Tag Archives: poems

Stain

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

High Plains Drifter

terriblepoetry_warning

I’m feeling destructively productive today – or to put it another way, I’m irresponsibly putting off doing all the practical things I need to do before going away to hold my daughter’s hand while she’s in labour. After all, why do today what you can regret not having done today, tomorrow? Oh yes, I’m in the grip of madness, alright.

Having already written one Terrible Poem this week, please forgive me if this little effort is no worse than mediocre; I seem to have used up most of this week’s supply of Terrible Poetification. This time, my poem is for the current Terrible Poetry Contest. Apologies to Chelsea for wasting her time; I know this rhyme doesn’t achieve the required extremes of cringiness, but I couldn’t resist…

This week’s specifics:

  1. The Topic‘s The Old West. Or, do The New West. Heck, do Midwest if that’s how you ride. Think of a song to sing on a campfire-smoke night, a shout to yell at those darn coyotes, or a rhyme to a cowboy from his sweetheart back home.
  2. Length is up to you, but many a cowpoke will doze off mid-ride if the trail gets too long.
  3. Rhymin’s up to you, partner.
  4. Most importan’ly, Make ‘er terrible. I don’t wanna see yer sorry hide back here till it is.
  5. Many a rough-rider can have a rough tongue, but sometimes lady folk read this blog. Keep yer comments to a civilized PG-13.

 

A drifter came whose hooded eyes
bore a hole through town-folks faces
and though the distant cloudless skies
revealed no darkening, shadowed traces,
and dusty streets withheld a warning,
the tides of change were set that morning.

Puffed up folks with secret past
came dressed up all respectable,
but in his soul, his truth held fast
he knew they were despicable.
They placed a star upon his chest
and paid him well to do his best.

He vowed that he would free the gang
of an opposing, greedy clan,
then chose a stunted, clownish man
as deputy, to serve his private plan.
Yet no-one but this man could see
the mist that held a mystery.

Though no-one guessed his hidden aim
his friend came close and boldly did say
“Stranger, you never spoke your name.”
The drifter squinted and turned away
towards the boneyard on the hill,
where recall held his gaze so still.

The townsfolk rallied to his call
to learn to shoot a rifle straight;
he fooled the people one and all,
and then he ordered scarlet paint.
They dipped their brushes when he said
that they should paint the buildings red.

A heavy gang rode down the hill,
and stared upon a scarlet joke.
They came to raid and maim and kill;
amid the mayhem, the foreshortened bloke
recalled the townsfolk’s shameful past
and recognised the drifter at last.

Some years before, one rain drenched night
a man was beaten in the square.
Although he begged with all his might,
he could find no mercy there.
Declared as dead, they buried him
beneath the bone-yard on the hill.

Corpse and drifter were one and the same;
vengeance was wrought by the man with no name.

high plais drifter

©Jane Paterson Basil

Hermaphrodite

terriblepoetry_warning

I seem to be a little out of sync. this week. Instead of composing a poem for this week’s Terrible Poetry Contest, I got confused and came up with a response one posted by Chelsea way back in July. Rather than apologise, I’ll blame my daughter’s impending motherhood. Her labour is set to be induced, and I’m all over the place.

Requirements for The Terrible Poetry Contest Week 34 (tut-tut! it’s now week 48).

  1. Topic: Animals and their pregnancy.
    Did you know the African Bush Elephant carries …well, an elephant for 22 months? That a male seahorse carries the babies (up to 1,500!)? Or that female Komodo Dragons can impregnate themselves without a male through a process called parthenogenesis?
    Did you know you’re going to write a poem about it?
  2. Just to make it more fun, I’d like the Length to be about Hallmark Valentine’s Day card-sized. Bonus points if you actually write it like a Hallmark Valentine’s Day card.
  3. Rhyme? It’s up to you.
  4. Mostly, just make it terrible. Whilst composing your note of affection, a pregnant elephant all the way across the ocean needs to raise its head from the water hole toilet and vow to spend its next 21 months making its way to your house…
  5. do know where babies come from; but if National Geographic can keep things clinical, I think our usual PG rating will suffice.

Additional a very wise person has asked if I would include the following word.

antediluvian

HERMAPHRODITE (a verse both tardy and terrible) 

The slime you ooze like TB spit
Incites desire; I cherish it.
Our sticky union filled my heart,
But we unglued and had to part.
Our antediluvian rhapsody
Meant almost all the world to me,
But should you once more be my guest
Please pardon me if I suggest
You lay the eggs while I retire
To dream of how you stoked my fire.
I love you, slug, but beg you see
How playing mother tested me.

©Jane Paterson Basil

Jigsaw

jigsaw1

I try to forget you
but when rain falls, I envisage you
clutched in a doorway
shivering in worn clothes
cold water leaking through gaping trainers, hunger
gripping your veins as you grope
with stolen or broken phones, hoping
to gain the sick trick of a fix.

I try to blank the grim movie
but my thoughts rebel, and now
you’re crunched in a torn sleeping bag
beneath a bridge, slow-smooched by the drugs
which stain your life-blood.

By day and by night, and as seasons change
I try to cast you from my mind
but a phantom breeze blows, exposing
the gap you left, flaying my flesh
in places where tiny arms once wrapped
snug around my neck, squeezing like only I
could save you from some nameless flood, where
eager nose nuzzled skin, where your head
nestled flush against the inverse curve
between my throat and left ear
as if we were matched components
of a jigsaw puzzle.

Now a piece of this puzzle is missing,
and I don’t know how long ago
I lost you.

©Jane Paterson Basil

Brother

By day
I revel in the airy treats of life
sipping up the sounds and sights
inhaling scents and relishing my simple tastes –
but through the weighty hours of night
I read to flee the waking dreams which take the place of sleep.
I read until my eyelids droop and I must fight to concentrate.
With all my will I fight to stay awake until my eyes
can no more see the script nor keep my lids
from blinding me
so by the time the pillow finds my head
my mind rests in tranquillity and I
have no more need to fight
since slumber reigns
and slumber brings me peace.

Each day I wake too late to see
the break of dawn
and as I rise I tell myself the war is done;
I say the foe is dead
and yet if I let down my guard, an ashen finger
slithers from its dusty urn to torment me.

Today I told you how my loved ones’ lives
were skewed and stunted by our enemy
like we were trees and he sent out a hurricane
that tore us from our bed of loam
to drop us on a rocky mountain top
where he controlled the heat and cold
and every time his rage burned red it singed our flesh
and every time his fury cooled
he froze us with his cutting gusts of tempered snow.

Brother,
when I saw the roughened sword clutched in your hand
and felt your longing for revenge
I said there was no more to do, yet I
am grateful for the love that prompted you to stand.
I look within my soul to find a flower blooming there
a flower sown by you
and I am less alone.

I’ve been trying to do an audio of this poem, but notifications keep pinging, and the software is a bit rough, and I don’t have a microphone – which isn’t essential since my laptop has a built-in mic, but it would improve the sound – and to cap it all, my accent sounds silly – particularly the way I enunciate words like ‘down’ and ‘sound’. To prove my point I recorded the following two sentences:

“I am renowned for round” (snigger) “brown found” (giggle) “sound. Like a hound” (snort)  “I pound the ground” (guffaw) “and flounder” (pause while I unsuccessfully attempt to create a dignified air) “as the ground” (shameless laughter) “resounds.”

You won’t get to hear the recording, or my irrepressible laughter, since, after weeks of playing with sound for the purpose of laying it at your feet, dear friends, I have finally discovered that my free WP account doesn’t support audio. It seems a shame, since I’m pleased with the way this verse flows. Try reading it out loud – see what you think.

Maybe it’s time to upgrade…

©Jane Paterson Basil

Serenity

20190924_162650

I named her Serenity,
since her quasi-gentle presence
lightened my darkest times.
Back then she reigned over the living room
and I shared my pain with her.
She never offered advice, or even replied, yet
it was soothing
to make-believe she empathised.
When my situation improved, I faced the truth:
if I pricked her skin,
it would not bleed.
Her hollow chest was cold, and I
was tired of her indifference.
Yet I wrapped a coat around her shoulders
before showing her the door.
She blanked me, her head
lacking think-matter,
so I consigned her to the bathroom.
These days she belies her name;
guests leap in shock; some even blurt
a strangled scream
to see my mannequin standing guard by my toilet bowl.
She fails to make THEM feel serene.

Written for Godoggocafe’s Tuesday Writing Prompt: SerenityI couldn’t resist it, since I have a mannequin called Serenity. They recommend that the piece should be written in 10-15 minutes, so I haven’t polished it up.

©Jane Paterson Basil

Stapelia

2019-08-27 17.26.31.jpg

Stapelia, Stapelia, your beauty makes me sigh,
yet I fear precipitation might be drawing nigh.
Stapelia, Stapelia, how marvellous your bloom,
but a sickly stench of carrion invades my living room.
Stapelia, Stapelia, do you have no shame?
I sense I’m going to vomit, and your flower must take the blame.

Stapelia Variegata bears lovely blooms – but they stink like rotting meat. My plant has lots of buds. I can’t help admiring her… from a distance.

©Jane Paterson Basil