Just a kid

when it visited your street you were just a kid –
flying kites, swimming in the sea
eating cake with your sister
fighting over who had the biggest slice –
you were just a kid
too steeped in your innocent life
to take an interest in your neighbour’s strange sickness

when they spoke of Addiction you were just a kid
your questioning eyes flitted towards the window
taking in hastily built bars and an anguished face within
mouth screaming for release, pleading for one last hit
you turned from his shame and you said
Why does he do it?
It doesn’t make sense. How silly can he be.
behind you, your mother sighed her relief
but you were just a kid
you’d only just put away your plastic fire engine
your Pokamon cards, your Superman suit
you had far to travel
before adolescence stole your wit.

she slithers through unresisting skin
racing through veins to swallow your brain,
fitting in place, taking you, flooding you with golden nectar
so close, so close, but never quite as you remember her
never the roundness, the ecstacy of that first kiss
she keeps her distance by an inch
like a femme fatale with one eye on her next victim
like a siren singing you to her side to see you die
you know her love is exempt
but you need her to survive
you need her though she has robbed you
of friends, family and pride,
and next she may take your life

so many times you’ve tried to leave
with gritted teeth you’ve begged for your release
angered, she squeezed you as you writhed
holding tight until you agreed
to yet another parting hit

©Jane Paterson Basil

Like Judas

Weeks of running, chasing the tail of crack and smack, the opposing demon siblings. Dodging police, each narrow miss another weight on him. Paranoia, like a fever, seizing him, flinging him into prickly bushes; chasing him across lines of fast traffic, pushing him to scale walls, scrape his shins, fall; leading him to muddy waters, dunking him.

If the police didn’t get him
he’d grow too weak to swim.
He would sink.

I prepared his last supper, and, like Judas, I attended, smiling while he tasted; chewed; passed compliments on the food, all the while assessing his pitiful condition: face and hands cut and bruised; ripped jeans stained where the blood had seeped through.
I looked at his eyes, hooded by brows that I had not designed, pupils working overtime; taking in the room; flicking to the curtained window – his tormented mind visualising police in the darkened street.

Judas did it with a kiss, but in this age of technology I did it with a click. My text sent, its single word a simple request beginning a short chain of events resulting in a tense knot of uniforms beyond my door.

As the handle turned, my heart churned, altering the shape of my fear, but offering no relief.

a
six
year
prison
sentence
was expected.
it felt like
eons,
like
f
o
r
e
v
e
r

The police were kind; they gave him time to say goodbye. I looked into his face and recognised the child I’d raised who’d filled my soul with love and pride – I’d thought that child had died, but suddenly, as if he’d been baptized, arrest had cleansed him of his sins, sloughed away the years of filth the drugs had left behind. The feeling of grief and loss redoubled, splintering beneath my ribs. Pity dripped into my soul. I had to fight to hide my tears: crying wouldn’t ease his journey to the cells. When we parted, a brave smile clung unconvincingly to my twitching lips.

My eyes stayed dry;
I didn’t shake; I didn’t hit the floor –
until I heard that final sound –
the slamming
of the
door

This post was inspired by a heartrending post on grieving and healing mothers. My poem tells of an event that occurred over two years ago, and is therefore no more or less than a part of my history. My son was arrested and imprisoned in March 2014. He received a thirty month prison sentence – far less than was expected, and has since been released on licence on three occasions, only to be returned each time for infringing his licence agreement. He will remain in prison until September, after which time his sentence will be over.