Tag Archives: family life


The gulls cry to be fed
and the woman raises the sound on the TV.
Hungry for love, the gulls screech
and the woman preens her hair.
Desperate, they beg.
The woman 
slings slices of white bread 

They land just within reach

She straightens their feathers, takes 
them to a place where a man 
coils words around their beaks, their eyes
and shoots
framing their formal guise

The woman 
places the portrait 
on the living room wall.
The gulls see.
This must be love, they say.
The woman
Switches on the TV
to drown out their squall.

The gulls grow.
 raise families of their own.
Their polite poses  
crowd the woman's wall.
Not a hair out of place,
Many mouths saying “Cheese”
many obedient eyes gazing 
into a stranger's face.
He clicks, and it's done.
He clicks.
He clicks, and the children - for
they are children - stretch their muscles,
appreciating release.

The proud matriarch of three generations
turns from the TV
and and reaches to make space 
in her spick and span home
                                            for another trophy.
©Jane Paterson Basil

Charm Bracelet


Beneath the dust of rusted dreams
the precious bracelet swings and gleams.

No simple trinket this,
no tinsel sliding from a wilting tree,
no lace that slips from silken locks
to rot, forgotten, in the street.

The blood of ancestry
pulses through this eager chain, its genes
sown in the root of love, its links
tempered in the knitted cogs
of mutual reality.

We can not know
when first we join the clasp,
or as we add each precious charm,
what fist might grip the slender wrist,
or what corrupted implement
might chip and scrape its dancing gems.

We do not always see the claw
before it locks upon a treasured one,
but of this we can be sure;
we hear the thud as it hits the floor.

The lessened weight upon our arm
might give an instant of relief,
but as we rub our tender flesh,
our innards crease and we are flipped
into a keening

Above is the raw version of a poem I wrote today.
Beneath is the start of a more traditional cooked version.
Which do you prefer, salad or stew? Is it worth persisting with the poem below?

Beneath the dust of rusty dreams
the precious bracelet swings and gleams.

No tuppence ha’penny trinket this;
no tinsel on a baubled tree;
no flimsy frippery that slips
from careless tresses to the street.

Within this chain run veins of blood
whose links are tempered through the years;
Knitted loose ’round roots of love
and seasoned by our joy and tears.


©Jane Paterson Basil

No Pain

Last night

rotted by toxins

the branch broke.

I would not have believed

that all these years of ache and tears

could be so briskly whisked away

by the last straw,

yet today

the wound

leaves no pain.


I haven’t posted here since the first of January; my depression has been so severe that I didn’t feel able to write. Suddenly, big changes have come into force. This post is to reassure you that I’m still breathing, and the air is clean.

©Jane Paterson Basil



Going Home



Skinny river beckons,
breathing an echo of days when these feet
measured the thin edge a an instant before the leap,
when the landing deftly skipped the breach,
in the days when danger was a game
unfettered by sticks and stones of age,
and gunshot death was fun to feign;
tumbling play that entertained
till hunger called away.

Skinny river
whispers skittering memories,
whisking up a risible sniff of magic, as if
a giggling wish will lift me, and  carry me back
to the beginning that knew no measure
of length or breadth; that imagined
no end.

For an instant
I am loath to leave this empty crypt,
feeling a momentary need to stand sentry,
lest I miss my dusty trinkets,
my piddling, middling strides,
my thin wisp of pride.

if I go, the sky
will again be mine
and I will recognise my hands.
Adult battles of fact and habit
will be banished to the monochromatic land
of flim-flam.
I shall be Ilya, the handsome Man From UNCLE,
my brothers; spies from THRUSH.
My gun will eradicate evil until
it’s time to switch sides and be a baddie.
Naturally, Ilya will shoot me; the Right Side always wins.
Hamming it like a weak comedienne, I’ll expire in traditional style
with agonised grunts, thrashes and sighs,
finally rolling with a splash
into the shallow river
to die.

When dinner arrives,
I will obediently dine,
forever a child.



Inspired by A River Runs Beneath Us, which was written by  Paul at Cafephylos

Written for Word of the Day Challenge: Loath

This is what Bruce has to say about the river…

©Jane Paterson Basil

I Ran out of Space

Saw her from my window,
arms crossed
against every remembered
and forgotten loss,
her shadow, practicing
self-defence, envisioning
black scribbles
on the unwritten
pages of her book,
all hope stolen
by tenacious history
that still physically

Her walk is like yours,
her hair –
and not so long ago,
you, too, were closed,
hugging despair to
your ribs,
but you shared
every ache with me,
venting your rage,
cutting me with your pain,
locking me into
your danger, enabling me
to lead you to safety.

I loved all of you equally,
but, in midst of the melee,
I ran out of space
and, without complaint,
she silently fell away.


©Jane Paterson Basil



“Hurry up!”

My daughter, under-dressed for the chilly winter weather, hair wet from her shower, apparently needs a lift to Argos to get a new hairdryer now that mine is broken. She’s standing by the car, bouncing impatiently.

“Shit shit shit! I’m going to be late.”

A few minutes ago, I had asked her where she was going.

It doesn’t matter where I’m going,” She had shouted.

It’s aways urgent. It never matters why.

I’m cold without my coat.

I unlock the car, and Sadie hurls herself in.

“Get in the car! Come on!”

Argos is a fifteen minute drive. The first set of traffic lights are green. I exhale, relieved, but I have to brake suddenly when the second set turn red. My hands are shaking.

Sadie is yelling that I should have jumped the lights. The rushing sound in my ears is getting louder.

At the store, Sadie grabs my debit card from my hand and runs in. She’s back within a few minutes with a shiny black box and a benign smile.

“Thanks mum,” she says.

It’s over. My Sadie is back.

At home, I unlock the front door and limp into the house behind Sadie. She casually steps over the dried honesty which still lies where it fell, and her feet crunch on the broken glass in the hallway. As she ascends the stairs, I see that her hair is almost dry now.

I follow the burning smell into the kitchen and turn the oven off, then remove the blackened birthday cake. It was almost ready to come out of the oven when we left. I don’t feel like making another one for her, but I expect I will. I can’t ignore my daughter’s birthday.

I scan the kitchen. The damage is largely superficial this time, although there is some broken glass and china on the floor, and sugar everywhere. I notice the ache in my bruised back as I bend down to pick up the carving knife and place it in the sink.

The tidying up will have to wait. I put the kettle on to boil, and go upstairs to the bathroom.

I don’t want to look at the 2 inch slit in my jeans. I get a clean sponge and soak the area where the blood has dried, sticking the denim to my calf. I shouldn’t have turned my back on her. I shouldn’t have said no.

I take my jeans off, and pull the cut together with adhesive stitches. I can’t go to A&E. They didn’t believe the last story, and their kindly questions made my throat swell painfully.

In the sitting room, the cracked hairdryer lies on the floor. I drop it in the bin and huddle on the sofa with my cup of sweet tea. I stare at the wall. I should clean up, but I feel too heavy to stand.

The next time I will call the police. The next time.

If I can.

© Jane Paterson Basil


I saw it as I entered the bathroom. A syringe; needle attached. An alcohol wipe. Horror shuddered through me. It can’t be! How is this possible? So many times I have seen it, but never here.

Breathe calmly, I think. Pull yourself together.

I find her in the kitchen.

Dropping the syringe on the table, I Look accusingly at her.

She looks down, and away, collecting her thoughts, searching for a lie.

“It must belong to my diabetic friend, Lyndsey,” she says.

Quickly, I grab her arm, pull up her sleeve.

“Mum, how could you!” I wail.

© Jane Paterson Basil