Spring 2015 and a Plum Blossom Snowstorm…..

March 28, 2015

Crabapple/Peach Tree in back yard, Spring

Crabapple/Peach Tree in back yard, Spring

Spring has sprung, but it is tricky.  Two weeks ago we brought home 5 baby chicks….two days old, and they are all doing well in a box in a bedroom, sounding like little aliens with their strange chirpings during the middle of the night.  I worry that they aren’t getting any sun but there is a light that is on 24/7 over their crib but it isn’t sunlight.  It’s too cold for them to be outside yet, and I did gather them together last week when it was warm and took them outside.  Shepherding baby chicks is a bit like herding cats and I fast learned  they had plans of their own.  So back to their box they went and tomorrow I will put them in a ferret cage (sans ferrets) and at least they will have three stories to run and play.

Today we went and bought 6 fruit trees for a small orchard in the middle back of the property.  Just about the only place where grass was lush and growing, but it was the best place for the trees:  2 Arkansaw Black apples, over 8 feet now, two Fuji and two plum trees.  I miss my plums the most.  A few years ago the 15 year old plums tapped into the sewer system and cost us a bunch of coin.  They had to be cut down.  They were the first of the fruit trees to show blossoms and the first to lose those blossoms.  But they are now back and we have great hopes they will give us those luscious purple fruits.

Lady Nyo

 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.

-

 

Rude Spring

-

 Sharp brittle wind

Sails like clipper glass

Cuts the skin razor thin,

And flays off winter.

This spring can’t wait.

It lies,

Promises comforting warmth

Yet delivers a numbing cold-

Too much in love with winter still.

-

I hear the laughter in the pines.

They moan  an evil chuckle.

-

No matter.

This argument will be over

Once the earth

Pirouettes on point.

 -

Jane Kohut-Bartels

Copyrighted, 2015

Random Haiku…..

March 25, 2015

Marsh Grass 3

A reader just raised the issue of why these haiku below seemed to be rather bitten with surrealism.  That was a great question!  There is a commonality between surrealists and haiku in many ways:  both (or should or do) delve beneath the surface of a thought, sentiment, etc…trying to get to a deeper level of explanation or reveal.  I believe it’s this concept of ‘yugen’ so prevalent in Japanese literature, especially poetry:  of course it depends upon context, but yugen means to me a distance, a deeper concept, something not proclaimed but hidden.  So many ways to go about this.  Pulling out something different and new and startling perhaps in your haiku.  I also think it is an ‘off-handed’ way of expression, and that can become difficult, but I believe it makes for better haiku.

But I think it also depends upon the measure and duration of study of Japanese culture and literature.  I’ve only done some serious study of this for the past 8 years, and this doesn’t do much more than scratch the surface.  I believe to really get comfortable with these forms, you have to study and immerse yourself for a lifetime.  And that is a great pleasure! 

But anyone who reads Basho/Issa/Buson will immediately see each poet’s ‘place’ in their work.  And the Buddhist influence is strong in their writings:  Nature is transitory, contingent and of course, suffers.  (we are part of that nature).The pure mysteriousness of Life!

I have (as of a week ago) finished “Song of the Nightingale” and Nick Nicholson will be formatting this book in late June for publication.  This question of surrealism comes up again and again in this new book in the form of ‘moon babies’, Tengus, etc.  There is much of surrealism  and magic in this book.  Sometimes we forget the deep influences in what we write and it takes a good question like this reader (in the comments of these poems) to draw you back to where you have been.

Lady Nyo….and thank you, Staviolatte!

One of my favorite poems of Issa  that seems to  be a bit surreal:

“The snow is melting

and the village is flooded

with children.”

—Issa

-

I’ve written very few haiku.  I find the form harder than tanka, though shorter. Of course there are ‘rules’ concerning haiku, as there are with tanka, but modern poets tend to ignore or dismiss these rules.  They are not short free verse, but I think in the beginning without study, most of us fall to this. 

There are haiku writers who have set standards centuries ago:  Basho, Issa, Bucan, to note some masters of the form.  My dear friend, Steve Isaak in California, does a good job on this form.

This spring I intend to do some study of these masters, and hopefully get my head around this poetry form correctly.

Lady Nyo

Sultry air disturbs

The sleep of husband and wife.

They pant without lust.

Dogwoods are blooming
The crucifixion appears
White moths in the night.

-

(Dogwoods are a Southern tree here in the South.  White blooms
having the form of the Christian Cross, with nail heads.  They bloom in the spring  right before Easter. They are a symbol of Christianity in Nature.)

-

Under the dark moon

I awaited your return

Only shadows came.

-

The moon, a ghostly

Sliver, sails on a jet sea

Wild dogs howl beneath.

A pale half moon drifts

Across a wintry sky.

Trees become monsters.

Fall’s crispness compels

Apples to tumble from trees.

Worms make the journey.

Ice blocks the rivers.

Look! A duck is frozen there.

Nature, no mercy.

Skeleton-trees wave

While the wind whips dead leaves

Wood smoke scents the air.

The moon, a ghostly

Sliver, sails on a jet sea

While dogs howl beneath.

A swirl of blossoms

Caught in the water’s current

Begins the season.

Jane Kohut-Bartels

Copyrighted, 2015

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“La Vendetta”, a short story for the first day of Spring! With a Warning.

March 20, 2015
Spring Garden, 2010

Spring Garden, 2015

“La Vendetta” is a bit racy, so you are warned.  A version of this work can be found in “A Seasoning of Lust”, Lulu.com, 2009.

-

LA VENDETTA

Maria de Guiseppa Agnesi Faini sprawled on a brocade-covered chair. It was summer and Venice was always hot, humid and moldy.  She crinkled her nose at the smell of the water and the slime rotting the stucco sides of the villa.

Her apartments were on the third floor but there was still very little air this sultry morning coming through the long, opened windows.   She could hear the music of gondola men, their songs always the same of beautiful women and brokenhearted lovers as they plied their way down the Grand Canal. The men’s lilting voices called out the names of local courtesans, much as the sellers of fish or fruit sang of their ware’s desirability.

“ A lira for a squeeze of Maria’s breast, with a couple of oranges to sweeten the deal!”

Signora Faini squirmed in her chair.  The brocade was hot to her skin, though she wore a muslin morning dress. Sweat dripped down the viola curve of her back to the crease of her buttocks and she scratched where it tickled.  L’Inglese had introduced muslin and it was all the rage in Venice this season.  She thought them a bloodless race, a country of bad teeth.

 “Where is he?”  She tapped her foot impatiently. “He better bring some good gossip for his tardiness.”

 

Signor Alessandro Balsamo was her friend.  Actually he was her ciscebo, tolerated by her husband because Signor Balsamo was, unfortunately, a castrato.  He had been cut when a young boy (“Viva il coltello!” the audience yelled when he appeared on the stage) and sang until his voice disappeared.  Other patrons supported him, but alas, Signor Balsamo was growing old and unattractive.  His nose was arching to meet his chin, his belly could no longer be contained in his waistcoat and even his corset was now uncomfortably tight.

Signora Faini sighed.  This heat would not let up, and there were at least two more months to bear of this weather.  She promenaded upon the stones of San Marco plaza, hoping for a breeze from the sea, until she had worn out 20 pairs of slippers in one month, bowing to the left and right, and stopping to gossip with her few friends. Now her feet hurt.

She thought of her new lover and her nipples hardened. Her hand strayed to her bosom and she squeezed a breast, rubbing shapely thighs together.  A soft groan escaped her throat.

He was an officer, a dashing lieutenant, now on maneuvers somewhere across the Alps.  She remembered the first time, when in Signora Mortanti’s garden, with her skirts flipped over his kneeling form before her.  She caught the eye of her husband and had the presence of mind to flutter her fan at him.  He barely acknowledged his wife so intent was he in arguing the latest political scandal.  Leaning upon a tree, she inched around it, better to obscure her lover’s behavior.   He obediently followed on his knees.  There would have been two scandals discussed that soft, spring night, and one ending in bloodshed.

Ah, she missed her Alfredo!  He was bold, but perhaps all Romans were so.  There was a difference between the men of Venice and Roma.  In Venice they talked of commerce, but the men of Roma talked of love, and made exciting scandal.

Still, Venice was a wicked city.  There were plenty of places to indulge in passionate embraces.  Her husband’s gondola was a cozy one, with the canopy making them a snug nest inside if a bit too warm.  A few extra lira to the boatman, and she was assured her secrets.  Of course, they could never be completely unclothed, but the necessary parts ‘d’amour’ were available.  They tried numerous positions, but the best for her was to bounce upon his lap.  Then the boatman did not have to compensate for the side to side thrusts of her lover.  Her hands strayed downward to that secret place, not so secret anymore to Alfredo.  *Ah, Alfredo! I miss your long sword. Not the insignificant dagger of her husband.  No, a real sword, one that pierced to her empty womb and she could play with like a regular puttana.  The weight of his balls in her hands were like the golden——

“Signora?”  A maid knocked upon her door, interrupting her thoughts.

“Signor Balsamo has arrived.”

“Well, let him in.”  Signora Faini’s tone expressed her annoyance.  Such a stupid maid.

Signor Balsamo entered and made his best leg.  His wig was freshly curled and his waistcoat beautifully embroidered.  He was a small, stout man, but still he had a certain charm.

Signora barely nodded her head.  She continued to fan herself with her limp lace handkerchief.

“So, Allesandro, my love, you dare to show up late….Again?”

“Forgive me, my dearest Maria, there was a large puppet show at San Marco.  I thought of you and your love of puppets and perhaps we could walk down and see.  They are quite remarkable, almost life sized.  The staging is well done.”

Ah, thought Signora Faini.  Puppets!  I am in the mood for such entertainment. I won’t have to wear out another pair of slippers.  I must remind myself to either hide the shoemaker’s bill or start lying to my husband.  He will start yelling again, and there goes my fun.

 

The signora rang a small porcelain hand bell and called for her personal maid.

Signor Balsamo did not remove himself, for he had been present many times when she was at her toilette.  He had little interest in a woman’s charms, with one exception.  He sat, leaning his chin on his cane and watched her being undressed by her maid.

She shed the morning dress, a confection of muslin and ruffles.  Then, stepping out of two petticoats, she stood in a chemise.  Already corseted, the maid went behind the Signora and tightened her laces.  Sitting, she lifted a slim leg to her maid, not caring that she exposed her fregna to the eyes of her ciscebo.  He blinked, knowing she did it to humiliate him.  It was an old and cruel game she played.

Today, she was even crueler. Lifting both breasts from her corset, she examined the nipples.  She knew her ciscebo had an attachment to women’s breasts, probably something from his childhood.  She twisted each nipple, making the small dark pink flesh stand at attention. Her eyes narrowed as she stared at the Signor.  She knew he wanted a suck, something she rarely rewarded him. She could see the hunger, his mouth open like a fish and his eyes droopy with sadness.   She found a perverse thrill in hurting him. He was such a child, so malleable, so predictable.

Rolling up each silk stocking, the maid tied garters around the Signora’s knees.  Then she hurried to a large armoire.  Opening it, she awaited her mistress’ decision.

“No, not anything heavy this morning, it grows too hot and already the morning breezes are gone.  Perhaps a silk.  What do you think, Alessandro?  Perhaps this watered blue with the ecru lace?  Does it look cool to you?”

Signor Balsamo had been present for this game many times.  If he said ‘yes’ to her selection, she would discard it.  If he said “no” she would consider it, but there would be layers of clothes spread on the floor and sofas before Signora made up her mind.  She was woman!  What could one expect?

Sitting at the vanity while completing her toilette, she suffered her maid to pin her hair high on her head. Dark, chestnut curls tumbled to her shoulders.  At least they would not create heat on the back of her neck.  She was a small woman, like a china doll, all curves and bright eyes and rose tinted lips.  She rose and turned to her ciscebo.

“Ah, Signora!  A vision of radiant beauty, a cornucopia of delights, a —-“

“Enough, Allessandro.” She turned to the window overlooking the canal, dismissing him unkindly.

“You weary me with the same chants.  Let us leave, though the hour not fashionable.  Come Alessandro, you have promised me a puppet show and perhaps a glace?”

“Ah, something sweet would be very nice!  The ice from the Alps is packed in straw.  Last time I got a bit of chaff in my ice, this time I will run the vendor through with my sword.”

Signora Faini laughed, her tones like a tinkling bell.  “Ah, Alessandro, you are such a man, so bold and advancing.  Too bad about the missing parts.”

With that she grabbed up her parasol and took his arm, not caring for the pain in his eyes.  He was to pay, and pay dearly for making her wait this morning.

The sunlight was bright but there were huge, puffy clouds floating across the deep blue sky. The water reflected the light like a million, million diamonds thrown on the surface by a very rich Prince.  Carefully being handed into her gondola by Signor Balsamo, the Signora settled her dress around her, and raised her parasol.  Signor Balsamo sat next to her, rocking the gondola as he stepped in. They floated down the Grand Canal, Signor Balsamo watching her nod at a few other gondolas, some friends, more enemies.  She made many of them as he found out over the two years of their acquaintance. Regardless, a public courtesy would have to be maintained.  “Keep your friends close and your enemies closer” was Signor Faini’s personal motto.  It had much meaning lately.  He might be a cornuto, but he was a wise cornuto, thought Signor Balsamo.

They crossed under the Ponte dei Sospiri and past the Paigioni, docked and entered San Marco palazzo. A million pigeons took flight, to circle the plaza and return in great circling spirals to the same stones.  The iridescence of their feathers were like tiny winged prisms, caught by the sun.  The Palazzo Ducale occupied one side of San Marco with its white confection of marble, Moorish tracery.   Signora Faini walked beside Signor Balsamo, her arm entwined in his.  He swung his cane with the forward movement of his right leg, and swished it to make the vendors and beggars scatter from their path.

The palazzo was crowded today, even as the bells sounded and the cannon fired, declaring the hour.  The sounds of musicians and the bray of vendors added to the festivities.  There, before them, rose a stage, with a good crowd fronting the entertainment in already in progress.

It was a large boxed stage, with a black curtain stretching across the wooden frame where the puppets performed.  A roof peaked up behind it.  Signora Faini recognized “Punchinello” a hunchbacked character with a beak of a nose, and clapped her hands in glee.

Signor Balsamo laughed, and infected with her happiness, said, “Ah! Punchinello!  Coglinni!  Does he never change, my dear? He is universal for bravery, for laziness, for pride and bawdiness!  He embodies the best and worst in mankind.  Bravo, my friend!”

Signor Balsamo greeted this huge headed, almost human sized puppet with the enthusiasm one would greet an old friend.  Perhaps he was related.

“Ah! He is ugly, and that never changes!”  A true observation that made the crowd laugh.

The ‘teste di fantasia” in Venice were known in Europe to be the finest.  But this was not a Venetian production, but the work of a Russian, who was known as a Count, or perhaps he was a Prince.  Who could tell?  The mystery surrounding M. Swartzskya was thick as the fog over the canals in winter.

They watched the puppets and marveled how realistic they were.  Dressed in sumptuous fashion, even if a few years out of date, their puppetry revealed only by the wires that went from their moving parts to high above where the puppeteer was controlling them, they were almost human to observers.

A dance, an awkward embrace, the tangling of wires, the sound of puppet feet hitting the stage and on occasion, a groan.  Ah, this Count Swartzskya was a genius! The Doge himself would be entertained, for Signora Faini and Signor Balsamo had never seen such a display of pure delight!  All the gold in Venice couldn’t replace the sheer magic of Swartzskya!

The sound of a chamber orchestra floated over the palazzo and Signor Balsamo sighed.

“Ah, Maria, they are playing il Prete Rosso’s music.  Ah! I never heard him, but my sainted father did. What a wonderful violinist the Red Priest, he said.  Quick as lightening on the strings, and the heartstrings too, my little dove!  So many Signoras opened their corsets and gave him their hearts and love and other small pieces of their devotion.  He was quite the scandal in his youth.   And a priest!”

“But you know, Alessandro, every priest has a mistress.  How could all these puttani exist without the Church?”  Signora sniffed in contempt, twirling her silk parasol above her head.

The sounds of Vivaldi’s music floated through the air, adding to the spectacle before them.  Suddenly, as if the puppets could hear the music, as if they had become animated with human sentiment and had blood coursing through papier mache veins, they bowed and did a stately minuet.  How gracefully did the unseen puppeteer lift the wires binding limbs and life.  How perfectly did wooden, painted puppets, faces frozen in carved sentiment, with eyes strangely human, flashing with passion, express such intelligence!

Signora Faini was overcome, and a few silly tears gathered in her eyes.  Ah, Madonna! The combination of the music and the display before her was hitting a hole in her soul, pulling at her own heartstrings.   Signor Balsamo patted her hand, a strange smile upon his own countenance.

“Would you like to meet Count Swartzskya?  I have had the privilege, Maria, and you will not forget the man easily.  This I assure you.”

Before she could agree, a loud rumble of thunder drowned out the music and all eyes looked upward.  With curses from the men and screams and laughter from the women, it started to pour down on all standing in the palazzo. The rain was relentless and they could hear “Stronzo di merda!”, “Per carita!” and “Che cazzo!” from the musicians as they scrambled to protect their delicate instruments.

Signora Faini’s parasol, meant for the sun was soaked.   Signor Balsamo drew his arm around her small waist and guided them behind the stage.  There was a door and a man, who looked Signor Balsamo in the eye and bowed them in.

Maria looked around at the structure.  It was big, almost as big as the reception room in her villa, but the ceiling not as high. There were crates on the sides of the painted, wooden walls, chairs and a large table cluttered with puppetry crossbars, carpentry tools, clothes, all directly behind the stage.  As she shook her parasol, the water spun off in clear rainbows of light, landing on the carpeted floor.

Suddenly, from the back of the stage, a huge man appeared as if out of the smoke of a large fire.  Maria’s eyes widened as she watched the man come silently towards them. Her breath caught in her throat and her heart pounded.

“Ah, Count Swartzskya!  Thank you for receiving us. The sudden rain….”

Signor Balsamo’s words faded away and he shrugged his shoulders, his eyes locked on the man who stood looming over them.

“May I present Signora Faini, Sir?  Signora is the lady I was mentioning before.  She has a passion for puppets, Count.”

The Count took the hand of Signora Faini and kissed it, she unmoving, her eyes fixed on his face.

Count Swartzskya stood before Maria and she thought, I wouldn’t come up to his chest! What a remarkably formed creature.

Maria had reason for amazement.  The Count, perhaps in his late fifties, was

over six feet tall.  He had black, curly hair, shot with grey and worn in a pigtail at his neck.  That he wore no wig would have been remarkable enough in Venice.  That he was so large a man was even more striking. He would stand head and shoulders over any crowd in Venice.  His hands were huge and long fingered, his thighs were bulging with muscles.  Obviously he had either been a horseman or a soldier.  Everything about him reeked of physical power.  Signora Faini seemed quite overwhelmed by his presence, as her eyes impolitely fanned over his face.

Overhead she could hear the crackle of lightening and the boom of horrendous thunder.  She shivered and jumped each time the windows of the room reflected the raging storm outside.   Suddenly she screamed, for the lightening struck close and the hair rose on her arms.  She jumped right into the arms of Count Swartzskya and stayed there, trembling like a leaf.

“Oh, Madame!  Do not concern yourself with what is happening outside in Zeus’ court.  You are safe with me.  Come, have tea and settle yourself.”

Count Swartzskaya’s voice was a deep as the thunder, but soothing.

He led them from the main room to a little chamber, where a servant set a table for tea. Signora Faini appeared grateful for the hot cup of tea. She was shivering.

As she drank one cup and then another, the two men talked and her eyes started to close.  It seemed she could barely hold her head up.

Balsamo and the Count continued their discourse in low voices, ignoring Signora Faini sitting at the tea table.

“She has it coming, la bagascia, but no permanent damage, agreed?”

“But of course, it will just be something frivolous, a small humiliation.”

“But will she remember it?”

“No, she will have no memory of this day at all.  However, I can arrange for that to change.  What is your pleasure, Signor?”

“No, no, our original plan will be enough – this time, Count.”

Swartzskya tossed a bag of coin to Signor Balsamo and he hoisted it in his palm.  A broad smile creased Signor Balsamo’s face as he addressed Signora Faini, now sprawled in her chair, one slipper falling from her delicate foot.

“Maria, my dear girl, sometimes you go too far in your wickedness.  But you will pay the piper tonight…or shall I say…the Count?”

With those final words he laughed and left, whistling a piece of his beloved Vivaldi.

—–

Signora Faini could hear Balsamo but could not respond.  It was as if she was made of wood, like the puppets outside before the rain drove her into the shelter of Count Swartzskya and into his arms.  Madonna!  Everything felt wooden, numb about her and her breath barely moved her bosom.  She could hear but she could not speak or move her limbs.  She was like a puppet awaiting the wires to animate her body.

The Count leaned over and his finger made a trail from throat to cleavage, his eyes staring intently, his face close enough to kiss her. She could not avoid him and suddenly she felt his fleshy lips as he bit her mouth, drawing a little blood. She could only register fear with her eyes.

The Count busied himself with a little squeeze here, a sharp pinch there, but Maria could not feel his hands molesting her.  She could only follow his behavior with a limited movement of her eyes.

“You know, Maria, his Holiness and you share a common desire.  He loves puppets, just like you.  But he will never have the privilege of being one.”

Signora Faini could hear him but could not respond.

“Ah, sweet Maria, some paint to fix your pretty little face, a costume, some wires and you will be ready for a performance.  Tonight you will dance before the Doge and his guests.  Wonder if they will recognize you?  Ah, no matter, I will make you disappear to them in case any are guests of his Holiness.  It is a subtle but sharp little revenge of your good friend Signor Balsamo, no?  He will be sitting there, enjoying your puppet antics and your memory of this night will be his alone.”

The Count stood and stretched, throwing out his arms over his head.  It would be a long night and he had much work.  He regarded the little doll of a woman before him, still sitting in her chair, silent, only her eyes animated, and chuckled.

“Ah, Maria…some women learn lessons easily, and some take a bit of the twisting of the wires to get their attention.  Perhaps after tonight you will think again before you scorn your Signor Balsamo for his missing parts?”

“Come, Maria, drink a bit more tea.  It will fortify you. Is it too bitter?  Here, let me add just a little more ‘special sugar’.  It will do the trick.”

The Count obligingly held the delicate porcelain teacup to her rosy lips and filled her mouth with tea. She sputtered, but swallowed, her eyes filling with tears.

Maria couldn’t protest, she had no voice.  Only the terror in her eyes registered she was even alive.

“Ah, look Maria!  Your eyes are sparkling!  Tonight you will be the belladonna of the stage. Of course, tomorrow the critics will say your acting was a bit ‘wooden’ but what do they know?”

THE END

Jane Kohut-Bartels

Copyrighted, 2009-2015

 

“The Children of Aleppo”, poem

March 18, 2015

Children playing in a field

-

Suffer the little children……

The Children of Aleppo

-

 

There is no childhood in Aleppo.

There are little martyrs-in-the-making

Where 5 year olds and 8 year olds

Wish for a ‘family death’

Where they can die together

With their parents

Where they live in peace in Heaven

Never tasting the fruits of peace on Earth.

There is no childhood in Aleppo.

The children haunt the abandoned dwellings

Of friends who have fled the city.

There they find abandoned teddy bears

While looking for guns for the rebels, their fathers.

A dead canary in his cage

“Oh, the poor thing!”

Abandoned by its owners

As they flee the rockets, bombs

And mortars,

In the face of daily death,

The sight of this bird

Evokes a child’s sorrow.

But the gunfire outside continues

(They are used to the noise)

And huddle in the pockmarked

Halls until safe to scatter

-.

The children of Aleppo

Have no teachers, doctors.

These have fled the cities, schools

But they still pine for ice cream,

For music in the streets,

For curtains not torn by violence,

For books and toys

And gardens and flowers,

For friends that have not died

Innocent blood splattering

The dirty cobble stones

At their feet.

The children of Aleppo

Are free and children again

Only in their dreams,

And perhaps, if you believe so,

After death.

How do you put back the brains

Of a child in the cup of the shattered skull?

How do you soothe the howls of the mothers,

The groans of the fathers in grief?

How do you comfort the left-alive siblings?

The children of Aleppo

Have no future as children.

Suffer the little children,

They are the sacrifice of parents

And factions

And politicians

All with the blood of

10,000 children

Who have died

In a country torn

By immeasurable violence.

The beautiful children of Aleppo

Like children everywhere

Still want to chase each other

In the gardens, on playgrounds,

Want to dance in the streets,

Want to pluck flowers for their mothers

And they still pine for ice cream.

Jane Kohut-Bartels

Copyrighted, 2014-2015, originally published in “Pitcher of Moon”, 2014, Amazon.com, by Jane Kohut-Bartels

New Poem: “Dreams”…..

March 15, 2015

DSCF2570

watercolor, Jane Kohut-Barfels, 2009, Untitled

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This is a very new poem, and one that I wrote very fast. I wanted to get down something I have been struggling with, the issue of ‘trusting the gut’ and the issue of creativity: where does it come from, and how to access/trust it.

This last fall I wrote a three part essay, posted on this blog:  “Courage to Create”.  It was about some of the fundamental issues of creativity and the roadblocks (in our lives and in society) pertaining to that issue. One of the conclusions I came to is we can be of the greatest blockage towards our  creativity by our own behavior:  ‘stroking our wounds’, refusing to do the hard work to access our creativity (which might be therapy with a therapist instead of our friends) , and also refusing to trust our gut to get us out of such situations.  We can dwell in the confusion and dismay and complain about it forever.  I know.  It took me decades to resolve some issues, but I always knew that deep inside, the possibilities of creativity was still there…through thick and thin times, through family assaults and by total strangers.

Actually, I came to the conclusion that there was a precious ‘centeredness’ that never abandoned a truly creative person, though it could go underground from long time to long time.  Although the first two parts of the essay lay the basis,  the last part, the third part gives some answers as to  my conclusions on this issue of creativity. This particular poem was a nudge towards ‘trusting your gut’ and is something I have experienced over and over. Dreams are a powerful generator of our own creativity.

Finally, it’s a simple poem, but it gave me direction in this ‘trusting yourself’.

Lady Nyo

Dreams

 

In the outer reaches of the night

Where the thrumming of the brain

Is stilled,

The possibilities of dreams

Are sharpened, knives cutting through

The confusion, dismay of day.

 

In the ink of night

The solitude apart

Oh, the possibilities

A suspended reality

Brought to our minds

And here is where

Creation is born;

Not gelled in a brick-like mortar

But fragile, tender

Elusive with promise,

Seducing with such promise.

 

You know the dreams

Before you wake?

The songs you hear,

The verse you write

When asleep, the day

Not begun nor you stirring

From such comfort?

 

Hold tight to their seduction.

They announce your resurrection

Into a mystic realm

Where creativity becomes reality

And the thrumming of the brain

Is of an effortless ploy.

-

Jane Kohut-Bartels

Copyrighted, 2015

“Morning”, a poem

March 15, 2015
Queen Elizabeth Rose

Queen Elizabeth Rose

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 last night

Where someone would

Impose their vile humanity

And we are startled for a moment

Until reclaimed by sleep.

 

This morning the hoot of a sleepy owl

Echoes the cry of a distant train

While seed pods from the maple

Flutter to the ground.

 

We have survived the dark, again,

Its blackened mysteries,

Uneasy, things that could draw up

Our breath.

We are cradled in Nature’s promise

Of life beginning again

And the moon above yawns, fades and disappears.

 

Jane Kohut-Bartels

Copyrighted, 2014

“The Thaw”, poetry………….

March 12, 2015

DSCF2585

Watercolor, Jane Kohut-Bartels, 2005

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THE THAW

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Spring comes drumming through

Breaking up ice in the creek

Destroying a beaver dam

And with the unexpected noise-

The un-damming of my heart

A softening of my bones

A juiciness of loins

A waving of budding branches

In a new born wind-

Encircling tender arms-

A phantom will o’ wisp lover.

Spring comes drumming through,

Cracking open where winter nailed me shut.

Jane Kohut-Bartels

Copyrighted, 2015

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

“BlackBerry Winter”, a poem for Steve Isaak.

March 11, 2015
Blackberry Winter

Blackberry Winter

It’s almost Spring, and the weather this week seems complacent, giving in to our hopes for gentler weather. Though it’s dicey to plant anything down here in the South before Easter, I have put in a long row of onions and hope for the best. Never had any luck with onions, because you have to ‘hill’ them, plant them shallow, and push the soil from their growing bulbs. I’ve done the hills and we expect rain this whole week, but as I sit here writing, the sun is coming out and rain seems will be spotty. I have trays of tomato seeds germinating on my painting table in front of a large window and tender sprouts are raising their leaves above the plastic.

I love Winter, but this one gave us nothing but cold weather, no snow and that was a major disappointment for me. The new woodstove has finally been learned by us, and now it’s not called “the worse stove ever”. There’s intelligence in these things and ours was wanting.

Steve Isaak is a poet friend from California of many years standing.  It is good to have poets as friends.  They nudge you in the direction of what you are not writing lately by their friendship, and they a generally, when their hearts are forgiving, loyal.

Lady Nyo

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BLACKBERRY WINTER

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It is Blackberry Winter

One last shot across

The bow of an emerging Spring.

 

Winter does not play fair,

It will not give up the ghost

Exit with a dignified bow

Preferring to show its rotting last tooth.

 

The blackberries are blooming

Kernels of lusty fruit,

Black as midnight

Sweet as a baby’s kiss,

Unavoidable staining of hands and mouths

To be shared with a snake or two down below.

 

The Easter planting is done

The earth knows your game

And blankets seeds

With dark, moist soil

Cozy enough to shelter tender life.

 

We will make blackberry wine

From Blackberry Winter.

The present chill will

Sweeten the fruit.

And will toast this short

Spell of Winter’s fading glory.

Jane Kohut-Bartels

Copyrighted, 2015

“THE KIMONO”, CHAPTER 13

March 7, 2015

Image result for Tengus

Seven years ago I started writing “The Kimono”.  This was during the first flush of study ofJapanese culture.  Not that I was totally unfamiliar with this  culture, but I started to be serious.  This study led to a number of Japanese inspired works, and the latest,  “The Nightingale’s Song” will be published at the end of March, 2015. 

What also  of great interest were the Yamabushi, mountain (yama) dwellers,  a particular sect of priests.  Around them was the mythology of the Tengu: originally from China in the form of ‘the Celestial Dog”.  When it was moved to Japan around the 5-6th century, with the introduction of Buddhism,  (and tengu became part of Shinto mythology) it was in the form of a  bird, not dog, though Tengu can assume the presence of human form, but  with a large red nose.  Tengu were characters who tripped up proud and arrogant Buddhist priests, and were rather evil in the beginning.  In centuries later, they reformed and were more mischief makers.  In 1860, the Shogun issued a plea to the resident Tengu of a certain mountain to either leave for a festival, or to not make trouble. Tengu, along with the Yamabushi, were heavily involved in martial arts and weapon training.

I just finished a watercolor of a Tengu who figures in “The Nightingale’s Song” but had trouble trying to rotate it for this blog. This tengu resisted my attempts. Tengu are tricky and this one was no less so.

Lady Nyo

Koku: is a measure of rice…like a bushel. Wages to samurai and others were paid in koku.

Kunu: state…territory.  Japan was made up of 68 states, the Western daimyos fighting with the Eastern. Lord Mori is a Western daimyo in the mountains near Gassen (Moon) Mountain in the North West Japan.

CHAPTER 13, “THE KIMONO”

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At the Hour of the Dragon, Lords Mori and Ekei were drinking the first of many cups of cha.

The morning dawned with peach colored clouds over the lake and raucous honking by resident geese.  It was cool this morning, though late spring, and the brazier did little to boil the water for the cha as Lord Mori poked more charcoal beneath the small fire. The brass kettle sweated with the cold water filled from a jug.

“Lord Tokugama will expect a report by the new moon.”

Lord Ekei’s voice was soft.  Except for the distant sound of waterfowl, there was little noise outside the castle except for the nightsoil men making their rounds. The buckets clanged against the old cobblestones as they dropped their poles to shovel in the manure left from beasts and oxen the day before.

“I know. He is expecting much detail.”  Lord Mori sipped at his cha, his face scowling into his cup.

“Our lord is expecting troops and provisions.” Lord Ekei blinked his eyes, trying to wake up.  It was still very early and the room cold.

“He asks much to put down a peasant rebellion.  It will just rise up again when the rains wash the blood from next spring’s soil.”

Lord Mori grunted into his cup, his face a mask.

“The problem” said Lord Ekei, pushing his point, “isn’t about what the peasants do, it’s about what the daimyos don’t do.”

“And what is that, my friend?”

“The corruption from the tax collectors breeds these rebellions.  Too much koku is taken from the fields and not enough left to live upon. Under heaven, there is nothing else to do but riot. Starving bellies are invitations to rebellion.”

Lord Mori grunted.  “This is the problem. Living in Edo for six months every two years.  The cost depletes the supplies.”

Lord Mori filled both cups with more hot water, blowing over the rising steam of his cup.

“Yes, yes, that is a large consideration, but until Heaven moves its bowels, nothing can be done about that.”

“A good strategy on the Emperor’s part would help. Or rather the Shogun. The effort to mobilize each daimyo in obedience to the court’s demands keeps us from each other’s throats.”

“I think we better do—“

Suddenly an overly large bird appeared at the window, and startled both lords.  It was big like a vulture and had a long red nose and dark iridescent feathers.  It was a tengu.

Shaking its feathers violently, a dust storm obscured it for a few seconds.  Then both lords saw a skinny priest, dressed in a filthy kimono appear. They bowed respectfully from their cushions.

“Man, those air currents! They would tear a bird’s feathers from his body. Got a cup of sake around?  Travel dehydrates me.”

This tengu was a priest from the Yamabushi clan. He hopped down from the window, scratching the side of his face where a scrawny gray beard covered it.

“Lice,” he announced with a grin.

Lord Mori spooned some powdered tea in a cup, poured some hot water over it, carefully stirred and handed the cup to the scratching man.  He took it with a sour, disdainful glance at both lords, and drank it without ceremony, smacking his lips loudly and wiping his hand across his thin lips.

“Lord Yori, we are honored you have come to advise us”, said Lord Ekei with another bow.

“Well, beats hanging around  Haight-Ashbury.  Had to appear as a pigeon to fit in, and all there was to do during the day was beg for breadcrumbs.  Did look up skirts at muffs, though.”  He laughed, a coarse, wheezing sound.

Lord Ekei suppressed a smile, and Lord Mori didn’t a grimace.  They had dealt with Lord Yori before.  His antics were well known.

Lord Yori lowered himself to a cushion and rubbed his hands over the brazier. “You got any sake?  Spring is a bad time for travel.”

Lord Mori clapped his hands twice and within several minutes a servant appeared with three cups and a brown bottle of warmed sake, placing them on the low table between the lords.  Lord Mori poured three cups and offered the first to the Lord Yori.  He drank it fast and held out his cup for a refill.

It would be a long morning with Lord Yori and it best be spent drunk.

“My Lord Yori, our Lord Tokugawa in Kyoto has called upon the daimyos of the western borders to send troops and supplies to put down a rebellion of peasants in Mikawa providence.”

“Yeah?  Well, being a vassal is tough. The nature of the beast.  Too many kits and not enough teats.”  Lord Yori followed this statement with a loud burp.

“You want my advice? You got bigger problems closer to home.  I hear from some other birds Lord Kiyami is looking at your southern border with a covetous eye. That’s a dicey mountain range there, and if he controls those trade passes, he can hem you in. Adding a kunu to his territory would be a feather in his cap.”

He punctuated his statement with a belch.

“If this is true, my lord Mori” said Lord Ekei with a slight bow, “then you will have to organize two campaigns at once.  That would be very costly, neh?”

Lord Mori eyes narrowed and he grunted. “I am sure Lord Yori’s information is impeccable,” he said with his own bow to the disheveled priest.

“You bet your nuts it is”, said the priest sharply.

“Is this information you have read in history books, Lord Yori,” asked Lord Ekei?

“Can’t read, never learned” said the priest in a raspy voice. “Some things don’t make the history books.  Sometimes pillow talk is more….ah…reliable.”

Both lords considered his words.  It was not beyond the pale. Men talked to women, and men talked in their sleep. Either way, information was obtainable.

This news of Lord Kiyami’s interest in his territory disturbed Lord Mori.  It would be a very bad position to be hemmed in at that mountain range.

“Perhaps there is a need to change plans,” suggested Lord Ekei to Lord Mori.

Lord Mori looked at both of the men sipping their sake.

“Do I dare go against the desires of Heaven to thwart the schemes of Lord Kiyami?”

Scratching his scrawny beard absentmindedly, the Yamabushi priest coughed.

“You might be looking at a new portion of Hell if you ignore him.”

“If he hems you in, Higato, you will not be able to serve the needs of Lord Tokugawa in any case,” said Lord Ekei.

“Let me suggest, my lord,” said the priest with a little bow, “that you think about a spy or two in the household of Lord Kiyami.  This could glean you some important and timely information.”

“Yes, Higato, this is excellent advice. We need to know his future plans, even if he is to seize your southern territory soon.  How many forces he would deploy for this.  He also would be called upon by our Lord Tokugawa for his support.  He will have some of the same considerations we have.”

“Good.  I agree.  A couple of well placed servants should do the job.”

“I would further suggest, my lord, that you place a spy in his guard.  A samurai that can be trusted with such a task.  Perhaps an unknown captain of your own guard.”

“Again, I agree.”  Higato Mori nodded to both men.

“Now we must consider the problem of what daimyos to call upon for support. Surely we have allies, Lord Ekei?”

“Higato, without a doubt that our Lord Kiyami will be also looking with the same eyes.  Perhaps a visit to one or two would set things better for us.”

“If I may be so bold,” said the priest scratching at his skin inside his kimono, “I agree a visit be made soon.  One never knows the plans of another man, especially at a distance.”

Lord Mori picked up his cup and glanced at his advisor, Ekei, sitting across from him, and fell into deep thought.

This priest has much sense for an old crow.  Perhaps he should be the spy in Kiyami’s household?  Could he dare presume upon the favors of such a man?  Well, we are all Yamabushi, so there should be something of favor there.  Perhaps this has possibilities.  Perhaps Ekei will be able to answer to this.

 

Jane Kohut-Bartels

Copyrighted, 2015

Indian Men and Authorities Are Hiding Their Heads in the Sand…..

March 5, 2015

hardscrabble hearts

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Indian Men and Authorities Are Hiding Their Heads in the Sand…..Hoping the World Will Forget What They Condone.

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I wrote this short article “On the Misogyny of Indian Men” in July, 2014.  It doesn’t begin to cover the topic of the entrenched violence of Indian Men towards women and children.  It was then a stab at the very outrageous behavior that is seen as ‘normal’ by many in India.  Has much changed?  In the estimation of many, No. (The demonstrations of thousands are a start, but this is a country of over one billion people).  When you have lawmakers making statements that support the disgusting misogyny and murder by the bus driver (Mukesh Singh) of a 23 year old medical student, you can only throw up your hands at the hopelessness of the situation in India. 

But this raises a question:  Is Mukesh Singh a monster, along with the other 4 men convicted of murder and sentenced to death, or is it a reflection of a deeply entrenched belief in the value of Indian woman in Indian society? As disgusting as Mukesh Singh and his gang of rapists and murderers are, it’s supported by the mentality of many, many men in Indian society.

When the Parliamentary Affairs Minister M. Venkaiah Naidu declared:  “We can ban this film (“India’s Daughter”) in India.  But this is an international conspiracy to defame India.  We will see how the film can be stopped abroad, too.”

When defense lawyer A.P. Singh said “if his daughter or sister engaged in pre-martial activities he would take daughter or sister and in front of his entire family, would pour petrol on them and set them afire.”

How is this not barbarism?  India has a long way to go before it can join the civilized world.

‘On the Misogyny of Indian Men’, a short essay and an addition.

Today, March 3rd, 2015, was another article about the rape and death of an Indian woman on a bus.    This interview was  with the bus driver, who has been charged as one of the rapists, and condemned to death for his participation. Though it is hard to understand his justification, this isn’t a surprise to those women in India who suffer the twisted and misogynistic philosophy of many  in Indian society.  In my own country, (USA) I have come across resistance in even discussing the violence towards Indian women from women who should know better. One woman in particular  said this topic was not to be spoken of at dinner.  She went on to endlessly discuss a holiday.  So runs the mentality of many people who refuse to see the suffering of women. She was an educated, professional woman.  Should we expect more of the men in Indian society?

Jane Kohut-Bartels

Indian Rapist Blames Victim for the Rape.

(from AFP News)

One of the men convicted of the gang-rape and murder of an Indian student that shocked the world has said he blames the victim for “roaming around at night”.

The comments are made in a documentary to be screened on International Women’s Day.

Mukesh Singh, who was sentenced to death for his crimes, said the victim should not have been out at night, and should not have resisted the attack on a moving bus in 2012.

“You can’t clap with one hand -– it takes two hands. A decent girl won’t roam around at 9 o’clock at night,” he said in an interview for “India’s Daughter”, a BBC documentary to be broadcast on Sunday.

“A girl is far more responsible for rape than a boy. About 20 per cent of girls are good.”

The 23-year-old physiotherapy student died from her injuries 13 days after she was savagely attacked on her way home from the cinema with a male friend on December 16, 2012.

Before her death she was able to speak to police about the crime, which caused outrage across the world and triggered mass protests in India.

The attack highlighted the frightening level of violence against women in the world’s second most populous country and led to a major reform of the rape laws, speeding up trials and increasing penalties.

But Singh, 28, said his execution would “make life more dangerous for future rape victims”.

“Now when they rape, they won’t leave the girl like we did. They will kill her,” he told Leslee Udwin, the award-winning British filmmaker behind the documentary.

(Note: these ‘men’  rammed her with an iron pole, rupturing her intestines)

He also criticised the victim for fighting back against her attackers.

“She should just be silent and allow the rape,” he said. “Then they’d have dropped her off after doing her.”

“India’s Daughter” will be televised in seven countries including India and Britain on Sunday, International Women’s Day.

Udwin will speak to media at a screening of her film later Tuesday alongside the victim’s parents, who have campaigned vocally for improvements in women’s safety since their daughter’s death.

She said she was inspired by seeing ordinary Indians take to the streets to protest “in unprecedented numbers” following the attack.

“In my lifetime, I can’t recall any other country standing up with such commitment and determination for women’s rights,” Udwin said.

The case sparked much soul-searching about India’s treatment of women, but women’s rights campaigners say little has changed in the deeply patriarchal country.

Singh, one of five people convicted over the attack, admitted driving the bus during the incident but denied taking part in the rape.

He is appealing the verdict against him.

(Note: Indian authorities have banned the showing of this film in India.  As of March 5, 2015.)

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On the Misogyny of Indian Men

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Recently I have been reading about this issue of misogyny of men, and in particular, Indian Men.  In part I am pulled into this by some experience.  Misogyny is defined as ‘a hatred of women’Most people think of this in a sexual context.  However, I believe misogyny in some cultures is so prevalent that it defines much more than sexual attitudes, or to speak plainly, it is the total dismissal of women in that culture as second class, intellectually inferior, etc.  This of course, is not isolated to men from India, but is seen world-wide.

My direct experience with Indian men has been of a certain class, mostly from the upper classes.  These are very well educated and placed men in literature, education, the sciences, etc.  They are not the people one would associate with this mentality and behavior, however, I think it is very hard for Indian men in general to avoid the psychological and social issues of misogyny.  It is so prevalent in Indian society at all levels that it stains all classes.  In most  conversations I have had with upper class Indian men, there is a total blackout of any acknowledgement of misogyny in male behavior.   In only one conversation did an Indian man come forth with what he thought was the problem (lack of sex education..which begs the question to me…), but then avoided any further discussion.  Perhaps because I am an American woman this was what was making him uncomfortable, embarrassed,  but I think it is more to the issue that Indians are not comfortable talking about these things in general.  They are a very prudish and traditional society, regardless the level of education.

Actually, misogyny is so deeply entrenched in Indian society (and also in many women) that violence and devaluing women (and what flows from the caste system) is justifiable.

We read of the horrible prevalence of child and women rape in India.  According to statistics, there are over 100 REPORTED rapes of women daily.  This is just the reported rapes.  The amount of rapes unreported is much more.  Why is this so?

First, the usual men who are charged are lower middle and working class men. (of course, there is the case of  Tarun Tejpal, owner and editor of Tehelka in India, decidedly not a working class man, posturing as a left-leaning liberal) There are social and economic issues that make this obvious.  In the major cities  (and especially Delhi)  it is almost dangerous for women, unaccompanied by male relatives, to walk the sidewalks without what is called “eve-teasing”, which is groping and attempts of molestation, besides just wolf-whistles and obnoxious comments about women’s physical characteristics. (The name of this, “eve-teasing” is interesting: Eve being the temptress  of Adam?).  In the countryside, it is as dangerous and perhaps even more so. Gangs of men lie in wait for women walking home from work or on errands. However, what is even more troubling is the role and position of educated woman, women of privilege and class and caste, some who openly attack through media these women who are raped. (And hold that these crimes are those of “little brown men”, who just happen to be their own countrymen.) This is another form of misogyny, female hatred for themselves.  These women align themselves with male oppressors, thinking they will escape all the treatment of male misogynists, at least in the intellectual sphere.  But this is not the behavior of only upper class women.  It is also seen with working class women.  Blaming the rape victims is only part of this hatred.  In one village reported, a rape victim was set upon and threatened with burning alive if she didn’t leave the village of her home.

The intellectual class, the upper classes, like to blame the officials, the lawyers, the courts, and the police in particular for the lack of bringing these rapists to justice, but the base is set within Indian culture and society.  Of course, a high percentage of Indian police are corrupt, and in villages, in the countryside, bribes are standard procedure.  Having full knowledge of rapes and not reporting them is another practice by police.  The police tried to buy off two parents from their legitimate and horrifying complaint when their 5 year old daughter was kidnapped (by three local men) and raped and sodomized for three days.  The parents courageously resisted this. Another man raped a 5 year old girl.  His answer? “She was a beggar’s child. She had no value.”

These atrocities continue on and on.

Tour groups (some from here in the States and Europe, and most from India)  tell  tourists to immediately contact the police when they are molested on the street by Indian men.  But others say that this is rarely help. In fact, it can be even more obstructive to any justice.   One group of women who were staying in a hostel in some Indian city found out fast that every morning, like clockwork, police would show up banging on their door demanding bribes.  What to do?  It’s a difficult situation and only traveling in groups and not certain cities can you attempt at least a semblance of safety.

Where do these attitudes and behaviors of misogyny come from?

The answer to this question is not the place of this short article.  It would take a lot more research and study to answer this fully.  This article is just to raise awareness amongst women thinking about travelling to India and to pose some facts and warnings.

Recently I have been reading some literature that these attitudes are ‘post-Colonial influences’, left over from the period when the British were more than involved with the Indian continent.  Of course, the influence of the British imperialists certainly impacted on just about everything in Indian culture, but the problem of misogyny in India is far older than that.

It goes back to feudalism, and probably farther back.  The approach of man to woman relationship was built upon three things:  1) the availability of sexual release for men, 2) the issue of domestic  servitude and 3) reproduction.    Only where women are educated is some of this lessened.  However, this is also showing to be a double-edged sword. There is resentment from men of all classes where women are educated.  And as one Indian woman said to me recently, the very thing that should liberate women from the backwardness of society doesn’t.  “We are educated to not bring shame to our upper class and professional parents and relatives, but we are stopped from real liberation because of tradition. We can only go just so far with education.  We must not step on toes.”

Religion is of course part of the mix.  There are female goddesses in Hindu religion and they are devotedly worshiped.  But the culture of misogyny is so deep within the Indian mindset that even this has little effect in abating the behaviors of rape, molestation, etc. Goddesses are one thing, women are another.

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Female Infanticide and the Sex Trade of Children

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There is a long history of female infanticide in India history.   Girls are killed at birth, or aborted or abandoned to die because their ‘worth’ is so much less than boys. ( In some families, the girls are only allowed to eat the leftovers of the boys after they have eaten.) This is part of the cultural behavior within India and is very old.  This is very much the base of this Indian misogyny.  It starts at the birth.  IF a female child is allowed to grow in the womb.  Recently I read that there are over 750,000 abortions of FEMALE fetus per year in India.  And, in many cases, if a woman delivers a girl child, the husband, the male of the family will tell her to  ‘get rid of it’.  In other words, many women face the situation of killing their own daughters shortly after birth.  Interestingly enough, there is now a shortage of women in India, and this fact is given for the rape and molestation by Indian men.  One man I know speaks of the necessity of sexual revolution in Indian culture, and this might be so, but I believe the situation goes beyond this.  It has everything to do with the cultural attitudes of Indians towards women, and yes, the attitudes of Indian mothers, also.

Women are just dismissed, demeaned, and denied within the broader Indian culture. They area truly second class citizens.  They are seen with little value by men.   It isn’t always sexual, but the fear that women live with is constant, and many times it is sexual.  The truncated intellectual progress that is denied because a woman is born a woman in India is one of the greatest wastes of humanity.

Statistically over 100,000 children are kidnapped or disappear from their parents and villages every year. This feeds into the sex trade and is generated also by the blinding poverty of the masses of Indians in rural villages and urban slums.  Parents sell their own children into this trade, or children are driven by hunger.

We in the West certainly have these same things, but definitely not to the extent that Indian women feel today.  Our laws are strong when applied and our police of course have the same ability to be as corrupt as the Indian police, but when our laws work, they abate some of this. But we don’t have one billion citizens and we don’t have quite the corruption of Indian lawmakers. Indian  courts are, at best, chaotic.  Rape and abuse cases can be ignored, or drag on for years.  And the feminist movement in India is little older than a decade.

I believe that generally good Indian men don’t understand how they can easily slip into the mind thought and behavior of misogyny.  Unfortunately, Indian men, many men in my experience take it as their right to demand that women do things they themselves don’t want to do.  It is because we, as women…our work, our creativity, are of a lesser standard in their eyes. Surely we can put aside our work, our propulsion towards our success for what is more ‘important’ in their belief.  This is an intellectual form of servitude.  We must see this behavior for what it is and bring it sharply to their attention.  Further, we must not be cajoled with praise to do things that put us off our road of progress.  This is a dead end for women and puts us further back in our successes in life.

 

Is India too dangerous to visit today?

 

Finally, is India too dangerous a country to visit?  I have had numerous friends, professional women and other poets who have gone to India in the past year to bring home their daughters studying there.  I would say that yes, India is in too much turmoil socially and politically for foreign women to visit, especially single women.  Even couples have been attacked, the woman gang raped and the man beaten. We have heard of many gang rapes of European women in the past few years  and this doesn’t even begin to amount to the terror and fear that Indian women and girls must live with daily.

What is the solution?  One Indian woman friend said that “all Indian men are misogynist. It’s in their DNA.”  I am hoping that those sane and good Indians, men and woman, realize how their country women (and men) are suffering and how the rest of the world sees India in all its disgusting denial for the violence it inflicts (and shows little remorse) upon the women and children of India.

Otherwise, travel there at your own risk.

Lady Nyo

 

Jane Kohut-Bartels who is also Lady Nyo

Copyrighted, 2015


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