Shisan: My Aching Back

Before I begin to discuss the poems, let me thank absolutely everyone who has been following the development of My Aching Back. To each of the poets who have offered their words, thank you, and to all of the readers, you are why we keep showing up. In fact, to everyone who has ever visited the site, thank you for keeping me energised!

Now, to the poems… with so many to enjoy, I have decided to discuss the five poems that have made my shortest of short lists. The five poems are:

nothing matters
after sunset


This poem is so direct, so fitting to bring the shisan to its end… not only does it add a gorgeous splash of colour, it reaches into the darkness beyond and in doing so opens up an afterlife for the poem and links us back to Matt’s hokku.


an empty bed
under the poinciana


Like Carly’s poem, this adds a big splash of colour and smacks of late summer afternoons, seeking refuge from the heat. It’s leap forward to the hokku is so vivid and the emptiness of the bed leaves room for the incoming tide to settle. Truly magnificent!


the snake flows
over dry grass


The sound of this poem has held me transfixed… The use of the word ‘flows’ continues the movement of the incoming tide while adding a quiet menace to the poem. Such a unique portrayal of summer in Australia and such a strong leap to Matt’s ‘my aching back’.


peeling the skin
off the day


The action in this poem is easily understood by anyone who has spent too many hours (or is that minutes?) in the relentless summer sun… many a time have I felt like peeling the skin off the day (as well as off various parts of my body) as the light blisters everything in sight.


it’s decided then:
last round’s on me


It feels very fitting to take a seat at the bar (with Chris and everyone else) and toast this poem. I love the generosity of this poem… for me, it captures the camaraderie of the group that has gathered to compose this poem. Would be wonderful to gather everyone together in real time to have that drink!

And on that note, it is time to choose the final pearl in our shisan. To hold down the position of the ageku, and bring us full circle, I have chosen Chloe’s ‘the snake flows’.

But let’s not make this the end… as we did with the New Junicho, I would love people to send me through their own remix of the poem. So if you are up for it, the only poem that needs to remain in place, is Matt’s hokku which gives the poem its name, other than that, here is a link to each of the posts so that you can go back and read through all of the poems and make your own selections.

I hope to read (and post) remixes from many of you. The depth of writing offers such great potential, so have fun playing with it!


My Aching Back: Shisan
Started: 15 May 2013 – Finished:
Written between: Matt Hetherington, Lyndon Norton, Ashley Capes, Lee-Anne Davie, Chris Lynch, Mal Keeble, Chloe Callistemon, John Wainwright, Nigel Ellis, Andy Smerdon, Cindy Keong

Side 1jo – preface

Link #1 (3 lines) – hokku (autumn)

my aching back
a leaf falls
from a branch

(Matt Hetherington)

Link #2 (2 lines) – wakiku (autumn)

as I put down the rake
the sky darkens

(Lyndon Norton)

Link #3 (3 lines) – daisan (non seasonal)

in the shed
removing a dropcloth
from old paintings

(Ashley Capes)

Side 2ha part one – development

Link #4 (2 lines) – winter  moon

gravy smears the dinner plate
winter moon

(Lee-Anne Davie)

Link #5 (3 lines) – non seasonal

I regret
the light switch

(Chris Lynch)

Link #6 (2 lines) – non seasonal

the old dog dreams
of the chase

(Mal Keeble)

Side 3ha part two – intensification

Link #7 (3 lines) – spring blossom

the puppy
pisses on all
the daffodils

(Chloe Callistemon)

Link #8 (2 lines) – spring

spring shower
yolk burst on the tongue

(John Wainwright)

Link #9 (3 lines) – non seasonal

behind teeth
a storm gathers
I cannot swallow this

(Nigel Ellis)

Side 4kyu – finale

Link #10 (2 lines)- non seasonal, love verse

china doll
still holding hands

(Andy Smerdon)

Link #11 (3 lines) – non seasonal, love verse

waiting for
the next wave
incoming tide

(Cindy Keong)

Link #12 (2 lines) – ageku (summer)

the snake flows
over dry grass

(Chloe Callistemon)


Filed under poetry

10 responses to “Shisan: My Aching Back

  1. Perfect choice, GN. Love it 🙂

  2. And congrats on your 1500th post – well done 😀 Keep ’em coming!

  3. Andy Smerdon

    excellent finish. that put a bit of menace in the garden 🙂

  4. First time I really get time to look at this aching back – Great run. Looking forward for more collaborations

    I really like Carly’s offer – wonderful poem in itself

  5. Thanks Graham, and also to everyone else, for the fun and wonderful experience. A great choice for the ending.

  6. Pingback: Shisan: My Aching Back – poetry collaboration | The Write Space

  7. What a great experience to be a part of! I now have time to remix it! If only the internet connection behaves!

  8. wow, that’s quite a process that’s been going on — a huge amount of ‘ku to read, but some very nice ones in there that i’ve seen. an epic! epic-sized thanks to graham for getting it going, and to all those who’ve responded! onwards!

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