“River of Death”…..

Haibun, “River of Death”

Man'yoshu image II

 I’ve had enough horror this weekend and wanted to dial back on that.  So, I am posting this new haibun  I fashioned out of an episode of “Song of the Nightingale”, published by Createspace, 2015.  It’s a bit ghostly.


The river of death is swollen with bodies fallen into it;

in the end  the bridge of horses cannot help.


(it was a medieval military tactic to stand horses together to make a bridge for soldiers to cross the river.)


“River of Death”

Voice of Lady Nyo:

When the news of my birthing a son reached my husband, he was far from home, to the east, over mountains in dangerous, alien territory. A general in the service of his lord, the gore of battle, and the issue of ‘dying with honor’ began at first light. The air soon filled with the sounds of battle- dying horses and men, drawing their last gasps of life, churned into the mud of immeasurable violence. Death, not new life was before his eyes at dawn. And death, not life, pillowed his head at night. He stunk with the blood of battle as his bow and swords cut a swath through men in service to another and when the battle horns went silent, with tattered banners like defeated clouds hanging limp over the field, acrid smoke stained everything and the piteous cries of the dying echoed in his ears. He wondered if his life would end here. But the gods he didn’t believe in were merciful. His thoughts turned from fierce, ugly warriors towards home and a baby. Still he could not leave. He was caught by status, the prestige of his clan. He could not desert the fate set out from birth. Ah! This was the fate of a man chained to Honor.

Still, in the darkest hours of the night, he said the soft, perfumed shape of me floated down from the fleeting clouds, and I came to him through the smoke of battlefield fires, and he turned on his pallet to embrace this haunting comfort.

Shaped like a crossbow

Moon floods the battle below

Too late for the dead.

Dark is the hour

when hope is vanquished

the nightingale sings



Jane Kohut-Bartels

Copyrighted, 2018

Song Book cover

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2 Responses to ““River of Death”…..”

  1. Frank J. Tassone Says:

    Reblogged this on Frank J. Tassone and commented:
    #Haiku Happenings #5: Jane Kohut-Bartels‘ latest #haibun!

    Liked by 1 person

  2. ladynyo Says:

    Thank you, Frank! Haibun has such a long and good tradition.

    Liked by 1 person

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