Tag Archives: abuse

Breaking away


They never listen when you say
that each instance tips the scales.

Every time they go beyond the pale
you move a measured step away.

They think that you are only there for them to use;
their ascendance suggests that they will never lose.

Metre by metre your mind recedes,
hidden behind your bulk and their egos.

Too blind to see each retreating pace,
one day they search for you in vain.

You’re out of reach – a distant speck
vaguely silhouetted against the sunset.

 Your freedom comes with grief for what is lost,
but you must count your blessings, not the cost.

The Daily Post #Measure

©Jane Paterson Basil



I’m thirteen,
dreaming in bottle green box pleats, rolled at the waist,
to display my knees and a hint of sleek, wicked thigh,
a sly pretence at womanhood, and 1968’s fashion statement
for rebellious school-time teens.
I’ve dabbled in suggestive games played with eyes and shy, but sneaky smiles,
but these days I look askance at boys who would try to dance
a horizontal jig with me.

I’m thirteen,
dreaming in bottle green box pleats,
in lessons two and three on Tuesday.
While our biology teacher speaks of sexual reproduction in plants,
I shrink and blush, thinking of
kind of
the thing that men and women do.
The act that my parents must have undertaken at least five times, as that’s how many children they had, and I’m sure my mum only did it because she wanted us, but I’m not so certain about my dad, as men have needs which I don’t want to think about; I don’t want to, but I can’t help it. There are pictures in my head and I want to dispel them; my poor mum, having to do that; my poor mum, and I know I will never be able to do that – that- that thing again. I didn’t want to the last time, but I was held down, and he was stronger than me. Nobody had been stronger than me before, but I didn’t have the strength to fight and there was so much blood I could smell it like iron up my nose and someone was screaming crying for mum and the sounds came from my mouth and it hurt and I was scared and I struggled but he was gripping my arms against my sides and my mouth his tongue his tongue I didn’t bite it I was too frightened at what he’d do what he was doing and everything was wet even before I felt the gush and then it stopped but somewhere inside me it never stopped it never stopped and a few days later I was told about the blood in the back of the car and somebody laughed not knowing it was mine and weaving through all the pain I felt shame that my violation my disgusting secret had somehow become a dirty joke and on top of knowing that I must be to blameI must be to blame I couldn’t tell anyone because of the oh-so-hilarious seepage on the leather car seat I couldn’t let them know it was me they were laughing about me who had been ravaged unravelled my petals screwed up screwed up screwed sinking away with my mind and why do I speak in metaphors when the word is something harsh which rhymes with:

tape, tape that adheres to my secret places, filthy tape from which there is no escape,

ape, ape that takes what he wants, then ambles away, sated,

grape, grapes which you pluck from the vine and bite and chew spitting out the pips spitting wet dribbling things it plays out in my head taking me back taking me back where I hear a baby crying mummee mummee and the baby is me being born into hell.

The bell rings.
We troop out, an unruly crew speckled with the better kids;
the studious boys with shiny shoes,
the plain and pretty budding little ladies, pigtails swinging
and no rolled-up bulk beneath their waist,
too well-behaved to be raped by a neighbour,
too cool to mistake him for a friend.

In English I make a mental list
of things that wouldn’t melt in their sensible mouths,
and when coughs and shuffles ruffle the silent air
I practice sighing my mantra so quietly
that none but me can hear.
My top teeth touch and and release my lower lip,
followed by a curl of the tongue, a breathing aah,
another tongue-trick, this time hitting my palate,
rolling a little, and releasing
a final, subtle, “key” sound.

I am thirteen,
dreaming in bottle green box pleats.
I should be reading,
but each word brings me back to you and my dilemma.
It’s not that you won’t understand,
more that it’s embarrassing to have to explain.
Maybe I’ll wait until I’m sixteen
and we’re engaged and making wedding plans.

You’ll understand, I know you will.

I’ll say I can’t do the thing that other couples do between the sheets, the thing that squeezes suffering children through bruised tubes; the thing they call normal. Some say it’s fun. I know that’s not true, unless you’re a man, forcing his way in, invading you. I knew that before he made me do it. I knew the moment I heard the dirty words whispered in the schoolyard.

You’ll understand I can’t do it, I know you will.

You’re above such base desires and you’re one of the only two people I told about what he did to me, although I never described the searing pain the bruising the limp that I had to cover up for shame or the sting or the itch that doesn’t go away and maybe nobody told you how funny it was that there was blood on the grubby upholstery the grubby upholstery that had been flattened by so many arses before my bare skin got crushed against its greasy surface.

You’ll understand that we can’t have children. I know you will. You don’t have those base desires, and even if you do, you will crush them because you love me so much.

I am thirteen,
dreaming in bottle green box pleats,
and I love you so much that it hurts to be anywhere but by your side.
I don’t understand, as I refuse to believe the world
is the way they say it is.

I am thirteen,
and though you are the best thing I can see,
a romance which will play out endlessly in my memory
and you will forever be the beginning
and the meaning of love for me,
I am dreaming a fantasy.

©Jane Paterson Basil

Leave me alone


Today you rolled into the shop
too wasted to be wise and stay out of my face;
the promised coffee cake replaced by oddly assorted items;
passata; puy lentils;
a pack of dried apricots and a jar of spice.

I refused a proffered pasta dish
(dehydrated for longevity);
I’ve tried it before and didn’t like it.

I blame myself for this intrusion –
the last time we spoke I told you I didn’t want to see you
until you had something to give.
and here you were – giving me mismatched ingredients
for a meal.

You usually take from me, so this made a change.

Your hands shook, the left one was black, as if
from that greasy ash I used to see printed on my table,
by my sink and on the bathroom floor.

Ugly images flashed by in dripping scarlet; blood
splashed across walls;
darkening drops blotting your clothes,
insulting my senses.

Needles, ripped vitamin e sachets,
little tin cups.
filthy soot, blood, blood blood.

Impossible to forget the horror borne for so long.

Here in the present, your body,
unable to keep hold of the accepted code of behaviour,
briefly convulsed, and as you recovered
you told me you were tired, but the jerks recurred,
and with them the excuses.

Why do you always think I’ll believe your lies?
I wish that you would realize I’ve seen the signs
a thousand times or more.

Your friend Slick slunk in an opposite doorway.
offering me an unknowing opportunity.
I made no comment except to suggest you go home to bed,
then I waved, and Slick crossed the road to speak to me.
We chatted about my flat, then, quick as a flash I
asked him what you were on.

Slick didn’t know what had hit him.
He batted his unthinking reply back to me:
It’s OK, Paul hasn’t used that, he’s only had Pregabalin.

As if I didn’t know.

So sad that Slick should think I’d be relieved.
He’s too deeply entrenched in the scene to face the fact that
any street drug is lethal for an addict.

I told you to leave me alone, turned my back
and returned to my work in the Oxfam shop.

Please, leave me alone.

I want you to go away;
that I may neither see or hear from you
until you are clean.

The Daily Post #Realize

©Jane Paterson Basil

10 ways to get your son to leave.


1. Ask him to stay a bit longer.

2.  Give him all your cash.

3. Tell him that if he goes outside he’ll probably be devoured by a man-eating she devil who will take his money and his sanity.

4. Invite your brother over.

5. Tell him they’re giving away money at the bank, but they close in fifteen minutes.

6. Tell him the police are on their way.

7. Try to have a reasonable conversation about his future, or give him some useful advice.

8. Throw his wallet out of the window.

9. Set fire to your home.

10. Throw him out of the window.


See also: Ten ways to get your son to visit you.

NB. Free with this post! A bonus Way To Get Your Son To Visit You:

  • Borrow a phone off someone, call your number, and when he answers, tell him that if he doesn’t return your phone within fifteen minutes you’ll phone the police. Mean it.


©Jane Paterson Basil

The end


violent act
a gushing apology
a promise of future bliss
followed by the suggestion that I was to blame
citing bad hair, weak tea…
unless I escape
this will


Written for The Daily Post‘s word prompt #Apology, this poem uses the fibonacci sequence, a mathematical sequence in which the word count on each line is equal to the word count on the previous two lines, and then reversed,thus: 1,1,2,3,5,8,5,3,2,1,1,

©Jane Paterson Basil

Hey Daisy

Hey Daisy, come and have a drink
never mind what your parents think.
Look at that guy with the dreaded hair,
and how about the cute guys over there.
Daisy have a drink and have some fun
get yourself laid before the night is done.

Daisy Daisy you have to go to church,
you can’t leave Jesus in the lurch.
Tell those friends you’re busy today,
it’s better for you if they stay away.
I wish you’d see the risk they pose
when you let them lead you by the nose.

Hey Daisy there’s a party down the road.
Forget about your mother’s moral code,
snort some coke and smoke some green,
dance on the table and make a scene.
Daisy have a drink and have some fun
get yourself laid before the night is done.

Daisy Daisy, come and meet Troy,
he’s such a sweet and pious boy,
he never hangs around on the street,
he’s so much nicer than the people you meet.
I wish you’d see the risk they pose
when you let them lead you by the nose.

Hey Daisy, what an earth is the matter.
You’re throwing up and you’re getting fatter,
looks like there’s a baby on the way.
Sorry mate, I would love to stay
but I want a drink and to have some fun
I’ll get myself laid before the night is done.

Daisy Daisy, what have you done.
So this is the result of you having fun.
You’ll have to abort it and we won’t tell Troy,
you don’t want to lose him, he’s such a nice boy.
You should have seen the risk your friends posed
when you let them lead you by the nose.

Poor little Daisy stares at her shoes
with a razor in her hand and nothing to lose.
She never did play her false friends’ game,
and she cowers when she hears Troys name,
the note by her side tells the terrible truth
of a girl who wasn’t trusted with the choices of youth.

She was raped and beaten and threatened with death,
if she ever dared to breathe a single breath
to her mother who tried to force a match
with somebody she thought was a perfect catch,
psychopathic Troy whose pretty little prey
was taking her life in her own chosen way.

©Jane Paterson Basil



not so long ago
all of the treasures which were mine

all of those gems
which shine forth
throughout each day

the friendly smile and
the grandchild’s

did not reach me,
but remained unrecognised and unheard.

not so long ago
came the day when
my need for escape
freed me from my shell
I floated to the ceiling

I looked
down upon
of myself
abandoned on the kitchen floor
the part of me that contained the mouth
and the sound that it formed was
“this too shall pass

Perhaps there were crack dealers with guns in my attic, or perhaps I had come home to hide after running from my son. Maybe I had found him in a terrifying drug stupor, or I had got my wallet out and it was empty when there should have been enough money for me to buy food to stave off my hunger.

whatever the cause
I was on the floor
had suggested that
I look
at the
another angle,
and I had never lain on my kitchen floor before, so I was trying a new cure for what ailed me. I was searching the ceiling for an answer. It was the only new angle I cound find.

chanting lips
could not
drive out
the horror
was my

could not
assuage the
my son
who I loved
although I
was going to die.

He was going to die because he could not begin to control his habit. Even though he was in touch with his mortality, it was beyond his ability to save himself. His willpower had flown, and his habit increased.

death honed his scythe in preparation.

not all of them die
so prematurely
but of those who do,
some have
the mark upon them,
the skeletal grin
of the grim reaper
at their shoulder
months before

the ceiling held no answer to my problem.

after a while my sad spirit sank back into my body
and despairing, I sat on the stairs
staring at the wall

it passed.

and now all of the treasures which are mine

all of those gems
which shine forth
throughout each day

the friendly smile and
the grandchild’s

my son’s laughter and his kindly eyes

reach me,
are recognised, heard and celebrated.

© Jane Paterson Basil