Tag Archives: Poetry

If This be Farewell

His lips
shape sinuous words,
but only silence reaches my ears
as he confronts
my still psyche.

This might be
a final goodbye,
yet I let the question
float on the horizon.

I watch,
fascinated
that threats and lies
can be so easily dumbed
by a medicated sky.

All around him,
childhood trinkets and toys
rain around his untouchable frame.
They sink, lost forever
beneath the blind sea.

I recline on sturdy rock;
hazily trusting it will hold me.
If I am strong,
the waves
will not drown me.

Should the message
be his final goodbye,
tomorrow
might bring solemn women or men
whose warning uniforms
and gentle breath
will lower me
into the wild vale of grief.

If this is to be,
I’ll reshape the vision,
paint flowers at his feet,
add a balloon, fill it
with five fathoms of words
describing all the love
he ever felt for me,
but for now
the air caresses me,
and I sleep.

Written for Word of the Day Challenge: Fathom

This is the fear that the loved ones of addicts face every day. We learn to push it to the back of our minds, but it’s always there, waiting until the addict has a wobble. That’s when the fear goes into full attack mode.

©Jane Paterson Basil

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Sunk in the Deep

They weep at the shore
feeding fish to the waves,
hoping to bribe the helpless sea
to free you.

Brave souls leap in thinking to shield you
within a synchronised circle of love,
but the vampire dives through
and with eyes honed
by a chemical sharpening stone
he traps you.

You can only swim so far.
When the energy goes you will float
until the weight on your chest
presses you into the drink.

The instant you sink,
let your body go limp.
Take deep breaths;
allow your lungs to sup
until they welcome the salty brine.
The saline will soothe your wounds.

The vampire
will chase you to the ocean bed,
staying close, clinging on,
flaying your mind as it did
when your toes were still dry,
yet lie quiet; you are destined
to lose any fight.
.
No need to say you did not choose this,
it is understood. Few of us
elect to be pursued
by blood-sucking ghouls.

Don’t waste energy wishing
for new tomorrows or reminiscing
over the innocence that preceded
the need to teach yourself
to breathe underwater.
Forget the optimism of youth.
There is only now;
only this;

a silent you
and an angry parody of humanity
seething in the deep.

Daily Addiction: Pursue

©Jane Paterson Basil

Stop

amusement-park-1492100__340

Sleep, wake.
Eat, excrete,

Meet, part,
practice my art.
Sleep, wake,
eat, excrete.

Start, stop,
walk to the shop.
Meet, part, practice my art,
sleep, wake,
eat, excrete.

Thinner, fatter,
it doesn’t matter.
Start, stop, walk to the shop,
meet, part, practice my art,
Sleep, wake,
eat, excrete.

Starve, eat,
mildew or meat.
Thinner, fatter, it doesn’t matter,
start, stop, walk to the shop,
meet, part, practice my art,
Sleep, wake,
eat, excrete.

Work, play,
face the day.
Starve, eat, mildew or meat,
thinner, fatter, it doesn’t matter,
start, stop, walk to the shop,
meet, part, practice my art,
sleep, wake,
eat, excrete.

Sick, well,
I cannot tell.
Work, play, face the day,
starve, eat, mildew or meat,
thinner, fatter, it doesn’t matter,
start, stop, walk to the shop,
meet, part, practice my art,
sleep, wake,
eat, excrete.

Happy, sad,
shades of mad.
Sick, well, I cannot tell,
work, play, face the day,
starve, eat, mildew or meat,
thinner, fatter, it doesn’t matter,
start, stop, walk to the shop,
meet, part, practice my art,
sleep, wake,
eat, excrete.

Gashes mend
to rend again.
Happy, sad, shades of mad,
sick, well, I cannot tell,
work, play, face the day,
starve, eat, mildew or meat,
thinner, fatter, it doesn’t matter,
start, stop, walk to the shop,
meet, part, practice my art,
sleep, wake,
eat, excrete.

Stop, stop,
Please drop me off.

©Jane Paterson Basil

Dream Theme

Waking on the cusp of clarity I clamour
to catch receding images,
following the trail back to the entrails.

Pained family,
walls splattered with rusty shapes
that smell metallic, battened-down cells
where good and evil creatures scream,
baying for release.

I smash through timber walls
making gaps through which puppies crawl,
splintering ceilings that rain crumbs and flakes,
flinching as shape-shifting grotesques fall,
freeing beasts and all
in my quest to release the innocents.

Dogs frolic, begging rubbed tummies,
gnashing teeth set in fools and demons faces
fix false, cheating grins,
scampering to hide behind close-knit hills,
where they simper,
giggling into their sleeves.

I think: although limited,
there has been a victory.

While puppies sleep and mad dogs creep
I forge forward,
banging heads with faceless strangers
who might be foes or friends,
letting them plot the next step
while I hope for the best.

I sense wickedness,
the tang of a plan to rob a bank,
yet like a shy child, I ask no questions,
instead running with the gang.
Vacating the cracked castle
we part ways, while I memorise my instructions,
but I don’t understand the details
or the intended result.

Out in the street, the town floods,
water rising from an invisible place;
I suspect a connection to our game.
I’m thinking my finger has been dipped in fowl play
when a police constable
lifts me safely over the tide
to a leafy glade, that leads me
toward the first door
and with a friendly wave,
leaves me.

I wait while footsteps fade,
clutch the handle, smirking as it turns,
wondering at the trust of bland key-holders;
do they think the door
is too hidden for me to see?

A corridor leads to more
unlocked doors.
I creep through empty rooms
to one containing chairs,
a table, a litter of toys.
I pause, a query tasted on my lips, but dismissed
as I go through the next door.

Like a dream within a dream
my first-born daughter is beside me.
Now each succeeding room is scattered
with trinkets and symbolic artefacts,
while silently,
so silently, arriving singly,
each member of my family joins me;
all of my descendants
save my son.

I reach
a cramped space ravaged by the stains of age,
to find myself alone again.
No door before me.
Behind me, the entrance
has vanished.

Fear.
Closed in.
Pushing against ungiving walls,
fingernails scrabbling in trickster cracks.
Fear, breaking through my skin,
soaking my clothes.

Make no noise
lest the enemy is near.
Don’t panic, don’t curl in a corner.
Escape. Make no noise.
Smother the fear.
Think.

Pull out my phone,
call a friend.

The wind picks up at the other end.
“All will be well,”
it breathes.

Regaining hope,
I press the surface of a recess
too narrow to fit a door, and feel it give,
no more than a deceptive sheet of paper,
I rip it aside to reveal
a day-lit room, plush with sofas,
footstools, cushions. Voices trill nearby,
accompanied by the clink of dining.

Like a novice burglar, I shrink, nervous
to think I have broken into a private home,
but my son,
my son, my last-born, troubled child,
my son, my first-born man,
appears beside me.

“It’s OK, this is a hotel,” he tells me.
He shows the way through French windows onto a veranda
which skirts a calm sea,
where the rest of my family wait for me

Behind gleaming glass,
the diners raise their toast and applaud.
Fresh blood sings in my veins
to the rhythm of the waves
that caress the shushing sands of the shore.

I throw my store of hopes and fears to the horizon;
I cannot control its changes,
and I gaze into my children’s eyes
where this moment of safety lies.

I should offer a medal to the determined souls who managed to read to the end of my dream.

Floods, crumbling buildings, empty rooms, childhood mementoes and being trapped and in danger are all recurring themes in my dreams.

A lot of my dreams make immediate sense to me, being clearly marked ‘insecurity’, while others are a jumble. I half-understood last night’s dream, and built a poem around it to give me more clarity. It told me no more than I already know about the difficulties I’ve experienced in life, and of my opposing feelings of invincibility and weakness, of the power of my muscle and its inevitable collapse, of my confidence and my paranoia.

I can’t resist this – it goes back to the days when British record producers were little tin Gods, and many UK musicians had to bow down to them, rather than choosing their own theme and style. Those who wished to be a bit more raunchy had their knuckles rapped, and smoochy ballads thrust into their hands.

aww… such a sweet boy…

.

©Jane Paterson Basil

Crepe Paper

Back in the day
The Chamber of Commerce
attracted tourists by calling this town
the sunniest corner of Devon.
We all laughed and said “Is that a fact?”
but the tourists came to see the famous market
and to take in places marked upon the map.
Coaches drove down scarred roads
to set down in the long-stay coach park.
Drivers guided old folk who shuffled off the bus
to follow the trail.
Mumbling
“I’m glad I brought my coat,”
they splashed along pavements
emblazoned with flattened splats of bubble gum.

Crisp packets skittered in the wind.
Twisted drinks cans and bottles
vomited from stuffed-up rubbish bins.
Used condoms lay vanquished in the gutters,
their flattened swell bragging sticky acts
of safe sex in the back of rattling vans,
and the public lavatories stank.

I overstated the rain;
we’ve been known to suffer or enjoy weeks of dry heat,
but the Chamber of Commerce knew
that their claim, too, was exaggerated.
They updated their slogan; these days the bywords
are “ancient” and history.
The long-stay coach park has been demolished;
these days, less guests are treated to the sight
of flying litter.

In September, the kids go back to school
so most of the holiday makers have gone.
They miss our laughable carnival.
A factory ceased supplying lengths of bright nylon
to drape around the floats
since it closed, many years ago,
The nylon has been replaced by crepe paper,
which is a shame;
all the locals know
it always rains on carnival day.

This is a bit rushed as I’m going out for a celebratory meal in about an hour, but I couldn’t resist the prompt, since today is Carnival day in my town. Watching though my window, I see parents trudging, children skipping, on their way to watch the display. The pavements are wet, but it’s not raining. The procession starts in half-an-hour. The floats will already be ruined, and now I see drops of rain appearing on the glass.

Word of the  Day Challenge: Carnival

©Jane Paterson Basil

Beauty and the Psychopath

desert-82403__340.jpg

The earth’s surface
spans five hundred and ten square kilometres;

its Imperial reach
is one hundred and ninety-six point nine miles;

if every human stood still for one minute
and studied the scene
we might see hunger, iniquity, pain;

we might witness
every kind of suffering

~ this world is too complex to be forever kind ~

yet if we could gaze
with a cleanly aesthetic eye

devoid of empathy
for the frog crushed beneath the boot,

we might find beauty in every millimetre;

we’d envisage beauty
in every razor blade, in every frightened face,
in every tainted pool
that seeps through limp uniform
to sink into the rusting battle field;

it’s easy to appreciate a sunset
or the wavering boughs of a willow tree,

but tucked in a desert

in the arid waste where death exalts,
as, throwing back his cape

he rides the rays of  an allegiant sun
that roasts flesh from hollowing bones, leaving skulls to fade
in shifting hills and sandy vales

there is enchantment, whether scanned
from the height of an aeroplane, or gleaned
through a microscope
as we peek at the secrets of a single grain.

and on a motorway

on a wide tarmac trail
which breaks meadows in its wake,
snaking city limits, displaying the detritus of terminal mishap;
twisted metal, stains left by fractured death
and splattered brains

we find banks piled with riotous harmony
where flowers despised by tidy garden rules
are gems that shine on nature’s winsome breast.

In an iniquitous hidden room

in a bolted cell of jailor’s shame,
dank with acrid stench of psychopaths
intent on tearing sacred, private silk,
raping, molesting, shredding flesh in a hell
where madmen claim the purity of sin
where sadists taste their sour disgrace,
and relishing it, declare it sweet

the stolen one shudders,
her hair matted with filth and tears,
an innocent born with the essence of perfection,
a woman
who grew from woman’s womb.

.

This poem has veered a long way from its original intention, but I went with the flow – which suggests that I might be getting back on form 🙂

Note to self; it would require two people for it to work as an orated poem.  Stanzas written in black would be best spoken in a gentle tone; those on the right, by an increasingly threatening one. The purple line in the middle would be spoken in duet.

©Jane Paterson Basil

Pain

At
the apex
of pain, my spirit
slips  to  a  safe  place;
watches  curtains  billow,
plucks daisies, thinks about cake,
then loses its kindly grip.

Always, when I fall,
I land on the
k
n
I
f
e
.

Each slash feels like
the worst

~ the final ~

the killer
c
u
t
.

I stagger to my feet,
disguise the festering gash across my face
so it looks like a smile.

Each time
I tell myself it will never
happen again.

I
t
will never happen
a
g
a
I
n
.

.

I was going through my poetry with a view to polishing up the best of it so I can submit some to literary magazines – that old chestnut; anybody who knows me well will be aware that I usually end up getting my knickers in a twist and losing confidence.

Oh well…

This poem shocked me, bringing back the memories, although none of it seems real now. I’ve edited it slightly – changed it from 3rd person to 1st person. Was that a good or bad idea? I originally wrote in the 3rd person in order to suggest it wasn’t about me – to separate myself from it. My gut feeling is that my original idea was better. Any suggestions?

Am I nearly there yet?

.

©Jane Paterson Basil