“Storm Drain Baby”

September 23, 2019

via “Storm Drain Baby”

“Storm Drain Baby”

September 23, 2019

Spring House 3

This incident happened about five years ago here in Atlanta.  Sometimes something shocks you to your core and your response is visceral. Apparently this black baby garnered little news coverage, and was dropped.  Never heard what happened to the ‘parents’.  Every year in September I post this poem to remember  this little child.

Lady Nyo

 

Yesterday a baby was born,

Placed in a storm drain

To die by a father who wasn’t.

Three days of heavy rain

Washed the Blood of this Lamb

Into the sea.

 

He was found, expected to live

And died,

His short life measured in scant public

Outrage.

 

The 19 year old father said as they

Led him away:

“It was a miscarriage gone wrong.”

 

The rain continues today

Rushing down streets

To storm drains,

Making a gurgling sound.

 

 

Jane Kohut-Bartels

Copyrighted, 2017-19

“Tsuki”, Book Two of the Kimono trilogy.

September 22, 2019

via “Tsuki”, Book Two of the Kimono trilogy.

“Tsuki”, Book Two of the Kimono trilogy.

September 22, 2019

 

japanese-lovers-backdrop-1

I published “The Kimono” in October, 2018. There was enough interest in this first book to make this a possible trilogy.   Tsuki is the son of Lord Tetsu and Lady Mari…he is now 7 years old and quite a handful.  They have a daughter, Miu, and she will be the subject of the third book.

I want to thank those writers and poets who have read “Kimono” and have encouraged me to continue on with this story.  I am in the midst of research for the second novel.  I have written a few chapters, but I think this book will write itself.

Lady Nyo 

 

Dusk had fallen. Lord Yoki and Tsuki, ducked out the back entrance from the temple to the pond. There a stand of trees shaded the pond and covered their presence. Lord Yoki knew he would be in trouble if found, but the frogs were calling. Plus, the taste of frog legs was in his mouth all day.

 

Young Tsuki, the son of Lord Tetsu, was seven years old. Lord Yoki was much older and wiser, but he was bored with the recitation of sutras that held him captive every day. Lord Yoki couldn’t read, plus he was a Tengu, and birds don’t favor literature. Nor do they recite sutras. Lord Yoki was the tutor to the young Tsuki. Appointed by Lord Tetsu, the former daimyo who had abdicated his position to another long-time friend and ally, Lord Ekei. Now he was in exile on a western coast of upper Japan, low on the side of a mountain.

 

Lord Yoki’s kimono was wet from the pond. He fell in, overreaching with his gigging spear. Tsuki followed him, excitedly thrashing the calm waters with his. Pond scum coated their clothes and Lord Yoki, once back on the bank, looked at his charge. There would be Hell to pay if Lord Tetsu caught them.

 

“Come, young master. I’ll take the basket and have it delivered to the kitchen. You go clean up and change your kimono. Your mother will have my head if she sees you in such a state.”

 

Tsuki entered their house and looking for his father, saw him on the balcony. Bowing lowly, he addressed his stern father.

 

“Father, I am home.”

 

Lord Tetsu turned and looked for a long moment at his son.

 

“I see. And I also see that you have been in the pond again. What was it this time? Carp or frogs?”

 

Tsuki blushed and bowed even lower. “Father, I can’t help it. The frogs this time were calling to me.”

 

“Oh Ho! Were they looking to hear the sutras or did you read them to the frogs?”

 

Tsuki looked confused. “Father, you know that these kappa relatives don’t like to hear sutras. They only want to hear each other croak.”

 

Lord Tetsu started to smile broadly. His son was full of answers this evening, but his punishment would be mild.

 

“If that be the case, then you, Tsuki, recite a poem on what you and the frogs were doing out there.”

 

“It wasn’t only me, Father. Lord Yoki was with me.”

 

“So I have two to blame for this?   Lord Yoki is his own man, so he is to be excused….but you, my son are still under my thumb.”

 

Tsuki looked crestfallen and dropped his eyes to the floor. He had betrayed his friend Lord Yoki. He already knew that his tutor would never do this to him. He had covered his antics many times.

 

“Father, can I have some time to compose this frog poem?”

 

Lord Tetsu glared at his son. “You can have dinner after you compose your poem.”

 

Tsuki knew he couldn’t compose in such a short time. He was not too keen on poetry, even short ones. They made him cross his eyes and stick out his tongue in the attempt. Plus, he was hungry. He bowed to his father and went to his room. Ah, his father was a renown poet, as was his m other, Lady Mari. He, however, strained his brains to come up with even a short one.

 

“Bull frogs, Bull frogs”. Nothing came to mind. Perhaps he could seek out his tutor, as Lord Yoki was quick of mind.

 

Tsuki slipped down a hall where his tutor had rooms. When he was allowed entrance to Lord Yoki’s rooms, they always smelled strange. This time was no different.

 

He bowed low at the shoji and spied his tutor laying spread eagle on his bed. Even his bed was different and strange. It was like the futon was a pile of sticks and twigs with a quilt thrown over it all.

 

Lord Yoki sat up and nodded to the boy. He had not changed his gown and it still was stained with pond scum.

 

“What is it now, young master?”

 

“Honorable Tutor. My father perceived that I was gigging frogs again in the north pond.”

 

“And is that so unusual, son? You spend as much time in that pond as you do in the temple at your lessons.”

 

“Yes, that is true, my Lord. But frogs sing a different song than those boring sutras. Plus you can eat them where you can’t eat a sutra.”

 

“So! What is it this time? What is the punishment your Lord Father demands?”

 

“My lord, he demands a poem about bull frogs.”

 

Tsuki put on a sad, mournful face. “Honorable Tutor. Will you help me? My father has forbidden me to eat my dinner until I present a poem about frogs.”

 

“Well, we can’t have you starving, Tsuki. Let me think, son.” Lord Yoki looked up at the ceiling and then down at the floor.

 

“I will help. IF you think of the final line. Then we can attest that you at least had your hand in this.”

 

 

Bullfrogs bellow a different pitch

Autumn’s fast approaching.

And though they soak in a rocky pond……

 

 

“Your turn, Tsuki. Close out the poem.’

 

“They escape the sun?”

 

“Well, it has promise. What are the frogs trying to escape? Think a bit more.”

 

“Summer heat they can’t escape?”

 

‘Not a bad ending, son. You are not a seasoned poet, but that should get you dinner.”

 

 

When Tsuki presented himself for dinner, his father, mother and sister were sitting at the long, low dining table.

 

“Good. We await your poem as I am sure you await your dinner.”

His sister, almost 5 years old, sitting there and her head barely clearing the table. She was sticking out her tongue at him. Lady Mari pinched her arm.

Tsuki recited his frog poem and his father looked at him with one eye closed.

“It has the scent of Lord Yoki about it, but perhaps you had a hand in the composition?”

Tsuki nodded and blushed.

“Well, sit down. You have earned your dinner.”

Tsuki sat across his sister and tried to look in the pot as a maid made her rounds of the table. He was hoping there was something besides miso broth in it.

His sister crossed her eyes and tried to stare at him. This was what she had learned as ‘the evil eye’ from one of the maids. Tsuki glared at her and tried to look fierce. Lord Tetsu rapped the table with his spoon and Lady Mari pinched his sister again.

Miu was the name of Lord and Lady Tetsu’s daughter. She was tiny, her round head with her skimpy hair pulled into a topknot, she was a beautiful little doll. She glanced at her father, using her spoon to eat the broth. She got much of it down her bib.

She was the apple of her father’s eye, and she knew it. Even at her tender age she knew she had her father wrapped around her tiny finger. She smiled at him, her lips glossy with broth. Twisting her head around like a wood owl, he stopped eating just to watch her and tenderness appeared on his face. He glanced at his wife and smiled. From a fierce warlord, the sight of his two children had turned him into a tender nursemaid, not able to deny them anything. Many years before, he had a younger wife with two young children, a boy and a girl. He was on land, all three were off the coast returning from a visit to relatives, when a rogue wave dashed the ship onto rocks. All drowned. After the funerals, he climbed into the mountains and trained with Yamabushi ” the warriors who sleep on the mountains”. He was gone for three years.

Lady Mari turned to wipe the broth from Miu’s face. She had been surprised at the sentiment her husband had shown with his children. When she was finally introduced in his court she heard a shocking tale. Lord Tetsu had risen from his seat and cut a man in half with his katana. The whole court had witnessed this slaughter. Now, an ex-daimyo his children were the centre of his life. He had tried for more, but Lady Mari was growing older and no more children were born. She wondered if her husband would take a second wife for children. So far, there had been no discussion of this, but she already knew that these sort of things were not the concern of the first wife. It was a man’s decision.

Jane Kohut- Bartels

Copyrighted, 2019

Kimono Cover

Sumo Wrestling…..a haibun.

September 18, 2019

via Sumo Wrestling…..a haibun.

Sumo Wrestling…..a haibun.

September 18, 2019

sumo

For the past 6 months, I have been watching sumo bouts.  It doesn’t matter that your honorable opponent might outweigh you by 50 lbs, it’s all in the technique.  Apparently, the point is to ‘unseat’ the man opposite you and do it in seconds.  These two refrigerators smash into each other, and you go for the shoulders.  This creates  2 tons of power in the smashing.  Sure there are other things that go into this sport, like slapping flesh hard, slapping  the face, grabbing the opponent’s belt and trying to hurl him across the ring of sand.  And out into the audience.  Generally these men are big and to have one land in your lap must hurt.  There is a lot more to sumo, but I’m learning.  Armchair, here.

Lady Nyo

 

I love Sumo wrestling. Or at least I think I do. Perhaps it is the only sport where I don’t feel like I have to hold in my stomach sitting there. Watching those mountains of flesh-men grapple with each other makes my heart beat hard. There is such history around this sport, and such a deep tradition. The fact that they gorge themselves with a purpose makes my heart sing. How wonderful that you can eat and eat without any concern for weight or fashion!

And, did you know that those belts they wear can cost a million yen? Or so I have read. I have also read that Sumo Wrestlers are some of the most humble and gentle of men. Here, have another bowl of rice.

Mountains of flesh pound

A ring of sandy earth

Cunning and strength vie.

 

 

Jane Kohut-Bartels

Copyrighted, 2019

“Autumn Dusk”

September 16, 2019

via “Autumn Dusk”

“Autumn Dusk”

September 16, 2019

Kohut-Bartels-LS-19

(Painting above by the author below)

 

AUTUMN DUSK

 

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, 2017-2019

 

Mid Georgian Tall case Clock…

September 14, 2019

via Mid Georgian Tall case Clock…

Mid Georgian Tall case Clock…

September 14, 2019

Samuel Harley tallcase 2

Samuel Harley painting on Clock.jpg

Ever fall in love with a piece of furniture?  We did this week.  We saw this Tall Case clock in a ‘Recycle’ store near our house and fell in love.

This oak clock was donated by an elderly woman this week as the employees were cleaning out her garage for Recycle.  She told them to ‘take that old clock and put it on the pile”.

Recycle Atlanta is a huge place with all sorts of windows, chandeliers, cabinets, dishwashers, stoves, stained glass, and at the counter…this huge clock.

We have a house built circa 1880’s, but it isn’t  Victorian in design. It was built by the Ragsdale family who came from Leicester, UK.  back in 1860.  They were farmers and this house is more of an early Georgian farmhouse. They also owned “West End Horse and Mule” which was only a few miles from this residence.  We are the second owners of this house, buying it in 1978.  My husband has restored and put some amazing rooms on  over the years, basically taking a 6 room house and making it 12 rooms.  Too many now for us without our son here.  But it’s beautiful and needed a clock at the bottom of the staircase.

This clock needs repair  (one of the scrolls is gone) but it’s mostly cosmetic.  It’s oak, and the picture above the dial is an oil painting. We haven’t found a date yet, but the maker was a Samuel Harley, of Shrewsbury.  The clock runs but the weights we put in aren’t heavy enough for keeping time. That is something we can fix.

We named her Lady Harley, to match Lord Harley in the driveway.

Harley motocycle

Husband brought this 2 weeks ago, and that was a surprise!

The clock is a dark, aged oak, with probably Mahoney columns on the bonnet.  It fits perfectly where we have it, but this clock is about 3 inches higher than most tall clocks. Because it is plainer than many, no gilt gold, and no daily dial on top of the face, it is older than many.  We have had an estimate of age from 1740-1770.  It doesn’t matter because it belongs.

The manager of Recycle had numerous offers to buy, but he held off.  He sold it to us because of our slight knowledge of tallcase clocks, but mainly because of our immediate love of the  piece.  He asked me if I was going to get it restored…and I said, “No.  I was going to sit and look at it until I wanted to restore it.”  That could be years.  LOL.’

That was enough for him and he accepted our offer. I would have paid double for this beautiful clock.

We are aging, and some of this furniture will have to go.  Nieces and nephews, those would  appreciate these things….but we are going to sit and look at Lady Harley for a long as we can.

Xmas Front House

Jane Kohut-Bartels

Copyrightedm 2019

 


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