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.

Happy land

oak123456.jpg

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

dandelion-1379865_960_720.jpg

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

To prevent him from dying

Lying in late this morning, because it’s Sunday, because I can, because I feel like it, because, just because… my mind drifting in luxury, dirty breakfast dishes beside me, waiting to be washed.

When I hear the knock on a door I’m unsure if it’s my door, so I ignore it until I hear it again. I look through the frosted glass pane to see a man waiting.

He’s roughly as tall as Paul, has short hair and a similar build, and there’s no way I’ll let Paul in, so I bolt the security chain, then open the door enough to see two policemen looking at me.

I smile my relief, and say, Sorry, I thought you were my son, then I release the chain and let them in.

One of them flashes his ID and asks; Is your son with you?

It would be rude to mention that as I thought he had been outside my door, he’s unlikely to this side of it.

He points to the trainers on the floor and says “Are these his shoes?”

“No, they’re mine,” I reply.

He says “Oh! It’s just that they look very big.”

Thank you kind sir, yes, now that you mention it, I do have big feet, but they’re healthy. Would you like to see?… I’m so taken aback that I don’t say that. I don’t even think to tell him that Paul’s feet are four sizes larger than mine.

Upon inspection it’s discovered that Paul isn’t in the kitchen, living room, bedroom or bathroom. He’s not in the utility area or the wardrobe, or hiding under blankets between the sofa and the wall, because since the last time he tried that little trick, I’ve put them away, on a high shelf. He’s not on the shelf either.

I’m being unkind, and there’s no need for it, except to nourish my sense of humour. Apart from the inadvertent remark about the shoes, both policemen are polite and respectful, and they’re trying to complete the job I’d like to see done – that of getting my son back to jail, where he’ll be safe. They’ll catch him in the end anyway, and the sooner he hits the cells the greater the damage limitation.

All afternoon the street grapevine buzzes nervously. The phones of addicts and dealers are red-hot from calls to and fro, warning each other that the police are on the prowl, going to all the houses, trying to track Paul down. No doubt those who don’t lose out will profit from the extra sales to replace drugs that have been flushed down toilets.

And me? I’m getting a few calls of the
do-you-know-where-Paul-is-because-the police-are-looking-for-him
sort, and I tell them all I know; he’s camping somewhere, laying low until he’s ready to go in, but he never will be. He’s ill because he can’t get hold of money for drugs, and judging by the glare of the sun, he’s probably at risk of sunstroke.

If he’s still at large tomorrow he will have access to money for enough drugs to accidentally kill himself. I’ve seen him on the run before, and he will have reached a state of near insanity where he has no ability to judge his tolerance, and the worst could happen.

No, I don’t know where he is. If I did there would be a police car racing towards him, pulling out all the stops, not so much because they want to cop him, more to prevent him from dying.

©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