Tag Archives: addiction

If This be Farewell

His lips
shape sinuous words,
but only silence reaches my ears
as he confronts
my still psyche.

This might be
a final goodbye,
yet I let the question
float on the horizon.

I watch,
fascinated
that threats and lies
can be so easily dumbed
by a medicated sky.

All around him,
childhood trinkets and toys
rain around his untouchable frame.
They sink, lost forever
beneath the blind sea.

I recline on sturdy rock;
hazily trusting it will hold me.
If I am strong,
the waves
will not drown me.

Should the message
be his final goodbye,
tomorrow
might bring solemn women or men
whose warning uniforms
and gentle breath
will lower me
into the wild vale of grief.

If this is to be,
I’ll reshape the vision,
paint flowers at his feet,
add a balloon, fill it
with five fathoms of words
describing all the love
he ever felt for me,
but for now
the air caresses me,
and I sleep.

Written for Word of the Day Challenge: Fathom

This is the fear that the loved ones of addicts face every day. We learn to push it to the back of our minds, but it’s always there, waiting until the addict has a wobble. That’s when the fear goes into full attack mode.

©Jane Paterson Basil

Advertisements

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

Dream Theme

Waking on the cusp of clarity I clamour
to catch receding images,
following the trail back to the entrails.

Pained family,
walls splattered with rusty shapes
that smell metallic, battened-down cells
where good and evil creatures scream,
baying for release.

I smash through timber walls
making gaps through which puppies crawl,
splintering ceilings that rain crumbs and flakes,
flinching as shape-shifting grotesques fall,
freeing beasts and all
in my quest to release the innocents.

Dogs frolic, begging rubbed tummies,
gnashing teeth set in fools and demons faces
fix false, cheating grins,
scampering to hide behind close-knit hills,
where they simper,
giggling into their sleeves.

I think: although limited,
there has been a victory.

While puppies sleep and mad dogs creep
I forge forward,
banging heads with faceless strangers
who might be foes or friends,
letting them plot the next step
while I hope for the best.

I sense wickedness,
the tang of a plan to rob a bank,
yet like a shy child, I ask no questions,
instead running with the gang.
Vacating the cracked castle
we part ways, while I memorise my instructions,
but I don’t understand the details
or the intended result.

Out in the street, the town floods,
water rising from an invisible place;
I suspect a connection to our game.
I’m thinking my finger has been dipped in fowl play
when a police constable
lifts me safely over the tide
to a leafy glade, that leads me
toward the first door
and with a friendly wave,
leaves me.

I wait while footsteps fade,
clutch the handle, smirking as it turns,
wondering at the trust of bland key-holders;
do they think the door
is too hidden for me to see?

A corridor leads to more
unlocked doors.
I creep through empty rooms
to one containing chairs,
a table, a litter of toys.
I pause, a query tasted on my lips, but dismissed
as I go through the next door.

Like a dream within a dream
my first-born daughter is beside me.
Now each succeeding room is scattered
with trinkets and symbolic artefacts,
while silently,
so silently, arriving singly,
each member of my family joins me;
all of my descendants
save my son.

I reach
a cramped space ravaged by the stains of age,
to find myself alone again.
No door before me.
Behind me, the entrance
has vanished.

Fear.
Closed in.
Pushing against ungiving walls,
fingernails scrabbling in trickster cracks.
Fear, breaking through my skin,
soaking my clothes.

Make no noise
lest the enemy is near.
Don’t panic, don’t curl in a corner.
Escape. Make no noise.
Smother the fear.
Think.

Pull out my phone,
call a friend.

The wind picks up at the other end.
“All will be well,”
it breathes.

Regaining hope,
I press the surface of a recess
too narrow to fit a door, and feel it give,
no more than a deceptive sheet of paper,
I rip it aside to reveal
a day-lit room, plush with sofas,
footstools, cushions. Voices trill nearby,
accompanied by the clink of dining.

Like a novice burglar, I shrink, nervous
to think I have broken into a private home,
but my son,
my son, my last-born, troubled child,
my son, my first-born man,
appears beside me.

“It’s OK, this is a hotel,” he tells me.
He shows the way through French windows onto a veranda
which skirts a calm sea,
where the rest of my family wait for me

Behind gleaming glass,
the diners raise their toast and applaud.
Fresh blood sings in my veins
to the rhythm of the waves
that caress the shushing sands of the shore.

I throw my store of hopes and fears to the horizon;
I cannot control its changes,
and I gaze into my children’s eyes
where this moment of safety lies.

I should offer a medal to the determined souls who managed to read to the end of my dream.

Floods, crumbling buildings, empty rooms, childhood mementoes and being trapped and in danger are all recurring themes in my dreams.

A lot of my dreams make immediate sense to me, being clearly marked ‘insecurity’, while others are a jumble. I half-understood last night’s dream, and built a poem around it to give me more clarity. It told me no more than I already know about the difficulties I’ve experienced in life, and of my opposing feelings of invincibility and weakness, of the power of my muscle and its inevitable collapse, of my confidence and my paranoia.

I can’t resist this – it goes back to the days when British record producers were little tin Gods, and many UK musicians had to bow down to them, rather than choosing their own theme and style. Those who wished to be a bit more raunchy had their knuckles rapped, and smoochy ballads thrust into their hands.

aww… such a sweet boy…

.

©Jane Paterson Basil

Crossing the Street

crossingthestreet

“I’m sorry, I don’t carry change.”

That’s what I always say, though sometimes
it’s a lie.

From Goa to Mumbai
it is considered unwise to give to children who beg on the streets;
better to donate to charities that protect them from their tormentors.
I live by that principle on my forays through this English town
where the victims are adult, their tormentors
are chemicals to be melted on a spoon and injected,
and their habit can kill.

These days I rarely engage with them;
they don’t require sandwiches, pasties or practical advice
and I can’t give them a bed for the night, so I can do nothing to assist,
yet those eyes kidnapped me as she begged beside Tesco Metro.

“I’m sorry – I don’t carry change,” I said.

It was the eyes that detained me;
eyes that sang in the storm of cause and effect,
in the chaos what was and what might have been;
eyes that could not be silenced, that trilled above the din,
calmly revealing what she would have liked to conceal,
colouring in the thrill of travel, the regret
of roughened hands which once caressed,
rising to a crescendo to describe the hurricane
that threw her up, and flung her
in the gutter,

and as her eyes glistened,
I listened to the howling wind
as it echoed her dirge of the death
of a wolf of the Steppes,

If we are not all equal, as some believe,
she was much more than many I meet. When we parted,
I flirted with my purse, knowing my money would bring her
a pin-prick of relief, but I crushed the brief temptation,
since it could purchase her doom.

Her eyes watched me while I wrote,
and while I ate and read and slept. When I woke
I thought of her.

Spying from my hallowed side of the street,
finding third parties to relate her trials and treats,
I kept my distance to evade the pain of intimacy,

Just once, I fell again
into those eyes that had swum the skies
before sinking into the blood-flecked mud.
I asked her a question and watched her eyes
while they lied to me.

Her tongue was too noble to verbalise an untruth,
yet her eyes suggested a lie;
thereby giving me fake justification
for my evasion.

Yet I had openly lied to her when I had said
“I’m sorry, I don’t carry change.”

I can’t say I knew her, or that she knew me,
but she affected me.
It seems she touched everyone she met.
I wanted her to find peace, but not like this.

I’m on nodding terms with the other side of the street,
so the news has already reached me:
last night, her spectacular eyes
closed for the final time.

Today, two bodies lie in the morgue,
the tiny one tightly curled in the womb of its mother,
and I try not to weep for the multiple tragedy
of mindless heroin’s dumb victory.

Rest In Peace, Diane

Word of the Day Challenge: Spying.

When I feel inspired, I write a poem before checking out the word of the day. I usually find that it fits. Today is no exception.

.

©Jane Paterson Basil

Hidden Layers

homeless-poem.jpg

.

Lately, times and dates become smudged.
I only know it was a cold October.
My mother was taking a break away from home.
She meandered along the embankment, noting
how her beloved London had changed.
Wrapped in a warm coat, snuggled into gloves and scarf,
she shivered as the chill
crept through.

She’d looked forward to this ambling trip down memory lane, but now
she missed the warm house, safe from wintry elements,
where a friend from  agile dancing days awaited her return.

She envisaged strong coffee, cosy conversation,
intelligent debate, heartfelt agreements.

Later would come supper, wine, a welcoming bed.

Wine, with its layers of taste
Wine, gulped down, leaving a wide smile, and no visible stain.

She stepped up her pace at the place
where the ground beyond the wall on her left
began to dip.

Glancing that way, she spotted the shock
of cardboard city; the place that street-sleepers might wryly call
their safety zone, where they laughed and cried and fought,
where few found love and many raged in anger and frustration,
where most drank themselves into a stupor to escape racking pain and loneliness,
where flattened boxes raised chilled, aching bodies from
hard, ungiving
concrete.

That night she wrote it in a poem – her hopeless, hollow, agonised desire
to make it right;

to take it all away,
to save, to save… to wash and shave them, change their clothes,
dress their sores, pour a healing salve onto their brains,
to feed and shelter them;
to make them well again.

She described her sense of helplessness for these broken lives.

She said it felt like a punch
between the eyes. Her shoulders curled in, her legs
threatened to buckle.

-<-<-@

“Dear God,” she wrote,
“dear God.”

-<-<-@

When she came home, she showed me the poem.
Though something in me preened in the reflected glory of her elite literacy,
I cried for the plight of the homeless, and for an elusive secret
tucked between the lines;
a message I couldn’t quite read.

Still weeping, I typed her words onto a clean sheet of paper.
This I gave to her, together with the original.

I kept no copy for myself.

Maybe it was down to the drink, but
for whatever reason, the poem was spirited away,
probably thrown out by mistake –
along with other significant documents.

My mother’s words, gone forever.

Those precious words shared the secret her misplaced shame
could never speak, yet they remained unheard.
Years later, a mystery illness revealed the weakness hidden in her genes.
My father pulled out green and amber bottles
concealed beneath the bed, behind her clothes,
inside cupboards and closets.
I smelled the amber liquid as it glugged into the sink,

a picture forming in my mind –
I’m twelve years old, delving through a pile of rags,
discovering empties underneath,
my mother’s brief irritation, her evasion, when I questioned her,
and how, when she found an excuse,
I couldn’t dispel the feeling of unease and confusion.

Did I never guess, or did I refuse to know?

Twenty years on, the clue was there, in the last lines of her poem,
the only lines which have not been – and will  never be – erased from my mind:

-<-<-@

Dear God, dear God,
there but for thy grace,
go I.

-<-<-@

This poem – like many others I have written – honours my mother, who had more positive qualities than any other woman I have ever known. She was plagued for many years by alcoholism, but her love and strength were such that her family had no idea until she started to experience frightening catatonic spells, and was admitted to hospital. Addiction is a tragic disease that often runs in families. She warned me against it, and I took heed. I know I carry the disease, and I owe it to her that I have not allowed myself to become lost in it.

Were she alive today, she would be 102 years old on 14th February.

©Jane Paterson Basil

Boulders and Daisies

train-2181576__340.jpg

.

You hustled a one-way ticket to hell,
hopping heavily aboard the chugging train,
smutty snow dripping down shrinking lanes,
tripping its way into cellular recesses
sifting your sight and your senses like sand.

Love and ribboned opportunities
jumbled up with rusty maybe-memories,
stuttered on the hollow horizon.
Blinded by the back end of a telescope,
all you perceived were burning trees.

You regretted the leathery ticket to hell,
and bravely you leaped from the trickety train.
Bruised by boulders and freed from near-misses,
the broken pieces were soldered with kisses
and you bathed in the cleansing rain.

This video is visually poor, but I like the sound. Beatlemania was a weird phenomenon – the fans made so much noise that they drowned out what they had paid to hear…

©Jane Paterson Basil

Ask Me Why

aviary-2640932_960_720.jpg

.

When we were families,
grandma’s house was a shared nest, and her attic
held history’s secrets beneath
dust that had caressed generations of kin.
Fingerprints revealed the smudged sheen
of an oaken music box, broken
by children’s rough love.
Though empty, it retained memories
of seamed silk stockings and a mother’s kiss.
Buried in a leather trunk an unworn
wedding dress told a musty story of domestic hope,
its promise stolen by the guns of war;
beneath the yellowed crepe-de-chine
lay mothy remnants
of a bridal bottom drawer.

When we were families,
most of us had somewhere
we could call our family home.
It may be humble, rough-and tumble,
with crumbling bathroom walls,
but it was many times better than no home at all.
When cold weather crept through our vests,
we’d pile into the kitchen through a welcoming door
and nestle next to a warming fire.

   * * *

Beyond my window, rain splashes passers by.
A billowing wind blows them forward, to where dry warmth beckons .

Half a mile away an encampment of flimsy tents
does little to protect our homeless friends.

At night they crawl inside their sleeping bags, fully dressed.
Curling up tight, they pretend to themselves that their nest is safe,
while council officials continue their plot
to rob the dispossessed of what little they’ve got.

©Jane Paterson Basil