to the small poem and the quiet voice within

charles rossiter | in the spirit of t’ao ch’ien

Charles Rossiter | Photo by Eileen Molony

In the Spirit of T’ao Ch’ien

edited by Charles Rossiter

Editor’s Note: This is one of those books you perhaps don’t know that much about but someone mentioned it, or the subject, author, publisher attracted your attention for some reason. A book you have not seen but suddenly here it is in your mail one morning in a plain white envelope (FootHills Publishing?) which you open (maybe) when you return to your desk or save till later in the evening—a little surprise, a little gift, a little company after midnight.

Then, when you finally get around to opening it, it’s…it’s….well, it’s just …just beautiful to look at, to hold in your hands…the black cover, the red thread binding, the cover art, the Chinese-red end-sheets—the whole look and feel of the book, which already is telling you something, even though you haven’t looked inside, read a single poem, but know, instinctively, you’re going to love this book. As I do.

Five poets, of Eastern persuasion, are featured: Sam Hamill, Michael Czarnecki, David Budbill, Charles Rossiter, Antler, most immediately recognizable by name, all with a significant publishing history and national identity from literary magazines to small press and national publishers.

Charlie Rossiter, editor, has done a beautiful job in selecting a perfect gathering of ‘quiet’ poets who see the world in the Eastern ordinary way of mind/sprit, the sparseness of word and concrete image. A low bow to him and to the publisher, Michael Czarnecki, for all his care and judgment in bringing this book to light.

As Rossiter states in his introduction: “The poems in this collection share characteristics with Tao Ch’ien and other poet of ancient China. They are plain spoken, clear, generally short, and readily understandable. These poems explore the poets’ states of consciousness and relationship with the natural world as they seek a self-understanding, as well as a connectedness with all that surrounds them. These poems document human relationships, and the comings and goings of other people in the poets’ lives. When these poems address issues in the wider world, they see through the smoke and mirrors of officialdom and are critical of social injustice.” —Norbert Blei

Mountains and Rivers Without End

By Sam Hamill

After making love, we are like
rivers come down from mountain summits.

We are still, we are moving,
calm in the depths of danger—

two rivers entering the sea
slowly, as if nothing matters:

quietly, but with great power
merging in deepening waters.

The Echo Of What Has Passed

by Michael Czarnecki

T’ao Ch’ien would understand.
I sit drinking wine
chanting poems
dreaming of mountains.
Bills pile high at the door.
White hairs infiltrate my beard.
Daughter approaches womanhood.
Young son no longer crawls.
Late autumn, already snow
has covered the ground.
Sipping wine, I shiver
as a hill breeze
caresses me from behind.

If You Ask Me Why

(after Li Po)
by David Budbill

Li Po said,
You ask why I live
in these green Mountains.

I got stuck here.
Too poor to move,
maybe too afraid to,
didn’t want to anyway,
thought maybe
there might be
something worthwhile here
if I could
stick it out.

That was forty years ago.

Cold Mountain 2000:
Han Shan In the City

by Charles Rossiter

I’m here in the city
but there’s something wild and unknowable
about where I live.
Crooked alleys and dark shadows
make the way uncertain.
If I choose to go inside
there’s no way you’ll ever find me.

Plunge Float Sigh

by Antler

Maybe death
… like skinnydipping
…………at night
…..for a dip
…………in the dark
Wading in
…..till lake reaches
And you plunge
…………on your back
Look up
… the stars
…………and sigh.

[from: IN THE SPIRIT OF T’AO CH’IEN, Charles Rossiter, Editor, Foothills Publishing, P.O. 68, Kanona, NY 14856 | ]


  1. susan hannus


  2. Jackie

    What a lovely way to fly–and land, legs folded and arms wide open.

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