In the Hollow of Winter’s Twillight

January 30, 2023


In the hollow of winter’s twilight

The ground of the soul is darkened,

Silent, waiting,

Winter’s winds now shallow breaths.

Muted tints

Flood earth and sky,

Black bare-armed trees,


Softened in this sullen light,

To clothe eyes with longing.

True winter has begun.

This season of scarcity,

Survival never assured,

The very thinness of air,

A sharp, searing bitter breath of air,

The inhaled pain alerts to life.

No excited cries of birds,

No rumble of young squirrels

Turning tree hollows into hide and seek,

Only faint tracks in the layered snow

Given evidence of others,

Small three-point, delicate prints

As if a creature pranced on tiptoe.

There is little left to do

In this darkened ground of soul-time

But rest before the fire

And fill the hollow of the season

With hope, patience and desire.


Jane Kohut-Bartels

Copyrighted, 2018

Part of a Messy Sketch, 4 feet high.

January 29, 2023

Haiku Mind

January 25, 2023



AND OPEN YOUR HEART” by Patricia Donegan.

I have had this book for a number of years and didn’t really attend to it.  Now?  It is source of comfort and wisdom and not just for a particular time.  Most reading this post know about haiku, and many more know the poets inside.  Pat Donegqan weaves a wonderful book on haiku, with modern (Ginsberg) haiku poets and the ancients that most haiku poets cut their teeth on…Basho, Issa, Bucon, too many to list here.  What is even better, each haiku is written for an emotion, or an action, like listening, sorrow, etc.  In some of the poems, they seem strange until we look deeper.  Each has a universality that responds to our own heart.


Summer grasses—-

All that remains

Of warriors’ dreams



Rouged lips


Clear spring water



As my anger ebbs

The spring stars grow bright again

And the wind returns.

                           ….Richard Wright


This spring in my hut

There is nothing

There is everything

                  ….Sodo Yamaguchi

Co-Emergent wisdom

After the rain

Bomb craters

Filled with stars

                 …..John Brandi


Picked by an old woman’s hand

Herbs green and growing.

                          …..Soen Nakagawa

And my personal favorite….


This world of dew

Is a world of dew

And yet……


There are too many beautiful haiku in this book.  And the backstory, history of each poet is beautifully detailed.

Published by Shambhala Press.


January 21, 2023




January 21, 2023

O. Hear my rendering of an oft-told tale

(mixed with a leavening of Bullfinch)

Composed in view of Orpheus’

Lyre in the Cosmos.

Orpheus, son of Apollo and Calliope

(I forget Eurydice’s heritage)

Was to be blessed by Hymen.

He brought no happy omens.

His torch smoked, drew tears.

Flowers wilted,

Gods and Goddesses coughed and sputtered.

Orpheus, master of the lyre,

Whose notes melted tiger’s hearts

Made trees uproot and creep near,

Rocks to soften-

Loved his Eurydice.

But Fate conspired with happiness.

Eurydice, chased by Aristaeus

Was raped.

She died a broken, bloody death

On the end of Aristaeus’…. sword.

Fast did Orpheus descend to those Stygian depths!

His tones pleaded for the return of Eurydice.

Sisyphus sat on his rock to listen,

Ixion’s wheel stood still

The Furies eyes now wet with tears.

Ah! The Underworld turned upside down.

Eurydice came,

Garbed in her winding shroud,

fresh with young death.

Here’s the deal. Walk out of Hell

And don’t look back.

Orpheus! You almost made it!

Eurydice, twice dead, disappears.


In both love and death-

It only takes one glance.

Jane Kohut-Bartels

Copyrighted, 2023




A Tribute to Freya Stark

January 19, 2023

A Tribute to Freya Stark (1893-1993)

O, English Woman

Indominable Will

Who launched yourself against the world

And not just any part of the world,

But of Asia, the environs of Alexander the Great,

Of Iraq and Iran, the Muslim world,

Of Turkey and unpassable passes,

Of mountains white with snow in April,

Of rivers that sliced through plains

Like liquid knives,

Sleeping on the ground,

Drinking camel milk

And eating bread with weevils and worse.

You brought forth the battles

Of Alexander and Darius,

The Kings of Byzantine,

Who searched for the waters of the Divine

White as milk, sweet as honey

And with a draft, immortal life begotten.

Alexander took a fork in the path and

Died without this elixir at only 32.

You brought to life history

That part of history that I read

Before through half-closed eyes,

Seeing nothing much and forgetting


But through the accident of DNA, mine

You made this history bleed and soar

For it was mine in the earliest waters

Where I found my river of life formed

In ancient Greece, to flow through Turkey

Into Iran and then further on.

What a surprise to find this, where I thought

I was nothing of this history or geography!

But it answers to the violence, the quickening of blood,

The blood of warriors, not kings, but horsemen

With spears and arrows clinging naturally to wild horses.

To find out at this late stage of life

That my blood is mingled with that of the Persians

Perhaps speaks to the poetry in my mind

That boils up and explodes out of my brain.

Look back far enough

And we find the fundamental roots of life.

We are not just housewives, staid in our parlors

But swordsmen and poets and horsewomen clinging

Tightly with a bow and arrow drawn in our hands

And the target is the future

And we are those who have made it.

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Healing with Nature: a Haibun

January 19, 2023

Healing with Nature: a Haibun

January 19, 2023

Haibun:  Healing with Nature

My solitude shared

night crickets and an owl

the moon must approve

soft moonbeam filters dust motes

a thousand fish swim upstream

It is late afternoon, winter by calendar, spring by temperament. The radishes have pushed above the dark soil, and look promising.

Two cats and I are sitting on a retaining wall that retains nothing, except Madame Alfred Carriere and Graham Thomas.  They both have climbed to the second story and are looking in the windows, watching us sleep.  I am surrounded by budding nature, the canna lilies brush my thighs with tenderness, making room for me. I sigh and relax into the gathering dusk.

Last night I heard the wood owls.  Their demonic chattering scared me into the chicken coop to stand guard with a rake, nervous as the hens.  Now I know they are only six inches tall and can’t eat me.

When I die, I want my ashes scattered on this garden.  Then, my ash-hands will caress the seedlings from below, my ash-heart will take pride in their growth, and my ash-ears will still hear those wood owls.

The moon is rising, a beggar’s cup too thin to fatten the soil.  Mourning doves chant their benediction and swallows tumble like sickles in the failing light. The dark embraces all below. I am healed from the day’s tribulations.  The sounds of the urban give way to the enchantment of the Night.

The soil our bed

Our classroom and our graves.

 Reborn to the world.

Jane Kohut-Bartels

Copyrighted, 2017-2023

“River of Death” from “The Song of the Nightingale”

January 1, 2023

“River of Death” from “The Song of the Nightingale”

January 1, 2023

“Song of the Nightingale” is a story in 12 episodes about a marriage in 17th century Japan.  Lord Nyo and Lady Nyo, he a samurai and she from the powerful clan Fujiwara, have been married since she was fifteen.  Now she is thirty and Lord Nyo sixty. Magic, a tricky Tengu and a baby plucked from the surface of the moon figure in the story.

The poetry of Saigyo is noted:  where it isn’t, it is mine.

Episode 11 is a scene from a battlefield, as Lord Nyo is a general in the provincial army of Lord Mori, an aging and despot daimyo in north west Japan, near Moon (Gassan) Mountain.

Lady Nyo…but not the one in the story.



There’s no gap or break in the ranks of those marching under the hill:

an endless line of dying men, coming on and on and on….


When the news of Lady Nyo

Birthing a son

Reached Lord Nyo

He was far from home,

To the east,

Over mountains

In dangerous, alien territory.

A general in the service

Of his lord,

The gore of battle,

The issue of ‘dying with honor’

Began at first light,

The air soon filled with sounds of battle-

Dying horses, dying men

Drawing their last gasps of life,

Churned into the mud of immeasurable violence.

The river of death is swollen with bodies fallen into it;

in the end  the bridge of horses cannot help.


Death, not new life

Was before his eyes at dawn,

And death, not life

Pillowed his head at night.

A battle rages around me,

But inside this old warrior

A battle rages inside my heart.

It is heavy with sorrow,

So tired beyond my old bones.

Lady Nyo

 What good have we done

In watering the soil

With blood and offal

of sons?

Lady Nyo

He stunk with the blood of battle

As his bow and swords cut a swath

Through men in service to another

And when the battle horns went silent,

With tattered banners like defeated clouds

Hanging limp over the field,

Acrid smoke stained everything

And the piteous cries of the dying

Echoed in his ears.

He wondered if his life would end here.

But the gods that he didn’t believe in

Were merciful.

His thoughts turned from fierce, ugly warriors

Towards home and a baby.

Still, he could not leave.

He was caught by status,

The prestige of his clan.

He could not desert the

Fate set out from birth.

Ah! This was fate of a man in servitude

To his Lord Daimyo.

This was the fate

Of a man chained to Honor.

Still, in the darkest hours of the night

The soft and perfumed shape of his wife

Floated down to him from the fleeting clouds,

Came to him through the smoke of battlefield fires,

And he turned on his pallet

To embrace this haunting comfort.

Off in the distance

There I see my loved one’s home

On the horizon.

How I long to be there soon

Get along black steed of mine!

Jane Kohut-Bartels

Copyrighted, 2015

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