Tag Archives: angry

All About You

You made it all about you,
and in the normal way of the world
it would have been,
but what did you ever do
to give me reason to feel for your overdue grief?

Being a mother is more
than conceiving and giving birth, more
than feeding and clothing your little one, not
that he was always clothed properly;
one of his punishments was to be shut out in the winter cold,
in no coat,
just tee shirt and shorts.

And what were his crimes –
could it be that he was in the way
of your fine romance with
a bully of a man?

Yes, I understand
that it was he who shut out your son, he
who beat and abused him, but you were his mother,
who should protect him if not you?
Instead of giving him a better life
you took the abuser’s side.

That boy lived in misery
until the authorities freed him
from your blotted approximation of love.
Where was your maternal heart then?
Did you miss his unwelcome presence?
Did you ache for his scars?

At seventeen he tried to reach you,
squeezing in when you least expected him,
but you had better things to do…
finding an excuse you’d run away,
scattering scraps of indifference for him to pick up
and weave into a kinder shape, and display,
as if they described a mother’s love.
He smiled, but no one was fooled.

That smile of his…
oh, that smile, and the way that he could take away the pain
leading us through a city of invented thrills
to the yellow brick road.

He was nineteen when the reaper came
longer than his lifetime ago.
I walked the yellow brick road alone,
but this time it was grey and made of coldest stone.

We buried his ashes,
your tears of self-pity darkening the dirt, bleeding
into our tears for all he would miss –
the birth of his son, a promised happiness –
and all we would miss.

What would you miss?
If he hadn’t died nothing would have changed.
You wouldn’t be crying, instead you’d be running away.

Do you still weep? I wept so many tears
for him
for what you did to him,
for what all of this did to my daughter,
and so much more,
but at this time of year my family meets
to celebrate the memory of his many antics, both good and bad,
and again I ask his forgiveness
for not burying my anger alongside him.
He wanted us to be one family
but you scuppered even that wish.

I long to forgive you,
yet what kind of mother only thinks to love his son
when he is dead?


The Daily Post #Bury

©Jane Paterson Basil

Thanks for nothing Yasmin


You tell and retell the same tired old stories
about your family’s shame and your vain past glories.
It doesn’t matter that you know I’ve heard it before
you have to tell it at least ten times more.
You’ve never been discreet and you don’t really care
about a small exaggeration here and there.
For thirty-eight years you’ve never let me speak
you cut me off almost every time I squeak.
I’ve always been polite, I always had a smile
though I’ve felt like slapping you once in a while.

Now and again your verbal domination
has been squashed by me for a short duration,
and over the years you have learned
of my hatred of drugs and how I’ve been burned
by two of my childrens’ predilections
for self medicating and picking up addictions.

My son’s in prison on the brink of release
and if he stays straight I will have some peace.
It’s his fourth time out and I’m hoping this time
he’s properly recovered and will tow the line.
As for my daughter, she’s been driven half mad
by the complex cocktail of drugs she’s had,
and even an optimistic soul such as I
has to accept that pretty soon she’ll die.

My own drug history is pretty bare;
I smoked a bit of cannabis here and there,
forty years ago for a month or two,
as it seemed like the sociable thing to do,
until I found the confidence to turn my head
and concentrate on getting on with life instead;
I turned down speed, coke and LSD;
It wasn’t the right kind of life for me.
My friends disapproved, said I wasn’t cool,
but I reckoned it was better than being a fool.

I try try to keep in a healthy state,
but I can’t help worrying about my offsprings’ fate.
I’ve fought the effects for the past ten years
while my kids’ lives were crashing around my ears.
No-one know the dark places I have travelled;
is it any wonder I’m becoming unravelled?
My doctor and psychiatrist both agree
I’m suffering from a bad case of anxiety.
As soon as I relax I fall to the ground
no matter who happens to be around.
I’m not asleep but I can hear their talk,
I’m just unable to get up and walk.

For thirty eight years I’ve called you my friend,
even though you’ve driven me around the bend.
I’ve always been loyal and I got used to it
but I no longer like you one little bit.
I could take your nonsense and your self-obsession;
I could take your ignorance of my depression;
I could take your blagging and your dirty con tricks,
but what you’ve done now has made me feel sick.
You say I’m doing drugs though you know it’s not true;
I wouldn’t take a pill if I had the flu,
I’ve even been offered opioids in the past
for raging toothache, but I stuck fast.

I don’t take drugs because it causes strife,
I don’t take drugs because I want a life.
I do all I can to look after myself,
I don’t care for money but I care for my health.
I could think of a lot of hurtful things to say
about all of your crimes, but I’ll call it a day.
I know you just couldn’t stop your yakety yak
but you’ve said it now and there’s no turning back.
I don’t take drugs Yasmin – understand this;
I’ve removed your name from my Christmas card list.

©Jane Paterson Basil


Pool of dirt


Hey Mr Gangsta – so you think you’re cool?
Dissin’ every lesson that you learnt in school
Mistakin’ your gun for a useful tool
Killin’ all your brothers like a misbegotten fool

you’re a poisonous grub in a pool of dirt
looking for a host, with no thought of the hurt
you’re one of many and you all breed like fleas
we need to find a cure for this virulent disease
doctor, good doctor please give us some ease
jab us with an anti-gangsta vaccination please

Hey there Mr Racist well waddaya know
Not very much, and it’s starting to show
You’re dissatisfied and your mind’s so slow
You blame our immigrants and whine for them to go

you’re a poisonous grub in a pool of dirt
looking for a host, with no thought of the hurt
you’re one of many and you all breed like fleas
we need to find a cure for this virulent disease
doctor, good doctor please give us some ease
jab us with an anti-racist vaccination please

As for the monster who would stomp on his friends
With his size ten boots, for his own greedy ends
Making more money with each law that he bends
It’s time for him to turn around and make amends

you’re just a poisonous grub in a pool of dirt
looking for a host, with no thought of the hurt
you’re one of many and you all breed like fleas
we need to find a cure for this virulent disease
doctor, good doctor please give us some ease
jab us with an anti-greedy vaccination please

Poor Mr Foolish runs along behind
Longing for escape from his thankless grind
His vision too tunnelled to consider mankind
He votes to drag his future into decline

you’re just a poisonous grub in a pool of dirt
looking for a host, with no thought of the hurt
you’re one of many and you all breed like fleas
we need to find a cure for this virulent disease
doctor, good doctor please give us some ease
jab us with an anti-foolish vaccination please

Written for The Sandbox Writing Challenge #46 A Question of Perspective. This week Calen asks us “Whom do you look down upon?”

Thank you Calen – I wasn’t sure I wanted to do this challenge, but it turned out to be quite… exhilarating. Yup – that’s the word  🙂

©Jane Paterson Basil


Embed from Getty Images
Amsterdam 2005.

It has rained, and gold-glistened streets poorly ape the dark canals where reflected light ripples.

Past dimly lit coffee bars and bright bakeries they wander; mother, eighteen year old daughter and son of sixteen, to the twilight tourist trap that they must not miss.

”You have to go there,” everyone had said.

They pass eerie side alleys where sinister cowled characters, almost concealed by the black shadows that they cast, furtively pass packages into desperate hands.

On canal bridges men lean, their bodies casually speaking of threat.

Turning back towards the crowds, plump pink skin glows warmly under the red light of the woman’s glass fronted display case, as on a high stool she sits in uniform.


Her face is artfully painted and powdered to conceal her personality and leave you guessing about her age.

The mother looks sadly at this carefully illuminated package of sex.

The boy, uncomfortable, turns away from the brazen colours and bland cosmetic artfulness.

The girl is captivated, and seeing beauty where there is none, envies the caged meat, and speaks.

”She’s lovely. I would like to be a prostitute.”

Words lightly spoken and shrugged off, dismissed as a silly passing thought, when, alarmed, her mother voices disaproval.

Bristol 2015

She walks monochromatic pavements beneath a matching sky which reflects the grey ache inside her head. The muffled sounds of cars passing in the rain goes unnoticed.

All those years ago, in Amsterdam, it was the idea of being an exhibit in a window that had appealed to her. She would not have wished to sell her body for sex.

Along the side of the road she walks, stands beside a lamp-post, walks, stands beside a lamp-post.


She has to raise enough money for a bag of heroin to heal her until evening falls and the pain returns.

© Jane Paterson Basil


My mother was on the rant again. I suppose I shouldn’t have been baiting her, but any conversation we had ended up this way, so I thought I may as well get some entertainment out of it.

”You can’t put a fun head on old shoulders,” I had said to her, twisting around the old adage she had just slung at me.

Her fingers bent and straightened as she wrapped and re-wrapped the yarn around knitting needles which click-clacked furiously. The scarf was growing at an alarming rate. Already it was so long that it would probably wrap around the house. She knitted when she was mad about something. She was often mad. Almost anything could incite her ire:

The neighbours cat, sitting on the wall, looking at her. ”It’s staring at me again.” she would say.

Conversations between characters in Eastenders. ”What did he have to go and say that for. He’s really hurt her feelings,” she would say, as if it was real, as if she was somebody who cared about the feelings of others.

Puddles in the street. ”They should do something about it,” she would say.

The whir of the cooling fan in the corner shop. ”It’s so loud I can’t think,” she would say.

The sound of my father’s voice. ”That horrible man is on the phone for you,” she would say.

Yes, many things made her angry, but most of all, I made her angry. My presence and my absence, everything I said and everything I didn’t say, everything I did and didn’t do, everything I was and everything I wasn’t.

Which made life a little tricky, as I lived with her.

Now she stopped knitting, and pointed her needle at me.

”Fun?” she spat. ”Fun? You talk about fun? I had fun once. And what do you think the result was? You! Planting yourself inside me, stealing my nourishment, taking my space, growing and making me fat and ugly. Pushing on my spine and my bladder. Scrabbling through my tubes, pushing your way out of my body. Expecting to be fed and clothed! Screaming and shitting all the time. Don’t talk to me about fun.”

I yawned, and looked out of the window at the sky. A dark cloud was forming overhead, signalling an upcoming storm.

The phone rang.

”Well, answer it!” she said.

The voice at the other end asked for her by name. Irritably, she slapped her knitting on the arm of the chair.

I watched impassively while she held the receiver.

”Speaking,” she said, curtly. ”Yes, that was me.” Then ”Is this a joke?”

A long silence as she listened. Finally she said ”This is ridiculous, but yes, I can make it tomorrow.”

She put the phone down. She put her knitting away. She was subdued for the rest of the day.

The following day, she went out. When she came back, she hugged me tearfully. I took in the hitherto unexplored fragrance of her hair, surprised by the smell of flowers and musk, of disinfectant and human being.

She told me about the woman who had given birth on the same day that I was born, and had always claimed that she was given the wrong baby to take home. babyAfter years of being ignored, a doctor had finally carried out DNA tests, and had found that she was right. An enquiry had been opened. My mother had gone in today for a DNA test, but it was considered more a formality than anything else. They were pretty sure that I was the other woman’s child.

”They can’t have you. You’re mine,” she wept. ” I wanted you. I fed and clothed you. I wiped your tears away. I watched your first tentative steps, and I urged you forward. I encouraged you. I taught you right from wrong. I loved you, and I will always love you. You are mine!”

I disentangled myself from the woman. I looked out of the window. Yesterday’s rain had left everything clean and sparkling. The world looked new and fresh.

© Jane Paterson Basil