“Lord Nyo’s Lament”, from “Song of the Nightingale”

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Lord Nyo’s Lament

Oh my wife!
My feet take me over mountains
In the service to our lord
But my heart stays tucked in the bosom
Of your robe.

Lady Nyo, circa 2015


The song of the arrow
As it arced into the sea
Was as tuneless
As a badly strung samisen.

Gun- metal clouds
Stretched across a dull horizon
The sun still asleep
As he should be
His quiver empty
His heart, too.

When had the callousness of life and death
Become as comfortable as breath to him?
He had become too much the warrior
And too little the man.

His distance from his wife,
From most of life
Was as if some unseen object
Kept them ten paces apart.
Perhaps it was the cloud-barrier
Of earthly lusts which obscured
The Sun of Buddha?


Perhaps he should pray.
What God would listen?
Then it came to him
That joker of a Buddha, Fudo
With his rope to pull him from Hell
And his sword to cut through foolishness-
Fudo would listen.
Fudo knew the quaking hearts
The illusions embraced
To stomach the battlefield
The fog of drink,
To face life
In the service of Death.
Fudo would save him from
The yellow waters of Hell.

He remembered those years
When she could bring him to his knees
With the promise of dark mystery
Between silken thighs,
And the glimpse of her white wrist-
A river of passion
Just beneath the surface.
How he had steeled his heart
Believing himself unmanned
For the love she induced!

Three cranes flew low to the shore,
Legs streaming like black ribbons behind.
Three cranes, three prayers, three chances
To find his way back
Bound up in Fudo’s ropes,
Prodded in the ass by Fudo’s sword.

He would write a poem
On a bone-white fan
To leave on her cushion.
She would know his love
She would know his sorrow.

The sea took his arrows
Beyond the breakers,
The glint of sleek feathers
Catching thin rays of light.
An unexpected peace came over him
As they journeyed far from his hands.

Jane Kohut-Bartels
Copyrighted, 2016-2018

Song Book cover


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5 Responses to ““Lord Nyo’s Lament”, from “Song of the Nightingale””

  1. Frank Hubeny Says:

    I like that description of Fudo as a “joker of a Buddha”. I also liked this description “too much the warrior
    And too little the man”. His sorrow must be great.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. ladynyo Says:

    Thank you, Frank. I think he is jolted into some sort of consciousness by his actions. And yes, perhaps he is realizing the sorrow of his warrior life for the first time?

    Liked by 1 person

  3. ladynyo Says:

    Oh! I forgot to say that Fudo is probably my favorite Japanese Buddha. Next to Jizo. Both are reachable and give hope. I have a new 6 month old black kitten named Fudo. He’s living up to his name. LOL!

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Frank Hubeny Says:

    Fudo’s my favorite one as well, but then I don’t know many. Thanks for introducing him in your poems and stories.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. ladynyo Says:

    You are welcome, Frank! These are some of my favorite things to write. Fudo, Jizo, tengus….and sometimes devils are delightful and entertaining to write about. My knowledge isn’t extensive, except there are some interesting kami to discover: kami that are nothing but an arm hanging in a tree, ready to snatch things passing under, and my favorite kami: the one who cleans the bathrooms; LOL! That’s useful.

    Liked by 1 person

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