Some Random Poems from “The Kimono”

Japanese Lovers

This weekend, with the prodigious work of Bill Penrose, “White Cranes of Heaven~ 50 Seasonal Poems” was published by  We are awaiting the proof copies so we can see what needs correction, but I am over it.  I am glad it’s done, but damn….I don’t want to do it again.

In a few weeks, it will be released to the public, but there were a lot of considerations with this book, more than with the previous two. We wanted it to remain as inexpensive as possible, but Lulu, with the ISBN# would have pushed the price to around $50.00.  Without the ISBN#, the retail price at Lulu comes in at around $25.00.  The expense is because of the 11 full color paintings illustrating the poems.  But from what it looks like, and you can’t fault Lulu’s printing… looks worth the price.  So we hope.

I’m ready for a break…sort of.  I’ve ordered a lot of books from over the last few weeks on Japanese Mythology, etc. and I’m reading for the happenings in “The Kimono”.  From the beginning of this novel, there has been magic, but now it’s magic and mythology.  I find the mythology of Japan to be complex, fascinating and fantastical.  There is just so much of it and it takes a while to get acquainted.

In the course of writing this novel, I have also written in a lot of poetry between the two main characters….a 21st century Japanese-American woman, Mari, and a 17th century Daimyo, Lord Mori.  Tanka and other forms of verse would have been common amongst certain classes of Japanese, and these two characters go at each other through their verse.  Where they can not express their emotions to each other in normal conversation, they hide behind their tanka and poetry.  I decided to post a bit of it, just because it’s part of the developing theme of the novel.  And I am as surprised as anyone as to what these characters come up with in verse.

Lady Nyo

Excerpt from a chapter in “The Kimono

“So, Mari, do you have a verse in mind to start our exchange?”

Lord Mori poured a little water on the inkstone and started to rub a long-haired brush across the surface like a cat switching its tail.

Mari closed her eyes and thought for a moment.    He would write her poem  on paper and  answer with his.  She had not learned Kanji yet.

“How long will it last?

I do not know his heart.

This morning my thoughts

Are as tangled as my tangled hair.”

“Ah!  A good start, though of course you compose like a woman.”

He bent over the stone, added more water and wrote her words  with his brush.

“Let me think of a good answer.  Give me a minute.”  He picked up his pipe, relit it from an ember from the brazier, and puffed for a while.

“How can a woman

Know a warrior’s heart?

We have the sound of

War drums drowning

Out weaker sentiments.”

“Oh, very good, Lord Mori.  Perhaps I can answer this.”

“Who attends to the wounded

But women.

Our hands are soft and strong

And the best medicine after war.”

Lord Mori grunted and expelled a large puff of smoke.

“A woman only knows a man’s heart

By her silence.”

Mari thought of the inherent chauvinism of this statement.  However, this age would not embrace more progressive sentiments.  Women were still chattel, no matter how high their position.

“Wait.  I have another.  Perhaps more pleasing to your ear.”

Lord Mori let out another plume of smoke.

“Who knows the depth of my hidden heart?

Perhaps a ravine in the mountain?

No matter. A firefly of my love is flashing.”

Mari laughed and clapped her hands.  “Only a firefly?  Can it dispel the blackness of a man’s heart? Oh! Perhaps you should work that into another verse.  That could be a good beginning.”

Lord Mori’s eyes shone in the gathering darkness.  A cloud of aromatic smoke surrounded his head like a halo. He was silent.

“Let me try then”, said Mari, pursing her lips and narrowing her eyes in concentration.

“What can dispel the

Blackness of a man’s heart?

Never mind, even the insignificant

light of a firefly

Is a start.”

Lord Mori’s eyes narrowed, a  smile creasing his face.  The flame of the lamps wavered in the darkness and a nightingale sung nearby. Crickets were chirping outside the window and every once in a while the sound of carp could be heard jumping out of the lake for insects.

Mari looked at her hands in her lap.  She felt a loneliness, a yearning  she could not place.  She raised her eyes to Lord Mori, his face now cast in shadow.

He was puffing on his pipe again.  In the lamps, his hair shone like a blackbird’s wing, worn loosely down his back, except for the samurai topknot.

“Your soul is unsettled.”  A statement,  not a question.

Jane Kohut-Bartels

Copyrighted 2008,2011…from “The Kimono”

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5 Responses to “Some Random Poems from “The Kimono””

  1. Reed Says:

    Notify me of new posts via email.


  2. Steve Isaak Says:

    I’ll get it as soon as I (financially) can, when it’s available. This reads well, I look forward to reading the rest.


  3. ladynyo Says:

    Hey Steve, glad you are feeling better.

    These poems will be in “The Kimono” and god only knows when that will be finished! LOL!

    Thanks for reading, dear friend….



  4. padmavani Says:

    Oh Lovely! What happens next??? 🙂


  5. ladynyo Says:

    Lots of things….LOL!…it’s a long and involved novel. I’m right now reading books on Japanese mythology for research because the magic in the beginning has also joined forces with the mythology of oni, kami, monsters and demons to bedevil the characters…and sometimes me.

    Hopefully this book will be finished next year. IF.

    Thank you, for reading and your comment!

    Lady Nyo


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