“The Night of the Stain”, from ‘A Seasoning of Lust’

Man'yoshu image II

I have been working on a piece that is based on the Man’yoshu, the 8th century Japanese document of over 4500 poems. What I have begun to do is a ‘call and answer’ for lack of a better term. Taking the top poem from the Man’yoshu, I have continued on with my own poetry (answer). In the next week I hope to finish this task.

I post “The Night of the Stain” to change the theme and to bring us into the very romantic Man’yoshu poetry that is to come.

There is a reference to a dildo in this poem. It may shock some, but in Japan there are museums to this sexual toy. Giving a dildo has a long tradition and is not something that dismays the Japanese. Well, at least not many of them.

Lady Nyo


Izumi hid in the willow greenery
Jade green strands cascading to the ground
Hair of blackbird gloss
Trailing in the grass
Black and green tangled
In the layers of her hems.

Her maid searched for her,
Duty to her mistress,
These peaceful moments now rare.

“My Lady! I found the most beautiful
Robe in the bottom of a chest.
It will be perfect for your wedding”

Yes, her wedding.
Better she become a nun.

Izumi parted the willow,
Looked without interest.
Her maid held
A pale jade silk kimono
Embossed tarnished silver embroidery,
Seed pearls gleaming from
Gossamer folds.
Izumi’s breath caught in her throat.
Hands trembling
She opened the kimono.

There it was, faded with time-
A blood stain.

He was dead now, her greatest love.
Closing her eyes
She remembered his face,
His hair, black as a raven,
His sandalwood perfume, still faintly trapped
In the jade bo silk.

Through tears leaking
From shadowed lids,
She remembered that night-
She remembered the gift of an ivory dildo.
She remembered the night of the stain,
When locked in his powerful arms
She screamed out—
Scattering servants listening outside the shoji.
She had bled from
The strength of their passion.

Now she was to marry an old man,
Arranged through the court.
Scandal and poverty, Ah!
The two banes of life.

She would need the dildo.
She would marry in the stained kimono.
It wouldn’t matter anymore.

Jane Kohut-Bartels
Copyrighted, 2011, 2013

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6 Responses to ““The Night of the Stain”, from ‘A Seasoning of Lust’”

  1. Caliban's Sister Says:

    Jane, I’ve been derelict in getting back to you but there are so many beautiful poems in A Seasoning of Lust, I hardly know where to start. They are erotic but also valedictory; they resonate with memory, loss, coming to terms. Nearly every one is a pearl, the poems (Winter Wood, Olsen’s Pond, To the New Lover #2 are a few favorites, and the sonnets, the sonnets are breathtakingly beautiful AND incredibly erotic. The way you capture the intelligence behind genuine eroticism (in the Japanese tradition, something many American poets never really “got”) is so skilled. I’m so very glad to have this book in my home. You’re such a wonderful poet. love CS


  2. Caliban's Sister Says:

    The Shibari poems are startling and fascinating too. xx


  3. ladynyo Says:

    LOL!…yep, and from what people have said, rather shocking. LOL!



  4. ladynyo Says:

    Ahhh, that is one of the BEST critiques I have ever received. I think the hormones were perking along when I wrote that book…LOL! Now? I dunno. LOL!

    Olsen’s Pond is one of my favorites…I can’t read that without crying. And so many people thought it was true. Thankfully, it wasn’t. Parts of it were true, the setting….but luckily the death wasn’t. Winter Wood is tender, and more mature than I think I was capable of then. I think sometimes we grow into pieces we write. The maturity comes later?

    I want to do more pieces from mythologies…it’s just a matter of sitting down and reading and then fashioning a story that goes beyond the myth. Something to consider.

    I’m glad you liked the sonnets, CS. I think I will NEVER attempt them again. LOL! Way too hard.

    The Japanese studies helped in the revealment of eroticism. It’s different and at times more ‘delicate’ than what we in the West consider to be erotica. And then again, the Japanese will surprise you with the violence of their writing. Bam.

    Also, I think men and women approach erotic in different ways…and I still haven’t really stopped to figure out what that is. But there is a difference.

    Thank you so much. First, for buying this book, and also for your careful reading of it. I don’t think I would fashion this book in the same way again: it’s more of the ‘kitchen sink’ attempt. But! It still remains my favorite book and not only because it was my first: but because I was also so naive about how it would be received. I learned not to give it to 90 plus nuns/rabbis/elderly women. LOL!



  5. Caliban's Sister Says:

    REally? Nuns were not your target audience?? The Asian tradition of erotica is long, as is the Indian one, but the Japanese traditionally (as you know) understand the erotic in ways that are much deeper than Americans do–there is an erotics to pouring tea in Japanese culture, it’s about precision sensuality, instead of the messy and crude overtness of American “sensuality,” which is all about stock poses and appearances of by now cliched “sexiness.” Our Puritan-derived culture never did understand how eroticism flows along multiple vectors and connects with other things. So your poetry really speaks to me, I think I “get” it. It’s strong and smart and lovely.


  6. ladynyo Says:

    Oh, you definitely get it. Your analysis here is stronger and more precise than anything I have read yet.

    I wanted to mention the “Shibari Series”….those pieces I believe are a example of the difference in western and eastern bdsm. And….that character I gave credit to? Ah…a moment of weakness on my part. He did nothing to deserve anything of these poems: he just mentioned the word shibari. I played into his enormous ego. I did have a ‘roping’ with him in Montreal, and because he was all narcissistic ego (and rage)…he purposefully screwed it up. Hah. So much for his knowledge and expertise. He was straight bdsm with no inclination to what the Japanese practice in bondage. There, it’s a connection between the one being tied and the one tying. It’s not about these set roles of top and bottom. There is a deeper relationship, respect and mentality than what we suffer in the West. That is why I got out of this particular venue fast. My knowledge when I started the Shibari Series was very new, but it grew as I wrote these pieces. In fact, they were instrumental in making me run from the stupidity of bdsm in this culture. And, I don’t play a submissive well. LOL!

    “Precision Sensuality”. Exactly. That is something most people in this scene don’t have a clue about. In fact, erotica in general suffers from not having a clue.

    Japanese make sensuality come to the surface in surprising ways. The glimpse of a white wrist with the pulse of blood flowing beneath the surface, just the wrist showing slightly from the sleeve of a kimono…nothing that would even be on the radar of western culture. We, unfortunately, demand a vulgarity that shocks the senses. And yes, deadens them.

    I believe it takes a strong and smart and lovely reader like you to understand this stuff. I am honored that you do so.


    Lady Nyo


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