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Jeni Ballagh's Poems

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Jeni came to the Ford Overland Challenge through the Duke of Edinburgh's Award Scheme. Born and brought up in Northern Ireland, Jeni was an undergraduate at Belfast's University of Ulster when the Overland Challenge set off from London for New York. She graduated after it was over. At just tewnty one Jeni was the youngest member of the team.

17 January 1994 (Week Four)

The snow lays clamped on the branches like limplets
The squirrels safely tucked up underneath,
The sun sparkling on the snow,
like crystals shining on the ground.
The sky filled with grey,
The clouds like thick shadows
Looming over the small villages.
The people standing shly by their doorways
looking out into a world they know as their own.
Quite alien to us.

25 January 1994 (Week Five)

I think of the people exiled here
By the fearful regime of power.
The beauty of the land
Distorted by the nature of the elements.
The struggle to survive highlighted by memories of home.
The fear of death not by the strike of a hand
But by the fierce components of the land.
So many deaths ..........So many souls .......and So much to live for

25 January 1994 (Week Five)

Cuddled in a ball trying to protect itself.
I watch us pass by unnoticing.
I think of what I have learnt about my world
I think of man's self destruction
Off this beautiful world we have been given.
What fools we are- do we have no insight-only until it is too late.
We must act.We must see sense.
We must use what we have
Make it work for us or there will be no us.
Realise our concerns are often centred around the inner self.
Can we not see if we become obsessed with the immediate problems we forget about the ultimate ones.
The ultimate destruction must not be caused by man's stupidty but by the elements.
Survival must be taught at the basic levels.
Education of our primary generation.
From the begining we must be aware of our capabilities.
What is the point in teaching our children academics if they too grow up to destroy our world as their predecessors have done
They should have everything...They will have nothing.

26 January 1994 (Week Five)

The power of life
The power of nature
Where is the balance?
I just don't know.

The frustration inside
The need to explode
The knowledge to stay calm
And all things will be alright- or will they?

The need to protect the weaker members of society
A feeling of manilness inspired
The individual mind unexplored
But the physical makeup examined.

Trapped in a hole like a mole
Searching for the light- the life - the reality
Where is it I can not see
Fumbling about in the dark
I hesar the voices through the mud
It is dark- when will it get clearer.

Feeling of anxiety supressed by reality
The knowledge of melancholy and dramatics
Playing their toll on emotions
The need to break free from the monthly toil.

3 February 1994 (Week Six)

The land of silence
The squelching of snow under foot
A poignant reminder of
The Pain, the Anguish, the Suffering

The bravery hard to comprehend
The complusion of life
Pushing them forward
Telling them not to give in
Until they had too.

6 February 1994 (Week Six)

What we have in our world we often fail to appreciate
The wonder, the beauty, the excitment
We all too often dwell on the not so nice things in life.
The worry ,the pain and the despair.
Maybe if we altered our thinking
We may be able to act positively
And change our world to use what it has
- not what it has not-

We lift off in our helicopter,
The light snow scatters like powder.
The slices of snow tear apart
And are flung desperately into the air,
Like souls scattered in the dust.

The isolation and desperation
Where am I, How will I escape
I cannot. My only escape will be death.

A name. A casual signature.
Two seconds to write- a lifetime in exchange
The warmth of an office- the Chill of the winter
Did they remember- did they think?

How do we exopress how we feel to an empty camera lense
Faced with a land of atrocity
That feeling which is innermost to our souls
How can we express it in a few words?

6 February 1994 (Week Six)

Where are those people now?
Did they ever wonder who would visit after they had gone
How many days and nights did they
Fantasise abiout their homes, about their famalies
The feeling of the unknown is often the worst one of all.

Souls scattered like dust,
By a whim of a hand
Protestions of innonence unheard.
The Gulags were the answer
The answer to the criminals of the state
'How dare he have a nicer apartment than mine -that was no mistake -capatalism intentions'
Send them to the gulags- any excuse
There will be no disloyalty here!

The only pain and suffering we truly know is our own
We may emphasise with others anguish
But we cannot feel it.
Is this why it is all too easy to forget about the many atrocities of our world?
The complanency often attached to our emotions
Bears through and we all too often do nothing.

We must redeem the suffering not contuine it.
I think of my own land
As I travel through their land.
The killings the murders
What for- a piece of ground
Can we not learn from the past
And make our future better, not worse.

I think of how brave these people must have been
To live through and if lucky survive these conditions.
Their will for life was so strong.
I think painfully of my own Father,
How his will for life was so weak
That he took his own.

11 February 1994 (Week Seven)

Thoughts floating on the ice
Expressions sailing by in the air
The need to articulate not there
Comfort enough in silence.

The lights gliding and pulsing through the sky,
Shooting in all smooth directions.
Showing us the way,
Giving us inspiration.
The Sun demonstrating its power
The light trapped in this beautiful aurara.

13 February 1994 (Week Seven)

People wave at us from their dwellings
Beckoning us to be welcomed.
We drive past returning their warm wave
On our endless quest to finish our journey.

Tempers fraid. Egos hurt.
Sharp words. Straight looks.
Frustration apparent. Complanency reigns.
Situtation recognised. Facts learnt.

My heart spills
My mind ticks
My life is real
My conscience is aware.

16 February 1994 (Week Eight)

Listening to people talk
Does it make sense
Does it relate
To what we know as real?

Rooms with buttons
Push one Push the lot.

21 February 1994 (Week Nine)

The black eyes which shadow the soul
Boring into my own
And yet I am helpless to effect change.

We leave this place on the hill
Emotions yet again stirred by disbelieve of human cruelty.
Human lives for free labour
We wave goodbye to this desolate place
In the safety of our big bird

They waved goodbye through death.

These places on the hill
So many knew so well
So separate from others reality.

A short effortless ride for us
To arrive at these hellholes of history
A long anguished journey for them
Knowing that only death lay ahead.

The beauty of the mountains hard to neglect,
They power magnificently in the distance.
Their tranquility disturbed
When the facts are remebered.

How can we conceive what it was like
To suffer so desperately
You wished you were dead.

22 February 1994 (Week Nine)

Mother, my love for you
Is like a birds love for the sky.
Through the winds and gales
My love strengthens.
My passion grows
For this life you have so inspired me to live.
And for that, I am truly thankful.

5 March 1994 (Week Ten)

Escaping the clasps of the fearful storm
Weease our way through this unknown terrain
Never looking back- only forward
To our final destination- may we reach it safely soon.

Anxiety to reach our final destination
Heightened by the conditions that held us tightly
Easing their grip slowly only to tighten their fierce grasp yet again
Our Russian dinosaurs not agreeing with this unfamaliar weather
Chosing to hide in their shells.
To eventually sag forward when the time was right.

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