You can't beat addiction by beating the addict; it will hitch up their need to reach for a fix. Shame on your actions, you showed no compassion. You oppressed and tormented and drove her to drink, then you slammed her and thrashed her, but she didn't sink. Throughout your life and long after you died her beautiful spirit and body survived. ©Jane Paterson Basil
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
Weed we spit: anarchist we accuse Some snap stems, discard seed grasp leaves, dig dirt until each root is forcibly freed, but many use herbicide for ease "Die, weed, die we cry with glee. Double dahlias are what we need. Chemical feed will help us raise crowds of blowsy blooms from cultivated seed" Bees leave to seek pollen that they can reach Along steamy streets pockets of green tickle pavements reaching to conceal heaped waste which feigns innocent sleep Beyond greedy shops, magnates' dreams emigrate to where labour is cheap. Concrete and steel remain, obsolete. Filth tipped into rivers fails to biodegrade. Far from the plastic parade, wide roads surrender to narrow lanes, white lines give way to green blades. Hedgerows parade accord between living species, yet earth's tilth is tipped to ill-health, trees strain to clean our mistakes and seasons struggle to progress A frayed leaflet flitting in the wake of a chance breeze asks Which Path Will You Take?
©Jane Paterson Basil
When did it surface?
Is it right to lay the blame
on a fly in my DNA, a crack in the egg,
a badly-placed step in the dance of the sperm?
Did it seep in while I swam in neo-natal simplicity?
Is it lack or a perverse surplus; missing mineral or toxic germ,
or is it quickening depletion?
Can’t slake my thirst.
Oozing through a bruising birth canal,
keening for unseen freedom, did I forget to collect
my nourishing any-time drinks?
I started to burst
Lying naked at the wide end of space,
thin flesh tingling with echoes, did I relish or regret
my clamorous exit from the womb?
while mother nursed
My mouth spelled an O
around a milky breast, my ready tongue reached to feed –
did not the food fulfil my need?
and dreams were rehearsed
ignored each command, did they steal
my core of stability?
and knowledge reversed
When my expanding brain saw
that the world was not me, and I was not the world
did abandonment hurt?
and faith was submersed
When young fingers
plucked springtime flowers that died,
did I mourn mortality?
and pain interspersed
When oak trees
offered me gifts that I could not reach,
did the distance scrape me?
and thunderclouds cursed.
When I tried,
yet failed to describe my existential angst,
did I itch to die?
When a slick film
thickened over whimpering blood – a second skin to protect me,
did it block entry to the piece which was missing?
for the limits of verse.
How can it be
that even as I embrace life, my lungs
would like to cease breathing?
Still the ache of thirst;
can’t slake my thirst.
©Jane Paterson Basil
At the start of the end of the heady hippie days
I briefly dipped my toes in the sinking hippie ways.
I floated in long dresses and I jingled as I walked,
I used the hippie lingo every time I talked.
I tried smoking cannabis, but not for very long;
it took all my sense away and made me feel wrong.
I never fancied LSD – I liked to see the world
in its organic gorgeousness, not twisted and unfurled.
I disagreed with half the things the lippy hippies said;
they thought they were original, but their minds half dead.
They told me I was brainwashed because my ideas
were far too well-considered for their dippy hippie ears.
They said that they were breaking out of mediocrity,
they said their way of life was a better way to be,
they said they wanted peace and an end to all the killing,
but when I asked for action, few of them were willing.
They spoke of demonstrations, but they always missed the train,
or they couldn’t be bothered, or they feared that it might rain.
I was often irritated by their inconsistency;
the only thing they stood up for was brewing cups of tea.
Most of them were stoned from smoking Mary Jane,
a few of them were tripping, and one had gone insane
from swallowing blues, snorting speed and smoking weed —
to put it very bluntly, they had all gone to seed.
It’s true that their culture had seen some better days,
but I met a lot of mumbling sheep, slumped in a fuzzy haze;
while I was a thinker, and I let my thoughts run free,
they were more concerned with the psychedelic creed.
They agreed with whatever concepts stood at odds
with all the world’s hard working, deep thinking bods.
It was interesting at first, and fun for a bit,
but it wasn’t very long before I had to admit
I didn’t fit in with my drug-loving friends
who spoke of new beginnings, but never tied up ends.
I looked like a hippie, but I felt no passion
for the pseudo hippiedom in local fashion.
Written for Reena’s Exploration Challenge #Week 10.
©Jane Paterson Basil