Sunday, September 01, 2013

7th Month

This is the tail end of the Chinese 7th Month. The 7th Month is also known as the Ghost Month in the Chinese calendar when ghosts and spirits are supposed to be released from the lower realm and allowed to roam this mortal world. Activities during the month would include ritually offering food, and burning of paper offerings like "hell money" to appease these spirits. In the past, Chinese operas or puppet shows are organised to entertain these spirits, but nowadays getai, literally "song stage" has taken over. At these getais, artistes sing, dance, or tell bawdy jokes, usually in gaudy, colourful costumes. These shows can attract large crowds.

I have posted this poem before, but I thought it would be interesting to retell this little bit of our culture.

image by dsnake1
generated with Reptile

7th Month


    are there ghosts
    that scramble
    for paper gold
    eat their fill
    of fruits & meat
    that line the
    pathways the drains
    the aprons of concrete?


    it is not so much
    we feared them


    do we not share the
    same corridors
    the roads,
    the playgrounds?
    it is that we pray
    please do no harm to us.


    and so take
    the gold and money
    and fruits and meat


    and gather round
    smouldering joss sticks
    the fires of wax candles
    and burning offerings
    the flames flickering
    on bare ground
    in cauldrons


    the night wind stirs
    the fluttering ashes
    that are your regrets &
    unfulfilled dreams


    and your tedium
    of wandering

    the centuries


Shared on Poetry Pantry #165 at Poets United.

© cheong lee san ( dsnake1 ) 2013

Labels: , , , , , ,


Blogger Brian Miller said...

cool piece...they fit together as a whole but each part is its own as well..i like how you go from the ghosts to our regrets, which are ghost we often carry til exorcism...

02 September, 2013 00:31  
Blogger Mary said...

I enjoyed this poem & insight into a bit of Chinese culture. I did know a young Chinese woman once and she had described this...the food offerings, burning of offerings, etc. It is interesting to speculate whether day after day we are sharing the same corridors with these ghosts. I do wonder if they find it tedious to wander around for centuries.

Thank you for this.

02 September, 2013 03:01  
Blogger Lisa A. Williams said...

Love this, especially stanza VI. Wonderful!

02 September, 2013 08:59  
Blogger Sherry Blue Sky said...

What a spectacular poem! One can imagine the hungry ghosts dipping into the sweets and breathing in the incense....."please do not harm us" write, kiddo. I really liked this glimpse of your culture.

02 September, 2013 11:17  
Blogger dsnake1 said...


yeah, we do have our own inner ghosts to exorcise, which can sometimes be quite scary.


some may view this as superstition, but there are things we cannot fully explain. during this month, people avoid moving house, hold weddings, try not to step on the offerings. even people of the other races in our society.


thank you! i think it's a good image too. :)


yes, we do leave candies for them too. "spectacular poem", thank you! :)

02 September, 2013 22:40  
Blogger Justin Huskey said...

Though I am quite lost concerning the exact inspiration behind this poem and its meaning, I confess, it is still a very well written piece, and the imagery is quite beautiful and intriguing to say the least. Thank you for sharing.

02 September, 2013 23:28  
Blogger Justin Huskey said...

Ha! In my haste to read the actual piece, I failed to read the preceding explanation of its meaning. My apologies. I fully understand it now, and once again, well done:)

02 September, 2013 23:30  
Blogger dsnake1 said...

Thank you, Justin, for visiting and leaving your comments.
i was writing something local, and chinese, so it might be a bit baffling for someone from the West. :)

03 September, 2013 00:20  
Blogger R.K. Garon said...

Very nice piece. Written with respect.

03 September, 2013 02:52  
Blogger dsnake1 said...

thank you, ZQ. :)

03 September, 2013 19:45  
Blogger Ravenblack said...

I love the feeling that comes from reading part iii -- that we share space with entities we cannot see.

Not as many offerings outside as I once remembered though.

04 September, 2013 21:02  
Blogger dsnake1 said...

well, we never know! :)
yes, not as many offerings outside, i noticed too.

04 September, 2013 23:08  
Blogger Sherry Blue Sky said...

I had to come back for another read........I love the idea of leaving sweetmeats out for ghosts and hope someone does for me one day (I have a BIG sweet tooth!) This is a really rich and wonderful poem. I totally love it.

06 September, 2013 11:16  
Blogger dsnake1 said...

thanks, Sherry!

the sweetmeats are supposed to keep them busy. :)

06 September, 2013 22:56  

Post a Comment

<< Home