“Walking In The New Winter Woods”, a poem.




Walking in the new winter woods,

the crunch of fragile ground beneath

my boots,

my dog’s paws will be sore tonight

for we aim far afield.

I think of this morning when we

argued at breakfast,

the smell of maple bacon should

stop all that, but didn’t.

We can’t get past the desiccated ghosts

who have taken up residence in our hearts, inviting

slights and outright blows never delivered

but still lingering in the air.

I took the gun loaded with birdshot

in case there was a duck down by the pond.

Were,  but those be sitting ducks-

didn’t seem right, too easy a target

like this morning at breakfast when either one

of us could have let swing and landed a good one

on tender flesh and raw nerves.

The dog is game for hunting,

but my heart isn’t .

My thoughts go back to you standing there,

that old apron around your waist,

determined not to let me see tears

and my heart cracks and soon I head back with

a peace offering of holly.

Jane Kohut-Bartels

Copyrighted, 2010-13

Tags: , , , , , , ,

30 Responses to ““Walking In The New Winter Woods”, a poem.”

  1. czbz Says:

    Seeing vulnerability and refusing to hurt them…that is respect. Trusting the other person won’t take the easy shot and trusting ourselves to gather holly. Beautiful and as always, honest. Love,CZ

    p.s. I like your snowflakes, too!


  2. ladynyo Says:

    LOL! I LOVE those snowflakes. Best thing on WordPress. Since this is the deep south, some years those are the only snowflakes we get! LOL!

    Seeing vulnerability….funny, when I first wrote this poem, my mother just assumed it was about her and my father. Funny how narcissists claim things that aren’t theirs. LOL! It was never written with her in mind (believe me…) but it is rather touching that she identified with it.

    I am trying to clarify my own poetic voice. Something that I haven’t been mindful of, with a lot of jazz thrown in there over the past few years. Muddied it up. I am trying to get back to a simplicity, and a purer approach to poetry.

    I am so glad you got to read this, CZ. It’s probably my favorite poem (for probably many reasons that I haven’t really thought about…).

    I came across something from Kansas poet (now dead) William Stafford today that I thought so damn to the poetic point:

    “The best poets write without knowing everything they are up to, trusting in the second languages’ continued present hum on implication”.

    I think this is a good thing to remember and try to follow.

    Thank you, CZ, as always.

    Love, Jane


  3. czbz Says:

    It is a tender poem, Jane no matter what your intentions were. Even if your interpretation is completely different from mine (which happens sometimes with poetry, doesn’t it?). Since I’m trying to come to grips with loved ones intentionally going for the jugular, that’s what was in my mind when you wrote “too easy a target.”

    And the image of an apron is particularly poignant to me. *wink* Expressing familiarity, duty, generosity and good will. When I read the line about the apron tied around his/her waist , it made my heart skip a beat. Aprons carry deep significance in my life—a love of hearth and home. For some people, aprons signify weakness and subordination justifying the loaded shotgun. Easy targets and all that.

    Why did you pick “holly”? Do you know?


  4. Caliban's Sister Says:

    What a tough and tender poem. Sitting ducks and unexpected blows. Too easy pickings. The jazz of this poem works. “Those be sitting ducks.” This is a beautiful poem. Tight as a drum. love CS


  5. ladynyo Says:

    Intentions??? I got intentions??? LOL!~ that would infer that I knew what I was writing. LOL! And…generally, I don’t. No, I don’t disagree with you at all…the tenderness of the poem probably shines through, and that is a boon…for any poet or reader. LOL!

    But I refer back to this unknowing hum of implication. What a wonderful thought! And I hope and think that most poetry is like that. Or perhaps some.

    And yes, it always surprises me, takes me unaware, when I find that what I write is interperted differently. It’s good, because in that are the seeds of universality. kAnd that is I think, an important part of poetry. It must make connections….

    Going for the jugular. Yep, know it well, darling. And it always surprises us, neh? It comes out of left field…or it doesn’t…but it creates great stress and harm. And we spend a lot of energy avoiding the rays.

    Apron. Gotcha. When I moved into this old neighborhood, an elderly black neighbor made me an apron a year…or maybe two. They were frilly things…..LOL! I wanted a full apron…but these were half aprons with frills and colorful, and I wish I had them still. They looked good in the kitchen on a hook. LOL! Of course, the intent was for me to WEAR them.

    I have two aprons now…on a hook…and I wear them all the time. With pockets. One is my favorite and dead now uncle Zoltan’s apron sent to me by his (now dead) wife, my aunt. i love that one. The other is just as faded and worn. But they are full aprons and I feel ‘covered’ in them. I can tackle anything, from scrubbing the oven (ugh…done once every few years….LOL!) to burying a dead and mourned cat. I understand your sentiment about aprons.

    This was a strange poem for me…writing in a masculine voice. But I think it holds up.

    Holly?? Well, here in the south, it’s one winter time plant and I can’t kill it. It is a bright and shiny element in the dull winter landscape and beautiful with or without berrries.

    Thank you, CZ…for reading and your comment.

    Love, Jane


  6. ladynyo Says:

    Ah, CS…my two favorite gals…you and CZ…reading and commenting on this poem! Thank you~

    I wrote it in a masculine voice, something new for me. I haven’t done too many of those…I can only think of one or two more. But, it makes the thoughts different I think…or the expression of the thoughts.

    Tight as a drum?? Thank you. That is good in a poem. I don’t like wandering, lost poems. LOL!

    Love, Jane


  7. Caliban's Sister Says:

    I knew it was in a masculine voice. I could tell! Tough and tender.
    “intentions” or not, you do intend, and it does work. Funny how that happens, no? I love the watercolor too. Can you imagine loading buckshot into those beings? I can’t.


  8. Caliban's Sister Says:

    ps love those slow snowflakes.


  9. ladynyo Says:

    Me, too!


  10. ladynyo Says:

    Yep, funny how that happens…LOL! I have a few more in the masculine voice that I wrote around the same time….that is funny to me. I remember waking up around 2am and writing one….a more powerful poem than I think I knew at that time. I guess that is the unexpected intentions?

    I wish I could have enlarged that watercolor for this …but it won’t. And they ain’t even ducks. Canadian geese. LOL!

    Thank you, dear friend…for reading.

    Love, Jane


  11. ayala Says:

    Beautiful !


  12. K. A. Brace Says:

    Very sensual and warming Jane. >KB


  13. ladynyo Says:

    Thank you, KB. This is probably my favorite poem…early one, and am struggling to get back to that ‘voice’. I think poets allow a lot of crap to pollute a simplicity that they know is more close to the bone. We go through this, and sometimes we pull up. It’s a process, poetry, neh?

    I’m doing a lot of reading (various and sundry stuff) on poetry criticism because I know there is a way to handle this. Funny, most of the poets I know shudder at this: it’s like siding with Nazis or something. We’ve talked about this before, but for me? I think it is a necessary path right now. I am shooting in the dark on these things, and I don’t like it.

    Thanks, KB. For reading and your comment. I appreciate your apprasial.



  14. ladynyo Says:

    Ayala! For some reason, you ended up in spam. Checking, I found you! LOL! You certainly don’t belong in that purgatory.

    Thank you for reading, Ayala.



  15. K. A. Brace Says:

    Jane everyone who is smart about themselves as an artist does what they think is best for them. Even if they find what they did was not helpful at least now they know one thing that doesn’t work. But each instance revolves around a different set of circumstances. A for voice, I think we have no real control over it if it is to be genuine. It is recognized only over the course of time like a sail boat tacking back and forth, zig-zag, but in the end runs a straight course for safe harbor. Myself I don’t wory about voice or mechanics. I think it best to let myself write what my brain tells me tro write. It is not always a pretty sight and usually involves an over abundance of ego that needs to be pinched back now and then. You will do fine, don’t worry, just write. Best >KB


  16. ladynyo Says:

    Hi KB: I’m not worried…and thanks. For me, voice is something that is acquired over time….sometimes it comes early and sometimes not. But I am tired of shooting in the dark. That is why I am embarked on a study of poetry/literary criticism…it’s a big field out there…with lots of theories. However, I also will not get mired down with people, writers/poets, who think that they are ‘above’ any study of literature. Ego is a funny thing. it can trip you up and in the end is pretty false anyway. Of course, I do believe that there might be cultural differences in this issue depending whether you are male or female….

    I am a person who does want to know the mechanics of things…and that is just fine with me. It’s not for everyone, but then again, I’m not a writer that everyone would read.

    Thank you, though, KB, for your encouraging words. What you wrote this morning reminds me of Edith Wharton’s “Hudson River Bracketed”. LOL! There are parallels in there.



  17. Laura Hegfield Says:

    Those tender last words… that is the blessing of really being alive to what matters most in our lives… Beautiful dear Jane.


  18. ladynyo Says:

    Hey Laura!! So good to hear from you…always!

    Thank you. It is a rather tender poem and you nailed it: the blessing of really being alive to what matters most in our lives.

    Love, Jane


  19. poetrypea Says:

    I’m so glad you headed back with love in your heart


  20. ladynyo Says:

    LOL! Me, too.



  21. czbz Says:

    Well, there ya go. I thought a man was wearing the apron! Maybe that’s because I can shoot almost as well as I can type. And a man in an apron makes my heart melt. Especially if if the apron is tied in a bow around his waist. Nothing made me friskier than seeing my X in pink checks and ric-rac.

    After reading everyone’s comments, I read your poem again (actually, I’ve read it a dozen times and may put it on my desktop). I inserted a man’s husky voice behind the words and the poem works. It works okay. But not as well as seeing a man in an apron and a woman with a shotgun bringing home the holly.



  22. ladynyo Says:

    Lol! I like your take on this poem! LOL! Someday I’ll tell you (Privately!) a story about a man in an apron. Guilt producing and not because he was wearing the apron….

    Glad it works for you. Whether it’s one or the other wearing the apron. LOL!



  23. TR Says:

    Hi Lady Nyo,
    I loved the poem, I did too pick on the too easy target and tie it to my past. It is that restraint and vulnerability that came through that I loved in your words. When reading it, I did think it was a man. I enjoy when there is a flip flop of voices.
    Have a Merry Christmas! Hugs, TR
    P.S. The walk in winter reminded me of a hike I did this last weekend. There is something about the ground when you walk in winter that is different. The crunch, its sounds, the breaths, I’m beginning to appreciate more what winter has to offer.


  24. ladynyo Says:

    Oh, I so enjoyed your comment! You picked up it was a man’s voice,…and also you recognized the restraint and vulnerability parts….LOL! Thank You!

    I especially love your comment about your last weekend hike. Yes, there is something very different about walking on
    Winter-ground, your breaths, the crunch of frozen ground, even the scattered birdsong in the trees….everything is different…sharper. I think the verdancy (??? is that a word?) of foilage muffles the sound. In winter, it’s like timpany all over. How wonderful when we use all our senses on this….and realize the difference. The smell of woodsmoke, too, adds to the experience.

    Merry Christmas, TR.

    Hugs, Jane


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