“O Absalom”

Murder of Absalom

O Absalom!

O Absalom,

Ensnared by long hair in the

Boughs of  an oak,

Pierced through the heart three times

Yet your nature was  only to please.

– – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – –


Pulled into  mysteries

Now abandoned by love

given over to lust

Charged with stolen rapture

Dizzy as a drunk dervish,

One hand upward to Heaven

One hand spilling to Earth

Skirts stiffened with sins hard as stone

Corrupted over a life time and now-

Flayed on an unending mandala.

– – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – —

Mystery of Life,

Unstoppable desire.

O beautiful Absalom,

We float upon a divine river

Entangled in the reeds of human wanting.

– – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – –

This is our nature,

This our calling while

Flesh answers to flesh.

What quarter be given when the heart is

Overwhelmed by passion’s excess?

– – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – –

Lie still — let the waters cleanse our loins,

Mud of the banks soothe our wounds,

Let our blood mingle with the floating grasses,

Our hearts sink beneath the surface.

Let the rivers of Babylon

Carry us away.

– – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – –

Jane Kohut-Bartels

Copyrighted, 2010

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6 Responses to ““O Absalom””

  1. Berowne Says:

    Interesting piece there. Would you care to offer some background to it?

    The last two lines reference Psalm 137 but with the opposite meaning, a curious reversal.


  2. ladynyo Says:

    Hi Berowne!

    Thank you for reading this poem. Ugh. The formatting with WordPress.com recently has messed up the poetry. There are supposed to be double spaces between stanzas…and it really changes the ‘intent’ and reading of the poems without those rests of silence.

    I think I sent you a podcast of that poem? Does better in the vocalizing, I think. Some poems do.

    Geez…I wrote that over a year ago….and can’t remember much of the mind set when I did, but I do know that I passed it over to a very distinguished Mennonite theologian, and it shocked him….because of the reversal of the ‘story’.

    Read it to a nun, too, and she was also shocked…..I think the implied eroticism was more than the screwed Biblical message that got ’em both.

    As I remember, I saw some painting of the Biblical story and that sent the thoughts flowing…but I had the words “Let the waters of Babylon carry us away” from an old Ronstadt song in my head…forever…and basically constructed the poem around those ending words. LOL!.

    Not having much acquaintance of Biblical lore, I didn’t realize where those words came from. However, now that I have looked it up!!! Oh, the thoughts!! Daughters of Zion!!
    and the possibilities of ‘breaking harps on rocks’ is tantalizing.

    “Daughters of Zion” is a song I sung in descant in a choir many, many years ago, and those words have always intrigued me. You know how disjointed things do that? And you have little understanding of where they came from and their history. But they stick.

    Perhaps that is the way of it for most poets?? Snatches of things color our poetry and are remade anew?

    Thanks, Berowne for reading and leaving a comment. I haven’t given a very good answer here, but then again, the poem probably hasn’t much ‘reason for being’.

    Lady Nyo


  3. Berowne Says:

    I’ve noticed the problem with the blog server reformatting paragraph breaks. You might try inserting a row of dashes:
    or dashes and spaces:
    – – – – – – – – – – –
    or equal signs ‘n spaces:
    = = = = = = = = = =
    to signal a minor or major break. Those seem to go through.

    I can see a nun boggling at
    > Abandoned by love, given over to lust
    > Skirts stiffened with sins
    > Unstoppable desire
    Some very un-nun-ly stuff there..


  4. ladynyo Says:

    Actually, she ended up saying it was “Beautiful, beautiful”.

    LOL!….Well, she’s a friend of 20 years and a great encourager of my work…and life.

    And she’s a neighbor so…so it goes.

    Ok..that’s a good idea…I’ll try to reformat it again with those suggestions and see if it helps….I don’t know what WordPress did a couple of months ago…but it stinks for poetry.

    Thanks, Berowne.


  5. Margie Says:

    I LOVED this poem – very earthy and sensual. I think the dashes helped the flow of it. “Skirts stiffened with sins” indeed! Shades of Clinton/Lewinsky!


  6. ladynyo Says:


    HELLOOOOO, Margie!

    I’m still laughing! Thanks for reading this poem and leaving a comment. Yeah….Wordpress sucks lately for poetry….formatting.

    The language of this poem surprised me….very different, very…emotional.

    So glad you like it. One of my favorite poems….and it came out of nowhere. Took me by surprise….

    Again, thanks sweetie and hope you are well.



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