“Olsen’s Pond”…..


 I start out the New Year with this poem for many personal reasons.  Some have found it too ‘hard’ to read for their own reasons.  And some have read it and found their own childhood in it.  Regardless, it remains my favorite poem.

Lady Nyo

Returning to the old house,

now still, vacant,

staring with unshaded eyes

upon a snowy front garden,

shrubs overgrown with the

lustiness of summer

now split to the ground

taxed with a heavy snow.


I tried to light the parlor stove,

cranky old smoker

clanking and rattling

in the best of times

now given up the ghost,

cold metal unyielding to wadded paper

and an old mouse nest.


Now the silence of the rooms

broken by hissing wind

whipping around  eaves

rattling old bones in the attic,

stirring the haunts asleep in  corners.


It took time for twigs to catch

water turn to coffee

bacon, eggs brought from the city

cooked in an old iron skillet–

tasting far better in the country air.


I looked down at hands cracked

in the brittle winter light,

moisture gone,

hair static with electricity,

feet numb from the cold

the woodstove not giving

more heat than an ice cube.


Walking down to Olsen’s pond,

Looking through the glassine surface

remembering the boy who had fallen

through while playing hockey

slipping under thin ice,

disappearing without a sound,

only noticed when our puck flew

high in the air

and he, the guard, missing.


We skated to the edge, threw bodies flat

trying to catch him just out of reach,

crying like babies, snot running down chins,

knowing he was floating just under the ice–

silenced like the lamb he was.


Childhood ended that day.

We drifted away to the city,

our skates and sticks put up,

Olsen’s pond deserted like a haunted minefield.


Fifty years ago I still remember

stretched as far as I could

belly freezing on treacherous ice,

grasping to reach a life just out of sight,

his muffler and stick floating to the surface–

The boy, the important part,

gone for good from a chilly winter’s play.


Jane Kohut-Bartels

Copyrighted, 2017


 “Olsen’s Pond” was published in “A Seasoning of Lust”, 2016, Amazon.com




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10 Responses to ““Olsen’s Pond”…..”

  1. Frank Hubeny Says:

    That is a beautiful poem. I remember it from the book although I wasn’t sure from the title. I think you built up the story well starting with trying to revive the vacant house and ending with the remembrance of the boy who could not be revived.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. petrujviljoen Says:


    Liked by 1 person

  3. ladynyo Says:

    Yep…maybe it made some folk uncomfortable, but it is a slice of life in many communities when I was growing up. Thanks, Petru.


  4. ladynyo Says:

    Oh. Frank? I hadn’t thought about that juxtaposition….and it works. I think some at dverse didn’t like it or refused to read because it made them uncomfortable. When I grew up in the wilds of NJ, this happened. Every winter something like this happened. Or a horse was ridden into the middle of the frozen canal and fell through and drowned. I was around when that happened. And I think also, and William Stafford nails it….we write from our experiences, or our memories or something. And this was just…something from childhood. In any case, thank you, Frank for reading this. I feel better about my poems when I cast around with poets and their poetry I admire…and your opinions matter to me. Happy New Year.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. petrujviljoen Says:

    The tone of the poem was filled with such sadness – and forgiveness. You did a great job.

    Liked by 1 person

  6. ladynyo Says:

    Thank, Petru. I think the problem was with this one reader…or non reader. Maybe it pushed some unknown button? I think also that people think that poetry should be light and positive. Hell on that! LOL! Poetry should reflect life….the poets life. A few rounds of William Stafford would clarify that. Again thank you. I never really consider the ‘tone’ of a poem….you know what I mean…they just ‘happen.’

    Liked by 1 person

  7. rothpoetry Says:

    So very sad!!

    Liked by 1 person

  8. ladynyo Says:

    Thank you, Rothpoetry. Some times life is but it is no reason not to read a poem. These things happen in the country.

    Liked by 1 person

  9. rothpoetry Says:

    Yes, every day is not promised to us!

    Liked by 1 person

  10. ladynyo Says:

    Yep. The older I get the more this is true.

    Liked by 1 person

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