“Plague of Death”…haibun for d’verse.


(from my files. can’t remember where to accredit this, but thank you!)


The sound of gunfire rivets the night. Sirens add to the harmonics of chaos, as a wailing woman kneels in the street, arms thrown out, face contorted. A ghetto Pieta. No one saw nothing. No face came to mind, as two men back away, invisible blood on hands– deliverers of Death.  So easy, they have done it before. The Devil pays well. We know to stay away from the mean streets, but random killings haunt every section of the city.  Survival is a crap-shoot in Atlanta.

A hard rain continues to fall, washing away the river of life.



No heart is exempt

Distance makes no barrier

The sun rises, sets.

Jane Kohut-Bartels

Copyrighted, 2016


Please don’t read my work from the site: JP at Olive Grove.  Jingle Nozelar Yan owns the site and is a thief and a liar.  She steals my work, rewrites it, and slaps my name on her ‘revised’ garbage.  She said  she doesn’t have to ask permission to revise or post your work.  She said she depends upon this. She preys on real poets because she isn’t one.  She refuses to follow the US Copyright laws of the US, (she’s a Chinese national). This behavior is insulting to the entire poetry community.  Jingle Bells Yan is no poet and a true opportunist If you love poetry, avoid her like the plague she is.




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70 Responses to ““Plague of Death”…haibun for d’verse.”

  1. Björn Rudberg (brudberg) Says:

    Oh the shootings… they actually plague some parts of Stockholm too… here it’s in the suburbs more than the city… the result is the same…


  2. ladynyo Says:

    Ugh. I remember Malmo. So many decades ago. I think of Malmo now and shiver. But it’s similar to Atlanta. That is why I have surrounded myself with trees, bushes and of course, fences. I depend upon my neighbors for my sanity. It can get rough out there.


  3. Björn Rudberg (brudberg) Says:

    I had no idea you had visited Malmo… I have never lived there…


  4. ladynyo Says:

    decades ago. I was raised in a (New Jersey) village with mostly Norwegians. And some Swedes. Hah. We were 1/2 Hungarian/English. I wouldn’t visit Malmo now. Sad. But it was neat when I was very, very young. Stockholm was better.


  5. Björn Rudberg (brudberg) Says:

    I think it’s changed… but Stockholm is a wonderful city really…


  6. Björn Rudberg (brudberg) Says:

    And my wife spent a year in New Jersey and don’t want to come back… (New Brunswick)


  7. ladynyo Says:

    Oh yeah. Malmo is considered the rape capitol of Sweden. If you can believe what you read. Things change….but all things change. We try to keep things the same, but we are puny where change is considered. We want to go to Sweden/Norway again…..but the international situation seems to be an issue. I have relatives who avoid airports now and that makes it very hard to travel. LOL! Perhaps magic carpet to the North Sea?


  8. ladynyo Says:

    I was born in New Brunswick!!! Most of my relatives live in New Jersey around New Brunswick. Did your wife not want to come back to Sweden or New Jersey??? LOL! I escaped my small Dutch/Norwegian village, (Griggstown) that was farming country….where the Dutch still carved wooden shoes for the farmers…(and us children) and the salted fish from the Norse. Funny, l remember that planked fish…salted, outside against a doorway…where the dogs would piss on it in passing. Didn’t disturb the fish any. Adults just washed it off. LOL! I can’t remember the Norwegian name, though. It came around every Xmas. But the pastries and the cider were wonderful!


  9. kanzensakura Says:

    Excellent haibun and right on prompt. But so sad. So very sad the shootings that happen like clockwork (orange) in the cities


  10. Björn Rudberg (brudberg) Says:

    Ha.. the fish was lutefisk… we have the same in Sweden and the piss will wash away when it’s treated with lye… My wife definitely didn’t feel at home in New Brunswick… and headed back home to Sweden.


  11. ladynyo Says:

    Geez…I wouldn’t feel home in NewBrunswick now, either. Too much change. Don’t recognize the tribes anymore. LOL! Lutefisk!!! That’s the name.


  12. ladynyo Says:

    Thanks, Kanzensakura. Exacty….Clockwork Orange. Insanity. The general thought is this: 20 years ago with the height of the crack epidemic in the inner cities….these babies were born to crack mothers…and they never developed a conscience. Crack apparently scrambles the wiring in the brain it’s so strong. So these kids now in their 20’s have no regard for any life. Human or animal. It’s a constant struggle to survive with some sort of compassion for these mutants. Sorry, but you would have to live as I have….amongst the insanity for all these years. They tend to reduce their own tribe by their random shootings….but so many innocent people are taken out, too. Especially children.


  13. kim881 Says:

    That’s one thing I fear – guns. We have some people who hunt around here, birds, rabbits, that sort of thing, but nothing like the shooting you get in cities. Not many sirens either. I think the phrase ‘ghetto Pieta’ is effective – I cam picture a mother holding her dying son in her arms – so tragic. The haiku really sets the whole thing off., Jane.


  14. Sanaa Rizvi Says:

    I can totally relate to the sound of gunfire and fear of shootings! Powerful write, Jane.


  15. ladynyo Says:

    Thank you, Sanna. I am sorry that you are also used to this violence. One would think that humanity would have progressed further where we weren’t surrounded by such. Thank you, Sweetheart! For reading and for your comment.


  16. ladynyo Says:

    Thank you, Kim. After decades of this behavior in the cities, people ask me why would you stay? I love my historic house and most of my neighbors….and my 40 rosebushes and animals….including the strays we travel to feed 4 times a week. I have learned important lessons, though. I hate guns, too…but living in Atlanta, I would be more afraid not to have a shotgun in the house for defense. So far, knock wood, I have never had to even lift it. These ‘random’ shootings usually are gang related, except when they aren’t. That’s when innocent citizens are killed…by the greed and depravity of others who don’t give a damn about anything except themselves. Thank you for reading and your comment. I came from the deep rural countryside of NJ…..where we didn’t have streetlights or a police department…and the fire dept. was all volunteer. LOL! Quite a change here.

    Liked by 1 person

  17. Victoria C. Slotto Says:

    Such raw intensity to this, Jane. Sadly, it’s happening in so many places now. So many gangs, shootings. So much loss and heartbreak. My own thought is that with the faltering of faith communities and families, youth turn to peers, to gangs for that sense of belonging that I knew growing up. Whatever is going to change, and when.


  18. Arcadia Maria Says:

    Very well done.


  19. Grace Says:

    Really fine writing and this part moves me:

    Sirens add to the harmonics of chaos, as a wailing woman kneels in the street, arms thrown out, face contorted. A ghetto Pieta.

    And that last line about the hard rain…a good metaphor Jane ~


  20. ZQ Says:

    Another wonderful piece that I have read tonight


  21. ladynyo Says:

    thank you, zq.


  22. ladynyo Says:

    I agree, Victoria. There is no purpose for most youth, especially in the inner cities. There is little future except gangs, robberies and drug dealing. Of course, here in the US….the crack epidemic of 20 years ago produced these twisted wiring children…with no fear or concern for life: crack apparently destroys the ability to have a conscience. I didn’t believe it then, but I see the results snow. Thank you for reading and your comment. I’m glad you care. So many don’t.


  23. ladynyo Says:

    Hi Grace! Well, I did get a Dylan piece in there with the ‘a hard rain (is gonna fall…) This is actually the first haibun I wrote…just about 6 weeks ago…and I didn’t really believe that I would ever use it. It’s damn depressing to me. But it’s reality in our inner cities…and apparently in the suburbs, too from what others write here. AND…since I am having such a time posting on your blog, I will write my critique of your offering here…because I do want to read and offer up comments. Thank you, Grace.


  24. ladynyo Says:

    Thank you!


  25. purplepeninportland Says:

    Powerful poem, well written. How unfortunate that this is a commonplace scene everywhere now.


  26. ladynyo Says:

    Yes, I was hoping it was not, but people tell me that it is. I don’t know what has happened to our nation. But things must change. Thank you for reading and your comment.

    Liked by 1 person

  27. Brian Says:

    Powerful write. Back in the late ’90s I worked for Rite Aid throughout NYC, the Island and Northern Jersey. I never had any issues with violence thankfully.


  28. georgeplace2013 Says:

    Even in the same towns crime is much more common than ever before. Signs of the times I guess.


  29. lillian Says:

    ” A ghetto Pieta.” This is incredibly powerful! Violence in the cities is so common that it’s common — if that makes sense. “Casualties” — what an awful euphemism.


  30. ladynyo Says:

    Thanks Lillian. Yes it is terrible….this violence in our country. And apparently the suburbs are also feeling this violence. What has happened to our country?


  31. ladynyo Says:

    I don’t know, Georgeplace: perhaps we are too tolerant of violence? It’s like….oh, another example of violence happening. It’s become so commonplace we are now passive. What in HELL are we teaching our children?


  32. ladynyo Says:

    I am thankful for that, Brian. I haven’t had anything happen to me except once: I was given bread and mostly pastries by an organization to distribute in my inner city neighborhood…this is about 20 years ago…and I pulled up to a bunch of women on the street and offered them. They mobbed me and tried to get my wedding ring off my hand, and my purse and it was quite a struggle. Because I was white. Hah! well, things change and I learned an important lesson: that there are predators and opportunists that will try to take advantage of the ‘other’. I don’t involve myself in any such charity anymore. I grew wiser. However, here in Atlanta, the crime issues are rampant. Carjackings, home invasions, robberies, assaults, etc. I live in a small community 3 miles south of downtown Atlanta and it was formed in 1854. History has it that people walked by lantern light down an unpaved road (Desoto) to church. There were a lot of churches even in the 70’s. I think so much has happened to our nation that we still are functioning as tribes, not citizens. It’s sad. And I refuse to rewrite the realities for pc crap. These so called politicians and ministers are part of the problem, not of a solution. They are opportunists in the flesh and push division.

    Liked by 1 person

  33. petrujviljoen Says:

    A reminder why I left. The city that is. Very well written!


  34. ladynyo Says:

    GRACE!!!! Your haibun from the first line captured me. I was confused by the penguins,,…nibbling breadcrumbs…more familiar with pigeons….but overall, it was beautifully descriptive. The liquor breath and autumn winds….wonderful juxtaposition. And your tanka was beautiful. A perfect tanka in my opinion.


  35. georgeplace2013 Says:

    I don’t know but it isn’t good.


  36. ladynyo Says:

    There doesn’t seem to be any moral guide or standard in our nation..at least where I live. Stealing, robbery is nothing anymore….and the taking of life is so commonplace, that there seem to be a retinue of excuses to explain it away. Trying to ‘even out’ history isn’t the right way.


  37. ladynyo Says:

    Thank you. but remember this: most can’t leave the city. Where would they go? People need the public services to ‘survive’. But this sort of survival is really on the edge of life.


  38. petrujviljoen Says:

    Entirely true. Well said.

    Liked by 1 person

  39. ladynyo Says:

    I was raised in the country. In a very rural area in the north. Came south for organizing unions and civil rights work. Got stuck through marriage and buying an old historical house. Now I have made my peace but I don’t live exactly in the inner city. A small, historic and isolated village actually. With the city only 3 miles away. But lots of crime because our once quite area has been invaded by the rapacious slum lords who are out only to make a profit. So, we absorb as many people as possible…and ignore the troublemakers. That’s the dance we do here. but there are beautiful trees, huge oaks and pecans that surround our area….and a wonderful sky to look up at it’s glory. You make those compromises in life and you go on living.


  40. petrujviljoen Says:

    I’ve moved way out into the countryside myself, now some six years ago. We’re very lucky here, there can’t be an invasion of randlords as the property belongs to a commercial pine plantation. We rent from them; houses that aren’t occupied by staff. Huge swathes of nature, waterfalls, deer and peace, above all peace.


  41. ladynyo Says:

    a lovely blessing, this peace you have found. I had it early…grew up that way….and thought I needed to escape. LOL!


  42. Brian Says:

    My first partner looked like a white Don King. My first company car was a purple Dodge Shadow w/ no hubcaps. When we worked in the City, we were either undercover cops or Immigration. Once in Queens, we parked in front of a crack house. We got out and the dealers vanished in a blink of the eye. I dealt with the Mafia on a daily basis in construction. The Coalition made sure 10% of workers were black. The local people hired to work the new stores were the nicest folk you could ever imagine. All colors and races trying to survive the urban jungle. As a white man I was automatically in charge and it was extremely uncomfortable to be treated with deference simply because of my skin tone. The waste and corruption was staggering but for all that, the vast majority of city dwellers wanted to be left alone to live their lives. I had a great five years traveling from Maine to Maryland setting up new stores. It taught me that people are the same everywhere and hard work is the norm.


  43. petrujviljoen Says:

    Ha-ha-ha … youth in its glory just doesn’t know. It’s a shame really. I thought about the comment of crime arriving when the high power property magnates did – so true.


  44. ladynyo Says:

    It’s much more complex than that. Live through the crack epidemic and see what it produces.


  45. petrujviljoen Says:

    Hoo boy!


  46. whippetwisdom Says:

    The ‘harmonics of chaos’ is so powerful and you paint a very vivid picture of the randomness of shootings and the ease with which the crimes are repeated. Very well written Jane.


  47. ladynyo Says:

    WHEN hard work is the norm…..people are good and true. Here, unfortunately, because of so many factors, hard work is rarely the norm. entitlement is the norm, and it destroys generations. Kids have nothing to look forward to except drug dealing in the inner cities. Cops are corrupt, too. After decades living here….I have come to conclusions. I remember my father, a sheet metal worker…having to deal with the Mafia in NJ. LOL! Nothing got done there except through the Mafia. LOL! Yep, the dealers aren’t afraid anymore of strangers…they will blow them away first before they vacate the area. But people can be good and I think that you develop close relations with people here in the inner city that you wouldn’t otherwise. I depend upon my neighbors for safety, as they depend upon us. Of course, everyone has a gun….us included. A shotgun that I can’t hit a barn wall with. LOL! That’s just for home defense, but in all these years…havn’t had to use it. Don’t know where the shells are, either. Even though we are 3 miles south of Atlanta, I love that we have coyotes, raccoons, rabbits in the kudzu, an occasional deer, and lots of birds of prey. Falcons that roost in the buildings in Atlanta…and Red Tail Hawks and Cooper Hawks galore. The wildlife has brought their wildness as balm to our souls.

    Liked by 1 person

  48. ladynyo Says:

    Thanks, Whippetwisdom….I wish I couldn’t write these things…I wish I didn’t have the details that life in the inner city gives. It’s damn depressing and I don’t want to write this again. I think that for many of us….we escape through our writings….and this is too close to the bone. The children suffer….mostly. But all are caught in the web of violence, and frankly?? Our hearts are hardened over time.

    Liked by 1 person

  49. whippetwisdom Says:

    I totally agree Jane, I felt the same way when I was writing my contribution and I think that Björn made such a good point about how many young people are unaware of the city’s dark underbelly. For that reason alone I felt compelled to write about it. Be kind to yourself and much love to you, Xenia xx


  50. ladynyo Says:

    Bless you! And thank you, Xenia! To clean the palette, and to get this stuff out of my head (living it is hard to get out of your head, it changes your heart…hardens us) I posted “Bob Dylan”…from Memories of a Rotten Childhood..which at least has the presence of ‘funny’. We need to laugh at our lives…otherwise, it’s too damn serious. Hugs back, Xenia xxx. And thank you for your understanding.

    Liked by 1 person

  51. whippetwisdom Says:

    Hugs xxx


  52. ladynyo Says:

    Ugh Xenia@ I tried to post a comment on your blog…wouldn’t take…however I love your haibun. The contrast of the old man getting growled at…by dog and ex-wives…was wonderful. And then the potential violence of the bars letting out…that was a slice of unadulterated life. wonderful contrasts here. And thank you…Xenia…you really understand. Hugs..xox

    Liked by 1 person

  53. whippetwisdom Says:

    Thank you Jane, your comment just came through on my blog as well! :o) Hugs and love xxx

    Liked by 1 person

  54. Sherry Marr Says:

    I would find it hard, living on such mean streets. Stay safe. Great write!

    Liked by 1 person

  55. Glenn Buttkus Says:

    The strong responses above reflect the powerful piece you wrote. I live in the suburbs, 20 miles from the city, but a few years ago, we had a random drive-by, & our picture window was shot out, the bullet hitting a chair my wife had just got up from; chilling.


  56. ladynyo Says:

    Oh my God, Glenn, chilling indeed. Our neighbor who reported drug dealers (with children) to police had to have a 24/7 cop car outside of their house. The dealers were right next to them. They firebombed the house twice…and shot through the front large window. Police stayed for a week and then disappeared. The harassment continued. They moved to Maine. I hope your wife has recovered, but do we ever recover from such violence? I won’t do a prompt like this again. It wasn’t that hard…but too close to the bone. I became a writer and poet to escape the reality of what was around me. Thanks, Glenn.


  57. ladynyo Says:

    Thanks, Sherry. I find it hard, too. Wasn’t raised in such an environment….and my black neighbors feel the violence as much as we do.


  58. ladynyo Says:

    Glad it finally posted. Your empathy went far with me today. Hugs, love back.

    Liked by 1 person

  59. Mish Says:

    I was so moved by your excellent prose. It is chilling to me that our world has become so cruel and desensitized. Honestly, I cannot relate to this where I live or imagine living in fear to the point of needing to own a gun, but I can understand your situation. Violence is widespread. So far, I have felt very safe from it’s grip. I am very interested in why young people have nothing else to do and my theory is that life is so robotic and technical, these kids are not taught to play, explore, have dreams, respect nature, animals, people, life. Their heads are glued to screens. I know it is much more complicated than that, but I believe strongly that this has a major impact. Sorry for the long response…one of those issues that gets me worked up! Take care.


    Liked by 1 person

  60. ladynyo Says:

    thanks, Mish. It’s a complicated issue….but! it starts in the home and most homes are deficient in those things that turn out civilized and moral kids. At least from what I see. Drugs, drunken behavior….all sorts of deviant behavior…animal cruelty ranks up at the top…..it’s exhausting.

    And this: I was a Quaker for 12 years. Raised my son as a Quaker. I left the Quaker bench and the Meeting because of the excuses that Quakers here in Atlanta gave for the violence in the black community. And of course none of them every lived here, and none would pass through these neighborhoods. So I had the choice to put blinders on and play ‘nice and stupid’ with these others, or distance myself from this stupidity. I chose the latter. It’s funny, but all my black neighbors are armed for the very same reasons I am. They fear the violence of the home invasions that are all done by blacks and they fear the random violence of these gun touting jackasses. People who are serious criminals have AK 47s and use them with impunity. The police? Either they are overwhelmed or they are corrupt. After living here in Atlanta for 45 years, what other summations can I come up with? But it’s not always this ‘fear’ factor. Right now…I am looking at a blue sky shot with pink, and the huge oaks and pecans that surround us. These trees have to be at least 200 feet or more high! Amazing. the hawks are out and flying low over the kudzu in the back and my cats (all 8 of them…) have arranged themselves on the yard furniture, sleeping or watching butterflies float around. I tell them that they don’t tastes good, but they won’t listen. LOL! Thanks, Mish.

    Liked by 1 person

  61. Mish Says:

    Eight cats lounging and watching butterflies….now that’s a peaceful image. Enjoy! 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  62. ladynyo Says:

    Yep…except for the butterflies! We try to have a peaceable kingdom inside our gates to replace what is going on outside in Atlanta general. Sometimes it’s like a paradise and sometimes not. A toss of the coin. As is much of life.


  63. mother wintermoon Says:

    Chilling and heart-rending. You have captured the mean streets of Atlanta and the emotional fallout so vividly. Through it all, the sun continues to rise and set. Excellent haiku for your haibun. ❤️


  64. Bodhirose Says:

    Jane, you more than rose to the challenge with your dark poem about the inner city but what a shame at what (many times) drugs and poverty produce. I love “harmonics of the chaos”…so apropos. I fear guns too. My hometown of Orlando has much crime now. It was a much different place when I grew up there. We never locked our doors and even left the keys in the cars overnight! Oh, are those days gone forever.


  65. ladynyo Says:

    Thank you, Gayle. It’s a complex issue that so many make excuses for: Drugs deepen the poverty issue…a refusal to stay in school so you can get a decent job, the laziness of many who demand entitlements, it’s a huge ball of wax. on top of this…these underlying elements….crime is taken up by so many of these inner city folk because they have no respect for life. Anyone’s but especially those who are seen as prey. I worked in a social services capacity for a while and I saw the constant lies, trying to get over on those who were giving out the ‘charity’ and I left. When you can’t really see those who need the services from those who are just scam artists….it’s depressing and debilitating.

    Orlando: Yes, I loved Orlando 20 years ago…and I laughed when you said that we never used to lock our doors and left the keys in the cars. We did that, too…in rural New Jersey. I think we lost the key to the old front door…a skeletion key to a 1750’s house on River Road, Belle Mead. How things have changed!!!

    Thank you, for your reading and your wonderful comment. I don’t want to have to write another haibun about Atlanta’s crime. It’s depressing and haunts me in real time. Ugh!

    Hugs! Jane


  66. ladynyo Says:

    Hiya Sweetie!! Tbank you for reading and your kind comment. How I wish we didn’t have to write such dark pieces about the cities and the fear and crime!~

    Liked by 1 person

  67. mother wintermoon Says:

    Hi honey bunny! 🐰 The world is a scary place! So glad we have this little oasis of mutual support and kindness. 🌹


  68. ladynyo Says:

    Me too, sweetie. dverse is small enough to attend to all the people here. I got lost at Poets United…about a 1000 poets over there. LOL!

    Yeah….I think we all need a dose of kindness right now. And support. It’s a mean world out there.


    Liked by 1 person

  69. mother wintermoon Says:

    A 1000 poets?! Wow. How many would respond to other entries out of all those poets? I love our tribe of poets and my WP peeps. 💞💕💜

    Liked by 1 person

  70. ladynyo Says:

    yep…me too. It’s around or over 800 the last time I looked….but still ! LOL! This is perfect because you can get to really read and know the poets on dverse. Hugs!!!!

    Liked by 1 person

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