Tag Archives: poems

Being There

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It is a collage this week. Writers will connect to it easily.

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So, let the fingers align to imagination, and bang on the keyboard. The format can be a a story/poem/rant/anecdotes/journalistic coverage of events/ reflections as usual.
Pour out, and let it flow ….


Flipping in long grass,
skipping, leap-frogging, cartwheeling over stiles,
feet so fleet it feels like flying,
flopping to sit cross-legged on fragrant nature’s floor.
Grass stained shorts. Grubby fingernails
cut careful slits through slim daisy stems.
Threading, making chains to dangle from supple neck.
Carefree sunshine and family love.

Once, this was me.

Breasts swelling, bursting
from a shock-horror bra, hips curving,
and worse, a monthly sticky thing that hurts,
which Grandma calls the curse.
Father stealing small licks to assuage the tip
of his hunger.
Mother loving, supporting
this poor little changeling.

Feeling dirty. filthy images of hot flesh slapping,
moist organs fitting,
slipping wetly together. Precocious hormones
that battle against desire,
hermaphrodite side crying “Let me
be a child”,
yet all the while learning the wanton game.

A teen with a siren’s face,
miming like a pro. Anything goes,
as long as it excludes loosening her clothes.
No sense of danger, blindly embracing
masked neighbour that ambles her way.

Rape and beatings, beatings and rape.
burst head, bleeding flesh, blurred vision,
cigarette burns, fractured limbs, bruises
that cannot be hidden. Torn wings
of a butterfly, entrenched in threats
that he may fulfil.
“I will kill”, he says.
“I will
kill
your family,
I will kill them if you hide from me.”

Weeping admission. Gentle assistance.
A groggy leap from the sizzling grill, only to slip
into spinning with trolls, a racy dance of ring-a-ring-o’-roses,
taking risks to prove she’s ahead of the game,
trying to hide her confusion and pain,
all of it fake, played out in vain.

Atishoo, atishoo,
she’s falling again.

Learning to stand,
wooing and wedding a kindly man,
only to fling him away.
To add to mistakes and shame,
the new man she catches, rapes her brain.
Years of fighting to gain control,
while the monster hints that she’s going insane
tripping and falling and failing again. Flailing.

An ill-planned, yet helpful escape.

Too late, she examines the damage.
Trailing her feet along a rough cloister, wrought
from life’s ill-conceived choices.
To the right, bright window panes reveal smiling faces.
Hands wave. She stretches her arms,
but can’t reach.
To her left, dust, rubble, crumbling walls.
Jagged scraps from her womb bear witness to her weakness, grimacing
as they juggle with jesters and thieves,
screeching to be healed.

A mouth opens.
A silent scream struggles out, to ricochet
off the ceiling. She swallows it in one.
It crushes her lungs.

“Please let me breathe.”

Rising up. Her children will not
be defeated by their demons.
Whatever it takes.

Whatever it takes…

This, too, was me.

A lone woman,
wizened by a boxed-up heap of experience,
sits in a high backed chair,
watching trees. The leaves expand into a screen
which conceals iniquity.
From her position, she can see
a clean horizon, distant meadows, whirling angels
that create sustainable energy, life-giving earth,
acres of sky.
Sometimes it rains,
but the sun soon breaks through.
When tears threaten, she strokes the jagged splits
that ripped deep through her skin, and feels
smooth silver strings weld and heal.
She is satisfied.
At night, she catches her reflection in the glass.
The allure that shaped her darker days
has faded with age.
Now, she is beautiful.

This woman is me.

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Any life which stretches to reasonable longevity is like a massive chunk of quartz, cut from rock. Depending on the angle and brightness of the light, and on where you are standing, different facets can are visible. Also, the viewer approaches the quartz with his own pre-conceptions, interests and focus to detail. Furthermore, our aspects can change over time – even in the blink of an eye. This is one story of my life,  but – apart from the closing stanza – I displayed it from the dark side of the moon. I have many happy memories.

… an afterthought; reading through this longwinded poem, I learnt a horrifying new fact about my past – a detail that was staring me in the face, and yet I didn’t see it. While it won’t harm my emotions too much, I don’t think I’m ready to talk about it, but I mention it because, even viewed through the muddiest of lights, its still possible to spot new facets

Thanks go to Reena, for the inspiration.
©Jane Paterson

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I am Woman, See Me.

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I am woman.
The heart of the future beats out
a serene rhythm in my womb.
I sustain it with my meat,
feel it stretch my welcoming belly,
anticipating motherhood with joy and
a tinge of trepidation, acknowledging
responsibility and risk.
When the pains of labour retreat,
I staunch my uterine blood, and nurture
the divine new fruit which emerges.
I do not deny my need
of your seed to fertilise the egg,
but it is not your due to despise
or to rule me.

I am woman.
Throughout the ages
I have been reviled, raped, beaten, enslaved,
burnt as a witch for doing my duty,
stoned for a whore while the guilty parties
whisper proud secrets of sowing wild oats,
or claim ensnarement in the wiles and the web
of this victim whose viscous red liquid
shamefully stains the villagers’ dust.
Backslapping and taunting, my victors kick me
and jauntily walk away free.

I am woman.
You rip off my rags and you call me a slut.

I am woman,
created to serve and to lead,
to learn and to teach,
to feast and to feed, or to fast if need be,
as I acquiesce to my destiny,
bequeathing the breath that I have been gifted,
passing it on to my next of kin.

I am woman,
trapped by the base victories
of archaic man’s wish to trample me.
Dark patriarchy seeps through the skin of history
to become tradition
while my strength is trapped, sapped
by my tasks.
Were I self-seeking, you would not
have a chance against me.

I am woman,
measured against the planet
I am invisible as an ant climbing a skyscraper,
yet set against the iniquities of humankind,
I am a giant.

I am woman.
See me, respect me.
Let me be.

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Written for The Daily Post Word Prompt: Archaic

Inspired by this stunning poem, written by Candice at thefeatheredsleep.

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©Jane Paterson Basil

Upcycling

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Bags of beads dissembled from their strings, soon
to be dispatched to Oxfam, that they may sell
and be threaded afresh.

Pendants awaiting examination, findings
laboriously sorted into colour, size and functionality.
Earrings bedecked with gems, bracelets dripping
with jingling charms and shells.

Diamante, painted clay, hearts and stars, creamy pearls and wiry curls.
Repro art deco, retro pop, lots of wood and polished rocks.
Every kind of chain boasting various metals,
rainbow ropes of globules in plastic and glass.

Contemporary, classic and all in-between,
mementoes of places that people have seen,
waste from a spendthrift’s unreachable dream.

Speckled memories of a thousand brief vanities.
Fashion which faded to old hat,
yesterdays mass-produced tat concealing
tepid treasures and better shards of a class,
recently rejected by browsers who briefly scanned
the second-hand display as they walked past,
or maybe unseeing, turned away.

It would be premature
to bin this tarnished beauty, so
my living room has become the last-chance saloon
for unloved jewellery. It’s time
to give it
a new kind of shine.

Let the upcycling begin.

Written for The Daily Post Word Prompt: Premature


Shop sustainably. Buying responsibly recycled/upcycled products cuts down landfill and slows the increase of pollution from mass-production. Also, if you buy from Charity shops, you are furthering their cause as you save money – and then you can donate the goods back to them. Ethical charities that receive donated goods that don’t sell, recycle as much as they can. It’s a win-win situation.


©Jane Paterson Basil

Kintsugi.

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I don’t possess a pedigree,
I’m a cross-breed of catch-me-if-you-can lunatics,
raging rebels and raving addicts.
Our abilities are widespread, ranging from
every aspect of art to maths, science
and agility. Sometimes we wear
our able hands and brilliant minds like a hat,
but when the wind blows,
the fractures in our brains become exposed.

We hold high ideals,
make plans, build beauty,
only to trip and smash it all
to smithereens.
On good days,
when we see the mess we have made
we pool our resources, pick up
the pieces and create
precious kintsugi.

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Kintsugi, or “golden joinery”, is the ancient art of restoring broken items with laquer, mixed or dusted with a precious metal, often creating something more beautiful than the original.

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Laura – my human kintsugi

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Written for the Daily Post Word Prompt: Pedigree

©Jane Paterson Basil

Yesterday’s Leaves

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Paintbrush slips from my hand.
White satin drips and dries in uneven waves.
Yesterday’s leaves droop, rose petals
are detached by the breeze, to settle at my feet.
I could pretend they are too heavy to lift,
too distant to reach,
or call them a sweet reminder
of confetti days.

Breakfast filled a space,
lunchtime evaded me,
dinner is a dull equation that remains unsolved.
Fresh coffee offers vague, uneasy
sustenance.

I sleep with open eyes,
scratching at new schemes,
my fractured mind reaching for endings
that might dispel my apathy.

Lead me back
to the meadow where crickets sing
and bees appreciate their duty.

I will swim
through verdant leaves, and rest
against the earth’s chest, to be healed
by its green heart beat.

Reveal the child I used to be.
Release me
from the ache which knowledge entails.

©Jane Paterson Basil


Written for Calen’s Sandbox Challenge, Exercise 18:

Squirrel

IF YOU COULD, WHAT PARTS OF YOURSELF
WOULD YOU THROW OUT?

Where Dirt is Clean

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We grow too great to discern the details,
rising until our brains
break through the ceiling
into a dusty room where those before us
have soared and suffocated in shallow pursuit.

Blinded by the murk, we stain our minds with
what might have been, what could be,
ambition clouding the need to return to our roots
where earth suffers for our science and greed.

Lie by my side
where grass tickles skin,
where ears listen to insects that sing,
where life holds no record of seconds and minutes,
where breathes the core of our being.
Lie silent with me where dirt is clean
and we are real.

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Written for The Daily Post Daily Prompt:  Core

©Jane Paterson Basil

The Demon’s Mentor

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Waking up the wrong shape.
Unable to locate this searing pain. Limbs feel unfamiliar,
organs out of place.

Bit of me hurt, but which bits? My mind
collects the scattered bones and flesh. Recalls the correct
positions. Locates the pain. Why
do I recognise it? The reply;
like a coiled up adder in the gut, my gall bladder
has struck again.

A faded envelope rises to the roof of my brain,
its bilious pages spilling out before I can contain them.
Agony that stretched out – weeks and maybe more.
No relief.
Him lying on the bed, flippantly diagnosing
muscular strain; no need
for a GP or a visit to A&E.
No sympathy. No feeling for my helpless sobs.
Exhaustion and apathy, the brief relief of knackered sleep,
the sickness, the ache, the fire between shoulder blades
waking me time after time.
The night I lay on the stairs, clutching
at bannisters, finally unable to rise,
the whimpers which woke the kids. No phone. They don’t remember
how they alerted emergency services and neither do I.

His indifference.

Medication, scattered time. A ragged thing writhing in bed,
sweating in smelly sheets, fevered and disconnected,
my children controlled by that twisted protector, his agenda
furthered by my convenient illness. Though his method was different
for each of the siblings, as father and stepfather,
the demon’s mentor left no child unscathed.

My calendar ripped and stained, dates mislaid
in the debris of sickness. Trailing to the surgery,
saying I still felt ill.
A raging doctor holding me in blame
for leaving it so late before calling for help.
Those words writ indelibly on my mind;
Think yourself lucky you’re not dead.

Another septic layer of shame, while my silence
yet again replaced
what I dared not try to explain.

You talk of blame? Go on, Mr Medical Man, beat me, beat me with your words. Beat me, you narrow GP. I’ve had specialists attacking my case – you can’t do worse. If I tell you, an image will rise in your brain; a picture of a kind man who couldn’t be guilty of such subtly iniquitous sins. You won’t be the first. He even charmed the simpering marriage guidance counsellor, who  ridiculed me, thereby becoming compliant in my isolation. Nobody but my two oldest children know. I won’t give you an excuse to say I’m delusional as well as stupid. You’ll get no added ammunition from me. All you have is a voluble little twig. My secrets stand between you and the stinging willow cane.

When told of the news that my life
had been endangered by his obstruction,
my partner displayed no shame.

Three decades later, my symptoms are similar,
but there is no ogre holding me down.
Determined to work, I make it to Oxfam, but after an hour
the pain knows no bounds.
My manager points to the office phone.
She leaves me alone to call my doctor and I get an appointment
to see her at one.
Before I go home
I make a wry face and stick up my finger
at the ghost of the ogre.

His spirit baulks at the scar on my digit;
just one more wound that didn’t get stitched..
I know he regrets it, but my anger has flared.
Gritting my teeth I smile at the spectre;
I should show good grace, since his wicked ways
were placed on display by others long ago. Also,
I am still kicking
and he is dead.

I rest for an hour
before taking a shower to make me fresh
for the medical centre, where I will get help
and all will be well.

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©Jane Paterson Basil