“A Bad Quarrel” from “The Nightingale’s Song”

Japanese Lovers

Japanese Lovers

I haven’t figured out how to include these short poems by the Lady Nyo in the almost completed “The Nightingale’s Song” but they should be. It’s hard, because the 10 or so poems are ‘long’ poems, not exactly choka, but they tell the tale of the life of Lord and Lady Nyo in 17th century Japan. Perhaps I can weave these short poems (not tanka) into the general tale, but it will take some doing.

The present Lady Nyo, having no quarrel with her husband.

My soul was blossoming,
Secure in your protective shadow.
I stumbled upon this road we walked
And all was suddenly lost.
Perhaps the fault was I did not
Tightly grip your hand?

Like a ghost under water
Only the moon gives illumination.
Throw a pebble there
And see how fragmented am I.

I can’t look in the mirror
when I awake.
(My eyes swollen with last night’s sobs
my pillow filled like a lake.)
If I could turn back time,
I would give up those moments of life
To restore lost harmony.
I dare not face my mirror this morning.

It is raining outside,
It is raining within.
Do you think I care about that?
What happened
Has disrupted
all the essentials of life.

Who opened the window?
Who let the bees in?
They are the life
I am avoiding.
Their legs have honey on them!
Too sweet for my present mind.

Outside is a tender spring.
Inside it might as well be winter.
There is no warmth today
Generated by memory.

I am told this is a little death
I will have to bear.
Perhaps I don’t want it to end?
Then the thought of living without you,
Or the threat of living With you…..
Would upset my self- pity.

There is nothing from you today,
But then, it was I who moved afar.
I did this from self-hatred,
But found there was enough to spread around.

When I get to the anger
you will know I am recovering.
Not nicely, there will always be scars
and jagged edges,
tokens of our long time together.
Do you feel any of this pain?
No, perhaps not.

My laughter is as hollow
as that stricken tree by the pond.
I have not laughed for a long time.
It strangles in my throat.

This morning I awoke,
the first time in days,
everything sharp-edged.
my eyes were hardened steel,
my mouth a grim line of dead embers,
But my hands are now steady.

Jane Kohut-Bartels
Copyrighted, 2010, 2013

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21 Responses to ““A Bad Quarrel” from “The Nightingale’s Song””

  1. brian miller Says:

    nice…i rather like these short verse…..the who let the bees in one in particular…the life i have been avoiding…so evocative to me…the laughter strangling the throat as well…powerful…very cool range of emotions and awareness in these jane…


  2. Laura Hegfield Says:

    oh Jane… these are all lovely and must be included… my favorites are 2 and 12… but all so fine.


  3. tashtoo Says:

    Each and every one captures the sense of the environment, the emotion of the spirit, the time, the place…the spaces between…the story writes itself…3 is speaking most strongly to me today…but that is the baggage I bring to my poetry reading 😉


  4. Blue Flute Says:

    Lovely poems! Are they translations or ones you wrote on the theme?


  5. Andy Sewina Says:

    Yeah, dead good! love #5.

    Mine’s HERE


  6. ladynyo Says:

    Hi Blue Flute…no, they are all mine. I wrote them before I wrote “The Nightingale’s Song”, which is 10 long poems (but not choka) about a Japanese couple in the 17th century Japan. I have to figure out how to include them, because i think they are too ‘good’ not to. They point the way towards the conflict. Next week I’ll post the “Lady Nyo Forgives Her Husband” group. Another bunch I don’t know what to do with. LOL!

    Thank you so much for reading these and your comment.

    Lady Nyo


  7. ladynyo Says:

    Thank you, Andy. I had to go back and see which one was #5…LOL!. I like that one, too.

    Thank you so much for reading and your comment. I’ll be over to your site soon.

    Lady Nyo


  8. ladynyo Says:

    Hi Tashtoo! How can we not bring our baggage to our reqding…and to our writing??? I think mine here is all full of traumatic baggage of my own. wrote these when I was carrying a load of it.

    I learn so much more about my own writing by reading the analytical comments of readers. And I deeply appreciate it. It is a learning outside in the real world for me.

    thank you so much, Tashtoo for reading and your lovely, lovely comment.



  9. ladynyo Says:

    Hi Laura! I have to go back and read the numbers….LOL! I forget which is which.

    Thank you so much for reading these and your comment.



  10. ladynyo Says:

    Hi Brian. Well, within the tanka format (and these aren’t) and within the short poems, they seem to have a punch that our longer works might not have. I don’t exactly understand why these do, but they are such short things. Perhaps they speak directly to our hearts and our common experience?

    This Lady Nyo (her, not me….hehee) is really torn up. High emotion, but you know the reserve of what we think of the Japanese…and we are really wrong…or at least we are wrong when these characters are behind the shoji.

    Thank you, Brian, for reading these and your comment. I’ll be over tomorrow. Pooped tonight.



  11. ayala Says:

    Beautiful, Jane. My favorite is two-just gorgeous!


  12. ladynyo Says:

    Thank you, Ayala! You are so kind to read and comment. I will be over to your site tomorrow.

    Thank you, Sweetie!



  13. ManicDdaily Says:

    Love these – I love all of them – they have this wonderful simplicity and directness (but also they deal with subtle emotions and comparisons.) If I had to say favorites – the bees, the fragmented (terrific – I can see the pebbles and water), the raining and the lost essentials of life — but they are all just wonderful. I don’t know how you get this wonderful feel of Japanese poetry, but of course, they are suitable for any culture. k.


  14. ladynyo Says:

    Hi K! You write such a wonderful review of these short poems! Again, the readers who are also poets make me understand things about them, and my writing that I wouldn’t have picked up on.Thank you.

    I think the answer here (as how do I get this feel of Japanese poetry) is just a matter of simplicity. And you are right. Because we are dealing with human emotions, they transcend all cultures as our basic humanity does.

    I’ll be over today to read your site. And thank you so much, K, one, for liking these and for giving me a better insight into what I am writing here.

    LOL! Next week I’ll post the ‘after’ of these. Lady Nyo “forgives” her husband, but she remains unconvinced of his ‘reforming’ and is rather bitter. But it fits l her life. She is no fool.



  15. Beth Winter Says:

    Stunning. What a gorgeous grouping.


  16. ladynyo Says:

    thank you Beth. Next week will be the answer to “Bad Quarrel” and then I am gone from dversepoets. I can’t keep up and find it’s a real distraction from writing.

    Thank you again.


  17. Beth Winter Says:

    We will miss you. I have trouble keeping up as well but please come by once in a while *hug* You will be missed.


  18. ladynyo Says:

    Thank you, Beth. I came to your blog (discovered it) late, but please…know that I will check you frequently.

    I just find…well, I’m spinning my wheels lately.

    Hugs back!


  19. Snakypoet (Rosemary Nissen-Wade) Says:

    What an amazing poem! (Or sequence.)


  20. ladynyo Says:

    Thank you, Rosemary. I just need to fit it in somwehere.



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