“Help Can’t Wait” Haibun for Monday at dversepoets pub.

pleasant-grove-alabama-storm-damageThe prompt over at dversepoets pub is about waiting.  Since this haibun is about the issue of waiting for help…or not waiting….it fits in my estimation.

This memory is written in a Haibun form.  Haibun is a very ancient Japanese form used for travel notes and memoirs.  Usually a few paragraphs with a relating haiku at the end.  I have been playing around with this form for only a few months, but I find it fascinating.

Many thanks to Kanzen Sakura for introducing me to this lovely, dynamic form. 

Lady Nyo

(Sunday’s tornados  killed 18 people in south Georgia and north Florida, yesterday.  Rescue workers are still looking for missing people in the Georgia storms. The death count is expected to rise)


I remember the tornado in 1998, Hall County, Georgia that ripped through at dawn. I was safe down in Atlanta and caught the morning news report with a cup of coffee in my hand. Back then I attended the Meeting for Worship in Atlanta. Almost trembling, I stood and addressed the end of the Meeting about the tornado. The only response I got from the Meeting was “Help can wait”.

I turned to my neighbors in our rather poor SW Atlanta neighborhood. They gave from the heart. My ten year old son and I drove to Gainesville with my husband’s ‘newish’ truck, the one with a paper license plate on the back. We got lost, stopped at a Denny’s and when the waitress heard we came with supplies, she refused to take our money. We got lost again, looking for the Salvation Army site. An old man insisted we follow his truck to our destination.

We weren’t supposed to go into the tornado area, but as we were leaving Gainesville to go home, there stretched between two radio kiosks was a big yellow banner: “Help Can’t Wait”. The sky was azure blue with clipper-ship-clouds floating by, peace after a terrible storm. My son’s eyes were enormous as he turned to me. “Mom, God is speaking to us. Help can’t wait, those Quakers were wrong!”

That day was filled with miracles: the police never stopped our truck. Our license plate had blown off. They waved at us. We saw the total destruction of a Nature Hell- Bent on  a major disaster. We saw metal sides of trailers twisted like ribbons through denuded trees, baby strollers smashed on the side of the road, blue tarps over just about every house. Right next to total devastation were cows in a pasture peacefully grazing. Trees were gone, the landscape was a moon scape.   Small debris fires were everywhere. Porta Johns were everywhere. We found the hearts of total strangers open everywhere. Thirteen people died from that tornado in Hall County.

A month to the day another tornado hit a  wealthy  part of north Atlanta, neighborhoods where many  Quakers of the Meeting lived. They weren’t the working people of Hall County. These were the professors and lawyers, doctors and teachers, etc. of the Meeting. I wondered if ‘Help Can Wait’ applied to them.


Compassion, balance

Restored in the Human Heart

If we feel the pain


Jane Kohut-Bartels

Copyrighted, 2016


Tags: , , , , ,

53 Responses to ““Help Can’t Wait” Haibun for Monday at dversepoets pub.”

  1. kanzensakura Says:

    Excellent haibun. Good lessons about compassion. Bless your heart for your goodness. Reminds me of a trip and I took down to NOLA after Katrina.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. ladynyo Says:

    Hello, Sweetie! It’s so good to hear from you this morning…we have severe thunderstorms and tornadoes around . Didn’t think that this haibun would fit the weather today! LOL!
    Wow! NOLA after Katrina must have been a circle of Hell to see. That must have been quite a trip. I was in NO about a year before Katrina, and it was a great city. My husband was building the sets for “Interview with the Vampire”….and 5 months in NO’s August was Hell enough. But such a beautiful and vibrant city.
    This trip to Hall County (Gainesville) was a first for my son (10 years old) and me. The devastation was horrible, but the people there were absolutely the salt of the earth. I will never forget them. Thanks, Toni, for reading and your lovely comment.


  3. Björn Rudberg (brudberg) Says:

    What a wonderful lesson for your sun. We have to learn the lesson of helping. You did a great deed that day, and what a day to remember. Miracle indeed.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. charliezero1.wordpress.com Says:

    This is so sad…and you captured the strength of compassion.

    I always feel that mother nature us upset with us humans.

    Bless you my friend for writing this important blog.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. paul scribbles Says:

    Karmic kickback for Quaker dudes…I love how it circled back around.

    Liked by 1 person

  6. whippetwisdom Says:

    A great haibun Jane and so good for your son to see at such an impressionable age where real compassion lives xxx

    Liked by 1 person

  7. ladynyo Says:

    Thank you, Xenia so much! It’s a bit long but I wasn’t possible to cut it down, and I did try. However, I have been reading some ancient, early haibun, and they can tend to run on. LOL! Thank you again for your lovely comment, and of course reading this.

    Liked by 1 person

  8. ladynyo Says:

    Yeah. LOL! That was karmic. you don’t make up these things….they are master lessons in life. I left the Quakers soon after….it was a mission camp of the elite here in Atlanta. Some very good souls, but some stinkers, too, and the seemed to predominate. There was much more to tell about this tornado incident, but I couldn’t include it because it was longggg enough. Thank you, Paul….I will be over tomorrow as Ihaven’t had any sleep here…the storms were fierce. thank you, again.


  9. ladynyo Says:

    Thank you, Charlie! Life lessons here for me and my son….I have not been asleep yet because of the storms….the winds and rain were rattling…plus the roof started to leak in the den….and on the woodstove and I ran out of pots! LOL! I’ll be over tomorrow to read. My eyes are closing right now. Thank you, again, dear heart!

    Liked by 1 person

  10. whippetwisdom Says:

    Always a pleasure Jane and the guides are there to help before people develop their own style of writing haibun. You have to stay true to what feels right to you :o) xxx

    Liked by 1 person

  11. charliezero1.wordpress.com Says:

    oh!! wow!!! The storm here in L.A. is getting a little rough too.

    Good night my friend. 🙂 You’ll like my new post. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  12. ladynyo Says:

    Bjorn….the thing that I remember so much…is the contrast of the two responses: Help can wait….and Help Can’t Wait. How does that happen. To me, that is the real miracle…the contrasts that call us to either respond or not. My deed was a drop in the ocean of need….the character of strangers, so gracious, supportive, is what is truly miraculous to me. Thank you, dear Friend.


  13. ladynyo Says:

    Stay safe, dear heart. I’m be over tomorrow. Anxious to read you.

    Liked by 1 person

  14. paul scribbles Says:

    Sleep well.


  15. ladynyo Says:

    Thank you! and thank you for your indulgence!!! Bless you and your pups…they always bring a smile to my face when I see them on your blog!

    Liked by 1 person

  16. Says:

    This is precious: “Mom, God is speaking to us. Help can’t wait, those Quakers were wrong!”

    This is my favorite section: “We saw the total destruction of a Nature Hell- Bent on a major disaster. We saw metal sides of trailers twisted like ribbons through denuded trees”


  17. ladynyo Says:

    Thank you, Paul . I have a snoring German Short haired pointer on the quilt right now…and a large, unafraid cat on the pillow. LOL! All tucked in for the night. Now I have to just shift them over for room.

    Liked by 1 person

  18. whippetwisdom Says:

    Thank you Jane xxx


  19. ladynyo Says:

    Hi Iris! Those were his exact words….and he called me today…(he’s 29 now) and we discussed this tornado. He remembers the banner stretched between the kiosks reading “Hope Can’t Wait”, but he didn’t read very well at 10, and I remember it differently. LOL! But we both did leave the Quaker bench a few years later. It probably isn’t what Quakers are known for, but this bunch was full of the elite. The destruction was unbelievable….extreme contrasts…and there were a herd of cows across the road, munching grass as peaceful as can be. Amazing.

    Liked by 1 person

  20. paul scribbles Says:

    Good luck with that.


  21. frankhubeny Says:

    I liked the contrast in this line: “Right next to total devastation were cows in a pasture peacefully grazing.” I wonder if the cows thought that help could wait?


  22. Adriana Citlali Ramírez Says:

    Help should not wait when it is needed.


  23. Grace Says:

    A riveting story. Help can’t wait during these times. Its important to remember that our possessions are just that – they can easily be replaced but not our lives.

    Liked by 1 person

  24. Michael Says:

    What a great haibun Jane, I did enjoy it as it took my mind to how people respond to such disasters is such amazing ways, you included. We see it so often don’t we the outpouring of help and support, the realisation of the kindness of strangers….thanks for this wonderful contribution.


  25. thotpurge Says:

    That’s an amazing story.. huge appreciation for people who don’t hesitate to give in times like that. Thanks for sharing.


  26. purplepeninportland Says:

    There is a strong lesson here. Wonderful that your son was with you.


  27. kanzensakura Says:

    I have read this now for the fourth time and each time, the impact hits hugely. I wonder how it will play out now with more tornados hitting the deep south.


  28. ladynyo Says:

    I don’t know,Toni.,…but this will happen again. it is just such a consequence to me that I posted this that happened in North Georgia, and the day I did…(Sunday) look what happens in South Georgia??? This boggles my mind. Thanks, Toni for reading this and sending another comment. South Georgia had a destructive tornado Jan. 1, and it still isn’t cleaned up from that…..and here comes another. Adel, Georgia is wiped off the map.


  29. ladynyo Says:

    Yep, I think of that constantly. He’s 29 not, and then he was 10, and the lessons have stuck with him all those years. Me, too. Nature has incredible power.

    Liked by 1 person

  30. kanzensakura Says:

    How sad. I know several towns in SW Virginia that ceased to exist after massive tornados several years ago. Horrible things.


  31. ladynyo Says:

    Your are welcome, Thotpurge. I will get around the submissions tomorrow.

    Liked by 1 person

  32. ladynyo Says:

    Thank you Michael. You have wild fires down under? I have my best friend in Canberra, and he writes about these….they are as devastating as a tornado I think.

    Liked by 1 person

  33. ladynyo Says:

    Yep, Grace….you are absolutely right. I was watching the devastation tonight on tv and over and over those who survived expressed that very same opinion. But! It looked like an bomb field….from the sky….it just stretched on and on.


  34. ladynyo Says:

    Agreed… we can dither about stuff…but real people’s lives are under it all. Thanks for reading and your comment.

    Liked by 1 person

  35. ladynyo Says:

    Yep…I wonder how Kansas and those states out there in the West where we expect tornados cope?? In the last decade or so….the south, especially Ga. and Alabama…hve been slammed with this.


  36. ladynyo Says:

    Frank? That contrast stuck in my mind all these years. The peaceful cows next to the terrible devastation. It was surreal. Did they run and hide during the tornado? I always think of what happens to the pets and to the livestock. These things happen so quickly, that there is no real shelter/planning for them.


  37. ladynyo Says:

    Yeah…this cat is so heavy he is shortsheeting the blankets. I push him off and he’s right back on the bed. Feet hardly touch the floor! LOL!


  38. Michael Says:

    Yes where I live in the Hunter Valley we have had some near to me but not in my back yard…I saw today there was one burning up the valley from me…..but on the whole I am safe from such things….fingers crossed…

    Liked by 1 person

  39. Olga Says:

    Wow! What a scare to go through. ‘Always follow your heart’ is a wonderful motto. Glad your happy in bed with your cat. 🙂


  40. kim881 Says:

    I can’t imagine a place with so many tornadoes – it’s something we don’t know over here and we forget that they occur so frequently. We all quaked at the hurricane over England back in the eighties, which blew off some signs, uprooted some trees and damaged some houses, but nothing of the proportions you describe in your haibun. So I am in awe of you, your family’s and your neighbours’ selflessness, kindness and generosity. What an experience for your ten year old son! And I won’t bang on about our little old powercut last night!


  41. lillian Says:

    I was engrossed in this….could not have stopped reading if I’d tried. So very well written….and kudos for your dedication and your assistance to people in need. The ending is, in a word, a killer! Right on point! It seems to be this way, doesn’t it? And an excellent haiku. Well done!

    Liked by 1 person

  42. ladynyo Says:

    Thank you, Lillian. There was so much more I could say about the Meeting, and a particular annoying man who really tried to put me off. he is a recovering alcoholic and in my estimation…his empathy wires are burned out. When I saw that man at the Meeting, I wondered who was guarding the Gates of Hell? LOL! The excuses for the lack of interest here went on and on. It really was off putting. My much poorer neighbors, mostly Black, shook their tail feathers without any delay, and though this was , in the beginning…my resolve, they joined in without quibble. Some of the ‘arguments’ from the Quakers were interesting: It was in the middle of the month and the ‘advisory board’ hadn’t met (Help Can Wait attitude)…total bureaucracy in my opinion….I was an ‘attender’ (for 12 years) and not a signed on the bottom line Quaker (member), etc…Enough to gag a maggot. LOL! But! What we experienced in this task remained with us for all these years….and for my son and myself, it had something of the ‘divine’ within. Something I tried and struggled within the Meeting For Worship all those years to attain. Seems these are the real lessons of life. Thank you, Lillian. On another note: I was contacted about a year later by a Quaker magazine from the Midwest and asked to write an article about this. They were as different in approach to “Help Can’t Wait” as this Atlanta bunch could be. We did leave the Quaker Meeting and resumed our Episcopal worship.

    Liked by 1 person

  43. ladynyo Says:

    LOL Kim! Powercuts can be very hurtful. Well, annoying. The climate change in the last two decades has increased these tornadoes….across Ga. and the Southeast. They usually were the property of the Midwest …Kansas, etc. Now? they are frequent and deadly. It gives us proof that climate change is a true happening. Thank you, Kim.

    Liked by 1 person

  44. ladynyo Says:

    Me, too…Olga. Along with a snoring hound. I’ve got a lot to answer (comment) here and will get around to everyone later today. Dr’s appt. at 11am. Thank you so much for reading and your kind comment. Always follow your heart is an excellent motto to live by!

    Liked by 1 person

  45. lillian Says:

    If you are ever in Boston, you must join us at Old North, Paul Revere’s church – an Episcopal congregation. The history is palpable within the church. It is and uplifting way to begin each week! 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  46. kim881 Says:

    Someone should explain that to Trump!

    Liked by 1 person

  47. ladynyo Says:

    I would LOVE to. I miss Boston (come from Princeton area) and I miss a real Episcopal church. Old North I know about and would love to attend. I love that part of history the most! Thank you, Lillian.

    Liked by 1 person

  48. Victoria C. Slotto Says:

    So touching–we need more people like you and your husband. In 1986 I went to El Salvador to help after a huge, deadly earthquake. It took us no time to get the needed papers to get into that, then, civil-war torn country because, as you note, help couldn’t wait. Again, such profound poverty there.

    Liked by 1 person

  49. ladynyo Says:

    First, Victoria, thank you for reading and your comment. It is important for people to know that these things happen and they demand a response. The response doesn’t have to be wide ranging: ours was to take sanitary supplies and cat and dog food. An a manual canopener. That was from my neighbor and she is on disability. 1o Dollars made that possible. When there is no electricity, a can opener can make a marvelous difference. Woof. el Salvador…that is even today, a very rough country. Was reading in “The New Yorker” last night an article about El Salvador. Run by gangs apparently. And people are still killed daily by these gangs, war or not. I don’t think we even know what real poverty is…I know these Quakers refused to come into our neighborhood for a prayer circle…except one. Julia. We met in the street and joined hands and prayed for the safety of the citizens on this side of town. Lots of preachy folk want to talk about ‘conditions’ but wouldn’t step outside their comfort zone. Thank you, Victoria.

    Liked by 1 person

  50. Victoria C. Slotto Says:

    When I was in El Salvador, it was right after the murder of 4 nuns and the Bishop. The military was omnipresent with their machine guns. So many stories to tell.

    Liked by 1 person

  51. ladynyo Says:

    I remember the deaths of the 4 nuns and the Bishop. It was so shocking then, but now? It seems like this happens almost every week. The murders of the Christian Yazidis is a regular occurrence, complicated with the taking of women and girls into sex slavery. The world has changed and the shocking discoveries that come to our eyes and ears almost daily compete to destroy our spirits.

    Please write more of your stories, in any form you want. I would love to read them. There aren’t many people who have been on the front lines of such disasters and wars, except the victims and the reporters. Thank you, Victoria for being the person you are.


  52. Flicka Johnson Says:

    Thank you, Jane. It was so long ago that I visited with you while I was in Georgia. I enjoy your art and writing skills. Yes, the two can be combined. Your friend Flicka

    Liked by 1 person

  53. ladynyo Says:

    Hello, Flicka! What a treat to remeet after all these years!! I have thought of you often, dearheart. We had a lot of fun back the….a very different world from today, but perhaps not so different? How wonderful to re connect! Please, let us resume our friendship and correspondence!


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: