Armour

armour1

.

I loved you

with a mother’s heart,

thinking my love could save you,

but I was a fool, slave to your determination,

lost in your control from the start.

Your supremacy has been hacked away,

but you still have the power

to cut me apart.

.

Liquid armour

sweats through your skin,

your skillfully smelted weapons rust,

corroded by a war that you could never win.

You sought cheap freedom from pain

but found yourself in chains,

battle-scarred limbs

weakly reaching to steal alms

from scattered compadres and thieves.

.

Once the lady of deceit

soared through clean veins

bringing laughter and a peaceful relief,

your inner warnings melting on a sticky spoon,

your synapses giggling in denial of disease.

.

Did you feel that moment

when the switch flicked from want to need?

Did it creep up silently, like age sneaked up on me,

Or did it swipe you like lightening from behind?

.

Every vow to stay clean

Fades as it encounters your frowzy face.

The lady will not be disobeyed.

.

What think ye of thine armour now,

my beloved, struggling son?

.

©Jane Paterson Basil

Banned

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You know it’s a disease
but you treat it like a crime;
you hurl them into prison
and you make them do their time.
You never care to help them,
you just draw a broken line,
and drop them on the street again
pretending they’ll be fine.

The jails are full to bursting
with those you call convicts
but most of them are nothing more
than desperate drug addicts.
They’re not hardened criminals,
but people who are sick.
They don’t wish to harm you,
they just need another fix.

So treat it as an illness,
please try to understand
a pandemic of addiction
is raging through the land.
You politicians know the truth
but will not lend a hand;
how can we hope to help these folk
while this disease is banned?

©Jane Paterson Basil

Whirling Dervish #2

Archive #6
February 6, 2016 – seems like a distant, horrible dream.

 

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She’s done it this time;
cut off her sticky road to death
with a silly drug theft.

Already she has caned her stolen cache
grabbed less than a week ago; a four-day binge
and now she’s finished, a pariah, hated for what she did.
She’s robbed the only one left who would give her
not only the time of day, but drugs for free.
there is no-one to turn to, even if
she had the money to pay.

Today
I feel little pity
even for my sick children
who sit carefully apart,
each sunk in their
own, individual
rock-bottom
hell.

My son
looked at the sky,
saw a light, but he let it escape,
and went back to familiar tricks and lies.
My daughter sits atop a mountain of fear and pain,
in a stinking, vomit-strewn room, wriggling, retching;
with no straw to grab, she clutches her liquid stomach.
She stole the last straw, and it broke the dealer’s back.

Her only option may be rehabilitation.

I must not dwell on her agony, only on the hope
that she will soon be free within her mind;
although in three days her body
may be transported
to jail.

Determined to deny
my aching weight of pain
I force the faintest wry smile across my face.
My whirling dervish has committed a deluge of terrible crimes
against family, friends, enemies, those she loves, those she hates
and those to whom she is indifferent. They litter her history
in various states of health and decomposition,
but my daughter is to be punished
for the crime of shoplifting
and failing to abide
by the court’s
decision.

<> <> <>

©Jane Paterson Basil

I Want You to Know

Archive #5

September 12, 2016

I want you
who feel unravelled
by your children’s addictions,
to hear me, and remind yourself:
“She survives, and so will I.”

I want you to know
there is life after
that day

~

that frozen moment
when black pain spilled into your brain

seeping through your veins like opiate’s antithesis
and you became a breathless ball of loss, falling to the floor
whimpering hot liquid half-finished prayers
to a deity you’re not sure you believe in
and you felt so alone

~

I want you to know,
while your bones freeze,
and your heart screams,
and while you beg
for relief from
fearful
agony

— I want you to know —
though it may hit you over and over,
sweep you into a clawing tornado of terror
— I want you to know, and to bear in mind —
you can rise from it every time,
and you can smile,
even laugh again.

I want you to know
that your life is precious,
and I want you to gain solace
from this simple knowledge:

you are not alone.

<> <> <>

©Jane Paterson Basil

The Dark Lane

Archives #4

April 2 2017
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“Later,” I heard you say.
Turning, you walked down the dark lane.
I watched as the numbers on the clock changed,
eating minutes, hours, days.

Years went by,
then, “Soon,” you cried,
and turned to walk again down the dark lane.

Your last word was “Tomorrow,”
spoken with confidence and hope.
I reached for you,
crying, “Today, please, today,”
but you turned away
to take one last walk down the dark lane.

Your clock stopped,
leaving memories of a lost embrace,
the deathly echo of a promise made too late,
and nightmares of a dark lane.

.

In memory of all the lives which have been stolen by addiction.

©Jane Paterson Basil

Archives 3. Map

March 4, 2017

maps

We all have our own, personalised maps, which we carry in our heads. Red and green roads leading to doctor, family or shops may stand out from the rest, these destinations painted in gold, grey and red, radiating from the place where we live. As we age, the world moves on in jagged stages, and the trails may change.

Addicts have maps, too. Ten years ago, two of my children displayed theirs, waving them in my face, their ash-stained digits tracing narrow, blackened tracks for me, gazing with sinking-unblinking-blinkered-blinded-pinprick-pupilled eyes, eyes which failed to see their fall, or the festering fissure that yawned each time they entered my chest.

The creases of the pocked pages of their maps made a smudged and faded cross in the middle of the paper, and that cross marked the spot that gave me unlikely hope. It was the abode of E.

Like many, E. had his sad history. As an illiterate kid, he’d assumed that when he grew, his feet would fit into his father’s shoes. His father would teach him the specialised trade that he practiced, and the people in his little world would gaze in awe. He would be made; in his own eyes, he would be an idol, like his dad was to him. While he was still in his teens, his father died, leaving E. helplessly clinging to the scarred fingers of his suffering, sole surviving parent, as he swung one inch above an open hole.

His own hands, slick with sweat and tears, slipped, and he fell, readily descending into the well of addiction. When my children met him, he was in the depths of that hellish pit, eating needles and rocks, and beginning to think there may be better nutrition at the surface.

E. spoke to them, and later, to me, of recovery. Though they weren’t yet ready for the pain of healing, he had planted seeds in their brains. Later still, I met him on a hill. He was clean, and he said it had been easy. He’d put on weight, and got a dog, a black whippet, to keep him company. From then on, whatever shape he may be, when I sighted his canine friend, I knew he’d be nearby.

For a long while, my children danced in the dark, down where hollowed-out passages lead them to their punctured desires.

Meanwhile, E. looked down, nostalgic for the closest thing to comfort he could recall. This time, he jived to his decline, ignoring the facts of it, chasing the cackling witch of addiction, tasting her many flavours, licking his lips, greedy for the next tickle in his nose, the next explosion of the brain. Speed, cocaine and spice; banned drugs and legal highs of of every kind, while he told himself:

“At least it isn’t heroin.”

As my children slowly rose, raggedly climbing over craggy stones and sly shale, sliding, then climbing again, they met E. several times, going down.

I watched my two, and I reached, while they were yet out of reach, until I saw they were scarring my heart, and in doing so, tearing their own souls. So I stood back, crying, “Here I am. Find me in your own time. Come to me when you hunger for love and not for drugs. Come to me, not for money, or to sully my truth, but free from the uncouth devil that charms you, holds you in her sticky arms. Come, let me to stroke your sore feet.Feel my warm hands on your face. Come to me for a smile or an embrace.”

Their sinking-unblinking-blinkered-blinded-pinprick-pupilled eyes gazed, glazed. Agonised requests stuttered from across the caked terrain. They begged for sharp things, for painkilling murder in the veins. They begged for death, diluted in the blood.

Every time I saw E., he would look at me, eager, shifty, from the edge of the abyss, his arms  battling with Saint Vitus dance – but losing, his loose, drooling lips speaking through frowsy, chemical haze “I am clean, Jane, see, I am clean.”

My children peruse the bright, speckled lanes, marking out new trails on their maps. Laura, thrilled with her pristine plan, takes me on brief excursions down spingtime highways, pointing out primroses, softly smiling, soaking in sunshine, her lovely eyes holding mine, as they silently describe love, regret, compassion, and hope.

Paul knows that if he shows me a roadmap, I’ll suspect it’s stolen, so he keeps it folded, and stays away from my desgner rage, designed to keep the wolf at bay. This could be a good sign, but I shall not waver from my decision to stay distant until I feel safe.

Today, I got a text from Laura. “Hi mum. U want to come ova? xxx” My reply was followed by “How about 5 o’clock. Love u lots. xxx”

I looked into the cavernous hole below. Neither of my children did I see, just a man with a black dog; a whippet. I didn’t immediately recognise the guy; he’d lost weight, but I knew the dog immediately.

I went into my kitchen to make coffee. From my window, I could see E. waiting in the rain, waiting impatiently, pacing, waiting at the bottom of that yawning cave, waiting, waiting, for his dealer who lives in a flat – marked with X in the rusty colour of old blood, on E.’s crumpled map – a block away from me.

Beneath gratitude for the new hope given to me, I feel sorrow and pity for E.,who planted the seeds of recovery in my offsprings’ heads, so long ago, when even the echoes of my own laughter had become a distant longing. I watched him on the incline, climbing so much faster than those tied to my womb, and I saw him topple and tumble back into the pit. I saw him crumble beneath the weight of hollow air. I felt the void that his father wrote, with ink that wasn’t there,  his dead fist limp in the grave, unable to grip a pen that wasn’t anywhere.

©Jane Paterson Basil