“Devil’s Revenge”, Chapter 1, or part of it.

June 30, 2020

Garrett in Devil's Revenge

In 2006 I started a novel.  It was set in the 1820’s and had a lot of sex in it.  it’s something I finished but never published. Now?  I want to rewrite this novel and see how it floats.  What you write in 2006 isn’t what you would necessarily write in 2020.  So, in the heat of summer, I am applying myself to something old, (my second novel) and seeing if it can becomes something new and improved….

Lady Nyo

DEVIL’S REVENGE

Prologue.

I am going to relate a strange tale.  Not really a tale, because to me, a writer, a tale smacks of fiction.  This, in any case, was not fiction.  I felt the full effects of its turnings.  It happened and it’s not over yet.  I just have to tread water because each time I open my eyes, after a fitful night’s sleep, I am again locked in a world not of my making.

Well, part of my making, but even my lurid imagination pales with what I have experienced.

Sixteen years ago I wrote a long novel, set in the 1820’s.  The characters had names from the Dutch families I knew while growing up.  Everything was fiction, except the landscape, all of them were just figments of my imagination, the creations of a writer.  Never did I expect them, or some of them, to leap out of the pages of that unfinished book and change the course of my life.

 

I feel I have dropped down a rabbit hole, or into some strange alien universe. Perhaps I am mad.  In any case, events are spiraling out of control, beyond my control, and now?

 

I have none.  I have given up my will to fate, destiny and I don’t even know what that means anymore.

 

Bear with me, reader.  Understand what I write, what you read, is my life now.

 

Bess McShane

 

 

Chapter 1

 

One morning I sat upright in bed, gasping in terror.  The light was dim, making it hard to see. There was a fireplace with a low burning fire.  An ember must have exploded. There could be no other answer to the sudden noise. Asleep, it sounded like gunshot.

 

My eyes adjusted and I looked around.  An ember exploded? Where the hell was I?  My heart pounded and a sickness rose up my throat. Suddenly I knew where I was.  Many years ago I wrote a novel, still unfinished, and now I was in the bedroom I carefully constructed. But perhaps I was just dreaming?

 

I felt a sharp constriction around my ribcage and tried to take a deep breath. I was wearing some kind of corset, laced tightly over a slip.  No wonder I couldn’t breathe. At least this made some physical sense.  A cap had fallen over my eyes and I snatched it off. It was a mobcap.

 

I tried to take more deep breaths to get my bearings but no amount of air would calm me.

 

What had happened from the time I went to sleep in my own bed, next to my snoring husband?  How did I make the transition to this bed?

 

The constriction around my chest did not dull me to the sudden pressure of my bladder. There was a closet in the corner and I knew inside that closet there was a chamber pot encased in a stool.  I had written that detail into the book and now was very glad for it.

 

Slipping out of the high bed, I padded across the wood floor.  It was a strange thing to pee in a chamber pot. Everything was so quiet,  even the birds outside asleep, but the noise of urine hitting china was too loud for the morning.  It made me self-conscious, even though I thought I was still dreaming.  I had to be.

 

I came from the closet and sat down before the fireplace.  The fire suddenly flared and I jumped in surprise. This was weird, almost as if an invisible hand fed the fire. At least it would warm up the cold room. A cup of tea sat on the table, still hot.  It was dark and steam rose in the air.  I was almost afraid to touch it, but my mouth was dry from fear.  There, a sip, and it was tea.

 

 

A dresser was across the room from the bed, with a small mirror on the wall above.  The image appeared to be me, my hair the usual color, my skin the same shade. Yes, me, but I pinched myself, just to see if I was still dreaming. If pain were any indication of my present state, I was awake.

 

Clothes were spread across the back of a chair, and I eyed them curiously. I took the dress from the chair and held it at arms length.  It was a pale yellow, and appeared to be wool.   Straight sleeves fell to the wrists, the bodice cut low.  I wondered how modest one could be in such fashion with the tops of breasts so prominent, pushed flat by the stays.  Under the gown was a pair of bloomers.    Crotchless, they opened from the front to back.  I giggled, a bit hysterically.  Like Alice, I had dropped down a rabbit hole.

 

Nothing seemed real.

 

Even with the flare up of the fire, the room was not warm. I needed to get dressed.  I needed to get my bearings.  I stepped into the gown and pulled it up to my shoulders.  It hooked in the front of the bodice. I pulled on stockings and garters.  They were a lovely silk, soft and delicate, and came to the tops of my thighs.  The garters could be tied anywhere, so I tied them above the knees, rolling down the tops of the stockings, hoping they would stay.  I held up the split bloomers and tried to determine the front from the back.  They could be useful when you wanted to pee.  The shoes were another surprise.  Made neither a left nor a right, with a thin sole and low wooden heel, they tied to my ankle with ribbons.  There was a blue shawl, of fine wool, at the bottom of the pile.

 

Now at least dressed, warmer, I could explore my surroundings.  The room was not large, but had a dark beamed ceiling above. There were no paintings or prints on the walls, but above the fireplace, was a shotgun.  It was an old breech loader.

 

Two long windows looked out upon a dull morning. The wind blew a little sleet against the windows and I shivered. The glazing had fallen away and cold air seeped in.  It was still rather dark outside, and except for the blurred outline of trees, I couldn’t see much of the landscape.

 

Pulling the shawl tighter around my shoulders, I was still cold, or perhaps it was shock. I was not used to awakening in a strange bed, even one of my own imagination.

 

I still doubted I was lucid, and thought this some weird dream-state. Given a bit more time, I would awake.  But if this were a dream, it was a curious one.  I was not given easily to hysterics, but short of hurling myself through the window, there was little I could to do.  I would just have to follow this ‘dream’ until I woke.

 

 

Trying a door in the middle of a wall, it opened into another bedroom, and inside was a large poster bed, a wardrobe, and another shotgun in the corner by the bed. This must be a man’s room. I had no clue why, accept for that mean looking shotgun, but there was nothing that appeared feminine in the room at all.  I turned back to my bedroom and tried the other door.  Outside was a wide hall, leading to the top of a staircase.

 

I stood at the top of the steps, listening for voices or some sound. The house seemed deserted.  I could hear nothing of a normal household.  Carefully,  trying not to slip in these strange shoes I descended the staircase and walked through a wide first floor hall. There were a couple of rooms but there were no people and no lit fireplaces.  The whole house was bitterly cold. It seems this house held no life at all.

 

My footsteps sounded loud on the wooden floors of the hall, though I tried not to make a clatter.  There was a closed door to the left and when I opened it, there was a man sitting behind a desk.

 

Something about him seemed vaguely familiar.  Then I knew who he was.  It was a shock to realize I was looking at a character I had created for a novel sixteen years ago. I had named him Garrett Cortelyou.    He looked up, sat back, and stared at me, quite rudely. Christ!  This looked like trouble.

 

“Come in,” he said.  “It is trouble.” I was astonished, and how did he seem to appear in the flesh?  He was just paper and ink the last I thought of him. Can this creature read my thoughts?

 

“Of course I can.  I can do more than that,” he said, scowling.

 

 

I fashioned Garrett Cortelyou from a number of sources, and, seeing him before me, I couldn’t help but be pleased. It is one thing to imagine, it is another to see the results.  He was a large man, broad of shoulder, dark hair, rather long for the 1820’s, but I created him to be his own man.  He proved to be a stubborn character, and not an easy birth.  Clean shaven, he had dark eyes and regular features except for his nose.  It had been broken and not set correctly.   He looked pissed off.

 

“Why are you so angry with me?”

 

“A year ago you closed your book and abandoned all of us.  You told me to ‘cool my heels’.  Am I not allowed my anger?”

 

“It was a metaphor, ‘cool your heels’.”

 

“I know what it was.”

 

I was surprised. I had enough of writing and needed time off.  This actually happened fifteen years ago, but who was I  to correct him? Why argue with something unreal?  I put his intended, the character Jennie, in the library.  I gave her a cup of tea and a good fire, and she had all the books in the world, or at least, in this library to read.

 

“You abandoned us all.”

 

“Life got in the way, Garrett, I needed time to work things out.”

 

What am I saying? Why am I explaining my life to this creature? Am I insane?

 

“Come here, let me see you closely.”

 

I entered the room and stood across from his desk.  He looked me over, his eyes running the length of me.    “You look unimpressive.  I thought you would be older.”

 

“Why, did you expect me to be covered with wrinkles?”

 

One glance at his face and I should have held my tongue.

 

“You are quick with the words, madam.  Let’s see how quick on your feet.”

 

Like a cat he came around the desk and grabbed me. He was strong enough to lift me like a stick of wood and throw me into another chair.  I was shocked at the suddenness of his movement, but amazed he was real.

 

“You should be.  You play with people too much.”

 

I looked at him standing before me, his hands on his hips, and fear crept up my spine.

 

“You forget I created you.” My voice squeaked..

 

“And you forget, madam, anything is possible.  I can command you as easily as you have me.  You now are my puppet. Quite a turn around, don’t you think?”

 

“You wouldn’t have seen the light of day had I not thought of you!”  What am I saying? I am talking to a ghost!

 

“Ah, you were bored and this scribbling occupied your time.  Your night dreams went into all of us.  Your poor husband should not have given you a pen.”

 

“I wrote on a computer, something you would not know about.”

 

“I don’t care what you wrote with. Right now, and until I release you, you’re under my thumb.”

 

“What do you want with me?”  I was scared. My spit would not wet my mouth.

 

 

Garrett smiled, but it didn’t mount to his eyes.  They remained cold.  “I can smell your fear, little lady.  Come give me a kiss and a tumble.”

 

“You are a jackass. You act like an animal. Let me go.”

 

I tried to rise from my chair, but the anger on his face stopped me.

 

“Will you stop playing the virgin? It doesn’t fit you at all.”

 

I was beginning to panic.  I had created this character,  this man  before me, and I knew something of his sexual appetites.

 

He laughed, apparently reading my thoughts. He must be a demon come to life, or I must be still asleep.

 

You created me?  I’m from the slime, I’m a mixture of souls throughout time, with all the cocksure ways of manhood.  You created something you can’t control, and now you’re afraid?  You should have thought further down the road, woman.  You should be afraid.  You think you know my appetites? You don’t know much, because you don’t know me.  Not that way.   You haven’t the imagination to know what I can do. You are too ignorant of life.  Here.”

 

He pulled me up to him, and grabbed one of my hands and placed it on the front of his breeches.  He was hard enough.

 

“There.  Is your curiosity satisfied?  You knew some of me, but never enough.  You have a poor imagination for a writer. We circled each other like cats all those years, but I played the gentleman.  A boring and unnecessary role actually.”

.

My face was heated from his words.  There was no denying I was curious.  I had wondered a bit what he would be like in the heat of passion.  Just daydreams, sitting at my desk.  Faced with reality, fear was now trumping that consideration.

 

 

 

He pinned my arms behind my back with one hand.  With the other he traced my cheek and neck with a finger, his eyes narrowed into slits.    He brought my face to his mouth and kissed me, at first softly – oh the deceiver!- then roughly, forcing my lips with his tongue. He cupped my breast and squeezed my nipple, rolling it between two fingers.   He kissed me hard, bending my head back, crushing my mouth with his.

 

“There. How do you like being kissed by something you think you have made? Have I met your expectations?”

 

 

I caught my breath.  “I gave you Jennie, you monster!”

 

This was a rather stupid thing to say, but I didn’t have much of my wits after that kiss.

 

“And I thank you for her. She is a sweet little pastry, but I aim to have more.  You look like you could feed me for a week.”

 

“Oh, let me go, you’re not real!”

 

He pushed me away and rubbed the front of his breeches.  “Is this not real enough for you?  Then we’ll go where I’ll show you what’s real.”

 

Grabbing me by the wrist, he pulled me out the room and up the staircase. I tripped on my shoes and he roughly jerked me up the stairs.  I was frightened, knowing that this couldn’t be a dream.  It was more of a nightmare.

 

He strode down the hall and opened a door, flinging me into the room where I had awakened probably only an hour before.   With his back to the door, he locked it, pocketing the key.  I ran to other bedroom, intending to lock myself in, but he was quick. He threw me on the bed.  Now, I was frightened.  I was panting.

 

“’I was panting.’”  See, I can read you like a book.”  Throwing back his head, he laughed, howling like an animal, like a demon.  My stomach flipped, and I cringed back on the pillows.

 

 

He dragged a chair from a wall and sat facing me, one long leg propped up on the mattress.   If I tried to leap from the bed, I would jump right into his arms.  He looked at me with half closed eyes, his head cocked to one side.

 

“Don’t you find it confusing to read Richardson’s  “Pamela”, in the middle of writing seduction scenes?  Rather you should read Fielding’s “Shamela”….better story, or rather, same story,  not so tedious.”

 

What? How did he know this? How did he know what I read?

 

What was I dealing with?  Was this a ghost or a demon?  The icy sweat I felt down my back wasn’t something I was imagining.  I had to get control of this nightmare.

 

“I can snap my fingers and you will be gone,” I said desperately.  I closed my eyes and snapped them.

 

He remained before me grinning, his tongue lolling out the side of his mouth, a lunatic.  “Try again.”

 

I snapped my fingers. Nothing.   The demon lover was still there.

 

“Ah…you called me ‘lover.’  Perhaps you won’t resist me so hard now.”

 

“I called you ‘demon lover’.  You’re not hearing that first word.”

 

“You created me.  It’s all in your calling.”

 

“That’s right…and I can uncreate you.”

 

“You already tried.  This conversation is going nowhere. I need a drink. Seduction is hard work.”

 

He snapped his fingers, and a tankard appeared on the table behind him.  “Oh, my apologies.  One for you?”

 

“A small one, please.”  I shivered.  What had I just done?

 

“A small one it is.”  A snap.   Another tankard appeared.

 

He got up and retrieved the two tankards and reached across the bed, and handed me my drink.  I thought of throwing it in his face, and running from the room.

 

“How far do you think you would get?”  I had forgotten his mind reading trick.

 

“Not far- just testing.”

 

He laughed and drank deeply.  He wiped his mouth with the back of his hand.

 

“We’ve been circling each other for years.  Don’t you think it’s time we put an end to this charade? A little carnal knowledge would not be amiss.  Besides, I already know you want me, have known it for years.”  He picked up his tankard, his eyes glittering across the rim.

 

“You are a cocksure devil, you are!”  I would laugh at his presumption, but he was correct.  I had created him from my own secret lust, and spared nothing in the doing.

Perhaps a different approach would give me answers and a hand over him.

 

“Explain to me, Demon, how you have access to me?  You are nothing but some scribbles on paper, yet you appear flesh and blood enough now.”

 

I was more than curious, I was tumbling with fear and trying to regain my feet. I needed something to wake me up.  I needed some logic here, some answers.  I still believed I was mired in a nightmare.

 

 

He put down his tankard and smiled.  “Sometimes there’s a rip in the fabric of time and all hell breaks loose.   Dimensions warp and ley lines bulge.  The usual workings of a universe gone bad.”

 

“So I’m here in another dimension?”  From the 21st century to the 19th, quite a rip in the fabric, I think.

 

He grinned into his ale.  “For as long as it suits me, and as long as you please me.”

 

“What is it you want?”  I looked at him, fearing part of the answer.

 

“First, I want to know what’s under those petticoats.  That will be good for starters.  We can work outward then.”

 

He had an interesting concept of seduction.  Rather direct, not subtle at all, but intriguing.

By the looks of him, he would be worth the effort.  I thought of his kiss, and I grew uncomfortable. My face grew flushed, and his grin told me he knew what was happening between my legs.  I wanted him, my sex knew before my head, but I wouldn’t give him the words he wanted to hear. Perhaps I was playing with fire, but a ‘tumble’ would be sort of welcome. Sex hadn’t been on the agenda for a long time. He was too much temptation in the flesh to deny.

 

Besides, it all was a dream and a wet one at that.  I held to that hope as my only window of sanity.

“Coppermine Road”, a poem…

June 29, 2020

Coppermine Road

 

When I was a child

Sitting on a hill

In south-central Jersey,

I would watch the roiling thunderstorms

Shoot daggers of lightning

Across hills of the Sauerland Mountains

Setting fires to forests,

Pastures–

Torching the barns.

 

The hand-cranked siren would yowl

And all men over 21

Would answer the call.

To lurk under jacked-up cars,

To pitch hay,

Run the combine

Or start the evening milking

Would get you the cold shoulder

Or worse…

In the local gin mill.

 

Coppermine Road had

A ton of fires,

This gateway to the Sourlands

Stretching miles into Dutch-elmed darkness

As we watched

First the lightning

Then smoke rise into the air,

And heard the howl of the siren

In the valley below.

 

Mined out, this Coppermine

Emptied before the Revolution

The sturdy Dutch taking their

Share from the earth,

Leaving little of worth, just the name,

The scars of digging plastered over in time.

 

Perhaps a grand conspiracy

Between storm clouds and copper deep down

A particular cosmic revenge,

Enough to torch the barns

Scare the milk out of cows

And bedevil the men.

 

Jane Kohut-Bartels

Copyrighted, 2017-2020

 

“Shirley Temple’s Birthday Party”

June 22, 2020

via “Shirley Temple’s Birthday Party”

“Shirley Temple’s Birthday Party”

June 22, 2020

From”Memories of a Rotten Childhood”

 

I had few friends when I was a child.  At least, I didn’t have many.  We lived out in the countryside of New Jersey, in an old Dutch farmhouse.  Everyone had acres of land, and that spaced out the families.  I had few choices.  School was not much of a choice.  Most of the kids in the neighborhood  were boys, friends of my two younger brothers.  There was one girl, Nancy, but she was a fat, spoiled neighbor and besides, her mother and mine didn’t get along.  My mother didn’t get along with any of our neighbors.  She was forever complaining to us that the people around her were ‘inferior’.  Or snobs. Whether they were or not wasn’t clear to us, but she was convinced.  It impacted on our choice of playmates, or at least it did for me.  She couldn’t really control my brothers, or she choose not to, because there was a load of boys on that road.  There was only Nancy, and as I mentioned, she hated Nancy’s mother.  I can’t remember a specific reason, it just was a general hatred that my mother was so good at.

There was another girl, Diane who lived next to us, but she was adopted, and in my mother’s mind, she really didn’t ‘belong’.  She was younger than I, and that precluded much contact.  Besides, her mother was also under fire from mine.  I can’t remember any mother mine liked in those years.  Or since.  At 100, she’s still happily making enemies.

Another friend, who really couldn’t be considered a friend, was Lauren. She was the same age as I, but taller and stronger.  She was a bully (I was wimp) and tormented me all through grammar school. I still have the scars where her sharp nails raked the back of my hands.  She probably became a serious sadist later in life.

My mother really hated hers.  I heard my mother call her ‘trash’ and that piqued my interest.  She did wear wide patent leather belts with off shoulder gypsy blouses, and the wallpaper in her bathroom was black with huge red roses, so there might have been something of ‘truth’ in what my mother said.  To me, Ruth was fascinating. Rather a free-spirit.  A beatnik of sorts.

Nancy was to have a birthday party.  I remember it to be her tenth.  Now, Nancy was always turned out in crinkly dresses, with petticoats and a clean face.  She was the youngest of three, so her mother took special care with her.  My mother?  Not so much.  I was left to my own devices, and those weren’t always the best. There was no fairy godmother hovering over me.

My father took me to Nancy’s party.  It was just down the road, three properties from us, but my father drove me.  It’s a damn good thing he did, because there was enough tension (see mother above) and the fact that Nancy’s father was a creative drunk. Meaning he was an artist, but still a drunk. More reputations than my own probably would have been ruined.

Of course, Nancy was a picture of a well turned out little ten year old. All those crinkly petticoats and her blond curled hair.  My mother paid some attention to me and I presented a clean face and a mostly clean dress.  I believe my hair was short, in a bob then.  My mother couldn’t take the whining when she tried to comb my long hair and sheared it off.  But it was summer so this worked.

I can remember the tables of gifts and food.  I was more interested in the food as I seemed to have a hollow leg.  I could never get enough.  I also remember there were more adults than children attending but that didn’t seem unusual.  The countryside had cows and horses, chickens and some goats, but there were few children on River Road back then.

I was sitting on a stool, rather stupidly too near the dropoff on the road beneath. I was taking a back seat, trying to disappear. Nancy’s mother didn’t like me much either. Her dog, Freckles, a Dalmation, had bit me in the eye two years before and she blamed me for ‘disturbing his nap.’  Back then there were no lawsuits or doctor visits for this kind of stuff.  You had iodine slapped on the wound and went back to play. I remember being uneasy about her party, as my mother picked the gift herself.  I didn’t know what she had wrapped up in gift paper.  I was hoping it wasn’t my Betsy-Wetsy doll.

Nancy floated around the tables, looking like Shirley Temple.  Then she took it in her head to sit on me. A big mistake for a lot of reasons, two of which I remember:  One, I was deathly afraid that Nancy would tip us over the cliff, and two….she was fat.  I thought I wouldn’t survive this, I couldn’t breathe.

So I bit her.  In the back. Nancy leaped up screaming her head off and a general riot broke out.  I couldn’t get out why I had bit her, but by the faces of the adults I knew I was no longer welcome.

My father ordered me in a very stern voice to the car.  I went, weeping, sitting in the back of the old Studebaker station wagon.  I was very worried, mostly about the anger coming from my mother as soon as she heard what her only daughter had done publically.  Not that she liked any of the adults at the party, but it was clearly another failing of a daughter she really didn’t care for.

My father approached the car, his face beaming.

“We won’t tell your mother about this.  Let’s go get some Breyer’s ice cream.”

Wow.  I had dodged a serious bullet.  The first time, but not the last, my father would come to my defense against my mother.  To top it off…..”let’s go get some Breyer’s ice cream” meant a road trip of at least 10 miles from home, down in Kendall Park.  It was a very special place for us kids, and my father used it when he had the chance.  It was his way of expressing his love without many words. And apologies for his own drunkenness.

Many decades later, Nancy moved down to Rex, Georgia. I got one letter from her, unbidden, surprised she looked me up.  She was no longer fat, but she was still the bully.  An answering letter and I never heard from her again.  Good riddance to the Shirley Temple of my childhood.

Jane Kohut-Bartels

Copyrighted, 2020

 

“Saigyo, Poet-Priest, and humble wanderer”

June 20, 2020

via “Saigyo, Poet-Priest, and humble wanderer”

“Saigyo, Poet-Priest, and humble wanderer”

June 20, 2020

My beautiful picture

Saigyo became a poet/priest, but before that he was and came from a samurai family.  He was, at the age of 22, a warrior.  He always struggled with his past in his long years of travel, wondering how this  former life impacted on his religious vows.  His poetry reflects this issue.

I have begun to re-acquaint myself with Saigyo and his poetry, having first come across his poems in 1990. There is something so profound, different, that calls down the centuries to the heart.  His poetry awakens my awe and wonder of not only nature-in-the-flesh, but in the commonality of the human experience.

Lady Nyo

Not a hint of shadow

On the moon’s face….but now

A silhouette passes–

Not the cloud I take it for,

But a flock of flying geese.

Thought I was free

Of passions, so  this melancholy

Comes as surprise:

A woodcock shoots up from marsh

Where autumn’s twilight falls.

Someone who has learned

How to manage life in loneliness:

Would there were one more!

He could winter here on this mountain

With his hut right  next  to mine.

Winter has withered

Everything in this mountain place:

Dignity is in

Its desolation now, and  beauty

In the cold clarity of its moon.

When the fallen snow

Buried the twigs bent by me

To mark a return trail,

Unplanned, in strange mountains

I was holed up all winter.

Snow has fallen on

Field paths and mountain paths,

Burying them all

And I can’t tell here from there:

My journey in the midst of sky.

Here I huddle, alone,

In the mountain’s shadow, needing

Some companion somehow:

The cold, biting rains pass off

And give me the winter moon.

(I love this one especially: Saigyo makes the vow to be unattached to seasons, to expectations, but fails and embraces his very human limitations)

It was bound to be!

My vow to be unattached

To seasons and such….

I, who by a frozen bamboo pipe

Now watch and wait for spring.

(Love like cut reeds….)

Not so confused

As to lean only one way:

My love-life!

A sheaf of field reeds also bends

Before each wind which moves it.

(And Love like fallen leaves….)

Each morning the wind

Dies down and the rustling leaves

Go silent: Was this

The passion of all-night lovers

Now talked out and parting?

From “Mirror For the Moon”, A Selection of Poems by Saigyo (1118-1190)

Three of my own “Moon” poems….in the form of Tanka.

The moon floats on wisps

Of cloud that extend outward

Tendrils of white fire

Burn up in the universe–

Gauzy ghosts of nothingness.

——–

Shooting star crosses

Upended bowl of blue night

Imagination

Fires up with excited gaze!

A moment– and all is gone.

_______

(and one more….)

——

The full moon above

floats on blackened velvet seas,

poet’s perfection!

But who does not yearn for a

crescent in lavender sky?

———-

Jane Kohut-Bartels

Copyrighted, 2015……these last three poems were from “White Cranes of Heaven”, Lulu.com, 2011, Jane Kohut-Bartels

Hawk and Snake

June 18, 2020

Hawk and snake 2A painting I did a few years ago, and now when I look at it, it encourages me to be ‘brave’.

Jane….

“Night Fire Road”

June 14, 2020

NIGHT FIRE ROAD

 

Sharp right into mystery,

Down black macadam churning

The guts and apprehension,

Pot-holed surface falling

Either side into waterlogged ditches.

Hurtling towards a tunnel

Of dark, smothering trees,

Deep in the mountain.

 

This is Night Fire Road

Spiraling down and up

Like the dark flames of its name.

 

Tires dumped in the tar of night

Maybe a car or two

Stolen, torched,

Liquor bottles christening the

Games of drunken fools.

 

Maybe it was meant

To be named for foxfire—

Bioluminescence come down from

The borders of Heaven

A gleaming fool’s gold

Only appearing at night

To tease greed and imagination.

 

Or perhaps it was named

For the illicit meetings

Of furtive lovers

Who shun daylight

And go enflame passion on

Night Fire Road.

 

Jane Kohut-Bartels

Copyrighted, 2016

 

 

 

 

“The Kimono” Chapter 3

June 10, 2020

via “The Kimono” Chapter 3

“The Kimono” Chapter 3

June 10, 2020

Know that this chapter has SEX in it.  If offended by the subject….Don’t Read.

MARI WAS CAPTURED within the web of a warrior with two swords under his sash, probably a very violent man, but one who wrote exquisite verse. Lord Tetsu caught her watching his face and abruptly ended his recitation of a poem. Without thinking, she reached out her left hand to his arm, her eyes swimming with tears. She was moved beyond measure with the contradictions of this man. She felt a tenderness she had not been able to feel for a long time. He grabbed her hand and pulled it into the breast of his kimono, staring at her. She, realizing he had mistaken her gesture, tried to pull back her arm, but the deed was done. Lord Tetsu stood up, pulling her to him. She shook her head.

“No, I am married.”

Laughing, he threw back his head. “Yet here you are in my chamber, naked, and you expect me to let you go? Remember you were brought here by magic and for my usage. Did you think the morning would be spent in poetry alone?” He grabbed her hands and the quilt fell off her shoulders. “I can smell your scent. You are aroused by your curiosity. You wonder what it would be like to be taken by a samurai, Woman-called-Mari. You will find out.”

He threw Mari on the futon and dropped his swords, laying them out of her reach. Untying his various kimonos, he discarded the two outer ones and left the white linen undergarment. He wore the trousers of the samurai and, with his eyes on the woman cowered below him, untied the

drawstring and let his pants fall to the ground. Mari’s eyes widened. He was a large man in life and equal to that beneath his kimono. He threw himself over her and in a low voice whispered, “Idu-go, Idu-e.” (“One moment, only once.”) He trapped her face in his large hand, his eyes holding her gaze. “The pain will be only one moment’s worth, you will fill with me and be grateful. Now, Woman-called-Mari, kiss me without struggling, for I like a docile woman in my bed.”

Mari was pinned beneath him and could only claw his shoulders. He raised himself and laughed, trapped both of her hands in his and pulled them above her head, grasping them with one of his hands. He crushed her mouth with a hard kiss. Mari moaned and spat at him, outraged at this treatment. He reached over the side of the futon and picked up a sash. Looping it firmly around her hands, he tied them to a pillar at the top of the futon.

“Stop it, stop it! I am a married woman!”

“Yet you are naked under me and aroused without my touching you.”

It was true. The sensible modern Mari was outraged at this behavior but her body was provoked in spite of her. Something stronger was at play than feminist convictions. She felt her body was abandoning her mind. Surely he knew she was not a peasant woman or a prostitute who would spread her legs for a few coins. With a mixture of tenderness and wildness, Lord Tetsu worked his way down her body, kissing her neck, her breasts and finally, her sex.

Mari’s plea for him to stop had changed to moans, the sounds of a growing desire. Her husband never made love to her this way, in fact, he avoided all such foreplay. Mari could not help but moan louder. Her face was a stretched frenzy, her eyes fluttering back into their sockets. Lord Tetsu then entered her. Mari gasped and bucked but he kept going until he was like a sword sheathed to the hilt. Her passion was now fully inflamed.

“Oh, untie me, untie my arms, please, let me embrace you,”

 

Mari begged. Lord Tetsu untied her arms but held them firmly. He moved in her slowly as she adjusted to him. Mari gasped, the sensations so strong she couldn’t hold back. The power of his thrusts increased as she tipped to the edge. With a yell, she climaxed, her body shaking, her voice something she didn’t recognize as her own. Moments later, Lord Tetsu joined in her delirium and with a groan, released himself. Joined together tightly, they lay panting on the futon. Mari had never experienced such intensity with a man. She curled into his arms and sobbed softly.

“You are a lovely flower. Your husband has riches he cannot count.”

Mari shuddered at the mention of her husband. She had never opened to Steven like she had to this man. It took a stranger for her to experience such arousal. The rest of the morning and into the evening they made love and wrote poetry. Mari composed haiku and recited her verses. He was tolerant of her efforts and threw back his head and laughed at her attempts to best him. At one point, he went to the chest where the black kimono lay and carefully placed it on the stone floor of the room. He brought back a quilted kimono and wrapped Mari with his now gentler hands. She thought it best not to ask whose kimono it was and was just grateful for the warmth. They drank the rest of the broth and warmed a bottle of sake.

Lord Tetsu was working on papers when there was a voice outside the shoji. He called out and two men came in, bowing deeply. They were carrying more scrolls and didn’t seem to notice Mari sitting on the futon. After bowing again respectfully to Lord Tetsu, they backed out of the room. He put the scrolls on the table and started to unroll one of them.

“Lord Tetsu,” said Mari from her comfortable place by the brazier. “It seems we exist in a parallel universe.” This seemed to be the only explanation for the situation in which Mari found herself.

Lord Tetsu grunted and shrugged his shoulders. “I have no confusion. I live now. You also live now. There is no riddle.” He dismissed her words with another grunt and sat down on his stool to read.

Mari thought it prudent not to interrupt him and looked around  the room. It was rather large, obviously a room for an important official. On one side, there was archery equipment, with bows of different lengths. There were lances and other swords and what she believed were maces. If Lord Tetsu was a bureaucrat for his Shōgun, he was also a warrior. Earlier, Lord Tetsu had opened the wooden lattice of one of the windows but the light was feeble. Mari walked over to the window and looked outside at a rolling landscape that appeared medieval. There were men and woman in distant fields, looking like tiny models of humans, working with oxen drawn plows and mattocks and hoes. They were planting some crop but what it was, she couldn’t tell. Obviously, it was not rice, for the fields were not swamped. Perhaps it was barley or millet. There was a small village in the distance where a few plumes of smoke rose sluggishly in the air. Farther distance, there were mountains rising one upon the other, the atmosphere playing tricks with the color of the ridges, fading from a dark color where nearest to a misty gray far away. Outside, well within her line of vision, flew three white cranes, rising in the sky like dull stars. She knew nothing was right or sensible today. She had appeared almost on a magic carpet, far from home and time. She felt a strange calmness, almost as if this was a natural part of her life to be savored, not dissected.

Early that evening, servants brought bowls of food. As they ate, Lord Tetsu talked of archery and the legendary Lord Tokugawa. Mari had noticed red oblong objects on the arrows where the heads should be. Lord Tetsu explained that these were “whistling arrows” used to announce the opening of battles. “If you ever hear one, duck,” he said with a chuckle. “I have seen a man’s head split in two like a ripe melon. We shoot

dogs for practice but first we scare them and they run. More sport in this.” Mari winced at his words but this was his culture, not hers. Lord Tetsu poured heated sake into two cups and offered one to Mari. She liked the taste but two cups later could feel the effects. Lord Tetsu was an old hand at sake drinking, for cup after cup disappeared down his throat. He didn’t seem to get drunk but Mari knew she could not chance doing so. Turning over her cup, she signaled that she would drink no more. As darkness fell, they talked quietly together, sitting on cushions before the table.

Mari knew this interlude had to end and asked a question. “Lord Tetsu, I know now how I came to be here, in this room, but how do I go back?” “I wrap you in the kimono and you go to sleep. You will wake up next to your snoring husband. He will be none the wiser for your adventure. What has been a day in your life with me will only appear to be seconds for him.” Mari looked down to her hands in her lap. Almost in a whisper she asked him, raising her eyes to his, fearful of the answer. “Will I ever see you again?”

Lord Tetsu sat back and looked at her. His eyes searched her face and he replied in a low and gentle voice. “Mari, Woman-who-is-Married, would you chance a change in heart? Would you leave your husband to become the woman of an old samurai? Would you wish such a thing? Think carefully, girl. My world is not yours. You might wither and die here. Would you chance leaving all you know for such a fate? Can a life be built on poetry?”

Mari’s eyes were now swimming with tears. She didn’t know the answers to what he asked but she knew something in her heart had opened. Something new had startled her and brought a glimmer of a different beginning. For the first time in a long while she was feeling alive and there was no way she could explain this to him. She didn’t understand it herself.

Jane Kohut-Bartels

Copyrighted, 2018-2020


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