“Recipe for Life from a Hungarian Grandmother”

December 6, 2016

kohut-bartels-ls-8

(Watercolor of a Coal Barge, Jane Kohut-Bartels, 2006)

The prompt over at dversepoets pub is ‘recipe’…but not just of cookery.  There are many recipes in life.  Check out the poems this prompt has brought forth from poets. A very fruitful prompt indeed at a particular time of the Season.

 

How do you measure another life?

By  success, or fortitude or some sort

Of battle-field glory?

Grandmother Elizabeth,

The woman I am named for,

Must have been made of steel,

Blind courage and all the above.

 

From Hungary on a boat

Steerage of course, in the darkness part

Of the ship, where air and comfort were

Paid for by donations from the village,

Where expectations of survival were bleak

If the ship sprang a leak,

Yet this sixteen year old girl made the trip

From some village in Hungary,

(and went back five times pregnant, steerage of course, 

to bring out  family from oppression and famine).

 

Registered at Ellis Island,

She was a pretty

Young woman

Met my grandfather straight

Off the boat.

 

They broke the bed,

that first night of married life

And the gossips in the tenement said

She would be fruitful, with dark hair and dark eyes

A Magyar, but not a gypsy, as if that mattered.

 

Fruitful enough, with thirteen children born,

Enough survived to build a clan.

One son, my father, cut down his own father,

Hanging from the rafters.

Poverty and cares must have made him

Choose this over life.

Elizabeth went on

And raised her children

And no one starved

And everyone became fruitful

In the course of their own lives…

 

She made satin quilts,

That slipped off  beds

Braided rugs from rags

Precious cloth not to be thrown away,

To  be, as we say now: ‘repurposed”.

 

Sitting on the treadle of her sewing machine

As it went up and down to the rhythm of her labor

Seeing her stockings rolled up beneath her knees

Tied with cloth, and that rhythm and those knees

Were the security of love that was missing from home.

 

Large glass jars on the floor grates in her kitchen,

Where milk was curdled for sour cream

Half lemon stopper we competed to squeeze

The smell of boiled cabbage permeated the house

Like the comforting scent of an old woman

With embracing arms and a wrinkled bosom.

 

She died when I was twelve,

Taught me to make quilts and kiflies

A buttery pastry filled with fruit, nuts.

 

Every  Christmas and Easter

I roll out the dough and fill the pastry

With love remembered from an old woman

Whose name I carry and whose heart

I can only hope to.

 

Jane Kohut-Bartels

Copyrighted, 2016

 

Grandmother Elizabeth’s Kiflie Recipe.

 

1 8 ounce package of cream cheese (full fat, please)

2 sticks of butter (don’t cheat and use margarine)

3 cups of unbleached flour (scant)

Get a good husband to knead into dough, or use a mixer. Chill.

Roll out and cut into squares.

Fill with Levar (prune paste) or apricot paste (simmer both separately until pasty)

Or crush walnuts, mix with egg white and scant sugar,

Fold over the squares and bake for 20 minutes in 350 oven (not too fast an oven)

When cool…sprinkle with powdered sugar.

Bet you can’t eat just one!

Merry Xmas and all other holidays at this time of the year!

 

…..STEAL THIS RECIPE!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

“First Snow”….a poem

December 6, 2016
My beautiful picture

Merry Christmas!

 

The morning brought a first snow,

And with it wind over the mountain.

I watched snow turn to ice,

Invisible sleet hit the panes a’ hissin’.

Soon a crystal coat on tender branches—

Ghostly hands pulling to earth,

Anchoring them fast.

 

I depend upon the silence

Creating a space to remember,

Solitude, too, now to be shared

Only with haunts,

Or perhaps a cat or two.

 

Inside the comfort of crackling  wood,

Well seasoned with last year’s split,

The sweet, sharp tang of pine and oak,

The groan of a log shifting its failing weight.

I remember your boot kicking it back off the hearth,

Sparks flaring upward,

Stars enfolded by a blazing sun.

 

Outside the pelting sting on windows,

The howl of winter racing round eaves

Looking for attic-access between clapboards,

A hambone skeleton dance to

Shake its palsied bones warm.

 

Soon fading light at twilight

Suspends the day=

A cocoon of white, unfocused mystery.

 

The night brings a muffled benediction

Over the land,

And memory is put aside for the morrow.

=

Jane Kohut-Bartels

Copyrighted, 2010, “First Snow” originally published in “White Cranes of Heaven”, 2011, Lulu.com

This poem got some needed revisions by me this morning

“One Reason For The Season”, a haibun.

December 4, 2016

Sorry, dverse Bears!  I was sure that this Monday was Haibun Monday.  Please ignore but I’m not replacing this with a quadrille.  I’m still working on Haibun form which you guys introduced me to and I am dreaming haibuns all night long!

 

Christmas 2015 staircase

 I saw the Cooper’s hawk this morning. She landed on the chimney pot, probably looking for my miniature hen, Grayson. Four years ago she was a starving fledgling who mantled over while I fed her cold chicken. She’s back this holiday, my spirits lifting. A good Christmas present.

In the middle of the commercialization of Christmas, Nature closes the gap. I have noticed squirrels with pecans in mouths leaping the trees, hawks hunting low over now-bare woods, unknown song birds sitting on fences, heard the migration of Sandhill cranes as they honk in formation. You hear their cacophony well before they appear. Their chiding cries float down to our upturned faces.

There is brightness to the holly, washed by our late autumn rains and the orange of the nandina berries has turned crimson. Smell of wood smoke in the air and the crispness of mornings means the earth is going to sleep. We humans should reclaim our past and join the slumber party of our brother bears.

Jingle Bells will fade and our tension with it. Looking towards deep winter when the Earth is again silent will restore our balance and calm nerves with a blanket of Peace.

 

Winter’s seasoning

Bitter winds, branch of holly

Haunts in the attic.

 

 

 

Jane Kohut-Bartels

Copyrighted, 2016

 

 

 

 

 

“Original Blessing”, for dversepoets pub.

December 1, 2016
My beautiful picture

 The east in the morning. with promise.

 

I am dizzy with love,

Standing in the rain,

This cosmic blessing

Pouring on my head,

Mingling with tears of gratitude

Til one stream

can not be deciphered

From the other.

.

I am an Original Blessing,

As are you,

And we are not born in sin,

But brought into the light of life

In great joy and anticipation.

.

Our first bellows are not of pain

But surprise at the roominess of the Cosmos,

As we kick  feet, flail  arms

And finally open eyes at the glorious colors

Of Nature.

.

Original sin would have us

Born rotten,

A theological monkey on our back–

But I know no God of the Cosmos

Who would scar these tiny blessings

With such  a heavy burden.

.

Original Blessing is a deliverance,

A deliverance of hope, trust and pride

A heritage where we can discern and save

Ourselves,

Walk in harmony with the Earth,

Stride with God across the span of life–

For this Earth is our cradle,

And all in it our kin.

.

For a truly wise person

Kneels at the feet of all creatures

And is not afraid to endure

The mockery of others.

.

And when the day sidles up to night

I will settle into the nest of the Earth,

Draw the dark blanket of the Cosmos

Across me,

Pillow my head upon stars

And know  the blessings I have been

Graced with today and always

Have come from the womb of God.

.

Jane Kohut-Bartels

Copyrighted, 2016

Call and Answer: my tanka to answer Ono no Komachi.

December 1, 2016

 

My beautiful picture

My beautiful picture

(Morning sky to the east a few years ago…)

In the spirit of what was done 1500 years ago, I am answering the call of Ono no Komachi’s wonderful poems with a bit of my own, trying to stay ontheme in each one.

These are just fast written responses., but sometimes that fulfills the task.  As to whether there are ‘real’ tanka, I don’t know, and frankly right now, I am happy enough with what developed.

Lady Nyo

 

Did he appear

Because I fell asleep

Thinking of him?

If only I’d known I was dreaming

I’d never have awakened.

 

How long will it last?

I know not his hidden heart.

This morning my thoughts

Are as tangled as my hair.

My blushes turn my face dark.”

 

When my desire

Grows too fierce

I wear my bed clothes

Inside out,

Dark as the night’s rough husk.

No moon tonight

Only a cold wind visits

Murasaki robe

Stained the color of grass

Invisible on this earth.

 

My longing for you—

Too strong to keep within bounds.

At least no one can blame me

When I go to you at night

Along the road of dreams.

Come to me, my man,

Part the blinds and come into my arms,

Snuggle against my warm breast

And let my belly

Warm your dreams.

 

One of her most famous poems:

 

No way to see him

On this moonless night—

I lie awake longing, burning,

Breasts racing fire,

Heart in flames.

 

When my needing you

Burns my breasts-torments me

I tear open robes

To lie naked in moonlight

The wind your hands, caressing

 

 

Night deepens

With the sound of calling deer,

And I hear

My own one-sided love.’

 

Autumn wind startles–

Lowered to an ominous

     Key—Ah! Mournful sounds!

     The fat mountain deer listen-

   Add their bellowing sorrow.

 

The cicadas sing

In the twilight

Of my mountain village—

Tonight, no one

Will visit save the wind.

 

Tonight, foxes scream

Cued by a howling wind.

Maple leaves quilting

A lonely time of season

No one to share the moonlight.

 

 

 

A diver does not abandon

A seaweed-filled bay.

Will you then turn away

From this floating, sea-foam body

That waits for your gathering hands?

 

So lonely am I

My soul like a floating weed

Severed at the roots

Drifting upon cold waters

No pillow for further dreams.

 

 

Is this love reality

Or a dream?

I cannot know,

When both reality and dreams

Exist without truly existing.

 

Dreams, reality

How can one truly know?

I stumble through dreams

I stagger through the lost days

Tell me: what has more substance?

I did my poems  fast. I will refine and revise later. And try to complete this with the remaining poems of Komachi.

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

Jane Kohut-Bartels

Copyrighted, 2016

 

 

Ono no Komachi, A Sensual Medieval Japanese Poet

November 30, 2016
My beautiful picture

Autumn colors from my bathroom window today

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

Lady Nyo

Did he appear

Because I fell asleep

Thinking of him?

If only I’d known I was dreaming

I’d never have awakened.

When my desire

Grows too fierce

I wear my bed clothes

Inside out,

Dark as the night’s rough husk.

My longing for you—

Too strong to keep within bounds.

At least no one can blame me

When I go to you at night

Along the road of dreams.

One of her most famous poems:

No way to see him

On this moonless night—

I lie awake longing, burning,

Breasts racing fire,

Heart in flames.

Night deepens

With the sound of calling deer,

And I hear

My own one-sided love.

The cicadas sing

In the twilight

Of my mountain village—

Tonight, no one

Will visit save the wind.

A diver does not abandon

A seaweed-filled bay.

Will you then turn away

From this floating, sea-foam body

That waits for your gathering hands?

Is this love reality

Or a dream?

I cannot know,

When both reality and dreams

Exist without truly existing.

My personal favorite:

 

The autumn night

Is long only in name—

We’ve done no more

Than gaze at each other

And it’s already dawn.

This morning

Even my morning glories

Are hiding,

Not wanting to show

Their sleep-mussed hair.

I thought to pick

The flower of forgetting

For myself,

But I found it

Already growing in his heart.

Since this body

Was forgotten

By the one who promised to come,

My only thought is wondering

Whether it even exists.

=

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

Jane Kohut-Bartels

copyrighted, 2016

 

 

‘Shinto Temple’, a tanka.

November 29, 2016
Cover painting for "Pitcher of Moon"

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

Over at Carpe Diem Haiku Kai, today’s prompt is Pilgrimage.  This tanka is my take on this.

A Shinto Temple

Spirit shattered, heartbroken

Worthy of mending?

Priest’s belly laughs and incense

Helped me knit back the pieces.

Jane Kohut-Bartels

Copyrighted, 2016

For many decades I felt battered by the religious fundamentalism of my birth family. I was never good enough for them to be a Christian.  So I stopped trying to  come up to their expectation.  Later I would realize that they are not Christians at all, but bullies that isolate and try to dominate in the name of their Christ.  I feel that, for their personal issues, they distorted this Christ and Christianity.  But it was too late. At the lowest point of my life I discovered Shintoism and found  acceptance.  I didn’t have to jump through hoops. Actually, it was more than acceptance.  Fundamentally, I found a wonder at Creation that had no walls and took in diversity and difference.  I didn’t have to paint bathing suits on my nudes as my sister in law suggested.  Lord Jizo and that Joker of a Buddha Fudo became real and gave guidance in my life.  Compassion with Jizo and sense with Fudo.  These two expanded my heart and mind.  I am very grateful for their presence in my life.  But I don’t think that Christ or Christianity is ‘owned’ by these others….just distorted.

Lady Nyo

Haibun: Weather Report, for dverse.

November 28, 2016

chickens 2

(our hens, mostly nameless….for eggs only)

 

true to form: we are losing power here….the computer/stove/lights/dishwasher/washer and dryer and every other damn  thing that runs on this invisible juice.  Anyone I have missed in visiting, I will try to make admends…. tomorrow or when we stabilize.  Thanks…

 

Haibun:  Weather Report

=

 

Solitude is shared

by night time crickets,  plus owl

the moon must approve

soft moonbeam filters dust motes

a thousand fish swim upstream

 

My solitude was enforced by a hot summer and then a 43 day drought. They haven’t seen such since 1884. From inside, I watched bushes dry up, flower beds melt and a vegetable garden giving up the ghost. Our water bills, the second highest in the country, tripled when we tried to water. Digging up an ailing rosebush, the soil was baked brick. Amazed the rose bush survived. Half was gone. The vegetable garden whimpered when I passed.

This fall brought tragedy. A beloved cat, Stripy. One month on and I am still mourning. Our seventeen year old Golden/Chow is getting quarrelsome. The addition of Mia, an English Staffordshire bull terroir isn’t helping his disposition. We are all aging here, even the hens. The good news is this drought is to be broken a little starting tonight. There are 30 forest fires burning in North Georgia. We hear these fires will be burning until Xmas. Even those of us who don’t believe in prayer, are praying.

 

 

Frosty autumn night

The moon glides through chilly dreams

Red Maple stands sentry

The rains have started this morning, around 2am.  I could smell it…still far in the distance, like an old camel, so thirsty we are for any rain after 43 days.  It started gently, as if washing the grime off the skin of our world and then harder and harder to dissolve the dirt.  The sound of the baritone wind chime outside my bedroom window gave the most beautiful music as if welcoming the rain with a celestial song, for what is a wind chime but a way for the wind to announce its presence besides a howl?   I opened windows and smelled the combined smell of asphalt, ozone and moisture.  I thought of some Berbers I knew, who wrote songs about the rain only falling every five years in parts of the desert.  O, Blessed Rain!

 

 

Jane Kohut-Bartels

Copyrighted, 2016

 

“Demon-Quelling”, prompt for Carpe Diem Haiku Kai

November 27, 2016

Image result for demon wolf

(con news.com)

 

Demons  (Omi)  can come in different shapes, sizes and species.  Depending upon the culture.  My take on demon-quelling is below.

 

Shall an old gray wolf

subdue a woman like me?

I shall be born soon.

The wolf head I will cut off

and nail the pelt to the cross!

Jane Kohut-Bartels

Copyrighted, 2016

Three Tanka on Silence: for Carpe Diem Haiku Kai

November 27, 2016

0403Whe-R01-009

(“Winter’s Geese”, Jane Kohut-Bartels, watercolor, 2010)

Over at Carpe Diem Haiku Kai, the prompt was ‘Finding the Silence’. (Winter themed)   These are my submissions.

1.

I walked a landscape

An unfamiliar dreamscape

The only sound heard

Was the tinkling of bells

Then silence covered the snow

 

 

2.

 

Season of silence

Muted nature frost bitten

Black limbs empty, still

A vast field of ghostliness

No music came from the wind.

3.

Oh, such a Season!

An invisible wind blows

Toneless, no music

Winter gives such bitterness

Silence leaches tune and song.

– 

Jane Kohut-Bartels

Copyrighted, 2016

 


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