Go Gently, old Friend

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Go gently, old friend.

Leave only
sweet ashes, drifting
through minds that
sift away
the silt.

Memories
of confusion and pain
are the dust in our tears;
we rinse them away.
What remains is a
kind reminder
of the
best
times
of your life.

Gone is the child
who reached for hands to hold,
the child who hungered for a loving touch.
Gone are the fists that rained cold blows
on your bewildered sensibilities.
stealing away what might
have been.

Now
you are free.

Go gently, and rest in peace.

.

©Jane Paterson Basil

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Limitations

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Listening to the eulogy
I am reminded that one man can be a plethera of unique characters
depending on the angle of sight

Each if us sees him from our separate space, our spectacles constructed of smooth shapes and shards which glint in varying shades,
each piece tinted by a disparate need, a belief or desire
each reflecting its own shade and hue
or casting dark shadows that blind the sight or tell the truth

Often, the light changes the closer we venture
though some folks see no more than he wants us to see,
as he covers his flesh in clean monk’s habit
or dons pure white angel wings

They have no way of knowing that later he might crack the distorting lenses
and give us a glimpse of the truth

Gazing at the blown-up photos of the handsome man as he smiles in his prime
I’m reminded of my sense of surprise as he regaled me with his impish light, his unusual humour
his silverfish image of one who was kind

The eulogy tells of memories held
of stories birthed long before I beheld him –
tales of a father who nurtured his children
who never gave in to anger or sulking, who played no games of manipulation;
to a father and a man who was good and true.

This isn’t the time to pick holes in the rosebud input of those who hold honeyed visions close
It’s a moment to reflect and remember the man – his innocent efforts, great strengths and rare skills
and to remind ourselves that all of us have our own limitations
and there’s no way of telling how we’d react
to the exact set of circumstances he experienced
from the day he was born
to the second his last breath softly informed us
that the moment of death and peace had come.

©Jane Paterson Basil

Sarcasm

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“Only Truth matters. I know the truth; there is no God,”
he proclaimed.

I placed my hands together as if in prayer or worship. With rounded eyes I exclaimed:

“In human form, you appear as insignificant as a speck of dust in this massive, shape-shifting galaxy, which, in itself, is comparable to another – albeit larger – speck of dust floating amid the infinite galaxies beyond, and yet your mind apparently contains great knowledge. Surely you are the highest God, and yet you deny your deity. I bow down to your sacred wisdom and supremacy, but above all, I bow to your remarkable humility.”

I could read his mind:

“But… but…” it said.

Ha! So much for his honours degree in philosophy.

.

©Jane Paterson Basil

Purpose

Sometimes it hurts,
and you see no purpose,
no need for the needles of pain.
No reason to search for why it occurred,
or to learn the lessons tucked deep in your brain.
You yearn for a way to rearrange history,
return to yesterday,
change its shape.

You weep and you rage,
you try meditation,
but the answer keeps slipping away.

So you weep and rage,
you rage and you weep,
pain fills your your dreams whenever you sleep
and increases when you awake.

You see no reason,
but you search for a purpose,
if only to soothe the hurt.

Grief heaps up, seemingly endless.
Death is around you, shrouded and soundless,
it threatens your loved ones and rattles the door.

In the still of the morning,
you pick at slim thoughts as you try to assuage the pain.
They dispel like salt in simmering water
and the suffering returns again.

Nobody tells you you’re trying too hard,
and the healing is contained in your subconscious brain.
The only way to access the reason
is to cease entertaining your own narrow theories,
stop looking for answers to your thin queries.

You need to keep active, deal with each day,
make peace with the pain and breathe it in.
Open to the gentlest faith you have hidden
no matter what shape that faith may take.
Whether you connect with the collective consciousness
or follow the lead of a sacred deity
or trust in planet or your brothers and sisters,
hold it within; don’t leave it to stray.

Live life, and love in the best way you’re able,
yet store some spare conscious space in your soul –
but don’t stand waiting for something to fill it,
it is up to the purpose to wait,

it will come to you when you are ready,
and on the highest level,
you will be well.

©Jane Paterson Basil

The Noise Machine

Shaped like a little nissen hut, it arrives, pulled by a grey van.

About a metre high, it is the colour of a canary and it has a round lid on top. I recognise the blue initials on the side. It is owned by the Housing Association.

A man gets out of the van and attaches a cable to its side. He unrolls the cable, puts the plug end through the community room window.

He strolls inside, evidently to push the plug into a socket and switch it on.

An intrusive mechanical Noise ensues. I think someone must be using a chainsaw in my kitchen. I go to check, but no, The Noise is roaring from hollow inside the yellow mystery.

The Conveyor of  Noise absents himself, leaving The Noise Machine to do its job of producing The Noise.

I close the windows. The Noise hammers at the panes, forces its way through the double glazing, squeezes angrily through the cracks. It will not be crushed or diminished.

I shut down the thingies and batten the whatsits, but The Noise continues to crash through, battering at my senses.

I study the yellow machine.  The Noise. must be contained in the yellow belly of the mini-hut.

I wonder where The Noise came from – what is its natural habitat?

What does it look like?

How does it reproduce?

What does it feed on?

What are its dreams?

Is it an endangered species?

How was it caught – with nets, or with a lure of kindly words or sweet treats which cunningly led it to the nissen hut, through the trapdoor at the top, and into its dark prison?

Is it well cared for, are its needs being met? I can guess the answers, and I don’t like them.

The entrapment of The Noise presents many ethical questions.

Two hours pass noisily. The Conveyor of Noise returns, goes into the community room.

Above a sudden silence, I hear the welcoming lullaby of cars passing along the road nearby.

The Conveyor reappears, rolls up the cable, detaches it from the tucks it into the passenger seat of the van, lumbers around to the driver’s seat, climbs in, and drives off, towing The Noise Machine – doubtlessly satisfied that he has enriched the lives of the few dozen tenants in this block of sheltered homes, with the sounds of wild machinery, imprisoned in a canary coloured, undersized nissen hut. Freed from the ear-splitting attack by the poor, incarcerated Noise, I am moved to pity. painfully aware that only the sound escaped; the essence is still contained.

Sometimes, an animal rescue woman brings cats and dogs to the community room, where special needs and elderly residents are free to pet them, while they listen to a talk.

Maybe the Noise Machine is intended to enrich our lives in a similar way.

It doesn’t work for me.

.

The Daily Prompt’s word for today:  Conveyor

©Jane Paterson Basil

I Shall be Still

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In exercise 3 of The Sandbox Writing Challenge, Calen asks “What prevents you from being still?”

This is the answer that came to me:

As a child,
I exercised a wild kind of control —
play-fighting with nature,
playing my countryside games
as I schemed to fly,
dreaming of coasting over open fields and shady lanes.

Wings on my heels, working with the wind,
sometimes leaning into it to see if it would hold me,
rebelling, balancing precariously above a precipice
while a mild gale tried to blow me over.

Leaping from tuft to tuft of green, knowing
where the sucking bog lurked, unseen,
keeping clear of the mud,
feeling high.

Climbing trees, elated, safe
from skinned knees and careless slips,
sure of myself as my hair tangled in the breeze.
and I breathed greedy helpings of summer sky.

Marching upstream,
kicking feet, splashing sprays of liquid diamonds
that sparkled on freshly freckled flesh.

Laughter bellowing from my belly.

Building dams of rocks and clay,
only to smash them –
revelling in the battle against water,
and in the sudden rush of feigned defeat.

Swimming against the flow, making the water go
where I chose.

Over time, your stubborn cross-flow builds momentum.
Torrents flow and banks are broken,
Whirlpools form as if from nowhere.
It takes a while to know that you are sinking,
and longer still to find your loved ones
swirling in a deeper hole,
drowning in the distance.

Dragged down
by so many years of weak decisions.

Not a warrior after all —
I had lost control.

Buffeted by the results of a vast range
of calamitous actions, meandering ways and artist’s haze —
of all those lost and loping days,
I clamber to the shore
and struggle to put the river back on course.

I cannot rest until
I have corrected its direction.

Soon, my children will all be well,
and I shall be still —
at least for a spell.

.

©Jane Paterson Basil

Where there’s Muck

 

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.

Patrick MacTaverty was brash in his depravity;
his habit was to excavate his every gap and cavity.
His shamelessness was infamous – sickening and unpleasant –
he dug away with mild disdain no matter who was present.
He was known in local restaurants, in the corner shop and library,
for ignoring every plea and threat and all attempts at bribery.

He shovelled at his eyes and ears, and in his mouth and nose,
he flung off shoes and smelly socks, to delve between his toes.
His heights of degradation would defy imagination;
there clearly there was no limit to his inner salutation
while he wiggled spindly fingers deep within each hollow part
as if to wave a greeting to his tonsils, brain and heart.

Aquaintances and strangers always gasped and were appalled
when he loosened up his belt and they saw his trousers fall.
His naval display was his greatest pride and joy –
a showcase for his dug-out waste from the day he was a boy.
The orifice extractions drove the viewers to distraction,
owing to the acrid odour,  rotting matter and compaction.

A dog appeared from nowhere – all claimed that it was mad
when it bit off Patrick’s fingers – but most of them were glad.
Furthermore, once he ceased collecting  murky treasures,
the mess turned sweet and friable by soft and silent measures,
and out of his round belly button mounds of flowers grew –
some were well-known species, but others were quite new.

Now Patrick’s makes a fortune from the sale of blooms of class –
which serves to prove the saying true, that ‘where there’s muck there’s brass’.

Brass = money.

©Jane Paterson Basil