need to seed and breed
to please the needs of human greed.

So does it bleed through birds and bees
to feed our breed, bloodthirsty thieves!
The worst of fiends, the first to leave
and deemed to scream and curse and bleed.

©Paul David Ward

I’d have been proud to have put my name to this amazing poem, but alas, I don’t have the right, since it was written to my son Paul.

After a separation of almost fourteen months, we are now in contact again. He lives 45 miles away, and we agreed that at this stage in his recovery it would be safest for both of us if we don’t see each other yet – not that the current lock-down rules would allow it – but we text each other every day. He’s had a difficult time, but has grown from it. He managed to get several thoughtful birthday gifts to me in February, and even bought me a tree for Mother’s Day, but by then the restrictions were in place, so I haven’t received it yet. I feel proud of how far he’s come, and hopeful for the future.

A New Chapter

feather-1626492_1280
.

I am entering a new chapter in my life… so… this morning I got out of bed uncharacteristically early – roughly the time normal people are expected to rise. I switched my computer on to find that all of the unpublished poetry I have written over the past six months – including the poem I was planning to post today – has disappeared. Gone forever! I shrugged my shoulders, smiled and glanced out of the window. That’s when I saw the feather. I wrote this poem:

A pale feather swims,
gently ascending,
leaving no scrape on the empty sky.
Swept by the wind
from a dying bird, it flies free,
distanced from risk
of dirt and decay.

Then I edited it…

.
img_0920-11

A pale feather swims,
gently ascending,  leaving
its modest breeze on the clean sky.
Swept by the wind
from a bombastic bird, it flies free,
distanced from danger
of jabbering shame.

img_0920-11

.peace symbol

©Jane Paterson Basil

Stiff Upper Lip

bouquet-4356697_960_720

.

We Brits
prioritise
excretory hygiene
over finding food to spoon between our
stiff
upper
lips,
perhaps forgetting that if nothing
goes in one end, the other end
tends to become
redundant.

To clarify; toilet rolls
were the first target of panic buyers.

Only when the bits that we hide
between butt-cheeks and thighs were ensured
of a year’s supply of snowy wipes
did we think to mind
our
Ps
and
Qs;
Shoppers scraped up
every scrap of Potato, Pasta, Paracetamol… and
— being a nation of animal lovers —
Purina Pet Phood.
By the time I set out
for my fresh supply of modest gruel
the shelves were stripped of Quorn, Quark
and Quail’s Eggs.

(Note the poetic liberty; to my knowledge,
Lidl shops don’t stock Quails eggs)

fortunately, there were lots of bouquets
since we were warned away from floral displays
on UK’s flayed Mothers’ Day.

Last night, my
tulip bourguignon was a flop.
The vase-water gravy might have been
a grave mistake. I won’t go wrong with tonight’s recipe;
chrysanthemum bolognese lightly sprinkled
with kibbled gypsophila.

©Jane Paterson Basil