dVerse — Poetics — The Ballad of Hillscomb

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The Ballad of Hillscomb

Folks claim when Red rode in one dusk the sky poured blackish green;
That green of corn crept black and that their apple cheeks drained ash;
The steed Red wheeled was white as death, with apparition’s sheen;
Her burdened mules’ poor staggered steps as if to be their last.

They say that Red looked meaty, yet no shadow did she cast;
Beneath the beaver hat and cape were naught but reddish eyes;
Her bluish locks flowed like the Styx all down along her back;
She paused to ask where Hillscomb was with velvet magnet sighs.

Young Hillscomb died the year before, struck down in prime of life;
Since then his manor dozed there empty but for dust and webs.
The rumors swarmed like ravens and conjecture sliced like knives;
Church belfry bats, under full moon, swooped graveyard stones instead.

A misshaped cur appeared one day to keep the furred beasts fed;
He bought effects at Tucker’s Feed, with strange gold coins he paid.
The only mark of life at Hillscomb when the clock was bled,
A single flame in window where Young Hillscomb’s corpse once laid.

Miss Pollyann did soon succumb to nightmares that chilled, of
Her once beau, Mr. Hillscomb, in a dance in moonlight’s air
With lovely Red in satin gown, pale flesh, and orbs of blood.
They didn’t sense her watching them….. but then they turned to stare.

She screamed to wake herself, sat up, then found blood in her hair;
She washed the clot away, and then she peered into the glass
And spied four tiny puncture wounds along her neck so fair.
Each eve the same unholy scare til thirteen rounds did pass;

The fourteenth, mother whiffed her, sprawled, a lifeless form, aghast;
Old Doc Smith wheezed, “Anemia,” but didn’t squint too close.
Her funeral, the first one held since when, a year, exact
Young Hillscomb pruned in prime of life, a wilted mottled rose.

Miss Pollyann’s fine polished pine, installed in graveyard’s rows,
Her lonely resting berth ignored except on sermon days.
No one will notice right away her newborn hunger grows;
Yet soon they’ll see the window panes in Hillscomb are ablaze.

 

Update as of 6pm EST:
What you see here now is the revised form of it after “editing like a cat.”  

Lucy is today’s host of dVerse. Lucy says:
We will write a poem about the transient notion of life to death, or topics germane to the theme. With a twist. We are going to write a ballad. This will/can include dark, gothic themes and imagery as it pertains to the theme. It’s October and we’re looking for some dark poetry, publies.

49 Comments Add yours

  1. Lucy says:

    A very, very stunning ballad Lisa. I’m blown away at the amount of description and imagery that constructs this heartbreaking story. I also had to read it aloud and it flows so well. This is well-written and evocative to the October theme, grief and death. Amazing writing, as always! ❤

    Liked by 2 people

    1. msjadeli says:

      Lucy, thank you! I think it will be even better after some tweaking.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. kim881 says:

    That’s an epic ballad, Lisa! I like the way you switch the colours in the opening lines: ‘the sky turned blackish green’ and ‘green of corn turned black’, and the irony that your character’s name is Red. I love ‘rumors swarmed like ravens and conjecture sliced like knives’ – wonderfully dark similes!

    Liked by 3 people

    1. msjadeli says:

      Thank you, Kim! I have a lot of darkness to get out of my system 😉

      Liked by 1 person

  3. This is truly a story worth telling… the long lines made possible to read almost like prose, and a story like this is worth telling, be careful when you edit, this is a story worth telling…

    Liked by 3 people

    1. msjadeli says:

      Bjorn, thank you very much. I’m keeping the original intact and editing in another doc, just to play it safe.

      Like

  4. Ingrid says:

    Wow, this is a true ballad in the form of an eerie gothic tale: electifying!

    Liked by 2 people

    1. msjadeli says:

      Thank you, Ingrid. Glad it jolted you.

      Liked by 1 person

  5. kittysverses says:

    Wow!! Spectacular ballad, Li. Speechless. 😊

    Liked by 2 people

    1. msjadeli says:

      Thank you so much, Kitty 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

      1. kittysverses says:

        You are welcome, Li. 🙂

        Liked by 1 person

  6. Ah, I’d forgotten the American ballad tradition – this is a worthy addition. All it needs is a tune played on a fiddle and a little starlight.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. msjadeli says:

      Thanks Sarah!

      Like

  7. Oh my, very good verse! Gave me chills! Great job! 🌞

    Like

  8. Exceptionally well written ballad in the tradition of good ones! Li, this is certainly one of my favourites!❤️❤️

    Liked by 1 person

    1. msjadeli says:

      Punam, I just put the new revision up if you want to take a look at it. Thank you very much!

      Liked by 1 person

      1. I just read the revised version. The third stanza stands out me for the way you bring it alive with imagery.
        My pleasure always.

        Liked by 1 person

        1. msjadeli says:

          Thank you and glad you liked it.

          Liked by 1 person

  9. sanaarizvi says:

    Wowwwww!! 💝 This one breathes and how! Love it, Lisa 😀

    Liked by 1 person

    1. msjadeli says:

      Thank you, Sanaa!

      Like

  10. -Eugenia says:

    An epic and superbly rendered ballad, Lisa, and one that is the beginning of a novel?

    Liked by 1 person

    1. msjadeli says:

      You never know, Eugi, thanks 🙂

      Like

  11. rothpoetry says:

    Wow! You took it deep and dark!!

    Liked by 1 person

      1. rothpoetry says:

        Well done Lisa!

        Liked by 1 person

        1. msjadeli says:

          Thank you, Dwight 🙂

          Liked by 1 person

  12. Oh my, this is great. So dark and sad and so well written x

    Liked by 1 person

    1. msjadeli says:

      Bernie, thanks. October is a month where such things run rampant…

      Liked by 1 person

  13. Truedessa says:

    This was quite the tale/ballad. Very descriptive filled with darkness. Imaginative write!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. msjadeli says:

      Thank you very much, Truedessa.

      Like

  14. Sadje says:

    Your ballad is perfect Li.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. msjadeli says:

      Thank you 🙂 I had fun writing it, even if it is dark subject.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Sadje says:

        That was showing through your poem.

        Liked by 1 person

  15. Grace says:

    I so enjoyed this tale, filled with characters and their twist and turns. A worthy example of a ballad !

    Liked by 2 people

    1. msjadeli says:

      Grace, many thanks!

      Like

  16. Beverly Crawford says:

    Let’s hope Hillscomb and Pollyanna don ‘t set the house afire! Good write

    Liked by 2 people

    1. msjadeli says:

      Thank you, Beverly 🙂

      Like

  17. A real tub-thumper of a ballad!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. msjadeli says:

      Thanks much, Jane.

      Like

  18. memadtwo says:

    A perfect October tale. Now it needs music. (K)

    Liked by 1 person

    1. msjadeli says:

      ha ha! hmmmm….. let’s see….

      Liked by 1 person

  19. Oh my gosh, this was amazing Lisa! I can see you sitting around a campfire singing this ballad to young kids and frightening the life out of them! Wonderfully written and totally scary 🙂😳

    Liked by 1 person

    1. msjadeli says:

      So funny! My older cousin got a lot of delight out of scaring me when I was a kid. Thanks and glad you were chilled by the tale.

      Like

  20. Dora says:

    Oh Lisa! This is sooooo good, well-crafted, and eerily precise! What a ballad for an October night! I enjoyed the heck out of this. This line stood out to me: “The rumors swarmed like ravens and conjecture sliced like knives;” OOOOOH. Love it. ❤️

    Liked by 1 person

    1. msjadeli says:

      Thank you for your glowing words, Dora. So pleased you enjoyed it ❤

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Dora says:

        My pleasure entirely 🙂

        Liked by 1 person

  21. Xan says:

    I read it, and then I sang it through with a bit of a Celtic aire. I’m sitting on my hands to not pull out the guitar, since I really have to go to work now.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. msjadeli says:

      Alexandra, the thought of you singing it while playing guitar delights me. I hope when you have a day off from work you can do just that (and record it and share it, of course!) So cool!

      Like

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