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

KB Ballentine lives in Chattanooga, Tennessee, where she teaches creative writing, theatre arts, and literature to high school and college students. She has an master's degree in Writing and an MFA in Creative Writing, Poetry. Ballentine’s seventh collection, "Edge of the Echo," was published by Iris Press in May 2021. Her other books of poetry include "The Light Tears Loose," "Almost Everything, Almost Nothing," and "The Perfume of Leaving." Her work has appeared in numerous journals and publications, including Atlanta Review, North Dakota Quarterly, Linnet’s Wings, Crab Orchard Review, Alehouse, Tidal Basin Review, Haight–Ashbury Literary Journal, The Sigh Press, and MO: Writings from the River.

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