3 Poems by Span Hanna

3 poems by Span Hanna
Xiahe, Gansu Province, China. Image by: Span Hanna.

In the Light

In the light I almost fly
and soar without remembering
how in the dark I nearly die.

Aloft on airy roads I try
to flee the earth’s imprisoning
and in the light I almost fly

beyond the shadowed pits where I
can scarcely make out anything
and in whose dark I nearly die.

It seems absurd sometimes to try
to put myself upon the wing,
but in the light I almost fly

until without a voice I cry
louder than ever I might sing
how in the dark I nearly die.

Above the earth there hangs a sky
both luminous and shimmering
where in the light I almost fly
from darkness where I nearly die.

Chance Meetings

among those who approach and pass
strangers on their empty roads
many seem to bear the marks
we think we recognise
but nothing stirs in their bleak eyes
no feeling moves on frozen lips
their flesh devours the light
and leaves us dark
it’s numbers really that confuses us
to see those doubtful ones we think we’ve seen
quite unaware that most have passed before
not once or twice but quite innumerable times
and looked at us exhausted and remote
inquiring for a moment who we are
if only into their own cold abyss
then shaking weary heads and moving on
blaming the recognition on a wish

In Time of Plague

From running hard now you are out of breath,
so cannot speak of what you’re running from.
It’s fear, of course, when just the fear of death
is greater than whatever death may come.

But greater still, the idea that this talk
of death, believable though it might be,
and overheard down every street you walk,
is all it takes to stop you feeling free

to follow any path that you could choose
promising a way to move ahead.
Confusion answers swiftly: what’s the use?
Eat, drink, sing merrily – you’re as good as dead.

Bright songs of hope we struggle to believe:
how can we sing when we can barely breathe?

Writer bio:

Span Hanna, Image by: Span Hanna.

I am currently 68 years of age. After working as a schoolteacher for most of my working life, I became a fishpond cleaner for a couple of years, then editor of a community news magazine (Modern Asian, now defunct) and a call centre operator for the NDIA for a year, at the end of which I chose to retire and devote the rest of my life to reading and writing. My most recent published work is Songs from Cold Mountain, a complete translation of the poetry of 8th Century Chinese Buddhist recluse Han Shan. It was published by Moon Arrow Press, Adelaide, in 2019, and is available from blurb.com.

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