Tag Archives: escape

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.

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

The Tears I Waste on You

You besmirched this mother’s love
with every chunk of scum that you could scrape up
from the murky lanes.
You crushed me with the weight of waste
until your insults filled my soul with so much pain
that I could no more bare to gaze upon your face
or glance into your eyes, or hear the lies
that dripped from lips whose smiles
once brought me mindless joy.
I’ve closed my door and turned away;
no more can you abuse, manipulate
or scream your dirty words of hate at me.
The tears I waste on you
will all be shed in secret and in shame;
I will never let you see them,
for if you did you’d use them as you do;
to stuff my shelves with toxic space and steal the gain.

I’ll dance in gardens where my finest flowers bloom;
admire their colours, breathe their sweet perfume.
I’ll tell my friends the sturdy stems have healed my wounds;
they do not need to know I ache for you.

The day might come when empathy sinks through your skin;
should that blazing dawn arrive
I recommend you pray that I shall be awake,
and furthermore that I
shall clearly recognise the change.

©Jane Paterson Basil

This Time



Year upon year, you have held me
in a cunning grip, trapped against my wishes
in this ugly
n e r.

Each time my eye locked upon a possible escape route,
you blocked it like a shot from a gun armed
by a mindless robot.

A small crack in the wall
winks its way into my thoughts, begging consideration.
It may have been there all along,
but I missed it


Perhaps it was made by the shock of your last
artful attack.

Even the shameful blush on your face
was a rude sham to manipulate me.
The abuse leaves no bruises
but it sure scars the soul.

The split is too small for you to to see, or maybe
you think me too clumsy to squeeze through.

Your skills of observation are blunted by self-obsession.
If you cared, you’d be aware that the stress
has flayed away my excess flesh.
I only need the strength to walk through
this small fissure.

I won’t crawl or beg for empathy;
it never helped before.
A hidden trace of dignity remains;
this, I must display.

When I gain my freedom,
I hope to grow so tall that you will never consider
torturing me again.

Rather, if a heart still beats in your selfish chest,
you might choose to nurture me.
If not, my child,
I shall be bereft, but our planet
will continue to breathe,

and so shall I.


©Jane Paterson Basil

Some time away


Dedicated to my dear friend Calen.


“Live in the moment,” they say,
but when each moment weighs you down
breaks your back and bends your bones
you need some time away.


I’d like to take you on a break;
a holiday from this harsh place,
to a haven where we can be children,
if only for week,
where the sun shines directly on us
– not over in the distance, offering promises
too soon broken;
but where wishes come real for you and me.

We’ll breakfast in a zillion-star hotel.
Well dressed waiters will pretend we are respectable
– ignore our giggles as we point at their penguin tails,
then we’ll kick our heels and run, squealing,
to the beach.
We’ll collect coloured shells, look for strange creatures and crabs,
chase the sea as it recedes, eat icecream and not feel sick,
bury our feet in the sand,
then lie on our backs and dream.

After a few days, we’ll awake to find Autumn
has arrived in its russet glory.
We’ll wrap up warm, and walk down cool corridors
of maple and oak,
throw fallen leaves to the breeze,
and watch them fly one final time
before they sink into the soil.

We’ll play dress up in big high heels and floppy hats,
and whisper the secrets of kids.
I’ll talk about the funny lady that lives next door
with seven cats, one of them black,
and looks like a witch,
while you’ll tell me what your brother said he saw.

We’ll do all these things and many more;
maybe we’ll even shed a few childish tears,
but most of all,
we’ll throw our heads back, and we’ll laugh

And when the week is done,
we’ll go home to find time has been frozen;
everything will be as it was when we left,
but our short rest
will have given us the grit
to face tomorrow,
with a grin.

©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

How it Felt


Ten thousand night terrors
                         s t r e t c h e d - o u t
                        when I found you
               before your
                     it was
                           that culmination
                    of ten thousand night terrors
               was filled with lifetimes of grief at my loss
  that dread eternal instant
then adrenalin drove me to action:
a message surged into my brain
demanding that you live again
I needed you to be alive
I needed you to survive

heroin was the heartless whore
that held you in her needled claw
and though I feared her murderous might
I wouldn't let her win this fight
the weight of my love gave a beat to your heart
as I gave you the massage of life
and matching my pulse was the chant in my head
you can't be dead you can't be dead
my body became a machine for survival
rhythmically working for your revival
and when the paramedics came
 and tagged me in my desperate game
  they had to fight heroically
    to finalise recovery
            that night
         extended outwards
to become the core and the crust of my existence

© Jane Paterson Basil

In response to The Daily Post’s writing prompt: “Just a Dream.”

This poem describes a recurring nightmare I used to have.


They’re crawling at speed

and my leaden feet

are letting me down

while their chemical needs

fill their minds with treason

which blinds them to reason

and feeds them with fervour,

making them faster than me.

As they chase me

the weight of the air all around

is pressing me down

and all I can hear is

the sound of my fear;

my laboured panting

and heart-beat pounding

as it tries to escape through my ears.

The end of the alley is darkly looming

and I see no escape

from death’s grinning face

as the figures draw nearer

disturbing the air with their

fetid breath and their skin-flaying cries.

And then I see three doors before me,

and hope of escape

floods through my veins,

bringing adrenalin forth in its wake

to help me select

the correct door to take.

The first one is fakely fashioned and fancy,

foolishly aping the noble oak’s grain

The second is painted in pink plastic gloss,

and I know that an entry would offer no gain

the one that I choose

is ancient and flaking

and chipped, with the dust

of long years overlain

I grab at the handle,

it opens with ease and

welcomes me in

then ceases to be.

It’s served its purpose

and sealed me safely

away from the drug crazed,

desparate faces

that sink from my mind

as I survey this place.

Before me a corridor stretches and curves

and the walls are constructed

from industrial shelves

with broad sheets of metal

which tower around me,

above me so high I can’t see the ceiling,

and the shelves are stacked

with miriad treasures and trash

and boxes and cases of leather.

Though I feel a desire to stop and examine

the curious curio stacked all about,

I know I must hurry and find an exit

as the grumble of thunder

is crumbling the ceiling

and pieces of plaster

are dropping on me.

While I am racing

to find an escape route

I see that the treasure is all from my past.

The bagatelle board

that I loved as a child

is tucked at the back

behind an old dress

and further along looking

fresh and un-used

is a bottle of perfume I lost long ago.

There are dolls and fossils

and fairy tale stories

and memories of glorious days in the sun.

And preserved

in this heart-space I finally find

the fetish that’s held me

through all these years.

It was lost in the dust of

a moment of absence;

a rose from my lover so long ago.

Now the rain is seeping

and soaking the ceiling,

damping and swamping all that I was.

I redouble my hunt

to discover an exit,

and as I am running

I hear my possessions

collapsing and crashing

through the floor,

Then I turn the next bend

and I see the old door

which welcomes me warmly

so I quickly step through,

onto a platform

with the sky overhead

and a drop deep beneath me.

If I fall I’ll be dead

but the platform leads

to the top of a stone wall

where I will be safe

from destruction and death

I step from the platform

onto the surface of the wall so tall

and high above ground.

Surrounded by sun

in the wake of the storm

the place I have left growls

with ground-shaking sounds

as mortar is beaten

by deep-seated moisture,

subversively slipping its devilish drops

into my heart-space,

and breaking it down.

The building collapses,

and within it my history.

The bagatelle board,

the perfume, the rose,

are swallowed up

as the ground beneath opens,

covers, encloses them

leaving no trace of the past behind

Now looking around me all I can see

is a deep flooded landscape

with the tops of some trees

which remain bravely standing

with their trunks in deep water,

awaiting the moment

when their roots will lose hold.

And now I know

if you run from the danger,

you lose all of the good things

both hidden and clear.

They come as a package,

a mistery gift

in rainbow ribbon

soaked through with tears.


I awoke from this nightmare

and wished that the darkness

had eaten me whole

and left my shell,

to let others know

that I’d finished this lifespan,

my life on this earth

which seemed more like hell.

But I kept stepping forwards

for the sake of my family,

and my family sustained me

while my rose kept me well.

Enriched by kindness

I am finding my future,

and my steps are guided by love and goodwill.

I have many to thank

for the floods that have dried

and the trees standing

proud on every side.

The wall still stands

and I stand upon it,

the stones and the mortar

too strong to subside.

© Jane Paterson Basil