We are delighted to have another poem from Chinese poet Hsu ChiCheng, and he sets the tone with the change from Winter to the much awaited Spring.  This is followed by Stuart Macdonald’s poem The Hour House, whch also looks at seasons, in a slightly different way.

The English Papers by Mike Gallagher describes the weekly arrival of papers on the island of Achill, which sounds as if it could be much further away than southern Ireland, considering the culture shock they bring. Then we move to another sort of turnaround with La ronde by Mandy Macdonald, followed by a tailpiece by Owen Gallagher about the possible result of a ronde in Mandy’s sense.

It is pure chance we have all these Macdonalds and Gallaghers gathered here today. To the best of my knowledge they have nothing to do with one another, and will be surprised to be in one another’s company. Thanks to them all, and to Hsu ChiCheng.

Readers who are poets, please consider sending us some of your previously published poems (see first post of the year for how to send).  You might also like to ask some of your poet friends to contribute.  It helps me to balance the poems if I am more than two or three weeks ahead of the game with contributions.


Hsu ChiCheng
A Hope in Winter

 “Has the winter gone?”
“No. No…”
With a sharp sword in hand
The cold wind hesitates to reply
The cold-looking haze
And desolation replies in chorus:
“It hasn’t gone yet!”

“Well, the spring come?
“Yes. sure!”
The buds anxious to get out of the withered branches
Reply affirmatively
The repressed mind and
The smiles not appearing for a long time say together:
“Wait patiently!”

O! Spring will certainly come!
So many hopes in your mind:
Never lose your faith
And wait patiently

Yes. I will wait patiently
And happily to see
The collapse of winter, a tyrant
To welcome spring’s arrival
That day
The world will be fully filled with
The sunlight, flowers and joy

Note: This poem was written in Chinese, first published in the literary supplement of Atlanta Newspaper(USA) 2007/3/2, and reprinted bilingual ( Chinese-English) in the literary supplement of Epoch Times(Taiwan) 2011/1/13, then included in the poetry collection “Reappearance”(Taiwan), and recorded in English on “Poems of the World”(USA) volume15#2, Winter 2010-2011.


Stuart Macdonald
The Hour House

Inside the Hour House
the temperature is about average
for the time of year.

It’s summer in the kitchen,
clouds are edged in gold
pan-fried in the butter of the sun,

there’s rain in the sitting room,
it’s night time in the hall
and love is in the air.

In the upstairs bedroom
the stars come out to play,
comets race our pulses but lose.

The clock strikes autumn
in the blue sky tower
gulls flap on the tenth floor

beneath the skein of geese,
their prow is an imprint of landmarks
smoking horizontally from the chimney.

Three white horsetails in the twilight sky
resemble mentholated breaths
photographed by frosty eyes.

But the moon is ten minutes
slow in rising up,
with the wind fast blowing

curtains tight, forcing light
inwards and onto
the burrow of wintered sleepers.

A store of nuts
and an ice cream cone,
pots of soup and paddling pools

and an ant in the pantry
with an atom of gold
it cannot spend,

others with tiny weathers
balanced like feathers
on the cold and dripping nose of the air.


From the bedroom
the fog is clearing,
we fall asleep on the hay
made when the sun
and our faces were shining.
(New Writing Scotland 28, 2010)

KPA papers

Mike Gallagher
The English Papers

On Achill the post came twice each week –
Tuesday brought Queenshead fivers,
postmarked Ormskirk, Tamworth, Kilburn –
short letters from villages of men
transplanted en masse to alien trenches.
Thursday brought brownpaper rolls, neatly
wrapped; Anthony Jack flung them from his bike,
cursed their weight, their wickedness, their
Englishness with equal ferocities. The Achill mother
unfurled the Sunday Post, plucked The News of the World
from the entrails of The Sunday Mail
and, with a magician’s sleight of hand,
made it disappear. The others
were absorbed, devoured by her children, tales
of dazzling sights and city lights grooming them too,
for the emigrant fate of their fathers. The mother
bided her time, waited for the covert hour, then savoured
the News of the World, revelled in stories
of bedroom romps, relief from absence and abstinence,
far-fingered foreplay, forbidden by Church and State,
twin conspirators who saw fit to make
                                                slaves of their sons, sinners of their saints.

This poem first appeared in thefirstcut in 2012.


Mandy Macdonald
la ronde

these days I make poems out
of string, cat’s cradles, one-surfaced
Moebius strips or
shaky Mississippis traced out
on onionskin

this wanderlust has taken fast hold of me
I’ve become a journeyman
in love and words, a tyro
learning two trades
wanting the new astonishment every time I
confront love, forgetting how
we choose each other, plunge headlong
into that maelstrom maze, whirl about
until we reach
                       escape velocity

if I get lost I can weave
my own labyrinth to wander in
and when I’ve made another of love’s journeys
I end up standing right where I began
with my clothes gone out of fashion
and the prices gone up

First published in Pushing Out the Boat, issue 11, 2012KPATic

Owen Gallagher

Whilst he covets the attention of the TV interviewer,
and being considered as a Government front-bench runner,
his mother, Lady Paris Smith

notices a facial tic not inherited from his father
but of a prominent Cabinet Minister
she once cross-partied with.

published in ‘Tea with the Taliban’ Smokestack Books, 2012.