Posts Tagged ‘archery’

The Stillness of Death, from “The Nightingale’s Song”

July 22, 2013

japanese ghosts

I am going to post one poem of this (work in progress) book each week.  I am working on revisions so hopefully I can continue on this schedule. Readers might notice changes in these pieces, the ones I have posted on this blog before, but that is to be expected.  Thank you all who read this work.

Lady Nyo

THE STILLNESS OF DEATH, from Nightingale



“My heart, like my clothing

Is saturated with your fragrance.

Your vows of fidelity

Were made to our pillow and not to me.”

—-12th century

Kneeling before her tea

Lady Nyo did not move.

She barely breathed-

Tomorrow depended

Upon her action today.

Lord Nyo was drunk again.

When in his cups

The household scattered.

Beneath the kitchen

Was the crawl space

Where three servants

Where hiding.

A fourth wore an iron pot.

Lord Nyo was known

For three things:



And drink.

Tonight he strung

His seven foot bow,

Donned his quiver

High on his back.

He looked at the pale face

Of his aging wife,

His eyes blurry, unfocused.

He remembered the first time

pillowing her.

She was fifteen,

Her body powdered petals,

Bones like butter,

Black hair  trailing bo silk.

The blush of shy passion

Had coursed through veins

A tinted stream.

Still beautiful 

Now too fragile for his taste.

Better a plump whore,

Than this delicate, saddened beauty.

He drew back the bow

In quick succession

Let five arrows pierce

The shoji.

Each grazed the shell ear

Of his wife.

Life hung on her stillness.

She willed herself dead.

Death after all these years

Would have been welcome.

Jane Kohut-Bartels

Copyrighted , 2013

The Stillness of Death, from “A Seasoning of Lust”

May 26, 2010


Lady Nyo knelt on a cushion, the tea before her.  She did not move.

Lord Nyo was drunk again.  When in his cups the household scattered for hiding places.  Beneath  the kitchen was a crawl space. Three servants were hiding  there and a fourth was wearing an iron pot on his head.

Lord Nyo was known for three things: archery, temper and his drunkenness.

Tonight he strung the seven foot bow and donned his quiver high on his back. He looked at the pale face of his wife, his eyes blurry, and remembered the first time he bedded her. She was fifteen.  Her body had been powdered silk, bones like butter with the blush of ready passion coursing through her like a tinted stream.  She was still beautiful, but too fragile for his tastes.  Better a plump courtesan, not all delicate and saddened beauty.

In quick succession he drew back the bow and let five arrows fly through the shoji screen.  Each grazed his wives’ ear.

Lady Nyo knew her life hung on her stillness.  She willed herself dead.  Death  after all these years would have been welcome.

Jane Kohut-Bartels

Copyrighted, 2010

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