Charlie Rossiter
Charles Rossiter

(Charles Rossiter's other FHP books:
Cold Mountain 2000: Han Shan in the City
In the Spirit of T'ao Ch'ien
All Over America: Road Poems
The Night We Danced With the Raelettes)

In these 35 miniature vignettes, Charlie Rossiter captures the essence of Winter Universe in a sequence totally unique, building to an epiphany we need to be reminded of in this crazy world.
                      Antler, former poet laureate, Milwaukee, WI.

From the book:


The ancient Chinese poets have an elegant way of using straightforward, natural language to record experiences that are uniquely personal, yet also universal. I appreciate the contemp-lative, spiritual feeling of their brief, focused poems that appear simple on the surface while addressing issues that are deeply profound.  For the last decade or so, I've been working to develop my ability to write poems in the style of Han Shan, T'ao Ch'ien, Li Po and the rest.  This collection is a result of those ongoing efforts.
Charles Rossiter
Oak Park, IL


at the Peace Pagoda
the Buddha,
covered with snow,
looks a little more serene
than usual


It's cold and snowy,
a good day
to invite friends over
for a brandy
by the fire.


Some people hate shoveling snow
but I don't mind.
I go slow, find a rhythm,
don't lift too much.
After a while
it becomes meditative,
like raking pebbles
in a zen garden.  It helps
that the driveway's not too long.

Charles Rossiter, NEA Fellowship recipient, has been featured at the Dodge Poetry Festival in NJ, and on NPR.  Recent publications reflecting his ongoing exploration of classical Chinese poetry include Cold Mountain 2000: Han Shan in the City and the anthology, In the Spirit  of T'ao Ch'ien, both from FootHills Publishing.

Winter Poems is a 40 page hand-sewn chapbook (5 1/4" by 5 1/4") - $7.00.


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 Cold Mountain 2000:
Han Shan in the City
Charles Rossiter

Charlie Rossiter has contemporized Han Shan's Cold Mountain Poems in this amazingly accurate, knowing reworking of the original poems. This is most definitely a contemporary rewriting of these ancient poems, to wit: "let the Dow Jones go about its changes."

In a perfect rendering of an ancient Han Shan poem, Rossiter says: "A big-time scholar told me/my poems are too plain/and lack flights of fancy./I just laughed and told him/he should know better,/if he's looking for word games/he should have stayed on campus."

The poet in these poems has nothing to his name and he's happy about that, just as Han Shan was. Yet the poet here still has a ways to go. "These braless beauties/sashaying through the park/in tight shorts/must be Buddha-sent./They remind me/how far I still have to go/to transcend desire."

Blues festivals, book fairs, rock concerts, visits from other poets all provide occasions for poems. This is a wonderful book. Get it. Read it.

David Budbill
Author of "Happy Life" Copper Canyon Press 2011

From the book:


I settled here long ago
already it seems like centuries.
Drifting I prowl the city's back streets
and linger watching the straight world.
Few people want to come this far down
where it's smelly and unclean.
Me, I'm happy to be alive
let the Dow Jones go about its changes.


I love the mountains
but the city's not all bad.
On free days I go to the museum
for my weekly shot of art.
It's good for me
and that's not all.
The guards feel useful
when a guy like me
comes around.

Cold Mountain 2000:
Han Shan in the City
is a 40 page hand-sewn chapbook - $10.00.


To order through mail click here.     


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 In the Spirit of T'ao Ch'ien
Charles Rossiter, Editor

One of the poets in this book speaks of “First Breath” and “Last Breath.” Here are American poets who have “breathed in” the breath of such Chinese poets as T'ao Ch'ien, Han Shan, and Wang Wei. And here they breathe it back out again where it mingles with the breath of America.

Jonathan Chaves
Translator and Professor of Chinese


Sam Hamill
Michael Czarnecki     
David Budbill
Charles Rossiter

From the Introduction:

T'ao Ch'ien (365-427 C.E.) is a major figure in the Chinese poetic tradition whose influence on subsequent generations cannot be overstated.  After holding several official posts he abandoned a traditional government career for the life of a reclusive gentleman farmer.  His poems, expressed in natural language, reflect on ordinary daily occurrences and express a deep connection with nature.  Despite their accessibility and seeming simplicity, they are deeply philosophical.

The poems in this collection share characteristics with T'ao Ch'ien and other poets 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 poets address issues in the wider world, they see through the smoke and mirrors of officialdom and are critical of social injustice.

Like T'ao Ch'ien's poems, those collected here reflect a viewpoint on life and society from outside the mainstream.  Poetry is at the center of each of these poets lives, yet, unlike many contemporary American poets, none holds an academic position.  Although the poets live in varied circumstances, all five share the lifestyle of the Chinese mountain recluse when one considers what that lifestyle entails.  As David Hinton, poet and translator of T'ao Ch'ien and other major Chinese poets describes it, the “mountain recluse” lifestyle generally included “a relatively comfortable house, a substantial library, family, friends,” as well as a political dimension, “for the wisdom cultivated in such a life was considered essential to sage governing.”

From the book:

Sam Hamill

Mountains and Rivers Without End

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.

Michael Czarnecki

In The Spirit of T'ao Ch'ien:
a Sequence of 15 Poems


Hilltop covered in thick fog
nearby trees barely in view.

No sunrise over eastern ridge
only slow lightening of sky.

Cat meows, wanting food in his dish
homemade bread toasting on wood stove.

Would you understand if I said
right here, the center of the world.

David Budbill

An Old Dog Headed for the Park
Glad to Have Another Day
(Montreal, 3/18/07)

Two mornings now we've watched
                  an old dog
walk past the windows of our B&B,
                 out in the cold air,
out in the new snow, headed for
                 the park,
yesterday with the man,      
                 this morning with the woman.

He's old,
                 he's overweight,
he moves real slow,
                 he waddles along
wagging his tail
                 the whole way.

Charlie Rossiter

Cold Mountain 2000:
Han Shan In the City
                    (4 poems from a series of 51)

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.


First Breath Last Breath

When a baby boy is born
     and the midwife
            holds him up
     as he takes
            his first breath,
Place him over
     the Mother's face
             so when the baby exhales
     his first breath on Earth
             the Mother breathes it.

And when the Mother dies
     her middle-aged son
             the baby grew up to be,
     by her side
              his head next to her head,
Follows her breathing with his breath
     as it becomes shorter
             and as the dying Mother
     exhales her last breath
             her son inhales it.

In the Spirit of T'ao Ch'ien
is an 84 page hand-sewn paperbook  with spine - $16.00.


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 All Over America:
Road Poems

Wild horses of Assateague, Minnesota nuns, the Kentucky State Fair, tin roof bar stories in Shawano, Wisconsin, with friends in Ann Arbor, tracing history in Tucumcari, father-son Badland moments, hiking Scotts Bluff Rockies Carhenge Black Hills.  .  .California to Calgary, Vancouver to Vermont, New York to New Orleans, people and places encountered along the road, wide-eyed moments of joy and wonder all over America.

From the book:

Things Seen Along the Road

dry cracked swimming pools of mom and pop
motels alongside two-lane country roads,
proud hand-lettered signs proclaiming

porches of America backyards of America
sidewalks of America empty empty empty,
storefronts of America with notes on the door
“moved to the mall”

sunrise t'ai chi in Madison, Wisconsin,
lawyers waiting for the mail,
the late-again clerk, overqualified, underpaid, too young,
and too in love with Lake Mendota to ever leave

scrub-faced kids strolling grade school corridors
that gleam like seminary wood
between walls of crayola art and alphabets,
the teacher's wide-eyed tales of other worlds

Dave and Mary Mason in their small town diner
handing out free cups of coffee and donuts
for a song and dance among empty tables
during the mid-morning lull

American Flyer little red wagons with fire hoses used
to shoot kegs across the town park lawn for charity,
little girls who prance and pray for blue
ribbons along the banks of the Ol' Mississippi

laughing high schools festooned for
saturday afternoon football fantasies,
teams of well trained pom pom girls in cheery face,
back row boys dreaming of cartwheels

Outside Taos

Winding streamside along US 64
     into the Sangre de Cristos
the sky lined with pine tips
along the mountain's edge
Dust covered, the car
     from Bandelier and the High Road
suitcases full of dirty clothes

Two weeks on the road
and ten pounds lighter
     with the easy flow of days
under blue Southwest skies
light with altitude and freedom

     Jack pulls out his kazoo
and honks an old-timey jazz tune,
Satchmo or something, as we
barrel along side by side
from somewhere we didn't have to go
to somewhere we don't have to be.

All Over America:
Road Poems
is an 88 page hand-stitched  paper book w/spine.

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 The Night
We Danced
With the Raelettes

Occurrences In and Around College Park Maryland
in the 1960s  For the Most Part
To the Best of My Recollection

It's all here: leaving home for the first time, hanging out with guys from the dorm; road trips; summer jobs as diverse and improbable as delivering yeast for Budweiser, supervising a pick-your-own strawberry patch, and sweating it out in the coal fields of Bethlehem Steel.  There are also musings about life, literature, friendship, and the bliss and pain that comes with searching for, finding, and losing love.

"Charlie Rossiter's book takes us a high-speed journey into memory and the past. It makes the 60's come alive again. More importantly, it makes us laugh and cry. Tender, funny, evocative, this book is one not to be missed."
Maria Mazziotti Gillan
Founder & Executive Director, Poetry Center, Passaic Co. CC,
Paterson, NJ and editor, Paterson Literary Review.

From the Book:

When Someone Asks Me Who Was First

We still lived in dorms
segregated by sex
but I lived on the first floor
in back
which meant that
once we decided
it was easy
to lift her through the window
walk around
and come in the front door
as if nothing monumental
were about to happen
but it did
right there
in my narrow iron dorm bed
just a wall away
from the distant din
of rowdy dorm guys
without dates
on saturday night.

When someone asks me
who was first
I think of Nanya
and that night
which is not precisely true.
There was someone or two
before her, I'm almost certain.
I forget the details
and the names.

But the night I lifted
Nanya through the window
as if she were
a princess, Lady Guenivere,
and I were Galahad
or Robin Hood
or any stirring figure
out of myth or legend.

That night
she became the first.

The Night We Danced With the Raelettes

is a 60 page hand-sewn book with spine - $14.00


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To order through mail click here.