Tag Archives: survival

‘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.

My Friend Johnny

Devon rolling hills nr Bickleigh
(Image Credit: Euro Cheapo)

Drenched by clotting dregs
of a cold-custard day,
too sluggish to juggle saucepans,
plates, food,
I watch cars, and muse,
thinking of armour,
of armies,
of uniforms marching
in single file as if in practice,
yet each with its own destiny.
Some face battle, others flee,
while a few
have been granted
official leave.

Monotonous shades of grey,
white vans, showroom red, more grey.
Sighting the next white van
I rise from my seat; this one
is unique;
embellished with wide wheels,
custom headlights,

“Johnny!”, I cry,
waving like one who welcomes
the first sunrise.
tenderness fills me
as this childhood enemy
who became a friend
drives by.

From this reach
he cannot hear or see me,
but “Johnny”, I whisper with a grin
thinking of how we meet
in the street to speak
of everyday things with an ease
that contradicts distance, remembering
the time he stroked hair from my eyes,
the sweep of his fingers
behind my ear;
intimate, yet more easy
the touch of lover; more like
a brother.

As Johnny’s van rolls out of sight
the evening sun escapes a bluffing cloud.
Effervescing rays needle light
through maple leaves,
to burnish an oasis
that grows between me
and the road.

The oasis swells.
Trees rise through concrete,
meadows stretch; nature’s blankets
woven in hues of gold and green
whose wild-flower hedges
stitch the patchwork of Devon together.

I burn fifty-five calendars
and race through fields.
Reaching the bank of a stream, I leap,
hair flying, feet finding purchase,
toes curling around smooth rock,
cool water a shock
that soothes and surprises.

Johnny waits on the other side.
No more do I despise his fear of drowning
or distrust his efforts to survive.
In turn, he doesn’t mind my wild eyes.
Like me, he is a child,
we are each ourselves;
He holds out his hand, wraps it around mine
and pulls me to his side;
I am home with my family,
ambling with Johnny,
Johnny, forever  my friend.


©Jane Paterson Basil

Wake Up.


— Wake up. Please don’t sleep. The danger isn’t over.

Helplessly, I hang above my prone body, trying to communicate an urgent message to my brain. I’ve come so far, endured storms that threw me from the boat to struggle and choke in chilling water, sun that seared and flayed my salty skin, thirst that forced me to drink my own urine. My food supply was washed away even before I lost count of the days. Sometimes my grip on sanity has drifted off on the monotonous waves that can turn so suddenly into evil monsters determined to drag me down to the bottom of the sea, to become a fishes’ feast.

Yes, I’ve come so far, and survived many perils, and now, unconscious of any danger, I sleep soundly on the beach, lulled by the slipping solidity of sand, as the waves sneak relentlessly closer to me.

— Please wake up. Don’t sleep. Please.

They’re intent on stealing me away. See how they swell, snapping at my flaccid ankles. A huge breaker approaches, building in size and strength as it comes closer. Like a giant claw, it curls above my body, crashes over the whole of me, drags me toward it, shifting the fine sand, before losing its grip. In an instant I’m back inside myself. I wake as my spirit returns to that hidden place within me.

Salt water stings my eyes and burns my throat, making me retch. An urgent scrabble, on hands and knees, conveys me up the beach.

From the safety of a sand dune. I watch the ocean carry away the broken remnants of my boat.

Written for Michelle’s Photo Fiction #98.

©Jane Paterson Basil

The Lighthouse



Inhibited sky
hides day’s naked light
behind a blushing veil of cloud.
Bashfully, it dons its night time hues.
Below the sleeping beacon, dark ocean cools,
murmering its merciless melody
of endless, incidental

Saline spray
lingers on skin and lips,
like the memory of a million kisses;
signposts on a highway to heaven or hell.
She wishes that she could pinpoint them all;
rinse away those that were planted by force,
retaining only the imprints of pleasure –
but thinks it too late.

Her eye
measures the drop,
the sharp surprise of rock.
Oh, to be taken by the reckless sea
 {{{ – enveloped in its fluid caress – }}}
not this ignominious nosedive onto stone,
bequeathing her decomposing carcass
as appetising fast food
for carnivores.

In such a ferocious place,
to be quick is to be too harshly dead;
not her imagined romantic dissipation,
but yet another beaky invasion.

She considers;
shall she precipitate
this cheapened technique
to attain irreversable decay?

With a final, longing glance,
she steps off the catwalk,
her spiral descent
no shocking



©Jane Paterson Basil


I have taken up the gauntlet again. Sumyanna has returned it to my hand, requesting that this time I compose original quotes. Thank you, Sumyanna, for your own beautiful quotes, and for giving me this refreshing opportunity to do the 3 day, 3 quote challenge in a more imaginative way.

This is my effort for Day 1.



We are not too strong to break

or too weak to mend

We are the survivors


This is a subject that has been at the forefront of my mind of late, and my quote was inspired by comments from several of my supportive WP friends, who responded to my previous post.

I’m coming to terms with – and learning to admit to – my limitations. Just now I have a need to write, and am having difficulty focusing on anything else, so I hope Sumyanna will forgive me for not nominating anyone to take on this challenge. It may seem like a simple thing, but I don’t feel able.

©Jane Paterson Basil

I want you to know

I want
you who may become unravelled
by your children’s addictions,
to look at me,
and say
“She survived, and so will I.”

I want you to know
there is life after that day
— that frozen moment —
when you become a drooling ball of pain,
falling to the floor,
whimpering half-finished prayers
to a deity you’re not sure you believe in.

I want you to know,
as your limbs become numb,
as your heart screams,
even as you beg
for relief from
— I want you to know —
though it may claw you over and over,
sweep you into a tornado of terror
— I want you to know, and to remember —
you can rise from it every time,
and you can smile,
even laugh again.

I want you to know
that your life is precious,
and I pray that you’ll gain solace
from this knowledge;
you are not alone.

©Jane Paterson Basil



one grey feather;
an essential component
constructed of delicate fronds
that, like a zipper, gently interlock
on two opposite sides
of a pointed spine.

one lonely feather,
alienated from its design
to keep a bird warm and dry
and lend a lightness to its flight,
sinks, untrammelled,
in the steely sky.

one tiny feather;
floating in the sky;
dancing for its freedom;
swirling in the mild firmament,
being manipulated; mindlessly lifted
by the changeling wind’s whispering might,
in a losing battle for a feather so light;
just for an instant it appears
to be putting up a brave fight,
but the wind has lost interest
and is off to find a new game,
leaving the grey feather
to sink,spinning,
to the earth.

One fallen feather
held between my fingers,
one used-up, beautiful thing;
a single constituent of the wing,
an intrinsic piece of the jigsaw;
as valuable as a leaf, a bee
a whale, or an elephant,
and equally crucial;
equally strong;


Written for The Daily Post #Fragile

©Jane Paterson Basil

Get in training



you ‘d better think quick, better get in training
cos’ you may find all manner of complications raining
down on your head
and you could be dead
if you don’t have the wisdom to build your strength
don’t forget you’re young and you’ve got the whole length
of your life to live
you’ll have nothing to give
if you don’t work out a lighter way to carry that load
cos’ you’re gonna find a year or ten down the road
bad luck or fate
will add to the weight
it could be any one of all manner of issues
and you won’t hold it back by crying into tissues
so do it today
practice every way
of dealing with any kind of troubles you may face
this is not a garden party, it’s the human race
life can get rough
so you have to be tough
to ward off depression, stress and anxiety
or you’ll end up with much more weight than you can carry.

A hurried one, written for The Daily Post’s One Word Prompt #Carry, while waiting to meet a friend…

©Jane Paterson Basil


Survivor no more

Everyone said I was a survivor, and for a long time it was true. Whatever happened, I always picked myself up and remembered how to smile and to laugh again. I learnt to bevel the jagged edges of every cruel shard that pierced my heart, and although they resisted  eviction, my labour removed some of the sting, leaving a broad ache, but there is a limit to how much broken glass one heart can hold, and today I think mine has exceeded it. My heart appears split in two. I feel the shrapnel hitting against my ribcage; no longer contained by that sad little vessel that fought so hard to stay in one piece. Blood spits and drips down the cracked walls of my existence. I have felt almost this way before, but this time it is different. How can I survive this?

Written for The Sandbox Writing Challenge 40: What makes you a survivor?

©Jane Paterson Basil

How it Felt


Ten thousand night terrors
                         s t r e t c h e d - o u t
                        when I found you
               before your
                     it was
                           that culmination
                    of ten thousand night terrors
               was filled with lifetimes of grief at my loss
  that dread eternal instant
then adrenalin drove me to action:
a message surged into my brain
demanding that you live again
I needed you to be alive
I needed you to survive

heroin was the heartless whore
that held you in her needled claw
and though I feared her murderous might
I wouldn't let her win this fight
the weight of my love gave a beat to your heart
as I gave you the massage of life
and matching my pulse was the chant in my head
you can't be dead you can't be dead
my body became a machine for survival
rhythmically working for your revival
and when the paramedics came
 and tagged me in my desperate game
  they had to fight heroically
    to finalise recovery
            that night
         extended outwards
to become the core and the crust of my existence

© Jane Paterson Basil