Autumn Tanka…..

"North Carolina Stream", watercolor, janekohut-bartels, 2008

“North Carolina Stream”, watercolor, janekohut-bartels, 2008

Autumn colors from my bathroom window today

Autumn colors from my bathroom window today

My beautiful picture


Barn Owl, J. Kohut-Bartels, 1999, watercolor

Barn Owl, J. Kohut-Bartels, 1999, watercolor

It’s just beginning to be Autumn here in the southern US, and I can’t resist the season.  It’s one of my favorite and there is something different in the air, the smell of wood smoke already, though the temps don’t make sense for this.  Perhaps some homeowner is clearing a plot of land, but the smell makes me dizzy with anticipation.  The wind chimes have been ajangle over the past few nights, and the north winds are becoming more active.  Every so often, there are whirlpools of leaves, gathered up in the street and dancing like dervishes.  The real fall will come, with soggy rains and denuded trees but perhaps this season makes us feel alive: there is so much natural activity after a slow and sullen summer.  The miracle of the trees changing, the clouds overhead, gray leaden expanses that turn golden underneath at dusk, the cast of light so different from the season before. Yesterday I  saw two  low flying Canada geeze go honking right over my head and they startled me.  Soon we will see the formations of Sandhill Cranes as they migrate south.  You hear them a long time before you see them far up in the moddled sky.

In the midst of posting chapters from “Tin Hinan” I came across some fall tankas I had included in “White Cranes of Heaven”.  This, with what was going on outside, was enough to change course on this blog right now.  I’ll get back to the next chapter of “Tin Hinan” but right now there is a squirrel in the bird feeder and I saw a yellow fox in the dying kudzu out back.  Last night I heard two very mournful owls in the trees behind the house.  Enough to turn my thoughts to a favorite season.

Lady Nyo

I look up at blue

Sky this morning, watch leaves fall-

Whirling, colored tears.

Clip my face like dull razors,

The strokings of memory.

Is the whistling

Of the wind- a train, a plane?

Nature plays fiddle

And our senses are confused,

We dwell in chicanery!

Shooting star crosses

Upended bowl of blue night


Fires up with excited gaze!

A moment– and all is gone.

This grim November,

The month of my father’s death

Always bittersweet.

My memories float, weak ghosts-

Haunting in the fog of life.


So lonely am I

My soul like a floating weed

Severed at the roots

Drifting upon cold waters

No pillow for further dreams.


A late Summer moon

Floats above the conifers.

Autumn is coming.

Do pines know the season turns?

Their leaves don’t fall; do they care?


Come into my arms.

Bury under the warm quilt.

Your scent makes me drunk

Like the wine we gulped last night.

Too much lust and drink to think.

When Autumn enters

Inexplicable sadness.

Season fades to death.

Hunter’s moon sits in Heaven–

Garden spiders finish, die.

Autumn wind startles–

Lowered to an ominous

Key—Ah! Mournful sounds!

The fat mountain deer listen-

Add their bellowing sorrow.

Out with the gold fish,

The bullfrogs croak their sorrow.

Summer is passing

Autumn brings sharp, brittle winds

But Winter is the cruelest.

Like the lithe bowing

Of a red maple sapling

My heart turns to you,

Yearns for those nights long ago

When pale skin challenged the moon.

Overhead, the cranes,

Sandhills, swirl in board circles.

Broken GPS?

No matter, their cries fall down

Celestial chiding rain.


To end this  with a simple poem, not a tanka.


Autumn night winds

Hiss over the land

Round corners

And pulse under eaves.

Clashing wind chimes add sharp discord

As bare branches answer with a grating groan.

Above all,

The moon casts a feeble light

Too thin to fatten the road. 

(this poem from “White Cranes of Heaven”, published by, 2011)

Jane Kohut-Bartels

Copyrighted, 2011-2013



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13 Responses to “Autumn Tanka…..”

  1. TR Says:

    Hi Lady Nyo,

    The tanka and poem are beautiful – love ‘Clip my face like dull razors’, I feel like that when I walk in the fall. You feel the change as much as you see it. I love the autumn too and you captured its beauty in the paintings. How long have you been painting? The water-colours are beautiful.

    Hugs, TR


  2. TR Says:

    Cool how you added the water-colour to your header! xx


  3. ladynyo Says:

    Hi TR….I’ve been painting for about 30 years….on and off….for the past few years mostly off. I’m thinking about going back to it, though. First I painted in oils, then in 95 went over to watercolors. Now I can’t remember how to paint in oils…lol!

    Autumn…it’s a transitional season into winter, and I guess it really depends where you live: I love all four seasons…couldn’t stand to live in a region where you got only two seasons….or nothing really definite.

    Yep, I like ‘clip my face like dull razors’. Tanka is such a wonderful form because you have to fit the words, sentiment, etc…into a structure. A lot of people don’t do this, and they just pervert the classical form…and it’s freeverse that they are writing….I have done this a lot myself, and some of these pieces reflect that. However, I’m doing a deeper study of tanka and Japanese poetry forms, and of course they originate in a particular cultural mindset.

    Thank you, TR, for reading and your comments.

    Lady Nyo…enjoy the Fall wherever you are.


  4. ladynyo Says:

    that was a bit of a struggle, but most of it worked!

    Lady Nyo


  5. Caliban's Sister Says:

    beautiful, sharp, surprising tanka and poem. What a surprise to see GPS in there! the North Carolina Stream is one of my favs of your gorgeous watercolors. These poems were perfect for how this week has felt. The weather hatches many things, and shells fall to the ground along with abandoned nests. love CS


  6. ladynyo Says:

    Hi CS! First, thank you for reading these and your lovely comment.

    Funny, there were a couple of complaints about the word GPS in that tanka….lol! but what the hell, neh? I believe that these forms should and can reflect life now….not only the beautiful, classical scenes we first come across tanka.

    yes, the weather hatches many things, I couldn’t have said it better. Today, rain, gray skies and I love a day like this, just not too many of them in a row. i used to collect the abandoned nests..put them in bowls in a china cabinet until it looked like there was a forest in there…obscuring the china. LOL!

    I feel like getting back to at least a new watercolor, but I haven’t yet found a scene….LOL! Fall isn’t quite in full gear here yet, but because of the rain this summer…the constant and overblown rain….the apples are huge and full!



  7. Kay Salady Says:

    I so enjoy the tanka form of poetry and autumn is my favorite time of year. So, this made for a double treat! Lovely writing!


  8. ladynyo Says:

    Hi Kay!

    I am so glad you read these and left a comment. I love hearing what other writers/poets like in literary forms.

    Of course, our attempts at tanka go from freeverse, which isn’t really tanka, where we ignore the kigo, the structure of tanka, etc…to a deeper study of the classical forms, and then we have a different view of what these forms are. Perhaps most of what I posted here are either in transition, or fall down the shute of freeverse, but i’m leaving them up anyway. LOL! If I had an open period of time, say years, I would just study and read other tanka. I love it so, too. And it goes so well with this season!

    Again, thank you for reading.



  9. TR Says:

    Hi Jane,
    Me2, love autumn, yes I would miss the autumn very much if I lived in a two climate place. It is a time of transition and maybe why I’m so drawn to it and all that it offers, colours, the air.

    Hugs, TR


  10. ladynyo Says:

    Yes, exactly…the colors, and the air….it’s beautiful, and so different from the summer.

    Hugs, Jane


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  12. Steve Rosberg Says:

    I loved the picture from you bathroom window. It looks like it is from some exotic location in the mountains.


  13. ladynyo Says:

    Isn’t it nice…? I took that last year and took some more from the same position in the room and I will post it later and see if there is any change.

    You know what, Steve? Capitol View has some very beautiful vistas. Perkerson Park is a gem, the skyline from the top of Stewart Avenue, etc. And we have a lot of huge trees! That is a boon and a bonus living in the city. Newer neigborhoods…like the suburbs…don’t have these old trees. They are precious to us and the environment.



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