Posts Tagged ‘freeverse’

“The Nightingale’s Song”, a short introduction to these poems….

April 24, 2013

Samurai Lovers, #2

A little over a year ago I started a series of long poems, ultimately titled “The Nightingale’s Song”. This became a collection of twelve poems, set in 17th century Japan. It was a saga of two people, a married couple named Lord and Lady Nyo.

I loved these poems. They were highly emotional, what I hoped was a ‘slice of life’ of a samurai couple of that era. Some time before, I came across the great 8th century document, “The Man’yoshu”. This was a collection of over 4500 poems of various themes, but many of them love poems. They had such an impact upon me that I still am reading various editions of these poems. While writing what was to become “The Nightingale’s Song”, it seemed these 8th century poems spoke directly to the life of my own characters, and I wrapped some of them around the behavior and emotions of these two. People who haven’t read “The Man’yoshu” have little understanding the power of these poems: they speak directly to us through the centuries, to our inner most emotions, dilemmas, concerns. Human nature doesn’t change much over time. These poems are a testament to the power of love and longing between men and women.

Very recently I suggested to a good friend, Nick Nicholson, from Canberra, Australia, that he collaborate on this new book with me. He is a wonderful writer and poet on his own, but this time Nick will be using another talent: he will be contributing photographs to this book. He will be doing much more than this and I am very grateful for the chance to work in such concrete and deeper ways with a friend of over seven years.

Even though there is a lot of work on “The Nightingale’s Song” to be done, I am posting something of a ‘prologue’ just to introduce these poems. I don’t know how many I will post on this blog in the future, but enough I hope to interest readers. I especially want to thank the readers from Japan and other Asian countries. Your support, and occasional comments, encourage the writing here.

Lady Nyo

In Old Japan there was an even older daimyo called Lord Mori who lived in the shadow of Moon Mountain, far up in the Northwest of Japan. Lord Mori ran a court that did little except keep his men (and himself) entertained with drinking, hawking and hunting. Affairs of state were loosely examined and paperwork generally lost, misplaced under a writing table or under a pile of something more entertaining to his Lordship. Sometimes even under the robes of a young courtesan.

Every other year the Emperor in Edo would demand all the daimyos in the land travel to his court for a year. This was a clever idea of the honorable Emperor. It kept the daimyos from each other’s throats, plundering each other’s land, and made them all accountable to Edo and the throne.

Lord Mori was fortunate in his exemption of having to travel the months to sit in attendance on the Emperor. He was awarded this exemption with pitiful letters to the court complaining of age, ill health and general infirmities. He however, continued to hunt, hawk and generally enjoy life in the hinterlands.

True, his realm, his fiefdom, was tucked away in the mountains that were a hardship to cross. To travel to Edo took months because of the bad roads, rivers and mountain passages. A daimyo was expected to assemble a large entourage for this trip: vassals, brass polishers, flag carriers, outriders, a train of horses and mules to carry all the supplies, litters for the women, litters for advisors, and then of course, his samurai. His train of honor could be four thousand men. He sent his rather stupid eldest son to comply with the Emperor’s wishes. He agreed to have this disappointing son stay in Edo and attend the Emperor at court. Probably forever.

But this tale isn’t about Lord Mori. It’s about one of his generals, his vassal, Lord Nyo and his wife, Lady Nyo, who was born from a branch of a powerful clan, though a branch who had lost standing at the court in Edo.

Now, just for the curious, Lord Nyo is an old samurai, scarred in battle, ugly as most warriors are, and at a loss when it comes to the refinement and elegance of life, especially poetry. His Lady Nyo is fully half his age, a delicate and thoughtful woman, though without issue.

But Lord and Lady Nyo don’t fill these pages alone: there are other characters, priests, magical events, Buddhist characters and a particularly tricky Tengu who will entertain any reader of this tale.

A full moon, as in many Japanese tales, figures in the mix. As do poetry, some historic and some bad. War and battles, love and hate. But this is like life. There is no getting one without the other.

The present Lady Nyo, descended from generations past.

Jane Kohut Mori Bartels
Copyrighted, 2013

“Bhava Yoga”….and alo and helló to readers in Romania and Hungary!

February 21, 2013

Very recently I decided to gather the poems of the last two years and see if they could be herded into a poetry book. My dear friend and comrade, Bill Penrose, is willing and able to do the formatting and with his efforts, this can be done. The book is gong to be very different for me: no tanka, no haiku, nothing Japanese…just freeverse, or what I hope is freeverse. The book will come out this spring, probably published by….and be titled: “Pitcher of Moon”.

I’ve had some health challenges lately, and I want to thank my dear friends, Bill, Bren Goode and Nick Nicholson. These three are the wind under my wings…always. I wouldn’t be much of a poet without their encouragement and support.

Lady Nyo

Bhava Yoga

Morning’s roseate sky
Has been blasted away,
Branches now whirligigs
Swirl with a fierce southern wind
As windows rattle in frames.

A tattered umbrella
Shades from a relentless sun.
I listen to Bhava Yoga
The vibration of Love,
Where imagination meets
Memory in the dark.
Yet surrounding these soothing tones
The world outside this music
Conspires to disrupt, sweep away
Any centered down thought, reflection.

The fierce wind demands my attention.

Still, the pulse of Bhava Yoga
Draws me within,
Feeds memory with imagination,
Calls forth something as enduring as the fury outside,
And I feel the pulse of the infinite.

Our lives are lived in the spheres of
And we are like birds,
Clinging with dulled claws to
The swaying branches of life.

Jane Kohut-Bartels
Copyrighted, 2013

“Lady Nyo Forgives Her Husband”….and a continuation of National Haiku Month.

February 4, 2013

Haiku Crane

This is National Haiku Month: Write a haiku a day.

Fallen leaves crackle.
Sparrows add the treble notes.
Season’s musical.

Dogwoods are blooming
The crucifixion appears
White moths in the night.

I will not shed tears
Let the tall murasaki
wet my silken sleeves.

Outside the window
there is a world of chaos
Inside, warm fire.

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

The north wind blows hard
Chills both man and animal
Life is not certain.

Haiku (classical form) is done as 5-7-5. There are many who creatively write ‘outside the box’. I still count on my fingers, and squeeze the ‘haiku’ into the box.

The poems (Lady Nyo Forgives Her Husband) were written a few years ago in answer to “Bad Quarrel”. And extended version of both are in “A Seasoning of Lust”, published by, 2009, plus more stories of Lady Nyo. I am trying to fit them in the upcoming book “The Nightingale’s Song”. Right now I haven’t a clue what to do with them, but they should be in there. Perhaps I will just stick them in the middle of the book and leave it at that.

Lady Nyo (not the one of the poems but sometimes too close for comfort)



Stop tickling me!
Yes, I forgive you,
but you take such liberties!
Your hands are not clean from
previous crimes.
Go wash them in the snow of
last year’s falling.
Then I will reconsider your request.


Look! There is a cardinal,
red as blood and as cocky
as a lord.
See his mate?
She is dull, but has her lipstick
on this morning.


Last night I thought of you
My face still bears the blushes.
You thought it was good health?
No, just reflects the liberty
of dreams.


(My mind is still shattered
My heart still sore)
But I put on a fresh face
full of smiles and polite manner.
It would shock our friends if
they knew the turmoil of
my heart.


You came with a mouthful of ‘sorry’
and leave now with other parts eased.
Never mind.
Your coming and going has served a dual purpose.


The spring is so tender.
My heart blooms like the white plums.
Do you think our happiness will last
til apple time?


Off you go,
and don’t look back.
If you turn, you will see serenity.
But behind this mask,
is a well of longing.


Last night
I tied my kimono tightly,
bound it with a red silk rope
like an impassioned lover’s hands
around a wasp waist,
and kneeling upon a cushion,
awaited the rising of the moon.

Jane Kohut-Bartels
Copyrighted, 2013

Playing with “Form For All”

May 31, 2012

Oh Crap! Sam Peralta over on is challenging us to write something, perhaps freeverse, sonnets, haiku, etc…but disguise it so we ‘break’ the form.

His challenge is hard enough!  I post a sonnet here, and I found that writing sonnets gave me a very different voice in poetry…one that I did not recognize in myself….and well, just was so different.

So, I want to play along, but I probably fail miserably at this game.

Lady Nyo


When Lug dragged his cock upon the earth deep

And threw up mountains and hillocks in haste

Fair Aine came behind him with sweet seeds reap’d

And fertile was the land, no virgins chaste

Followed the reapers and saw the crows fly

Up in the air with black wings flapping sound.

She watered the plantings with moisture, sighed

For Lug had others of mistresses round.

Fair Aine pined in sorrow, her heart laid bare

All other women Lug held with his charm

When she walked afield, the men  did dare

To raise their eyes and hearts without alarm.

The children she bore now, peppered the earth,

And Lug still dragged his cock, taunting with mirth!

Jane Kohut-Bartels

Copyrighted, 2009, 2012

Tanka for OneShotPoetry

February 8, 2011


OneShotPoetry has asked me to do a presentation on tanka February 14th and February 21st.   Tanka, as many readers know, is an ancient form of Japanese poetry.  Originally called waka, it is a predominant form in Japanese literature, along with the 17th century haiku.

Tanka is much earlier than haiku, with anthologies of tanka being produced in the 8th and 9th centuries.  Basically tanka is a vehicle for  emotional verse.  In some cases, it’s deeply erotic, in other examples it celebrates nature, seasons, etc.  I am no expert, having stumbled upon  tanka  about 5 years ago, but I have fallen in love with the form.  It is a short and powerful  vehicle for poetic thought.  My intent in this presentation- to- come is to introduce tanka to those poets and readers who are not familiar with the form and to present some of my favorite tanka writers from ancient Japanese literature, in particular the priest-poet, Saigyo, and Ono no Komachi and Izumi Shikibu, two Heian court women who were excellent and could stand in any era as superb poets.

Below are some of my tanka, though I still struggle with the form.  It is not to be confused with freeverse in the classical sense of tanka, but then again, poetry and these forms do evolve.  That is my excuse for my poor offerings.

Lady Nyo

The moon floats on wisps

Of clouds extending outward.

Tendrils of white fire

Blanketing the universe

Gauzy ghosts of nothingness.

Come into my arms.

Bury under the warm quilt.

Your scent makes me drunk

Like the wine we gulped last night.

Too much lust and drink to think.


Give me a moment!

To catch my breath and settle.

Give me some peace now.

Stop kissing my hands, stop it!

What if someone is watching?


Presence of Autumn

Burst of color radiates

From Earth-bound anchors

Sun grabs prismatic beauty

And tosses the spectrum wide!

Bolts of lightening flash!

The sky brightens like the day

too soon it darkens.

My eyes opened or closed see

the futility of love.

Had I not known life

I would have thought it all dreams.

Who is to tell truth?

It comes at too sharp a price.

Better to bear flattery.

Jane Kohut-Bartels

Copyrighted, 2008,2011


October 12, 2010



"Winter Birds", jane kohut-bartels, watercolor, 2005'

This poem was stolen by a website this summer.  I say stolen because no permission was asked and no permission was given to link this to their site. Had the linker asked,  I certainly would have given permission. There have been hundreds of readers of this poem from that site,  sometimes this amount daily, but they apparently don’t think.  I have no idea where this was placed, but I wish people would have some integrity.  Perhaps this  isn’t possible on the internet. This poem will be included in the soon-to-be-published, “White Cranes of Heaven”.

Lady Nyo


Dark mysterious season,

when the light doesn’t

quite reach the ground,

the trees shadow puppets

moving against the gray of day.

I think over the past year

praying there has been

a kindling in my soul,

the heart opened, warmed

and the juiciness of life is more

than in the loins–

a stream of forgiveness

slow flowing through the tough fiber

not stopper’d with an underlying bitterness

but softened with compassion.

This season of constrictions,

unusual emptiness,

brittle like dried twigs

desiccated by hoar frost

just to be endured.

I wrap myself in wool

and watch the migrations–

first tender song birds

harkening back to summer,

then Sandhill cranes,

legs thin banners

streaming behind white bodies,

lost against a snowy sky.

They lift off to a middling cosmos,

while I, earth-bound,

can only flap the wings of my shawl,

poor plumage for such a flight,

and wonder about my destination.

Jane Kohut-Bartels

Copyrighted, 2010

“Musings on a Closing Day”, from “A Seasoning of Lust”

May 20, 2010

Mt. Fuji in Spring

I move my chair

to observe Mt. Fuji-

monstrous  perfection

topped with the cooling crust

of spring snows.

Languid movements

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,

bringing relief

to old and tired bones

brittle now with life’s argument

and sullen defeat.

Raked sands of garden

waves are hardly disturbed

by feet like two gray stones

and grains  flow

round ankles and

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, 2009

“Wind Chimes”

January 28, 2010

from autumn cottage

How many nights

Have I lain awake

Listening to  chimes

Under the roof?

Discordant tones

Thrown wild  in the dark

Riding a vengeful wind.

Jane Kohut-Bartels

Copyrighted, 2010

“Autumn Dusk” #2

January 24, 2010

Autumn Dusk, oil, Jane Kohut-Bartels, 2006

A stuttering wind blows across

Clouds tinted by the failing sun.

Brittle air softens —

Now a faded blue,

shade of an old man’s watery eyes.

A late flock of Sandhill cranes lift off,

Pale bodies blending in the

Twilight with legs

Flowing dark streamers,

Their celestial cries fall to


Harsh, chiding rain.

The trees in the valley below

Are massed in darkness

As the waning light leaches

The color of nature,

Creeps from field to hillock

And all prepare for the

Rising of the Corn Moon.

Even  frogs in the pond

Listen between croaks

For the intention of the night.

Jane Kohut-Bartels

Copyrighted, 2010

Winter Comes Too Soon

December 6, 2009

This poem is still in rewrite, rethinking.  Autumn/Winter usually throws me into poetry that reflects the monumental changes around us.  But what I am finding out is it isn’t enough just to notice and write into poetry those external changes in our environment.  I think that realizing the internal changes, those thoughts and memories of the past and now present…well, they, combined with those external, outside things makes for something perhaps deeper.  Frost did exactly this: an eye to the environment and a thought to humankind’s connection.  One followed the other.

Lady Nyo



That too-fickle season

Has thrown off Jacob’s coat

And turned to winter.

Gone the leaves

Brilliant hummingbirds,  airborne jewels

Illuminated in prismatic splendor

By the sun piercing a brittle blue sky–

Replaced  with blackened limbs

Stretching naked arms towards a now glowering sky.

The season of alms and hunger has begun.

Gone are the pelting rains

Which poured down window panes

Like crinkled crepe paper

Distorting our view of the shearing outside.

Gone, too are the golden sunsets

Where a beam of light transposes

Distant trees, paints the belly of clouds.

The leaves and color are gone

And that is as it should be.

What is now outside

Hints at what is growing inside–

This long passage through a muted season.

Jane Kohut-Bartels

Copyrighted, 2009