The Tornado of Hall County, Georgia, 1998

January 21, 2017

pleasant-grove-alabama-storm-damage

This memory is written in a Haibun form.  Haibun is a very ancient Japanese form used for travel notes and memoirs.  Usually a few paragraphs with a relating haiku at the end.  I have been playing around with this form for only a few months, but I find it fascinating. 

Lady Nyo

 

I remember the tornado in 1998, Hall County, Georgia that ripped through at dawn. I was safe down in Atlanta and caught the morning news report with a cup of coffee in my hand. Back then I attended the Meeting for Worship in Atlanta. Almost trembling, I stood and addressed the end of the Meeting about the tornado. The only response I got from the Meeting was “Help can wait”.

I turned to my neighbors in our rather poor SW Atlanta neighborhood. They gave from the heart. My ten year old son and I drove to Gainesville with my husband’s ‘newish’ truck, the one with a paper license plate on the back. We got lost, stopped at a Denny’s and when the waitress heard we came with supplies, she refused to take our money. We got lost again, looking for the Salvation Army site. An old man insisted we follow his truck to our destination.

We weren’t supposed to go into the tornado area, but as we were leaving Gainesville to go home, there stretched between two radio kiosks was a big yellow banner: “Help Can’t Wait”. The sky was azure blue with clipper-ship-clouds floating by, peace after a terrible storm. My son’s eyes were enormous as he turned to me. “Mom, God is speaking to us. Help can’t wait, those Quakers were wrong!”

That day was filled with miracles: the police never stopped our truck. Our license plate had blown off. They waved at us. We saw the total destruction of a Nature Hell Bent on making a major disaster. We saw metal sides of trailers twisted like ribbons through denuded trees, baby strollers smashed on the side of the road, blue tarps over just about every house. Right next to total devastation were cows in a pasture peacefully grazing. Trees were gone, the landscape was a moon scape.   Small debris fires were everywhere. Porta Johns were everywhere. We found the hearts of total strangers open everywhere. Thirteen people died from that tornado in Hall County.

A month to the day another tornado hit a toney part of north Atlanta, neighborhoods where many of the Quakers of the Meeting lived. They weren’t the working people of Hall County. These were the professors and lawyers, teachers, etc. of the Meeting. I wondered if ‘Help Can Wait’ applied to them.

 

Compassion, balance

Restored in the Human Heart

If we feel the pain

 

Jane Kohut-Bartels

Copyrighted, 2016

 

Cosmic Couplings

January 19, 2017

D’versepoets challenges poets to write a poem with repetitions. This is my attempt.

Lady Nyo

cosmos

Cosmic Couplings

 

Come kiss my warm lips
cup my breast in your rough hand
growl into my mouth
raise the color of pale desire
blow cinders into lust
create steel where there’s water
command with your need.

Answer mine with that of yours
Answer yours with that of mine.

Press hard into skin
flesh opens like a bud
legs twisting round legs
hands clenching fruit-like cheeks
raised upon your sword
spread flesh that yearns to gasp.

Answer mine with that of yours
Answer yours with that of mine.

Over us, the stars
glitter–laughing witness
I reach up and hang
on two and lift my breast
level with your mouth.
You suckle like a babe,
and strain into my womb.

Answering mine with that of yours
Answering yours with that of mine.

Jane Kohut-Bartels
Copyrighted, 2017

“The High Road”

January 14, 2017
Kohut-Bartels-BOP-8

“Sea Eagle”, jane kohut-bartels, watercolor, 2001

 

The High Road

Asking directions to the high road,

I got shrugs and blank stares

yet knew there were two roads-

both led into infinity

both coursed through

all manner of life with pitfalls, trenches

where legs were broken

skulls rattled loose from moorings

like ships in high winds, dangerous waters.

 

What was the difference

and why should it matter?

The effort cost

energy regardless the choosing.

 

An old man sat at the crossroads,

a bum, grizzled gray hair

sprouting porcupine’s quills,

rheumy, pale eyes staring at the world–

little interest in what passed by.

 

I asked him the way to the High Road

and with a toothless grin

he stared at my feet, my hands,

lifted his eyes to my face.

I thought him mad and cursed myself

(asking questions of a fool!)

was moving away when I heard his voice:

 

“Did I know of the eagle and crow,

how they soared upon thermals

higher and higher

became dark, formless specks upon a limitless sky,

lost to human eye, invisible even to gods?”

 

I thought him crazed and started away-

he cackled and spat on the ground.

Something made me turn, startled,

And saw the wisdom of Solomon in his

now- shining eyes.

 

 

“The crow harries the eagle, the eagle flies higher.

Vengeful, annoying crow flies round eagle’s wing

turning this way and that, yet the eagle flaps upward

soars upon thinning air until the crow

breathless and spent, drops to the common ground-

falls to his death.”

 

“The High Road, the path of the eagle.

The low road, the path of the crow,

mingling with dullards

daring nothing, with eyes cast downward

only saving a bit of energy

learning nothing of worth.”

 

Silently he sat, an old man

eyes glazed with age and fatigue.

With a nod to his wisdom, a toss of a coin

I gathered my strength and pushed onward,

Upwards, the lift of eagles, now under my limbs.

 

Jane Kohut-Bartels

Copyrighted, 2016, first published in  “Pitcher of Moon”, Amazon.com 2014

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

“Food Chain”

January 13, 2017
My beautiful picture

To the East

 

Poets are just chattel to the Poetry God. Many of us know no dimensions, no parameters, no walls, but keep writing until the cows come home.  One reason, probably the most common, is we figure out our issues, and the world’s issues by penning our verse. It’s hit and miss but we think we become, in doing so, a viable part of our world. Even though the world doesn’t read much poetry. 

We could be out carjacking, or indulging in murder, but instead we stare  into space and think. I thought I was over poetry. I didn’t count on Winter.  That bare palette outside the window started to pull  and before I knew, there was a stream of poetry forming and spilling over, not in neat piles, but chasing each other around the room, complicating my life all over again.  Poets know what I mean.  We are a tribe unto ourselves,   who hunt and plant with words, who harvest in paragraphs, grain precious to us and ignored except to the starving amongst us.

Lady Nyo  

– 

FOOD CHAIN

 

Are we really

At the top of the food chain

Or is this the conceit

Of humanity

Hit over the head with the Bible

And the further conceit

That Mankind-Has-

Dominion= Over= the= Earth?

 

I see a bit of a food chain,

It blurs when reality comes close.

 

Yesterday, the Coroner dragged a body bag

Out of the woods and over the rocks.

A homeless man died in those woods

The fox and worms and who knows what else

Had at him, so he was light as a feather,

Inconsequential, probably never more

In the eyes of most while he breathed.

 

He must have been,

this lightness of being.

It took only one man to drag

Him like so much garbage

To the van in the street,

Bumping him over the pavement.

(I’ve seen dead dogs treated with

More respect.)

 

So….the food chain

Gets blurred, confused

In the light of actual life.

And those who say  we are the wisest

The most intelligent–

Still allow their species to die in the cold,

To rot yards from their warm houses

To be fed upon by wildlife

That is waiting for our stupid mistakes

To reveal the real food chain existing

Under our noses.

 

Jane Kohut-Bartels

Copyrighted, 2017

 

 

 

 

 

“To The New Lover, #1”, From “A Seasoning of Lust”, second edition

January 12, 2017

revised-cover-2776

https://goo.gl/YNzows

It’s Open Link Night at dversepoets pub.  Come read some great poetry!

 

In December, 2016, “A Seasoning of Lust” was published on Amazon.com.  It is now in its second edition.  Nick Nicholson, a long time friend in Australia,  did the heavy labor on this book, bringing a new cover and together we rewrote some of the poems. Nick also lent some of his marvelous photographs taken on his recent world tours to illustrate some of the poems and all of the short stories.

It was my first book, published in 2009 by Lulu.com, but most first books can be redone.  I am very pleased with the new book, and am very grateful to my dear friend, Nick, for his keen advice and his patience.  There is an emphasis on literary erotica inside this book, with poems, flashers, prose, and concluding with three not- so- short stories.

Lady Nyo

A piece of erotica to get the blood moving this cold January morn….

To The New Lover, # 1

 

Fingers flit over cheeks

rubbed raw during the night

by ardent kisses and the

rough beard of a man in rut.

 

An early morning’s light

peeks through drapes drawn

for modesty’s sake

shielding the

sweet debauchery

of the night before.

 

She feels his hands move to her breasts

and nipples greet their caress,

arising to a new and different

touch, demanding notice.

 

His dark head moves to kiss her mouth now

dry, her lips bruised with their late passion,

he  filled again with early need.

She feels him push at her thigh.

 

Eyes barely open, he now knows

the terrain, and with a growl, rolls on top,

spreading the sweet apex of her thighs, a hand

in the warm  darkness there, waiting.

 

She stretches, remembering the sweet movements

of the night, a savage pas de deux.

An ardent moan escapes  her throat.

 

This morning, he is gentle, she is sore,

almost virginal, challenged by the heat

of the night

and with gentle touches, he commands

her arousal,

 

and calls her out to dance again.

 

Jane Kohut-Bartels

Copyrighted, 2016

“A Seasoning of Lust” can be purchased on Amazon.com 

Haibun Monday at dversepoets pub

January 8, 2017

Winter Scene, 3

January 9th is Haibun Monday at D’vesepoets pub.  I was asked to host this segment.    I have  been writing haibun, an ancient form of Japanese literature, usually a very few paragraphs followed by a relating haiku …for only  two months. I have a lot to learn about haibun.

 Kanzen Sakura (a marvelous poet on the staff there) introduced me to haibun through her own writings.  I had never tried this wonderful form.   Grace (also of dversepoets) will present a short explanation on haibun from previous postings.

The theme is “Childhood Experiences”, whether they be pleasurable or traumatic, but perhaps something that changed the course of your life or impacted you in some  unforgettable way.

The coincidences of life are strange.  My haibun is in part about my 13th birthday, and Monday, January 9th, is my 69th birthday.  I have never written or talked about the death of Honey, my first horse, and it took me 56 years to do so. But it feels right to do so at d’versepoets pub.

So, Haibun writers!  Post your childhood experiences and link your lives to others here!~ 

Dversepoets pub opens  Monday at 3pm EST for submissions. Check the website for directions on how to post there and leave a comment after you have linked.

Lady Nyo

Honey

 On the eve of my 13th birthday, at almost midnight in the dead of winter, I went to the barn to check on my old mare, Honey. My father bought her two years before, knowing I was a child stuck in the countryside, with few friends. Honey was dead, the old Army blanket across her, and by the moonlight coming through the door, I could see her name embroidered on the side.

The next morning, standing at a bedroom window, dressed in my jodhpurs and a too-tight riding jacket, I watched a truck with a winch pull Honey by the neck onto the bed. Her frozen legs saluted the gunmetal sky. It started to snow, blurring what was happening outside. I could hear the motor of the winch and the thumps of Honey being rolled around.

That afternoon, on my birthday, I got my first period. My distressed mother tried to distract me with words ‘I was now a woman’. The pain in my groin was the only evidence to me I was alive.

 

The cold winter stars

Witness the grief of a child

Time does not erase

 

Jane Kohut-Bartels

Copyrighted, 2016

Snow Storm of January 2017

January 7, 2017
Kohut-Bartels-BOP-6

“Nuthatches”, watercolor, 2006, Jane Kohut-Bartels

 

Didn’t happen.  All the hoopla of the talking weather heads amounted to just about nothing.  Perhaps a 1/4 inch of snow, but nothing that was predicted for days. The anthology of Robert Frost remains unread, the can of Swiss Miss, unopened, and it was all a big disappointment.

However, the ‘storm’ left a coating of ice on the trees.  No Tiffany’s could rival the beauty of these ‘first water’ diamonds!  Looking into the sun, the trees are ablaze with glitter, Nature’s bling.  Since the temperature is 22 degrees this morning and not expected to rise above 32 degrees, this spectacle should last until dusk, when the ‘black ice’ will form and treachery will begin in the night.

I saw two female cardinals at the feeder.  They had their lipstick on this morning. I wondered where the fierce males were, and soon one appeared, dueling for bird seed with the Nuthatches.  The cardinal females were a dull brown on top, but a  brick red under their tails and wings. Subtle coloring but still beautiful, so different from the flash of blood-red of their mates.

Look! There is a cardinal,

red as blood and as cocky

as a Lord.

See his mate?

She is dull, but has her lipstick

on this morning.

from “A Seasoning of Lust”, second edition, 2016, Amazon Createspace’

It is too early for snow in the south.  This prediction caught many of us still struggling with Xmas decorations and the aftermath of New Year.

I am hopeful  we will get, once again, a chance to stare out at the street lights and watch for this most beautiful miracle; a blessing of Peace and Silence from the Cosmos.

Jane Kohut-Bartels

Copyrighted, 2017

“Ghosts”…a choka for dversepoets pub

January 5, 2017

japanese ghosts

Japanese ghosts…..

Choka (long poem) is an ancient Japanese form of poetry that predates tanka and haiku.  It was very prominent in the great Man’yoshu of the 8th century, a collection of 4, 515 poems.  Gayle of Bodhirose’s Blog is hosting this wonderful form over at dversepoets.com.  Come read the submissions of choka over there.  It might choke you up.

Lady Nyo

Ghosts

 

Ghosts of lovers gone

circle my head in pale tones

grazing my body

with hands and lips now grown cool.

My loins slight response

barely encourages more

but lust knows its course

and demands my devotion

still calling forth attention.

 

In the past I knew

plump lips, rounded soft belly

blossom of my youth.

All of these circling ghosts

touched the filament

some of them the fundament!

Fast lusty dances

mouths and tongues greedy with joy

loins wrapped around loins straining.

 

Now, silence- alone,

all gone in the haze of time

spooks disturb my sleep

but still my skin remembers-

the scrap of a nail,

the caress of a soft hand,

teeth grasping a lip.

 

The flesh loses much regard

but memories surface still.

 

Jane Kohut-Bartels

Copyrighted, 2017

 

 

“Olsen’s Pond”

January 1, 2017

 

mignot-winter-skating-scene

 

 

Returning to the old house,

now still, vacant,

staring with unshaded eyes

upon a snowy front garden,

shrubs overgrown with the

lustiness of summer

now split to the ground

taxed with a heavy snow.

 

I tried to light the parlor stove,

cranky old smoker

clanking and rattling

in the best of times

now given up the ghost,

cold metal unyielding to wadded paper

and an old mouse nest.

 

Now the silence of the rooms

broken by hissing wind

whipping around eaves

rattling old bones in the attic,

stirring the haunts asleep in corners.

 

It took time for twigs to catch

water turn to coffee

bacon, eggs brought from the city

cooked in an old iron skillet–

tasting far better in the country air.

 

I looked down at hands cracked

in the brittle winter light,

moisture gone,

hair static with electricity,

feet numb from the cold

the woodstove not giving

more heat than an ice cube.

 

Walking down to Olsen’s pond,

Looking through the glassine surface

remembering the boy who had fallen

through while playing hockey

slipping under thin ice,

disappearing without a sound,

only noticed when our puck flew

High in the air and he, the guard, missing.

 

We skated to the edge, threw bodies flat

trying to catch him just out of reach,

crying like babies, snot running down chins,

knowing he was floating just under the ice–

silenced like the lamb he was.

 

Childhood ended that day.

We drifted away to the city,

our skates and sticks put up,

Olsen’s pond deserted like a haunted minefield.

 

Fifty years ago I still remember

stretched as far as I could

belly freezing on treacherous ice,

grasping to reach a life just out of sight,

his muffler and stick floating to the surface–

The boy, the important part,

gone for good from a chilly winter’s play.

 

 

Jane Kohut-Bartels

Copyrighted, 2017

 

 

 

 

A Winter Prayer

December 24, 2016
Snowfall on trees

Snowfall in Atlanta

 

O, Mysterium Tremendum!

Winter’s palette stark, unadorned

Devoid of the juiciness of Summer,

The prismatic beauty of Fall

Yet still, the perfect backdrop

For cardinals, nandina berries,

The holly and the evergreens.

 

We rejoice in Nature’s gifts

Of silence, stillness

When Earth has tucked in,

Burrowed down with pallid

Earthworms and things

That survive underground.

 

Above, mystical, blurred

A sudden snow storm has

Softened the brittle edges of vision

And brought about a mystery

This season only provides.

 

The flash of a cardinal

A blood-red streak in the sky,

The heart lifts and follows.

Nandina berries have changed

From orange of autumn

To brilliant Christmas red

When all humanity watches

For the return of the Sun and

The lengthening of days.

 

O, Overwhelming Mystery,

Tucked in your bosom

With faith we will survive

The winter storms,

The howling winds

The hoarfrost,

The biting cold,

The darkness lasting too long,

The haunts in the attics

Shivering in hambone frenzy–

The wolves at the door.

 

The Earth will turn again

To be warmed by a new season.

For now we are grateful

For the gifts of silence and stillness

This season demands.

 

Jane Kohut-Bartels

Copyrighted, 2016


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