New Poem on Nine Muses Poetry

It’s lovely to be able to commend a fellow blogger, Annest Gwilym to those who follow posts on this website; her site is called Nine Muses Poetry. Recently Annest has featured a new poem of mine on this site, which I’m pleased to share here: “Ophelia in Mourning at Evening”.

Please enjoy this poem, below; or click the links above to discover this and many other poems on Nine Muses Poetry.

Ophelia in Mourning at Evening

 

Summer seeps away

in a barely moving brook.

 

Last leaves fall from desolate birch:

those trunks that draw black inks

through the glassy water,

through branchy weeds: runes

signifying autumn’s melancholy

under a sky paling to nightfall.

 

And not even a twilight-blue wrap

or the gossamer threads

of a needless bridal gown—

now dappled, dank with dew

in evening’s grass—could keep out

sorrow’s cold.

 

She will go cloak herself, instead,

in widow’s weeds.

 

© Lizzie Ballagher

Felled Pine

Felled Pine:   

this morning when they came

with bowsaws

and that grinding whine

had its beginning

worse than wolves baying over a carcass

in the wilderness

 

you sent up your thin protest

of pine scent:

 

sap rising for spring…

but the well

of fresh-mint pine

green turpentine

will pump now

no more fragrance

 

all the air filled

with your leaking, seeping…

with the ugly thump & clunk

of log-chunks

as they hit the metal flat-bed

of the truck…

 

neighbours gazed on new sky

but my ears heard strange roots grieving—

my eyes saw noonday sun

strike dangerous blows

on shrivelling ground

where hot light probed & stabbed…

 

you were a pine tree

that tendered bark to beetles,

sanctuary to collared doves,

where finches pulled at ranks

of seeded cones

finding their food…

 

also you gave soft footfalls,

perfume, to my childhood—

the cool of northern woods—

but when afternoon’s breeze

blows up today it will carry

only my raging, outraged tears…

 

the seething needles’ sweetness will have gone:

not even that faint lament of pine scent…

Words and images © Lizzie Ballagher

National Poetry Day 2019 – just for fun

Marooned
 She’d sat already far too long on the beach:
so long she was as desiccated
as the coconuts beyond those fringing palms
so long she’d gotten bored
with her old friends gold-legged starfish
who had entertained her,
miscounting aloud each other’s fingers & toes
& quarrelling far into the night,
so long the desert island novelty had worn clean off
& she had read to the end of the Bible
& the Complete Works of Shakespeare
smashed her wretched desert island discs
drowned them all in despair until
   just as she’d thought of giving up                  wading out
to perform some crazed act of sacrifice
to grinning sharks (who might have enjoyed
her iconoclastic sense of humour
as well as her fingers & ten pink toes)
   the waves rose frothing up
presented her—
right into her outstretched hand—
with a bottle:
no sparkling South Sea bubbly
no fisherman’s tall tales on fractured parchment
of albatrosses painted oceans
no luscious vintage    from distant California
no irksome lovelorn messages
but a genie uncurling gorgeously, ready
to unroll a magic carpet & transport her
out of her ennui
out of the hallucinating desert island & its hackneyed discs
out of the paperback novel she’d been living now for oh so long
to lacklustre grit & greyness, the smog & streaming cars & cabs
of Manhattan or maybe Maida Vale in fog-soaked March
to where at least she understood
the colourless weight of working weekdays:
the kind that did not ask of her so much imagination.
Words and images © Lizzie Ballagher

Water Lane, Guernsey

Water lanes as sources of pure running water saved lives during the plague years in England, and in many older settlements they can still be identified by that very name. We found one such in Guernsey ten years ago, its banks flooded by wild passionflowers. From that modest pathway winding down Guernsey hills to the sea sprang this brief poem.

Water Lane, Guernsey

Dabbling, scrabbling in sand & shards of quartz,
paired green mallards turn pebbles for morsels,
wade rock-pools, then climb the channel flowing clear
down Water Lane, where springs run soundlessly
from hills beyond.

Overhead, holm oaks seethe
in a breeze that smacks of salty seaweed.
Here, around our feet, passionflower chains
bind us together—forever ascending
Water Lane: a paradise prickling with bees—
all under that honeyed island sun.

Words and images © Lizzie Ballagher

 

Dear Dunnock

The recent UK national garden bird survey compiled by the RSPB reveals sparrows are slightly more numerous than was suspected; that they are still the most frequently sighted bird in a British garden, even though their numbers are, overall, declining. While sparrows and dunnocks aren’t in fact the same bird at all, they’re often confused.

We see few sparrows now but instead had the delight of watching a fledgling dunnock grow up last year; it came to feed outside our window every day – far too fast-moving to photograph!

Dear Dunnock,

 

you are           puff of feathers

black beads of eyes sparking

stilted on skinny stick-pink legs

 

I watch you    scuttle like a sparrow

flit like a wren

peck like a robin

 

stand streaked like a warbler

stretch like a mistle-thrush

dig like a miner bird

 

preen like a peacock

tremble, shake feathers

like a bathing blackbird

 

I hear you      squeak like a hatchling

squawk with indignation

when other small birds steal your show…

 

But, dear fledgling dunnock,

(I hate to tell you this, so I will whisper)

you have no tail

just a stub of stumpy plumes

where tail should be…

 

I click my tongue and whistle

lift my forefinger

to stroke you:

you’re gone!

 

Dear baby dunnock, I hope

you will become a bird of paradise with yards

of         rainbow-curling

tail       feathers

 

© Lizzie Ballagher