“Some Poems from “Kimono”, a novel.

Japanese Lovers II

Last night I finally finished writing “Kimono”.  This novel was started ten years ago and I went on to other books, but it has been nagging at me for quite a while.  Part of the delay was my needing so much research into 17th century Japan.

These few poems are just a sampling of the poetry (mostly tanka) in this novel.  I will try to explain a few to clarify their place in the novel.  All of them were meant to illustrate the growing friendship between Lord Mori and the Japanese-American woman, Mari.

Hopefully “Kimono” will be published this next fall, 2018.

Lady Nyo


Some Poems from “Kimono”

The days are long

Longer still the nights.

The nightingale sings

To herself.


The present snowstorm of

White plum blossoms

Blinds me to sorrow.


They cascade over cheeks

Like perfumed, satin tears,

Too warm with the promise of life

To chill flesh

This next poem is to illustrate what we would call a sceance today.  Mari is caught up in the supernatural events of time travel.-  The 21st century Japanese story teller’s face changes into the man she has met in the 17th century. The stories are properly called “kaidan”.  A ‘good’ story teller has at least 100 stories.  This one has only 4, but perhaps he has many more.

“The dead walk this night

Lost voiceless souls

Wind in the trees

Carry their moans

Carry their groans

Up to our doors.


Open and greet them

Bow to their sadness

Open and greet them

Soon we will be them.”

The next selection of poems are those the character Mari has written for the agent of Edo, Tokugawa.

“A modest woman

  Does not seek comfort with thieves

  Emptiness is fate.

  Better her eyes turn upwards

  To Heaven, soul comforted.” 

“This is the problem!

Do not give over your soul

It returns tattered.

What tailor can mend the rips?

The fabric too frayed by life.”

 “Human frailties

 Wounds that bleed such heated blood

  Leave a dry vessel.

 Without the moisture of love

  The clay reverts to the ground.”

“The morning wren sings

I stand in the moonlit dawn

Kimono wrapped tight

Last night I have made my peace

Now free from all attachments.”



“Shall an old gray wolf

  Subdue a woman like me?

  I shall be born soon.

  The wolf head I will cut off

  And nail the pelt to the cross.”


“Surrounded by gentle nature

A man rests in contentment

But keeps his sword nearby.

A heart does not convey

The warning of a mouth.”


This last verse is from Lord Mori, upon siting a fox (Kitsune) at the lake in the moonlight, turning over pebbles for crawfish-


Has a long and gilded tail

She comes at night

Down to the glistening lake—

The moon rises to light her way.”

And a few more from the novel


“How long will it last?

I do not know his heart.
This morning my thoughts
Are as tangled as my loose hair.”


“How can a woman
Know a warrior’s heart?
We have the sound of
War drums that drown
Out weaker sentiments

“Who attends to the wounded
But women.
Our hands are soft and strong
And the best medicine after war.”

“A woman only knows a man’s heart
By her silence.”

“Who knows the depth of my hidden heart?
Perhaps a ravine in the mountain?
No matter. A firefly of my love is flashing”

“What can dispel the
Blackness of a man’s heart?
Never mind, even the insignificant
light of a firefly
is a start.”

Jane Kohut-Bartels

Copyrighted, 2018








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2 Responses to ““Some Poems from “Kimono”, a novel.”

  1. Frank Hubeny Says:

    I liked the two versions of the firefly at the end. The “no matter” and “never mind” provide a break into two parts.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. ladynyo Says:

    didn’t think about that, but you are right, Frank.

    Liked by 1 person

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