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

Happy land

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did you find that place?
glimpsed so clear and clean in the split-second
when you tripped from doubt to decision
so clear and clean that you could almost feel the
toothpaste-tingle as your lips stretched across your teeth

did you find that happy land?
where the wraps from yesterdays tricks and treats
have been blown from your soul and into the bin
where hope has been reborn and grown
(deep rooted like a noble oak) to become reality

did you find that place?
did you stagger, did you crawl, to reach it?
did you cry out for mercy or relief?
rolling in you own vomit, odour of the devil’s shit up your nose, curled up stretched out writhing cramping agony, aches through every inch of you thinking it’s big so big like the planet like the Universe nothing but this this is all there is brain screaming out its need brain screaming for release screaming for
one
last
pinprick
that little pinprick would take away the pain
did you give in?
or did you reach that happy land?

did you reach that place?
did you escape your prophesied fate?
or do you still die a little every day?

©Jane Paterson Basil

Missing you – for Laura

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missing you
is a colourless statis
a bland taste on the tongue
a distant white noise
echoing in my ears

memories of the life we shared crowd me
seeking attention
the fine dust of yesteryear floats in stagnant air
settling on me as my sights dim
into the endlessness of missing you

missing you, even as you sit here
drinking coffee, struggling to engage,
your numb fingers twitching,
frayed from their tenuous grip on a thin thread.
I’ve witnessed each agonising inch-by-inch effort
to climb out of addiction, and every slip,
as with crimson, blood-slick hands
your tragic spirit sinks.

I long to rescue you, but rescue is not an option
so I will kiss the fog that surrounds you.
I will whisper soft words of love and free them to the wind
that they may get caught in the eye of your storm
and like dandelion seeds, take root and bloom
filling in the existential cracks that childhood couldn’t mend
healing the cuts and rips of an accidental life
but if they lie fallow,
I shall spend the rest of my days
missing you

©Jane Paterson Basil

Fucking drugs

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Ok,
so you’re what, thirteen?
fifteen? seventeen?
and it’s cool to swear
well I don’t fucking care
you can fucking swear all day
because I’m here to fucking stay
and you can fucking spit on the fucking pavement
if you really fucking must though I really fucking hate it.
you can yell fucking sexist, ageist, racist names
as you walk a-fucking-way
you are only fucking young and it’s just your fucking way
but don’t do fucking drugs and
don’t do heroin

I don’t know your history – you may have lost your sister
your father may have raped you, your mother may have blamed you
your brother may have beat you, you may have hated school
or none of the above. maybe you were loved
and nurtured from the start, but you just like to party
maybe you’ve seen your friend gouching with relief
as she bled from the tip of a needle
and you think it’s an escape from your boredom or hell
’til you wake up slouching in a filthy toilet cell
your hair draped around the sticky lavvy bowl
stale piss sinking through your joggers and your soul
while the blood from your sad vein slowly drips
and you know that pretty soon you’ll need another hit
so you get on the streets to beg or shoplift
or sell your wriggling body for another fucking hit
and your so-called friends don’t give a fucking shit
‘cos they’re not real friends and they all need a hit
you’re stealing and scheming and trawling the streets
and you’re rattling and hurting from your head to your feet
and you look like shit and you smell like shit
and you feel like shit but you can’t fucking shit
because the dirty brown slush has twisted your guts
and it won’t let you shit
and you’re fucking fucking bloated by fucking fucking shit
and suddenly the ritual
makes you feel sick
but you need another hit
so don’t do fucking drugs, and don’t do heroin
you can find a fucking cleaner way to do yourself in
or if you want an alternative
you can find a better way to live

©Jane Paterson Basil

But you can’t hear me

you never give, you just take
while my aching soul wonders
how many heartaches make too late
I can’t find the formula for this equation
and anyway, I lost count of the many occasions
you both made me suffer
and now it hurts too much to concentrate
my heart strains and I feel I may suffocate
there are times when I think I hate you
but I know it’s just frustration
I try to be what the two of you need
but you want oblivion without the dearth of death
you don’t care about me, only the things I can be for you
you hound me when you need someone to lean on, to feed from
you take as many pieces of me as you can carry
then you’re out of reach ’til you need something else
everyone has an opinion
some say I should cut you both loose
while others say I shouldn’t desert you, I mustn’t lose you
but I lost you years ago, and now I’m not certain who you are
and I just want the pain to go
or at least to shrink to a familiar ache
but it weighs me down, steals marrow from my bones
dehydrates me, makes the blood flow sluggish in my veins
I faint, I hyperventilate, I shake, my skin creeps
and when I wake to find I am still alive
I know I have been grinding my teeth while I was sleeping
I forget to meditate to ease the strain
I’m sick from the grieving
but, hey, why am I complaining?
It’s not me who is the victim of addiction
and, as you are always telling me
I haven’t
a clue
what
it’s like
to be
you

©Jane Paterson Basil

Legacy

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they used to act crazy and they said they didn’t care
about the state of their clothes or the cut of their hair
but their jeans had to flare and their locks were always long
and their colour-clashing fashion style was never wrong
their music was appealing, though it wasn’t the kind
you could write without the aid of a pill to shape the mind

they looked looked down their noses at those who had cash
their ashtrays overflowed with wacky baccy ash
they’d float up the road in their long drooping skirts
dragged down by the weight of the grey roadside dirt
they said they wanted freedom, they said they wanted peace
but a lot of them just wanted to score some LSD

the best of them were present at important demonstrations
while the rest of them confined themselves to cliched remonstrations
they complained about the bread-heads, the straights and the dole
they didn’t think that they should have to take a working role
so they sat in cosy corners in a muttering clutch
making ignorant remarks that didn’t help much

they were young and the world pulsed under their feet
and they thought it would dance to their youthful heartbeat
but you can’t change the world when you haven’t a clue
about what is the right and the wrong thing to do
you can’t change the world to fit your shoes
you can try if you like, but you’re bound to lose

the best of them examined the world as it turned
changing their course through the lessons they learned
looking for ways to make the world a better place
for the birds, beasts and fishes, and the human race
or simply settling down to an average life
with house, job, two kids and a husband or wife

and what of the hippies that they left behind
who lived for themselves and chose to be blind?
their years went by in a chemical haze
and sometimes they’d shuffle in a glass-eyed daze
down to the shops to pick up some fags
their psychedelic clothing reduced to rags

every so often an old friend will say
“so-and-so died in the hospital today
he should have been placed on suicide watch
goodness knows where he got that match
but he started a fire and he lay on the bed
they tried to save him, but he wound up dead.”

some of them found heroin and some found crack
some died from overdose or heart attack
some of them are locked in a psychiatric ward
the ones who kept their freedom are all getting bored
sitting in a chair with a warm cup of tea
trying to pull a tenner from fifty p.

we’re the predecessors of the current youth
and it’s time we admitted to the difficult truth
for fifty years the drug disease has been growing
while half the world ignored the seeds that it was sowing
the present generation is the most affected yet
all of us are shocked, but what did we expect?

(reposted from my mother blog Making it Write)

©Jane Paterson Basil

She left snowdrops

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she sends innocent looking texts
begging my attention,
with overblown love, extravagant kisses,
oft repeated claims of how she longs to see me,
and how much she misses me;
her written words sometimes timerous,
occasionally belligerant,
but more often tinted with simulated humility;
when I reply she frequently ignores me.

yesterday she left snowdrops.

she loves me with an unquenchable thirst,
which may be behind her desire to destroy me.
what better way to do the deed,
and at the same time, to repay a world that she feels
should have been designed to hug her figure,
than to tear down her own walls?

but she left snowdrops,
freshly picked, outside my door.

as the months stretch, my grief sometimes recedes
as if she were already dead, but each time it hits,
the wounds gapes, stretching a further inch.

she left snowdrops;
fragrant snowdrops, promising spring,
and fresh beginnings.

I get regular reminders of her damaging acts,
her statements to the law, exempt from facts;
false allegations of rape and abuses,
directed at any man who finally refuses
to satisfy her single-minded aim
by filling her collapsing, greedy veins,
and anyone who’s kind enough to care,
will quickly fall into her snare.
her former beauty has long since fled,
so she sells ugliness and shame instead;
there are plenty of men with sordid tastes;
mysogenistic types with a longing to abase.
but she left snowdrops;

snowdrops, shy, downcast, not quite meeting my eye,
fragrant snowdrops, promising spring
and fresh beginnings.

I hear her pleas,
recognise her ancient needs,
but fear her stammering serenade,
which precedes unreasonable demands
to become aquainted with her fantasies,
to follow her down greasy alleys
and to watch her shrink,
until she is no more
than withered skin.

she left snowdrops;
snowdrops, radiating white innocence,
snowdrops, shy, downcast, not quite meeting my eye,
fragrant snowdrops, promising spring
and fresh beginnings.

she always hoped that one day,
she’d emerge from her imagined chrysalis
to find she was the most adorable butterfly
in a meadow full of plants aching to feel her weight,
where she would flirtatiously flutter,
gracing only the loveliest of blooms with a kiss,
leaving each one blushingly longing for her return.
but the drugs carried my daughter away,
all that remains is the ghost
of tired habit.

so she left snowdrops,
my beloved, lost child left snowdrops at my door,
pale, dripping tears.

(Written January 2016. Edited April 2016.)

©Jane Paterson Basil