Shine Ballard

loiters, the drip

Editor’s Note

What a joy it has been to read and publish Shine’s work. The first thing you’ll notice is the careful attention to detail that has been paid to each piece. These are the types of poems that you can read and reread and find new connections and refined detail. I’m extremely grateful to get to publish this collection. I hope you enjoy them as much as I did.

— Daniel J Flosi

  • The drop upon the brow — previously published by Expat Press on November 05, 2021 and can be viewed here.
  • famine — an earlier version of this poem was previously published by Spillover Magazine on May 01, 2021 and can be viewed here.

Poem (not quite haiku)*

Like busan’s tub,
the roof springs—whether
spoken of, or not.

*the allusion here is to Yosa Buson’s haiku The Leaky Tub.

Onset of a day

When i approach the office, i
grab a watch from the basket
One which i will remove just hours
later Well, because that feeling
will have, once again, arrived, from
within or further, upon me
i’ll need to lie down for an hour
or so A recalibration
One which only chance, it appears,
can affect i’m so clueless, incapable
to keep the watch, though worn it is

A poor, in descent, serve i’ve been
i continue, today, tasked with
reckoning the threshold between
passed and past


         pluvial sheets dampening, drenching; leaking—
a permeable canopy pouring,
            shawled, porously; remaining
  wakeful; bailing—anticipating the drying

this, the left panel of The Indigence Triptych, a triptych of Argentine haiku.

The drop upon the brow

The leaky roof
has wept its way
into my dreams
Where should be a drip,
a drench christens

Although lintels,
like lungs, have plunged,
collapsing, or could,
i keep composed

Were i one to fret
over cryptic curiosities,
in such a drip i’d drown

i do not believe in omens,
i don’t


as impoverished as my
as impoverished as my
   daring; doing
as impoverished as my
as impoverished as my
   persist—  ing  
   as my will
my will to be well,
      to be mended
this, a profession
    of impoverishment


i’m unsure if i feel more im—
poverished, povero, in times
of summer or winter, whether
of heat adhering, humidly
hewed, to the skin, sweltering—
or of hope stole like breath, snowily
fleeting—condensation of some
part soma and some part supposed

have&lack : the chiaroscuro of biding


it’s so very dizzying
disorienting to be so
wrong so much of the
time to have guessed
assessed so poorly
applied superbly amiss
unseats an only just
certain state of being
a perilous supposition
upends a spirit by
constitution at best


Shine Ballard, the banausic bore, currently creates and resides on this plane(t).


Interview with Shine Ballard

Why poetry?

Quite a broad, perhaps too open, question…

One which seems to be asking “In a word…” or “What was the moment when you knew poetry was going to be the way?”

When i first picked up a pencil to gather words on a page, not for a typical draft or rendering of something traditionally visual, it was to attempt lyric writing for a band in high school. Someone was going to have to do it—i was very interested in trying.

i’ve always been drawn to what the voices of song have had to say. How they said it. A fondness which distinctly intensified when DIY and independent music found me. i can recall how pertinent and exigent, as well as provocative, indicting, the words were, and how very provoked and stirred i was by them.

It was there, in that (sub)culture, where i found a reason for voice. A way to use the voice that didn’t feel or seem sterile, institutional. A voice of ache, anguish, one that wasn’t asking for amelioration. Instead, for space, understanding, while not catering to a normative means of communication. A voice which argues in tones of dispute. One cannot sing a clenched fist which yearns to be an open hand.

Over the years, i’ve found myself in attempts to find a new rubric. In my work i’ve called myself a languagebeing, an uttersaucier. Poet implies, at least as i’ve understood it, something i am not. Cannot, by nature, be. An innate inability. Poetry demands liminal language. i, like those songs, have something to say, and will do nothing which is not saying that very thing.

i began in visual art, soon followed by music. Poetry was never the goal. It wasn’t until the work of ee cummings was in my hands, the age of eighteen, nineteen, that i became aware of how malleable poetry could be. How capacious. Spacious. O p e n. i could be visual and musical and full of intent, in poetry. It offered real pliability. Something a canvas could never be, nor a drum kit.

i’m okay with this slowly incidental medium which has been so useful. So forgiving.

I’m intrigued by your statement that writing wasn’t asking for amelioration…

            Not writing writ large. i was speaking only for myself, and only about when first discovering certain music. How writing, or voice, was used to convey. i suppose making better is at the heart of why one says in any way, but i wasn’t thinking about that as a kid. For me it was a sound that was different, in ways difficult, that required more of me, and in the end gave me a way of saying. Amelioration wasn’t the goal, even if it was, or could be.

You  have a distinct voice. Is this natural, or something that has developed?

i really feel like there’s only one answer to this question: it is, has been, naturally developed. The only sort of writer who wouldn’t think this, i suppose, is one who is still in the incipient stages of their writing. Unable, outside of assumption or speculation, to appreciate how time alters, amends, advances how and why. An inchoate voice, burgeoning. A person as unyoung, at this, as i, can only answer this way.

We can see behind us. We can locate, lest we be in sum oblivious, all we’ve read, heard, said, experienced, etcetera, which has articulated, cumulatively, the ways in which we articulate.

Thanks for the compliment, one we all hope to hear some day. That our voice, conditioned by so much, manages to still be our own. A noise only we could make.

Do you subvert the academic, literary journals, etc.?

            No. But for my bio line, there is something of resistance in that. Sure. Call it a simple tendency toward being contrary, captious, which likely is the best way to address other aspects of how or why for me. i find dissonance, friction, like “rubbing two pennies together,” creates more heat than ease and calm. For me at least. And dissonance, as counterpoint, makes resolve and calm resonate more deeply, fuller.

Poverty as theme.

            i suppose, for me, it comes out of the understanding of how lack affects all aspects of a life. How even simple expenditure can be derailing. How it can become pervasive in one’s life. Knowing that people experience poverty in deeper, more impactful degrees disheartens, so, i, and my work, look inside, or at a smaller degree to avoid being overwhelmed.

            i guess it would also be helpful to understand that when i am writing anything, i am never attempting to be comprehensive, or necessarily remedial. Or, or, or… Not in search of answers, even if, at times, a piece feels summary, or searching. i approach what i do much like a journal entry. One that documents, that can tend toward a certain kind of ambiguity to purposefully hide, one that feels more intended than the innate liminality mentioned. Most of what i mold into poetry starts as just that: a note in my journal. i don’t aim to reveal an answer, only an asking or confusion, or—

Who are you currently reading?

This may not be exciting as i spend a significant amount of time reading books published ten–fifteen years or prior regularly, or rereading. Outside of poetry journals, magazines, reviews where i constantly try to look here and there (i am so very overwhelmed by the sheer amount of work that is available… it’s hard to know what or where to begin, but i try to

peek out from my desk to see what’s going on when i can) and news related articles, which are constant sources for salient material to consider, i’ve recently finished Umberto Eco’s Inventing the EnemyBasho : The Complete Haiku, Les Murray’s Poems the Size of Photographs, and Gustave Flaubert’s Madame Bovary. The newest book i’ve read, and a significant amount of time is spent, for me, in the pages of lexical resources, is The Dictionary of Obscure Sorrows by John Koenig; a project i’d been awaiting the release of for quite a few years. The first time i found the word sonder, randomly on the internet, i cried. These neologisms are of that variety. They attempt to name both universal and specific phenomena and noumena. It will be very similar in affect, utility to Basho’s Complete Haiku or Queneau’s Exercises in Style: somewhat of a book of prompts, ideas to consider, reasons to write. Though i likely will not adhere to the book’s notion that you won’t really use these words… Hell, in twentynineteen i wrote a farcepoem which used the word vellichor.

How does music come up into your work?

Well, to be honest, about five years ago i noticed myself alluding to Eliot in a piece and thinking, Why? i am very much interested in intertextual art, but why would, should i be referring to someone who hasn’t really made a large impact on me. There are bands like The Adicts or CrassAs Friends Rust or Bane, etc. ETC. et cet e ra—whose words meant, mean so much more to me. In all likelihood, are the reasons i turned to penciling words as the artform i would convey through over any other. So, i’ve slowly been looking for ways, places to point toward them.

For example, my piece The drop upon the brow has a mention of post and lintel. i’m no architect, have no real need for an architect’s language. i discovered those words from a song written in ninetyeight–nine by a Canadian band, Grade, whose work i’ve returned to for something like twenty years. it may be small, quite unnoticeable. But i know. i’m not interested in literary-sudoku-style poetry. But doffing my cap to those who mean something to me, i am.

Are you working towards, or do you have any collections coming out?

Yes. i suppose that is the correct answer. Curation always irks me, so i find it difficult to gather my thoughts. How does one collate a collection without a larger theme? Not to say it hasn’t been done before, isn’t being done currently, but it’s been difficult for me to look at, for instance, the work of the previous three years and see a reason to gather them in any way not chronological. As a diligent, banal, and tedious, daily journaler, this is the only way which seems appropriate for gathering work together. Multifarious and fragmented, representative of a life being lived. There are other things i’m working on, but no time tables as of yet. It’s not something that i feel compelled to do. Anthologies, journals, magazines, reviews have been quite gracious and charitable in putting my work in front of people. i’m thankful for that. It’s mean so much. Their attention allows me time… whatever that may mean.