Ascending the cold mountain by train

at an angle defying 4 am logic

on a morning unblinged by stars or moon

we tourists are stuffed and zipped

into cypress green army jackets


to keep all five hundred of us steaming

like the hot pots of jin xuan tea

we’ll sip at the summit

to honor the dawn.

Which reminds me of the poet

Han Shan


when he wrote

on a stone

or a piece of bark

or the side of a house

Find a magic melon in your dream!

Steal a sacred orange from the palace!

Far away from your native land…

must’ve been imagining this fiery orb

floating up like a holy fruit through

these flaming mountains

here at Alishan.



Original  photo by Michael Cannings via Wikimedia Commons.

Han Shan quotes from poem #13, The Collected Songs of Cold Mountain, translated by Bill Porter (Red Pine), Copper Canyon Press, 2000.

10 thoughts on “Alishan

  1. I see this piece with a slightly different organizational structure…in roman numeraled sections—removing the ‘reminds me..phrase–starting roman numer II with…Han Shan…

    Then when that section is complete with ‘native land’ –putting a Roman numeral III for your last section–if, that is, you see the piece as being its same current length.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Hi jd, thanks for the feedback. The structure is definitely something to think about when I revise. Wrote it fast between a hike and weeding the garden, and then looked again this morning and kind of snorted. 😀


  3. I love the symmetry of the verses and the imagery evoked. The photo makes me want to board the train to Alishan. Beautifully done, Susan.


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