Tag Archives: word prompt

Hornbeam #haiku

hornbeam-forest12
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hardy forest man

flirting boldly with the sun

~ schoolgirl pleats unfurl ~

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hornbeam-leaves123.jpg

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Hornbeam (Carpinus betulus), is a tree native to the south of England and parts of Europe.. It is a deciduous, broad-leaf tree which can easily be mistaken for the common beech. Their leaves are similar, but those of the the hornbeam are more deeply serrated, and young ones have a rare and beautiful symmetry as they unfold.
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The Daily Post Unfurl

©Jane Paterson Basil

Charred remains

forest-fire-424

You delivered him in pain,
yet with his emergence, pain eased
and love took its place.

His innocent face,
his little boy’s embrace –
they were sweet life to you,
and you trusted that nothing he would do
could take that away.

Slowly he grew.
You heard rumours,
but you didn’t think they were true;
each time he looked at you,
you got lost in his eyes;
taken in by his lies.

When deceit comes easy to a child,
danger can ensue,
and though he later rues his wayward ways,
he is not wired for change.

Thrills burn bright, making sparks fly;
they alight on those he claims to love the most.
When storms rage, the fire dies
leaving a lonely hole,
dusted with the charred remains of all your hopes.

You delivered him in pain,
and through the tender, loving years,
you tried to teach a better way to be,
yet failed to keep him safe.

Blackened by the flames,
flattened by the falling rain,
still you would willingly risk any pain
if you could only make him well again,
but you have no potency to deliver him
from the grip of his sickness.

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The Daily Post #Delivery

©Jane Paterson Basil

Spinning Seasons

autumn.jpg

Few weeks have died
since oak leaves swelled to greet a brightening sky,
a welcome treat that screened my eyes from dun-hued proof
of teeming human life across the street.
The sky’s white sun gave promise of tomorrow;
its tenuous rays reeled in our faith as it beckoned buds to bloom,
while clean rain rushed to nurture roots beneath the earth
and tease new life to sprout through damp nutritious dirt.

Summer swells and fades far sooner than in former days,
as if the the carousel of nature’s failing fast;
the fickle sun can’t wait to hide behind a wall of foggy grey,
and amber tinted hands begin to wave amidst the green bouquets
of helpless branches swaying in the cooling breeze.

The evening sunset hints at autumn gales
that whip wet hair across the face,
that wreck umbrellas, leaving busy shoppers wringing wet,
so, eyes downcast,
they watch the slippery path beneath their feet,
and many miss the bronze display of nature’s brief retreat.

Ageing folk will button coats and wrap up snug,
complaining of the cold, forgetting childhood’s biting weather.
They’ll creak past harried mothers bustling through the mild chill
boldly chiding scuffling kids who kick on rustling golden lawn
as careless litter flutters by,
and swarming birds fly home to warmer climes.

Skeletal trees will briefly mourn the passing of their glory,
then settle in for pregnant winter sleep,
and I will sit and watch wild horses race across the sky
and beg the carousel to quickly bring the Spring.

The Daily Post #Carousel

©Jane Paterson Basil

If Only

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It is too late to live out every dream;
I must prioritise.

I can’t blame the Seasons,
since each one carried its weight.

Once, honeyed hedgerows towered above my head,
while life stretched to eternity.
Brown limbed child’s play climbed and skipped
toward exhaustion’s sleepy contemplation,
and mother’s lap was always warm for love.

I recall the rumbling storm that hailed the wane of spring,
and now I know the lessons nature tried to teach me.

I was up a tree,
and I could say the leaves concealed the text,
but it would not be true;
it was I who tried to hide from view.

Summer brought a raging blaze of opportunities,
and though I knew that I should choose a highway,
in my greed for life I tried to run a mile down every lane.

Some were dark, some were bright,
and some shone with a dappled light,
so I absorbed a quarter of each shade;
a whirling dervish fighting time as if I were three people,
always working, skipping sleep,
rising tired to keep the furnace burning,
trying to learn each skill within the world,
for fear of dying incomplete.

But Autumn came with whipping winds and ticking clock
to warn me of approaching loss.

It froze my bones and slowed my pace,
and now I amble through the days wishing I were stronger.

A foolish thought runs through my brain:
“If only I’d retained my speed I’d live a great deal longer.”

The Daily Post #Amble

©Jane Paterson Basil

The Symphony of Life

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The sea whispers in the distance, its waves telling tales of where it has been, all it has seen; our history crowding its every note.

Listen as the waves hiss toward the shore, each one inching forward a little more before crashing with a shoosh, raising a subtle rustle as sand shifts and smashed specks of shell swoop and rollick in salt water, sinking to silence as stillness momentarily descends, ready for the next wave to skiffle them again.

Seagulls circle, searching for fish, their racket rising to a crescendo, then calming from screech to squawk when they spot a shoal.

Listen to the Beach balls bounce as mothers squirt and slather sunscreen. Small feet splash in little land-locked lakes, young throats vibrate with laughter and high-pitched screams until ice cream time arrives, accompanied yummy hums and dripping, slurpy licks.

Listen to the beach orchestra as it plays its holiday symphony.

Somewhere, in a far away forest, cheeky breezes tickle tunes from the leaves of trees; a startled stag crashes through bracken; small creatures scratch and creep; rain taps on all it can reach; branches creak; a distant storm rumbles and cracks, but this equally complex piece can be replayed some other day.

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Written for The Daily Post #Symphony

©Jane Paterson Basil

The Fog

fog

“Hereabouts, fog can come suddenly, with little warning to those who don’t know the signs. It rises from the boggy moorland, wrapping the unwary traveller in a damp mist far deeper than that which exists between waking and sleeping, and a silence drops. This silence is eerie, but you should be glad of it, for it is far safer than the sweet songs of those devils who live within the fog, stealing their sense of direction and leading them astray. You may think yourself too familiar with the landscape to be fooled, but you are wrong. Many have made that mistake, to their cost. Dan, over at Bolden farm – his folks had lived hereabouts all their lives, worked the land, knew it like the back of his sinewous hand, never strayed further than Bodmin, and yet last October he drowned in the bog just ten minutes from his home. It was a horrible sight; some animal had found him and ripped out his heart, right through his rib-cage. I tell you, he knew his way blindfold.”

While vague pictures form in my mind of the last time I saw Dan alive – on a night rather like this, in this same bar room – old Albert pauses for another sup from the tankard which has been refilled and laid quietly on the table. A creeping unease causes the landlord of The Shrinking Fox to keep Albert’s tankard filled to the brim. There’s no charge, no comment from the landlord, and no thanks from Albert.

Although Albert is undoubtedly old, it’s hard to fix my mind on his likely age, since his features seem to change, his wrinkles blurring and travelling across his face, his nose growing bulbous and then shrinking in the dimming light. Whenever I try to focus, it feels as if the fog of which he speaks has entered my brain.

Seems like I’ve been hearing his stories ever since I was old enough to drink in the Shrinking Fox, and yet when I try to remember the last time I saw Albert, my thoughts slip away from me. He draws me back into this story and I’m unsure of whether I’ve heard it a hundred times before, or if this is the first telling.

Albert slowly puts down his drink, and glances at the eight men in the room. All eyes are on him, as his listeners wait. Satisfied that he has our attention, he continues:

“Even dogs get lost in the fog. Next day they’ll be found with their hearts ripped out – always the hearts, never any other part. It’s the work of the Devil, I tell you.”

I feel a chill, and glancing toward the window, I see the grey fog swallow the world outside. Even the stunted apple tree whose closest branch scratches at the flyblown glass is concealed, save for one immobile twig which touches the glass, pointing, like a warning finger, towards the listeners inside. I briefly focus on that word, ‘warning’, before turning back towards Albert, who’s gone silent. He’s looking at the fog, and the other watchers have followed his gaze. A dismayed “Oh,” comes from the youngest man in the room – he’s only a boy, really, and I fancy I see Albert eyes flash, hungrily, and the hint of a cruel smile… but no, it’s my imagination.

Again, I wonder why I know so little about this man who is so familiar to me. Where does he live? Does he have family, and have I really seen him before, or only dreamed of him? His voice brings my attention back to the present.

“They’ll be out tonight,” he says, gruffly. “It’s a good thing you all live in the village, where you’ll be safe. They never venture this close to human habitation.”

We must all have been holding our breath. The quiet room fills up with relieved sighs, then we look at young Cyril, catching his pale face, hearing a strangled sound issue from his throat. We look away quickly. None of us wants to offer to walk with him to his home. It’s almost two miles away, and Albert’s talk has us all on edge.

Albert is the one brave man among us. Putting us to shame, he turns a gnarled, but kindly face in Cyril’s direction, and says:

“Come on, lad, I’ll get you safely home. I’m the oldest person hereabouts. I’ve heard the devils that live in the fog. They’ve not harmed me, and I have no fear of them. They’ve given up on these old bones.”

Albert is right; we’ll come to no harm as long as we’re in the village, but all the same, to a man, we stand up and follow Albert and Cyril out through the door, and walk close behind him until we reach our homes. By the time I get to my place, there are only the three of us left. I say goodnight and go quickly indoors, before Albert and Cyril have had time to walk away.

The next day, Cyril’s mother finds his body in a boggy area near where she lives; a bloody hole where his heart should be. I keep running through the events of the previous evening, and every time, self-disgust washes over me. I don’t remember much, but I know that we all left the Shrinking Fox together, and I clearly recall everyone else going into their homes, until only he and I were left, then young Cyril walked all alone into the murderous fog. I should have gone with him. I could have steered him safely home – although, with his knowledge of the moors, I can’t understand how he got lost.

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Cyril’s been gone for over a year now. For a while people stayed indoors in the evenings, huddled safely away from their superstitions, but the landlord has whitewashed the bar-room in the Shrinking Fox and it looks more cheerful these days. Maybe that’s why he has more customers. It’s back to the way it used to be, with Albert sitting at the table, reeling out yarns, making us all uneasy. Seems like I’ve seen him here a hundred times before, but I can’t remember when. He takes a drink, surveys the room to make sure he still has everyone’s attention, and he continues:

“Even dogs get lost in the fog. Next day they’ll be found with their hearts ripped out – always the hearts, never any other part. It’s the work of the Devil, I tell you.”

The room dims. Looking through the window, all I can see is grey fog. All eyes follow mine.  One of the men, James – who lives way outside the village – gulps nervously. I fancy I see a hungry look in Albert eyes, and the hint of a cruel smile… but no, it’s my imagination.

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Written for The Daily Post #Foggy

©Jane Paterson Basil

A Different Poem

You aimed your insipid quill at my head,
scratching for glib metaphoric descriptions of shallow waters,

scribbling ill-conceived inaccuracies
while your bitter heart
flattered you with fairy tales of poetic skill,

piddling insults on exercise paper
with the optimistic aid of a gold-plated pen,

pretending Dylan depth
where only an inch of silt sprawled.

Have your short-shrift eyes ever stared into a clear sky,
while you pondered your dimensions,

Have you held a silvery moon in your hands,
and just for one instant, did its supreme beauty
sweep away the stench of snarling beasts,

have you reached for a penny to feed your soul,
felt it slither between your fingers,
seen it plummet to the chasm beneath your feet,
and felt yourself slide.

have you spooned tatters of fading glitter into your heart
just to keep it beating,
even as your head fought a call for six feet of crushing soil,

have you asked the question, and heard silence in reply,
and did you find your way to the next chapter
through a tangled network of collapsing tunnels.

Have you safely reached a clearing filled with spring fragrance,
and known that you were only a guest in this calm haven,
resting for the next leg of your journey.

Did you breathe deeply of the clean air,
and appreciate the fragrance of wild rose and meadowsweet,
fixing your mind on the vision of delight
while mud sucked at your feet.

Did you.

If, since your last effort,
you have travelled in my vicinity,
I give you permission to write a different poem
about me.

Written for The Daily Post #Shallow

©Jane Paterson Basil