"Winter Birds", jane kohut-bartels, watercolor, 2005'

This poem was stolen by a website this summer.  I say stolen because no permission was asked and no permission was given to link this to their site. Had the linker asked,  I certainly would have given permission. There have been hundreds of readers of this poem from that site,  sometimes this amount daily, but they apparently don’t think.  I have no idea where this was placed, but I wish people would have some integrity.  Perhaps this  isn’t possible on the internet. This poem will be included in the soon-to-be-published, “White Cranes of Heaven”.

Lady Nyo


Dark mysterious season,

when the light doesn’t

quite reach the ground,

the trees shadow puppets

moving against the gray of day.

I think over the past year

praying there has been

a kindling in my soul,

the heart opened, warmed

and the juiciness of life is more

than in the loins–

a stream of forgiveness

slow flowing through the tough fiber

not stopper’d with an underlying bitterness

but softened with compassion.

This season of constrictions,

unusual emptiness,

brittle like dried twigs

desiccated by hoar frost

just to be endured.

I wrap myself in wool

and watch the migrations–

first tender song birds

harkening back to summer,

then Sandhill cranes,

legs thin banners

streaming behind white bodies,

lost against a snowy sky.

They lift off to a middling cosmos,

while I, earth-bound,

can only flap the wings of my shawl,

poor plumage for such a flight,

and wonder about my destination.

Jane Kohut-Bartels

Copyrighted, 2010

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18 Responses to ““Samhain””

  1. brian Says:

    it was your second stanza that gripped me the longing for something more in the heart…and a smile at the image of flapping shawl wings…nice one shot!


  2. ladynyo Says:

    Hello Brian!

    This poem was written last fall, when I had come out of a couple of years worth of emotional torment. I tried to sum up what…if anything… I had learned from the previous two years.

    I think we go through stages. We learn, but it’s like the Russian Army…one step forward, two steps back.

    About poetry: I don’t necessarily think that our inner most thoughts make ‘good’ poetry…but some times we have to take a chance that we can fashion them into something that has resonance in others experience.

    Thank you for reading and leaving a comment. I think when we are able to make a connection through our poetry, we are beginning to understand the poetry better. Other eyes have different takes on things, and that generally helps.

    Lady Nyo


  3. Ben Langhinrichs Says:

    I love that ending:

    They lift off to a middling cosmos,
    while I, earth-bound,
    can only flap the wings of my shawl,
    poor plumage for such a flight,
    and wonder about my destination.

    What a wonderful picture you paint of the “the trees shadow puppets / moving against the gray of day.” I could just keep quoting, but I think I’ll go back and re-read instead. Great poem.


  4. Steve Isaak Says:

    I especially love the second, third and end stanza(s). It’s season-centric – in this case: fall – as is much of your work in this vein, and, like that work, it’s excellent.

    I especially related to that end stanza, powerful stuff.


  5. ladynyo Says:

    Geez, Steve,…I had to go back and read the poem again to see what all the hoopla was about. LOL!

    Most my stuff seems to be season-centric for the past year or so. I think it comes from the aging issues..

    I’m heading up the Blue Ridge Parkway soon, for leaves, apples, scenery and some inspiration for some poetry. I’m hoping it will recharge the batteries. Me and the Dog.

    Just saw a PBS program called “Blue Ridge Parkway” and boy was it a lot of politicizing to get that baby built.

    Thanks, Steve, as always for your insightful comments. I learn so much from you.



  6. dustus Says:

    You put into words so many feeling about life…subtle and smooth lines. I wish I could comment a bit more on all the imagery, yet the commonality of the imagery expresses a contentment to wonder, and love the images you associate with feelings of an opening heart—powerful poetry.


  7. ladynyo Says:

    Thanks, Ben. This poem was born from a period of previous turmoil. It was a litmus test to see if I had made it out of the darkness. I think that stanza you quoted relayed my previous desperation with life and that, yes, I was coming through the rye. But any recovery, of any sort, is fraught with doubts that we have made it. And frustration that we haven’t made it fast enough out of the oven.

    This was an ‘easy’ poem, because the emotions were so close to the surface and still raw. That emotional turmoil which seems part of life at any stage….sometimes gives gasoline to the poetry (fire).

    For me….I have to have a visual image to start a poem. I admire poets who can start with the intangible and work to solid ground. I find that very difficult. Probably because I am a painter….just plainly visual…all these paintings that illustrate this blog are mine…watercolors of the past few years….and these actually act as touchstones for the poetry. They came first, but the poetry wraps themselves around the imagery. This gives an entrance into the writing.

    Something or other. I don’t analyze it too much because I don’t really know or care about the process…but I think it’s something we all have in ourselves as poets: various ‘touchstones’ that lay the foundations for poems.

    Thank you so much for reading and your comments. Again, I see these poems with new eyes through those of other readers.

    Lady Nyo


  8. ladynyo Says:

    Thank you, Dustus. I am really new to poetry…only about 3-4 years total. I really struggle with it, too…structure, rhythm, etc. The imagery is easy, because for me …it carries the poem. However, if the poem is dissected, one can see that there are a lot of issues with these poems. I think it takes years, YEARS…to work this stuff out. Structure, rhythm, foot (feet?), etc. There is a lot more to poetry than one would think. LOL!

    I think you have hit on something very important in poetry: this commonality of imagery. I think we generally are all moved one way or other, by environment, nature, etc. And then, of course, if we are sentient beings, not wrapped in psychosis, we go for the human responses. We are moved by the flow of humanity. And perhaps we are moved even more by our wonder regarding the life of other species.

    I wrote it because I had to feel ‘human’ again: empowered as a woman, empowered as a writer. I think many times we can stumble because we are thrown by people that cross our path who are just pointless and self-serving bullies. It took a LOT of poetrywhich I think for all poets is a very important form of therapy.

    Thanks for reading and your insightful comment. Again, I see these poems anew through other eyes.

    Lady Nyo


  9. Strummed Words Says:

    Beautiful images. I get the feeling of winter doldrums. Congratulations on publishing the poem. Well deserved.


  10. Eric Says:

    I liked this One Shot… it’s peacful and introspective, and the imagery is quite fitting for the season. Well done!


  11. ladynyo Says:

    Thank you, Eric.

    One of my favorites, too. However, I’m trying to get some notes together for an article on this blog about Poetry: what constitutes poetry from just introspection.

    We see that a lot on the web. I have seen people call themselves poets who make no effort to learn about poetry. They think their internal conversations with themselves just as they hear themselves in their head is poetic enough. I disagree. There is a refining mechanism we should at least attempt to research and learn something. It’s more than the correct word choice.

    There are always the troublesome issues of meter, rhythm, etc. And these things should at least be given a nod to. I think some people who think they are writing poetry are just self-indulgent.

    Poetry is work, and refining. I am just learning how damn hard it all is.

    Thanks for reading and leaving a comment.

    Lady Nyo


  12. Margie Says:

    This is one of my favs! I love the image of the cranes flying overhead, legs like streamers. Makes me want to join them.


  13. ladynyo Says:

    LOL! Hiya Margie! Glad you stopped by.

    Yeah, one of my favorite poems, too….and I hear ya about the legs like streamers. That yearning for lift and flight. LOL!

    Funny, back this summer, I posted this poem…and someone stole it…put it on their site…blog, Jesus…I could never find out. Now, I have no problem with people ASKING to link to their site, but it was fully 1/2 my stats daily. And NEVER a comment. I wondered why they would even bother to come and read it? And where the hell was this coming from? Very frustrating. (Someone said it probably was a coven of Witches….”Samhain”….but it was a pretty BIG coven…. and a mute one at that!)

    I think that interfacing with other readers, poets, writers, etc…is what is most valuable to a poet: we need the critical comments, not just the ‘thatagirl’ stuff.

    But it doesn’t come easily, as you know. On occasion, I’ve asked people I know to look over some group of poems (you were one) and give me feedback on them. This isn’t easy, because it means these poems are thrown into the air and into the hands and critical review of others….and that is most useful.

    And painful. Nick Nicholson from Canberra tore what I gave him to shreds. And then I started to see the problems in these poems. Some awkward phrasing, some rhythmic issues, structure, etc. Only then can you see what needs to be changed…and it’s not only a ‘better word’. Sometimes you have to ditch the whole poem because it’s garbage. That’s painful, but you can always rescue some phrases and use them somewhere else.

    I recently wrote a poem….untitled right now…with the opening words: “In the hollow of winter’s twilight/Where the air is thin and pale”….and couldn’t for the life of me think beyond those words. Nothing came…LOL!…I literally had to SLEEP on it…and by morning it started up again. I’ll post this poem soon. It’s a slight poem, but has promise I hope.

    But beyond this rant….poetry is really hard work. I have been reading one of the series of “Poets At Work”, The Paris Review Interviews (there are 8 series of these) and poets like Pound, Frost, Auden, Lowell, Bishop, etc. talk about composing poetry. And all of the suffer and struggle with it. It’s easier for some, but that is what basically they lean on. Some with academic training, some with years behind their attempts. It’s all dissection and hard work. I’m just beginning to understand this.

    Thanks, Margie, for reading and commenting. I am trying to compose an article for the blog on this issue of poetry and how it comes to life.



  14. D.C. Lutz Says:

    “while I, earth-bound,

    can only flap the wings of my shawl,

    poor plumage for such a flight,” Love this!

    I really enjoyed this piece. I could feel the physical environment. I do not know if it was intended but this poem gave me a sense of peace in some way. Sort of a bare bones kind of feel that you have at the end of a journey. The thought that there is nothing left but what is yet to come.
    Thanks for sharing


  15. ladynyo Says:

    Oh…Thank You, D.C.

    With many of my poems, I start with a physical environment. I don’t know really how to start in any other way. Perhaps it’s a narrow approach to poetry, but hell….I’m just still learning.

    I am glad you could feel the physical environment. That means something made a connection. LOL~

    Sense of peace? Well, that’s a wonderful summation. I think mine composing this was surrender. I stopped fighting a fight I shouldn’t win,…and just began to concentrate on the important things.

    I rather fly with cranes, than fly with turkeys~

    Thank you so much for your insightful comment. I learn so much about my own poems through people’s comments, but more–I learn about poetry and poets.

    My Best,

    Lady Nyo


  16. Sherry Blue Sky Says:

    Very lovely! I was drawn in, mesmermized by the images of birds, long legs drifting behind them…….”they lift off to a middling cosmos while I earth-bound”……….so beautifully written! I love that you flapped your wings “poor plumage for such a flight” and wondered about your destination……wonderful last lines! Fantastic One Shot!


  17. ladynyo Says:

    Thank you so much, Sherry.

    Seeing these poems in the minds of other poets is a kick!

    Thank you for reading in leaving a comment. Much appreciated.


    Lady Nyo


  18. ladynyo Says:

    Thank you, Strummed Words: Your comment appeared in my spam and I just found.

    Thank you so much for reading and leaving a comment.

    Lady Nyo


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