“One Reason For The Season”, a haibun.

December 4, 2016

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

 

“Madame Gormosy Explains Herself”

November 25, 2016

madame-gormosy

 

This morning I was reading “John Adams”, a book by David McCullough. In it, Abigail Adams describes the most famous woman in Paris: A Madame Helvetius.   She was shocked at the deportment of this Madame and it brought to mind my Madame Gormosy.  But surely Madame Gormosy has better manners, an élan that this ‘other’ Madame lacks. They both, along with Mrs. Adams, occupied the same period of time.  Posting this piece seems appropriate as I have just posted for dversepoets pub a poem: “All The Old Men Are Gone”  (those with beautiful manners)

I have grown close to Madame Gormosy.  Unfortunately, I have grown close to a devil.  Yes, Madame Gormosy is actually a Devil.  But one with style, elegance and a sometimes pleasing personality.  Can’t say much about character because she is the only devil I am acquainted with, except a few family members.

Lady Nyo

 

Very recently I was asked by a blog to ‘interview’ a character from “Devil’s Revenge”.  This proved almost impossible, as the man I wanted to interview refused to stand still.  So I called upon Madame Gormosy, also a character in this novel to speak.  She has graciously done so and gives a good accounting of what was happening.  As she is also a Demon, please take what she writes with a grain of salt.

Lady Nyo, with sunburn today and not from the Sun.

“My name is Louise (Louis) Alphonse Margot Gormosy. As you can read, I have the delicious ability to change my sex at will. I am a Demon of Lust in the hierarchy of Hell. There are many Demons of Lust down there, but they generally are stupid devils. I, Madame Gormosy, am not. I appear in this novel at the bequest of Arch Duke of Hell, M. Abigor. He too, is a Demon of Lust, but he is not stupid. Non, he is not. He is a much respected Military Strategist and an ancient Healer. He sends legions into battle and then he tries to stop up the wounds. Of course, this is hardly the point, as all the  chiefs  in Hell have our own legions. I, Madame Gormosy, have 60,000 devils to deploy at my whim. M. Abigor has many, many more, uncountable, but his hoof is close to the Throne.

When Bess, who is trying to finish writing a book to end the conflict between M. Garrett and M. Obadiah, asked me to do this interview, I was pleasantly surprised. She later told me that the interview was mostly intended for that scoundrel, M. le Demon, his mortal name Garrett Cortelyou. I was not so pleased. I will tell you a secret. When I am in the form of M. Louis, Garrett is amiable. We two have fought battles, shared women, have caused much mischief over thousands of years, but he is unfortunately, uncomfortable when I violently shake my head and become “Louise”. Quel dommage! But he is a good soul (if Devils have souls) and we have each other’s back. Yes, and Devils have morals, of a sort.

This morning M. Garrett came in the room, nodded and listened to my request for this interview. Mon Dieu! He is a handsome man this morning! He is tall, broad shouldered, with dark hair that is too long to be fashionable. This picture of him on that blog? He is far older and much more handsome. That picture makes him look like a spoiled brat. He is a formidable man and has many conquests, but he is much older. Your readers would faint to know how much.

He refuses to wear wig and powder,  his hair is bound into a tail by a black silk ribbon. He will not wear the silk stockings either. He wears trousers and boots. He has dark eyes that snap when he is angry. I have seen the results of his temper over the centuries, and it can be impressive. But he is not a cruel devil. Non, in fact, if you must know… he is not a ‘proper’ demon at all. His mother was mortal and his father? Well, only M. Abigor knows for sure who his father is, and he is not telling. But M. Garrett’s father must be a very important person in Hell and History, because he is treated almost like a son by M. Abigor. And that status for a devil, is a much desired one. M. Abigor is known for his own temper, but this is to be expected of Devils. He can, if he so chooses, turn one to toast.

M.Garrett listened to my request for an interview, closing his eyes while I talked. He then snorted  and disappeared in a puff of smoke, leaving the scent of brimstone in the room.   I saw him walking towards the woods with a shotgun and a dog so I would believe he is out hunting this morning. He could easily make a bird fall to earth with magic, but non, he forgets sometimes his bag of tricks  most devils have. And of course, he is half human. Not a proper devil at all. So, his magic is mostly  making ale and tea appear,  levitating a chamber pot, and  appearing and disappearing at will. This last is not good for an interview. He is a tricky devil. He is also a sexy devil.

garrett-in-devils-revenge(

(M. le Demon looking much younger than he is.)

As I mentioned, I am here at the bequest of M. Abigor. I am flattered that this exalted Demon would choose me, Madame Gormosy, to appear in this story. Bess (the author) might think she is controlling these events, but she is naïve. She is mortal, and mortals can’t see much beyond their noses.

I was brought into this novel to give instruction to Bess. As a mortal woman of the 21st century, she doesn’t have the  knowledge how to relate to M. Garrett or really any other Demon. She is to be the consort of M. Garrett, and avec vous et moi? She is rather….stupid. All mortals are stupid compared to most devils. Except the stupid ones.

Let me tell you how this mess started. Bess, sixteen years ago started writing a story. She played around with these mortal characters, brought them to life, and then closed the book on them without finishing. I think she pinched M. Garrett’s tail. Then, in 2006, she went back to the book, but she saw  she had written a very boring novel. So, what to do? She took a number of characters, M. Garrett and M. Obadiah  (who hated each other) and stupidly made them into devils. Bon! She continued the novel. However, M. Garrett was furious that she had ‘closed the book on him’, (and dented his overarching ego) and he did not spare his temper. In fact, he did something that is not what a ‘civilized’ man would do. Of course he is half demon so that would account for his bad manners. Bess fell in love with this devil (who could withstand his charms?) and the story took off. It was not a straight love story, though, of course not with demons around. M. Obadiah, from the previous novel, made his appearance and the battle between the two men started all over again. M. Obadiah’s offense was intolerable. He abused Bess in the vilest way, but this was just to get at M. Garrett. Those two are like bulls fighting over the same pasture and heifers. Mon Dieu!

I was commanded by M. Abigor, who has powers over all of us….Bess included, though she doesn’t know it yet, to tutor her in deportment. Bess has had the standard education of a modern woman, but she knows nothing about the great French salons, the intellectuals and wits there, she has no idea of the power the Underworld has over mortal dealings. True, she knows of the power of the Church, but she knows much of nothing. Since M. Garrett has declared her to be his consort, she must now learn how to deport herself. She doesn’t know all the characters (mostly demons) she is interacting with, but soon, IF I can get her up to snuff…she will have tea with M. Abigor. By then, perhaps this woman (who is not a young, spring chicken) will not disgrace us all. Or become toast.

I must say this: What M. Garrett is focusing on, this great adventure to discover his father, his detour into Celtic history, is just a ruse by those more powerful than he. They are called “The Others” and they have been around since the beginning of time. They are more than Demons, they are Immortals. Some of them come from the Nephilim and some from cultures that have passed out of history. But they are the Untouchables above us.

I, Madame Gormosy, think these “Gods” are playing with us all, but we have our tasks here on Earth and in Hell. So, the fight continues between these two bulls with Bess the mortal woman the prize. I just don’t understand it, for Bess is no Helen of Troy. She is nice enough but her ignorance of life and history gets in the way. And, she can appear as a slob. I have come to her rooms in the morning and I see her sitting with her elbows on the table, in dishabille, a mob cap almost over her eyes. Mon Dieu! What Devil (or man) can tolerate that in the morning? But M. Garrett must be besotted because he just smiles at me. And of course, Bess doesn’t have a clue as to who is pulling the strings of life.”

Your faithful (as far as Demons go…) Servant,

Louise Gormosy

 

Jane Kohut-Bartels

Copyrighted, 2016

 

 

 

 

“All The Old Men Are Gone” for dverse.

November 24, 2016

Gormosy 2

All The Old Men Are Gone

 

All the old men with beautiful manners are gone.

They with courtly manners

who brush their lips over your hand

who look up the white pillar of arm

meet eyes with sweet kindness or desire-

Are gone.

 

The Hungarians, Italians and Russians

who murmur into faces

and translate with twinkling spheres,

a desire found ‘deep in their hearts’

or perhaps like a well-oiled

Casanova, who glides across

the room and anchors your vanity to his side.

 

They are all gone, dissolved in the waters of time.

 

You were glad for the flirtation,

it made the stomach flip,

it brightened  everything-

Life -Suddenly- Worth- Living!

If even for the evening

or a few hours until dawn

you were young and desirable once more.

 

With these now-ghosts,

the light came forth from dull shadows

like diamonds thrown onto mirrors

the room was a crystal ball spinning

with a magnum of champagne watering the darkness,

a dizzying  waltz that flung the heart into the Cosmos,

an explosion of Light that banished the Darkness.

A velvet undertone that smoothed all wrinkles and

put a gleam of youth on faces that were not.

 

 

They are all gone.

Now replaced with new manners

like flat champagne,

a dullness behind the eyes

capturing nothing and inspiring less-

This has replaced all the old men with beautiful manners

for they are gone and mostly forgotten

except by those who remember-

and damn well know what is missing.

Jane Kohut-Bartels

Copyrighted, 2016


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