Tag Archives: writing

You Who Read Me

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In fledgling days
when I obeyed the angle of light,

my sky side
woke at night,
describing lives I had never known,
written on stolen pages torn from school notebooks,
secrets and stories to be stored
deep in the left hand drawer.

My earth side
spun in the sunshine,
spilling glee over barn yards and fields,
dousing in streams, trailing wet jeans up beckoning trees,
and I believed that never-never land
would never ever cease, and I
would never leave,

until
it began
to recede.

And oh, how I led them,
but how flippant to treat them like geldings;
slyly watching them watch me walk a tightrope
while they safely crossed the bridge that spanned two planets,
hanging from brittle branches while they squinted against the light,
plotting to test my agility,
looking for rips in my frills while I climbed high,
slinking through twisting limbs,higher still,
rising into the pit where nothing
is green.

Slow-dancing in quicksand
until I couldn’t feel my feet.

Still, there was the writing;
words that stretched in flair and length,
eager guests in a world of turned-away faces,
approaching from nowhere, blowing kisses on my brain,
reeking of grace and sensitivity,
wafting a fragrance of sociable escapee
from false imprisonment in coventry.

In between wording times
I covered my coffin with noisy achievements.
Builders’ merchants gulped, scowling at the cheek
of this mis-gendered heretic constructing fireplaces,
mistrusting any feminine figure who fiddled
with timber and drills.

Fighting exhaustion,
I carried on weaving rainbows from straw,
filling my space with a haberdashery of tools and scrapings,
an art school of paint,
a caterer’s larder.

Neighbours sprayed my surface with praise,
hailing my zest, my skills, asking how I found the time.
I smiled enigmatically, failing to say that it kept me
from what dwelt in my head,

knowing
that nobody listened,
nobody heard.

In search of fresh cities of silence
I rented a retail space in the main street, where strangers
reached to be friends. I hid my pretence,
letting them sketch my silhouette,
splotching in the colours they could see
and tinting my flesh with wild shades of misconstrued fame.

Still, there was the writing;
words that strolled into phrases, willing to stand in line,
matching their pace, that they might aptly describe
the flight of a dust mote,
the puffball of pride.

Yet the words were unread.

I found flowers,
pressed them neatly into my smouldering heap.
Healing herbs dug roots through every layer,
my hungry space feeding their blooms.

And still, there was the writing.
Words danced quicksteps in my chest,
spinning fiction, facing facts,
linking arms to make a metaphor that said:
The best way to break free from ice
is to melt it with sweat.

Even the warmth of soil could not sway
my mental creativity.

I was told I would crash.
Years on, when collapse came,
they suggested it was age;
a natural process of winding down.

I recognised it more as a grinding down,
a sign that too much breakage had occurred,
a need to curl around the cuts.

As I kicked off the covers to roll myself tight,
my sighs rose to cries, then dwindled to whimpers, receding
until you could think it was the whisper of an overused wind
fading into the distance until even the echo
grew indistinct, leaving me
with little to fear, and nothing
to hide.

Anxiety, like concrete,
is a heavy weight to lift, but changes of life
can chip swathes of it away.

Just as I have written for survival,
I write every wrinkle of shame into history.

So,
the writing remains,
my first passion, a myriad of faithful words that float with love unending,
requesting no return, begging only
to be poetry.

It is these that saved me,
finding me, offering unfailing constancy,
giving breath where air was thin,
and finally delivering me
to you,

you who read me.

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Written  for the Word Of The Day Challenge: Sensitivity

©Jane Paterson Basil

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Fascinating!

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I’m fascinated by the small details of nature:

The way the fronds of a feather lock into place – a technique that we crudely imitate in the production of zips.

The fragile beauty of a leaf skeleton after the body has fallen away.
It’s like the complex criss-cross of lines on my youngest daughter’s hand. A palmist would have field day with Laura’s reading.

The freshly fallen fruit of the horse-chestnut tree – the spiky outer layer, the whorled pattern on the conker as it vacates its soft, fleshy womb.

Tiny green shoots emerging from the ground, illustrating the complexity of life and the miracle of survival.

When it snows, I hold my hand out and watch the soft flakes melt, although it leaves me with a fleeting feeling of sadness, like when icicles drip away to nothing.

I watch bees collecting pollen, butterflies enjoying a midsummer dance, ants pushing clods of food toward their nest, flowers breaking out of their buds, the varying species of seaweed on the seashore, seashells, and even the smallest chunks of worn-away glass and driftwood.

I am riveted by giant forces of nature, too:

The shapes and colours in the sky, at sunrise, sunset, noon and night. Each season and every mood of weather brings its own interest.

Storms excite and revitalise me. I like to be outside, with the rain pelting down, and the lightening throwing brief, dramatic images across the landscape.

Wild seas draw my attention; the sight of waves as they break, splash and crash, the music in the sound the ocean makes.

But trees are the most fascinating of all; those gentle plants with their beauty and variety, the abundance of flora and fauna they harmoniously support and live alongside, while they help to hold the planet together, clean the air and make it safe for us to breathe.

Finally, I used to get a kick out of casually observing the clumsy art of adolescent flirtation, amused by how subtle they considered themselves. For example:

A small group of girls encounters a small clutch of boys. Without warning, the girls crank their voices up a couple of notches. The boys ignore them, so the girls get louder. They say things like.

“Oh no! It’s them. I hope they haven’t seen us.”

“I don’t think so. We’d better get out of here before they do.”

If that doesn’t work, they switch to high-pitched, giggly, theatrical chatter about make-up, or they might bitch about the latest victim of spots or bad hair. Eventually the boys notice them. There’s a flicker of interest. Time to repeat “Oh no! I hope they haven’t seen us”, et al, and flounce off, weaving around a bit so that it’s easier for the boys to catch them up. Half-an-hour later, they all reappear as a single group. The girls are insulting the boys. The boys are lapping it up, although  their carefully practised lazy gait is distracting them somewhat. The girls are flapping their arms about, energetically twisting and turning. 

Job done!

It’s all changed. The progressively smutty lure of time has stolen their innocence. I prefer to close my ears to the obscenity. I’ve heard eleven year old girls claiming to have been party to sexual experiments that I have never dabbled in, and wouldn’t wish to.

Trees are sticklers for tradition. Unlike young teens, they are always discreet.

Written for Calen’s Sandbox Challenge, Exercise 10.

©Jane Paterson Basil

If you are Ginger

 

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Here in the UK, if you have ginger hair, you learn at an early age, to approach strangers gingerly.

Until they’re confronted with a head of glowing copper or titian locks, their faces don’t show whether they are gingerphiles, gingerthropes, or cringing gingerphobes.

Few folk are ginger-indifferent, so some try to knock the gingers down, deflate them, break their self esteem; and they often succeed.

Not many people know that I’m ginger, since the brightness faded away many years ago, leaving only hints of it between the blonde. So you could  accuse me of being a ginger in disguise — although that would be unfair, since I don’t deliberately hide my ginger status.

Do my blonde tresses make me acceptable to the gingerthropes of the world, or would they consider me subversive for hiding my true colours? Should I dye my hair to reveal the truth about myself, even though by doing so I would be lying about the current condition of my hair?

And why should anyone care, anyway?

Gingerphile – my word for someone who loves ginger hair.
Gingerthrope – my word for someone who hates ginger hair.
Gingerphobe – my word for someone who is afraid of ginger hair.

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©Jane Paterson Basil

Dem Bones

Although we have a few days left before the ghosts come out to play, in the spirit of All Hallows Eve, I’d like to present a short Disney animation from 1929, the year after Walt Disney created the immortal Mickey Mouse. By the time I first saw this surreal film, it must have been around for about thirty-five years, but it didn’t seem dated, since our TVs were still in black and white. Even now – almost ninety years after it was made – it still holds its appeal for me.

©Jane Paterson Basil

My First Thought

Joan Baez. That’s the first thought that comes to mind when I see or hear the word Overcome.

I could write a poem, or confess to the way I’ve been feeling lately, but the thought of Joan Baez makes anything I write about myself insignificant. She didn’t write the song, We Shall Overcome, and she wasn’t the only one to sing it – it’s been recorded many times, by many artists, and millions of people in audiences have added their voices, but she sang it for the crowd gathered on the Mall during the Civil Rights March on Washington, D.C., on August 29th, 1963, and she was still singing it in 2010, notably to Barack Obama, at the White House. After 45 years and countless repeats, this incredible woman still sang it with conviction.

I couldn’t choose between a 1965 recording and the White House one, so I give you both of them. When I listen to the first one, her voice makes me feel as if I’m going to melt, while the second one gives me goosebumps and brings tears to my eyes every time.

©Jane Paterson Basil

That Shrinking Feeling

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“Mum!”

She told me it would be dangerous to use my power lightly, but when I saw the insect just standing there in the park, I couldn’t resist shrinking so I could take a ride on the back of the fly. It was exciting, like the best fairground ride, but without the predictability. It was fun watching mum wondering where I was, and getting scared.

“Mum!”

She can’t hear me. My vocal chords are too small, and although she’s frantically looking for me, I’m too tiny to see.

I wish I’d listened when she said I was not experienced enough to reverse the effect without her help.

“Mum! MUM!”

Mum, please come and set me free, before the spider reaches me.

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Written for Michelle’s Photo Challenge #101. Click the link to join in.

©Jane Paterson Basil

Colour me

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Today, I’ve been wasting time looking for answers to questions that don’t matter much to me. I found an oojamaflip called colorquiz. on the interwhatsit.

In the site’s own words, “ColorQuiz is a free five minute personality test based on decades of research by color psychologists around the world. There are no complicated questions to answer, you simply choose colors with a click of the mouse!”

Apparently, this test is based on the work of Dr. Max Lûscher and is used worldwide, most notably in Europe, by psychologists, doctors, government agencies, and universities to screen their candidates. Since the 1950’s the test has been given to hundreds of thousands of people.

How could I resist?

My results describe a combination of the way I used to be and the way I’ve been since certain events in my life sent me crashing to my knees.

Thank you for asking; yes, my knees have recovered, although I still get the occasional twinges in other parts of my body.

Without further ado, here’s the analysis…

Oh – first I should tell you a couple of things:

1. They’re wrong about my sexual activity; these days I carefully avoid that messy occupation, and all involvements which may lead up to it. 

(Ha! My results touch on that point in the section titled “Your Stress Sources”) 

2. I have no idea why the analyser repeats that section. Maybe it’s trying to lead me astray by awakening my curiosity concerning sexual activity. 

(No chance, pal)

Here’s the analysis. I copied and pasted it, and therefore take no responsibility for any small errors.

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Your Existing Situation

“Craves change and new things, always looking for new adventures and activities. Becomes restless and frustrated when she has to wait to long for things to develop. her impatience leads to irritability and a desire to move on to the next project.”

Your Stress Sources

“Not a team player and is unwilling to be involved in most activities. In the past she was over involved and now emotionally drained. Due to her fear of over involvement, she now chooses to remain uninvolved with the activities around her. “

Your Restrained Characteristics

“Although she feels isolated and alone, she is afraid of forming deep, meaningful relationships. Is conceited and is easily offended.”

Current events have her feeling forced to make bargains and put aside her own desires for now. She is able to find satisfaction and happiness through sexual activity.

Current events have her feeling forced to make bargains and put aside her own desires for now. She is able to find satisfaction and happiness through sexual activity.

Your Desired Objective

“Highly optimistic and outgoing personality. Loves to learn new and exciting things, and craves new interests. Looking for a well-rounded life full of success and new experiences. Does not allow herself to be overcome with negative thoughts or self-doubt. Takes life head on, with enthusiasm. “

Your Actual Problem

Is afraid she will be held back from obtaining the things she wants leading her to act out with a hectic intensity.

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I’d like to run through a couple of details with which I have issues:

1. “Not a team player and is unwilling to be involved in most activities.”
If they’re going to take that attitude I can do without their help, thank you very much. I’m perfectly capable of figuring out my personality all on my own. When I finish writing this post, I’m off for my weekly game of one player, one sided hockey, and I bet I’ll win. I always do.

2. “Is conceited and is easily offended.”

Conceited? How dare they suggest such a thing. While I know I’m the most intelligent, compassionate, brave, beautiful, intuitive and considerate person on the planet, I’m also humble, and grateful to my incredible brain and my delectable body for providing me with all of these qualities. I think the analyser is jealous of me. What’s more, I’m not easily offended.

This is my honest appraisal of the analysis:

There are a couple of glaring innaccuracies. There’s the bit about sexual activity – which I’ve always tended to  find intrusive and disempowering, and this:

“Does not allow herself to be overcome with negative thoughts or self-doubt.”

Wrong! I wrote the book on self-doubt – but I didn’t have the confidence to approach a publisher.

Other than that, I can relate to the results, which suggest – quite rightly – that I’m a solitary sort.

I’m itching to try the test again, just to make sure it gives the same results – I can remember the exact order in which I selected the colours in both parts of the test.

I wonder if the compilers were/are sexist, and whether the results would be the same if I ticked the man box.

Heh heh heh…

I’m an analyser’s nightmare, and proud of it.

If you want to try the test yourself, here’s the link to colorquiz. I’d love to know how it goes.

©Jane Paterson Basil