Tag Archives: anxiety

Stain

When vile truth
shatters complacency, when his pupils
shrink to obsidian pins, he will refuse
to meet your eyes.

He will mutter:
It was only once or twice, just
for fun, just to try it out, just to find out, just
to know what it was like. You’re
too old to understand but I
can handle it. It’s not
a problem.

The years and the lies trundle by,
punctuated by multiplying shades of dread
until all that appears on each succeeding page
is smudged punctuation in black, brown
and blood red.

At night, drear bundles
slump in damp sleeping bags.
Bent heads sink. Limbs sag. Limp lips
beg change to spend on the devil’s silence.
As I pass the darkened bank, a man says:
Excuse me lady, have you got any…
I swivel my head, and see
my son’s face.

Outside Tesco Express
a second voice invades my space
and though I know he’s miles away,
again, I see his face.

To keep tears at bay
I formulate rhymes whose meter
matches my pace.

I despise my weakness
and hate the unbidden ache
that hides in my skin.

I need my bed,
but I fear the demon in my pillow
which won’t let me forget.

In sleep, my mind
plays playground games,
raging and grieving in turns.
For once I dream my son uncurls.
Washed clean of the streets,
he stands tall, his flesh
advertising vitality.

My joy negates all of the pain.

Yet when I wake
I know that nothing has changed;
the blood in his punctured veins
still stains my soul.

©Jane Paterson Basil

Hell on Earth

sleep

It might be
the feeling of falling,
the expanding mushroom,
or the looming forms of the killing  gang
which triggers your  manic panic,
freeing the strangled scream
that brings you back.

In sleep
you cannot maintain that level of terror,
so you wake.

While you wait for your heart
to locate its resting beat,
you rationalise,
navigating the nightmare,
plotting its course,
hunting its cause.
You remind yourself
it was only a dream.
Reaching for reassurance,
you progress from chewed candy meditation
to itemising your brightest blooms,
plucking up jewelled previews
until you feel safe.

But when
every day
you wake slowly and late
your brain un-sieged by devilish make-believe,
yet you are the embodiment of dread,
you know your hell is real.

.

©Jane Paterson Basil

Mortal

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When I was four feet tall
I believed I was immortal;

that knives
could not scar me

oceans
not drown me

mistakes
not taint me

evil
not weaken me

age
not change me

pain
not
break me

and that strength
would never fail me.

I was confident I would shape
a sensational destiny.

Yet I am mortal after all.
No ogres quake at the sight of my face,
no lame man walked.
no blind man saw.
no orphans were fed,
peace was not restored.
I was somewhere else,
someone less;
not the giant
of my idle fantasy,
only a wind-blown flake, adept
at making a mess.

I do not scream
or beat my breast
yet I bleed.

Ignominiously,
I bleed.

I scrub at the seepage
but it will not come clean,
leaving an indelible stain
for posterity.

In recompense,
the forgiving flowers of my womb
grow over my stain,
creating a fertile garden
with fresh running streams.

They illustrate
that my bungled life
has not been
a waste.

Although this poem doesn’t contain to the wordSequester‘, it was inspired by today’s Word of the Day Challenge. I was going to give it the title ‘Sequestered in Fantasy’, since that is a good description for the way I was as a child. However, that title doesn’t suit the poem.

©Jane Paterson Basil

Stop

amusement-park-1492100__340

Sleep, wake.
Eat, excrete,

Meet, part,
practice my art.
Sleep, wake,
eat, excrete.

Start, stop,
walk to the shop.
Meet, part, practice my art,
sleep, wake,
eat, excrete.

Thinner, fatter,
it doesn’t matter.
Start, stop, walk to the shop,
meet, part, practice my art,
Sleep, wake,
eat, excrete.

Starve, eat,
mildew or meat.
Thinner, fatter, it doesn’t matter,
start, stop, walk to the shop,
meet, part, practice my art,
Sleep, wake,
eat, excrete.

Work, play,
face the day.
Starve, eat, mildew or meat,
thinner, fatter, it doesn’t matter,
start, stop, walk to the shop,
meet, part, practice my art,
sleep, wake,
eat, excrete.

Sick, well,
I cannot tell.
Work, play, face the day,
starve, eat, mildew or meat,
thinner, fatter, it doesn’t matter,
start, stop, walk to the shop,
meet, part, practice my art,
sleep, wake,
eat, excrete.

Happy, sad,
shades of mad.
Sick, well, I cannot tell,
work, play, face the day,
starve, eat, mildew or meat,
thinner, fatter, it doesn’t matter,
start, stop, walk to the shop,
meet, part, practice my art,
sleep, wake,
eat, excrete.

Gashes mend
to rend again.
Happy, sad, shades of mad,
sick, well, I cannot tell,
work, play, face the day,
starve, eat, mildew or meat,
thinner, fatter, it doesn’t matter,
start, stop, walk to the shop,
meet, part, practice my art,
sleep, wake,
eat, excrete.

Stop, stop,
Please drop me off.

©Jane Paterson Basil

The Curs

Kiri's-scribbles.jpg

Some days
maybe for a week or more,
the curs sleep. I square my shoulders,
hold my chin parallel to the world,
point my nose
toward
the next
moment.

A jaunty walk, a go-getter smile –
both come easy on days like these,
yet I never forget;

inside me
the curs lurk.

I hear them snore,
my stomach lurches when they turn,
and always
I take
a deep
breath,
cataloguing my gems
until breathing is easy again,
blinding every sense to the sighs, the snorts,
the crawling taunts
of a disturbed cur.

If it retreats into still sleep,
I have succeeded in my quest for peace,
but too often
a cur’s
trickling
dream
leads into a curdling cry
and the pack wakes,
instantly absorbed
in its vicious intent.

Attacking the threads in my mind,
they tangle and snap the intricate design
whose painstaking lines
create a picture
of serenity.

As I am currently out of reach of the Internet most of the time, I’m unable to keep up with my reading, and my posts are sporadic, which is why my response to Kira’s Sunday Scribbles Challenge is two days late.

©Jane Paterson Basil

Chiaroscuro

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I soaked up a soggy sense of betrayal
each time I failed to find a toenail gap
between cruel cuts of shrapnel and scorched waste –
a haven where red-eyed ash and steely scraps
did not mingle or seek to compete,
where nature remained unscathed.

Whispering, I would inquire:
who am I, and why?

Feel like a downy feather,
 fallen from an eagle’s wing, floating
in a pool of happenstance dirt.

Feel like the cracked shell
of an oyster that shaped a pearl from
a grain of sand.

Feel like a blade of grass
waiting for chance to decide whether
I may remain upright, or be crushed.

Feel like a bee searching
for honey on the surface of a gilt-framed
landscape depicting summer’s haze.

I have been patient amid the chaos
waiting to find the silence that would allow a reply
and today my answer was delivered to me:

I am a dark and light animal,
shaded to reflect this chiaroscuro planet.

We all contain darkness and light.
These qualities make the patterns which illuminate colour and scale.
They allow us life and give us sight.

I will still try to give the light a brighter hue
and cast some warmth within the dusk,
even as my limitations become clear to me;
I am so much more than dust, but
so much less than deity.

©Jane Paterson Basil

Shhh…

Guess I’d forgotten the depth of low –
forgotten how far down I could go.
Winged creatures more sinister than simple butterflies
have made a home in my heart.
They’re boring holes and sending messages,
warning me to hide.
I know they want to eat me but I’ve run out of fight.
Even the urge to search for comfort
has flown.

I hold the phone a distance from my ear,
in the unfulfilled hope
that I won’t hear the voices talking, questioning, offering goodwill, comfort, meals, walks and company, company, company, then moving quickly on to what he said, she said, who did what and isn’t it interesting.

No.
When you are drowning inside,
discussion is low on your list of priorities.

I say that I’m hungry.
This is true, but my mutterings about supper are just an excuse
to escape another one-way conversation.
Food is an dull complication to be dealt with later.

Good people, I love you. Please leave me alone,
or rather, don’t speak out loud.
Can’t you see that the groan which issues from my throat
is a strangled scream?
Please, please don’t reach out to me with sound.
I’m hoping that silence will keep the monsters under my rib-cage at bay.
If you have something to say, I would be grateful
if you’d just write it down.

Note for my friends: Don’t worry about me –  if I was still feeling this bad, I wouldn’t have managed to write the poem… such as it is.

©Jane Paterson Basil

The Low-Down.

tentative.jpg

Oh Gloria, you’re glorious
your face is quite adorious,
but it must be most laborious,
to paint it up just foree us.

Please bear with me – I have a point to make…

I’ve been reading my old posts, with a view to deleting some. It’s a time consuming task, since I keep going to the posts, and reading the comments below. I’ve come to the conclusion that, with the exception of three or four which I shouldn’t have posted, I’m going to leave them be, since they are a part of my story.

What comes across more than anything, as I read, is how traumatised I was, up until this year. My honesty was less a virtue than a response to stress and grief. My life has changed dramatically since then. For some years my addicted son and daughter gave me little cause to hope that they would survive for much longer – let alone go into recovery – and whenever hope presented itself, its visit was brief, leaving me more devastated than before.

I had to take tough action, so I pretty much cut myself off from them. It was recommended by my support group, my family and my friends, and I knew it was the right thing to do. It’s called ‘release with love’, but it didn’t feel like love, and apart from the freedom from daily crises, I didn’t feel particularly released. Although I knew that my abandonment might give them an opening into recovery, I suffered a terrible sense of guilt. I feared that they might give up on life, thinking I didn’t love them, that they may genuinely need me, that they may die because I wasn’t there to resuscitate them. At times I missed them terribly, while at other times I was furious with them. A combination of superstition and shame prevented me from speaking of these things, even at my support group.

My refusal to engage with their addictions was part of a series of good and bad events which occurred in a serendipitous order, and resulted in them both going into recovery. So in the last six months, my life has changed dramatically. I wouldn’t go so far to say that I am now well – every time I make that claim a physical or psychological crisis follows – but I’m often happy. It feels as if I have had a reprieve. However, I am all too aware that this reprieve could be taken away, since recovery is a precarious condition. I celebrate the strides my children are are taking, but these celebrations are sandwiched between panic attacks and debilitating hours of both horror and depression.

If you speak to any realist in my position, I think they would agree that, although there is less cause for trauma, anxiety levels can increase, or rather change shape, when someone they love goes into recovery. Hopes are raised, the stakes become higher, and we often find ourselves in a state of shock. It’s a strange twist that is all to familiar to many of us.

I am recovering, but life contains a series of falls and recovery; it carries us along particular routes, and we are shaped by our experiences along the way. I am not the person I may have been in different circumstances; I cannot guess who that person would have been. Come to that, I can’t know how any other circumstances may have shaped up. As my eldest daughter said to me a year or two ago, when my life was atrocious: it could be that what we have now is the best possible result of our lives so far.

Since my children went into recovery, I have found it increasingly difficult to write. When I manage to write, I often don’t finish what I have started, or if I do, I don’t like it enough to post it, and this brings me to Gloria. I wrote the ridiculous rhyme about Gloria in response to yesterday’s word prompt. When it was inside my head, it seemed funny – albeit inane – but typed out I could see that it wasn’t. It’s a perfect illustration of my current state of mind, and the reason I’m not posting much.

Today’s word is ‘tentative‘, which is appropriate, since I feel a tentative pride in having managed to compose this, and I will post it, even though a large part of me doesn’t want to. It has taken me hours of tentative writing to finish this post and when I press ‘publish’, I will do so tentatively. This is a tentative step towards getting back into a proper blogging routine, and overcoming my recently acquired, literary shyness.

Press publish, Jane…

Press publish…

NOW!

PS. I forgot to add today’s word for peace, dedicated to Raili, who kindly supplied it. Maybe you can engineer an opportunity to use this word in the next twenty-four hours.

Words For Peace #2
 
Finnish:
 
Rauha

 

©Jane Paterson Basil