Tag Archives: freedom


In long-gone days, the wraith
came at my beckoning, materialising clear
as a leaf in a clean running stream
brightly clad in nature's hues
With wings of light
she'd flitter through fields
greeting trees, spinning
in whirling dervish twirls 
till balance failed 
she fell 
helpless with glee
revelling in endless freedom

I watched her mount the Oak,
childish fingers clutching ever slimmer limbs
Taunting a fleeting theory of God
challenging death 
placing her feet 
on the flimsiest twig
willing the wood to take her weight
even as she dared it to defy 
her credence 
that her breath 
would never cease

Frozen in time, the child 
remains forever nine

When the world growls and bites I call her
and she arrives.
She always shows  
consoling me through the years
with her reminder of joy
Time breathes mist over my eyes
and leads my senses toward a vacuum, yet still 
from time to time 
my wraith twists through 
the claws of time 
 lending me memories 
of crowning days. Her margins 
have long since blended into the landscape, 
her flesh faded to grey 
evaporating into smoke

Her diaphanous wisp
floats over fields and streams
beside my childhood home; the ghost
of the child who was me 
and I recall 
that once upon a time 
I felt immortal 
and believed I was free

©Jane Paterson Basil

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

Peace #2

peace symbol

Posted for: Against the Next War.

One word,
spoken in hope by gentle folk,
whispered in prayer by meek souls of faith,
breathed into the air by those who hold out human hope,
sobbed and gasped and beseeched
by the oppressed.
One word, a wish issued
by imploring lips that speak for
you and me, its plea reaching across
the dipping curves and stretched flats of
our burdened planet as it struggles
for its next breath.
One word which will not
be choked back or swallowed by the
butt of a gun pressed into the
tender necks of the
One word whose meaning
we must never forget, whose need
we must understand, no matter
what language
we speak.
One word articulated
by each race and every loving creed.
One word that could
change the
One word:


If this post strikes a chord, please click on Paul’s parent post and his significant follow-up to find out what we are doing and how you can help. You’ll also find pingbacks to related posts.

Join us, and Share, share, share.

©Jane Paterson Basil


We Shall Overcome

Posted for: Against the Next War

I present a video of Joan Baez singing “We Shall overcome”.

She still holds the faith; here she is singing it to President Obama at the Whitehouse.

We shall overcome. Join us.

Please click on the parent post and Paul’s significant  follow-up to find out what we are doing and how you can help. You’ll also find pingbacks to related posts.

Share, share, share.

©Jane Paterson Basil

Climb Aboard


Climb aboard;
all who wish an end to war are welcome;
we beg you to share our message of peace,
that it may reach across the wildest desert,
weave through cities, travel with the waves of the seas
that stroke our shores and soak into our sands.
Let it grow to encompass our nurturing planet;
let every peacemaker of every nation join hands,
and be embraced with love in return.
Let peace become a pandemic
the like of which we have never known.

My dad was a conscientious objector 
who was imprisoned for refusing to kill other men;
for turning down the opportunity to shoot holes in their heads,
to plant land-mines and blow humans to shreds.
He missed the chance to charge into villages;
to burn, rape and pillage.

Despite the claimed cause of our the war,
his decision seemed reasonable to me.

I learned of his humanist history
while my mother held me on her knee,
and, although I had too limited a vocabulary
to arrange the feeling into a neat phrase,
I understood the irony;
had he killed a neighbour in self-defence,
rather than refusing to kill with indifference.
he might have received similar punishment.

When I was a kid, I did a lot of thinking about war; I figured it would be more sensible to select the two best chess players in the countries of enmity and let the winning nation take all. I wondered why it was considered that killing was necessary; It seemed inefficient to me.

I concluded that it must not have occurred to the world governments involved in greed and hate to take such a practical stance.

I planned to write to all heads of state and trusted that they would be grateful, and put my idea into practice.

Non of that happened, of course.

More recently, I had another brainwave; We peacemakers could infiltrate all the places where soldiers are trained for battle; from guerrilla hide-outs to army camps. We’d arm them with cheesecake and fruit and all that is good to eat. We’d teach them to smile and offer food while chatting about their families.

Chocolate guns would be a boon.

That plot fell flat when my best friend said the next war will not be fought by foot soldiers, so I’m joining in with a better plan;

my friends and I invite you to

climb aboard;
all who wish an end to war are welcome;
we beg you to share our message of peace,
that it may reach across the wildest desert,
weave through cities, travel with the waves of the seas
that stroke our shores and soak into our sands.
Let it grow to encompass our nurturing planet;
let every peacemaker of every nation join hands,
and be embraced with love in return.
Let peace become a pandemic
the like of which we have never known.

This was written for our peace campaign which was dreamed up by my amazing friend Paul Sunstone. Yep – remember the name; that man has greatness in him. We want the campaign to go viral. Share his post (see link below) and/or write a post of your own.

Click <<<<<<<HERE>>>>>> to find out more

and find even <<<<<<<MORE>>>>>>>   <——— there


©Jane Paterson Basil

Paul, at Café Philos says:

Please seriously consider spreading this poem — spreading it to your site, to the social media sites — in an effort to make it go viral. We need it viral well before the next war, we need folks mulling over the idea of rebelling against the violence. Spread this poem and then you too write — write about the ideas presented in the poem. For you, for your brothers and for your sisters, for your children after you — stop the wars of aggression!

Please click on the link and lets do this together!

via Against the Next War

The summer of ’76


the sun licked their steamy skin
as they primped in skimpy bikinis
sipping cider, slurping icecream
which dripped, sliding down their thighs
while I
said goodbye to my love

they disguised their innocence
beneath promiscuous hippydom
prodding intimate hot-spots
slyly faking orgasm
while I
said goodbye to my love

young skin defined Britain
bubble-gum tunes and lyrics
floated through open windows
that still evening
when I
deserted my love

all  of us were young
every forever would end
next month or maybe next year
to be replaced or renewed
but I
could never replace my love


©Jane Paterson Basil

Plucking at Something

Here is my take on today’s assignment for the Writing 201 Poetry course: a prose poem about hands, incorporating assonance.


You come to my home uninvited, unnerving me, and although I’m uneasy I silence my tongue, because today your subdued air of submission gives me unaccustomed trust in you. I don’t want to shun you, my unravelled daughter, though my love seems redundant and unkindly used. The cuts and the bruises are ugly and telling, starvation and pallor are are hard to ignore. Your fingers are busily plucking at something under the rubbish in the hub of your bag

And now you are urging for news of your brother, a worrying subject, for one so unwell. I have nothing but good news, which shouldn’t unhinge you but unhealthy thoughts could worry your skull. I plunge the memory of our last discussion under my consciousness as must be done.

He walked out of prison anxious and wary, he was clad in mis-matched minimal garb, because everything he had worn upon entry was already filthy and ripped and marred.His feelings were mixed as he breathed semi-freedom at the side of his case-worker and walked to the car, because under the fear of a failure at freedom, was excitement at the thought of the fun he cound have.

(From under subversive eyelashes I watch you, and see my reluctance was undeserved. You unreservedly absorb every morsel; your abundant joy is undisguised. But still unremitting your fingers keep picking, plucking at something inside your bag.)

When he arrived at the re-hab the staff and residents all reached out a welcoming hand. He was overwhelmed by strange emotions and the push and the pull of feelings within. But he knew that very soon he would settle to a new routine in this friendly regime. He was longing to see his sisters and nephews and for trips to the city during weekends. When we visited him there within hours of his entry we brought him fresh clean jeans and tee shirts, and it was easy to see that he was intending to be a good brother and uncle and son.

I conclude my tale by re-asserting how pleased I am and how terribly proud. I re-assure you of his desire to see you, as soon as an appropriate day is arranged.

And although your fingers still pluck and worry at whatever is lurking inside your bag, I can see that you needed some news of your brother, and maybe his freedom will help you get well.

© Jane Paterson Basil


fire and water
Image Gwen Magog ‘Breaking Waves’

Your arms reach out from the flames
in self-obsessed supplication
a foreigner to compassion
you implore me to burn
while beneath your melting feet
dead wood crumbles to grey
and even the scorpions scatter.
Above your thrashing form
the oak tree gives shade
to your blistering body,
yet bends a rescuing branch
for me to catch and to climb.
I curl amongst fungi and flies
as vultures, snakes and rats
clamber to be part of the story.

Rain feeds and nourishes
teasing young buds to green
extinguishing the deathly pyre.
You are wet ashes
and so I live again
leaping across meadows
spinning a freedom dance
until the flood re-captures me
enraptures and distracts me
with fish flapping foolery
it sucks at me and sinks me
mocking my mis-spent emotion
and when I plead for amnesty
it shruggingly slings me aside
speaking sly words in my head
“You only had to ask.” it said.

Face down
mud choked
foam gathering around my parched mouth
grit grating the skin between my toes
I lie thirsting for salvation
to slake my parched and swollen throat.

At the first swallow
I know I am alive

© Jane Paterson Basil