Archive for the ‘Uncategorized’ Category

“Rain Waiting to be Born”

June 22, 2018

Kohut-Bartels-LS-2

(Watercolor, Jane Kohut-Bartels, 2004?)

Second day of summer, much like late spring and we haven’t any real storms in Atlanta to take away the dust and parchedness.  I am praying for rain, any rain.  A good thunderstorm (sans tornado) would be nice about now.

Lady Nyo

 

I feel the rain waiting to be born.
I hear the banshee wind
Racing around eaves,
Scaring the haunts in the attic,
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, 2018

A Tale of Two Young Men…

June 22, 2018

 

Roses East 3

Same exact age, across the street from each other. Grew up together.

Last night a black jaguar pulled up and a young black man was sitting there grinning at me.  It took me a few seconds to recognize him:  Ja’mario, who is 33 and a basketball star.  Really.  He’s one of the few young men in our neighborhood who has made it good in life.

Ja’mario is the son of our neighbor, Madonna.  We have watched him grow, and grow and grow.  He’s got to be over seven feet tall and thin as a stringbean.  He’s a proud vegan. He gave me a bear hug which was comical as I am fully two feet shorter than him.  He has been in Russia, Qatar, Saudia Arabia, Germany, all over the world playing for different leagues.  And a stint with the NBA.  It’s rare we see him because of his travels, but Ja’mario is the sweetest and most humble young man I have met in a long time.  I remember him with these platypus white shoes, the front like big white plates.  They were expensive and Madonna gave him her total support and encouragement.  It paid off and Ja’mario is quite the world traveler now.  It was lovely seeing this child who grew up with our Christopher, a few years younger than Ja’mario.

Another young man, across the street , Andre, same age, had a different outcome in life.  Perhaps things will change for him.  Andre was a budding artist.  He could draw anything and since I was known by the neighborhood kids as ‘the artist’, Andre would come up to my house to draw.  I gave him supplies every time he came.  His father was not supportive of Andre’s talent or gift.  He was a Jehovah’s Witness and Andre told me that ‘he wouldn’t allow any art stuff in the house’.  Actually, Andre’s father was brutal emotionally to Andre.  Andre moved out after high school, but a few years ago, moved back in with his father.

Both of these young men are good men.  Both of them have talent to burn.  The difference is  Ja’mario’s mother has encouraged and cultivated her son’s talent.  It has paid off big time. She made many sacrifices.  Andre’s father didn’t and his strict religion got in the way of better things for Andre.  Andre has done little with his life since high school, except medial jobs.  He has a chip on his shoulder that grows yearly but perhaps this is also the home influence.

All this has taught us a powerful lesson.  Our son hasn’t the talents of Ja’mario or Andre. But he has his own brilliance. It is so important for parents to support and encourage these sparks.  I know what I am talking about as I suffered the same ‘disease’ as a child.  My mother took little interest in me.  I left home at 19 and really never went back.  It was a struggle through a bad marriage and a lot of mistakes in life, but the encouragement and emotional support of three aunts helped. I grew to be a writer under their eyes and encouragement and they delighted in my progress.   My husband of 34 years made all the difference for me later on.

Ja’mario has a contract to play in China he is considering. Regardless where he goes, he is so welcome home.  We don’t get to see him much but when we do, it’s a wonderful visit.  The basis was laid by his mother and this young man is a whacking success in his life.  We are so proud of him.  And we are touched  that he remembers us who watched him grow.

Jane Kohut-Bartels

Copyrighted, 2018

Haibun: Sumo Wrestling

June 21, 2018

sumo

It’s a hot and overcast day but beautiful this first day of a long summer.  I am watching a green eyed one year old kitten we rescued from neighbor’s basement window, along with her brother.  Every year this neighbor comes calling with news that a mother cat has dropped her kittens on his turf. We, of course, bite.  That is one reason, the prime reason, we have now 10 cats here.  All fat and spoiled cats.  This afternoon I was watching Edwina (the green eyed beauty, with spots like a gray leopard) sleep with her face in my expensive German feather duster.  Her arms encircling the handle.  What the hell…a new cat toy brings more usage to this duster than I ever have.  A good feeling when you can add to the pleasure of an animal.  Edwina and her brother Fudo, he a jet black stalker of anything that moves, especially toes, are a blessing of the Universe.  For some reason they made me think of this haibun of Sumo Wrestlers.  Probably because of the kibble (and more…) that they eat.

Lady Nyo

Sumo Wrestling

I love Sumo wrestling. Or at least I think I do. Perhaps it is the only sport where I don’t feel like I have to hold in my stomach sitting there. Watching those mountains of flesh-men grapple with each other makes my heart beat hard. There is such history around this sport, and such a deep tradition. The fact that they gorge themselves with a purpose makes my heart sing. How wonderful that you can eat and eat without any concern for weight or fashion!

And, did you know  those belts they wear can cost a million yen? Or so I have read. I have also read that Sumo Wrestlers are some of the most humble and gentle of men. Here, have another bowl of rice.

Mountains of flesh pound
A ring of sandy earth
Cunning and strength vie.

 

Jane Kohut-Bartels
Copyrighted, 2017

 

Spam……and other complaints in life.

June 21, 2018

lioness

 

The spam comments are hysterical.  Most of them.  I still don’t understand WHY they try to post these things, but they fall between annoying and ….well, just obnoxious.  When you see the same short comment over and over with different ‘names’, you get an idea that there is NO thought or real interest put into what they type.  And the speech is so not English.  Perhaps it is the equal of the Mumbai scammers, our ‘friends’ in the phone business of alerting you to the chaos your computer is making for the world?  I don’t know, but no spammer is getting a free ride here.

I am still scratching my head about this ‘extraproxies’ and when I try to research what they are, it’s pretty scrambled to me.  I still don’t know what they do.  Except clog up my spam file.

I don’t know why escort services or porn sites would bother because as soon as I see where they originate, I delete them.  But these things seem to come in cycles.  The other day I had over 300 extraproxies comments on this blog and I just do a massive slaughter.  Then it seems to settle down.  Until later.

Scams seem to abound lately.  Just this morning I got a phone call from a ‘pharmacy’….asking for me by name.  The woman had a heavy accent and wouldn’t  identify WHAT pharmacy she represented, but I didn’t give her much chance to go on.  My pharmacy doesn’t work like that.

After 10 days of no phone, (and our entire right side of the street were affected by some glitch)  I enjoyed the silence of the scammers.  I guess they missed me because when the phone lines were fixed and working, now I get recorded calls from these same Mumbai scammers telling me to call this number to talk about the chaos my computer is doing to the internet.  LOL.  Yeah, I will call them.

Sometimes I miss the direct contact from these scammers.  They are annoying but give me a  chance to use my bad Hindu.  The insulting stuff where I call the caller a ‘stupid monkey’ or a bastard.  Sometimes that stops them in their tracks.  I hang up before they recover.

One tries to be civil.  One tries.  But some don’t deserve the effort. We   have a neighbor (transient thankfully) who doesn’t deserve anything civil.  He is an animal abuser but that’s a  dime a dozen here in Atlanta among his tribe.  He’s nothing but an Urban Thug.  You can’t put lipstick on a pig.  He is also a threatening misogynist.  But he’s a coward.  He won’t pull that on my husband.  Just me, a woman.  Stupid coward. My husband said that ‘he doesn’t know who he pissed off”.  Nope, and he doesn’t want to find out either.  His behavior and actions have been put in the hands of the proper authorities.  Let them handle it all.

Life can be hard.  Life can be complex.  At a certain age, you avoid all of this shit and withdraw from the fray.  I have, after so many decades, seen the best and worst in people.  I prefer the animals around me and seek out the strays.  They are so much more civil than the human element.  And they purr.

 

Jane Kohut-Bartels

Copyrighted, 2018

 

 

“Musings On A Closing Day”

June 19, 2018

Mt. fuji women

 

I move my chair
to observe Mt. Fuji-
monstrous perfection
topped with the cooling crust
of spring snows.

Languid movement
of a branch,
like a geisha
unfurling her arm
from a gray kimono,
makes petals fall,
a scented, pink snow
covering my upturned face
with careless kisses.

Timid winds caress
my limbs,
a fleeting relief
to tired bones
brittle now with
a sullen defeat of life.

Raked sand of garden
waves barely disturbed
by feet like two gray stones
as grains flow
round ankles.


I realize once again
I am no obstacle to
the sands of time.

My heart is quieted
by the passage of nothing
for in this nothing
is revealed the fullness of life.

 

Jane Kohut-Bartels
Copyrighted, 2016-2018

“Basho on Poetry: Learn from the Pine”.

June 18, 2018

Sesshu painting

Basho On Poetry: Learn from the Pine


These are excerpts from a rather long document by Basho, considered to be the top haiku poet of the 17th century. I am presenting these thoughts of his because they ‘make clear and plain’ what Basho believes is the correct approach to haiku. Today, lots of poets are attempting haiku, and missing by a wide streak. This is sad, but also represents a lack of study, perhaps pure laziness, and as one poet said: “Every thing I learned about haiku, I learned from the internet.”
This is especially sad, but an honest statement from one poet. There are enough books on haiku out there, and by masters of haiku, too, to read and learn from. That is not to say that haiku is easy. It looks easy, but isn’t. At least attending to some of words of poets like Basho will give us a hint.

Perhaps these words will help in our forming our own haiku. I offer some of my own, but these were formed before I had read Basho. Perhaps readers will see the struggle to form haiku. Writing haiku is definitely a learning process that should take a long time of study and contemplation.

Lady Nyo

BASHO:
Learn about the pines from the pine, and about bamboo from the bamboo.
Don’t follow in the footsteps of the old poets, seek what they sought.
The basis of art is change in the universe. What’s still has changeless form. Moving things change, and because we cannot put a stop to time, it continues unarrested. To stop a thing would be to halve a sight or sound in our heart. Cherry blossoms whirl, leaves fall, and the wind flits them both along the ground. We cannot arrest with our eyes or ears what lies in such things. Were we to gain mastery over them, we would find that the life of each thing had vanished without a trace.

Make the universe your companion, always bearing in mind the true nature of things—mountains and rivers, trees and grasses, and humanity—and enjoy the falling blossoms and the scattering leaves.
One should know that a hokku is made by combining things.
The secret of poetry lies in treading the middle path between the reality and the vacuity of the world.

One must first of all concentrate one’s thoughts on an object. Once the mind achieves a state of concentration and the space between oneself and the object had disappeared, the essential nature of the object can be perceived. Then express it immediately. If one ponders it, it will vanish from the mind.

Sabi is the color of the poem. It does not necessarily refer to the poem that describes a lonely scene. If a man goes to war wearing stout armor or to a party dressed up in gay clothes, and if this man happens to be an old man, there is something lonely about him. Sabi is something like that.

When you are composing a verse, quickly say what is in your mind; never hesitate a moment.

Composition must occur in an instant, like a swordsman leaping at his enemy.

Is there any good in saying everything?

In composing hokku, there are two ways: becoming and making. When a poet who has been assiduous in pursuit of his aim applies himself to an external object, the color of his mind naturally becomes a poem. In the case of the poet who has not done so, nothing in him will become a poem; he makes the poem through an act of personal will.

There are three elements in haikai: Its feeling can be called loneliness (sabi). This plays with refined dishes but contents itself with humble fare. Its total effect can be called elegance. This lives in figured silks and embroidered brocades but does not forget a person clad in woven straw. Its language can be called aesthetic madness. Language resides in untruth and ought to comport with truth. It is difficult to reside in truth and sport with untruth. These three elements do not exalt a humble person to heights. They put an exalted person in a low place.
The profit of haikai lies in making common speech right.

Haikai needs more homely images, such as a crow picking mud snails in a rice paddy.

In humanity, there can be something called a windswept spirit. A thin drapery torn and swept away by the stirring of the wind. Indeed, since beginning to write poetry, it (this windswept spirit…this dissatisfaction (my word) knows no other art than the art of writing poetry and therefore it hangs on to it more or less blindly.
Poetry is a fireplace in summer or a fan in winter.
How invincible is the power of poetry to reduce me (Basho) to a tattered beggar!

It is the poetic spirit called furabo that leads one to follow nature and become a friend with things of the seasons. Flowers, moon, insects, etc. For those who do not see the flower are no different from barbarians, and those who do not imagine the moon are akin to beasts. Leave barbarians and beasts behind and follow nature and return to nature.

The bones of haiku are plainness and oddness.
(From: Basho on Poetry.)


My (Lady Nyo’s) examples of early haiku.

Pale lavender sky
Balances the moon and sun
The scale shifts to night.

Under the dark moon
I awaited your return
Only shadows came.

A swirl of blossoms
Caught in the water’s current
Begins the season.

Jane Kohut-Bartels
Copyrighted, 2016-18

 

 

Some Haiku…..

June 15, 2018

Kohut-Bartels-LS-2

Watercolor of trees, Jane Kohut-Bartels, 2006

A Note to Lisa:  So good to meet you, Lisa and you are a very special woman.  I talked a bit about “The Kimono” and it’s somewhere (chapters) on the blog here, going back to ‘older entries’.  However!  There are some very funny entries, like  “Nancy Madsen”, and “The Mermaid” from my ongoing memoir: “Memories of a Rotten Childhood”.  LOL.  And….a rather sexy book, my second (unpublished….)  “Devil’s Revenge”, posted here.  Thank you for the chat and the best of everything to and for you, Lisa!  

Hugs, Jane

It’s full bloom spring, almost summer at least the weather says so.  These haiku are inspired by Frank Tassone’s haiku, (American Haijin)though he is the better haiku poet.  

Lady Nyo

The koi are hungry
Orange mouths gulp green water
Good the algae grows

Spring robins watch
Quarrelsome beasts these birds!
They don’t share the worms

Half submerged eyes
Of frogs in algae filled pond
Reflect cloudy moon

Swifts- dark crescent moons
Sickles cutting through the dusk
Tag the slower bats

Chatter of sparrows
Treble voices to spring song
Dried leaves percussion

Soft rains caress earth
A hand slides up a soft thigh
Cherry blossoms bloom

Sultry air disturbs
The sleep of husband and wife
Panting without lust

(my favorite haiku…)

Pale lavender sky
Balances the moon and sun
The scale shifts to night.

 

Jane Kohut-Bartels

Copyrighted, 2018

Call and Answer to Ono no Komachi

June 12, 2018

Tanka Presentation Illustration, Feb, 11

-Ono no Komachi’s appear first, mine (as answering) appear in italics.

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.

“How long will it last?
I know not his hidden heart.
This morning my thoughts
Are as tangled as my hair.
My blushes turn my face dark.”


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


No moon tonight
Only a cold wind visits
Murasaki robe
Stained the color of grass
Invisible on this earth.


At least no one can blame me
When I go to you at night
Along the road of dreams.


Come to me, my man,
Part the blinds and come into my arms,
Snuggle against my warm breast
And let my belly
Warm your 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.

When my needing you
Burns my breasts-torments me
I tear open robes
To lie naked in moonlight
The wind your hands, caressing

 


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

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


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

Tonight, foxes scream
Cued by a howling wind.
Maple leaves quilting
A lonely time of season
No one to share the moonlight.

 

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?

So lonely am I
My soul like a floating weed
Severed at the roots
Drifting upon cold waters
No pillow for further dreams.

 

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

Poems in Italics were mine.

Jane Kohut-Bartels
Copyrighted, 2018

 

“The Zar Tales”, Chapter Four

June 10, 2018

Zar Dancer

(A Zar Ritual Dancer…)

 

CHAPTER IV.

Mr. Mazud Nageesh sat at his desk, pondering the information before him. His wife Leila, attending the Zar ritual at Sheikha Shakira’s house was a further complication.

Ah! Women and their issues certainly screwed a peaceful life! They were essential to men’s comfort, and they continued the bloodlines, but by Allah’s Exalted Name in Paradise…they troubled a peaceful man!

Mr. Nageesh thought through his options. If he ignored the activity of the women, winked at their Zars, his own leadership of the village could be called into question and he could be removed from office. Things could go worse than that for him.

Then, there was his marriage. Leila had been a good if stubborn wife for over thirty years. The man was supposed to rule the house, but any man married that long knew who actually ruled. It was always the women who had real power. At his age he longed for peace and quiet, and if at times he walked on eggshells around the women of his household, well, it was only because he was a wise man.

But Leila was at the zar, and playing her tamboura. It would not be possible to ignore her presence at Sheikha Shakira’s house. Perhaps there was a way around the behavior of the women, but at this time, he didn’t know what it was. The situation was like a sour pickle and however he held his mouth, it would be bitter.

There didn’t seem any way out. Sighing deeply, he resolved to contact the proper authorities in the nearest city for guidance. But he would sit on it for a while, think of some options, and as long as he did something, what was the reasoning to rush? Better to run into a lion’s mouth where religion and women were concerned than mess with the authorities.

Ah! Allah the Merciful! What was the difference between lions, women and religion? You got chewed up all ways!

 
Jane Kohut-Bartels

Copyrighted, 2018

“The Zar Tales”, Chapter Three…

June 9, 2018

CHAPTER III.

Shakira looked around at the women on the floor. Some were smoking, most talking and the sound of clinking bottles were heard though the women tried to muffle it with their robes.

“Aliya, don’t be so stingy with that bottle. Pass it over here, woman.”

“You will guzzle it, and we will have to clean up the mess.” Laugher sounded throughout the room. Some of the women sipped from the hidden and forbidden bottles of their husbands. They were not the young ones.

Give them time, thought Shakira, the wine will flow as easy as their tongues and their laughter.

It was not often they could gather, and each yearned for a time where inhibitions would lessen and gossip, the welcome companion of women, was allowed.

“Jassa”, called Shakira, “come spread the cloth on the altar. We must do this properly if we are to catch a Zar tonight.”

“Perhaps cousin we catch two Zars tonight. My Farah has been complaining of stomach troubles and maybe a Zar has gripped her middle.”

Shakira shook her head and laughed. “Farah eats too many dates and she is fat as a ewe. No Zar would have room to lodge in her stomach. Too much food in there.”

 

Dried fruit, stuffed dates, nuts and sweet breads were passed around on large trays. A large brass one was placed on the altar, made of a high stool in the middle of the room. This was for the spirits who happened to come wandering in during the drumming. No mortal would dare touch that offering.

A number of women had dumbeks, drums brought to the house smuggled under their voluminous robes. The tamboura, an ancient lyre-like instrument, was already in the hands of Leila, and she busy tuning it to suit the mood of the evening. Leila usually started with sad songs, and as the wine made the rounds, the tempo of the tamboura, followed by the dumbeks, would increase and the women would make little effort to confine their happiness.

 

Ah! Life could be good! It was just a matter of side- stepping the men.

Tonight Shakira had an idea, something she had dreamed for a while. The festival of the Goddess Nut was approaching, and though no longer celebrated openly Nut was the Goddess closest to the heart of women. Protector of the dead, Nut was also beloved by the living, for she spread her body over the Universe and fed and comforted them from her teats. There was always enough milk from generous Nut and she was beloved by mothers, and most of the women in the village were mothers.

So many babies now in the arms of Nut, resting like stars in her bosom! Shakira had lost her only babe, along with her husband many years ago. So Ali was both to her and tonight she would dance in celebration. Allah was the men’s god, but Nut had the heart and devotion of women.

 

 

Leila started to play her tamboura, and slow, sad chords and plaints tumbled from her fingers. Women around the room hushed, listened with their ears and hearts, heads nodding. This was the music reaching up to their wombs and lifting the sorrows off their bosoms. Shakira could imagine the ghosts of children and husbands long gone floating like wisps of smoke in the center of the room. Perhaps they would eat from the sacred tray of sweets. Tonight they would join together, still part of the village though no longer in corporal form. The magic of Leila’s fingers drew forth tears along, perhaps, invisible spirits.

Her playing changed after these sad songs. Gone was the mourning of the women, to be replaced by joyful tunes. Voices were lifted in song and chant, fingers snapped like zils, shoulders swayed and hands clapped out a counter rhythm to the drums.

Shakira felt the trance take over her body, slip up her loins and envelop her mind.

 

Ahhhh!

It was a warm embrace, and it wasn’t Ali! Warm enough to make her move with an internal rhythm apart from any conscious intentions.

She was possessed by the Zar trance.

Shakira rose to her feet and discarded her outer garment. She shook out her arms and rolled her head around. Her white cotton undergown was loose over her swelling breasts and haunches. She kicked off her sandals and her long black hair streamed down her back, unplaited, flowing like dark waves. She paced around the circle, her body picking up the rhythm of the drums and tamboura, her hips defining a pattern of movement, her arms held out from her body. She was dancing the age-old dance of women, for women, to greet the cares and concerns of their tribe. For, men aside, women were the heart beat of the village, they were the blood coursing through the alleys and up to the well. They were the waters of Life .

Shakira stalked the room, now a tigress, drums following her, she commanding the rhythm. Shaking, bowing, swaying, each movement mirrored in the watching eyes of the women. She danced alone, but the movements were blood, flesh and muscle of every woman who sat before her. Heads nodded in time with the drums, hands clapped, some women pounded the floor in counter rhythms, swayed with their own bodies in imitation of Shakira’s dancing. She moved around the room, hips shaking, belly rolling, shoulders thrown back and forth, hair cascading outward like the whirling skirts of the Dervishes of Turkey as she turned in circles, feet pivoting beneath her body, those feet beating out a tattoo that went straight into the earth.

“Ayaaa!”

“Sheikha Shakira dances in the river of life! The Sheikha captures our hearts and lifts them to the Goddesses’ lips!”

“Ayaaa! We dance with you, Shakira!”

Voices were raised in chants, joined together in different harmonies, rising up to the ceiling, taking wing in the nighttime air. Shakira’s feet pounded out rhythms deep, deep into the soil of the floor. Her hands and flinging arms commanded the winds, and the women’s chants rose to the ears of heaven.

“Ayaaa!”

Sweat dripped off the face of Leila as she played the tamboura, her fingers flashing on the lyre-like instrument and the drums beat different cadences, creating multi-layered sounds. This drone of music underlay the vocals of the women singing in now- strange harmonies. Pagan magic filled the room and Shakira’s body radiated the energies of an older culture. Gone were the cities, the stuff of modern life, the mullahs, the chadors and bourka that veiled the beauties of women and in their place was the teats of nourishing Goddess Nut, spreading her body over the universe, the stars coursing through her body, the planets, the moons, the comets, too. The sun crept up her holy woman’s place at night, to be born out of her mouth at dawn. The moon too, came forth from her body, and the passage of the hours were marked by her Houri, the original women of the night, dancing with lessening veils till they lay under her belly at daybreak, sleeping.

Praise Nut! Goddess of women. Goddess of our own, time before time, Goddess before any God!

 

Jane Kohut-Bartels

Copyrighted, 2018

zar-tales-book-cover

Published 2010, Lulu.com, and also Amazon.com


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