Tag Archives: free verse

I’m All Right

“I’m all right,
I’m all right, I’m all right,”
that tired mantra frequently uttered, repeated
until with sham faith, I’d stumble to my feet and act out life.

“I’m all right,
I’m all right, I’m all right.”
Recited each time my children tripped and I tumbled,
and, while I was not all right, yet the repetition
brought fumbling relief to the thundering danger and fear,
easing the hellish days and nights,
those weeks and years when the jealous witch of addiction
jigged a street-dumb death-wish into my drug-juggling offspring.

“I’m all right,
I’m all right,” I’d recite.
They didn’t die, and I have kept my sanity
in a wild variety of ways; oft in anger, raging, shaking,
weeping tears of horror, grief and fear of loss,
yet sometimes waiting patiently,
for my children to come back to me.

Now I can say it candidly,
I’m all right.

.

It’s been an emotional evening. My recovering daughter was here on a flying visit, dropping off some fabric for me to make into curtains for her. My son hasn’t come looking for me for almost two months, but – purely by chance – he showed up during the hour or so that Laura was with me. I wouldn’t have risked letting him in if she hadn’t been present.

I’m glad I did…

©Jane Paterson Basil

Message to Saturn

saturn.jpg

Waking,
wondering why or where I am on this weighted planet.

Breakfast waits
while I bring to mind the shape of yesterday
and my cause for tomorrow.

Light that once burned with promise now fades
into a child’s fairy tale pages,
whose favourite rhymes are yellowed by the worn thumbs of time.

Jaded by the world’s repeated spin
an aching stiffness plays in wintering hips,
bringing hints of grief to be shaken free, unstirred by memories
which clamour to be heard.

Saturn looms in wait
to hang new rags befitting of increasing age.
I cannot know the nature of the cloth he brings to me;
He holds his dim-lit secrets close.
I will not see till richest jewels embed red velvet robes,
or humble sackcloth meanly coats my modesty.

Yet he may choose to steal away my mind,
taking every gleaming gem and cleansing all the dirt of my design,
to leave me naked,
staring blindly through dementia’s whitened eyes.

Should this be my dusty fate,
if I can find whatever courage it may take
to face the kingly bringer of old age,
maybe I’ll be bold enough to beg one small request,
and this is what I’d hope to say:

Saturn, through the changing milky way, you have viewed my every inch of life, my ant-like triumphs, my small mistakes, my deepest suffering and my utmost joy.

You know I’ve borne three daughters and one boy, and with their children we have built a family that is more than life to me. If you insist, then whip away those cherished memories, and those from childhood days when love for mother reigned supreme.

Rob me of the lifelong passion I have carried hidden deep – the one enduring dream which freed my breath and eased my nighttime sleep. Take the trees I climbed, take my friends and my possessions, my ego and desire.

Take the earth and take the last remains of smoky fire.

Hack away the tangled rope of sanity.

But please
leave the one perfect moment that my life contained —
you know the one I mean:
That simian day beneath a beating sun;
a silly prank while in midst of friendly fun,
Russian-marching down the road, kicking high, grinning wide.
He grabbed my ankle, held on, made me hop.
Humorous indignity multiplied by unbridled hilarity
ached in my sides,
while occupants of passing cars laughed; became part of our antics
and I held a fine balance beneath a magic sky.

There in the eye of the mad storm of chortling glee,
I felt the peoples of the world reach out in quest for peace
as the earth briefly spun into line.

You remember it, Saturn, bringer of old age and senility —
who could forget the moment when eternity stood still,
and for an instant,
pain, suffering and death did not exist;
nothing remained but love,
and love was the funniest thing.

You and your sibling Planets froze in space,
awaiting that moment —
that quintessential moment —
to pass,
that you may resume
spinning.

Please,
let what little I have left
be the funniest thing.

.

©Jane Paterson Basil

Charred remains

forest-fire-424

You delivered him in pain,
yet with his emergence, pain eased
and love took its place.

His innocent face,
his little boy’s embrace –
they were sweet life to you,
and you trusted that nothing he would do
could take that away.

Slowly he grew.
You heard rumours,
but you didn’t think they were true;
each time he looked at you,
you got lost in his eyes;
taken in by his lies.

When deceit comes easy to a child,
danger can ensue,
and though he later rues his wayward ways,
he is not wired for change.

Thrills burn bright, making sparks fly;
they alight on those he claims to love the most.
When storms rage, the fire dies
leaving a lonely hole,
dusted with the charred remains of all your hopes.

You delivered him in pain,
and through the tender, loving years,
you tried to teach a better way to be,
yet failed to keep him safe.

Blackened by the flames,
flattened by the falling rain,
still you would willingly risk any pain
if you could only make him well again,
but you have no potency to deliver him
from the grip of his sickness.

.

The Daily Post #Delivery

©Jane Paterson Basil

Spinning Seasons

autumn.jpg

Few weeks have died
since oak leaves swelled to greet a brightening sky,
a welcome treat that screened my eyes from dun-hued proof
of teeming human life across the street.
The sky’s white sun gave promise of tomorrow;
its tenuous rays reeled in our faith as it beckoned buds to bloom,
while clean rain rushed to nurture roots beneath the earth
and tease new life to sprout through damp nutritious dirt.

Summer swells and fades far sooner than in former days,
as if the the carousel of nature’s failing fast;
the fickle sun can’t wait to hide behind a wall of foggy grey,
and amber tinted hands begin to wave amidst the green bouquets
of helpless branches swaying in the cooling breeze.

The evening sunset hints at autumn gales
that whip wet hair across the face,
that wreck umbrellas, leaving busy shoppers wringing wet,
so, eyes downcast,
they watch the slippery path beneath their feet,
and many miss the bronze display of nature’s brief retreat.

Ageing folk will button coats and wrap up snug,
complaining of the cold, forgetting childhood’s biting weather.
They’ll creak past harried mothers bustling through the mild chill
boldly chiding scuffling kids who kick on rustling golden lawn
as careless litter flutters by,
and swarming birds fly home to warmer climes.

Skeletal trees will briefly mourn the passing of their glory,
then settle in for pregnant winter sleep,
and I will sit and watch wild horses race across the sky
and beg the carousel to quickly bring the Spring.

The Daily Post #Carousel

©Jane Paterson Basil

If Only

climbing tree.jpg

It is too late to live out every dream;
I must prioritise.

I can’t blame the Seasons,
since each one carried its weight.

Once, honeyed hedgerows towered above my head,
while life stretched to eternity.
Brown limbed child’s play climbed and skipped
toward exhaustion’s sleepy contemplation,
and mother’s lap was always warm for love.

I recall the rumbling storm that hailed the wane of spring,
and now I know the lessons nature tried to teach me.

I was up a tree,
and I could say the leaves concealed the text,
but it would not be true;
it was I who tried to hide from view.

Summer brought a raging blaze of opportunities,
and though I knew that I should choose a highway,
in my greed for life I tried to run a mile down every lane.

Some were dark, some were bright,
and some shone with a dappled light,
so I absorbed a quarter of each shade;
a whirling dervish fighting time as if I were three people,
always working, skipping sleep,
rising tired to keep the furnace burning,
trying to learn each skill within the world,
for fear of dying incomplete.

But Autumn came with whipping winds and ticking clock
to warn me of approaching loss.

It froze my bones and slowed my pace,
and now I amble through the days wishing I were stronger.

A foolish thought runs through my brain:
“If only I’d retained my speed I’d live a great deal longer.”

The Daily Post #Amble

©Jane Paterson Basil

A Different Poem

You aimed your insipid quill at my head,
scratching for glib metaphoric descriptions of shallow waters,

scribbling ill-conceived inaccuracies
while your bitter heart
flattered you with fairy tales of poetic skill,

piddling insults on exercise paper
with the optimistic aid of a gold-plated pen,

pretending Dylan depth
where only an inch of silt sprawled.

Have your short-shrift eyes ever stared into a clear sky,
while you pondered your dimensions,

Have you held a silvery moon in your hands,
and just for one instant, did its supreme beauty
sweep away the stench of snarling beasts,

have you reached for a penny to feed your soul,
felt it slither between your fingers,
seen it plummet to the chasm beneath your feet,
and felt yourself slide.

have you spooned tatters of fading glitter into your heart
just to keep it beating,
even as your head fought a call for six feet of crushing soil,

have you asked the question, and heard silence in reply,
and did you find your way to the next chapter
through a tangled network of collapsing tunnels.

Have you safely reached a clearing filled with spring fragrance,
and known that you were only a guest in this calm haven,
resting for the next leg of your journey.

Did you breathe deeply of the clean air,
and appreciate the fragrance of wild rose and meadowsweet,
fixing your mind on the vision of delight
while mud sucked at your feet.

Did you.

If, since your last effort,
you have travelled in my vicinity,
I give you permission to write a different poem
about me.

Written for The Daily Post #Shallow

©Jane Paterson Basil

Throw me the meds

Sometimes I get tired of it;
the constant turn of the tide,
its lows and its highs,
its sudden rages
and deceptive calm
while it lies in wait to drown me.

I get tired of measuring all of my blessings and telling myself that I should be well, when each time I pile them onto the scales, the state of – the weight of – my depressed mind tips them upwards and sends them flying, and it makes no difference counting my blessings and knowing the number of gems in my pocket;
that chunk of depression still weighs me down.

I’m tired of the times when I try to pretend
that I’m cheerful instead of depressed.
I’m tired of walking and talking and sleeping,
I’m tired of writing and cooking and eating,
I’m tired of going to self-help meetings,
I’m even tired of self-pitying bleating
I’m tired of staring out of the window
with half-blind, indifferent eyes,
I’m tired of constantly carrying out actions
needed to keep me alive,
and even when I’m feeling ecstatic,
I’m tired and I’m waiting to die.

So throw me the meds; I’m not dead yet,
and you might like to see how crazy I’ll get.

Take me to the ocean and watch me drown;
I’ll offer apologies as I go down.

©Jane Paterson Basil