Earth Day 2014

April 23, 2014

 

the fish pond this Earth Day

the fish pond this Earth Day

 

When the whole world should celebrate, but shouldn’t EVERY DAY be Earth Day?

We concentrate, as we should, on environmental impacts: pollution, energy issues, our polluted seas, etc. but today I am thinking of something else:  that we have squeezed other species out of their natural environments and they have moved within our expanding communities. Fox, bear, opossum, racoons, coyotes, deer,  etc. are prominant here in my urban neighborhood, and the attitudes about this are extreme.  The poem below, “The Fox” has thoughts  about our environment, humankind, religion and the species we share this Earth with.  Something we should be mindful of every day, not just on Earth Day.

Lady Nyo

 

THE FOX

 

Yanked from sleep

By a scream

Wrapping around the belly,

Fueled by some instinct of

Long buried ancestors.

 

Bolting upright

Knowing without knowing

A terrible slaughter was tearing

The soft night apart.

I had heard that sound before.

 

Coming fully awake,

heart pounding through my chest

I listened again, and there!

The vocals of a hen attacked

By something stealing through

The soft night, waiting beyond

The edge of sleep.

 

Three dogs have I

City dogs, though with

The blood of once-fierce hounds.

Not one of them would

Run out to do battle.

Grabbing the collar of the

Biggest, he turned and bit me-

He was no fool.

There was danger

In that dark night-

He was doing his best

To avoid it.

 

Stupid hounds!

I’ll face the monsters

Out there myself!

And switching on the porch light

I saw the dark flight of something

Fly across my yard and vision,

Take a sharp left and disappear

Into the night where porch light met

A dismal darkness.

 

Running to the chicken coop,

Found a young hen, a pile of feathers

Mounded around her, still alive

Clucking mournfully.

How do you comfort a tail- less hen

At dawn, with a crescent moon

Throwing feeble light upon the ground of slaughter?

 

I’ve raised hens for enough years

To know they are merciless to the injured.

But the events of the night

Had stunned their own instincts

And she burrowed amongst them,

They crowding around, covering with feathers and warmth,

Rocked out of their slumber

Clucking out warnings to further attackers:

Let the night and its beasts hear their rage!

 

In the morning I asked my neighbor

Once a south-Georgia farm boy what to do.

His answer was bloodier than

The attack of this young fox,

For young he must be,

Not to kill his prey on first strike.

 

“Spread poison in the kudzu,

Here, I’ll lend you a shotgun-

Fox be vermin and bred for no good.”

 

There is something mystical

In a fox who dares to live in a city.

Or desperate.

Birthed in the kudzu growing

From the leveling of a small forest

Sheltered in one-foot wide drainpipes,

Feeding on rats and rabbits

With a taste for chicken from time to time.

 

I’ll lock up my chickens

Let a dog prowl the fence,

And leave off the

Modern methods of slaughter.

 

There must be a balance in nature

As it struggles to right itself

To bypass concrete and the destruction

Of habitat by mankind.

There will be a balance

And I will stand with the foxes.

 

Oh, it is a marvel and a mystery!

For every species is the center of its universe,

If only for him.

 

We are connected by a fine thread to all else,

Our survival depends upon this,

Yet our eyes are blinded to the truth

And something in the proclamation

Of “Inheriting the Earth”

Lies and trips us up,

And we are no more shepherds

Of these species than wolves

In human skin.

 

The world is what it is,

With its own rules of hunger, survival,

We just a cog in this great Mandala,

And most of us attempt to bypass

These laws of nature, still clothed with

Dead dreams of conquerors.

 

And some of us know this deep in our bones.

 

We are blind to the beauty of life

That we are not alone.

The tragedy would be if we were,

And we deny our connection to what we now proclaim “vermin”,

Believing for some bad reason this makes us more human.

 

Jane Kohut-Bartels

Copyrighted, 2014, from “Pitcher of Moon”

My new book, “Pitcher of Moon” is available from Amazon!
Buy paperback: http://goo.gl/RzFRj4
Buy Kindle e-book: http://goo.gl/cOh8Ww 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

“Poetry As A Sacred Universe”….

April 21, 2014

 

My garden fish pond

My garden fish pond

William Stafford (1914-1993) is a favorite American poet.  His poetry goes deep and settles down and many times haunts.  I think it was Rober Bly, when Stafford said that he was in a habit of writing a poem a day, who asked  “What if the poem was weak?”    “Then I lower my standards”.

I love that!  It’s more than an exercise to write a poem a day.  It’s a way to observe and live in the  moment perhaps.  As for lowering standards?  I will have to think about whether I have any  before I can figure out whether these poems are lowering them.

Lady Nyo

 

Poetry is a sacred Universe

Where words, memories, emotions

Are jumbled together

And out of this hodgepodge

We regain our souls.

 

“Do you ever stop?” asked

A disgruntled relative, whose closest connection

To poetry is in her weak verse

Too timid to draw back the skin of mediocrity

And concoct something dangerous

Something that speaks to moving

From the soft places to the hard.

 

I had no answer for her.

I have learned

Some people just needle with no real interest in why

Poetry would be such a river,

And went outside to lie  in the grass by the fish pond.

 

The sun coursed over winter-pale limbs and breezes caressed.

I heard the few remaining goldfish gurgle water and then gulp air.

They exist in both universes, and I should learn to do the same.

The wrens and starlings chided me for no food in the feeder-

I was nose deep in a copper azalea, not aiming to move.

 

This river within is the substance of life.

This river within protects from the gales outside.

A large portion of humanity is mean, hurtful,

And they don’t want any answers.

They would flay you alive if they could catch you.

The trick is avoiding the knives.

 

Jane Kohut-Bartels

Copyrighted, 2014

 

My new book, “Pitcher of Moon” is available from Amazon!
Buy paperback: http://goo.gl/RzFRj4
Buy Kindle e-book: http://goo.gl/cOh8Ww

 

 

 

 

 

“Easter Morning”, a new poem…..

April 20, 2014

 

Watercolor, Early Spring, Jane Kohut-Bartels, 2011

Watercolor, Early Spring, Jane Kohut-Bartels, 2011

 

EASTER MORNING

 

The wind chimes are fierce

This Easter morning.

We thought of church where we would be aliens

Unknown and suspect, sitting on hard wooden pews; trespassers.

 

The music of the spheres

Is not out in the black of night

Does not pass from shooting star to star

As tones of energy or an ocean of harmony

But is carried by the wind from the east

That tallies majesty

With the music of wind chimes

More glorious than any carillon this morning.

 

I am soothed by a spirit

Random and precise,

Almost tangible blustering by

piercing my heart

As it jangles the simple vehicle of

Hollow metal pipes

And awakes me to life.

 

Jane Kohut-Bartels

Copyrighted 2014

“The River”…..a poem

April 17, 2014

 

from website: halfhearted dude...and thank you.

from website: halfhearted dude…and thank you.

Maybe it’s all this green pollen floating around the air, the fertilizer for nature’s coming bounty. Whatever it is, there is a quickening, a thump in our guts as our thoughts turn to love and sex which is natural as we are also part of this season’s bounty.

Lady Nyo

 

THE RIVER

 

The sun streams in the window

Like a jarring benediction

From a loud-mouthed priest.

 

It falls upon us

As we spoon asleep

Your back turned to me

My nose on your skin

Breathing in the miracle of you.

 

Last night, our first in spent passion,

That particular coin flowed like a river

Between us.

You brought towels

To clean up the waters left by the flood.

 

Bending over me

Parting my thighs with your hands

I wanted you to leave the damp alone

And slide

Into the still wet, faintly pulsing dark chasm

My hollow jerking and twisting at the end of you

 

But instead

I curled up like a fiddle-head fern

And embraced your dark head with my hands

Pulling your mouth to my own 

And we flowed down that river again.

 

Jane Kohut-Bartels

Copyrighted, 2014

 

 

“Spring Storm”….poem

April 15, 2014

 

sunrise to the east

sunrise to the east

 

It is early spring here in Atlanta, and nothing is usual about it.  The weather is weird, blowing from hot to cold, and tonight we are to expect freezing temps.  Unusual for the middle of April.

Spring  brings unsettled and dramatic weather across our nation. Tornadoes are the usual fare and this morning, the winds have picked up, blowing great gusts.  The wind chimes relay the power of the wind and I jump with their frenzy.  It is an unsettled time, this spring, but also one of excitement.   Nature is in command, and our petty concerns here down on earth, those things that drive us to distraction, fade in the face of Nature’s power.  The bellows of wind, the monstrous groans of limb on limb of huge oaks and pecans, well, these things capture our attention.  Life is played out in its fullness with spring storms.

Lady Nyo

 

SPRING STORM

 

The wind howls tonight

Races round eaves,

Disturbs the haunts in the attic,

Forces wind chimes

Into a metal hambone frenzy

The clash of harmony grates

On ears, on nerves

no sleep for this night.

 

There is death to the west

Fear in the vanguard.

 

It is springtime,

No gentle embrace

Just a blaze of destruction, despair.

Sanctuary

Is far down on the ground,

Deep as a cellar

Deep as the grave.

 

The moon above,

Sickly green sphere

Is in on the game.

 

The dogs howl

A Greek chorus

Echoing their primal fear

Over the landscape.

 

Each moan of wind

Heralds the apocalypse,

My eyes squeeze shut

Against grating of branches,

The rattle of panes

As I grasp for sanity

In an insane night.

 

 

I ride out the storm,

Dawn breaks,

The silence complete,

The earth placid and calm

As if the night before

Only a nightmare-

And I ridden from sleep

To the usual ground.

 

Jane Kohut-Bartels

Copyrighted, 2014,

from ‘Pitcher of Moon” 

My new book, “Pitcher of Moon” is available from Amazon.
Buy paperback: http://goo.gl/RzFRj4
Buy Kindle e-book: http://goo.gl/cOh8Ww 
 

Thinning The Herd….Social Darwinism at work.

April 13, 2014

 

 

Children playing in a field

 UPDATE:  I tried to get info from the police (and it IS Public Record) and they would tell me nothing. However, a reporter did email me with the police report. Apparently this kid on the motorbike was carrying a small passenger, a young child and he ran the red light and both of them ended up in the hospital, with severe head and body injuries.  This kid refused to sign anything in the presence of his mother.  Thinning the herd is a harsh term, but perhaps it’s just damn appropriate when these kids are allowed by their stupid parents motorbikes, no helmets and no effort to any intelligent thinking.  Social Darwinism at work.  That’s what we’re left with here in Atlanta.

Thinning the herd.  And should we care?

Sounds awful, especially when  applied to children, but this is an attitude I can’t call by any other name.

SW Atlanta is plagued by 4 wheelers and motorbikes. The police don’t give chase because as they say: “If they wreck, it’s on us.” Well, they don’t take this behavior seriously, either.

(And, according to the officer I talked to, they also realize that many of these ‘kids’ are drug dealers. But they don’t chase. And the drug dealers know this, and so do all of my neighbors.)

Thursday, Friday and Saturday a motorbike ran up and down our street, into the Metropolitan Parkway and around the side streets. The driver looked to be about twelve, with no helmet and there were little kids, also without helmets on the back of his small motorbike. Some of them were barefoot but none of them had helmets.

I called 911 Thursday, expecting an officer at least to investigate the situation, but according to the report (today, Sunday) when I made inquiries, ‘officer did not find either kid or bike.” So he left for another call.

Talking to other neighbors, they said “good that you called”, but what about them? They are so damn passive until something strikes them. Then they are hollering for the police.

This morning my upset neighbor called me. Last night this same kid on the motorbike ran a red light and was hit by a speeding car. It took a while for the car to stop and the bike was just in pieces. Ambulance, fire trucks, police  but nothing reported in the news this morning. We still don’t know if this kid is alive or dead. But looking at the bike, it is hard to believe that anyone could have survived this accident.

I was going up my street today and another kid, this one older, was revving up. I pulled into a driveway to turn around and see where he was going, and he almost hit me coming across a speed bump. I got the standard glare. I went another way around, not to chase him, but to see where he was going. He picked up a kid that looked like he was five years old, barefoot, and of course, no helmets on either of them. They raced down this long street with other kids playing with a basketball. Dangerous activity at any time of the day.

I came home and called 911. Told them I wanted to talk to the responding officer. No show.

(three hours later, still no-show. Ho-hum)

UPDATE: officer did show up after 2-3 hours, but there was nothing she could do.  The policy of the Atlanta Police Department  (according to this officer)  is to not chase these kids on 4 wheelers, etc…even though they already know that they are either drug dealers, or have warrents out on them.  They flip the police the bird and take off. So….the much ballyhooed fight against drugs in Atlanta on the southside is at a standstill.  The drug trade knows that these boys can’t be chased so they use them as the mules (carriers) for the distribution.  Or so the APD says.  According to this officer, SW Atlanta has a huge issue with these 4wheelers.  The young boys on the motorbikes are scouts or soon to be involved in bigger ways with the drug trade.  This probably is part of the direct fallout of the Atlanta Cheating Scandal, where teachers and principals were changing grades to push these kids forward (for years)  and they certainly weren’t prepared for anything except dropping out and the drug trade.

Interestingly, I was told by the officer at the Zone 3 precinct that “I should continue to call 911 every time this happens”. However, they don’t respond apparently to this ‘kind of call.’

Obviously a  waste of my time.  But for some reason, I do care.  I am a mother.

I was told today that after June 1st, there will be legislation to license, register and tag each motorcycle, motorbike, scooter. THEN maybe the Atlanta Police Department will do something about this menace to children, but I don’t believe it.  And I didn’t get this information from the APD.  They don’t seem to know their ass from their hand.  I got it from another close neighborhood.

Where in Hell are the parents? Where in Hell are the Preachers, Ministers, so-called community leaders? Twitting their thumbs waiting for someone else to address these issues?  And nobody does, and these ‘children’ become the newest group of criminals who plague our communities.  The court   system is overloaded and is a revolving door here   in Atlanta.  Some of these ‘youth’ have 15 to 20 arrests and that’s before they hit 20 years old.

We are told the police can do nothing and this behavior is historic with the APD. Depending on the officer, the procedures change and so do the laws. Worse trained bunch of cops I have ever seen. There has been a helmet law in this state since 1969. I checked. This is probably the best law around concerning motorcycles, but apparently the APD doesn’t find this even worth following.

So, we will be continuing to watch the “thinning of the herd”. Ignorance and arrogance abounding in SW Atlanta. And I highly doubt  this behavior would be tolerated in other more ‘toney’ parts of Atlanta. The only thing I could think of was to throw this situation to a reporter I know, and see if she can make anything of it. Other than that, I am left scratching my head.

Jane Kohut-Bartels

Copyrighted, 2014

“Turkey Vulture”, from “Pitcher of Moon”

April 11, 2014

 

Since April is Poetry Month, I will try to post a new or old poem every couple of days.  Frankly, after 4 published poetry books, I thought this January  poetry was over for me, and I would concentrate on some novel work, but this didn’t seem to happen.  The poetry, such as it is, keeps coming and like a river flowing inside, the poems keep appearing.  I don’t have any answers as to why this is, because I never started out as a poet; I thought novels, short stories was what I was destined to write.  However, I am reading Dr. Rollo May’s “The Courage to Create” and perhaps this gives some leads where creativity come from.  My belief is creativty comes from our encounter with opposition.  Courage is needed for that in some measure.

I am glad, now, about the poetry, because I find poetry to be something deep inside the psyche, something that appears unbidden mostly, and actually, in a strange way, therapeutic.  “Turkey Vulture” was written almost two years ago after a series of phone calls to a sister of a sisterinlaw. I had never met Diana, but this poem comes from her direct experience feeding strays of different species.  “Frank” was the name she called the turkey vulture.  Diana would not use these same words as Rollo May, but I think she has the essence of what he writes in her life.  She has the courage to go up against opposition on many levels and this is a good form of creativity.  I have love and respect for this woman who does not shy away from these huge birds, especially when a possum rattled my cage the other night.

Lady Nyo

 

 

TURKEY VULTURE

 

I once knew a woman

Living in a scrubby trailer park

Down near the scrub pines of Florida.

 

She was poor as a church mouse,

half–crazed by life.

She fed all strays

-was the pariah of the neighborhood.

 

Every evening a flock of vultures,

Like fixed-wing aircraft,

Would skim the pines,

And land in a muddle of feathers,

Awkward birds out of their element

Land and with a group waddle

Come to the cat food offered in pans.

 

They were patient guests

And waited for the strays to finish.

 

There was decorum

Among them,

These fierce looking birds

Perhaps they knew

The charity offered

Had humbled their nature:

Or perhaps they had reformed;

I don’t know

But they had a leader named “Frank”

Who held back until the others were done.

 

Frank would never face you;

He sat sideways

Though I believe he peeked.

Perhaps he was ashamed

A lord of the sky

Brought down to this station,

To fill his crop with kibble

From a dented metal pan.

 

Come sit with me.

Extend a feather,

I promise not to stare.

Your warty red neck,

Your hang-dog countenance

Does not disturb me.

 

Come sit beside me,

Let our talons dig into the sand

Let the ocean cleanse our feathers

I will call you friend, brother

For the gift of trust

You have brought on your wings.

  

 

Jane Kohut-Bartels

Copyrighted, 2014

From “Pitcher Of Moon

 

 

 

“The Dark Leans In”….a new poem

April 9, 2014

 

crescent-moon

April is Poetry Month.  Last night, late last night, I heard the hooting of a wood owl and earlier the cries of mourning doves.  The imagination catches fire when you are alone and it is dark.  This poem is wet behind the ears and will be reworked.

Lady Nyo

“The night belongs to other species”….this line came true just last night!~  I was outside, late, calling in two stubborn cats.  I had a cat food can that I was tripping the lid piece, thumping it loudly. It usually works.  The cats made their way up the walk but so did a full grown opossum, not at all afraid of me as he quickly moved up the brick walk to the stoop.  I was scared and yelled at him (her?) and threw the can of catfood at him, missed, and he took a sharp right to where the door of the cat room is.  Apparently he is familiar with our house!  My cats just acted like he was a ‘weird cousin’ and finally came in.  Didn’t see the possum this morning but I bet he will be back.  We are three miles frm downtown Atlanta, an urban area and this shows me  our razing of trees and our  ‘development’ brings these critters right into our lives.  It makes it clearer  we only share this planet, and in our arrogance we think we are the dominant species. We need to make right  for habitat we have destroyed.

 

The Dark Leans In

 

The dark leaned in, cool and necessary

The wind quieted the

hambone frenzy of wind chimes;

they ceased their cacophony,

the birds this spring night

tested their dusk calls,

unsure of voices muted

by the silence of the past winter.

 

Off in the distance a lone train whistle

perhaps the last train home

Before night blackened the earth.

 

Out in the country

A hand before a face was not there

Until the arising of a fat enough moon.

 

How silent the night!

Given over to owl hoots,

Mourning doves

And the rustle of something

In the tall weeds,

Something mysterious

But probably not.

 

The night is the territory of creatures

With night vision and silent flights

Of owls with upturned ends of wings,

Silent, silent, deadly drones

With red eyes like spooks

And talons like razors.

 

A banshee scream of prey

raises the hair on my arms.

 

No man walks about the dark,

No one would without some primordial fear

Knowing what is given by nature is not

On par with the lowliness creature of this dark.

 

Only the slight babble of the brook,

The brook that fears no rocks

Or fallen limbs or anything except drought

Makes the link to daylight where we

Are sure of our place, our courage renewed.

 

The night belongs to other species

As the dark leans in, cool and necessary

The wind picks up and rattles leaves beneath our feet

And we turn our steps towards a world

Of less mystery.

 

Jane Kohut-Bartels

Copyrighted, 2014

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

All The Old Men Are Gone…..a new poem

April 7, 2014

 

Dusk, jkohut-bartels, 2006?, watercolor

Dusk, jkohut-bartels, 2006?, watercolor

 

Thinking of my father who is gone, and the intriguing men of his era.

 

All The Old Men Are Gone

 

All the old men with beautiful manners are gone,

All the old men with courtly manners

who brush their lips or moustache over your hand

and look up the white pillar of your arm

and meet your eyes with sweet kindness or desire

Are gone.

The Hungarians, Italians and Russians who murmur into your eyes

with their own twinkling spheres gestures they find

‘deep in their hearts’ or perhaps like a well-oiled

Casanova, who glides across

the room and anchors your vanity to his side,

and you are glad for the flirtation

for it makes the stomach flip,

Life Suddenly Worth Living

If even for the evening

you feel young and desirable once more-

They are all gone, replaced with new manners that

drink down like flat champagne, a dullness behind the eyes

capturing nothing and inspiring less-

These have replaced all the old men with beautiful manners

for they are gone and mostly forgotten

except by those who remember and damn well know

what is  missing.

 -

 Jane Kohut-Bartels

Copyrighted, 2014

“Blackberry Winter”, a poem

April 3, 2014

 April is Poetry Month.  There are some great online poets, unfortunately I don’t know of any local poets  I could recommend.  If  Atlanta is a town that embraces poetry, it has eluded me, so I  am going to be posting some of my favorite poets, in particular  William Stafford (1914-1993).  Stafford is a voice of American poetry and one who is not well known amongst many American poets.   His voice is a steady voice, born in the Midwest and the forests where he was doing alternative service during WWII.   Stafford is not well known to many but I have found  some Indian poets in Mumbai, etc. have studied him in university    and  found him to be an authentic American voice.  William Stafford speaks to our hearts with poetry of challenge and consolation.  We are enriched with reading his verse.

Lady Nyo

 

 

 

 

“Blackberry Winter” is a Southern term used when there is a cold spell in the mid spring and the blackberries are just beginning to bloom. They fruit around mid to late June.

This period is also called “Dogwood Winter”, etc.  I’ve shared blackberries in the North Carolina mountains with a cotton mouth snake that I didn’t notice was under the bushes, eating the blackberries, too.  I moved away quickly, supposing that there were more somewhere else.

Lady Nyo

 

BLACKBERRY WINTER

-

It is Blackberry Winter

One last shot across

The bow of an emerging Spring.

-

Winter does not play fair.

It will not give up the ghost

Exit with a dignified bow

preferring to show its last rotting tooth.

-

The blackberries are blooming.

White collar frills surrounding

Kernels of lusty fruit,

Soon to be black as midnight

Sweet as a baby’s kiss

Unavoidable staining of hands and mouths

To be shared with a snake or two down below.

-

The Easter planting is done

The earth knows Winter’s game

And blankets seed

With dark, moist soil

Cozy enough to shelter tender life.

-

We will make blackberry wine

From Blackberry Winter.

The present chill will

Sweeten the fruit

And we will give a toast

To Winter’s frayed glory.

-

Jane Kohut-Bartels
Copyrighted, 2014

“Blackberry Winter” from “White Cranes of Heaven”,  Lulu.com, 2011


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