The Distance Between

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Son,
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
bunching fists
stealthy falsehoods
blatant tricks
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,
greedy
like a thief or a breast-fed cub,
your possessive caress
enfolding me
in that heavenly rush
of motherly
love.

Your caress,
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

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Charm Bracelet

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Beneath the dust of rusted dreams
the precious bracelet swings and gleams.

No simple trinket this,
no tinsel sliding from a wilting tree,
no lace that slips from silken locks
to rot, forgotten, in the street.

The blood of ancestry
pulses through this eager chain, its genes
sown in the root of love, its links
tempered in the knitted cogs
of mutual reality.

We can not know
when first we join the clasp,
or as we add each precious charm,
what fist might grip the slender wrist,
or what corrupted implement
might chip and scrape its dancing gems.

We do not always see the claw
before it locks upon a treasured one,
but of this we can be sure;
we hear the thud as it hits the floor.

The lessened weight upon our arm
might give an instant of relief,
but as we rub our tender flesh,
our innards crease and we are flipped
into a keening
pit
of
grief.


Above is the raw version of a poem I wrote today.
Beneath is the start of a more traditional cooked version.
Which do you prefer, salad or stew? Is it worth persisting with the poem below?


Beneath the dust of rusty dreams
the precious bracelet swings and gleams.

No tuppence ha’penny trinket this;
no tinsel on a baubled tree;
no flimsy frippery that slips
from careless tresses to the street.

Within this chain run veins of blood
whose links are tempered through the years;
Knitted loose ’round roots of love
and seasoned by our joy and tears.

.

©Jane Paterson Basil

Fairy Tales

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We were children, trapped in coddling innocence.
Our future a blurred dream,
our expectations reflecting limited experience:
dappled shadows dancing beneath sun-lit trees,
daisies on a fragrant lawn,
icecream on the beach,
flares that burnt fast-fading holes in our sight,
leaving scars that would not be discerned
until we reached a certain age.

Avidly, we absorbed oft-repeated bed-time stories
which left us believing
that evil was easily recognised,
since it arrived in ugly shapes
and was always defeated.
Only the good were beautiful;
all aches rinsed away by the chaste kiss
of a handsome Prince;
all kingdoms gained by betrothal.

Sometimes
injustice was perverted
by the person who pushed the pen.

Jack trespassed in the giant’s den,
following up his crime with killing and looting,
that he may live out his days
in tainted luxury.

Dick Whittington was assisted by a sly cat,
thereby obtaining his elite position
through deceit and lies.

The unfortunate daughter
of the silly miller who issued false boasts
was locked in a cell
by an avaricious king who wanted more gold.
Rumpelstiltskin offered a tough deal, but the girl
agreed to give him her first-born.
His mistake was in singing out his name, thinking
that no-one was listening.
In retrospect,
the entire cast behaved in a shabby way.

As for Goldilocks,
at least she learnt to steer clear
of burglary.

Not all the stories had happy endings.

The Babes in the Wood were buried beneath burnished leaves
by grieving birds and beasts, their lives curtailed by starvation,

The Little Match Girl was taken to a better place when she died,
yet I decry the shuttered eyes that caused her suffering in life.

So many fictions to pick through
in our sheltered realm
where parents swept salve on every wound,
our consciousness trusting that we
were charmed and good.

We would win the Prince;
a Kingdom we would rule.

We never knew that corruption
had mingled with truth
and sullied our very bones.


P.S.

Let’s scoop away the fairy tales
that recommend a life of greed
and justify the crimes we sweep
beneath our rusting thrones.
The whole world knows that children weep
while mothers die in hungered sleep
and thieves will feed on living flesh
engraving teeth-marks in the bones.

Don’t feed on living flesh,
don’t scrape away the bones.
Live an honest life of peace,
and leave the fairy tales alone.


©Jane Paterson Basil

I Will be Safe

I built my mansion from moonlit bricks,
painted it with pale rays of dawn,
created terraces and lawns
bordered by dwarves of nature’s ornamentation
to afford unscathed sight from here to the horizon.

I live in solitude,
play silent movies in my mind,
warm these tired hands on gaps between grey matter,
my muslin shroud
stitched into a rippling gown
that flutters with grace.
My elegant swish emulates a silvery darling
from yesteryear’s screen,
my hair rests in whimsical wisps,
the tilt of my chin apes inborn dignity.

Gleaming walls recede in awe,
trusting authenticity,
ignorant of my history.

Even beneath these palatial ceilings
I feel tall.

“I
am safe,” I tell the echoing rooms,
“no corners to cut me, no rugs on which to slip and break,
no stove to sear my skin.”

No fire, no ice,
no storm within these sturdy walls.

The drapes shiver;
their drifting folds whisper a warning;
“There is danger beyond our weft.”

A slight figure approaches;
a midnight ghost which tricks the sun into shining on him.
Cloaked in the clothes that he chose two decades ago,
he droops on the lawn, his false frame shaking,
his face describing hunger, grief.

“Mummy, mummy, please,
the chill wind blows,
please love me, please,
please don’t leave me
to die in the cold.”

He looks like my child;
moves and sounds like my only son,
but an ogre has invaded his soul.

I try to say, “Go away,
leave me alone,”
but my throat rebels, allowing only choked shreds
of broken breath.

I cannot make safe the windows; their hinges stray,
leaving a gaping space
with no fingerhold, no latch, no lock
to keep them closed.

Like a lisping snake, he slips through the gap,
then, like a demon displaying its teeth,
his figure expands to the height of six feet.

I race through my cracking haven,
bare feet slapping smooth cedar floor,
course words chasing me, describing obscene hate.

I find no corner in which to hide,
no wardrobes, no outsized drawers.
No leaden bolts nor wooden weight
to press against the doors.
No clear escape
from the shapeshifting ghoul who grows
with every step that he takes.

My only hope is outside.
I will plant my toes between roses,
feed the dirt with bloodied love
to cultivate my thorns.
In the garden, my organic armour will grow.
My dress will get torn. It will fall away,
but my petals will glow and fade to be replaced
in synchronicity with the seasons.
I will regain my freedom.
I will be safe.

.

©Jane Paterson Basil

The Tears I Waste on You

You besmirched this mother’s love
with every chunk of scum that you could scrape up
from the murky lanes.
You crushed me with the weight of waste
until your insults filled my soul with so much pain
that I could no more bare to gaze upon your face
or glance into your eyes, or hear the lies
that dripped from lips whose smiles
once brought me mindless joy.
I’ve closed my door and turned away;
no more can you abuse, manipulate
or scream your dirty words of hate at me.
The tears I waste on you
will all be shed in secret and in shame;
I will never let you see them,
for if you did you’d use them as you do;
to stuff my shelves with toxic space and steal the gain.

I’ll dance in gardens where my finest flowers bloom;
admire their colours, breathe their sweet perfume.
I’ll tell my friends the sturdy stems have healed my wounds;
they do not need to know I ache for you.

The day might come when empathy sinks through your skin;
should that blazing dawn arrive
I recommend you pray that I shall be awake,
and furthermore that I
shall clearly recognise the change.

©Jane Paterson Basil

Thank You, Litterman 6

I would like to publicly thank Litterman 6, for pulling me out of my torpor by sending me a marvelous response to a poem I wrote some months back, entitled Litter.

Read this and weep – or laugh – or snore; whatever lights your boat or floats your candle.

A *minasqual amount of McDonalds packaging is carelessly disposed of by uncaring consumers who by the way are PIGS your response to the problem is a brain dead poem that excludes the other offenders Keep working on it at least you are one that CARES as I do
Coming soon to all Mc Donald’s Location is an new tool that will make it easy, fast and the safest way to collect-contain-control the trash that gets away I know because I invented it Watch out for the Litterator our super heroes LITTER AVENGERS and our mascot EZZY our Litterator Gator ” BE HAPPY DON’T WORRY’

*I assume he means miniscule.

Is it a bird, is it a bee, is it a troll, or is it a sincere man whose main ambition in life is to eradicate litter? I dunno, since I, apparently, don’t have two brain cells to rub together. However, the one brain cell I do possess is unusually hard-working. Forty years ago – long before recycling programmes got underway – I knew that the solution was not to throw all our toxic plastics and polystyrene in a green box so that the council could sling it onto landfill sites or incinerate it. What we needed to do was to stop producing and purchasing the waste and to re-use what we can – for example, glass bottles, which should be returned to drinks factories to be refilled.

I applaud dear Mr Litterman’s efforts to tidy up our planet. He’s performing an essential function. It’s sad that after so many years of recycling we haven’t moved further forward, but as long as we continue to waste our resources and stamp carbon all over the place, the Litterman family are the nearest we’ve got to saviours.

Perhaps I owe my readers an apology. My poem focuses entirely on McDonalds. It fails to mention any of the other culprits. It also ignores car emissions, poverty, starvation, war, suicide and the mess brought about by misuse of drugs. These too, are serious issues.

And ingrown toenails. With the correct trimming technique, they are a largely avoidable problem – or so I’m told.

However, it would appear that, like me, Litterman has a vendetta against McDonalds, since he, also, seems to be targetting them with his ‘new tool’. Or am I deliberately misunderstanding him, as he did me?

If you are reading this, Litterman 6, I’d like to thank you again. As many of my readers know, I have overcome many difficulties my life, but my experience of the past few months drew me into such a deep depression that I was unable even to compose my usual brain-dead poetry, and yet your amusing message has pulled me back into orbit. You have saved me. Is it too soon to tell you I love you? Should I wait until you have invited me to view your private blog?

I’d like us to be friends. We could have so much fun hurling veiled insults at each other across the ether.

On a serious note; although you come across as a single-minded half-wit, I accept the possibility that you are a genius.

But that sliver of suspicion doesn’t stop me from grinning as I hone my disposable plastic knife.

©Jane Paterson Basil

No Pain

Last night

rotted by toxins

the branch broke.

I would not have believed

that all these years of ache and tears

could be so briskly whisked away

by the last straw,

yet today

the wound

leaves no pain.

.

I haven’t posted here since the first of January; my depression has been so severe that I didn’t feel able to write. Suddenly, big changes have come into force. This post is to reassure you that I’m still breathing, and the air is clean.

©Jane Paterson Basil