Mia, the newest member of our family…..

August 30, 2015
MIA!

Momma Mia! What a Wonderful Dog!

My beautiful picture

Daphne when she was three months.  Now three years….

Thursday husband and I were out and about and decided to visit the Atlanta Humane Society.  There were 12 Boykin Spaniels seized from a puppy mill (actually 38 but AHS got 12).  Since this is a pure breed dog, we surmised that people would be lining up, camping out, the night before for a chance to adopt these beautiful (and un- socialized….they had been isolated in pens and cages for years) doggies.  I love Boykins, but I am not going to pitch a tent and sleep on concrete at my age.  We have a very nice discussion with a lovely Shelter employee, and we expressed interest in taking an older dog.  She thought we would be great Boykin owners (having a Field Spaniel, Sparky, who died the first day of spring, 2011 of cancer.)

But we would have to wait months until these dogs were adoptable.

Three years ago we had good luck at the Fulton County Animal Shelter.  That’s where we adopted a brown and spotted, green eyed German Shorthaired Pointer, Daphne. Three months old.  That was the name they gave her and that was the name we would have named her anyway.  We had a wonderful “Daphne” for 13 years, a street puppy, who made her way up and down Little Five Points….visiting all the bakeries and shops for a few weeks.  I took her home and Daphne and I weathered “That Winter of Divorce”. Many years ago, thankfully. She died peacefully at home at 13.

Daphne and her sister were dropped at an exit off I85.  They were tiny puppies, no bigger than a bread loaf.  I walked in, looking actually for a wiener dog: we had one, Hedwig, a few years before.  But there was Daphne (her sister was already adopted).  We locked eyes, and  two days later she was home with us.

So …, we found Mia.  We actually overlooked her, and because I don’t know much (or anything really) about pit bulls, or ‘bully dogs’….I wouldn’t have considered her for adoption.  We have cats and other dogs.

As we were leaving, a FCAS employee asked us if we had seen Mia.  She had been there for over 4 months, and no one had adopted her.  And she wasn’t a pit bull.  She is a Staffordshire Pit Terrier, 4 years old, pregnant and with heartworms.  They spaded (and aborted the pups) and apparently the staff fell in love with her.  She was found in an industrial area in SW Atlanta, about 7 miles from our neighborhood.  She probably had at least two litters before she was rescued. She also had some scars, some of them burn marks, perhaps a cigarette pressed against her neck.  She is afraid of doorways and men.  We are sure she was abused, but  aim to overcome those memories with love and patience.  She certainly deserves it.

She is a Lamb. The employee called her name, and all the other dogs in the pen rushed forward. barking and wanting attention.  Mia sat back and just quivered.  She had learned her name but she wasn’t a pushy dog.  In a shelter with 371 dogs, I am sure the staff appreciated her behavior and attitude.

I did some research on English Staffordshires, (she is not as large as the American Staffordshires.. (The English are smaller) and they are considered the “Nanny Dog” in England, and the most popular dog in that country.

Further, they are extremely loyal to their families (humans) good with babies and children, ignore cats and generally good with other dogs.  They are silly, intelligent , the clowns of the dog world.

What could go wrong?

Nothing.  Mia has been very sweet to the cats in the first few minutes in the front yard, where she was poked at by a number of bold pusses, and showed no aggression.  The usual in presenting a new dog is at least a few nips and snarls, but she has disarmed them with her personality, which I must say is better than a couple of our dogs.

She smelled faintly of the shelter, so I got in the new shower and she came in slowly.  This was amazing  because our other dogs would have broken down the shower just because they could. Mia soaped up with shower soap and acted like this was Not her first shower. She was better than my son at the same age.

Mia gets heartworm meds twice a day.  For thirty days, and then she gets two injections. Then she must have bedrest and a slow pace for another month.  Other wise, the heart worms can break up in the heart, travel to the lungs and clots can fast develop.

So, Mia got in a couple of  TV  watching hours last night after her shower.  She really was watching the screen.  And, she can jump on the couch and arrange herself for comfort on the pillows.

In a world of turmoil  there is little you can change. We found  we can change the path of smaller concerns, animals in particular.  Yes, it is generally gut twisting when they die, but the love they give is unconditional.  We can  learn from their example, especially in this unconditional love thing.

Husband’s phone camera didn’t transmit the photos of Mia, so I had to search out Google for a picture of Mia.  Close enough, except Mia has a ribbon of white down her head, and is prettier.

When I first saw her, I thought she was as ugly as Satan.  I guess you shouldn’t judge a book by it’s cover.  Now? She is flat-out beautiful to me.

Jane Kohut-Bartels

Copyrighted, 2015

Ono no Komachi, A Sensual Medieval Japanese Poet, one of the “100 Immortals”

August 27, 2015

Tanka image

I’ve written before on this blog about Ono no Komachi. She continues to capture my interest as a woman and a poet.

Briefly, she lived from 834?-??. It’s not clear when she died. She served in Japan’s Heian court (then in Kyoto) and was one of the dominant poetic geniuses. She is also in the great Man’yoshu, a collection of 4500 poems.

She lived when a woman was considered to be educated once she composed, memorized and could recite 1000 poems. Her poetry is deeply subjective, passionate and complex. She was a pivotal figure, legendary in Japanese literary history.

The form: these are written in tanka form…the usual form of poetry most popular.

Don’t be put off by the lack of syllables or more than for the lines. These poems are translated into English and they don’t necessarily fit the form exactly.

There are parts of the world where her poetry is still studied and read. These cultures are richer for the doing, as are their poets.

Lady Nyo

Did he appear

Because I fell asleep

Thinking of him?

If only I’d known I was dreaming

I’d never have awakened.

When my desire

Grows too fierce I

wear my bed clothes Inside out,

Dark as the night’s rough husk.

My longing for you—

Too strong to keep within bounds.

At least no one can blame me

When I go to you at night

Along the road of dreams.

One of her most famous poems:

No way to see him

On this moonless night—

I lie awake longing, burning,

Breasts racing fire,

Heart in flames.

Night deepens

With the sound of calling deer,

And I hear

My own one-sided love.

The cicadas sing

In the twilight

Of my mountain village—

Tonight, no one

Will visit save the wind.

A diver does not abandon

A seaweed-filled bay.

Will you then turn away

From this floating, sea-foam body

That waits for your gathering hands?

Is this love reality

Or a dream?

I cannot know,

When both reality and dreams

Exist without truly existing.

My personal favorite:

The autumn night Is long only in name—

We’ve done no more

Than gaze at each other

And it’s already dawn.

This morning

Even my morning glories

Are hiding,

Not wanting to show

Their sleep-mussed hair.

I thought to pick

The flower of forgetting

For myself,

But I found it

Already growing in his heart.

Since this body

Was forgotten

By the one who promised to come,

My only thought is wondering

Whether it even exists.

All these poems were compiled from the Man’yoshu and the book, “The Ink Dark Moon”, by Hirshfield and Aratani.

The fun and excitement of studying the tanka form and studying the examples of Komachi’s gives way to the development of our own verse.  These below are of no comparison to Komachi’s but they help a poet to write inspired by her beautiful work.  There is nothing wrong with this, and in fact, is of the great precedent that was common during her time.  These below are mine, now published in “Song of the Nightingale”, Amazon. com, 2015.

Oh my wife!
My feet take me over mountains
In the service to our lord
But my heart stays tucked in the bosom
Of your robe.

The only company I have tonight,
Now near dawn, is the paling Milky Way,
And Oh, my husband!
There are not stars enough in the heavens
To equal my sorrowful tears.

Last night I thought of you–

My face still bears the blushes.

You thought it was good health?

No, just reflects the liberty

of dreams.

My laughter is as hollow

as that stricken tree by the pond.

I have not laughed for a long time.

It strangles in my throat.

Bolts of lightning flash!

The sky brightens like the day-

too soon it darkens.

My eyes opened or closed see

the futility of love.

 –

Jane Kohut-Bartels

Copyrighted, 2015

Song_of_the_Nightingale_COVER

Recently published by Createspace, Amazon.com

http://amzn.to/1Cm8mZi

Introducing:  MIA, our new doggie.  She was a rescue, pregnant and HW positive. 4 years old.  Sweetest dog in the universe.

Some Tanka…..

August 23, 2015

Song_of_the_Nightingale_COVER

Just published at Createspace, Amazon.com

Cover for White Cranes of Heaven, 2011, Lulu.com Watercolor, janekohut-bartels

Cover for White Cranes of Heaven, 2011, Lulu.com
Watercolor, janekohut-bartels

So lonely am I

My soul like a floating weed

Severed at the roots

Drifting upon cold waters

No pillow for further dreams.

The truth of longing

Has nothing of nice logic.

A matter of hearts

So uneven, exciting!

But most painful, nonetheless.

The moon floats on wisps

Of clouds extending outward

Tendrils of white fire

Blanketing the universe

Gauzy ghosts of nothingness.

When nature is known

Reason for awe can be found

In familiar sights.

Intimacy at the core—

Astounding revelation!

Human frailties

wounds that bleed such heated blood

leave a dry vessel.

Without the moisture of love

the clay reverts to the ground.

The fire of life

Is love. No exact measure.

A whirling dervish

Hands in opposite display

Gathers in the miracle.

Jane Kohut-Bartels

Copyrighted, 2012

“Devil’s Revenge”, Chapter 3…WARNING…some sexual content.

August 18, 2015

Demon of Lust

 

(Demon of Lust above, but he looks like he has little energy for anything, but it’s Summer in Hell, too)

So…..I’m posting a chapter (or a few in the days to come….) of “Devil’s Revenge”, my second and almost finished novel.  It’s just silly stuff, right now….and probably will continue to be silly stuff later.

Lady Nyo

Stretching like a cat, I awoke slowly. Suddenly I smelled the strong scent of wood smoke and bounced upright in bed. Looking around, I saw the fireplace and realized where I was. Damn, it was happening again! The Demon was playing fast and loose with my molecules, zapping me from my own comfortable bed and century. How in hell does he do this? Hah! Like he would tell me, but at least this time I wasn’t sick to my stomach.

The Demon had a name, Garrett Cortelyou. Cocksure of his charms, arrogance fed into seduction and he was a danger to my decorum and decency. Compounding the situation he was devilishly attractive and exuded an unearthly charisma.   He was master of a particular brand of sexual magic and his appetite knew no bounds.   He delighted in corrupting me, shocking me with his…. techniques. I would call him a libertine. He had little concern I was married and I forgot I was when he was near. There was a certain charm in his humor and he was an entertaining devil. Sexual encounters with him were addictive and probably dangerous. But this could not continue – I was losing control of myself. What kind of world had he pulled me into? Why was I here? This was insanity and since it happened over and over, I knew I was not dreaming.

I also knew somehow… answers to this present situation revolved around the novel. Perhaps if I kept writing until the end it would resolve.   I could return to my comfortable, boring life with my husband and my chickens and this excitement and unreality would disappear. I realized the book was a key, but which door did it open?

And then this demon? Well, I really didn’t know that he was a demon, just guessing. I didn’t have anything else to call him and ‘demon’ fit for some reason. Perhaps it was the magic and the mind reading, but I needed a name for him. What part did he really play in the scope of things? He was a sharp-eyed critic and petards my writing with his presence and demands. I knew he wasn’t ‘real’, oh real enough in some physical sense, but there were other considerations. How did he materialize and why? And why me? Of course, he used the ready excuse of the book and how I thought I had brought him ‘into life’, but the power of words, my words, couldn’t upset the universe to such a remarkable extent. No, there were other forces at work, and I would just have to discover in time what they were.

Here I was, early morning by the light in the room, and again, in a strange bed.   I had to pee, and knew from past visits where the chamber closet was. It was cold in the room, the fire was dying down and I hurried across the floor. The sound of a pee in a china pot is quite intimate, as water with our modern toilets muffles sound. Leaving the closet, I stumbled over my feet in surprise. There, sitting in a chair, was the demon.

“I thought we agreed you would refer to me as your “Demon Lover”? Garrett was eating a large slice of currant bread, the Dutch escapes me–

“Kretenbroad”, he said, dusting the crumbs off his chest as he chewed.

“Thank you, the word eluded me.”

“Anna makes good kretenbroad.. I think I will marry her.” He grinned and snapped his fingers, making a dish of tea appear on the table.

“You could do worse.” According to the first novel, Anna was the spinster niece of Daniel Griggs, the manservant who lived in this house for thirty years.

“Much more. Get your facts straight.”

“Garrett, what gives you leave to invade my bedroom at all times of the morning?”

Still chewing his bread, he gave a devilish grin. “I like celestial music in the morning.”

“What are you talking about? What music?”

“The music a woman makes when she pees in a chamber pot,” he said, still grinning.

“You are a nasty demon.” I was getting impatient with his antics and he took great liberties.

“Come drink your tea before it cools”. He dusted the crumbs to the floor.

I sat down in my nightgown, and picked up the ‘dish’ of tea. It really was a bowl with two handles, but every time he conjured up tea, it was good.

“Of course it is, I made and stirred it with my –“

“Don’t tell me, Garrett, I won’t be able to drink.” He really was vile this morning, and his visits were always backed with a purpose.

“Always backed”? That’s more garbled English. Write it in Dutch.”

“All right, Demon!” He was so irritating. “”Why are you here?” (Better I ask why I am here…) I was struggling with the book, trying to finish and every time we were together in this room, there was a setback in my writing, or a detour, or something strange and distracting.

“Oh? You see me as a distraction? I can be more dangerous than that.” He burped loudly. He had the table manners of a goat.

“Bahhh”. He grinned crazily, and for whatever reason he appeared this morning, I was heading for trouble.

“First, give me your hand, and be more tender towards me.” He extended his hand across the table, and gave me a sweet smile. For some reason, he did this each visit. I never trusted him, especially when he was extending his paw.

“Hand.” He nodded to himself. “And call me ‘Lover’. I miss that from you.”

I had to smile. He was such an insecure devil.

“I am not. It’s just that you are a bad writer.” He lunged across the table and grabbed my hand. “And still not fast on your feet.”

A current flowed from his hand to mine. I was knocked back at the intensity of his touch. He had done this before but something was different today.

“You fed me. See, Bess, I was starving, and your cooking restored my strength.” He grinned and squeezed my hand. “Anna made me stronger, too…and I thank thee for her.”   Anna was a good Dutch cook, apparently.

“I don’t think I want to fokken her, though.” He couldn’t resist. “Nope, don’t want to do that at all.”

He scowled. I read what you wrote…and again, you should stick to what you know.” He smiled, yanking my hand towards him.

“What in hell are you talking about?” He rubbed the front of his breeches, and leered.

“Sex?” Is that the word you can’t think of? You have to use sign language?”

“Ha…funny! Especially coming from a woman who obviously doesn’t know a thing about fellatio.”

I sat up, and thought back to what I wrote. “What was wrong with it?”

“See the sentence above the last.”

“Now you are going stupid. Of course I know about it, I’ve been married for years.”

“Then your husband doesn’t know much.”   He had me there.

“I will teach you something useful –the devil leered again- and make you a better writer.” He grinned, and the current between us grew stronger. My hand felt like it was melting into his, the heat fusing our flesh together.

“That’s what good – (the devil burped) sex is supposed to feel like.”

Garrett was a cock-sure devil, (“damn right”) and most of his suggestions for the novel were on target. He had lived in those years, the early part of the 19th century, and knew the social customs of the period. I could only rely on my spotty research for these things.

“Hold still. I will put something nice in your mouth, sweet woman.” Ah, God…his mind was always fixated on lust.

“It effects better parts of me too, but you keep your knees together too much. Ah, seduction of women writers is hard work.”

“You’ve used that line before, Garrett. Now, who is original?” My little joke didn’t please and he pulled me over the table and into his lap.

“Give your highwayman a kiss, sweet Bessie.” When he was in this mood, there was no denying the demon.

“Oh!” I said, sitting upright on his knee.   “That’s one of my favorite poems. “The Highwayman”. I thought it the most romantic poem I ever read when I was twelve.”

“Doesn’t turn out too nice, both of them dead. That musket beneath her breast….” He shook his head and burped again. His stomach at least was all too human.

I put my head on his shoulder. He could be a sweet devil, and evoked tender emotions from me he didn’t deserve. He thought it a good time, when I was docile in his arms (“won’t last long”- I heard him think!) to pick me up and walk to the bed. He lay down besides me, and placed my head on his shoulder.

“You are rather sweet this morning, Devil.” His temper was usually like mercury. I think we were coming to terms.

“Well, we have, my darling. I have chased away all the competition and you have me at ball and cock.”

I had to laugh. I was still married, and older by decades.

“I was born in 1790. Beat that.” (I was to find this was a lie…another one.)

I thought I was robbing the cradle. He was such a beautiful creation, but still, just a figment of my imagination.

“You really need to expand your horizons, sweeting. There are so many parts to the universe and you just occupy one. You limit yourself by what you believe.”

I never accepted the stories of ghosts, haunts or spirits, but lying by his side, I was beginning to wonder. He appeared flesh and blood enough this morning, especially as he grabbed my hand and placed it on his half mast cock swelling under his breeches.

“Good. You learn something. Am I real enough for you now?   Let me show you something else.” He passed his hand quickly from the top to the bottom of my nightgown and it melted away like smoke.

“Ah! The first time I have seen you naked. You wear too many clothes. Let’s see what I’ve caught.” He pushed my hair back from my breast, and stroked a nipple.

“You have pink nipples…very pretty! And perhaps you are pink elsewhere?” I lay in his arms and blushed at his words. He took my hand and placed it in his shirt, next to his heart. He always wore a heavy linen shirt and I had become enchanted by his smell of wood smoke and probably brimstone.

“Very funny. Now unclench those knees and let me make love to you.”

“Wasn’t it you who told me the portal to a woman’s soul is her mouth?” I thought to distract his limited mind.

He turned on his side and smiled tenderly down at me. “You use my own words against me? You show courage. You also forget I am a nasty demon.”

“Not so nasty. Getting a bit better.” His behavior had turned my mood from irritation to tolerance. There really was no way around things, if I wanted answers. I had to play a role. Conditions were changing between us and he was softening with a gentler touch.

“I have no softness, and don’t bet on it.” He stroked my thigh and squeezed a breast. I tried the same trick on his clothes, passing my hand down the length of him, and he laughed.

“It will take many decades, sweetheart, for you to learn that trick.”

“Not even levitating a chamber pot?”
“You would have more luck just throwing it.”

He was a handful, this Demon.   It was hard work keeping stride with his wit. He could have written a much better book, but then again, he likes best being the sharp-eyed critic.

Jane Kohut-Bartels

Copyrighted, 2007-2015

Summer of 2015 in Photos……

August 12, 2015

Mimi Cat August

Mimi Cat acting silly.

We have been hard at work this summer, restoring this old house.  It dates from the 1880’s and we are the third owners.  My husband decided years ago to design and build a two story extension, and until recently, it wasn’t finished, trim and such.  Now?  We ‘ve made great progress, but with each room there springs up another problem as soon as we finish.  It’s to be expected with an old house, but I am grateful for the time he has taken  from work to do this.  We haven’t had a summer vacation in years, but this will do.  He put in  a  lovely shower in the laundry room, and of course that involved moving a toilet and window 6 inches.  It didn’t have to, but he’s all about architectural balance.  Perhaps that is one reason this restoration has taken so many years.

We are also landscaping the back yards, and the best we could do this year is set in place 10 potted rose bushes along a brick walk and new outdoor furniture.  I did design and build a stone walk myself, and it looks pretty lined with potted geraniums. The grass of two years ago is finally taking off and lush.  Too bad that the mosquitoes are so bad this humid summer that we can’t spend any real time relaxing outside.  That will have to await the autumn and the death of pests. We should have bought stock in DEET.  As he takes more photos of the landscaping, etc…. I’ll post here.  We have been living in squalor for two weeks because of the construction on the bathroom, and today we decided it time to vacuum and sweep.  The 3 dogs thought this squalor would go on forever, and look relieved.

Lady Nyo

New Knocker 2

Front door with new paint.

May Roses 2

“Token Rose” and out of control patio rose.  They grow quickly and you have to plan for them.

constructionwith dogs

Construction with dogs….They have taken over the den couch and tv.

Dogs in Den

More dogs in Den.

My beautiful picture

-Front Garden….

spring garden 4

Spring tulips that have to be planted each year because it doesn’t get sufficiently cold in the South for tulips to regenerate.

great room 4

Great Room with ficus….

Great Room Fred July

Heavy glass top to new coffee table:  Big Mistake.  We don’t have little children here much, but both of us are wearing bruises from the almost invisible glass top.  Cats like it, though.

kitchen

Kitchen.  Husband made the table from 14 inch wide pine boards from NC mountains.  He also constructed the new kitchen and the cabinets.

My garden fish pond

My garden fish pond

DSCF2547

Half of the front hall…..

Bonica Rose Bush...we think

Bonica Rose Bush…we think

New Dawn actually.  Have two and they are almost constant bloomers.  They grow huge so you have to plan ahead which we didn’t.

Peach Blossoms in the garden this spring.

Peach Blossoms in the garden this spring.

Unfortunately, we cut down this Peach tree this weekend.  After 20 years, it was only going for squirrel food.

Woodstove 1

Woodstove in Great Room….

dining room end of June

Painted Dining Room orange…..quite an eye opener in the morning.

dining room in August

New shutters in Dining Room.  Still orange…

August Backyard 1

backyard corner, can’t see but the grass is living.

My beautiful picture

Front garden.

Not even a hint of fall and cooler weather. But it’s been a productive summer, at least the plaster dust is gone (mostly) and soon it will be possible to walk outside and not be dripping with sweat by 9am.

Jane Kohut-Bartels

Copyrighted, 2015

Lord Nyo’s Lament, from “Song of the Nightingale” just published.

August 2, 2015

Song_of_the_Nightingale_COVER

http://amzn.to/1Cm8mZi

Lord Nyo’s Lament

 

Oh my wife!

My feet take me over mountains

In the service to our lord

But my heart stays tucked in the bosom

Of your robe.

The song of the arrow

As it arced into the sea

Was as tuneless

As a badly strung samisen.

Gun- metal clouds

Stretched across a dull horizon

The sun still asleep

As he should be

His quiver empty

His heart, too.

When had the callousness of life and death

Become as comfortable as breath to him?

He had become too much the warrior

And too little the man

-.

His distance from his wife,

From most of life

Was as if some unseen object

Kept them ten paces apart.

Perhaps it was the cloud-barrier

Of earthly lusts which obscured

The Sun of Buddha?

Perhaps he should pray.

What God would listen?

Then it came to him

That joker of a Buddha, Fudo

With his rope to pull him from Hell

And his sword to cut through foolishness-

Fudo would listen.

Fudo knew the quaking hearts

The illusions embraced

To stomach the battlefield

The fog of drink,

To face life

In the service of Death.

Fudo would save him from

The yellow waters of Hell.

He remembered those years

When she could bring him to his knees

With the promise of dark mystery

Between silken thighs,

And the glimpse of her white wrist-

A river of passion

Just beneath the surface.

How he had steeled his heart

Believing himself unmanned

For the love she induced!

Three cranes flew low to the shore,

Legs streaming like black ribbons behind.

Three cranes, three prayers, three chances

To find his way back

Bound up in Fudo’s ropes,

Prodded in the ass by Fudo’s sword.

He would write a poem

On a bone-white fan

To leave on her cushion.

She would know his love

She would know his sorrow.

The sea took his arrows

Beyond the breakers,

The glint of sleek feathers

Catching thin rays of light.

An unexpected peace came over him

As they journeyed far from his hands.

Jane Kohut-Bartels

Copyrighted, 2011, 2015

“Ten Thousand Leaves, Love Poems from the Man’yoshu”, From “Song of the Nightingale”

July 29, 2015

Song_of_the_Nightingale_COVER

http://amzn.to/1Cm8mZi

“Ten Thousand Leaves, Love Poems from the Man’yoshu”

“Thick and fast stream my thoughts of you

Like the layers Of endlessly falling snow

Upon the cedars.

“Come to me at night, my man.”

—– from the Man’yoshu

It was the first golden age of Japanese civilization.  In the eighth century appeared the great metropolis of Nara, (the imperial capital) its broad avenues lined with magnificent temples. Culture rushed in from Korea, China and over the Silk Road, from as far away as Persia, and even from Venice.

We think of Japan in isolation, as it was to become centuries later, but in the 7th to the 10th centuries (approximately) the cultural influences were vast and wide and foreign.

In the 8th century, Japan found it’s first voice, a clear and powerful voice to become one of the most impressive, sophisticated and frank compilations of poetry the world has ever seen.  (There are other earlier and then later collections of poetry, but the Man’yoshu is considered to be the best of the poetry collections.  There are many reasons (cultural and court changes, etc) but this is a long study and can’t be done in this short presentation.

There are not 10,000 poems (leaves) but over 4,500.  Most of these are love poems, where lovers speak with disarming frankness and clarity, speak to us across 1300 years as if they were us.

Actually, the poems express a decided lack of neurosis that we have come to view sex in the last few centuries.  There is nothing of barriers when it comes to the human heart, longing, emotions and sexuality in these poems.  Many of them are openly, expressly erotic.

The authors or contributors of these poems extended from Emperors, Empresses, courtesans, samurai, priests, beggars, fishermen, peasants: a cross section of remarkable variety.  A truly democratic endeavor.  This was never again to happen in Japan, not at least to this extent.

Otomo No Yakamochi (718-785) is considered to be the main compiler of the Man’yoshu.  These poems actually span a 130 year history, from around 630 AD to 759 AD.

There are three basic divisions of the poetry in the Man’yoshu.

 

Banka: elegy on the death of an Emperor or a loved one.

Somon:  mutual exchanges of love or longing poetry.

Zoka:  Poems of Nature, hunting, etc.

This short presentation will focus only on the Somon form.

Generally the Man’yoshu poetry is considered to be declarative rather than introspective, imagistic rather than abstract.  There is an incredible freshness to it all.

There are basically two forms of poetry in the Man’yoshu: choka (long poem, 5-7-5-7-5-7, etc. ending in 7-7) and tanka.  (5-7-5-7-7). The ‘long poem’, choka (which isn’t very long by our modern and Western standards) died out of fashion, and tanka became the predominant form of Japanese poetry for the next 1200 years.

Although one would think so, there isn’t a lot of Buddhist influence in the poems.  If any religion, there is more Shinto influence especially in the Zoka form, but even that isn’t large.  This may seem strange to us, with our notions of culture in Japan, but even centuries later, with the Priest-Poet Saigyo, there is little Buddhist thought within his poems.  Religion just doesn’t play such a dominant role in most Japanese poetry, especially at this time.

“Going over the fields of murasaki grass That shimmer crimson, Going over the fields marked as imperial domain, Will the guardian of the fields not see you As you wave your sleeves at me?”

— Princess Nukata

This poem is considered by many to be one of the greatest poems in the Man’yoshu.  It is presented near the beginning of the collection, giving it prominence.  The answer by her former husband (she is now married to the Emperor) Prince Oama, (his brother) is a beautiful poem in its own right.

“If I despised you, who are as beautiful

As the murasaki grass,

Would I be longing for you like this,

Though you are another man’s wife?”

— Prince Oama

“Do not let men find out

By smiling at me so apparently,

Like the clouds that clearly cross

Over the verdant mountains.”

— Lady Otomo Sakanoue

There are more poems by this poet than any other woman in the Man’yoshu.  What is remarkable are the amount of women poets included in the Man’yoshu.  This is only possible because the Confucian philosophy was not prominent yet in Japan.  When it became influential, women lost much status: before they were allowed to own property, title, name, divorce, to keep custody of their children.  After, they were relegated to indoors, stripped of much power and status.-

“Whose words are these,

Spoken to the wife of another?

Whose words are these,

That bade me untie

The sash of my robe?”

— Anonymous

Many of the poems in the Man’yoshu were folk songs, or parts of folk songs. And this repeated interest in ‘the wife of another’ was an object of male desire; the Man’yoshu is full of this theme.

“As I turn my gaze upward

And see the crescent moon,

I am reminded

Of the trailing eyebrows

Of the woman I saw but once.”

— Otomo Yakamochi

This was written by Otomo at the age of 16!

“I have fallen into a yearning

With no requite,

For a girl who, when night comes

Sleeps pillowed in another’s arms.

— Anonymous-

“If men can touch

Even the untouchable sacred tree,

Why can I not touch you

Simply because you are another’s wife?”

— Otomo Yasumaro

To finish with some anonymous poems:

“The flowers of the plum,

Were covered with fallen snow

Which I wrapped up

But when I tried to have you see

It was melting in my hands.”

“This body of mine

Has crossed the mountain barrier

And is here indeed!

But this heart of mine remains

Drawing closer to my wife.”

“The moon crossed the sky

And I saw him only once In its pale ligh

t Yet, the person whom I saw

Does appear to me in dreams.”

“I shall not take a brush

To this hair that lies

Disheveled in the morning,

For it retains the touch

Of my dear lord’s arms that pillowed me.”

— Anonymous

I’ll prime the pot with one of my own

“Glimpse of a white wrist

Feel the pulse of blood beneath-

This is seduction!

But catch a wry, cunning smile

One learns all is artifice.

Or something a bit different.  Many of the poems were built one upon the other, answers brushed upon a fan, or something suitable, even a large leaf. In the ‘spirit’ of this method that is found in the Man’yoshu, I offer this modest poem:

Thick and fast stream my thoughts of you

Like the layers

Of endlessly falling snow

Upon the cedars.

“Come to me at night, my man.”

Come to me

If  only in my dreams

Where my head rests upon my arm

And not yours–

Let this veiled moon

Above and these dark, brooding pines below

“Be witness to our love, my man.”

Jane Kohut-Bartels (aka Lady Nyo)

Copyrighted, 2015

“The Stillness of Death”, from “Song Of The Nightingale”

July 23, 2015

 

Song_of_the_Nightingale_COVER

It’s taken 4 years to complete, but “Song” is now available to the public.  Hope there is enjoyment in the reading of this saga.  There are also two essays at the end:  “The Man’yoshu” and “Building Upon the Man’yoshu”.

Nick Nicholson’s photos are wonderful inside, and he did a great job formatting and designing the book.

The cover painting, another painting inside and the calligraphy are mine.

Lady Nyo

(link to Amazon.com/ Song of the Nightingale)

http://amzn.to/1Cm8mZi

This is the second episode of “Song Of The Nightingale”.

THE STILLNESS OF DEATH

 

 

“My heart, like my clothing

Is saturated with your fragrance.

Your vows of fidelity

Were made to our pillow and not to me.”

—-12th century

Kneeling before her tea

Lady Nyo did not move.

She barely breathed-

Tomorrow depended

Upon her action today.

Lord Nyo was drunk again.

When in his cups

The household scattered.

Beneath the kitchen

Was the crawl space

Where three servants

Where hiding.

A fourth wore an iron pot.

Lord Nyo was known

For three things:

Archery-

Temper-

And drink.

Tonight he strung

His seven foot bow,

Donned his quiver

High on his back.

He looked at the pale face

Of his aging wife,

His eyes blurry, unfocused.

He remembered the first time

pillowing her.

She was fifteen.

Her body powdered petals,

Bones like butter,

Black hair like trailing bo silk.

The blush of shy passion

Had coursed through veins

Like a tinted stream.

Still beautiful

Now too fragile for his taste.

Better a plump whore,

Than this delicate, saddened beauty.

He drew back the bow

In quick succession

Let five arrows pierce

The shoji.

Each grazed the shell ear

Of his wife.

Life hung on her stillness.

She willed herself dead.

Death after all these years

Would have been welcome.

Jane Kohut-Bartels

Copyrighted , 2015, available from Createspace, Amazon.com

“Ode To A Coopers Hawk”, from “Pitcher of Moon”

July 18, 2015
was to be the cover painting for

was to be the cover painting for “Pitcher of Moon” but didn’t work out.

To my friends: enduring and good people.  The world is full of good people, we must not forget this.

Lady Nyo,… poem dedicated to my beautiful Sparky and Maggie, gone but not forgotten.

ODE TO A COOPERS HAWK

Come to me.

Come to me,

Winged celestial beauty.

Come to me with your notched

Mermaid tail,

Your silken roll of feathers.

Fly down into my hollowed-out soul,

Fill me with your sun-warmed glory

Nestle in my arms

And bring the curve of the horizon

Embraced in your outstretched wings.

I need no white bearded prophet,

No mumbled prayer, no gospel song

No hard church bench, no fast or

Festival to feel close to the Divine.

The glory of the universe,

Is embodied in your flight

As you tumble through heavens,

Ride the invisible thermals

Screech with joy at freedom

Fill your lungs with thin air

And play bumper car with an Eagle.

I, earthbound,

No hollowed bones to launch me,

Just tired soul to weigh down,

No soft plumage to feel the course

Of wind through glossy feathers

No hunting call to herald my presence.

Still my soul takes flight

The breeze lifts my spirit,

My eyes follow you,

And we will find that glory

Transcend a sullen earth,

Transcend a mean humanity

And soar together into the blue eye of God.

Jane Kohut-Bartels

Copyrighted, 2010-2015, “Pitcher of Moon” published 2014, Createspace, Amazon.com

“July Moon” from “White Cranes of Heaven”

July 14, 2015

crescent-moon

The summer is so beautiful, despite the heat.  Last night the moon looked like a beggar’s cup, brilliant in the sky.  The days in the Deep South are sultry, but the wind picks up in the late afternoon when a storm is coming and then these huge oaks and pecans are whirligigs high in the sky.

Barley tea, iced tea and lemonade are the drinks of choice during the summer, harkening back to earlier times.  Closed drapes, blinds in the heat of noon day sun actually work to regulate the temperature , though one doubts this will.

The heat brings to life the cicadas, or whatever is making a constant buzz outside.  It comes in waves, where one group, or species, competes in sound with another.  The dogs of summer are wise: they flatten themselves on the cool tiles of the laundry room and remain motionless until the cooling of the night where they chase rats in the kudzu.  They also have developed a taste for watermelon, and we sit on the steps of the back porch and share with them, while a wood owl sounds from an huge oak above us. We never see him, but his hoots are a fixture of the summer nights.

Lady Nyo

JULY MOON

 

A pale moon rises,

Unheralded, surprising us

With its presence so early at dusk.

 

The summer heat makes it waver

Like a ghost under water.

The cicadas hold their breath-

Their leg-fiddles muted,

And the earth turns quiet

If only for a moment.

 

Brushing the lush green tree tops

It floats upward into a still-lavender sky,

Gaining presence, strength, gleam

As it balances in the darkening light,

A well-trod path– fascinating eternity.

 

A world-weary face appears

And casts a bemused gaze downward

Before sailing through the night

Into the harbor of Dawn.

 

Jane Kohut-Bartels

Copyrighted, 2010-2015

“White Cranes of Heaven” available from Lulu.com


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