“Walking In the New Winter Woods”, posted for OneShotWednesdays

"Mallards at Dawn", jane kohut-bartels, watercolor, 2006

This poem will be published in the coming book: “White Cranes of Heaven” .


Walking in the new winter woods

the crunch of frozen ground beneath

my boots,

my dog’s paws will be sore tonight

for we aim far afield.

I think of this morning when we

argued at breakfast,

the smell of maple bacon should have

stopped all that, but didn’t.

We can’t get past the desiccated ghosts

who have moved into our hearts, inviting

slights and outright blows never delivered

but still lingering in the air.

I loaded the gun with birdshot

in case there was a duck down by the pond.

Was, but they were those sitting ducks

didn’t seem right, too easy a target

like this morning at breakfast when either one

of us could have let swing and landed a good one

on tender flesh and raw nerves.

The dog is game for hunting, but my heart

isn’t in it.

My thoughts go back you standing there,

that old apron around your  waist,

determined not to let me see tears

and my heart cracks and soon I head back with

a peace offering of a bough of holly.

Jane Kohut-Bartels

Copyrighted, 2010

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36 Responses to ““Walking In the New Winter Woods”, posted for OneShotWednesdays”

  1. Steve Isaak Says:

    Uber-relatable, with differentiated physical details. . . emotional dissonance with a lover/loved one truly does sap one’s energies. This is the first poem I’ve read in the 1SW poems, but I already know it’s one of my faves, because it’s so dead-on – all the word choices/images work.

    But must all your work have zombies in them?? ;P


  2. ladynyo Says:

    ROTF!!! Steve, you make me wet my pants….lol! (Zombies….)

    Well, I have to usually read your critiques two or three times, because they are outta my field. I really appreciate the critiques, but you know me… I’m trying for different ‘voices’ in these poems, but sometimes they all seem to run together. Especially the seasonal poems. That could bore easily.

    When I wrote this, I was thinking of male New England relatives, and their speech patterns….something different from how a woman would speak, I think….

    Next week I am going to let out the questionable hounds…..post poems that take chances with a lot of things, especially ‘good’ poetry…LOL!

    Thank you, Steve…for reading and leaving a comment.



  3. Steve Isaak Says:

    There was a (1990s?) review I read about one of Bob Dylan’s albums, where the critic said that Dylan seemed to be shuffling repeated words and repeated moods around with slight variations – playing with the words, if you like – to see how a shuffle here or a shuffle there would deconstruct/alter/progress the tone and intent of the work.

    I’ve started doing that with some of my work (progressing the “angry young man” poetry/writing into a more reflective/middle-aged/”smarter anger” variations). I’m doing this with an eye towards recognizing – and manipulating/using – my inherent (writing) limits to FURTHER the work beyond my oh-so-compact interests/writing self.

    What I’m trying to say, in a long-winded way, is that your prevalent nature-centric or culture-centric work seems to do this effortlessly. Your work accomplishes the above Dylanesque/progressive shuffling without the seams showing, building towards an evolving, increasingly satisfying whole.

    Am I making sense here? I usually try to let the work do the talking, without all the stylistic psychobabble, but since we’ve “talked shop” before.. . LOL.

    As for the word “differentiated” in my earlier/above comment, I meant I related to it in my own way. I wasn’t commenting on how it related to your other work.. . sorry for the mix-up there. (Could’ve written that better.)

    Later, my friend, when my head isn’t about to explode from being on the comp too long!


  4. Desert Rose Says:

    Wow Lady! this is one masterpiece of yours..you hold it so well and i enjoyed that read..:)


  5. ladynyo Says:

    LOL! Well, Desert Rose, I wouldn’t call it a masterpiece, I’m too new a poet for that heavy weight! LOL~!

    But…I’m trying to infuse emotional content in a more direct way (between individuals, partners) within my nature poems. Not always easy for me, because I get lost in the terrain and the seasonal pull on the imagery and senses. Plus, translating emotions in a deeper way is damn hard. It goes beyond the obvious, I believe, and is better served in nuance.

    Or something like that.

    But thank you, Desert Rose! I really appreciate the applause here. I have a hard time with words, struggle , (like June Butterfly sez) with words….as I think we all do.

    Thank you for reading and leaving such a lovely comment. Deeply appreciated.

    Lady Nyo


  6. ladynyo Says:

    You make a lot of sense, my friend. I think what you are expressing, about your own poetry is that as you age, you are showing some discernment: the angry young man theme and riff can get so dispelled? Or it can remain on the surface?

    I think what you are expresssing in your own work is that you are digging in: the emotional content is deeper than words, and the word choice is determined by the content of the emotions expressed? Something maybe like that.

    I think you are showing growth in your thought processes and this is reflected in your poetry. Perhaps the choice of theme, and the depth you are willing to risk here. I think all poetry, to a certain extent, is a risk of revealment. Though my computer tells me this isn’t a word….

    Shuffling around words is exactly what a poet does…for clarity, for rhythm, for added impact and also connectedness to our readers. I also think that simplifying our themes…trying to get to the heart of the matter…expressing the raw emotion of a moment….or a scene….is possibly where we need to go.

    Overall, the proof in the pudding is this I think: you write and write and write and play with the words, the rhythm, the intent and the voice of poetry…and you do this over years and years: Otherwise, how can you go from a lower level to a higher level in poetry? You just have to fall on your face, repeatedly, before you can find some real confidence in what you are trying to express.

    I am such an admirer of yours: not only your poetry, Steve, but you ability to dissect and develop a crit. That is truly a remarkable and enviable talent…one that I don’t really have. I don’t think it’s psychobabble at all…I think you are discerning the wheat from the chaff in a poem, what makes things tick, and hold together…and this is wonderful!

    “Differentiated”….I didn’t really understand what you were saying, but then again, I think your approach to poetry criticism is a LOT deeper than mine, and your scalpel is a lot sharper!

    Thank you, though for your further explanation. I always learn from you, Steve.



  7. dustus Says:

    What amazes me about this poem is how placid the lines come across even while describing an argument, ghosts, gun shot, etc… Enjoy reading your work. Cheers


  8. ladynyo Says:

    Thank you, Dustus.

    There is a certain ‘tone’ in this poem….I think because the voice is a male voice and there isn’t the open emotional content women generally are more likely to express.

    It was a bit of distancing myself from what I would ‘usually’ write about something like this: the arguments, the ghosts, etc. I tried to ‘feel’ what a man would feel and how he would react.

    Not easy, for I am making assumptions all over the place!

    Perhaps the affect is in the simplicity of the poem? I don’t know, because I am not able to analyze my poetry yet: others seem to do a better job in showing the strengths and weaknesses.

    Thank you, Dustus for your reading and comment.

    Lady Nyo


  9. gospelwriter Says:

    Love it, the way observations on the walk are interspersed with thoughts on the argument at breakfast. The language and mood regretful yet calm, introspective. I especially liked this line:

    slights and outright blows never delivered

    but still lingering in the air.


  10. Glynn Says:

    I love the winter imagery, the suggestion of whiteness and deadness, and how it’s reflected into the relationship. Great poem.


  11. marousia Says:

    I think you have provided a stunning character portrait in this poem – the voice is clear and I feel like I know him.


  12. Shashi Says:

    I can relate to it so well. Your words take on, a new meaning with other words around. The simplicity, in saying common things “like sitting ducks”, which end up meaning a lot more complex thoughts and emotions, is amazing. Its beautiful. I love it.

    ॐ नमः शिवाय
    Om Namah Shivaya
    Twitter: @VerseEveryDay
    Blog: http://shadowdancingwithmind.blogspot.com


  13. ladynyo Says:

    Thank you, Shashi.

    I think simplicity is the trick here…at least it seems so to me.

    Thank you for reading and leaving a comment. Much appreciated!

    Lady Nyo


  14. ladynyo Says:

    Thank you, Marousia!

    Again, I wouldn’t have thought of that, but again and again, readers, other poets point to parts that make the poem….and are unrevealed to me. LOL!

    Clarity is something I think we can bystep in our poetry. It’s easy to do when we are trying to get profound thoughts down in verse. But when we can obtain some clarity of ideas, expression, that makes the poem resonate in others experiences I think. That makes the connection.

    I’m just learning, Marousia, because poetry is a new and very involved world.

    Thank you so much for reading and leaving a heartfelt comment.

    Lady Nyo


  15. ladynyo Says:

    Hi Glynn.

    Thank you for reading and leaving a comment. Your comment made me think about this poem in another way. We all, I think, see our poetry through the eyes of others in new and remarkable ways. The suggestion of whiteness and deadness…yes! Winter is a time, a season of pause, unknown expectations….of the unknown and unknowing I believe.

    There is a clean slate, though, in the bareness. Possibly a new start to many things, and this relationship, obviously so troubled, but with deep and abiding love…well, perhaps that is the message of this poem? A redemption?

    Thank you again, Glynn. Funny how a few words can throw light on something so clearly.

    Lady Nyo


  16. ladynyo Says:

    Hi Gospelwriter: sometimes a poem just writes itself. Putting my voice in the male character…or assuming the maleness of it all, made this different for me, and for some reason, a bit easier. The restrain that we think men have in their thoughts, actions…when it comes to emotional things …well, whether they have it or not, it is rather intriguing and different to think about.

    But I think it all comes down to this: simplifying thoughts and trying to write closer to the bone. I’m trying this, and reining in my more flamboyant emotional reactions….at least in verse! LOL~!

    I have a feeling that this couple has a long history of disconnectedness….but the prevailing and foundational love makes for the possibilities of a redemption.

    Thank you again, for reading and leaving a thoughtful comment.

    Lady Nyo


  17. brian Says:

    love the retreat to outdoors…it is where i find my peace…and in the replaying of the broken conversations they lose their sharp edges…the sitting ducks being too easy a target…when related back tot he argument as well…nice…i really like this one…


  18. pete marshall Says:

    there was a lot going on here…the painting of the scene, the dog, the gun…and then slipping back tot he morning argument and the reflection..but more than that there was the celebration of nature..the not wanting to kill the animal the old ritual of the holly….very enjoyable..cheers pete


  19. Eric Says:

    Wonderful piece, Jane. Emotional, romantic, and rich with natural visions. I felt a connection with the character walking afield, gun in hand, dog sniffing about anxiously. I’ve taken walks like that on occasion, to cool my temper and sort things through, to get down to the heart of the matter and soften an angry heart. I find myself hoping the peace offering will be accepted. Excellent One Shot!

    P.S. – Pass the bacon!


  20. ladynyo Says:

    LOL!…Maple bacon, Eric!! The best kind.

    Thank you for reading and leaving a comment.

    I hoped that other readers would find or feel a connection here…”Soften an angry heart”….good words for another poem, Eric! LOL!

    I am hoping that peace offering will be accepted. It’s hard to offer and be rejected. We will see. Perhaps in a future poem?

    Thank you, again.



  21. ladynyo Says:

    Hi Pete!

    Yeah, there was a lot going on in this poem. It’s hard to strike a balance, now that I know a balance is necessary in a poem…LOL!

    I think you are the first person to notice the painting. I use my paintings (when I can) to center, or focus or enforce word imagery. Sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn’t. Since this was a painting of ducks, and he was supposedly out hunting….I think it works…but that is my opinion.

    Yep, the ritual of holly and being out in nature….surrounded by the beauty and the serenity of nature when your mind is a whirl with anger and argument. I think in these cases you are propelled to rethink things, even if the outcome is questionable?

    Thanks, Pete. I really appreciate your reading and your delightful (and insightful) comment.

    Lady Nyo (Jane)


  22. PattiKen Says:

    OK, I’ll admit to being a bit intimidated by the comments so far. But I liked this. My image (inspired by the title of your blog, I’m sure) was of a female narrator, birdshot and all. Then at the end, this:

    “My thoughts go back you standing there,
    that old apron around your waist,
    determined not to let me see tears
    and my heart cracks and soon I head back with
    a peace offering of a bough of holly.”

    And my image was challenged. In the end, I decided to keep my image of woman hiker/hunter and man wearing the apron and tears.

    And then I REALLY liked it a lot.


  23. ladynyo Says:

    Exactly, Brian, exactly. Arguments loose their sharp edges when surrounded with the magnificence of nature! We actually see how petty we are then. I love your statement! Should be worked into a poem!!

    Finding peace and solace and more in the woods, etc….is a blessing, especially these days when the possibilities of such an outing is either planned or rare.

    I think of the process of death, of losing a loved one that perhaps you quarreled all over the map with? How insignificant it all seems when faced with the much bigger issue of what surrounds us.

    Thank you so much for reading and leaving a thoughtful comment. Extends the poem for me.

    Lady Nyo


  24. ladynyo Says:

    ROTF!!! Oh God, that made me wet my pants!!

    That doesn’t matter a bit…and in fact you aren’t the first person to come to that conclusion….My mother did until the end of the poem…..ruined it for her….LOL!

    Perhaps this is a unisex poem…..In any case, I loved your comment.

    I am challenged all the time…life mostly.

    Thank you, Pattiken for your lovely (and I mean it!) comment.

    Lady Nyo (not carrying a shotgun this morning.)


  25. LyndiaP Says:

    Excellent match of the picture and the poem. It was a great visual beginning – and a great union of both the hunting scene and the memory/resolution of the domestic scene.

    I really liked it!


  26. ladynyo Says:

    Thank you so much, Lyndia.

    It’s so funny that people pass over the paintings, and go straight to the words. LOL! Very few people stop and pause at the pictures: I guess they think they are gleaned from the internet.

    I’m trying hard to place the emotional issues inside a poem….a nature poem. that makes the picture come alive for me.

    Thank you again for reading and leaving a kind comment.

    Lady Nyo


  27. ladynimue Says:

    i visited you first specially to say thanks for the wonderful comments and ideas you gave me on my “need a challenge” post. The comments there are hidden so as to be revealed to all in a grand way.

    And now for the poem, i enjoyed it ! Read it as a mirror to all the moments i argued and regretted ! it was a reminder how difficult it was and always is to get things back to normal .. wonderful post !!


  28. Belinda Says:

    Ah. Silly me for assuming at first that this was from a woman’s point of view. I thought it felt a bit different from your other work that I’ve read so far. Then I saw that you wrote this from a man’s point of view and it made perfect sense. Men are more apt to think that a peace offering of holly would make things better.

    And you also did the watercolor image?! Really great pairing!


  29. ladynyo Says:

    Hi Belinda. Yes, it was from a man’s perspective….something new here for me.

    I am hoping that his peace offering of holly made things better. I have a husband who probably would do the same thing….LOL!

    Thank you for reading, Belinda and leaving a comment that made me laugh.

    I’ll take all the laughter I can!


    Lady Nyo


  30. ladynyo Says:

    Thank you, Lady Nimue.

    Your ‘need a challenge’ post really moved me. I’ve been there, but perhaps since I’m such a new poet, I haven’t been there as much as some writers. Nature seems to be the balm for all bruises so far.

    Anything I can do to help, let me know.

    And thank you for your comment on the poem. It is…as you so wisely say,….difficult to get things back to normal. I am thinking of a horrible experience I had a very few years ago, because I was determined to press a point and to ‘be right’. I was dealing with a man who was a highly functioning sociopath, and it was a very bitter and nasty and just horrible situation. A duel between blogs and I should have shut my mouth. I knew he was ‘wired wrong’ but I just had to push it. So there are times that you can’t return to ‘normal’ because there is no normal. But realizing that in the beginning would give you something of wisdom.

    Thank you so much for reading and your thoughtful comment.

    Lady Nyo


  31. June_Butterfly Says:

    I love coming here because I’m learnign new tricks,haha!!I love how you picture emotions in your variation of words.

    I still feel I’m so…simple.*sigh*But someone told me know your own style.one that would differ you from others.maybe this simplicity is MY STYLE!!

    Love the pic and love the words!!


  32. ladynyo Says:

    June, thank you!

    This is what I was hoping to talk about….if you read my blog…one day after “Walking in the New Winter Woods”.

    How we format, or develop our styles in poetry. What ‘voices’ we have or use in our poetry, and why.

    Being ‘simple’ I think is good in poetry. I think some of the problem for me is the obscurity that we weave with words, instead of using words for clarity and connection.

    I am hoping others will chime in as to the way they go about writing their poems. What matters to them, how they connect with their verse, what they draw from and what stylistic approach is important to them.

    I know there are a lot of ‘rules’ in poetry, and that is all to the good. We learn some of these, we draw from these for different reasons. Personally, I think rhythm is very important in poetry, and something I stumble with.

    To know your own ‘style’ is very important because we are not cookie cutters! We should feel comfortable with our verse…but that doesn’t mean that we should stop investigating and attempt some sort of development.

    Thank you, June! Thank you for reading and your honest comment.

    Lady Nyo


  33. Olivia Says:

    Nyo Dear- very different and powerful!!

    Relationships, Life, Taken for granted, making a punch- bag and losing the other one.. vicious cycle it end up in!!

    Very touching, soft and Intense.. 🙂
    Loads of Love My Dear Friend- xoxox


  34. Olivia Says:

    Glad to read you today, hope all is well in your blogging or poetry writing agenda.
    We treasure your input and would be delighted to see you at our potluck again this coming Monday.
    Any poem is acceptable, simply link in and share…
    Let me know if you need further assistance.
    Keep writing, Keep inspiring!


  35. ladynyo Says:

    Thank you, Olivia.

    am glad you like the poems. It’s al lot of fun and inspriation to share because writing is such a solitary venture.

    Lady Nyo


  36. ladynyo Says:

    Hi Olivia….yes, relations, life…taken for granted, until trouble happens.

    Glad you liked the poem!

    Thank you for reading and commenting. Much appreciated!

    Lady Nyo


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