Illustration by Stacy Reece
Illustration by Stacy Reece

Three Poems by KB Ballentine

The Tennessee poet offers us verses about light and dark, smoke and mist, and riptides and droplets.

Where Ridge Meets River

Chattanooga, Tennessee

Pink moon blossoms over the bridge —
bolted skeleton shadowing the river as it curves,
slides, seduces the embankment with whispers,
secrets tucking into folds of rock and soil,
only reflections of streetlights and moon exposed.

When dawn looks out over the mountain
braided with redbud and dogwood,
this gorge will stretch in the light,
the Tennessee rippling under railroad ties
and wide skies, shifting the mystery of midnight
toward the Gulf and higher tides.

Smoke in the Branches

Edges of the world smudged by mist,
by by rain reciting mysteries all day.
House, shrubs like wraiths bewitched
byto stillness while zinnias and cosmos
treasure soft days like these —
bycool moon glued behind the clouds,
no doubts about rising or setting.

Movement in the gloom: a raven —
byno, three, four, five ghost the branches.
Sentinels of doom? Luck?
byThey wait and watch.
Dogwoods tremble next to cedars
bydrooping their ample burden.
Somewhere in the fog a robin shrills.

These days and weeks inside,
byI’ve lost my far horizon.
Every day a cocoon of thoughts –
bya smog of words from media
where I can type or scroll till gorged.
byI can wallow in my thoughts
or stumble into the haze. Choices.

Tremors from so many voices screeching
byto be heard: robins? Ravens? Both have wings.
But only one will stay and sing.

How the Light Gets In

Just past the surface, water wrinkles
byin a riptide, pulls and tugs, pushes
its way past reef and rock as salt and sand
bywhirl in the waves, foam bright in the air.

Limestone fissures, gray furrows
bythat change, split with the rain,
droplets that seep and settle,
bylick the stones’ roughness until it surrenders.

Boulders spill down the mountainside,
bythunder through a canopy of trees and oh
how the forest flourishes — performs a magic
byon the sleeping seeds in moss and leaf rot.

The pieces of whatever’s left
byinside my chest begin to soften,
edges smoothed by time —
byshadows  shrinking…

Author Profile

KB Ballentine’s latest collection, Spirit of Wild,  launched in 2023. Her books can be found with Blue Light Press, Iris Press, Middle Creek Publishing, and Celtic Cat Publishing. Published in North Dakota Quarterly, Atlanta Review and Haight-Ashbury Literary Journal, and others, her work also appears in anthologies including I Heard a Cardinal Sing (2022), The Strategic Poet (2021), Pandemic Evolution (2021), and Carrying the Branch: Poets in Search of Peace  (2017). She loves to travel and practice sword fighting and Irish step dancing. When not tucked in a corner reading or writing, she makes daily classroom appearances to her students. 

Leave a Comment