“Cave (Cove) of Kudzu”

July 28, 2016

Image result for kudzu

 

Cave (Cove) of Kudzu

 

Mysterious dark hollow

Perfect cave in kudzu

Eternal heat of summer

Forces flights of fancy

To survive the  hours.

 

Cove of kudzu

Perfect entrance

A mysterious world

Green, cool, moist,

Earth Mother inseminating

Each wanderer with the

Primal comfort of soil.

 

Field of Kudzu

With your dark mysteries

Snakes, possums, fox, coyote

You climb to Heaven overnight

And in gentle strangulation

You change the landscape without

War or plow.

 

Jane Kohut-Bartels

Copyrighted, 2016

 

You would have to live in the South to know what Kudzu is.  I have made Kudzu Jelly over the years here….and for those who know, Kudzu Jelly is one of the best jellies.  A cross between a white grape and strawberry.

July 27, 2016

“Autumn Dusk” and “Mourning Dove”, a poem and a tanka.

Photo to the east

Watercolor, 2006, Jane Kohut-Bartels,

 Stuttering winds blow across

Clouds tinted by the failing sun.

Brittle air softens,

Now a faded blue–

Shade of an old man’s watery eyes.

A late flock of Sandhill cranes lift off,

Pale bodies blending in the

Twilight with legs

Flowing dark streamers,

Their celestial cries fall to

Earth–

A harsh, chiding rain.

The trees in the valley

Are massed in darkness

As waning light leaches

Color from nature,

Creeps from field to hillock

And all below prepares for the

Rising of the Corn Moon.

Even frogs in the pond

Listen between croaks

For the intention of the night.

–Jane Kohut-Bartels

Copyrighted, 2016

Barn Owl, J. Kohut-Bartels, 1999, watercolor

A mourning dove cries

It is such a mournful sound

Perhaps a fierce owl

Has made it a widow.

Oh! It breaks my heart, her cry.

Jane Kohut-Bartels

copyrighted, 2016

 

Chessie coming through a flower bed of zinnias

Our Chessie, coming through the zinnias.  Chessie died October 14th, 2014.  We miss you so much, kitty. He was abandoned by neighbors and took up with us for 14 years.

 

All paintings and photographs by the author.

Civil War in Europe?

July 23, 2016

It never stops. 

Today a priest in a Catholic Church in Normandy was killed, his throat cut and another person fighting for their life.  Nuns were taken hostage along with parishioners.  Two attackers were killed by police, a third arrested outside the church. Pope condemns the barbarism.  A little late, Pope.

 Yesterday in southern Germany, a 21 year old Syrian refugee killed a pregnant woman with a machete, slashed at others, and was only taken down when a BMW driver ran into him.  Germany is a snake pit of this violence and it will continue.  Thanks Merkel.

 

Civil War in Europe?

Talked to a number of friends in Netherlands, Germany and Australia this morning. Netherlands friend said that people are extremely afraid, and that the immigration of Muslims has ‘overfilled’ this country and there are no stop gates on this. Plus, there is no way for people to defend themselves against attacks. No guns.

Germany is little different. Guns were taken away in the late ’20s and especially in the 30’s …from Jews. Now? It is hard to get a gun (the country of Glock production???) but people are fed up with the present situation and all the murders of innocent citizens. And it will continue. The European authorities are white washing the terror attacks: yesterday, they said ‘that they didn’t have a motive yet for this newest one’. Bull Shit. This Iranian teen….here with his parents from Iran for 2-3 years, was like so many Muslim teens…lost, angry, and easy prey for the Islamic Terrorists recruiters. There are 1000s of young teens in the same mental place as this teen in Germany. Struggling with the hard German language, different culture and are there even jobs for them?  Calling him ‘deranged’ is just side-stepping the issues.  The issues that Merkel and company have made for Germans and the rest of Europe.

Switzerland (head of Police) is telling people to arm themselves…because this present situation is very different than what the Swiss faced in WWI and WWII. And the Nice attack was interesting. The killer with the truck wasn’t operating alone…though it looked like in the beginning. He (unemployed) sent 120,000 euros to his brother (family) in Tunisia the week before his killing 84 people. No longer do the Islamic Terrorists need planes to smash into buildings: and this is the difference between Al Qaida and ISIS: The first terrorist organization didn’t want to use deranged or mentally unstable individuals…..but ISIS does. Short way to get maximum results. People are expendable.  Especially youth.

My German friend said it was ‘not an issue of waking up the elites…they would continue to spin what was happening to disarm (in all ways) the masses. Also, the leadership knows that when the masses of Europeans wake up, that they wiill go for the ‘leadership’ first. In fact, last week a mock gallows was set up in some public square in Germany with an invitation to Merkel. It was taken down but this is just a small example of a rising sentiment.

The majority of people killed in Munich yesterday were children…teens, inside McDonald’s.  If this continues, the people of Europe will rise and there will be Civil War. Maybe with pitchforks but there will be civil war. I think that there will be many more of these attacks all over Europe and perhaps here, but people will take just so much.

Of course, it’s open as to who will lead this civil war.  Media is trying to throw the blame on this Munich attack in the beginning to right wing organizations.  There are plenty of those in Europe, but it seems this was a hopeful lie by media.  The Left doesn’t have the energy to lead, so I am hoping that IF Civil War comes to Europe, it will be by patriotic citizens, men and women who refuse to  sacrifice their lives and children to terrorism. Already some ‘leader’ in France said (something like this) that people will just have to expect more of the same, and carry on.  I can’t remember the exact words, but it was much worse, more defeatist than what I wrote here.  I guess the French are seen by this ‘leader’ as lemmings over the cliff and into the sea.  Expendable.

People here can chide and criticize Americans for their weapons.  And yes, the criminals have more weapons than honest people.  But I think the Swiss have it right.  And a pitchfork can’t measure up to what the terrorists are using.

Europe has a long and fine history of resistance towards evil.  And what they are experiencing right now….and with the slaughter of children?  I call that Evil.

Jane Kohut-Bartels

Copyrighted, 2016

 

“The Kimono”, a chapter from a novel

July 21, 2016

images (8)

 

Plum Blossom Snow

 

The present snowstorm of

White plum blossoms

Blinds me to sorrow.

 

They cascade over cheeks

Like perfumed, satin tears

Too warm with the promise of life

To chill flesh.

 

(poem by Jane Kohut-Bartels, copyrighted, 2008)

It has taken me 8 years to finish this long novel.  It is a time warp, from 21th century Japan to late 16th century Japan.  Mari is a 32 year old Japanese/American, in Kyoto with her husband Steven, a computer consultant.  For the majority of the novel, Mari has been snatched by a magical kimono, appearing in feudal Japan where she meets Lord Mori, a powerful daimyo in North Japan…around Akito,  the Gassan (Moon) Mountain.

The ending didn’t come to me easily, until last night.  Fighting with stupid Geeksquad, I got little sleep, and when I did awake, the next chapter, the ending …was in my mouth.

I am grateful.  I have a couple of long novels floating around, mostly unfinished but at that stage where it would take only a couple of months to do so.  So whatever propelled me into the ending (of which this next to last chapter isn’t….) I am grateful.  Even to stupid Geeksquad.  Who knows where inspiration comes from?

The character Lord Fudo is obviously a Tengu….a mystical being, usually birdlike who can transform themselves into (mostly) human appearance.  In the novel, he is called Lord Yuki…who is also a Yamabushi.

Lady Nyo

Chapter 27

The Kimono,  EARTHQUAKE

Mari was dreaming of snow. Snow was falling on her face, but somewhere in her mind she knew it was spring, and now too far from winter. She woke up, cold, as Lord Mori had turned in the night from her, and had taken all the quilts.

She sat up, pulling her thin kimonos around her. The dawn’s light hardly infused the bay before them, only thin tendrils of light skimmed the sky above the distant mountains.

Something was wrong. It wasn’t snow, but cherry blossoms. They covered the ground. There was a humming beneath the soil and Mari placed her hands firmly on the ground, feeling the vibrations. She wondered why Lord Mori did not awake.

Mari stood to get a better look at the bay, but even standing was difficult. She felt drunk, unstable on her feet. Something was wrong, and the water before her looked as if something was punching beneath with a million fists, causing it to roil and churn.

Lord Mori woke up with a start, sat up and for the first time, Mari saw fear on his face.

“Do not try to stand, throw off your geta and run”, he whispered.

He grabbed her hand and at a crouch, they ran up the hill towards the others, Mari gathering her robes above her knees. They were knocked to the ground with the tremors of the earthquake a number of times, and each time Lord Mori covered her with his body.

They could hear screams and shouts in the distance. Nothing seemed real to Mari, and those beautiful cherry trees were uprooted and fallen in a jumble against each other. Lord Mori saw Lord Nyo scrambling towards him and shouted for him to try to get back to town and get their horses. They must ride to Gassan or get as high as possible. They were in the lowlands and following an earthquake could come the feared tsunami.

A small fire had started with a brazier turning over on some quilts. Lord Mori stamped it out, and then looked for survivors. Lady Nyo and her servants were lying under some branches of a fallen cherry tree, and Lord Mori and some of the men lifted the tree to pull them out. Lady Nyo had blood streaming down her face mixed with soil, but other than a flesh wound, she would survive. Some others were not so lucky. A few servants from the inn were buried by a few fallen trees, or laid out like they were just asleep on the soil. Lord Mori’s men dragged them out and laid them together on the ground. Someone covered them with the half-burnt quilts.

Mari scrambled to where Lady Nyo was sitting against a half-fallen tree and with her kimono sleeve, wiped the blood from her face. Why didn’t Lord Nyo free his wife first before he obeyed orders from Lord Mori to bring their horses? Clearly the rules of this century, and this country were very different than her own. She would hope that Steven would have attended to her first, but then again, this was a very different culture.

“I am fine, don’t worry about me, please”, whispered Lady Nyo. Mari could see that she had suffered shock and her pale face showed the effects of this trauma.

“Is my Lord Nyo alive?” Mari nodded her head, and told her that Lord Mori ordered him to bring the horses from the town.

Lady Nyo looked doubtful. “Surely the town has suffered what we have here. The horses might have bolted and he will not find them.”

“We can only hope he does. Lord Mori wants us all to ride to Gassan Mountain. He says the higher we are the safer we will be.”

Suddenly a man appeared over them. Mari looked up startled. It was Lord Yoki.

“Do not fear, my ladies”, he said bowing. “Lord Mori is right. The higher we get the better our chances of surviving will be.”

Another tremor, this one lasting only a few seconds, but Mari screamed in fear. Lord Yoki laid his hand on her shoulder to steady her. Mari buried her face in his robes. Either he had very hairy legs or she was feeling feathers through his clothing. In any case, she was glad he was there. Lord Mori was off directing the men, gathering what they could that would be useful for their flight to Gassan Mountain. He was not around to comfort a hysterical woman.

She continued to wipe the blood from the face of Lady Nyo, using the sleeve of her kimono. Lady Nyo was chanting something in a low voice. Mari thought she was praying.

Suddenly, Lord Mori was bending over her and he pulled her to her feet, leading her away from the others.

He put his arm around her waist and drew her to him.

“You must leave. If you stay, you will die.”

“Yes. I will die with you.”

Lord Mori grimaced and  put his hand around her neck, close to her chin, bending her head back. He increased his hand’s pressure on either side of her jaw and the last thing Mari saw was his eyes staring at her, two liquid black pools to drown in.

Jane Kohut-Bartels

Copyrighted, 2016

“Morning”….a poem

July 19, 2016

crescent-moon

MORNING

 

A wedge of sullen moon

Pales above

As life awakes beneath.

 

Birdsong threads through

Trees, a staccato cacophony

Anointing the air

Like colored ribbons

Weaving back and forth

The timbre ever changing.

 

Green spring trees, tender, tender

An early nursery of life

Can anything be wrong with the world?

 

The hammock swings gently of its own accord

Perhaps a haunt, a ghost invisible.

 

Faint gunshots far in the distance last night

Where some would

Impose their vile humanity

Startling for a moment

Until sleep reclaims.

So it goes, this is the city.

 

The hoot of a sleepy owl in the morning

Echoes the cry of a distant train

While seed pods from maple trees

Flutter to the ground.

 

We have survived the dark,

It’s blackened mysteries,

Alien things that rattle us.

We are cradled in Nature’s promise

Of life beginning again each morning

While the moon above yawns, fades and disappears.

 

Jane Kohut-Bartels

Copyrighted, 2014

 

A Small Bit of Good Earth….

July 17, 2016

Garden July 1

Messy but productive small garden.

Garden July 2.JPG

Not sure if this is a winter squash or a pumpkin.  Planted both in this small surround and can’t figure out what is what yet, but it’s productive.

 

It is terrifying what is happening in the world.  Islamic terrorism, police shootings, police being ambushed, this morning four Baton Rouge officers killed.  The list grows heavier.

It gets to a point where you don’t know which way to turn: everyone has their own axes to grind, and you get caught up in the tragedies.  It’s unavoidable.

I’m not young anymore, and neither is my husband of 32 years.  We have weathered many things, some that have impacted our lives directly, and more that haven’t. Being a writer gives me a purpose, or at least occupies much of my time.  However, it is hard not to be drawn back into the chaos that seems to be a ‘normal’ part of the world today.

This current frenzy about national politics leaves me….cold.  I can’t support either side.  I believe  both candidates are fraught with serious issues:  one a pathological narcissist and the other fundamentally untrustworthy.  Both occupy that category.  I can’t get on the wagon for either side, but then again, I have never trusted politics or politicians. My experience, just in Atlanta, tells me each time, those people who I gave money and time to have proven to be craven opportunists. This never fails.

I was watching Ken Burns “Dust Bowl” series, about the devastating  destruction of farm land in Oklahoma, Texas and other states in the 1930’s.  Millions of tons of topsoil was swept away,  accompanied by a ten year drought.  Hundreds of thousands of farmers were wiped out clean, their farms made unproductive by both natural sources (drought) and bad agricultural methods that helped with the erosion. Government paid farmers not to plant crops, but to plant cover crops to help with the erosion.  Millions of trees were also planted as a wind break in the devastating erosion.

Before he died, I remember Uncle Zullie, a brother of my father’s, in a long call, relating his own CCC experience.  He and his brothers and sisters were the first generation Americans from a Hungarian mother and father.  There were 13 children originally, and that takes a lot of food and cooking.  The depression hit hard and Uncle Zullie and other brothers left for Roosevelt’s Civilian Conservation Corps.  My grandmother was a widow by then, and only the girls stayed.  The boys cleared out for whatever jobs they could find. Uncle Zullie waxed proud about the dam he helped build in Tennessee.  Back then they were paid $30.00 a month, and had to send back home $25.00.  It was open to men 18-28. It was a life saver for these unmarried men, and that was one of the stipulations.

My father joined the Army Air Corps early on, before it was even called Air Force.  But one thing that impacted upon this family of first generation  Americans was the value and necessity of land. My grandmother had chickens and a garden  and that could be the difference from starvation.  No one became farmers, but we lived in a  very rural area in New Jersey. My father insisted on a good garden of tomatoes, melons, cukes, and corn amongst other vegetables.  We only had a couple of acres but the garden was something he did automatically each spring.  He also planted over 100 fruit trees, apples, pears, peaches, that were cut down by the yuppie jackasses who bought our property after my father died.

So faced with the onslaught of terror and mayhem that has become ‘usual’ in our country, it is hard to know where to hang your hat and apply your  fading energies.  My father had a pile of horse manure behind a shed by the garden, and he worked decades making the Jersey red shale fertile.  If nothing else, your gardens, your fruit trees can feed yourself and your family. And you can share with neighbors. You won’t get rich, but you won’t starve.  It amazes me today that my neighbors don’t plant a garden (except flowers) and cultivate no fruit trees or berry bushes. I’ve heard a lot of excuses over the years why not, but I also believe that our current programs of constant feeding people make them dependent on government.  Not everyone, but so damn many. There are people who deserve the government help and there are  people who don’t.  I have a few chickens and a rooster, and this a good deal.  Fresh eggs every morning.  Just wish I could find a sausage bush.

I do have a neighbor who is a hunter and come fall, we have fresh deer meat.  He also is generous with his fish he catches.  A few more in this large community are growing veggies and a few have chickens (for eggs) so perhaps this is some progress.

To hell with the politics that we are supposed to hang our lives on in this country.  It’s a self-serving mess and a distraction for the real work that families need to do:  Plant a garden, plant fruit trees, plant berry bushes.  Can and conserve foods.  You can barter with others who are doing the same and expand your larder this way.

We  can’t all be farmers and today that is a very iffy proposition in the best of cases.  I read somewhere that 30 farms a day go out of business…unable to afford the fertilizer/seeds/irrigation.  But we can garden on a small scale and at least show some independence and initiative.  And don’t raise the issue of “I rent, don’t own the property.”  That’s a stupid argument and a lazy one at that.  Some of the best produce I have tasted comes from container gardening….on patios and balconies.

Anywhere the sun do shine.  Sometimes you become richer by being poorer.

Jane Kohut-Bartels

Copyrighted, 2016

 

 

 

 

“Queen of Sheba”…….poetry

July 13, 2016

 Image result for Queen of Sheba

 

She walks right by me, Queen of Sheba,

Black skin glinting like steel in the sun.

Proud breasts topped with prouder nipples

Black rubies jutting east to west.

 

Her spangled turban hits the North Star

Jeweled feet trample the South Pole beneath,

All space between guarded by curved fangs,

Such dangerous territory–alien ground.

 

Tattooed ribbons flow down sinuous arms

Black snakes born with sensuous intent.

Hot sun glances off gold-tipped teeth–

A shot of mystery between mahogany lips,

Giving rarely a smile– more of a sneer.

 

 

Kohl eyes flash a steady disdain,

While measuring the urban jungle

From cracked sidewalks littered

With the broken shards of broken lives,

To burnt out neon signs of tumbled pool halls.

 

 

I offered the most honeyed of fruits,

Celestial music of spinning spheres,

Jewels of priceless glowing stars,

Captured in baskets for her fondling,

Brought to earth to surround with

Undeniable majesty-

An aura of delight,

Honor,

Cosmic glory.

 

 

Ah, Cruel Queen of Sheba!

No glance in my direction.

Obviously had other fish to fry,

With plenty of empires to plunder–

Though I promised the

Wealth,

Splendor,

Fame,

And the Wisdom of Solomon.

 

Jane Kohut-Bartels

Copyrighted, 2016 (Queen of Sheba originally published in “A Seasoning of Lust”, Lulu.com, 2009)

“Shirley Temple Gets Hers”…from Collected Short Stories, to be published Spring, 2017

July 7, 2016

Children playing in a field

 

For the past year, I have been working on short stories.  They have some of their own rules, regulations, laws.  In other words, you got to study these things.  I’ve been reading different authors of short story, mostly women writers for the past six months. Whatever these laws are, I’ve thrown most of them out the window.  I just write to tell a story, and what I have found out is the stories that seem possible are the stories from my own life.  Childhood is a good start.  So, with a growing collection of short stories, I hope to fashion a new book for next spring.  We will see how it goes.

Lady Nyo

 

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 seemed to have 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 96, 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.

 

 

 

 

 

“Chicken Hawk Talk”

July 5, 2016

917ce-pitcher

 

Chicken Hawk!

Leave my chickens alone!

I have worked hard for them,

A handmaiden of fowl.

Collecting beautiful eggs

The gift of the species

Naturally dyed

Pink, brown, blue-green and white.

Presented at Easter,

A symbol of the Lamb of God,

And the Spring of Life.

 

Leave my chickens alone, hawk.

I won’t even share.

 

I remember, two short years ago,

When I first saw you wheeling over the kudzu

Riding the thermals,

Not even graced with the brick colored tail of a Proper Redtailed hawk,

 

And I gasped at your splendor, a winged god

From the cosmos, glittering white ash against a cobalt sky,

And you landed one day in my birdbath,

Trying to look like a stone sculpture,

And just the flicker of your 8x eyes

Looked over the songbirds for lunch.

 

Jane Kohut-Bartels

Copyrighted, 2014  (This poem originally published in “Pitcher of Moon”, Amazon.com)

 

 

“Maiko”

July 1, 2016

Geisha picture 2016

Dirty-faced little girls

imitate geishas

late at night

when chores are done.

 

They practice

seductive glances,

graceful movements,

pouring tea for phantom clients.

 

Stealing a moment,

they gaze into mirrors

making geisha- faces

preening, casting

down their eyes,

trying to catch

mirrored reflections.

 

Now tender maikos,

painted lead-white faces,

sit silently,

knees padded by

layers of stiff underdress

stifling yawns

as Big Sister Geisha

pour sake

exposing

ever so slightly

a marble- smooth wrist

barely blushing with life-

Mysterious seduction!

 

Maiko,

silent chorus

behind performers,

observing the trade

studying the manners

peering out with furtive

eyes,

watching men

roll around tatami-

foolish, drunk-

such silly children!

 

Slender ‘dancing-girls’

tender split- peach hairdos

driving men to lust

a ripe and blushing fruit

sitting above the red neckline of

kimono,

a sample of fruit

to be plucked

for the right price

to okiya.

 

Solemn maiko,

follow the way of

full-blown geisha,

childhood

sold for a pittance,

desired and sought

for beauty, grace, talents,

trapped within silken layers-

beautiful butterflies,

night’s elusive moths,

dragging through life

clipped wings

of splendid colors.

 

Jane Kohut-Bartels

Copyrighted, 2014-2016

=(this poem first published by the author in “White Cranes of Heaven”, 2011, by Lulu.com)

 

Okiya is the house where geisha and maiko live. Oka-san is the proprietress who owns and runs the okiya. A maiko is a very young girl, who sometimes enters the okiya at the age of six. She is considered a maid, and is only trained as maiko (apprentice geisha) if she shows some talent to be a geisha. These young girls do all the chores and cleaning of the okiya. They have very long hours as they are expected to stay awake to assist the returning geisha in the early hours of the morning from the teahouses where they have been performing.

 

Many children were sold by poor parents to the okiya. This was very common in Japan for the survival of girl children. IF a geisha has a baby, and it is a boy, she must leave the okiya or give up the child. If she has a girl, that child is absorbed into the okiya as a maid.

 

 


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