a new haiku

troubled with itching /
sheep rub and scratch their blissful /
fleeces: wool in wire /

2015-04-23 10.44.38

Spring is nearly here!

Spring Comes to the Island

At the parting of the choking seas,
Between the banking up of alien blooms,
The chariots of philistines
Rage and roar and ride across
As a raw wind stipples the water,
As a blue wind ripples the rape–
And their blinding road is frilled
With foaming flowers.

Those rape fields slash and burn the innocent countryside
With streaks
Of oily yellow:
A gallery of violent Van Gogh canvases,
A brainstorm of suicidal painters,
And the live earth smokes and smolders

While a sharp hawk shoulders
That wind, menacing
The feathered sky,
The bright-eyed, whiskered ground–
Then swoops
Plumb straight
To snatch
A little pollen-dusted vole.

© Lizzie Ballagher

Oil-seed rape may not be everyone’s favourite crop, but after the greys of winter, how wonderful to see the light of spring reflected in the colours of the landscape.


Ashdown Autumn

Pleat after crease of hillside and heath blends
Into the long indigo distance
Where earth becomes

Coil after curl of cumulus & cirrus ascends
Into the fleece-frothing emptiness
Where air becomes

Drop after drip of rainsquall & dewfall descends
Into the cloud-shadowed wilderness
Where water becomes

Becomes air
Becomes water, yet still
No radiant heat until

In the forge of the forest
Brawny-limbed blacksmith beeches
Strike out sparks & kindle flames
On autumn’s fearsome anvil:


© Lizzie Ballagher

IMG_3502 IMG_3496


New poem for late summer

Straw to Gold


Skedaddle! Out with you, Brothers Grimm—

You and your scheming scimitars,

Your poisonous pouch of nightmares,

Your wicked sickle blades—get out, grim reapers!

Don’t peddle any grimy story near us here:

Of a nameless miller’s daughter dusty with corn husks,

Hair bleached fair as finest barley flour

Repeating her father’s shameless lie

To greedy royal ears that she could turn

The common straw to golden thread

When not one stalk could she so spin.

Go! Wind your broken spools of goblin yarn & take them off

Down stifling alleyways to other village inns

Where gullible fools believe such tales.


The boot’s now on the other foot, you know. It’s not

Poor womenfolk who spin the straw to gold these days:

Not mincing, soft-shoed cobblers’ lasses;

Not singed & sparky blacksmiths’ girls;

Not doe-eyed, millers’ daughters;

Today the hayfields’ wealth is spun to gold

By sinewy, sunburned men with furrowed brows

And crinkled eyes below a denim baseball cap,

Who sit aloft in spacious air-con harvesters

That thresh unbroken narratives

Down satellite-mapped alleyways of grass

And then spill out, spin out

The half-ton reels of gleaming bales:

Fine gold from summer’s yellow fields.


No Rumpelstiltskins spoil the party now:

Only a surly storm or two, glowering, scowling over downland cliffs & folds.

And—in between the hedges and the cottages—

Great curving, curling rolls of gold.

© Lizzie Ballagher

The photo below appears with grateful thanks to Lee Abbey, North Devon, just on the edge of Exmoor National Park. It is one of the most lovely places in Britain.

Lee Abbey fields