Tag Archives: poems

Winter Cocktail

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At cocktail hour at this time of year
bright colours vacate to hot places
like Italy or Spain.
Skies slide into leaden grey,
grumpily gunning to fulfil a bleak threat of rain,
their perfidious clouding slyly announcing
that dusk is well on its way.

Brittle twigs cling to knotted limbs.
Catatonic in the bitter air,
their scribbled crisscrosses laid bare,
bereft of the layered frock
that veiled bland dwellings
which crouch, blind-eyed
beneath my lofty window.
Spring’s brave growth crumbles to mulch,
all pride, grace and levity faded away,
its flesh consumed for future gain.

I pause mid-thought, my mind
resorting to fantasy:
might these spectral skeletons
recall unfurling
to make safe hiding places for fledgling birds?
Perhaps they remember saluting the June day sun
their emerald hands swaying in celebration,
and nudged by a temperate summer wind
dancing, jiving, twirling.
Perhaps they relive
the betrayal, the brittle break,
the skittering fall.
Maybe they grieve, and yearn
the loss of green youth.

©Jane Paterson Basil

Transition

Just like tormented teens
scratch secret passions in wet cement
before builders bring bricks and mortar
to smother initials framed in hearts
and pierced with cupid’d darts,
I write.

I present my abortive tales of trial
like frosted slices
of erringly early halloween cake,
but the story moves forward,
the genre transforms leaving no regret
as soon as my poetic icing is set.

Houses rise, filling the landscape,
sandwiching old ache between hidden nature
and newly fulfilled need.

©Jane Paterson Basil

I’ll be sorry tomorrow

A small glass of wine

is perfectly fine

when you need to unwind

unless you’re the kind

who finds

themselves lying on the floor at the first sniff of alcohol, holding a one-sided conversation with the carpet, and as soon as you manage to pull yourself into a sitting position you post a poem that will embarrass you once you have sobered up.

Hic!

©Jane Paterson Basil

Cancelled

A winter sun warms baubles
which glint as they cling
to their fingers of fragrant pine.
Thoughtful gifts lie neat
next to ripped paper.

Screaming sirens
are silenced by the peace
which sits fat on this traditional day.

Soon,
thrilled, sucrose-filled grandchildren
will demonstrate new electrical gimmicks and gismos.
We will feast while I stand firm with myself, refusing to over-eat
so I don’t ruin the treat of evening cheese.
When the table is cleared, we’ll play silly games.
As dark deepens, the children will play and the over-eighteens
will take turns to choose music,
praising or abusing the chooser of each tune.
We will all be equal;
all equally insulting, equally insulted, with one
short-lived exception; there will be
a brief act of deference when Leonard Cohen
serenades me with a single song.
We’ll tell jokes, talk movies, tastes, politics,
hand-slapping when views concur,
mock-raging when we disagree.
The racket will rise; we will be
ever more raucous until we must shout
in order to be heard.
We are united in love.
We do not celebrate quietly.
You might mistake our solid core for a battlefield,
yet it is a haven of peace and safety.
We laugh while we yell, and our laughter
describes love.

It’s time
to cease musing and leave, time
to replay the untiring Christmas theme.
I reach for my coat.

The phone rings.
I lift it, and listen
while careful words
cancel Christmas.

©Jane Paterson Basil

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