This weekend we have pleasure in bringing you a poem from the distinguished Chinese poet Hsu ChiCheng. His English poem the Mountain has been published along with the corresponding Chinese poem in collections in both China and Japan.
   There’s also a poem shaped like a fire hydrant (has to be a first) by John Kross of Texas, and Martyn Halsall’s chant-like poem of trees, clearly from England, all knitted together by Anne Connolly and Catherine Graham, from Ireland/Scotland and Canada respectively, with two very different poems about sweaters.
   Our thanks to all these poets who have taken up our challenge to send their favourite previously published poems to be read again around the world.  Submissions for January are still being accepted. See our first post in August for how to send.
   The next two weekend posts will be published on Thursday 24th and Thursday 31st December.

 

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Hsu ChiCheng
The Mountain Doesn’t Speak  

The mountain doesn’t speak
The mountain all doesn’t speak

I beckon him
He doesn’t speak
I go near him
He doesn’t speak
I loudly ask him
He doesn’t speak
I get angry and give a kick at him
He doesn’t speak
With disappointment I go away from him
He still doesn’t speak

I think of it in doubt
Over and over
I finally find the answer:
The mountain is the greatest

Note: This Poem was first published in the Literary Supplement of China Newspaper January 22 1986, then enclosed in the same name poetry collection “The Mountain Doesn’t Speak” March 2010, and declaimed in many festivals of internal and abroad of Taiwan.

KPA knitting gansey

Anne Connolly
The song of the gansey

Clickety ring, clickety ring,
round and round the needles sing
four in a circle and one to dance
nimble over the wool they prance,
a fisher gansey calls them out
to weave their patterns, thin or stout
the loved one  knows the gifts they bring
as round and round the needles sing.

For decades long they serve and last
tight to the body, close to the mast

finely knit and proof to wind
oiled and supple like a rind

that smells of sea and fish and man
worn in weather tame or thrawn.

The Humber Star stitched in the sleeve
raised by lads who take their leave

is the heart of the lock-wheel turning steady
voices call as boats make ready,

cables twine and twist and play
wrought like the ropes they haul away.

Lines are baited, mussels shelled
wool in the pinny loosely held

for every lull in the work at home
they craft the patterned herringbone

or zig-zag Filey cliff-tops high
thread the dream of home and dry

while men in fisher ganseys sail
knights of the sea in knitted mail.

Clickety ring, clickety ring,
round and round the needles sing
four in a circle and one to dance
nimble over the wool they prance,
a fisher gansey calls them out
to weave their patterns, thin or stout
the loved one knows the gifts they bring
as round and round the needles sing.

First appeared in Downside Up, Calder Wood Press 2008 and again in Love-in-a-mist, Red Squirrel Press, 2011.

 

 KPAfirehydrant

 John Kross
Fire Hydrant

I
am
either
gushing out
waves of drowning
deceit, drenching the people
who   pass   in   front
of me, knocking them down, forcing them
away – or  locked  up
tight,     heavy     with
layers     of      colorful
cover      where     even
your    wrenching    love
Is            not           enough
To      pry       me       loose.

First published online at the Poetry blog “The Mind(less) Muse” and sub- sequently printed in Kind Of A Hurricane Press’s 2012 best of “Storm Cycle”

 
KPA christmas-jumpers

Catherine Graham
The Sweater

 Around-the-clock care is required for a mother
who wishes to spend her sickness at home.
The stores are beginning their countdown to Christmas—
she watches the ads while lying in bed,
wondering what to buy for her only daughter,
not wanting to admit it could be her last gift.

 Her nurse drives her to Buffalo to shop for gifts.
Wrapped up in pillows and blankets from home,
the struggle is worth it for the mother.
The extra morphine eases her pain while she’s out of bed,
and she’s relieved to be focusing on this Christmas.
But her thoughts still wander to ones spent with her daughter,

and the long ago ones when she was a young daughter.
She knows her husband worries when she’s not at home.
The next morning he tells her to stop all Christmas
shopping. He doesn’t want her to fuss over gifts
just because she’s the mother.
It’s too snowy and cold. She should stay in bed.

 When he leaves for work, she sits up in bed.
She feels like a teenager disobeying her mother
and father as she unfolds her Christmas
list (worn and crumpled). She sees most gifts
are checked-off, but not the one for her daughter.
She intends to find it before he gets home.

She convinces her nurse they’ll be back home
in plenty of time. As it’s close to Christmas
the nurse agrees and helps her out of bed.
She selects her perfect gift:
a hand-knit sweater for her teenage daughter.
(If only she could knit like her own mother.)

Except for one vital hitch, the mother
almost gets away with it. She’s in bed
safe and sound, before her husband or daughter
walk through the door. Content with her gift,
she doesn’t know that while away from home
she caught pneumonia. That very Christmas

Day the mother dies (in a Fort Erie hospital bed,
not at home like she wanted). At the funeral her last gift
is worn by her daughter, three days after Christmas

 Originally published in The Watch (Abbey Press,1998) The White Page – An Bhileog Bhan- Twentieth Century Irish Women Poets (Salmon Publishing, 1999) and in The Field Day Anthology of Irish Writing, Vol. IV & V.

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Martyn Halsall
The Community

First chestnut tree, the candle master
lights the dawn’s church, birch serves the altar,
oak in old age guides novice summer,
elm bows to still the rooks’ dark clamour;
sycamore spreads the lessons’ leaves,
pine’s song shapes the praying eaves
in needles sharp as finger tips;
beech scurries, rustling, through the copse
and by the stream the willows tell
litany of each circling swallow.

Gifts take a summer’s life to form,
brought to the apse with autumn’s hymn,
angel from sycamore and blood
where holly drips, the cornfield’s bread
where copse gives way to the wide acre,
pasture to furrow and stooped shadow;
pale song as spruce the crucifer
snuffs sun and leaves the opening door
for mustard seed, the cellarer
to all the wild birds of the air.

From The Lion Christian Poetry Collection compiled by Mary Batchelor: Lion, 1995

 

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