“Because It is There”

22 07 2006

By Hans Tan

Mallory said.
“It” was the mountain of a war to come,
A war without borders.
Where death was chosen by the
Hand of nature and not by man’s own will.
Yes, he was familiar with both.
Mount Everest seemed a myth, unlike war,
Tales spun from Earth’s most isolated peak
Never left the lips of those who tried and fell.
While the mountains laid among the clouds
Mallory seized the wings to rise above
And when he rose, he rose with the angels
Until his waning strength gave no more.
And as he softly knocked on heaven’s door
He felt the caress of Geraniums and
Button flowers that remind him of Ruth,
The wife he loved but never truly knew.
Within the green, Himalayan valleys
His charming eyes quietly cry, asking
For the chance to see his home one more time.
The air shrills with his cold fears that soon will
Drift away to a different time and place.
Slowly, eyes that have seen what few only
Can hope to imagine or dare to dream,
Close without remorse, still as the candid moon.
Winds bawl like sirens, caressing the snow,
Blanketing the shell of a soldier as
Tired arms fade away in the snow.

*This poem written in reference to George Mallory’s climb of Mount Everest in 1924, supposedly he made it to the summit, and if this was the case he would have been the first person to have reach its peak without the use of oxygen tanks. However, conflicting reports may have suggest otherwise and in fact he may hae perished along with his climbing partner, Andrew Irvine, after they reportedly “were going strong for the top”.

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Celestials Built the Transcontinental Railroads

22 07 2006

By Hans Tan

I heard celestials built the great railroad
That crosses the Sierra Nevada,
Where east meets west.
I imagine other worldly beings
Too alien to interpret through humans senses
Dotting the naked landscape of chiseled earth
Within low, high, and in-between crests.
Marching through merciless desert dunes
So dry that even the air itself is lifeless.
They make way for miles of steel ties and tracks,
Speaking in their own galactic gabble
That would make the average American man back then
Question.
Question their baked yellow skin.
Question their slant-riddled, dusty brown eyes.
Question their skinny crossed up legs.
Question their humble bows and gestures.
Question their mud stained bamboo hats
Question their porcelain rice bowls
Question their delicate chopsticks
Question their ching chang chong.

Question these celestial Chinese men
Who brought East and West together
Without answers.

*A poem dedicated to the Chinese immigrants who sacrificed everything to build the Transcontinental railroad across the Sierra and beyond during the late 19th century in America, these workers did not request any recognition or need for it, they represent the true meaning of being patriotic and doing what was right, that is, serving a cause without question or asking for anything in return.*