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“Seasons Change” haibun

May 31, 2020


(Watercolor above by author below)

For Frank Tassone….a wonderful haiku writer.

I love Haibun form, and I love to ‘answer’ the Haibun with other forms like Tanka and Haiku.  In this time of complex stress….it’s good to have this before my eyes.

Lady Nyo

Haibun:  Light filtering ….Seasons Change


Autumn wind startles–
Lowered to an ominous
Key—Ah! Mournful sounds!
The fat mountain deer listen-
Add their bellowing sorrow.


The gingko filters the sunlight, the ground a crescent- printed cloth fit for a yukata.  It hits my hands and feet, creating white scars that do not burn.  I welcome the sun.  My bones grow thin.

This passage, from summer to fall, eternal movement of Universal  Design, counts down the years I have left.  There is so much more to savor.  Two lives would not be enough.

Tsuki, a beggar’s cup too thin to fatten the road, still shines with a golden brightness, unwavering in the chill aki wind. The Milky Way reigns over all.


Sharp moon cuts the sky

The fierce wind from the mountains

Disturbs dragonflies.


Jane Kohut-Bartels

Copyrighted, 2020



















Demostration last night in downtown Atlanta

May 30, 2020

Yesterday downtown Atlanta burned. What started out to be a peaceful demo within hours became a riot.

CNN center was trashed, broken windows, looted,
Police were targets of rocks, knives thrown and bb guns.
Many (20??) smaller businesses were looted and set on fire,
Then the ‘protesters’ headed to Buckhead a toney area of malls and expensive apartments.

Lenox Mall….I don’t know how much damage there because there were some police presence there…but the Target and liquor stores were looted. Chic Fil, and the ATT store where looters looted expensive phones.Then they went after the jewelry stores to loot. I don’t know what happened because at that point I stopped watching and went to sleep.  This honors George Floyd?  No, it just scratches an itch for opportunists.

Centenial Park and Marietta was where the fires were started: police cars, regular cars, were set on fire. Trees were ablaze.  Welcome center burned to the ground.

The police did nothing threatening. And they also didn’t protect smaller businesses….

A lot of white people were amongst the looters, rioters. I used to be a radical and have been teargassed but these people are far and away more dangerous than any demostration we put on here in Atlanta decades ago. As one looter said: “They be lots of buildings to be burned in Atlanta.”


We are less than 3 miles from downtown. This was scary. Lots of police but they did nothing to stop the demostrators or looters because that would just have outraged these fools more.

Burning down your city does dishonor to those who where killed by police. The Mayor, TI and Killer Mike pleaded for people to ‘go home.” Perhaps it would have been better for Killer Mike not to wear a t-shirt that said: “Kill your masters.”

Something has to change here but it is not only the police. The mentality of these youth who took part in this are nihilists.  They see no value or worth in anything that doesn’t play to them.

We are awaiting what happens this weekend.  This morning the estimates were 50,000 downtown Atlanta. The powers that be, and the media said a ‘few thousand”  ….with no social distancing and many without masks…we are about to see a change here. The virus will be taking more of these protesters. Just wait about a week or so.

Sad, but this is what a wilfull ‘thinning of the herd’ looks like. We are doing it to ourselves.

Jane Kohut-Bartels

Copyrighted, 2020


Ono no Komachi, A Sensual Medieval Japanese Poet….

May 29, 2020

via Ono no Komachi, A Sensual Medieval Japanese Poet….

Ono no Komachi, A Sensual Medieval Japanese Poet….

May 29, 2020

Ono no Komachi, A Sensual Medieval Japanese Poet


I’ve written before on this blog about Ono no Komachi. She continues to capture my interest as a woman and a poet.

Briefly, she lived from 834?-??. It’s not clear when she died. She served in Japan’s Heian court (then in Kyoto) and was one of the dominant poetic geniuses. She is also in the great Man’yoshu, a collection of 4500 poems.

She lived when a woman was considered to be educated once she composed, memorized and could recite 1000 poems. Her poetry is deeply subjective, passionate and complex. She was a pivotal figure, legendary in Japanese literary history.

The form: these are written in tanka form…the usual form of poetry most popular.

Don’t be put off by the lack of syllables or more than for the lines. These poems are translated into English and they don’t necessarily fit the form exactly.

There are parts of the world where her poetry is still studied and read. These cultures are richer for the doing, as are their poets.

Lady Nyo

Did he appear
Because I fell asleep
Thinking of him?
If only I’d known I was dreaming
I’d never have awakened.

When my desire
Grows too fierce
I wear my bed clothes
Inside out,
Dark as the night’s rough husk.

My longing for you—
Too strong to keep within bounds.
At least no one can blame me
When I go to you at night
Along the road of dreams.

One of her most famous poems:

No way to see him
On this moonless night—
I lie awake longing, burning,
Breasts racing fire,
Heart in flames.

Night deepens
With the sound of calling deer,
And I hear
My own one-sided love.

The cicadas sing
In the twilight
Of my mountain village—
Tonight, no one
Will visit save the wind.

A diver does not abandon
A seaweed-filled bay.
Will you then turn away
From this floating, sea-foam body
That waits for your gathering hands?

Is this love reality
Or a dream?
I cannot know,
When both reality and dreams
Exist without truly existing.

My personal favorite:

The autumn night
Is long only in name—
We’ve done no more
Than gaze at each other
And it’s already dawn.

This morning
Even my morning glories
Are hiding,
Not wanting to show
Their sleep-mussed hair.

I thought to pick
The flower of forgetting
For myself,
But I found it
Already growing in his heart.

Since this body
Was forgotten
By the one who promised to come,
My only thought is wondering
Whether it even exists.

All these poems were compiled from the Man’yoshu and the book, “The Ink Dark Moon”, by Hirshfield and Aratani.

Jane Kohut-Bartels

Copyrighted, 2018


Haibun: The Mermaid

May 27, 2020

This Haibun is from ‘Memories of a Rotten Childhood” not yet published

Haibun: The Mermaid


The ‘50’s was a time of Mickie Mantle vs. Marilyn Monroe, Better Red than Dead, or Dead than Red, confusing for children as we didn’t understand ‘why’ we were to change color.  The ‘50’s was surviving the drunken kindness of a father and the sober malice of a mother, with all of us siblings carrying water to both.

Second grade and I remember tall windows that cranked out at chest height but only the teacher was allowed to touch the crank and the smell of ages: mold, asbestos and lead paint was a constant in our tender lives.

I remember being given a small lump of grey/green clay for ‘arts and crafts’.  I remember the mermaid I molded:  rolled clay for hair and arms, perky breasts, a split tail. I used my fingernail to make scales.  I remember old Mrs. Hoephner coming down the aisle, her knarled hands balled into fists, her grimace, her white hair floating like a wrath around her head and she saw my mermaid and stomped it flat with her fist.

Five decades later, I made that same mermaid, (I hadn’t progressed far with clay,) but this time, I glazed her shiny and she visited the fire and I gave her a crown of thorns.  Again,  I saw old Mrs. Hoephner, crabby old woman long dead, coming to my desk and Thump This, you old bat, you destroyer of a child’s imagination and you will be wearing that crown of thorns.



Such a fragile thing.

Child’s salvation


Jane Kohut-Bartels

Copyrighted, 2016-2020

“Darwin’s Worms”

May 26, 2020



The soil has lost its excellence.

Worms hide in the

Deep sullen earth

I imagine curled up,

Embracing worm castings

And each other,

Desiccated former selves

Pale little ghosts

Awaiting the fertility of spring

The watering of a hard rain.


I squandered the bloom months,

Thinking paper and pen

Would bring its own blossoming

Scarcely seeing the vitality outside


Allowing cabbage moths and beetles

To dominate

My nod to farming,

To self-sufficiency,

My tithe to the earth.


Ah, the soil is hardened

By the sins of the season.

Sharp winds make


The cold buries down,

Deep, deep down

Torments, teases any life

That would show a feckless head.


Especially those hopeful worms

Now bundled in worm-sleep.


The words, verse,

I chose to cultivate

Over cabbage, collards

Failed to bloom.

Better I had plied the hoe

And bucket to that

Than a fevered pen

To paper.


It is now winter.

The fallow earth

Plays a waiting game

Knows I have failed

In pulp and soil

And mocks with a barrenness

Inside and out.


Jane Kohut-Bartels

Copyrighted, 2018-2020







I Feel The Rain”….

May 15, 2020

via I Feel The Rain”….

I Feel The Rain”….

May 15, 2020



I feel the rain waiting to be born.
I hear the banshee wind
Racing round eaves,
Scaring the attic haunts,
Making hambone frenzy with
Powdery limbs.
Trees now tilting whirligigs
Ancient pin, water oaks
Dancing St. Germaine’s dance–
Frenzy below amongst quilted colors
Ruffling the feathers of nature
Tossing the spectrum wide.

I smell mossy rain finally born,
Hear the clatter on a tin roof
Smell again the musty fog
Born of a sullen, moaning stream
And head for bed under the eaves,
Shared with a Banshee wind
And a hambone frenzy until dawn.

Jane Kohut-Bartels

Copyrighted 2019

“Turkey Vulture”

May 12, 2020

via “Turkey Vulture”

“Turkey Vulture”

May 12, 2020

-(Of course this is a Red Tailed Hawk….I haven’t a painting of a Turkey Vulture)


Knew a woman
in a trailer park
in the scrub pines of Florida.

Poor as a church mouse,
half–crazed by life,
fed all the strays-
pariah of the neighborhood.

Every evening flocks of vultures,
like fixed-wing aircraft,
skimmed the pines,
landed in a muddle of dusty feathers,
awkward, out of their element
and with a group waddle
came to the cat food offered in pans.

They were patient guests,
waited for the strays to finish.

There was decorum
amongst them,
these fierce looking birds.
Perhaps they sensed
the charity offered
humbled their nature,
perhaps they had reformed,
I don’t know.

“Frank” was their leader
who held back until
the others were done.

Frank would never face you,
he sat sideways
though I believe he peeked.
Perhaps he was ashamed
A Lord of the Sky
brought to this station,
filling his crop with kibble
from a dented metal pan.

Come sit with me.
Extend a feather,
I promise not to stare.
Your warty red neck,
your hang-dog countenance
does not disturb me.

Feathers dusty, faded black
on Earth,
but wheeling into the Sun,
how glorious your wings!
Feathers exploding in prisms
And diamonds.

Come sit beside me.
Let our talons dig into the sand
let the ocean cleanse our feathers.
I will call you friend, brother
for the gift of humility
brought in on your wings.

Jane Kohut-Bartels
Copyrighted, 2016 (an earlier form of “Turkey Vulture” was published in “Pitcher of Moon”, 2014, by Amazon.

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