Proof Of Life

Proof of gravity:
a child cries. Rising balloon
escaped from small hands.

Proof of pollution;
a child cries. Flimsy balloon
escaped from small hands.

Proof of abundance;
a child cries. Weekend balloon
escaped from small hands

Proof of life;
a child cries.

©Jane Paterson Basil


Rush Hour

On stuffy streets as day recedes
waste-bins spill discarded swill.
Well-fed skins in well-bred suits
wade through crow-picked sandwich packs
sweet-wrap glued to soles
of shin-buffed shoes.
Vendors turn tail when designer thieves
ditch decorum to outrank the elbowing
out-bound rush.
Commuters strap laptops on gym trained backs
to paddle down steps that sag and are speckled
with spat-out chewing gum.
Sunk in the gloomy tube the leavers weave
like honey bees to the hive
yet the hive was demolished long before
technology flew to the fore
before Guy Fawkes fell fowl of the law
before kings and paupers took to war
The hive was broken
before we chipped our first weapons from stones.

Grime chases motoring escapees;
filth silts bonnets that shone last Sunday
grey covers grey covers faded grey
on a plumbers battered van whose rear
bears timeless finger-scribbled hint:
“Please clean me”, it quasi-politely invites.

White lines across one-way lanes
defy fiery drivers to break highway rules
so they usually wait at ruby lights
though they ache to speed away.
Widows and singles, mothers and sons
racers and cruisers, winners and losers
of a million hungry games, all
sitting in in triple queue
at the lights
impatient for later to arrive
with kisses and drinks and cushions and food.
Thumbs drumming snippets of brain-numbing tunes
they wait for each set of lights
to change
hoping the next will be kind.

Beneath fudged city sky, sterile erections
flash screens that advertise corruption.
Rainbow phrases designed to disguise the trail
that leads to our stumbling destruction
are blurred, yet never erased
by the dust that rises
from humankind’s futile stretch.

©Jane Paterson Basil

Can I Say You’re Hot

I’m so happy! I’ve just discovered The Weekly Terrible Poetry Contest. It’s a little-known fact that I love, love, LOVE terrible poetry which is trying to be… terrible poetry. Three or four years back a wrote a few Terrible Poems (note: those words are in upper case, which means they were intentionally terrible). I took a look at them, with a view to submitting them, but they were terrible! That is, they were awful – funny, but lacking poetic form. In order to submit a Terrible Poem, I had to rewrite a terrible Terrible poem and make it into a worthily Terrible Poem. Get it?

I chose Shakespeare’s sonnet: Shall I Compare Thee To A Summer’s Day. Basically, he’s telling a woman that she’s beautiful and she’ll continue to live and be beautiful throughout eternity, since people will always read the poem he wrote about her. It was a popular theme with him. Unfortunately, not everyone understands what he was getting at, so I have selflessly rewritten it to suit a contemporary market. Also unfortunately, I messaged a faulty copy to the contest, but hopefully that adds to the Terribleness of the poem. However, here’s a perfectly Terrible copy, followed by the Willie’s original:

You’re As Hot As I Get When I Win A Race

You’re as hot as I get when I win a race;
You’re pretty and you’re always sober.
Gales blow petals all over the place;
It’s like, as soon’s you blink summer’s over.
One minute I’m sweatin’ like a goat,
The next the weather goes all cloudy;
You always need to take a coat,
‘Cos accidents and nature make stuff dowdy;
But your beauty will never go away,
And they’ll never take you from the sunshine.
You won’t even die, ‘cos you will stay
Alive thanks to this pretty rhyme;
As long as there’s still people around,
My poem will hold you on the ground.

Here’s Shakey’s take on it:

Shall I compare thee to a summer’s day?
Thou art more lovely and more temperate:
Rough winds do shake the darling buds of May,
And summer’s lease hath all too short a date:
Sometime too hot the eye of heaven shines,
And often is his gold complexion dimm’d;
And every fair from fair sometime declines,
By chance or nature’s changing course untrimm’d;
But thy eternal summer shall not fade
Nor lose possession of that fair thou owest;
Nor shall Death brag thou wander’st in his shade,
When in eternal lines to time thou growest:
So long as men can breathe or eyes can see,
So long lives this and this gives life to thee.

Thank you, Chelsea, for injecting some fresh fun to my life.

©Jane Paterson Basil

The Eagles Nest

When a new moon strikes an overblown page
highlighting the changes that life has wrought
changing your story to lies and half-truths
you suddenly know you must start anew
so you find a clean slate and you write and delete
You write and delete, then you write again
wrestling images out of your chalk
naming the changes that life has wrought
listing the joys that you sought for so long
piling the words on the slate until all of the ache of past failures
— all of the problems and unsolved pains —
are buried beneath an eagles nest
within reach of a window where a lone figure sits
She sits and she thinks and she writes and deletes

She writes and deletes
then writes again
wrestling images out of her chalk
Naming the changes that life has wrought
listing the joys she sought for so long
piling the words on the page
trying to hide the problems and pains

but the nest is too small
to contain them all.

©Jane Paterson Basil

Proof of Love




Detail of photo by Philipp Sewing on Unsplash

There are myriad ways
to display true love;
a simple kiss, a blooming rose,
a bashful smile, a frilly note.

I appreciate
you raised me from the floor
to staunch the flow of blood, but
it is inappropriate
to coo like a solicitous dove, as if
the punch which broke my nose
was in any way
proof of your affection.

©Jane Paterson Basil

My Son


were I
to measure
the depth of my love
by the dread Gehenna of loss
each time the wind blows your image across my tired eyes,
the ocean could not contain it.
A great tsunami
would rise up;
The world


my child.
let  this  be
the last lager can
I uncover while I’m cleaning.
The last drunken can that ever you concealed from me.
I don’t require such reminders
of our broken ties;
that I


A  fibonacci poem…

©Jane Paterson Basil