Tag Archives: word of the day challenge

Jigsaw

Leisure and pleasure fit together
like fish and fin or bird and feather.
What use is life if devoid of leisure
and what use is time if devoid of pleasure.

Written for FOWC: Leisure. Think of it as a word doodle – I wanted to try out poetry on WP’s new Gutenberg editor. I don’t like it AT ALL, so I’ve gone back to  an ancient editor, which I can only activate from the drop down menu on the left side of the screen.

I’m wondering if there’s a connection between the Gutenberg activation and my inability to use the  ‘like’  button on WP sites which have their own domain name. Maybe it messes up the settings somehow. Does anyone have any ideas on that? 

Oh well…

©Jane Paterson Basil

Mortal

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When I was four feet tall
I believed I was immortal;

that knives
could not scar me

oceans
not drown me

mistakes
not taint me

evil
not weaken me

age
not change me

pain
not
break me

and that strength
would never fail me.

I was confident I would shape
a sensational destiny.

Yet I am mortal after all.
No ogres quake at the sight of my face,
no lame man walked.
no blind man saw.
no orphans were fed,
peace was not restored.
I was somewhere else,
someone less;
not the giant
of my idle fantasy,
only a wind-blown flake, adept
at making a mess.

I do not scream
or beat my breast
yet I bleed.

Ignominiously,
I bleed.

I scrub at the seepage
but it will not come clean,
leaving an indelible stain
for posterity.

In recompense,
the forgiving flowers of my womb
grow over my stain,
creating a fertile garden
with fresh running streams.

They illustrate
that my bungled life
has not been
a waste.

Although this poem doesn’t contain to the wordSequester‘, it was inspired by today’s Word of the Day Challenge. I was going to give it the title ‘Sequestered in Fantasy’, since that is a good description for the way I was as a child. However, that title doesn’t suit the poem.

©Jane Paterson Basil

His Legacy

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As I sleep
I take a broom and sweep the filth
that fills the corners of the room,
removing gluey cobwebs,
strands as strong as button thread
are thick with muck and dust and flies
built up from when I left,
untouched until the day he died.
They wrap around the scrubby brush
in clumps like demon candy-floss.

A single tug is all I need to strip away
the evil blackness from the aged ceiling.
The room is clean, but far from being satisfied,
I feel the weight of dirt that clings.
It sticks to skin and fills my soul with rage,
and as I face the horrid truth
that he has not been exhorcised,
he steps into the room and speaks to me
as if I saw him yesterday and we were friends.

He passes by while I escape outside
to tell my family I have seen a solid spectre
of the man who took his final breath
ten months ago.
They laugh at me and say
there’s no such thing as ghosts.

When I wake I see my son
and listlessly devine the tale behind my dream:
his father left a legacy.

Word of the Day Challenge: Listless

©Jane Paterson Basil

The Size of it.

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Tongue fidgets against fingertip,
teeth graze the nail you ripped
while unwrapping the cake you released from the freezer.

You have to wait to eat the cake.
Meanwhile, you’ll fix the jagged nail the easy way.
Your teeth grip it, tear it free.
You spit out the shard
which lands on the knee of your jeans.
You pick it up,
examine this brittle bit of you;
this dead clipping,
thinking

my mother made this;
if not for my mother, I would not be.

Yet you flick it away like dross;
this slim grating born of the ecstasy of creation;
this small sliver, this souvenir foreshadowed
by squeeze and grunt of delivery.

The word ‘size’ reminds you
of the sight from the porthole of a giant
winged crate high in the sky,
where cloud concealed whole countries below,
yet cleared to reveal
a bland mass of distant desert.

Long before you stepped
from the plane in Mumba,  you were stunned
by the expanse of the globe.

Unmeasurable grains of sand,
deepest seas where strange creatures swim and fight,
minerals, mountains and clamouring cities,
trees, fleas, bees and diverse mysteries
of all sizes. Millions of years,
millions of designs of dry cement and wet sentience
surfacing, existing, sliding into history,
civilizations replaced, to be swept away
by atmosphere, madness and accident.
Fresh animal passions, plans,
every mutation of emergency, miracle and mistake
circuitously played out
on each square mile
of this seething planet.

While you muse,
your teeth absently chew your skin.
Sensing a metallic tang, you check your fingertip.
Blood pools near the cuticle.
Something hurts,
but you cannot
locate the pain.

Word of the Day Challenge: Emergency

©Jane Paterson Basil

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

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

Mysteries

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Physicists forge forward,
white coats flapping
like Messianic messengers’ wings
as they fly urgently around corners
racing to dine on Science,
masticating fact,
slurping maths,
spewing heretical pips and chips of maverick bone
into the spittoon of fools and false magic.
Caught within the limitations of scientific instruments,
they gloss over the cracks of universe and you,
yet still
insoluble mysteries seep through.

.

Word of the Day Challenge: Gloss

©Jane Paterson Basil

Perspective

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Viewed from the moon
I am helpless as a raindrop
drying on the African plain,
an invisible crease
in the slithering ribbon of history.
Yet next to an amoeba
I am a galaxy,
imperious as the sea.

Similarly,
in the eye of the universe, each planet
is a dust-mote, blown away in a moment;
to the neutron, a speck of dust
is an enduring planet.

Word of the Day Challenge: Imperious

Distant Island

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Beautiful she was,
though not
in a classic way; her eyes
might have been wider, her chin
was out of scale, her skin sprayed
with bigger freckles than her face
might have wished,
and she was shy,
yet those choked silences
foreshadowed mad acts of bravado
that tricked the eye.

We perceived a mystery
whose unpinned list of incongruities
expressed a vast forest
breathing beneath an ocean of leaves.

Boys reached, stretching
to scale the trees they envisaged,
thinking to straddle her misconceived branches,
to examine her seasons and keep count
of her rings.
They touched thin air
that felt like sun-kissed silk
which leads one into warm caress,
then melts and shrinks
and burns the flesh.

Girls snubbed her;
unnerved by the contest,
puzzled by her unerring and erstwhile
unwanted conquests,
they would have preferred to drag
her roots
from the earth.

Watching the confusion,
she sighed, knowing the sea was too deep.
She was a distant island; though waves
may lap at her slipping shore,
they rarely landed
at her core.

.

Word of the Day Challenge: Bravado

©Jane Paterson Basil

Crossing the Street

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“I’m sorry, I don’t carry change.”

That’s what I always say, though sometimes
it’s a lie.

From Goa to Mumbai
it is considered unwise to give to children who beg on the streets;
better to donate to charities that protect them from their tormentors.
I live by that principle on my forays through this English town
where the victims are adult, their tormentors
are chemicals to be melted on a spoon and injected,
and their habit can kill.

These days I rarely engage with them;
they don’t require sandwiches, pasties or practical advice
and I can’t give them a bed for the night, so I can do nothing to assist,
yet those eyes kidnapped me as she begged beside Tesco Metro.

“I’m sorry – I don’t carry change,” I said.

It was the eyes that detained me;
eyes that sang in the storm of cause and effect,
in the chaos what was and what might have been;
eyes that could not be silenced, that trilled above the din,
calmly revealing what she would have liked to conceal,
colouring in the thrill of travel, the regret
of roughened hands which once caressed,
rising to a crescendo to describe the hurricane
that threw her up, and flung her
in the gutter,

and as her eyes glistened,
I listened to the howling wind
as it echoed her dirge of the death
of a wolf of the Steppes,

If we are not all equal, as some believe,
she was much more than many I meet. When we parted,
I flirted with my purse, knowing my money would bring her
a pin-prick of relief, but I crushed the brief temptation,
since it could purchase her doom.

Her eyes watched me while I wrote,
and while I ate and read and slept. When I woke
I thought of her.

Spying from my hallowed side of the street,
finding third parties to relate her trials and treats,
I kept my distance to evade the pain of intimacy,

Just once, I fell again
into those eyes that had swum the skies
before sinking into the blood-flecked mud.
I asked her a question and watched her eyes
while they lied to me.

Her tongue was too noble to verbalise an untruth,
yet her eyes suggested a lie;
thereby giving me fake justification
for my evasion.

Yet I had openly lied to her when I had said
“I’m sorry, I don’t carry change.”

I can’t say I knew her, or that she knew me,
but she affected me.
It seems she touched everyone she met.
I wanted her to find peace, but not like this.

I’m on nodding terms with the other side of the street,
so the news has already reached me:
last night, her spectacular eyes
closed for the final time.

Today, two bodies lie in the morgue,
the tiny one tightly curled in the womb of its mother,
and I try not to weep for the multiple tragedy
of mindless heroin’s dumb victory.

Rest In Peace, Diane

Word of the Day Challenge: Spying.

When I feel inspired, I write a poem before checking out the word of the day. I usually find that it fits. Today is no exception.

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©Jane Paterson Basil