One Poem by Lizzie Ballagher

Written in response to this month’s Special Challenge.

A Vision of Cherry Blossoms—

                                      —or not.
Or even, instead, of something darker,
             fiercely brighter:

the tyranny of cherry blossoms
exacts its price;
they must be looked at,
or the emperor may be displeased.

We must be reminded
that exquisite blossoms—
pink, no less—speak
of those who appreciate
finer things in life.

Because her blooms may not be picked,
Sakura denies an empire
hungry for conquest—

                         —but it is sad, perhaps,
that some of us miss
the spectacle, lose ourselves
in mundane matters, mishaps

as when foot-binding starts
to come adrift

and suddenly the lifting
are not the draw, the gift
we thought they were.

Our eyes are shut tight as buds
against that beauty,

                           and we are sleep-walking
             into Nagasaki,
Hiroshima, where

                                      a terrible beauty
                           will be born: one
             we cannot look at.


A published novelist between 1984 and 1996 in North America, the UK, Netherlands and Sweden (pen-name Elizabeth Gibson), Lizzie Ballagher now writes poetry rather than fiction. Her work has been featured in a variety of magazines and webzines: South-East Walker Magazine, Far East, Nine Muses, Nitrogen House, the Ekphrastic Review and Poetry Space. She lives in southern England, writing a blog at

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