Advice for Entrepreneurs

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I found this nasty little rhyme lurking amongst my unpublished poems, and rather than have it rubbing up against my classier work – or maybe to prove, yet again, that I have no shame – I’m posting it:

If you wanna make a livin’ from sellin’ stuff
you’re likely to discover that the competition’s tough,
so let me recommend that you specialise –
and here’s an additional piece of advice:
if you’re gonna sell kidneys and eyes from donors
get signed agreements from the spare-part owners –
and a couple o’ tips I learned a little too late;
be cautious when selecting their final fate
and don’t take their organs before they are dead;
Mum was vexed to encounter Grandpa Fred
with gaping holes where his twinklers used to be
when she took up his mornin’ cup of tea.

But if your best-laid plans don’t go so well
There’s a spare cot squattin’ my prison cell.

©Jane Paterson Basil

Flight

crumbling wall2a

Words
press to be recognised,
to be lined up, tied up, tidily scribed;
ravenous rhyme kidnaps time
compelling me to skip to a distant dungeon
whose begrudging light
fumbles through a fault in a crumbling wall.
I close my eyes,
shrouding the dim glint
that fights the colours of the verse,
clipping the wings of the rhyme.
Words flutter in my imbibing mind,
shuffling and shifting until the picture fits;
until phrases are fixed into divine designs
and I write, I write.

Sometimes
I squeeze through the gap
and fly back
to my life.

 

©Jane Paterson Basil

I apologise for my continuing absence; when I write, I lose all sense of time, all memory of appointments to keep – and lately there’s been a lot going on in my life. I’m finding it necessary to stay away from the blogs, since reading them causes oe same problem and also weakens my resolve to avoid writing. The words still crowd my brain; clustering themselves into metaphors and floating into rhyme, but I try to ignore them. For the moment, I need to stay focused on my various plans and activities.

As the late, great Tony Benn said when he lost his seat in parliament at the time of Thatcher’s destructive rule: I’ll be back…

©Jane Paterson Basil

I am a Terrible Poet

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Those of you who know me will be aware that I don’t usually enter writing competitions. This is not due to modesty or fear of failure, since there is one contest that I often submit to; the prestigious Terrible Poetry Contest. The main rule of the game is that the poem must be deliberately terrible. Any poet worth his/her salt can enter – and perhaps win – The Gregory O’Donohue International Poetry Competition or The Oxford Brookes International Poetry Competition, but I ask you: which of those excellent poets would have the courage to compete in Chelsea’s Terrible Poetry Contest, and how well would they fare? Eh? Eh?

My efforts have finally paid off: Along with one other Terrible Poet, I won last week’s Terrible Poetry contest! Between you, me and the other two people who accidentally stumbled onto this post, it’s my second win, but the first win – although a triumph of sorts – carried a little less weight, since the judges announced that all of the poems submitted were equally terrible, and awarded the prize to all of us. This resulted in a crisis of confidence; some of the submitted poems looked quite good to me… were our poems genuinely Terrible, or were they all embarrassingly so-so? I needed to try harder. I needed to WIN.

I tried – I tried so hard. At first my efforts were all in vain. My poems just weren’t Terrible enough. One heartless reader even remarked that she didn’t think I was capable of writing a Terrible poem! It cuts, it cuts deep…

This time I was determined to take the cup, so I submitted four poems. I like to think my win was down to merit, rather than my overbearing persistence, although, to be frank, I don’t think the chosen poem was the most terrible of the quartet.

I proudly present my award, with grateful thanks to Chelsea, who hosts the crazy Terrible Poetry Contest:

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and these are all four poems:

A Helping Hand (the winning entry)

Poor Willie said
he wished he was dead.
I wished the same
so I took aim.

Dragon

If I described the beat of its wings descending to the ground,
the claws, the teeth, the flames that brought Willie down,
It would sound like a lie, even silly,
Alas, poor Willie.

Who, Me?

I told him not to smoke your fags
and why would I dip his glad-rags
in paraffin? It wasn’t me, dad.
Can I have Willie’s iPad?.

Willie’s Mayo

Willie loved red, he dreamed of red
and all the thoughts inside his head
he drew on walls in crimson crayon
(He even mixed brightest red into mayon-
Naise). While dripping red ink in a nearby well
he tripped, and heavily, in he fell.
As from the depths his corpse was raised,
Willie’s bloodied skull left his mother unfazed.
“I see he’s rejecting the red from his head
so it’s OK to chuck out his mayo,” she said.

©Jane Paterson Basil

Time Bomb

 

time_arrest

Police should arrest pernickety time;
prevent it repeating its pattern of crime;
packing silk purses with dust and grime,
it gives us the reason but meters the rhyme,
controlling the second, the hour, the date,
never adjusting its pendulous rate,
declining to speed, or to hesitate;
while rivers and kisses condensate
its fingers keep flicking the image along.
This devious, silently ticking bomb
shunts us onward until we are gone,
bossily chiming, yet deaf to the song.

©Jane Paterson Basil

Elusive

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Surely, as poetry is art,
all art is poetry.
Sculptors take chisels to stone,
fingers to clay, mobilising
both lobes as they strive to describe
the depth, the expanse of
a moment, an emotion; the core
that glows beneath the folds. Some
chip fragrant flakes from seasoned oak
until its hills and plains
mirror the original. They shave and sand,
blowing away the chaff, seeking
to make fake flesh
speak, since oaken eyes
tell no secrets.

I write poetry,
crossing the lines,
scribing codes in the gaps,
forever frisking my id for empathic bracket.
Like archaeologists scratching
for the missing link, I scrabble
to unearth the divine simile,
the kicking metaphor which fits
neatly between two ribs.

Ragging the rug that muffles distress,
coaxing discrete hues to connect,
I raise splintered tools, wincing
as they graze old skin,
then, dipping historic nibs into new ink
I sketch bleached bones, blood, beauty
and scraps of truth
in half-baked quest
to net
the elusive absolute.

©Jane Paterson Basil

Untangling Stickleback Stanzas

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Its noble claim:
this book contains
the best
contemporary English poems.
It had to be worth a look.

Clipped,
lyrical, precisely cryptic, cryptically vague,
scissor-clever; most impressive, and yet
beneath the gleam of spit
I sensed laboured hints of shifty contrivance;
a vexing, pretentious lilt,
like a mirror betraying a conjuring trick

or paint
patiently brushed over each

perceived weakness. until
what was 
conceived;
that which was described in the
first instance;
a unique vision, trapped in innocence as if
by a planned camera click, becomes
lost,
the picture perverted,
titian hair, simpering skin, gone,
bloom faded,
eyes which blurted blowsy secret
inadvertently conveyed,
are buried, flesh, spirit and intent veiled
beneath a fabrication
of neatly picked, broken bones…

or maybe she was born that way;
pickled by the juice of the womb.

and though it’s exultant,
something is strangled, something strained,
something writhes behind the swaggering frame;
Swallowing sod, the beast sighs, and none can say
which tale is more wild, which picture more tame.

Yet
their confidence-stripping,
pricked puffball trip
infected me,
ripping away my certainty.
Like a pip that aches to grow roots, I
ached to write red-razor lines,
so I imitated a contemporary English gait,
throwing metronomes at roller coasters,
watching them fly and sink,
cutting holes in each swing, creating
meaningful, senseless phrases and filling my pages with gaping spaces and juxtaposing tones and textures and experimenting and seeking and finding and keenly recycling incomprehensible disused words and musing and using and boldly misusing and cruising and crisscrossing mimsy and monster material concepts and minimising and absurdly seeking to decode the trends and wooing the trends and fighting the trends and clashing and buckling and trashing the trends and trying and to stew fresh new trends and describing in cunningly twisted code designed to leave the reader scratching his head failing to understand the message
that
the quickness of the hand deceives the eye.

I curled slick verse around my tongue
till it curdled, making me sick.

Lost in the picking
ticking
stickleback trap
of a mythical English mist
I lay down to rest
and as I slept my stanzas untangled.
I resolved to be free of my poked faux-poetry;
the land that raised me will not define me;
tonight I lay my freckled head
on the temperate, hybrid zone
between abstract abyss
and level reality.

To paraphrase:

I stretch my legs on an English lawn
as I sip my sweet  English tea,
but no English dawn will find me reborn
as an English contemporary;
this English rose grows alien thorns
so I’ll stick with writing like me

tiddly-pom.

©Jane Paterson Basil

Reborn

sky-sun

Calamitous clouds break
beneath weight of water.
Pewter hues of grief
enshroud meek June skies.
Swathes of rain
imbue unready heads.
Precipitation raps vain threats
of devastation on the roof,
yet clears my vision, rinsing smudged specks
from windows that protect.

Soon, the sun will shine,
brightening the light
which plays in this heart of mine;
reflecting my reborn rays.

©Jane Paterson Basil