Tag Archives: recovery

Spring

 
 
 
Winter
      had clung,
  its bitter wrap of ice-flinted snow 
             suffocating  fleets 
                       of sunny seasons,
          clenching my gut.  
                     
Fevered hope 
            pricked me 
                    with uneven heat.   
      Faith
          was feeble, thin;
                 a hand-spun fishing line, plucked 
                          from the gleam of halcyon days;
            it frayed and broke,  
               frayed and broke, to be knotted  
                                          again and again;  
     my fumbling fingers fighting in vain 
                   to cease their trembling shake.
 
 
 In the end,             
                estrangement
       felt safer, less painful, yet when it came,
                    it bit,
                            it stung;
                  as events remained uncelebrated and months  
       mounted, it 
                   ate me away.
 
Sometimes, change is sudden:
 
as if on a whim, the world spun, 
whipping up a conglomeration of fear and isolation,
an unheeding pandemic of sickness and death, yet 
 
grace 
 
was the gift this year brought me; 
banishment hit him,
helped him to battle his searing addiction;
his demons had scarred him 
but now they were bleeding, while 
his wounds 
were healing;
I could see they still ached, but
Spring 
had returned. 
Reunited with my child,
with pride and relief I can see
he carries the family genes:
the blood of the Phoenix  
surges 
through his veins.
 
 
 
©Jane Paterson Basil
 
 

Over the past few months, I’ve found it difficult to write. I put this down to the fact that my soul is less tortured. So, last Friday I began a poetry course which was offered by our County Council as part of a mindfulness programme, to help people through the difficulties of Covid, so it wasn’t really designed for poets. However, I thought it would be useful as a kind of refresher. The above poem is the fruit of my first session’s labours. I hope you like it x

Toll

Nobody told me
you say:
no-one explained; it seems
at each road you pay a toll.
Where crossroad meet,
signposts scribe lies, or mud
smudges each destination,
you claim.
 
You've lost control: you 
never know where the next path will lead.
Looks like a dead-end street.

Your hands 
shake, shame
numbs your brain.
 
So many mistakes.
 
Nobody told you, you say,
then you heap blame
on those who are blinded like you.
 
Loved ones tried,
their words blurred by your need,
your potential curdled by wild hurtle 
into dim thrill of needle 
and sleep.
 
Deep sleep just short of eternal.
 
Mornings bring cravings,
day follows day filled with theft and sale, theft and sale 
to pay for your sleazy escape
again and again.
 
Always the same
peppered with desperate efforts and creasing failures and cramping pain and careless mistakes and fleecing arrests and imprisoning cells
while your head forever screams
to be clean,

while your need
to appease the clamouring beast that clamps your frame and grabs your guts and clings to your skin and kidnaps your mind and steals
your very being
rejects the thought.

...
  
How times change:
these days
you clean my home,
cook my meal. We share expenses and I
marvel at your strength of will.

I ask you:
what was the defining moment
that inspired you to strive
for the light?

This is how you reply:
 
 I gazed
at the signpost ahead
and as I wiped the mud which had blinded my eyes,
I read where each of three roads led.
the first was a dire, familiar trail,
the second pointed to sudden death.
I chose the third road,
the hard road, the right road, the sane road, the safe road,
the stuttering shock.
It was a toll I had to pay:
that searing act of cleansing agony.
I'm glad I grappled through the pain
which led me back 
to hope and health.
 
 
 ©Jane Paterson Basil 

Paul’s Words: 2

swallow- paul2

Just lemme fly, I’ll death defy.
I miss the bliss, regrets and lies.
I wished for this, I’ll testify to dish Death’s kiss
and let me die…

A change of plan please if I can.
I’ve spanned and scanned of all lands and sands,
and stand a brand new, handsome man,
with standing, standards and a clan.

I cannot stand those scams I ran,
I danced and sang, while ranting slang,
I sang my sting to land it in.
It’s branded in, I planned to win.

There’s more to this than meets the eye,
ignore the shit, the streets passed by,
the struggle and the drugs,
I’ve tumbled into humble love.

©Paul David Ward

Since the lockdown, I have strayed further than ever from my blog. My normal activities have been replaced by gardening; sowing seeds, watering them, pricking them out, and clearing space in a disorganised communal garden that had to be cleared of masses of montbretia, ivy, creeping buttercup, dock, dandelions, bindweed, wild garlic, three-cornered leak (often mistaken for wold garlic, but even more invasive and less useful in the kitchen) and several kinds of annual weeds. I’ve been moving – or dispensing with – ill-placed plants and pruning untidy or overgrown shrubs.

I am exhausted from the time I roll out of bed until I crawl back in. My back and my legs constantly ache. My emotions are released: I cry at the drop of a hat.

And… I am happy, filled with a joy that is far less tinged with fear than could be expected during this pandemic. My son and I are rebuilding our relationship

When I took out the restraining order on my son, I knew the risks and they terrified me, but I also knew that the risk of not doing so was greater. For years I had been losing the bright, funny son that I loved so much. I had watched him turn into a sick, drug raddled, destructive stranger. He had to strike out on his own; to do or die – perhaps literally. I had known for a long time that I couldn’t help him to survive.

He didn’t die. He suffered, and that terrible suffering brought him back to the fold. We have not yet spoken since there is a danger that my voice could be a trigger for him, so the only contact I have with him is through text messaging. He sends me his poems and tells me what he’s been doing (deep cleaning and decorating his flat, drawing… and writing, of course), what he would like to do (he’s looking for voluntary aid work, but his record could go against him).

The blood of the phoenix runs through his veins. In addition to having cut out drugs and alcohol, he’s also in recovery from an abusive relationship with a very damaged young woman. He says his poetry helps him to work through his issues. He’s agreed to me posting some of his poems, and I am honoured to do so. 

 

To Mary: This Too Shall Pass

When I consider
the frazzled reams of verse, written
when sinews simmered with rage,
when organs ached with dread and grief

when dams burst and words tried to drown sorrow
when fires failed to singe the fighting remains.
I picked through ashes even as the flames blistered my skin,
and still, he drove his bloodied psyche
between my ribs, piercing
the heart of me

I feel
remote
from those emotions

feels like a marathon masquerade of misery that I
mistook for reality, holing myself up
in the host’s attic, beneath
an old crate of broken memorabilia,
away from friends who might have explained
that the gates of hell
were paper mache stage props
and the pit was the cracked lens
of a reclaimed camera obscura.

When I single out a poem, I revoke details;
the nature of conflicts and pain inflicted,
but from a
distance,

as if I’m watching a documentary
or reading a book featuring the anguish of other families
skewered by other offsprings’ addiction,

Empathy for the innocents
seeps into me, yet when I read a verse
from this strangling chapter, I realise it was my life.
Memories  bite;
my heart contracts and my toes
instinctively curl away from a mud slide
that has safely flaked and dried.
At such times, I summon your voice –
your voice, with its warm Northern edge –
sharing your mantra,
gifting me the truth that calmed you
whenever the mud of the morass
threatened to engulf your chest;
“This too shall pass.”
“This too shall pass.”

New growth
breaks through decay,
willing the frayed remnants of pain to dissipate.
I take a breath of clean air
and luxuriate
in the mellow texture of grass
tickling my feet.

Dedicated to my friend Mary Beer. Mary, you are an Amazon whose whose words gave me courage, whose friendship made me feel less alone from the start, and whose strength continues to inspire me. When I was at my lowest ebb, it was the echo of your voice which ran through my mind: this too shall pass.

I posted this on my other blog a few months ago. I’ve edited it a little and added it to this blog so that you might read it, Mary xxx

Ode to a Fool

You see this flesh
and you want to possess me.
Since you are terminally thick
you misconstrue my jests as reality.
Even my insults are erogenous to you
since you don’t understand simple sentences.
and though I slap away your feeble grip
still you think you can heal me
by hiding your pricked-up mess
in the opening between my thighs.

You speak of love
as if it’s a gift which cannot but hold my interest;
a treat that must surely fascinate

*(She said “Love? Lord above,
now you’re tryin’ to put me in love.”)

Looks like you’re too late, mate.
Better men have tried,
but worse men got there first.
You missed the train by miles.

If you’d been there with your fists fifty years since,
you could have licked the rapist and changed my history,
but you were busy with some silly missus,
making your own mistakes, shouting down deaf alleys,
cursing, boozing, losing at pool,
the two of you taking turns to screw up your kids,
and I wouldn’t have looked twice even then.

*Lyric from Free; All Right Now.

©Jane Paterson Basil

‘We Will Not Be Silenced’

The anthology, We Will Not Be Silenced – the brainchild of women’s collective Whisper and the Roar – is now available from Amazon.  I am honoured to have two of my poems represented in the book, an offer my sincere congratulations to everyone who has been involved, on its successful arrival into the world.

Profits from sales of the book will be ploughed into assistance for the survivors of abuse.

You can read more about the book HERE

If you haven’t yet purchased a copy, you can do so HERE.

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

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

How to Keep a Fire Alight

hands-1926414_960_720

A few years ago, my niece and I spent a summer season working as wardens at a holiday campsite. Unbeknownst to the owner of the campsite who employed us, we were both useless at lighting fires. We had to become experts pretty quickly, as we relied on our campfire for our meals and hot drinks, and we often had to light our guests’ fires for them. In no time at all I could throw a few sticks together any old how, strike a match, and get a roaring fire going with very little effort.

I already knew that in order for a fire to ignite, fuel, oxygen and heat are required, but I learnt something new that summer – in order to ensure the fire succeeds, there is a fourth, labour-saving ingredient you can use:

utter faith in the ability of the flame to spread.

 


 

A Glimmer of Hope

When it arrived
it was no bigger than a fly;
a tiny hope like so many before
which had briefly glowed,
only to stutter and die.

Previously, I’d tried
to make the flickering fire grow,
mothering her, smothering her with my need
to steal her from the hellish end
that looked like her destiny

This time
trust walked by my side.
Believing she had the strength and desire
to heal herself, I breathed this certainty,
and she inhaled my faith.

 A glimmer of hope
radiated to become a shining light
which obliterated all darkness,
making her whole.

<<@

 


 

heart-1137259__340.jpg

©Jane Paterson Basil

Boulders and Daisies

train-2181576__340.jpg

.

You hustled a one-way ticket to hell,
hopping heavily aboard the chugging train,
smutty snow dripping down shrinking lanes,
tripping its way into cellular recesses
sifting your sight and your senses like sand.

Love and ribboned opportunities
jumbled up with rusty maybe-memories,
stuttered on the hollow horizon.
Blinded by the back end of a telescope,
all you perceived were burning trees.

You regretted the leathery ticket to hell,
and bravely you leaped from the trickety train.
Bruised by boulders and freed from near-misses,
the broken pieces were soldered with kisses
and you bathed in the cleansing rain.

This video is visually poor, but I like the sound. Beatlemania was a weird phenomenon – the fans made so much noise that they drowned out what they had paid to hear…

©Jane Paterson Basil