Tag Archives: free verse

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

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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

His Legacy

cobweb-window1

As I sleep
I take a broom and sweep the filth
that fills the corners of the room,
removing gluey cobwebs,
strands as strong as button thread
are thick with muck and dust and flies
built up from when I left,
untouched until the day he died.
They wrap around the scrubby brush
in clumps like demon candy-floss.

A single tug is all I need to strip away
the evil blackness from the aged ceiling.
The room is clean, but far from being satisfied,
I feel the weight of dirt that clings.
It sticks to skin and fills my soul with rage,
and as I face the horrid truth
that he has not been exhorcised,
he steps into the room and speaks to me
as if I saw him yesterday and we were friends.

He passes by while I escape outside
to tell my family I have seen a solid spectre
of the man who took his final breath
ten months ago.
They laugh at me and say
there’s no such thing as ghosts.

When I wake I see my son
and listlessly devine the tale behind my dream:
his father left a legacy.

Word of the Day Challenge: Listless

©Jane Paterson Basil

Return of the Wall

Black and white stripes
paint equine shapes across my laptop screen,
striking me with an urgency
to escape across the seas
until I reach the African Plains
to find the zebras in the wild,
but how can I when my mind
has me trapped
within this concrete space?

There is no bread.
The only cereal is oats.
Vegetables and protein
are also in short supply.
Yesterday’s rain washed the sky
to a mild baby blue, sharpening the lines
of the shedding trees.
Autumn leaves carpet the grass,
aping the loud floor
of a 1970s living room in suburbia.
The sun looks welcoming,
yet when I consider going outside,
I know my way is barred.

I bought the oats months ago
thinking to make flapjacks.
I don’t like porridge,
but tomorrow,
it might have to do.

Meanwhile I write,
uninspired,
terrified,
by from the wall
that builds between me and outside.

©Jane Paterson Basil

Too Late for Love

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The landlord shows,
rough and grim
in thrown-on clothes.
Raising his mallet,
he splits the door
while I predict a vengeful act –
and yet he seems
to know the score;
to understand my plight.
Efficiently, he evicts
the looming rats,
mends the walls
and cooks a meal for two.

Later, I recall
a white feather
which fluttered
from the left side of his chest
to sink unsullied
to the weathered floor.

As I search for what I need
I watch his smile
erase the midnight lines,
clarifying his kindly cause,
taste the the air
he cleanses with his breath,
feel his heart reach out for me,
and yet I did not intend
to weave this web
that snags his strings;
It happened as I slept.

Briefly stretching silken strands
he bends my way
and kisses me.
His lips’ pink embrace
leaves me thirsting
for completion,
for love, for
perfection
that I
can only synthesise.

My throat closes.
how can I explain
that he arrived too late,
that I am but a shifting wraith,
my lustre but a spectral trick
of unexpected light.
He will not believe me
if I say I am
a victim of time.
He will shake his head
if I tell him
I am dead.

Silently, I step away
to roam the lonely world alone.

Word of the Day Challenge: Spectre

©Jane Paterson Basil

The Size of it.

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Tongue fidgets against fingertip,
teeth graze the nail you ripped
while unwrapping the cake you released from the freezer.

You have to wait to eat the cake.
Meanwhile, you’ll fix the jagged nail the easy way.
Your teeth grip it, tear it free.
You spit out the shard
which lands on the knee of your jeans.
You pick it up,
examine this brittle bit of you;
this dead clipping,
thinking

my mother made this;
if not for my mother, I would not be.

Yet you flick it away like dross;
this slim grating born of the ecstasy of creation;
this small sliver, this souvenir foreshadowed
by squeeze and grunt of delivery.

The word ‘size’ reminds you
of the sight from the porthole of a giant
winged crate high in the sky,
where cloud concealed whole countries below,
yet cleared to reveal
a bland mass of distant desert.

Long before you stepped
from the plane in Mumba,  you were stunned
by the expanse of the globe.

Unmeasurable grains of sand,
deepest seas where strange creatures swim and fight,
minerals, mountains and clamouring cities,
trees, fleas, bees and diverse mysteries
of all sizes. Millions of years,
millions of designs of dry cement and wet sentience
surfacing, existing, sliding into history,
civilizations replaced, to be swept away
by atmosphere, madness and accident.
Fresh animal passions, plans,
every mutation of emergency, miracle and mistake
circuitously played out
on each square mile
of this seething planet.

While you muse,
your teeth absently chew your skin.
Sensing a metallic tang, you check your fingertip.
Blood pools near the cuticle.
Something hurts,
but you cannot
locate the pain.

Word of the Day Challenge: Emergency

©Jane Paterson Basil

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