Posts Tagged ‘etc.’

“The surprising benefits of a nervous breakdown”

August 21, 2019


(Watercolor somewhere in Italy.  By the author.)

Yes, I’m having one.  New experience?  Don’t really know because I handled stress pretty well before. But not now!

I can site factors that certainly would be ground zero for this ‘state’.  My brother’s stroke and coma exactly a year ago, the death of our 15 year old dog, Merlin on our wedding anniversary in December, the tragic death of Grayson, our four year old cat, my ‘shadow’ at an emergency clinic, and the damn  vet never showed up.  Her agony for 3.5 hours certainly was enough to send me over the edge. The ‘living’ in crime soaked Atlanta, where there are multiple shootings reported by the news every morning.  It’s like the corpses are piling up and nothing can be done.  Mostly by gang associates and this overwhelming gun culture here.  Even the police don’t know what to do, as there are 71,000 gang members in spread out all over Georgia.  Leadership? Bah.

Sorry, I didn’t make this situation and I have no answers for ending it.  I just know I go to another town to pump my gas where the attendant watches out for me.  The ‘sliders’ issue.  There are a lot of us women who are riding around on fumes.  LOL!

Exactly a week ago, I found a young Cooper’s Hawk under my birdbath, wings spread, still alive and I stressed it further by trying to net it to take to a proper vet.  It died after we left and it was hell to pay for two days to find out whether it recovered.   I love birds of prey and have painted them for years. This was a further nail in my coffin.


Probably publishing two novels in eight months was not the greatest of ideas.  It was exhausting, and though some have read these books, I haven’t had the strength to do any marketing.

I was taking Prozac for a year (requested when my brother went down)  and stupidly cold turkeyed about 6 weeks ago.  Thought:  “I’m fine, nothing to it.”

Boy, was I wrong.

Hello, depression, anxiety, open mouth syndrome, (eating) and other bad things.  And a general feeling of uneasiness, and no sleep for days.  Don’t want any prescribed drugs to “help” with this condition.

I will work myself out of it. But I see I need isolation, quiet, reading, and applying kindness to my chickens, dogs and cats.  I need the outside world to leave me alone. I need to leave the outside world alone.  I need not to be on any social media because it is agitating and pointless.  Besides, no one is listening.  They have to reinvent the wheel and that  is probably a fundamental of human nature for all of us.  And politics???? Bah.  We get what we deserve.

But there is hope!  Some loving neighbors, some poets, writers, who are supportive and have gone through the same things.  And surprise!  A sister in law.  That was unexpected, but she has been a shoulder to lean on and with loving advice. Thank you, Ellen.

She also asked to clarify the benefits:  I think self-isolation is very important.  You don’t want to walk around in public weepy.   People will look at you strangely.  You center your recovery around self-indulgence.  You can stare at your (expanding )  stomach, you can forgo any opinion, and you can hum to yourself.  LOL.  And sometimes your husband feels such sympathy, he does the dishes, takes out the garbage and makes dinner.  Benefits indeed.

When you can rely on the strength of your talents, that is a plus.  I am writing a sequel to “The Kimono”, published on Amazon last October, called “Tsuki” and it helps.  Somewhat.  Really, too early to say. Might be another irritant.

Painting is my ‘go to place’ and will be central in my recovery of my senses.  I am just starting sumi-e painting and it is totally strange  to me. A world unknown. My dear husband is presently building a very low table for this endeavor.  A totally new technique.

I know I will recover, but this is a painful summer to get through.  Cooler weather and no mosquitoes will help.

My sympathies to anyone who is going through a nervous breakdown.  Everything right now is an irritant.

Especially the Mosquitoes.

Below is a lovely example of sumi-e painting.  I aspire to develop to such a level.  I should live so long, but perhaps this IS a reason to live.

Sesshu painting.png


Jane Kohut-Bartels

Copyrighted, 2019


Haibun: Shadows

August 13, 2019




(Oil painting, Jane Kohut-Bartels, 2010)


I love the Japanese form of Haibun. It’s a form 1000 years old and originated as a travel document by poets and priests. It’s supposed to be just ‘notes’ about the surrounding environment, but at times was extended to something longer. I was challenged to write a Haibun incorporating shadows. I include a haiku at the end to ‘seal the deal’.

Haibun: Shadows

The newborn radishes are shadowed by cherry tomatoes. The almost-red globes drop down to visit. They compare hues. The garden is bathed in the light of a horizontal crescent moon, grinning like an idiot, suspended over trees that cast shadows on hillocks and deepening the valleys with their creeping darkness.
It is very early Spring. Dusk and day still balance in a pale sky, though the moon has risen.

Oh, the mystery of the night where shadows churn with imagination!

I sit on a concrete wall, watching distant clouds dance on the wind. The oaks are feathery with their foliage, the pecans still winter-nude. Day is closing. Doves are almost silent, sleepy sounding. Bats speed by, scimitars of the night. I close my eyes and drink in the approaching dark. Only those shadows attend me, and possibly a few lurking monsters.

Night’s benediction:
Bull frogs bellow in the pond
Shadows blanket day.


Jane Kohut-Bartels
Copyrighted, 2018

Tanka Presentation for the Curious, Part One.

January 4, 2018


For Frank Tassone who loves Tanka.

This short presentation was done a few years ago for a now defunct online group, Oneshot Poetry.  This group contracted and expanded into another poetry group.

Lady Nyo


The morning wren sings

I stand in the moonlit dawn

Kimono wrapped close

Last night I made my peace

Now free from all attachments


Lady Nyo


To understand tanka one must go back into the Japanese literary history of the 8th and 9th century.  Poets of this time, male poets, the only ones who counted in court anthologies, were writing in a Chinese poetic technique.  They were still not able to use the language skillfully enough to present their own emotions.  This would take another century but by the 10th century, women were using a new written language- kanji-something definitely Japanese, to write their poetry.  And they, for the next two centuries, excelled in it.  We’ll go over some of these poets who made such a mark on the literature of Japan, especially in the development and formation of tanka verse.

Tanka, whose earlier name was waka, was described in this way: “ Japanese verse is something which takes root in the soil of the heart and blossoms forth in a forest of words.”

This is a hint how tanka developed and its usage.  Tanka, if nothing else, was the medium for lovers: written on a special paper, or a fan, or wrapped around a small branch of a flowering plum or cherry, it was the communication between a man and a woman.

There are so many social aspects of Japanese society to consider: married couples for a certain class (usually court people) didn’t live together.  Perhaps a wife had her own quarters in a compound, or perhaps she lived in another town.  A tanka was composed, a personal messenger delivered the poem, waited, was given a drink, flirted with the kitchen maids, and an answering poem was brought back.

People were judged as to how “good” their poetry was.

In the court, especially during the Heian court of the 12th century, tanka became one of the greatest literary influences.  It developed great adherents to the form and large and prestigious competitions were developed by nobles and priests alike.  Usually the striving was for the most ‘refined’ tanka composed.  This lead to some very restricted poems because there were limited themes thought to be ‘proper’ amongst these competitions.  Praise of nature, the Emperor, and more praise of the Emperor were pretty much the court poems.

However, it was still the written form of communication between interested parties and lovers.  Poetry from that time, outside the court issue, still exalts the passions—makes connection between hearts —it fertilizes the soil of humanity.


Before I go into the ‘form’ of tanka, its development stylistically, I want to reveal the poets that drew me to tanka form.  There were many early Japanese tanka writers, and some excellent verse written by Emperors, but these poets below have found their way into my heart and have become great influences in my own work.  Ono no Komachi, Izumi Shikibu and Saigyo .

The first two were court women, great poets, and the third was a Buddhist priest.  Saigyo is perhaps the most influential poet to come out of Japan. Even the famous  haikuist Basho (17th century) said he studied Saigyo as his base for poetry.

Saigyo came from the Heian Court in the 12 century.  He was of a samurai/warrior family and at the age of 23 he became a priest.  He was always worried that his warrior background (he did serve as samurai) would ‘taint’ his Buddhist convictions and practice.   His solution was to wander the mountains and roads of Japan for decades.  He left the court when the whole Japanese world was turning upside down with politics and the beginnings of civil war.  He was dissatisfied with the poetry coming out of the court, and since he had developed a taste for tanka, he took this on the road with him, as he went across Japan and wrote his observations of the landscape, the moon and the people in tanka form.

For those who want a deeper history of Saigyo, read William LaFleur’s “Awesome Nightfall” about the life and times of Saigyo.

Saigyo’s wandering all over Japan was not so unusual.  There were many groups of priests who went out to beg and some to write poetry and their observations. Saigyo travelled with other priests and welcomed their company on the lonely treks through mountains and remote terrain.  Some were spies for the Court.  One couldn’t really tell, because many priests wore a large woven basket over their heads, extending down past their shoulders.  Some were Shakhauchi flute players who would play their wooden flutes under the basket as they walked.

What was so different about Saigyo was his interest in the common man.  He wrote tanka about fishermen, laborers, prostitutes, nuns (who sometimes were prostitutes); more than the general poems of lovers, court, emperors, landscape.  Of course the terrain he passed through figured as a background in his tanka, but he wrote so much more.  Tanka is a vehicle for very expressive, emotional verse.  Saigyo’s tanka spoke of his loneliness, his conflict as to his samurai background and how it would effect his Buddhist beliefs, and so much more over the decades of his roaming.

Generally Saigyo adheres to the 5-7-5-7-7 structure of tanka, but he is not shy about throwing in a ‘mora’ or two extra.  I will give the original in Japanese of one poem, because the translation into English doesn’t necessarily follow the 5-7-5 etc. structure when translated.



Kototou hito  no

Naki yado ni

Ko no ma no tsuki no

Kage zo sashikuru


“This place of mine

Never is entered by humans

Come for conversation.

Only by the mute moon’s light shafts

Which slip in between the trees.



The mind for truth

Begins, like a stream, shallow

At first, but then

Adds more and more depth

While gaining greater clarity.



(Remembering a lover)

The moon, like you,

Is far away from me, but it’s

Our sole memento:

If you look and recall our past

Through it, we can be one mind.



Here I’ve a place

So remote, so mountain-closed,

None comes to call.

But those voices! A whole clan

Of monkeys on the way here!



(On love like fallen leaves)

Each morning the wind

Dies down and the rustling leaves

Go silent: was this

The passion of all-night lovers

Now talked out and parting?


I find Saigyo to be such a wonderful, human and humane poet that I can fill my head and eyes with his poetry and be satisfied.  This is only a teaser of his superb verse, but in a definite way shows the brilliance, power and inventiveness of the short burst of tanka.  Of course, in the hands of Saigyo, the common becomes memorable and he is just one, but perhaps the best of tanka writers.  There is so much more to and of Saigyo, and of his tanka, but there are others I want to mention in this segment.

Quoting from “Ink Dark Moon”, Hirshfield and Aratani:

“Ono no Komachi (834?-?) served at the imperial court in the capital city of Heian-kyo (present day Kyoto) during the first half century of its existence; her poetry, deeply subjective, passionate, and complex, helped to usher in a poetic age of personal expressiveness, technical excellence and philosophical and emotional depth.  Izumi Shikibu (974?-1034?) wrote during the times of the court culture’s greatest flowering; a woman committed to a life of both religious consciousness and erotic intensity, Shikibu explored her experience in language that is precise in observation, intimate, and deeply moving.  These two women , the first a pivotal figure who became legendary in Japanese literary history, the second Japan’s major woman poet, illuminated certain areas of human experience with a beauty, truthfulness and compression unsurpassed in the literature of any other age.”

There is so much more to be learned about these two women poets, but perhaps it is enough to give examples of their poetry here without further delay.

(These are not my translations: I am continuing to study the Japanese language, but my abilities are sorely short here.  I can recognize many words, but Japanese is particularly difficult in the arrangement. These translations are from “Ink Dark Moon”, mentioned above.)

As with Saigyo, Ono no Komachi mostly writes in the 5-7-5-7-7 form of tanka.



Hito ni awan

Tsuki no naki yow a


Mune bashiribi ni

Kokoro yake ori


No way to see him

On this moonless night—

I lie awake longing, burning,

Breasts racing fire,

Heart in flames.


What is so striking about this poem is the imagery.  No way to see her lover without the light of the moon, perhaps she dare not strike a light.  But the repeated imagery of light: flames, fire, burning clearly relays her desire.  “Heart in flames” is common, but “Breasts racing fire” pushing this poem up a notch.


Since this body

Was forgotten

By the one who promised to come,

My only thought is wondering

Whether it even exists.


We have all been there: this feeling of unreality, surreal, even, in our relationship to another.  Do we exist independently of the one we deeply love?  Would we exist without them?


This next one is something so universal it needs no explanation.


I thought to pick

The flower of forgetting

For myself,

But I found it

Already growing in his heart.


These are only a few examples of her unmatched poetry.  She is so much fuller as a poet and woman then what I have quoted here.


Izumi Shikibu is a poet that can make one uncomfortable in the reading.  Her poems are so personal, so erotic , you feel at times like a voyageur.   There is an emotional depth, a vibrancy that sings through her verse and goes deep into the heart of human experience.



Lying alone,

My black hair tangled,


I long for the one

Who touched it first.



In this world

Love has no color—

Yet how deeply

My body

Is stained by yours.



When a lover was sent a purple robe he left behind:


Don’t blush!

People will guess

That we slept

Beneath the folds

Of this purple-root rubbed cloth.



If only his horse

Had been tamed

By my hand—I’d have taught it

Not to follow anyone else!


There is no wilting flower in the poem above!


This last poem quoted here is hard to read.  Shikibu’s daughter Naishi has died, snow fell and melted.  The reference to ‘vanish into the empty sky’, is referring to the smoke of cremation.  The grief felt in this poem is overwhelming and speaks across the centuries.


Why did you vanish

Into empty sky?

Even the fragile snow,

When it falls,

Falls into this world.


These are just a few examples of the rich literary tradition of Japanese Tanka.  To me, they speak cross cultures and time.  They speak directly to the human heart.

The next section will be about the formation of tanka, the classical measures within tanka, the pivotal words, and other issues.  I will end with some examples of my own tanka.


Jane Kohut-Bartels

Copyrighted, 2014-2018








Canadian Sarcasm…..

November 15, 2016

I thought you might get a chuckle out of this.  Those Canadians must all be doctors of sarcasm.      ***********************************************************************************************************     The flood of Trump-fearing American liberals sneaking across the border into Canada has intensified in the past week. The Republican presidential campaign is prompting an exodus among left-leaning Americans who fear they’ll soon be required to hunt, pray, pay taxes, and live according to the Constitution.

Canadian border residents say it’s not uncommon to see dozens of sociology professors, liberal arts majors, global-warming activists, and “green” energy proponents crossing their fields at night.   “I went out to milk the cows the other day, and there was a Hollywood producer huddled in the barn,” said southern Manitoba farmer Red Greenfield, whose acreage borders North Dakota. “He was cold, exhausted and hungry, and begged me for a latte and some free-range chicken. When I said I didn’t have any, he left before I even got a chance to show him my screenplay, eh?”

In an effort to stop the illegal aliens, Greenfield erected higher fences, but the liberals scaled them. He then installed loudspeakers that blared Rush Limbaugh across the fields, but they just stuck their fingers in their ears and kept coming.

Officials are particularly concerned about smugglers who meet liberals just south of the border, pack them into electric cars, and drive them across the border, where they are simply left to fend for themselves after the battery dies.   “A lot of these people are not prepared for our rugged conditions,” an Alberta border patrolman said. “I found one carload without a single bottle of Perrier water, or any gemelli with shrimp and arugula. All they had was a nice little Napa Valley cabernet and some kale chips.”

When liberals are caught, they’re sent back across the border, often wailing that they fear persecution from Trump high-hairers.   Rumors are circulating about plans being made to build re-education camps where liberals will be forced to drink domestic beer, study the Constitution, and find jobs that actually contribute to the economy.

In recent days, liberals have turned to ingenious ways of crossing the border. Some have been disguised as senior citizens taking a bus trip to buy cheap Canadian prescription drugs. After catching a half-dozen young vegans in blue-hair wig disguises, Canadian immigration authorities began stopping buses and quizzing the supposed senior citizens about Perry Como and Rosemary Clooney to prove that they were alive in the ’50s.   “If they can’t identify the accordion player on The Lawrence Welk Show, we become very suspicious about their age,” an official said.

Canadian citizens have complained that the illegal immigrants are creating an organic-broccoli shortage, are buying up all the Barbara Streisand CD’s, and are overloading the internet while downloading jazzercise apps to their cell phones.   “I really feel sorry for American liberals, but the Canadian economy just can’t support them,” an Ottawa resident said. “After all, how many art-history majors does one country need?”

Jane Kohut-Bartels…..I don’t know who wrote this article. Sent to me by cousins and others and there was no point of origin, but it’s hysterical and needs to be read right now.  Sorta fits.

Copyrighted, 2016



“Devil’s Revenge”, a novel…Chapter One.

February 5, 2016



WARNING: Sexual content, scenes.  If you are offended by this, don’t read.  Frankly, I understand.  I am offended by misogyny and Pentecostals. 

I started this erotic novel almost ten years ago.  It was only my second novel.  I left off writing it when I started other works.  Recently I came back and reread what I had written so long ago.  It was fresh and funny, and some of the original characters came from the first novel (Heart of the Maze).  That novel was boring and too long, meandering around.  I had fallen in love with some of the characters and didn’t want to kill them off, as the novel demanded.  (Novel writers will recognize this easily enough.)  So I made some of them Devils and just let the characters write this one.  The narrator is not a devil nor demon.  Just a writer who wakes up one morning in an alternative universe.  Happens

Trusting in your characters  makes it easier for an author:  They  tend to do the heavy lifting.  They circle your computer and whisper their lines.  You just type.

I have previously posted random chapters but was encouraged by other writers to begin from the beginning.  We will see.  The people I respect the most and wouldn’t want to offend are now all dead, so the rest of you will just have to take your chances.  Tastes vary, but that is the way of the world.

However, I want to express my sincere gratitude to a couple of writers who stuck with me for many years and encouraged me to trust my own imagination and give it voice.

Bill Penrose, Nick Nicholson, Steve Isaak, and Liras.  These excellent and generous writers, now dear friends, have made learning my craft a lot easier.

Lady Nyo





I am about to tell a strange tale. Not really a tale, because a tale smacks of fiction. This in any case was not fiction. I felt the full effects of its turnings. And it’s not over. I just have to tread water because each time I open my eyes, after a fitful night’s sleep, I am again locked in a world not of my making.

Well, part of my making, but even my lurid imagination pales with what I have experienced.

Sixteen years ago I wrote a too-long novel, set in the 1820’s. The characters had names from the Dutch families I knew while growing up. Everything was fiction, except the landscape, the characters long dead, figments of my imagination, creation of a writer. Never did I expect some of them to leap out of the pages of that unfinished book and change the course of my life.

I feel I have dropped down a rabbit hole, or flown to some strange alien universe. Perhaps I am mad. In any case, events are spiraling out of control, beyond my control, and now?

I have none. I have given up my will to fate, destiny and I don’t even know what that means anymore.

Bear with me, reader. Understand what I write, what you read– exists.

Bess McShane



Chapter One


One morning I sat upright in bed, gasping in terror. The light was dim, hard to see. There was a fireplace with a low burning fire. An ember must have exploded. There could be no other answer for the sudden noise. Asleep, it sounded like gunshot.

My eyes adjusted and I looked around. An ember exploded? Where the hell was I? My heart pounded and a sickness rose to my throat. Suddenly I knew where I was. Many years ago I had written a novel, still unfinished, and now I was in the bedroom carefully constructed in the novel. But perhaps I was just dreaming?

I felt a sharp constriction around my ribcage and tried to take a deep breath. I was wearing some kind of corset, laced tightly over a slip. No wonder I couldn’t breathe. At least this made some physical sense.

I tried to take deep breaths to get my bearings but no amount of air would calm me.

What had happened from the time I went to sleep in my own bed next to my snoring husband? How did I make it to this bed?

The constriction around my chest did not dull me to the sudden pressure of my bladder. There was a closet in the corner and I knew inside that closet was a chamber pot encased in a stool. I had written that detail into the book and now very glad of it.

Slipping out of the high bed, I padded across the wood floor. It was a strange thing to pee in a chamber pot. Everything was so quiet, even the birds outside still asleep, but the noise of water hitting china was too loud for the morning. It made me self-conscious, even though I thought I was still dreaming. I had to be.

I came from the closet and sat down before the fireplace. The fire suddenly flared and I jumped in surprise. It was almost as if an invisible hand fed the fire. At least it would warm up this cold room. A cup of tea sat on the table, still hot. It was dark outside the window but steam from the tea rose in the air. I was almost afraid to touch it, my mouth dry from fear. There, a sip, and it was just tea.

A dresser stood across the room from the bed, with a small mirror on the wall above. The image appeared to be me, my hair the usual color, my skin the same shade. Yes, me, but I pinched myself, just to see if I was still dreaming. If pain were any indication of my present state, I was awake.   There was a yellow wool dress, thrown carelessly over the back of a chair. A pair of bloomers on the seat. Crotch less, they opened from the front to back. I giggled, a bit hysterically. Like Alice, I had dropped down a rabbit hole.

Nothing now seemed real

Even with the flare up of the fire, the room was not warm. I needed to get dressed. I needed to get my bearings. Stepping into the gown I pulled it up to my shoulders. It hooked in the front of the bodice. I pulled on stockings and garters. They were a lovely silk, soft and delicate, and came to the tops of my thighs. The garters could be tied anywhere, so I tied them above the knees, rolling down the tops of the stockings, hoping they would stay. I held up the split bloomers and tried to determine the front from the back. They could be useful when you wanted to pee. The shoes were another surprise. Made neither a left nor a right, with a thin leather sole and low wooden heel, they tied across my ankles with ribbons. There was a blue shawl, of fine wool, at the bottom of the pile.

Now at least dressed and warmer, I could explore my surroundings. The room was not large, but had a dark beamed ceiling above. There were no paintings or prints on the walls, but above the fireplace, was a shotgun. I recognized it as an old breech loader.

Two long windows looked out upon a dull morning. The wind blew a little sleet against the windows and I shivered. The glazing had fallen away and cold air seeped in. It was still rather dark outside, and except for the blurred outline of trees, I couldn’t see much of the landscape.

Pulling the shawl tighter around my shoulders, I was still cold, or perhaps it was shock. I was not used to awakening in a strange bed, even one born of my own imagination

I still doubted I was lucid, and thought this some weird dream-state. Given a bit more time, I would awaken. But if this were a dream, it was a strange one. I was not given easily to hysterics, but short of hurling myself through the window, there was little I could to do. I would just have to be patient with this ‘dream’ until I  woke.

Trying a door in the middle of a wall, it opened into another bedroom, and inside was a large poster bed, a wardrobe, and another shotgun in the corner by the bed. This must be a man’s room. I had no clue why, accept for that evil-looking shotgun. There was nothing feminine in the room at all, though. I turned back to my bedroom and tried the other door. Outside was a wide hall, leading to the top of a staircase.

I stood at the top of the steps, listening for voices or some sound. The house seemed deserted. I could hear nothing of a normal household. Carefully, trying not to slip in these strange shoes I descended the staircase and walked through a wide first floor hall. There were a couple of rooms but there were no people and no lit fireplaces. The whole house was bitterly cold. It seems this house held no life at all.

My footsteps sounded loud on the wooden floors of the hall, though I tried not to make a clatter. There was a closed door to the left and when I opened it,  a man  was sitting behind a desk.

Something about him seemed familiar. Then I knew who he was. It was a shock to realize I was looking at a character I had created for the novel sixteen years ago. I had named him Garrett Cortelyou.   He looked up, sat back and stared at me, quite rudely. Christ! This looked like trouble.

“Come in,” he said. “It is trouble.”

How did he seem to appear in the flesh? He was just paper and ink the last I thought of him. Can this creature read my thoughts?

“Of course I can. I can do more than that,” he said, scowling.

I fashioned Garrett Cortelyou from a number of sources, and, seeing him before me, I couldn’t help but be pleased. It is one thing to imagine, it is another to see the results. He was a tall man, broad of shoulder, with dark hair, rather long for the 1820’s, actually, now gathered into a ponytail, but I created him to be his own man. He proved to be a stubborn character, and not an easy birth. Clean shaven, he had dark eyes and regular features except for his nose. It had been broken and not set correctly.   He looked pissed off.

“Why are you so angry with me?”

“A year ago you closed your book and abandoned all of us. You told me to ‘cool my heels’. Am I not allowed my anger?”

“It was a metaphor, ‘cool your heels’.”

“I know what it was.”

I was surprised. I had enough of writing and needed time off. This actually happened sixteen years ago, but who was I to correct him? Why argue with something unreal? I put his intended, the character Jennie, in the library. I gave her a cup of tea and a good fire, and she had all the books in the world or at least in this library to read.

“You abandoned us all.

“Life got in the way, Garrett, I needed time to work things out.”

What am I saying? Why am I explaining my life to this creature? Am I insane?

“Come closer. Let me see you better.”

I entered the room and stood across the desk. He looked me over, his eyes running the length of me.   “You look unimpressive. I thought you would be older.”

“Why, did you expect me to be covered with wrinkles?”

One glance at his face and I should have held my tongue.

“You are quick with the words, madam. Let’s see how quick on your feet.”

Like a cat he came around the desk and grabbed me. He was strong enough to lift me like a stick of wood and throw me into another chair. I was shocked at the suddenness of his movement, but amazed he was real.

“You should be. You play with people too much.”

I looked at him standing before me, his hands on his hips, and fear crept up my spine

“You forget I created you.” My voice squeaked.

“And you forget, madam, anything is possible. I can command you as easily as you have me. You now are my puppet. Quite a turn around, don’t you think?”

“You wouldn’t have seen the light of day had I not thought of you!” What am I saying? I am talking to a ghost!

“Ah, you were bored and this scribbling occupied your time. Your night dreams went into all of us. Your poor husband should not have given you a pen.”

“I wrote on a computer, something you would not know.”

“I don’t care how you wrote. Right now, and until I release you, you’re under my thumb.”

“What do you want with me?” Suddenly, I was scared. My spit would not wet my mouth.

Garrett smiled, but it didn’t mount to his eyes. They remained cold. “I can smell your fear, little lady. Come give me a kiss.”

“You are a jackass. You act like an animal. Leave me alone.”

I tried to rise from my chair, but the anger on his face stopped me.

“Will you stop playing the virgin? It doesn’t fit you at all.”

I was beginning to panic. I had created this character, this man before me, and I knew something of his sexual appetites from the novel. I had created those sexual appetites but didn’t expect them to become an issue before me.

He laughed, apparently reading my thoughts. He must be a demon come to life, or I must be still asleep.

You created me? I’m from the slime. I’m a mixture of souls throughout time, with all the cocksure ways of manhood. You created something you can’t control, and now you’re afraid? You should have thought down the road, madam. You should be afraid. You think you know my appetites? You don’t know much, because you don’t know me. Not that way.   You haven’t the imagination to know what I can do. You are too ignorant of life. Here.”

He pulled me up to him, and grabbed one of my hands and placed it on the front of his breeches. He was hard enough.

“There. Is your curiosity satisfied? You knew some of me, but never enough. You have a poor imagination for a writer. We circled each other like cats all those years, but I played the gentleman. A boring and unnecessary role.”

My face was red. There was no denying I was curious. I wondered a bit what he would be like in the sack. Just daydreams, sitting at my desk. Faced with reality, fear was now trumping that consideration.

He pinned my arms behind my back with one hand. With the other he traced my cheek and neck with a finger, his eyes narrowed into slits.   He brought my face to his mouth and kissed me, at first softly – oh the deceiver!- then roughly, forcing my lips with his tongue. He cupped my breast and squeezed my nipple, rolling it between two fingers.   He kissed me hard, bending my head back, crushing me to him.

“There. How do you like being kissed by something you think you have made? Have I met your expectations?”

I caught my breath. “I gave you Jennie, you monster!

This was a rather stupid, but I didn’t have much of my wits after that kiss.

“And I thank you for her. She is a sweet little pastry, but I’m hungry. You look like you could feed me for a week.”

“Oh, let me go, you’re not real!”

He pushed me away and rubbed the front of his breeches. “Is this not real enough for you? Then we’ll go where I’ll show you what’s real.”

Grabbing my wrist, he pulled me out the room and up the staircase. I tripped on my shoes as he roughly jerked me up upwards. I was frightened, knowing that this couldn’t be a dream. It was more of a nightmare. The physicality of his behavior belied any dream.

He strode down the hall, pulling me behind him like a ragdoll and opened a door, He flung me into the room where I had awakened probably only an hour before.   With his back to the door, he locked it, pocketing the key. I ran to the other bedroom, intending to lock myself in, but he was quick. He threw me on the bed. Now, I was frightened. I was panting.

“’I was panting.’” See, I can read you like a book.” Throwing back his head, he laughed, howling like an animal, like a demon. My stomach flipped, and I cringed back on the pillows. He was more an animal and less a human.

He dragged a chair from a wall and sat facing me, one long leg propped up on the mattress.   If I tried to leap from the bed, I would jump right into his arms. He looked at me with half closed eyes, his head cocked to one side.

“Don’t you find it confusing to read Richardson’s “Pamela”, in the middle of writing seduction scenes? Rather you should read Fielding’s “Shamela”….better story, or rather, same story, not so tedious.”

What? How did he know this? How did he know what I read?  

What was I dealing with? Was this a ghost or a demon? The icy sweat I felt down my back wasn’t something I was imagining. I had to get control of this nightmare.

“I can snap my fingers and you will be gone,” I said desperately. I closed my eyes and snapped them.

He remained before me grinning, his tongue lolling out the side of his mouth, looking like a lunatic. “Try again.”

I snapped my fingers. Nothing.   The demon lover was still there.

“Ah…you called me ‘lover.’ Perhaps you won’t resist me so hard now.”

“I called you ‘demon lover’. You’re not hearing that first word.”

“You created me. It’s all in your calling.” He sat back and crossed his arms. He looked  relaxed and in control of the scene.

“That’s right…and I can uncreate you.”

“You already tried. This conversation is going nowhere. I need a drink. Seduction is hard work.”

He snapped his fingers, and a tankard appeared on the table behind him. “Oh, my apologies. One for you?”

“A small one, please.” I shivered. What had I just done?

“A small one it is.” A snap.   Another tankard appeared.

He got up and retrieved the two tankards and reached across the bed, and handed me my drink. I thought of throwing it in his face, and running from the room.

“How far do you think you would get?” I had forgotten his mind reading trick.

“Not far- just testing.

He laughed and drank deeply. He wiped his mouth with the back of his hand.

“We’ve been circling each other for years. Don’t you think it’s time we put an end to this charade? A little carnal knowledge would not be amiss. Besides, I already know you want me, have known it for years.” He picked up his tankard, his eyes glittering across the rim.

“You are a cocksure devil!” I would laugh at his presumption, but he was correct. I had created him from my own secret lust, and spared nothing in the doing.

Perhaps a different approach would give me answers and a hand over him.

“Explain to me, Demon, how you have access to me? You are nothing but some scribbles on paper, yet you appear flesh and blood enough now.”

I was more than curious, I was tumbling with fear and trying to regain my feet. I needed something to wake me up. I needed some logic here, some answers. I still believed I was mired in a nightmare.

He put down his tankard and grimaced. “Sometimes there’s a rip in the fabric of time and all hell breaks loose.   Dimensions warp and ley lines bulge. The usual workings of a universe gone mad.”

“So I’m here in another dimension?” From the 21st century to the 19th, quite a rip in the fabric, I think.

He grinned into his ale. “For as long as it suits me, and as long as you please me.

“What is it you want?” I looked at him, fearing the answer.

“First, I want to know what’s under those petticoats. That will be good for starters. We can work outward from there.”

He had an interesting concept of seduction. Rather direct, not subtle at all, but intriguing.

By the looks of him, he would be worth the effort. I thought of his kiss, and I grew uncomfortable. My face grew flushed, and his grin told me he knew what was happening between my legs. I wanted him, my sex knew before my head, but I wouldn’t give him the words he wanted to hear. Perhaps I was playing with fire, but a ‘tumble’ would be sort of welcome. Sex hadn’t been on the agenda for a long time. He was too much temptation in the flesh to deny.

Besides, it all was a dream and a wet one at that. I held to that hope as my only window of sanity.

He stood up, stretched, and sat upon the bed. He drew off his waistcoat, one I had embroidered in planning the book, a pretty cream satin with figures. “Flowering” as it said in Pamela. It was just a piece of embroidery I attempted as I thought through the chapters. Here it was a finished piece, and I had never finished any piece of sewing in my life. What part of magic was this? Was this a particular hand of fate?

“You know, you were quite witty in making the links between ‘orchard’ and ‘sex’ in that last chapter. You are my orchard, at least for now. I’ll pick myself an apple.”

Like a tiger he was over me, pinning me down with his weight.   The smell of ale was strong.   I was backed up on the pillows when he began to unhook the front of my dress. I slapped at his hands, and he laughed. He ripped the front of the dress from my breasts

A literal bodice ripper…..

“There. Now, will you lay still and quit resisting? You know what you want from me. Why play the coy virgin now?”

“Go back to your hell, Demon”.   I spat at him, my eyes flashing. He wiped spittle off his face with his sleeve. His eyes shot out a warning I couldn’t miss if I were blind.

“I will go back to my hell, the one you so easily wrote for me. First Lucile cuckolds me then Obadiah sticks in a knife. Did you ever think how painful that was? Finish me off with that dolt Jennie.   Ah, God…give me a dish of woman I don’t have to fight or teach.”

He pulled up the skirt of my dress, and spread my legs with his.   I had forgotten about those crotchless bloomers. He touched my sex with a finger, watching my response. I jerked at his touch, and he dug deeper into me. I bit my tongue to keep from groaning.

“A neat invention, don’t you think? Easy to get to the pearl in the oyster.

He was a vigorous looking man, with well-muscled arms, and a broad chest. He looked formidable.

“Wait until you see John down there, now he’s formidable. Oh, I forgot, you have seen him, or me, or you think you have seen us. But you only saw my cock in shadows. I always thought you could write that scene better.

How? It was only my first novel and writing sex scenes was hard work. And harder work staying detached.

“Here, place your hand on this cock and tell me if you have ever felt a finer one.”

I pinched the head of it hard and he yelled.

“You witch. You should be glad I’m not Obadiah. Perhaps you would like his kind of lovemaking better, though it usually leads to death. But you know that.”

“I wrote that.”

“Yes, and it was kind of sick.”

“You should talk. Obadiah is a pivotal character. He needs to be the negative, the bad guy, but right now, you serve that purpose just as well.”

“That’s scrambled English. Something you’re good at.   Now, lie still and at least enjoy my efforts.”

“Do you like your women like logs? I can be a pillar of salt if you want.”

“Can’t you try to be original? I have a blazing hard-on and I intend to use it.”

I smiled and closed my eyes.   I would submit to his pathetic efforts because I was aroused in spite of this scene of insanity, but I would not let him hear any moan of pleasure. He rose between my legs and pulled me to him, and began to enter me. I grunted with his movements.   He was bigger than I had imagined (“You got that right” I heard him whisper,”) and he took his time. Would he ever finish?

“No…not until I hear you coo like a turtledove.”

I groaned in spite of myself. My mouth opened and he stuck his finger in. I bit down hard and he laughed. He tried to seek my mouth with his but I would not let him. He laughed and squeezed my ass, lifting me easily. I could not take this much longer and I screamed an unearthly sound from my throat. He reached his shortly after, panting loudly, pinning me under him. He wasn’t a bad lover.

“Ah, again, you called me ‘lover’. I like that. You are growing tender.”

“What would you have me do, Garrett? You have what you want. What more can you do?”

I didn’t have the energy to argue. Besides, that orgasm seeped the fight out of me. I knew I had to be awake. This wasn’t a dream. No dream could sustain this. No dream could create that reality.

All of a sudden I thought about Jennie, his intended in the novel. What had he done with her? If he was capable of materializing before me, of transporting me in some unknown fashion, he was capable of other acts.

“She’s nowhere to be seen. Don’t worry.

“I worry. What have you done with her?”

“Do you mistrust me so much, your own creation? Snap my fingers and erase her?”

“Garrett, you have way too much power. I believe you capable of anything.”

“Well, I am capable of another round of lovemaking, my sweet woman, if you would give me a moment. I need to empty this ale.”

“Don’t you dare use the fireplace, Garrett! I’m wise to your ways from the book.”

“I’ll open a window this time.”


Jane Kohut-Bartels

Copyrighted, 2016

Life is Good.

September 5, 2014

My beautiful picture

Except for war, except for women in India and Pakistan…hell, all around these more ‘backward’ countries where the rights of women are non existent…..except for Ebola, terrorists, threats, attacks on the children and innocent.

Well, this summer has been quite an adventure.  It’s been a sharp learning curve but things are working out.  The blinders have come off my eyes on any number of issues, and for that I am grateful.  My dear Aunt Jean dying hasn’t really hit me yet, but it will.  I am slow on some of these things.

It was hot this summer at times.  But the good news for me is  I finally finished a novel…..”A Kapitany”…..a Hungarian themed….art thieves, insurance crimes, bdsm, redemption, etc.  LOL!  Not the novel I wanted to finish, but one that was most completed.  Spent the summer  changing tense and tightening up the book.  Will publish it next spring with Createspace….

Talked with my dear friend Bill Penrose last week.   He is well and silver smithing and rock climbing still.  Bill formatted the first three of my books with  He is an amazing writer and man.  He believed in my writing when I didn’t have a clue.  You can’t buy friends like that and he will always be at the top of my list.

No cats or dogs here died, which is a very different circumstance than last summer when we lost three darlings to old age.  We have three more, a dog at 15 and two cats at the same age, but they are doing great.  We are preparing for winter this fall with a new woodstove:  it’s our 30th wedding anniversary, and we thought to go on a long vacation, but then decided that a new woodstove would last longer…and be more comfortable.  LOL!

I am planning a new and expanded version of “Boundaries, Setting them and meaning them”…..for the blog.  Things happened this summer that brought back to me the importance of such issues.  In particular, a meeting with a fool of a man after more than 40 years.  We will call this man Bubba, because he acted with all the finesse of a lout.  Bubba overstepped every boundary known to women, and he did it with glee.  Or perhaps thoughtlessness.  But I think he thought he could get away with a very self-centered and polluted agenda, so it was purposeful. (Though he couldn’t believe that I would ‘take offense.”  Hah!)   Boundaries are something that every one needs, and why is it so damn hard for most of us women to remember them and put them into action at the immediate time and proper place?  I think it is because our shock that the Bubbas Of The World  would violate them without thought or consideration. It’s because some very stupid men think that they can and it’s acceptable to do so.  Showing me a picture of his naked wife on his phone was just the beginning of the offense.  What a wanker! His poor wife.  And this man thinks he can be taken seriously???  Jesus, good thing this badly aging man didn’t meet my husband.  He would have summed up the offense to me and taken care of the situation, probably in the usual way men deal with insults.  With their fists. Primitive but effectual.  But we don’t usually travel around with our husbands so we have to be alert and faster on our feet. And depend upon ourselves.   Applying boundaries again and letting the chips fall where they will.

But the fall is coming and I love the change of seasons….especially this one.  There is expectation in the air, a cooling of temps which is welcome in the Deep South, and I am ready.  The garden gave a lot of tomatoes and that is about all, but I am planning next year’s garden already.  A better one.

Except for the writing, nothing really new here, except I have slowly gone back to belly dance and the feared flamenco …..mostly for exercise…..with weights.  LOL! Ambitious a bit,, but it’s working.

Life can be a sharp learning curve.  I guess the point is to keep learning and pushing forward.

Lady Nyo



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.


The soil is hardened

By the sins of the season.

Sharp winds make


The cold buries down,

Deep, deep down

Torments, teases life

Who 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

And the fallow earth

Plays a waiting game

Knows I have failed

In pulp and soil

And mocks with a barrenness

I feel inside and out.

Jane Kohut-Bartels

Copyrighted, 2014, from “Pitcher of Moon”, published by Createspace, Amazon, 2014

“Devil’s Revenge”, Chapter 11

June 19, 2013


This chapter begins the building of allies of the two Demons, Garrett and Obadiah. Obadiah has already harnessed two minor (or common) demons, Salaah and Cheitan, to do his bidding. Garrett has to step up his game, but realizes Obadiah has become more powerful. The study of medieval demonology took very seriously this issue of powers in Hell, and this influences the action in “Devil’s Revenge”. Bess has been raped (in a previous chapter not posted) and the fear is that Obadiah will use his gathering forces to snatch her from under his arch rival’s nose.

Lady Nyo



I was standing at a window in this bedroom. I found myself more and more in his world, the world of the Demon. I was not sure of the sequence of time, but it seemed that every few days I appeared back in this room. Today, I was busy for a number of hours writing a chapter, one I hoped would bring me to the last one, the conclusion of the novel. I have been in starts and stops over it for the past month, and have trouble forming my thoughts. Of course, there has been much to distract me. His presence in my ‘life’, for I guess you could call this life, has been a major obstacle in finishing it. He is entertaining but brings much chaos to my existence.

All in all, it’s been a fruitful time, for if I stumbled in the writing, there is much to take up my imagination. I have found out numerous things about him. He is a jealous demon, who prates he will chase away any competition, and has little regard for my earthly marriage. He already admits he visits me, and not just in my dreams, but takes a seat next to my bed, and involves himself in my sleep. My patient husband sleeps deeply, and I am not sure Garrett, the mortal name of the Demon, does not have his hand in this. A dear friend from the ‘north country’ as my Demon calls him, already has caught his interest, and he has as much threatened me with some foul magic if I continue to converse with him. I will not bow to his threats, for I think he has become fond of me, and does not want my displeasure. He can be a bully but I know now he needs much assurance from me, and that I give most willingly. I have grown as fond of him, as he seems to have of me, though he goes to great pains to hide it. His human side seems to be growing.

Ah! The masculine vanity! Alive even in immortals!

I was looking out on a bleak landscape, standing at the window. The middle of winter, and there was fog swirling on the ground around a clump of trees in the midground distance. Or it looked like fog. But then again, it came together like smoke and rose from a central point in the trees. How strange. It whirled and eddied and took shape like smoke from a chimney. It held my attention and I thought I could easily go out for a walk. I threw on my red cloak and went downstairs and out the front door. It was not a long walk to the stand of trees where I saw the smoke, and I felt a strange compulsion to follow. The trees were bare of all leaves, their black limbs silhouetted against the gray, winter sky. I walked through them, feeling a sense of discovery, being pulled by my curiosity. There, before me, was perhaps a low fire, though I can’t see any flame. The smoke was thick, and it seemed to pour from the ground! As I looked upwards, around the trees, there were blackbirds perched in the limbs. They were totally silent, which is strange for a flock of blackbirds. Suddenly the smoke parted, and there, sitting on a stump, about twenty feet from me, was Obadiah!

Oh! I couldn’t tell if he was an apparition, a ghost, or something else, but he sat there, his long legs stretched out before him, crossed one upon the other, and his arms crossed over his chest. He was not wearing a coat, but was dressed in a white, linen shirt, with a black stock wound around his neck. His face had no expression, but his eyes pierced me with their intensity, and I wavered where I stood, not sure what to do. He smiled at me, a mocking smile, devoid of any kindness. For some reason I found myself drawn to him as in a trance. I should be afraid of him, considering what he has done to me, but I was not. I was excited and unsettled, perhaps fear plays into these emotions, but curiosity and a perverse desire was overcoming all else, all caution.

Suddenly, I was laid out on the ground, pushed violently from behind. Obadiah disappeared in a flash, and standing over me was Garrett. He had a sword in his hand, and his face was terrible to see. He grabbed me by the wrist and pulled me to my feet, scowling and in a fine high temper. He dragged me out of the glen and I don’t remember my feet even touching the ground. I heard the bedroom door slamming shut. It was as if I was in a dream, or a trance, and I tried to shake myself awake.

“You damn little fool!”

I heard something clatter. He had thrown the sword from him onto the floor.

He was furious, and grabbed me by the shoulders, shaking me hard, like a rat caught by a terrier. My head was thrown back and forth by his violence and I thought my neck would snap. He released me and I fell to the floor. I lay there for a moment, aware he was standing over me. I could still feel his wrath, like a thick fog in the air. I gasped with fear, and turned to look up at him. By the look on his face I thought he would kill me.

“Nay, get off the floor. You look like a kicked dog. I’ll not harm you more.”

His voice was strange, as if his anger had broken him. He extended his hand and pulled me to my feet, where he looked at me closely. I could tell he was still angry, but he was trying his best not to act upon it.

However, I was now furious. How dare he shake me like a child! How dare he throw me to the ground! Without another thought, I raised my hand and hit him hard across the face. I saw his surprise, and then, to my horror, heard a hollow laugh. He grabbed both of my wrists in his hands before I could think and pinned them behind me. He did not spare me any pain in the doing.

“So you want to play rough, do you?” He laughed again, and sat down in a chair. He up ended me across his lap and pulled up my skirts. He exposed my nakedness and beat me hard with his hand. I yelled loudly, and cursed him with all the names I could think of. He thrashed me, hitting my buttocks and also the tops of my legs. I screamed out until I thought I would go hoarse. I cried and pleaded with him, yet he did not spare me his blows. Throwing me to the bed I cried and sobbed mightily, more from fear than pain, but there certainly was enough of that! My butt was burning with his blows. I hated him thoroughly, for I had never been treated like this before. I cried myself out and he didn’t offer a word of compassion or apology. When I finally uncovered my face from the pillows, I saw him sitting there, smoking his pipe, like nothing in the world had happened. I felt humiliated and belittled. Obviously this was his purpose.

“Tell me,” he said between puffs. “Tell me what possessed you to leave this room and go into the woods.”

His eyes glittered through the smoke. Now that I knew he would not spare me his hands, I was afraid of him.

“Oh, my dear Bess, I can smell your fear, but that is not what I am after. Tell me, now, why you went into the woods.”

I rose up from my stomach, and gingerly sat on the bed. My butt hurt. He certainly was strong.

“I don’t know. I saw some smoke coming from the glen, and I thought it interesting. I felt curious.”

“Ah. Did you feel drawn to the woods?” He puffed more forcefully on his pipe.

“Well, the smoke drew me, but then when I got there, I felt strangely drawn to the trees. The birds were silent, no birdsong. I remember that.”

“Looks like Obadiah has called upon other forces for his designs.” He puffed on his pipe. “Seems like he is getting a bit desperate.”

“What do you mean?”

“He is charming you and others to do his bidding. I don’t like it a bit. Makes me work harder, something I generally avoid. Looks like he’s ready for battle.” He spit on the floor and I grimaced at him.

“Who is he charming, you make no sense?” None of this made sense at all.

The Demon thought a bit before answering.

“You asked me before about my world. Well, there are many worlds. I frequent a number of them. This one, where I appear to you, is full of characters. I get lost in the numbers, can’t remember all the hierarchy. But it’s simple enough, or at least I’ll make it simple enough for you. Listen closely.”

He packed down his pipe with his thumb, though the tobacco glowed red in the bowl.

“Demons are intermediaries between gods and men. Most of us, what you call ‘demons’ were once men. We were not angels. Don’t make that mistake. No, there are lots of shapes and shifts abounding. There are Fates, who alter destiny, there are what you know as poltergeists, who cause much mischief, there are the incubi and succubae you have already experienced (here he tipped his pipe in my direction), there are familiars, who assist what you call witches.”

He puffed on his pipe, and a blue smoke whirled above his head in lazy, sensual spirals.

“There are Demons formed from human semen.” Here he grinned crazily, the smoke swirling around his face, obscuring his eyes.

“There are disguised Demons, which I fear our friend Obadiah is, makes it tricky in dealing with him. And there are Demons that instigate Witchcraft. I don’t know what we are dealing with at present, but we are about to find out. He grows more powerful.”

“Is he more powerful than you?” Oh! I have such fear about this!

He grimaces around the stem of his pipe. “No, I’m still more powerful. But he grows. And he has enough tricks to harness Cheitan and Saalah to do his bidding.” He barked a short, bitter laugh.

“And who are they?” I didn’t like the sound of this.

“They are some minor demons, spirits if you will. Not of much merit, but amenable to a bribe. Cheitan is the demon of Smoke and Saalah is a demon that entices women into the wood. All kinds of mischief can befall a maid in the wood. They are known as some of the ‘Devil’s Handmaids’”.

He puffed on his pipe, sending up a plume of smoke to the ceiling that circled around as it hit the beams and spread outward. An example of “Cheitan”?

“And about your being in the wood, my dear lady. Very foolish of you. Had I not come at the moment I did, you would have suffered another rape by Obadiah. He seems to delight in taking his perverse pleasures with you. You can now thank me for saving you from an even more terrible attack than last time.”

What worse could he do to me than when he raped me? I shivered, remembering those details.

“Oh, there are plenty of tricks he could render upon your soft body, my darling,” said the demon, reading my thoughts. “What he did the first time was just a first course for his appetite. You forget we demons have terrific appetites, especially for mortal women. Your flesh, especially those places between your soft, white thighs, are irresistible to us.” He leered at me. Nasty bastard.

“And with what bribe does he induce them to work for him?”

“Probably your blood, or a piece of your flesh. Or, if he’s in a particularly generous mood, a piece of your ass. Of course, that would be after he has sated himself on your charms. He would turn you over to them, where they would use you until they were bored and would tear you to pieces.”

Oh, what a terrible mouth on him! But now I was really afraid.

“You see, my dear, as long as Obadiah thinks that you are, ah, I think you call it “a free agent’ in your world? Well, as long as Obadiah thinks he can take you at will, even from under my nose, he will come back and try again. There are only a few ways to discourage him from this behavior.”

“What do you want me to do?”

“Well, it is not by my authority to tell you how to end your novel, but killing him off would help….for a while. That would be one way. There is another way, but you would not want to go down that path.” He laughed to himself, and puffed hard on his pipe, his eyes glittering with mischief.

“And what is that path, dear Demon?”

It seemed the room darkened, or perhaps the sky did outside. But something changed. He still sat in his chair but it seemed he was whispering in my ear.

“A woman is much happier if she has a Master. Authority thrills a woman, my darling. Nothing but complete subjugation will finally satisfy her.”

He smiled at me, and I shivered at his words. What a strange and alien a concept to me. To call him “Master”!

“In the animal world, its nature’s decree the male shall dominate. And you are my little vixen, my little red fox.” He smiled around the stem of his pipe. “And I am very much the male here.”

I would not dispute that statement. He was more ‘masculine’ than ten men– twenty. And very proud of it. No ‘metrosexual’ confusion for him.

“You know, sweetheart, I am thinking Obadiah is more a very powerful incubus. Certainly a devil, he comes by that honestly, but…. Sexual relations with an incubus are decidedly unpleasant and an often painful affair. I think that you would agree with that.”

He would get no argument from me.

“So, Demon, what are you saying I should do?”

“Why don’t you refer to me as Demon Lover anymore?”

“After that beating? What do you think?

“Look, Bess, I think that you should come under my power completely, and let it be known.” He grinned broadly. Oh! This was fun for him!

“What is it you are saying I do?”

“Sex is a powerful thing in our worlds, as well as yours. I am suggesting you become my consort, for as long as you inhabit my world. That could be a long time, it depends upon things.”

“What things, Demon?”

“Ah, that I have no competition in your heart and mind, that you submit to everything I say and do, and that I am Master of you and your body. That you obey me and submit to me in all things.”

“I don’t know. You know that I am married.”

“Well, I can not trample upon your marriage vows, came long before me.”

“So did my friends, Garrett.”

“Ah, that is another complication. But I will look the other way if you please me in all other things.”

“Are you talking about whips and chains and things, Devil?”

He laughed. “Why in Hell’s good name would I need such things? I’m talking about the natural roles of man and woman, or in this case, Demon and mortal woman. What could be clearer?”

“You have lost me. I don’t know anything of subjugation or submission. We modern women tend to avoid all such talk and behavior.”

“And are you any happier for it?” His eyes glittered through the smoke he exhaled.

He had me there. Relations in the twenty first century were confusing enough. Was there any real happiness between men and woman? There was a lot of anger, and sham, and moving about, exchanging partners and forming anew. There was a lot of unhappiness and divorces. The roles between women and men seemed to be mandated by some chaos that we danced to faster and faster. The ‘natural’ roles that seemed to work for past generations were lost to us now. Women were more like men, and men! God! They were like women! Most women I knew had more ‘friends’ who were homosexual, gays, than girlfriends. They were interchangeable. The roles and relations had become very confused. Perhaps he had a point here. Perhaps what he was proposing was a balancing of the roles. The strong man (or devil) and the soft, weaker, woman. Perhaps he was on to something.

“You promise not to hurt me?” I asked him seriously. I don’t know what I was afraid of, but I was.

He shook his head at me in wonder, and laughed. “Are woman from your century so distanced from their natures that they don’t trust the masculine? Can you place your heart and body in my hands and know I will protect you? What is it that men do in your domain? Do they not occupy this fundamental role?”

“Well, not without a lot of confusion, Garrett. They get mixed messages from all sorts of places. I don’t think modern men know what to do with women.”

He laughed delightedly and gave me his opinion. “You fuck them good, and often, and they keep you entertained. It’s really an easy exchange. They lay down and spread their legs on demand, and you chase off all the wolves. What’s so hard about that?”

Ah, he is a trying and primitive Demon! He has the manners of a goat, but that I have told him before. It is an exchange he is proposing here. My protection and security from Obadiah if I ‘cleave’ myself to him completely. He hasn’t given me much to go on yet, but I am interested in his idea. And he has allowed my marriage and my friendship (there are others he doesn’t know about) and promises to wink at them.

In any case, I am way over my head here, and not believing in anything supernatural or paranormal, I find myself at a disadvantage. He holds all the cards right now, and I am at his mercy. My fear of Obadiah and what he can do overcomes my disdain for my overpowering, vulgar demon.

Hopefully, he will be a kind and generous ‘Master.’ I think this is called ‘bargaining with the Devil’.

Jane Kohut-Bartels
copyrighted, 2006, 2013

A Chapter from “Ancestors of Star”

November 4, 2009

Bill Gaius is one of my favorite authors.  He writes blockbuster mysteries and action packed novels.  He’s also a good friend and one of the most generous of men in critting works by new writers.

I love reading Bill’s work, in part because it’s always a good story and he’s a polished writer.  He writes insightful and believable characters, even when he throws a bit of mysticism into the works.

Lady Nyo

Excerpt from William Gaius’ ‘The Ancestors of Star’.

Tim Hyatt has been outraged and embarrassed when Lucy White Eyes is apparently kidnapped from his care by armed members of a reservation drug gang. From a number of tiny clues, he thinks he’s guessed where the ‘kidnappers’ took Lucy White Eyes. On a cold November Saturday, Tim decides to check out his guess by hiking into the sacred canyon of the ancestors to try to find Lucy White Eyes and her fugitive boyfriend, Michael Talking Deer. City-bred, he has no idea what he’s getting himself into.

* * *

[from the previous chapter:]

Should I run the distance to the shrubbery on the other side, or move slowly? Should I crawl or stay on my feet? I scanned the cliffs, riddled with caves and erosion troughs, to see if someone had spotted me. There was nothing. I moved slowly across the open space, one careful step at a time, looking about as I moved.

hurtled forward into the sand. I couldn’t inhale. The breath had been knocked out of me. Pain slowly rose through my back and left side where a boot had hit me. I lay paralyzed, face down. Before I had time to panic, my ability to draw breath slowly returned in painful, wheezing gasps. I turned my head so I wouldn’t inhale sand. A knee settled into the small of my back and a large hand pressed my head firmly against the ground.

He didn’t say anything at first, but wrapped my left wrist with thick cord. My other wrist was pulled back and tied to the left one.

“He’s alone, I’m sure of it.” The voice was Lucy White Eyes’. “You didn’t have to kick him so hard, Michael. You might have broken his back.”

“He’s fine,” came a man’s soft, sing-song Lagalero accent. “Get up, white boy.”

I slowly stood up, which is not easy to do with hands tied, wearing a backpack, and punished by a sharp pain running from back to chest. Talking Deer helped, in his own way, yanking on my tied hands until my shoulders screamed with pain. Lucy stood in front of me, a rifle dangling from her hand, looking worried. I still couldn’t draw a full breath, and rocked forward and back on my feet, working to pull air noisily into my lungs. The canyon walls spun, and seemed to be falling in on me.

Talking Deer gripped my bound wrists and pushed me along the bank of the stream. Pain shot up my side and I gasped for breath each time I stumbled. After another hundred yards, we broke into a sheltered clearing in front of a broad, shallow cave. Under the rock overhang, a tent had been erected and a little corral had been built of slender poles bound with rope. It housed two horses.

He gestured to a boulder. “Sit down.”

I balanced myself on the flat-topped stone, trying to minimize the agony in my ribs. “You don’t need to do this. I came up here to see you.”

“Shut up.”

Lucy tugged at Talking Deer’s arm, and whispered in his ear.

“Don’t move.” He pulled an automatic pistol from behind his back and made sure I saw it. He took Lucy some distance away, where they spoke together for a few moments. The conversation grew louder and more heated, until Lucy put her fists on her hips and he threw up his hands in surrender. He shoved the gun into his belt and came back to where I sat watching.

“Luce tells me you’re smart,” he said, “So I’m going to take a chance with you. You have to promise to be a courteous guest, and not fight with the host.”

“That was a hell of a welcome.” It hurt to talk. “I won’t be fighting anyone for a while.”

“It could have been worse. I had you in my sights five minutes before you set off my little alarm. You were making more fucking racket than a herd of buffalo. I decided it would be safer to knife you than risk the sound of a shot. But Luce, here, convinced me I should find out what you’re doing up here first.”

“I want her to come back to the rez and make good on her promise to Metal Head.”

“You’re fucking stupid. You could be dead now.” He moved beside me and loosened the ropes. He smelled of sweat and wood smoke. “Welcome to Mike and Lucy’s Place,” he said, as I shook the ropes loose and rubbed the circulation back into my hands.

“It looks like you have regular housekeeping set up here,” I said. “And I’m guessing you can’t be seen from the air?”

“Not even with one of those heat-seeking cameras. All they’ll see is rocks. We can hold out here forever.”

“What about me? I know where you are now. You can’t let me go, can you?”

“I can. In fact, I have to. Our people go missing in these mountains all the time, but Lucy says a biliga’ana boy missing on the rez is going to bring a lot of attention. Search parties and everything. I guess she’s right. Anyway, you probably told Star where you were going. I hear you can’t take a piss without her say-so.”

I felt my face flush. “Yeah, I did tell her,” I lied.

Lucy said, “Tim, you’ve got to go back without me. But first, you have to stay for lunch, and listen to some things.”

“Come back with me, Lucy. You’re important to your people now. No one else can take up Metal Head’s job.”

“And she’s a witness, too, against me and my friends,” grumbled Talking Deer.

Another lie wouldn’t hurt. “The Feds don’t need her any more. They’ve got lots of evidence without her. Let her work with Metal Head. Let her go.”

He chuckled. “You’ve got it backwards. I don’t tell Luce to do anything. She can walk out of here anytime she wants. But she tells me she doesn’t want.”

“But how long do you think you can stay here? Someone will come for you sooner or later.”
“How did you know I was here?”

”A lucky guess,” I said. “I mean, I saw the tracks leading in here and took it from there. But you can’t stay here forever, can you?”

“You don’t understand us much, do you?” he said. “Half the rez probably knows we’re up here. My three friends brought Lucy here. They’ll check on us once in a while, and I’d never count on them to keep their mouths shut. Anyway, our people have been here a hundred years. Luce and I aren’t the only ones that know about this place.”

“Then why haven’t they hunted you down already?”

“Because they don’t want to.” Talking Deer stood up. “Come here and I’ll show you something.” I followed him into the cave, past the horses, to where the roof sloped down to meet the floor. An ancient mud-brick wall closed off a cramped space the size of a closet. He produced a flashlight from somewhere, and snapped it on.

“Ah!” I jumped back, startled. The last thing I expected to see was another face grinning back at me. A skeleton was curled up in there, its empty eye sockets staring in my general direction. A shiver rippled down my spine and lodged in my crotch.

“Luce calls him Buddy.”

My involuntary reaction had hurt my ribs again. I wheezed, “Is that one of the original people? The ones who built the ruins?”

He shook his head. “Buddy’s a Lagalero. His hair is done in a Lagalero braid, and his jewellery is Lagalero. He’s been there no more than a hundred years, I’m sure of it.”

“Was he buried here?”

“He died right there where you see him. Our custom is to bury our dead in a secret place for a couple of years, and then put the bones into a pit with the rest of our clan. There’s no pit around here, just this one poor old guy. Nobody buried him.”

“So why did you show him to me?”

“Not because I need the practice speaking English,” he said. “I’m trying to show you something.”

He squatted and kept the flashlight beam on the bony face. “I think Buddy was running away from something, maybe the soldiers, or an enemy, and he came up here. He lived a long time, too. This cave was a mess, with deer bones, corn, and yucca scraps all over. I’m thinking he survived here on his own for years.”

“…and you can stay here, too?” Against my better judgment, I was beginning to like this guy. I had to remind myself that he was at least partially responsible for Blue Antelope’s death.

“You’re quick,” he said. “Buddy knew that this place would be easy to defend. I found his bow and two dozen worn-out arrows, and a Winchester saddle ring carbine at least a hundred years old. There’s empty 30-06 cartridges all over the canyon. But it looks like he died of natural causes. He crawled into this old room and piled up some rocks to keep the animals out, and just died.”

“That’s interesting. So what are you trying to show me?”

“What I’m saying is that if anyone comes up here to get me, I’ll get some of them. They can only kill one of me. I’d rather die up here like Buddy than burn out my life in a jail cell.”

“I get your point. Everyone knows you’re here, but no one’s saying anything. If I go back and make a public issue of it, they’ll have no choice but to come and get you, and if they do, some people will get killed.”

“Luce said you were smart.”

“What about Hunter? Wouldn’t he know about this place?”

“Sure as shit he knows. But while I’m up here, no one’s getting hurt, right? You said it yourself. He’s off the hook as long as nobody says anything out loud. Between the drug charges and the manslaughter, I’m looking at twenty years minimum, with good behavior and all that. When I get out, I’ll be in my forties, and most of my life will be over. I won’t be taken out of here in cuffs. I’ll either leave in a bag or I’ll end up like Buddy.” He jerked his thumb towards the little tomb.

I said, “But if you stay up here, won’t it be just like you’re in jail?”

“This isn’t jail,” he said. “Here, I can live like my ancestors. They’re all around this place. You can feel them, and at night, you can even hear them. I can hunt my own meat and grow my corn and defend this land. Down in the town, they’ll forget about me. And Lucy…Lucy will be with me, if she wants…”

“I want, Mike.”

I said, “Lucy, I don’t know much about the desert, but think of what it’ll be like, living up here. Having to gather enough food for winter, plant crops, gather firewood, no medical help. You’re going to be cold and hungry. You’ll have to get feed for the horses, too, won’t you?”

“I don’t care what happens to me, if I can be with Mike.” Her dark almond eyes were as hot and determined as Star’s had ever been.

“Let’s have something to eat,” said Talking Deer. I followed them to the front of the cave, where a small fire burned within a wall of rocks. A steel cooking pot was near the flames to keep the contents warm.

“Mike’s proud of me,” said Lucy. “He brought back his first deer two days ago, and I butchered it myself, even if the coyotes got some of it. And I dug up a couple of yucca hearts, and found some herbs to flavor it all. This is our first meal eating off the land, now that our store-bought food’s getting low.”

Lucy didn’t look like a sixteen-year-old flirt now. She was a busy housewife, bringing worn Melmac plates and utensils to a flat rock that served as a dining table. Using a worn kitchen glove, she brought over the stew pot and ladled a portion onto each plate.

Talking Deer spooned some stew from his plate, but Lucy said, “Wait, Mike.” He held the spoon in front of his mouth, blowing on it, while she threw a little out the door with the ladle, saying something in Lagalero. She explained to me, “Always a little for the Holy Ones. Then they’ll keep us safe and supplied with everything we need.”

The stew was actually very tasty, and I accepted seconds. If she could make meals like this from the things they found in the canyon, she and Mike could actually live well up here. But soon, there would be snow. The rocks would be slippery, and the stream would freeze, and the wind would howl down the canyon.

I had one question left, and I debated with myself a minute before asking. “What exactly happened to Mary Jackson and the others?”

“None of your fucking business,” said Talking Deer.

“Mike, don’t be rude,” said Lucy. “I’ll tell you, Tim.”

She came and sat next to me. “After the deal was finished, Mike came looking for me, and drove up and down the road. He didn’t want me left out on the desert all night, he said. While he was doing that, Curtis and Mannie and Mary all went off to hide the stash.”

“Shut up, Luce,” warned Talking Deer.

“I guess they must have kept some back after they hid it, and started smoking. Mary had never done meth before. Anyway, Mike caught up with them and they were so sick, he drove them into town and dumped them in front of someone’s house and blew the horn.”

“Mary was alive when I left them,” said Talking Deer sullenly.

I said, “Was it worth it? The meth, I mean.”

“Don’t preach to me, biliga’ana,” Mike spat. “You won’t ever have to live like us. Everyone has to make money somehow. And people want the stuff. They really want it. But that’s done now. There’s just three of the boys left, the ones you met on the road. They never wanted us selling meth in the first place, and they’re really scared after Curtis and Mary died.”

I wasn’t going to push the argument while I was in his kingdom. It wouldn’t help anyway.

“Do you keep the meth up here?”

“No. Luce won’t allow it. She says I won’t be able to hunt and we won’t be able to grow crops, and we’ll just die. She’s right, I guess.”

“Well, the meth you guys brought in is still down there somewhere. Do you really want it to get into circulation among the other Marys and Curtises?”

Lucy tugged at Talking Deer’s arm. “Mike, this is your chance. Money’s no good to us up here anyway. Let Tim get rid of it now.”

He looked out of the cave mouth for a moment, and nodded regretfully. I got out a piece of paper, and he drew a detailed map to the stash. “Remember, don’t handle it with your bare hands, or you’ll end up where Curtis and Mary are.”

When the meal was finished, I said, “When can I leave?” I looked at my watch. “It’s going to be dark in a couple of hours, and I left my flashlight in the car.”

“We’ll take you to your car now. We’ve got to sweep our tracks away, anyway.”

From inside the cave, I hadn’t noticed that a steady rain had been falling for some time. The walk back to my car was wet and cold, and dark was coming on fast. I had to walk quickly in the soft sand, which aggravated the pain in my side and made it harder to breathe properly. Talking Deer apologized for kicking me so hard, but his words didn’t help. By the time we reached the car, the sky was almost dark and there was neither moon nor stars. His flashlight was our only guide.

When I was about to get in my car, Lucy came over and kissed me on the cheek. “You won’t be telling anyone, will you?”

“No, Lucy, I won’t.”

“And will you apologize to Metal Head for me?”

“He can’t, Luce,” said Talking Deer. “Metal Head, and everyone else, would know that Tim knows where we are.”

In truth, I hadn’t made up my mind what to do.

Driving in the rain and darkness down to Stone Giant Road, I turned left and found the narrow, unnamed track that passed an abandoned hogan.

I looked inside the hogan, poking the flashlight beam around. It was a filthy mess of beer bottles, food wrappers, discarded clothing, and condoms. Trickles of water leaked through the roof and glittered in the flashlight beam. A rusty stove stood in the center of the floor, its bent chimney pipe leading up through the hogan’s smoke hole. A low wall of mortared stones surrounded the stove. In a few minutes, my freezing fingers found and dislodged the loose stone inside the wall. I thought, this hiding place is a cliché. If no one had found it, it was because no one had looked.

Behind the stone, some paper had been pushed in to fill the space. I pulled it out, and a plastic bag the size of a basketball rolled heavily into the wet fireplace ashes. Many smaller bags were inside, each containing slivers of shattered glass, the smoke-able form of methamphetamine.

I held it in one hand and examined it with the flashlight. The drugs in this package had killed Blue Antelope and Curtis Marks, might soon put four men in prison, and condemned Michael Talking Deer and Lucy White Eyes to living in heroic squalor in the mountains. It also indirectly created the real possibility that the tribal patrimony of the Lagalero might be lost forever.

The meth was pure evil. Its purpose was only to kill and spread misery.

It was also evidence, and I was about to commit a felony and destroy it. Without it, the four Redskin Rangers in custody might go free. On the other hand, if I turned it in, I’d have to reveal the whereabouts of Talking Deer. And I’d made a promise to Lucy and didn’t want to break it. I looked at the stove and considered burning the meth. But it was possible some passing car might spot the fire or smoke.

A narrow wash ran with water a few yards from the hogan. I crouched with my back to the wind and began to empty the bags into the rapid flow. I rinsed my hands every few minutes to avoid absorbing the chemical through my skin. There were hundreds of the little bags, and dumping the whole stash took almost an hour. Finally, shivering violently, I climbed into my car, turned on the heat, and headed back to town.

Taped to the door of my room, I found a sealed envelope, rather than just the usual page torn from Star’s square notepad. I opened it and read, ‘As time goes by? Feel like dancing tonight?’ Her little scrawled signature, the five-pointed star, was at the bottom.

It was some hours later that she saw the huge bruise on my ribs. I said I’d fallen while hiking. She warned me not to go into the mountains alone again.

NOTE: ‘The Ancestors of Star’ is available for sale as trade paper ($14.95) or download ($4.95) at Lulu:

Bill Gaius’ current work in progress is on view at

A Short Post of Explanation.

August 28, 2009

This week I deleted two posts.  One on Landmark Forum “Education” and another one on the Atlanta Mayoral Elections.  I did this for reasons that were personal and political.

Landmark Forum  posting was drawing readers from  That’s ok, but I think my posting my opinions on Landmark took this blog away from the literary objective.  I still hold to them, that Landmark is possibly a dangerous mindtwisting institution, but it doesn’t loom large in my life.  Not at all.  It’s a particular issue with a friend and he will or will not extricate himself  from their hooks. I have other fish to fry.

As to my deleting the Mayoral post: well, the campaign has heated up and it’s really gotten nasty.  I say a pox on all their houses and I’m back to posting poems and stories and some social commentary.  So to those readers who were reading my blog on this event, go to Jim Galloway’s AJC blog where  he does it so much better.   He’s a nice guy, and I have spoke with him at length on these Atlanta issues, and he deserves the readership.

Atlanta politics is predictable and a big Yawn.

Lady Nyo

An Important Comment from a Friend and Neighbor in Atlanta

July 30, 2009

Steve is a friend and neighbor.  He has had an eye out on the real issues that have plagued our city and neighborhood.  I am moving his comment to my last blog entry up front because he zones in to the most pertinent issues on all of this.

The future of our neighborhoods in Atlanta are no different than in many places.  I hope these entries spark some thought and conversations in different ways.

Lady Nyo

Steve wrote:

Thanks Lady Nyo for the candid and stark realities of living in intown Atlanta, home to some of the most beautiful neighborhoods in the country as you noted. I too reside in Capitol View going on just 10-years so my perspective is similar but also different compared to your nealry 40 years. To see what a charming neighborhood this is from a historic and architecture standpoint, it pains me to see the abuse it endures. These people have no respect. But then again they have none for themselves. It is a culture in chaos.

To add insult to serve injuries, we have a crisis in our local (neighborhood) housing market. As Lady Nyo pointed out we have welcomed an onslaught of new residents via gentrification. They are mostly white, some black, but interestingly most middle class blacks don’t want to live here as they do not want to live “among these people.” My hardworking, law abiding black neighbors moved out recently to a more stable area.

This area, most notably zip code 30310, is one of the most hardest hit areas for mortgage fraud and foreclosures. These foreclosures are selling (bought by investors) under $50K with most going for $30K or less. These are the only houses selling. The house across the street from me had an offer of $68K but appraised at $29K. Appraisers use the most recent sales to arrive at their values but these are skewed due to the large investor purchases of foreclosures. Now actual home buyers cannot get appraisals to make purchases due to this disparity as they would need to come up with the cash to make up the difference. Renovated homes in this area have sold for between $130K-$200K just a year ago. We have got to get the appraisal process modified here or we face the prospect of returning to being an unstable, low-income, subsided housing neighborhood if owner occupied homes are not allowed to be bought. And what about those who have large mortgages relative to these low appraisals ? How long if at all will it take for market values to equal what is owed on them? If that doesn’t happen, we will see more foreclosures occur in the years ahead.

I am going to confer with our legislators and local realtors to brainstorm for idea on how to combat this.

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