The Stillness of Death, from “The Nightingale’s Song”

japanese ghosts

I am going to post one poem of this (work in progress) book each week.  I am working on revisions so hopefully I can continue on this schedule. Readers might notice changes in these pieces, the ones I have posted on this blog before, but that is to be expected.  Thank you all who read this work.

Lady Nyo

THE STILLNESS OF DEATH, from Nightingale



“My heart, like my clothing

Is saturated with your fragrance.

Your vows of fidelity

Were made to our pillow and not to me.”

—-12th century

Kneeling before her tea

Lady Nyo did not move.

She barely breathed-

Tomorrow depended

Upon her action today.

Lord Nyo was drunk again.

When in his cups

The household scattered.

Beneath the kitchen

Was the crawl space

Where three servants

Where hiding.

A fourth wore an iron pot.

Lord Nyo was known

For three things:



And drink.

Tonight he strung

His seven foot bow,

Donned his quiver

High on his back.

He looked at the pale face

Of his aging wife,

His eyes blurry, unfocused.

He remembered the first time

pillowing her.

She was fifteen,

Her body powdered petals,

Bones like butter,

Black hair  trailing bo silk.

The blush of shy passion

Had coursed through veins

A tinted stream.

Still beautiful 

Now too fragile for his taste.

Better a plump whore,

Than this delicate, saddened beauty.

He drew back the bow

In quick succession

Let five arrows pierce

The shoji.

Each grazed the shell ear

Of his wife.

Life hung on her stillness.

She willed herself dead.

Death after all these years

Would have been welcome.

Jane Kohut-Bartels

Copyrighted , 2013

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7 Responses to “The Stillness of Death, from “The Nightingale’s Song””

  1. Caliban's Sister Says:

    Wow, this one is powerful. “now too fragile for his taste”. beautiful, a ray of beauty on this rainy stormy day. love CS


  2. ladynyo Says:

    I’m so glad you got to read this first one. They ‘warm up’ as they go along, and I think you will be entertained by what happens to both of them. He becomes ‘human’ …quite a feat for an ‘ugly old warrior’ and she strikes out on her own…comes into herself.

    I had such revealment in writing this series last year. Although in the 17th century Japan, the fundamentals still apply to us moderns today.

    Thank you CS, for reading and for leaving a comment.

    Lady Nyo


  3. trampoline pas cher Says:

    Way cool! Some extremely valid points! I appreciate you writing this article and the rest of the website is also really good.


  4. TR Says:

    I am curious as to what will happen. xxoo TR


  5. ladynyo Says:

    Keep reading! Hi, TR…I’m serializing these poems on my blog….will post the 6th one tonight. It’s an interesting story, with all sort of magical issues…Tengus, etc. Hope you can keep reading. Scroll down the blog and the previous parts of this story are there.

    Thanks for reading!!


    Lady Nyo


  6. TR Says:

    Hi Lady Nyo,

    I think I did – the post before this? Or do I need to go further back because the characters were different? xxoo TR


  7. ladynyo Says:

    Nope, The Stillness is # 1 in the series….they are numbered forward.

    Thank you for reading!!!

    Lady Nyo


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