Tag Archives: metaphor

Broken Wing

When she was born 
I hoped she'd be an eagle
but like a feather
from a crippled wing
she got caught in a stinging breeze
spun through grey mist
and swept into a turbulent pool

Numb to the ache of an ancient break
I thought I was healed
until she tried to take flight

©Jane Paterson Basil


into paperback fiction, bled 
into bundles of black ink sheets
each smudged moment
mutely becoming my shamed history.

I might have wished
to re-read the book in reverse;
to sweep today's waste  
into my hands, re-absorb 
those hours and minutes:
recycle them to better use. Once 
I would have felt remorse 
but today I shrug, 
say I enjoyed the read 
and brew a cup 
of Earl Grey. 

Such improvidence on my part:
in prime my feet 
paced trusty ground.
Now I stand small at the base 
of a vast hourglass whose sand sifts 
over my face
                            to smother my  sagging flesh.

©Jane Paterson Basil

The Distance Between


if time was a kindly two-way lane
I’d turn my laden truck around and speed toward the East,
blanking the maggoty road-kill that festers yet
on the tracks of your pickled yesteryears

your needle pricks
your blood and spit
your flinging tantrums
bunching fists
stealthy falsehoods
blatant tricks
the wars you fought with phonic swords fast-honed on flowing tears;
your armies marched to split my walls
which let in gales of filth and fear
leaving me in defeat
with nothing to eat but the waste from the streets.
You grinned while I choked on the gruesome mince
as if I was having a treat
but your smile couldn’t hide the spin of your mind
or the pit beneath your feet

driving in a straight line until your skin is smooth,
accelerating to let my lorry leap the fall,
then lifting my toes for the peaks of the show.

Never leaving the road,
I would pursue my goal
until I nestled the warm weight of my youngest child,
you, my only son,
your arms enveloping my neck,
fresh-formed fingers hooking my hair,
finding my ear lobes,
nose pressing my throat,
your caress needy,
like a thief or a breast-fed cub,
your possessive caress
enfolding me
in that heavenly rush
of motherly

Your caress,
your sweet, owning caress
would be my destination,
and the things I know
would sink in an ocean of parental ecstasy.

But time is not a two-way lane;
it’s a taut chain that leads forward
to obscurity, obliterating diamonds in its wake.
If I concentrate
I can synthesise a fleeting sensation of the elation
brought by each childish embrace;
a hint of silver that glitters
beneath the skin of a silted stream,
yet I cannot feel your breath on my neck
or the texture
of your skin warming mine,
and linear time
has no way to erase
the mistakes of the distance between.

My son is currently banished from my life, but I hold him in my heart. I will not capitulate and I will forge forward in life, but I grieve for him and hope that one day he will return to the family that loves him.

©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

Trick of the Light

in groups of two and three,
they shuffle their feet, clutching
copies of the gallery catalogue. A few
might surreptitiously sneak a glance
at the page about me
to see
what the experts say
then with varying degrees of
pretension and sincerity
they speak of
my smile.
Many agree
that it is reminiscent
of the Mona Lisa’s so called ‘mysterious’
twist of the lips. They search for
meaning in this.

Warming to their game
where words are plastic swords
meant not to wound but entertain
the players babble blunt banalities,
clashing torn and ragged clichés
as they describe disparities
between our portraits;

the way her gaze
is constantly on every face 
– no matter where her viewers stand,
while I am caught in a faraway fantasy,
yet always, as they turn away,  my eyes
seem to swivel in their direction.

It makes them shiver,
but it’s only a trick
of the light.

My creator was
a visionary who believed
that I would evolve into my own unique design.
She drew my lines lightly in warm pastels that reflected
the promise of a Botticelli’s sketch, but
sticky fingers grabbed the canvas,
brushing their hues over me.

Scratch my surface
and you will discover
a dozen semblances of this face,
reflecting every school from cold realism
to the lily-fresh hope of art-nouveau.
Each illusion contains a
modicum of truth;
an inch or so
of me.

When I reached this gallery
I needed to be categorised. I look like
an English dreamer
an ethereal Pre-Raphaelite
yet they placed me amongst the Impressionists
since I was shaped with bright lines
creating a sense of reality
by employing
a trick
of the light.

If you were a painting, what kind of painting would YOU be? Any thoughts on this?

©Jane Paterson Basil



Words which clamber for birth,
eager to cling to the page,
words which would raise to self-worth
modestly seeking a place.
Words which admit, words which deny,
words deftly-chosen, words misapplied.
Dominatrix words which try
to overpower a subtle punchline.

Words which have something to say,
each syllable tuned in its own way,
conciliating or armed for the fray,
screaming surprise or mumbling cliché.

Words that edge to the ideal mate;
working their way towards standing up straight,
shuffling their way into ship-shape phrases
like uneasy conscripts with falsified ages.

Words scrubbed out and aptly replaced,
jackets buttoned and shoes tightly laced,
a tidy battalion of lines and stanzas;
meter supplanting the weapons of battle,
bragging the spit and polish of rhyme,
till all might concur that the verse is sublime,
the meter is perfect, the message shines.


Yet words,
for all their courageous claims
of muscle, weight and girth,
often wither and fade
into an insipid blur


Written for Word of the Day Challenge: Insipid

©Jane Paterson Basil



Childhood picture books
depicted booming ogres, looming giants, slavering wolves
and my favourite foe, the fire-breathing dragon
with ominous scales and arrow-tipped tail.
Red eyes glowing, jaws agape,
he salivated as he swooped from an ashen sky
anticipating a tasty treat.

Gripped by iron chains
which tightly tied her blue-veined wrists,
a doomed virgin cowered,
writhing to escape a burning demise.
Her ruby lips described refined agitation,
her face haloed by a loose- curled mane which retained
its gracious style despite a wild wind’s whip;
even simple village folk were au fait with fairy-tale fashion
which stated that the bedraggled look was reserved
for bare-footed beggar girls dressed in rags.
Furthermore, only ladies of refinement or station possessed
the required qualifications which enabled one to save a hamlet
or city or kingdom (for a brief month or a season)
by becoming a dragon’s lunch.

These were days of yore, long before women were deemed worthy of learning to read; they knew not the stories, so no maiden expected a knight to arrive just in time to prevent the singeing of her silky tresses, or for the sun to affect a gleeful presence, directing its rays in such a way to make his swash-buckling sword gleam.

The metal-clad hero always triumphed,
gallantly relieving the maiden of her anticipated fate,
leaving the beast beheaded at his clanking feet,
and as I read, I dreamed of being the victor;
valiant slayer of dragons,
benefactor of freedom.

Through the years, I have been thrown
onto many a sacrificial stone.
Now I am old, I know that a steel blade
is not the weapon for me; to evade a killing
I douse the dragon’s flames with ink;
I anaesthetise him with my needled pen of wit;
one by one, I loosen all his teeth.
When he wakes, in seething rage
he snaps his mighty jaw, and grates…
freeing his loosened teeth.
Confused dismay dims his formerly fearsome face
to see them scattered in the filth of his dank cave.

He will live, but is disabled.


©Jane Paterson Basil



When a seed is conceived,
it needs a particular mix of commodities
in order to survive.

Should it germinate,
its list of requirements increases;
a list which is unique for each type
and every individual seed.

A few are weak from the start,
some weaken before they leave the parent plant,
nibbled by insects, or blocked from their feed,
while others take a premature fall.

Many swell with health, only to land on concrete or rock,
and be crushed beneath careless feet,
or scoffed by wild beasts.

The lucky ones find fertile soil,
but they’re all vulnerable to attack, accidents, lack of sustenance,

and so it goes, even as they grow,
a host of advantages and dangers can change their chemical makeup.

Later, sun and shade can stunt their growth or perfect their shape.

Water may kill them or help them to thrive.

Nutrients may be insufficient,
washed away by the rain or absorbed by strangers and siblings.

Every twist in their existence is indelibly inscribed in their history,
altering their strengths and weaknesses,
adjusting their needs.

Every day they’re in danger from parasites,
at risk of mishap of every kind.

If you see a weak lily
please don’t discredit it,
but reach out with kindness;
you may save its life.

The Daily Post #Soil

©Jane Paterson Basil

New Horizons

ship unmoored.jpg

Built well,
but not yet strong enough
to take the heartless weight of dark cargo
dumped deep in her unready  hold,
the beautiful boat became unmoored
from the harbour of her home.

Her anchor slipped through shifting sands
as the ship’s sails were buffeted
by each errant gust of wind.

The rudder broke, the bowsprit split,
the fo’c’sle ghosts awoke and moaned
whilst helplessly she floated to and fro,
sometimes so close that her landlocked crew
had high hopes that they may reach her —
but each time the wild waves beat them back,
leaving them treading water, and her bobbing on the sea,
growing smaller as the winds ripped her sails
and whipped her away.

Gails attacked her lonely deck.
Sea brine ate her failing timbers,
cracked her weakened keel, and seeped into her hull.

At the stroke of doom, a miracle occurred;
drawing her to safer waters.
The tainted cargo began melting away,
and her anchor finally held sway.

When the big ship sailed her way,
its kindly captain saw this brave, but ailing boat.
Throwing her a lifeline, he led her to a safer shore,
where he forged a golden anchor,
replaced her broken parts, reinforced her base,
and painted her in brightest shades,
that she may proudly sail again.

Dedicated to David. You rock!

PS Love to Laura. I see you sail and I’m proud of you. xxx

The Daily Post #Unmoored

©Jane Paterson Basil

The Wall



I thought that I had built a wall, but maybe it built me.
I reckoned I’d erected it from pure tranquility,
but it was fake and now it just illuminates the pain.
If I can’t climb around it, I may never write again.


The wall within my fantasy was built from pretty thoughts;
all sorts of handsome ramblings my idle mind had wrought,
re-arranged and written down, in designer verse with rhyme;
fond tales of winter madness, and dancing summertime.


The words stretched out like daisy chains across my living room,
I heaped them up in courses, to shield me from the gloom.
Each inch of clever phrasing became a brick in the wall.
Like blinds, they hid the daylight, and brought me to my fall.


I falsely thought I’d built a wall, but maybe it built me.
I reckoned I’d erected it from pure tranquility,
but it was fake and now it just illuminates the pain.
I have to beg my brighter self to let me write again.


I must have written this at some point over the past couple of months. I‘m feeling better now,  but it seems a waste to leave it rotting in my documents.

©Jane Paterson Basil