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

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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

Being There

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It is a collage this week. Writers will connect to it easily.

challenge-38.jpg

So, let the fingers align to imagination, and bang on the keyboard. The format can be a a story/poem/rant/anecdotes/journalistic coverage of events/ reflections as usual.
Pour out, and let it flow ….


Flipping in long grass,
skipping, leap-frogging, cartwheeling over stiles,
feet so fleet it feels like flying,
flopping to sit cross-legged on fragrant nature’s floor.
Grass stained shorts. Grubby fingernails
cut careful slits through slim daisy stems.
Threading, making chains to dangle from supple neck.
Carefree sunshine and family love.

Once, this was me.

Breasts swelling, bursting
from a shock-horror bra, hips curving,
and worse, a monthly sticky thing that hurts,
which Grandma calls the curse.
Father stealing small licks to assuage the tip
of his hunger.
Mother loving, supporting
this poor little changeling.

Feeling dirty. filthy images of hot flesh slapping,
moist organs fitting,
slipping wetly together. Precocious hormones
that battle against desire,
hermaphrodite side crying “Let me
be a child”,
yet all the while learning the wanton game.

A teen with a siren’s face,
miming like a pro. Anything goes,
as long as it excludes loosening her clothes.
No sense of danger, blindly embracing
masked neighbour that ambles her way.

Rape and beatings, beatings and rape.
burst head, bleeding flesh, blurred vision,
cigarette burns, fractured limbs, bruises
that cannot be hidden. Torn wings
of a butterfly, entrenched in threats
that he may fulfil.
“I will kill”, he says.
“I will
kill
your family,
I will kill them if you hide from me.”

Weeping admission. Gentle assistance.
A groggy leap from the sizzling grill, only to slip
into spinning with trolls, a racy dance of ring-a-ring-o’-roses,
taking risks to prove she’s ahead of the game,
trying to hide her confusion and pain,
all of it fake, played out in vain.

Atishoo, atishoo,
she’s falling again.

Learning to stand,
wooing and wedding a kindly man,
only to fling him away.
To add to mistakes and shame,
the new man she catches, rapes her brain.
Years of fighting to gain control,
while the monster hints that she’s going insane
tripping and falling and failing again. Flailing.

An ill-planned, yet helpful escape.

Too late, she examines the damage.
Trailing her feet along a rough cloister, wrought
from life’s ill-conceived choices.
To the right, bright window panes reveal smiling faces.
Hands wave. She stretches her arms,
but can’t reach.
To her left, dust, rubble, crumbling walls.
Jagged scraps from her womb bear witness to her weakness, grimacing
as they juggle with jesters and thieves,
screeching to be healed.

A mouth opens.
A silent scream struggles out, to ricochet
off the ceiling. She swallows it in one.
It crushes her lungs.

“Please let me breathe.”

Rising up. Her children will not
be defeated by their demons.
Whatever it takes.

Whatever it takes…

This, too, was me.

A lone woman,
wizened by a boxed-up heap of experience,
sits in a high backed chair,
watching trees. The leaves expand into a screen
which conceals iniquity.
From her position, she can see
a clean horizon, distant meadows, whirling angels
that create sustainable energy, life-giving earth,
acres of sky.
Sometimes it rains,
but the sun soon breaks through.
When tears threaten, she strokes the jagged splits
that ripped deep through her skin, and feels
smooth silver strings weld and heal.
She is satisfied.
At night, she catches her reflection in the glass.
The allure that shaped her darker days
has faded with age.
Now, she is beautiful.

This woman is me.

.

Any life which stretches to reasonable longevity is like a massive chunk of quartz, cut from rock. Depending on the angle and brightness of the light, and on where you are standing, different facets can are visible. Also, the viewer approaches the quartz with his own pre-conceptions, interests and focus to detail. Furthermore, our aspects can change over time – even in the blink of an eye. This is one story of my life,  but – apart from the closing stanza – I displayed it from the dark side of the moon. I have many happy memories.

… an afterthought; reading through this longwinded poem, I learnt a horrifying new fact about my past – a detail that was staring me in the face, and yet I didn’t see it. While it won’t harm my emotions too much, I don’t think I’m ready to talk about it, but I mention it because, even viewed through the muddiest of lights, its still possible to spot new facets

Thanks go to Reena, for the inspiration.
©Jane Paterson

First Line Flash

This morning, I started reading Paper Towns, by John Green. The opening sentence is “The way I figure it, everyone gets a miracle.” It occurred to me that it might be fun to make up poetry from the first sentences of novels, so I copied a few out. My choices were limited, since I pass on most novels after I’ve read them, but I have a few kicking around which belonged to someone who died. As I was arranging my opening lines, it struck me that they could be further used to make up a new plot for a novel, should I be so inclined… which I’m not. After completing my “poem” it didn’t seem very poetic, so I’m posting it as flash fiction.

William

June the first, a bright summer evening, a Monday. I am in a car park in Leeds when I finally tell my husband I don’t want to be married to him any more. The first time Richard hit me, I could see stars in front of my eyes like they do in cartoons.

I woke up in a dinghy claw-foot tub in an unfamiliar bathroom. The door was the first thing. The door was open.

“Hide!” He was shrieking, frantic, his face drained of all colour.

You could very easily meet William. The way I figure it, everyone gets a miracle.


Do you fancy having a go at First Line Flash? It’s a fun way to write when you’re all out of inspiration.

Credits:

Miriam Keyes – The Brightest Star in the Sky
Nick Hornby – How to be Good
Elizabeth Flock – Me and Emma
Sara Shepard – The Lying Game
Nicki French – The Safe House
Ian Rankin – Hide and Seek
Geoff Ryman – The King’s Last Song
John Green – Paper Towns.

Apologies to Ian Rankin for the misquote – I had to drop a word from his line.

©Jane Paterson Basil

The Demon’s Mentor

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Waking up the wrong shape.
Unable to locate this searing pain. Limbs feel unfamiliar,
organs out of place.

Bit of me hurt, but which bits? My mind
collects the scattered bones and flesh. Recalls the correct
positions. Locates the pain. Why
do I recognise it? The reply;
like a coiled up adder in the gut, my gall bladder
has struck again.

A faded envelope rises to the roof of my brain,
its bilious pages spilling out before I can contain them.
Agony that stretched out – weeks and maybe more.
No relief.
Him lying on the bed, flippantly diagnosing
muscular strain; no need
for a GP or a visit to A&E.
No sympathy. No feeling for my helpless sobs.
Exhaustion and apathy, the brief relief of knackered sleep,
the sickness, the ache, the fire between shoulder blades
waking me time after time.
The night I lay on the stairs, clutching
at bannisters, finally unable to rise,
the whimpers which woke the kids. No phone. They don’t remember
how they alerted emergency services and neither do I.

His indifference.

Medication, scattered time. A ragged thing writhing in bed,
sweating in smelly sheets, fevered and disconnected,
my children controlled by that twisted protector, his agenda
furthered by my convenient illness. Though his method was different
for each of the siblings, as father and stepfather,
the demon’s mentor left no child unscathed.

My calendar ripped and stained, dates mislaid
in the debris of sickness. Trailing to the surgery,
saying I still felt ill.
A raging doctor holding me in blame
for leaving it so late before calling for help.
Those words writ indelibly on my mind;
Think yourself lucky you’re not dead.

Another septic layer of shame, while my silence
yet again replaced
what I dared not try to explain.

You talk of blame? Go on, Mr Medical Man, beat me, beat me with your words. Beat me, you narrow GP. I’ve had specialists attacking my case – you can’t do worse. If I tell you, an image will rise in your brain; a picture of a kind man who couldn’t be guilty of such subtly iniquitous sins. You won’t be the first. He even charmed the simpering marriage guidance counsellor, who  ridiculed me, thereby becoming compliant in my isolation. Nobody but my two oldest children know. I won’t give you an excuse to say I’m delusional as well as stupid. You’ll get no added ammunition from me. All you have is a voluble little twig. My secrets stand between you and the stinging willow cane.

When told of the news that my life
had been endangered by his obstruction,
my partner displayed no shame.

Three decades later, my symptoms are similar,
but there is no ogre holding me down.
Determined to work, I make it to Oxfam, but after an hour
the pain knows no bounds.
My manager points to the office phone.
She leaves me alone to call my doctor and I get an appointment
to see her at one.
Before I go home
I make a wry face and stick up my finger
at the ghost of the ogre.

His spirit baulks at the scar on my digit;
just one more wound that didn’t get stitched..
I know he regrets it, but my anger has flared.
Gritting my teeth I smile at the spectre;
I should show good grace, since his wicked ways
were placed on display by others long ago. Also,
I am still kicking
and he is dead.

I rest for an hour
before taking a shower to make me fresh
for the medical centre, where I will get help
and all will be well.

.

©Jane Paterson Basil