Random Autumn Tanka…..and a Killer Owl.

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

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

Mimi Cat August

Mimi, who says she eats owls for breakfast.

Merlin with Duck 2

Merlin prefers duck.

Fall has finally come to the South.  I am grateful and so are the dogs. They have spent the hot summer in the laundry room, where the air conditioning makes the tiles on the floors cooler than anywhere else.

This summer has been long and hot, a 90 F. degrees-summer.   Four days into the new season, the temps are falling into the sixties. Combined with the constant rain these last  days, it’s sweater weather again.

There is no change in the green of the trees; the huge pecan and oak still have a hold on their leaves, but they do look tired.

There’s a smell of wood smoke in the air, especially around evening, and the hoot owls are taking advantage of the full moon to scare the devil out of me.  The other night I was walking in the back under a huge oak when an owl started his/her harsh hooting. It froze my blood. I felt this thump in my chest and I couldn’t move.  I was that scared.

I have heard owls a’ plenty on this property, but never right above me.  It was a weird combination of sounds: hissing, gargling, sharp squeaks and a blood-curdling yell at the end.

I know it to be a wood owl, around 5 inches high, but the howls seem to come from something monstrous in the  trees. It was immediately answered by it’s mate:  a chattering, kazoo like sound.

Enough.  I ran to the security of the back porch.  I am not so stupid as to ignore the territorial lines of beasts out in the kudzu and woods.   I have been warned.

Autumn has appeared and there is expectation and mystery in the new season.  It’s time for the crock pot and seasonal fare.  It’s time to shake out the mothballs and air out sweaters.

It’s time to prepare for the coming of Winter.

Lady Nyo

Random Autumn Tankas

I look up at blue

Sky this morning, watch leaves fall-

Whirling, colored tears.

Clip my face like dull razors,

The stroking 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 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; they don’t 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 ahead is worse.

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  broad circles.

Broken GPS?

No matter, their cries fall down

Celestial chiding rain.

To end 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. 

Jane Kohut-Bartels

Copyrighted, 2015

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

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