Tag Archives: abuse

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

‘We Will Not Be Silenced’

The anthology, We Will Not Be Silenced – the brainchild of women’s collective Whisper and the Roar – is now available from Amazon.  I am honoured to have two of my poems represented in the book, an offer my sincere congratulations to everyone who has been involved, on its successful arrival into the world.

Profits from sales of the book will be ploughed into assistance for the survivors of abuse.

You can read more about the book HERE

If you haven’t yet purchased a copy, you can do so HERE.

Sunk in the Deep

They weep at the shore
feeding fish to the waves,
hoping to bribe the helpless sea
to free you.

Brave souls leap in thinking to shield you
within a synchronised circle of love,
but the vampire dives through
and with eyes honed
by a chemical sharpening stone
he traps you.

You can only swim so far.
When the energy goes you will float
until the weight on your chest
presses you into the drink.

The instant you sink,
let your body go limp.
Take deep breaths;
allow your lungs to sup
until they welcome the salty brine.
The saline will soothe your wounds.

The vampire
will chase you to the ocean bed,
staying close, clinging on,
flaying your mind as it did
when your toes were still dry,
yet lie quiet; you are destined
to lose any fight.
.
No need to say you did not choose this,
it is understood. Few of us
elect to be pursued
by blood-sucking ghouls.

Don’t waste energy wishing
for new tomorrows or reminiscing
over the innocence that preceded
the need to teach yourself
to breathe underwater.
Forget the optimism of youth.
There is only now;
only this;

a silent you
and an angry parody of humanity
seething in the deep.

Daily Addiction: Pursue

©Jane Paterson Basil

Beauty and the Psychopath

desert-82403__340.jpg

The earth’s surface
spans five hundred and ten square kilometres;

its Imperial reach
is one hundred and ninety-six point nine miles;

if every human stood still for one minute
and studied the scene
we might see hunger, iniquity, pain;

we might witness
every kind of suffering

~ this world is too complex to be forever kind ~

yet if we could gaze
with a cleanly aesthetic eye

devoid of empathy
for the frog crushed beneath the boot,

we might find beauty in every millimetre;

we’d envisage beauty
in every razor blade, in every frightened face,
in every tainted pool
that seeps through limp uniform
to sink into the rusting battle field;

it’s easy to appreciate a sunset
or the wavering boughs of a willow tree,

but tucked in a desert

in the arid waste where death exalts,
as, throwing back his cape

he rides the rays of  an allegiant sun
that roasts flesh from hollowing bones, leaving skulls to fade
in shifting hills and sandy vales

there is enchantment, whether scanned
from the height of an aeroplane, or gleaned
through a microscope
as we peek at the secrets of a single grain.

and on a motorway

on a wide tarmac trail
which breaks meadows in its wake,
snaking city limits, displaying the detritus of terminal mishap;
twisted metal, stains left by fractured death
and splattered brains

we find banks piled with riotous harmony
where flowers despised by tidy garden rules
are gems that shine on nature’s winsome breast.

In an iniquitous hidden room

in a bolted cell of jailor’s shame,
dank with acrid stench of psychopaths
intent on tearing sacred, private silk,
raping, molesting, shredding flesh in a hell
where madmen claim the purity of sin
where sadists taste their sour disgrace,
and relishing it, declare it sweet

the stolen one shudders,
her hair matted with filth and tears,
an innocent born with the essence of perfection,
a woman
who grew from woman’s womb.

.

This poem has veered a long way from its original intention, but I went with the flow – which suggests that I might be getting back on form 🙂

Note to self; it would require two people for it to work as an orated poem.  Stanzas written in black would be best spoken in a gentle tone; those on the right, by an increasingly threatening one. The purple line in the middle would be spoken in duet.

©Jane Paterson Basil

3 Day Lyric Challenge: Day 3

A three-day lyrical challenge
The Rules:
1 .Thank the person who nominated you.
2 .Share one of your favourite song/lyrics one at a time for three days.
3 .Nominate three other bloggers each day. (or one, one is probably enough)
Day 3: I’m tagging Kate

Thank you again, Ivor – it’s been fun.

Tracy Chapman’s lovely voice sings loud and clear, railing against abuse and poverty. I don’t need to  introduce my goosebump-inducing choice; it speaks for itself.

Tracy Chapman: Behind the Wall

Last night I heard the screaming
Loud voices behind the wall
Another sleepless night for me
It won’t do no good to call
The police always come late
If they come at all

And when they arrive
They say, “they can’t interfere
With domestic affairs,
Between a man and his wife.”
And as they walk out the door
The tears well up in her eyes

Last night I heard the screaming
Then a silence that chilled my soul
I prayed that I was dreaming
When I saw the ambulance in the road
And the policeman said,
“I’m here to keep the peace.”
Will the crowd disperse
I think we all could use some sleep”

<> <> <>

Call me greedy if you like, but I’m lightening the tension with a pretty song about air It’s one of the songs I sang to my children when they were small – along with anything else I enjoyed, from Leonard Cohen to Steppenwolf.

The Incredible String Band: Air

Breathing, all creatures are
Brighter then than brightest star
You are by far
You come right inside of me
Close as you can be
You kiss my blood
And my blood kiss me

Cold Where Women Are Wet

Written for the Sandbox Writing Challenge 2018 – Exercise 25

girl-in-trash

“Do you see something of yourself in this little child?
If so, what?”


You ask what it was like.
Your brows furrow as I flip through multiple pages of rape,
hardly pausing to highlight imaginative beatings.

Memories of terror, visions of death.
Cringing hatred blurring the vision.
Images of crazy pistons, runaway trains.
Bruises burns broken bones invasion pain
bruises burns broken bones invasion pain
bruises burns broken bones invasion pain.

You ask:
given my past,
why the promiscuity?
Once, I hunted for excuses,
citing the tail end of the hippie era.
“Everybody was doing it.”
Still the question:
“But why you?”

I could tell you what the records show.

Looking back,
I think perhaps I was trying to re-enact
the horror, that it might shrink, morph into
a joke or a commonplace memory,
and I thought it could make me
normal, mistakenly believing that frequent practice
between the sheets in all weathers,

on the beach on balmy nights, under trees on starlit evenings,
on the back seats of a cars, in wheat fields and deep grass, in gardens,
behind cinemas, in derelict buildings, under bridges, next to rivers,
in my best friend’s den, in strangers’ garages, in  my grandmas shed
and an unwilling effort in a smelly public inconvenience,

would give me a taste for it.

I’ll admit the thrill of each easy catch.
Ego-tripping through pubs and parks, a skilled actor
playing the part of a sylph, twisting hearts, tweaking dicks.
Hiding my dearth beneath a pretty face,
swaying wet-dream curves, displaying fake sparkle which
splintered
as alien lips kissed the throat that used to choke,
and hands, so like those that wrapped around my neck,
stretched toward my shuddering breast.

Gritted teeth,
smothered screams,
cold in the places where women are wet,
shameful failure at pleasure.
Forever unsure
of my cause.

You wonder
how I feel about the past.

I’ll shrug and tell you
the child who dragged her baggage
through hiccupping failure, whose sleepwalking feet
crushed wilting daisies, whose foolish errors
infected the next generation,
finally grew balls.

Fresh air embraces me,
leads me into a waltz. Dancing with my skin and bones
I celebrate the gift of post-menopause.

You ask me how I am now,
your brows so thoroughly furrowed
they might be about to swallow your eyes,

but how kind of you to enquire.
I am like most of us; I have walked and run,
slipped on banana skins, been kicked
by beasts and healed by love.

I retired from lugging dust.

I am well.

.

©Jane Paterson Basil

Weapons of Feathers

abuse323

I catch the eye of your smokestack attack,
your knick-knack decree, your prickly glee,
your steel filigree of quack accusations;
your erroneous, odious, misconceived notion
that you hold the skeleton key.

How dare you presume to assess my position,
to deny my depths, my needs and my reasons,
How dare you declare that mistreatment thrills me;
why do you wish to further diminish
this unwilling detainee?

You misread my desires when you speak of agendas,
dismembering debris from my deadened embers,
placing the blame and incentive on me;
yet you can’t oversee my weighty life story
you’re not even a nominee.

I repudiate all of your fool’s accusations;
the self-satisfied sewage that you blithely peruse,
denying the truth that the root of abuse
lies with the abuser, who uses his beastly repartee
to make a recluse of me.

Each time he unlooses his sly war-cry ruses
that criticise and vilify, and meanly seek to crucify,
the savagery is magnified, and all the while
he denies or justifies every stultifying lie,
crushing me like a flea.

He steals all my strength and my self-belief;
leaves me convinced that I’m too weak to leave.
I want to break free, to seek my redemption,
but all I have left are weapons of feathers;
I am a failed escapee.

How can I fight or escape the mind-rape;
I can’t fan a fire whose flames have died,
I’ve no place to flee and no way to hide.
Your ignorance stinks, you’ve wakened my ire,
you are mistaken, you see.

You proselytize bootlace, bottled psychology,
lamely proclaiming I’m playing a game,
of break-ups and make-ups and titillation,
of lusty fun with fumbling seduction,
but you are wrong about me.

I high-time you booted your latchkey untruths,
stop denying what lies in the core of abuse,
you have no knowledge to back your excuses;
don’t spit slick idioms as you lick your silver spoon,
and finally, leave me be.


I’ve run out of internet data 8 days before the new month begins, and am publishing this via my daughter’s account. This is the fourth month running that this has happened. Up until then, I always had loads left at the end of the month. I’m not using the internet any more than I used to. I feel confused and frustrated, so instead of doing the sensible thing – ringing my supplier and asking what’s going on – I’m taking it out on someone who wrote an insulting post about a million years ago, claiming that women who are abused, stay because they enjoy the abuse…

©Jane Paterson Basil