Cold Mountain 2000: Han Shan in the City by Charlie Rossiter. Foothills Publishing, 2014.
Review by Ramona Davis
It’s rare that a piece of writing that reminds me of Southside Chicago, is also such a peaceful bit of poetry with none of the anger, angst, or dreariness that the city can represent. I found many pieces of art in Cold Mountain 2000: Han Shan in the City by Charlie Rossiter, but what brought about the peacefulness of Mr. Rossiter’s poems best was #2:
It’s bleak here
it’s always been bleak.
Dark buildings half-blown down,
shadows enough to spook a saint.
But grass still sprouts each June
school kids return each autumn.
Now I’m here, which is nowhere
looking for a vision that just won’t come.
I felt such hope in the midst of so much anguish where though “…it’s always bleak…” “…grass still sprouts each June…” The Zen quality of this piece and the beauty it still shows, grants hope that through the negative, something positive will come.
There is so much beauty in this book of poems. So many lines that can be eaten and savored, and I found many tidbits to enjoy:
#3: “People ask how to get here…If your heart was like mine/you wouldn’t need mood to find the way.
#48: “I love this everyday Way…”
#51: Do you have my poems in your house?/ They’re better for you than the New York Times./ Type up a couple and use them for screensavers./ They’ll help keep your head on straight.
Many of these poems seem like ramblings of someone with nothing but pen, paper, and their clothes on their back, but they represent such profound thought, a mindfulness of surroundings and being, that how can you need anything else but these words to sustain you and show you the beauty in things otherwise very ugly.
Cold Mountain 2000: Han Shan in the City is a collection of poetry that not only relaxed my mind with its simplicity, but will also be kept on my bookshelf for when system overload hits and I need to be reminded to slow down and “smell the roses” or just Awake [myself] to Beauty:
books stacked in crooked stacks
curled smoke campfires crackling
sunrise on snow licked mountains
rain slick trees black line the sky
a crock of fine wine, spring
rivers overflowing banks
softly euphoric saxophones
reminiscing distant drums
the ordinary smell of summer
unassuming and complete
hair on the pillow waiting for hands
Ramona Davis is a poet, reviewer, essayist, and a writer of fiction. Former owner of PoeticJava Publishing, she now owns Altered Words, a professional proofreading, self-publishing, and business writing services company. She also organizes and teaches poem and journal writing workshops, and volunteers as an adult literacy tutor as well. Ramona has a degree in Creative Writing and credits her parents with her love of books, reading, and writing.