Tag Archives: heroin


When vile truth
shatters complacency, when his pupils
shrink to obsidian pins, he will refuse
to meet your eyes.

He will mutter:
It was only once or twice, just
for fun, just to try it out, just to find out, just
to know what it was like. You’re
too old to understand but I
can handle it. It’s not
a problem.

The years and the lies trundle by,
punctuated by multiplying shades of dread
until all that appears on each succeeding page
is smudged punctuation in black, brown
and blood red.

At night, drear bundles
slump in damp sleeping bags.
Bent heads sink. Limbs sag. Limp lips
beg change to spend on the devil’s silence.
As I pass the darkened bank, a man says:
Excuse me lady, have you got any…
I swivel my head, and see
my son’s face.

Outside Tesco Express
a second voice invades my space
and though I know he’s miles away,
again, I see his face.

To keep tears at bay
I formulate rhymes whose meter
matches my pace.

I despise my weakness
and hate the unbidden ache
that hides in my skin.

I need my bed,
but I fear the demon in my pillow
which won’t let me forget.

In sleep, my mind
plays playground games,
raging and grieving in turns.
For once I dream my son uncurls.
Washed clean of the streets,
he stands tall, his flesh
advertising vitality.

My joy negates all of the pain.

Yet when I wake
I know that nothing has changed;
the blood in his punctured veins
still stains my soul.

©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



*Crystal is a ‘legal high’ drug that is considered by many to be more lethal than heroin.

Sally thought that her troubles were ending
When Beth’s long-term boyfriend had died.
Her daughter just stopped using crystal,*
As she wept and she wailed and she cried
With her spoon, vit-e and some needles
Which she couldn’t be bothered to hide.

The irony was not lost on Sally.
When she thought about all of the years
Full of shame, frustration and anger
Disgust and horror and tears;
Of the bags of brown powder that made her
Unable to smother her fears.

It had seemed that the worst thing had happened
When she’d learnt that her damaged girl
Was locked in the jaws of addiction
To a drug that made her soul curl
And powdery sand filled the cavities
Of her beautiful priceless pearl.

For years Beth had fought her addiction
And sometimes for months she was clean
It would often appear to be in the past
Or as if it never had been
But always the golden brown monster
Was lurking beside her, unseen.

Sally didn’t know quite when it started,
But the rumour, once out, didn’t stop
That a cure for this awful addiction
Could be found in the ‘legal high’ shop,
And addicts were shooting up crystal
Til their brains were starting to pop.

Now all of Beth’s friends were suggesting
It may help her a lot if she tried
This marvelous new medication
So she finally joined their side
And six months later her boyfriend
Was found the day after he died.

With his arm rolled up to his shoulder
As he kneeled on the floor as in prayer
With a bag of smack in his pocket
Quite blameles (as if it would care)
And the name of the thing that had killed him
The coroner shortly will share.

But the word on the lips of insiders
Is that crystal took him away
Because if he hadn’t done crystal
He would be walking and talking today
And no-one admits that they’re guilty
And no-one is going to pay

Although legal hits are for humans
As a cheap way of getting high
A disclaimer is put on the label
So if you should happen to die
It ”wasn’t the fault of the seller”
But a stupid thing to try.

So Beth had been crystal-crazy
Since summer had brought the heat
Her body was wasted to nothing
Because she had ceased to eat
She had cut herself all over;
On her legs and her arms and her feet.

She shouted of numbers and patterns
Of rapists that called while she slept
Of people who tracked all her movements
And knew all of the secrets she kept
And no matter what you may tell her
The facts she could not accept.

But Richie now lay on a cold metal slab
And Beth was starting to see
Amidst the pain and confusion
Just where she wanted to be;
Not under the ground ina coffin
But at home with her family.

Yet no sooner had her mother
Recovered her cautious smile
Than Beth wrapped herself around crystal again
Reverting to behaviour so vile
That Sally was left with no option
But to turn from her anger and bile.

She couldn’t take any more insults
She couldn’t take any more pain
She had reached out her hand and turned her cheek
Then she’d done it all over again
And she felt if Beth stayed another hour
It would only drive her insane.

She told her to go, to walk out the door.
To leave her, to go away
Yet no matter how she begged her
It seemed she was going to stay.
She said she was going, but stood by the door
She said she had more to say.

And the nonsense that can from her mouth
Was cutting and cruel and untrue
So Beth felt she had no option
And the only thing she could do
Was to push her outside quite gently
And not to let her back through.

As she leant on the door she was weeping
And her daughter went mumbling away.
She prayed for intervention
She prayed that she’d see the day
When her family was whole and well again
And whole and well they’d stay

And then with a smile she remembered
Her beautiful son safe and well
Putting his life back together
As he sat in his prison cell
And she thought how only a year ago
Jail seemed like a living hell.

But these last twelve months had changed him
He’d worked and he’d thought and he’d tried
He was clean from drugs and lies and theft,
And praying he wouldn’t slide
And every time she thought of him
Her heart was full of pride.

So even when life seems darkest
And there’s evil at every turn
There still may be opportunities
To grow and to heal and to learn
So maybe before Sally knows it
The Beth whom she loves will return.

© Jane Paterson Basil