Posts Tagged ‘friendship’

‘Turkey Vulture’ from “Pitcher of Moon”

August 26, 2013

Frank, turkey Vulture


This poem is dedicated to my friend, Nick Nicholson.  “Pitcher Of Moon” has not be published yet, but perhaps later this fall.  I am hopeful for the 37 poems of blessings and gratitude in there.

Lady Nyo




I once knew a woman

Living in a scrubby trailer park

Down near the scrub pines of Florida.


She was poor as a church mouse,

half –crazed by life.

She fed all strays

-was the pariah of the neighborhood.


Every evening a flock of vultures,

Like fixed-wing aircraft,

Would skim the pines,

And land in a muddle of feathers,

Awkward birds out of their element

Land and with a group waddle

Come to the cat food offered in pans.


They were patient guests

And waited for the strays to finish.


There was decorum

Among them,

These fierce looking birds

Perhaps they knew

The charity offered

Had humbled their nature:

Or perhaps they had reformed;

I don’t know

But they had a leader named “Frank”

Who held back until the others were done.


Frank would never face you;

He sat sideways

Though I believe he peeked.

Perhaps he was ashamed

A lord of the sky

Brought down to this station,

To fill his crop with kibble

From a dented metal pan.


Come sit with me.

Extend a feather,

I promise not to stare.

Your warty red neck,

Your hang-dog countenance

Does not disturb me.


Come sit beside me,

Let our talons dig into the sand

Let the ocean cleanse our feathers

I will call you friend, brother

For the gift of trust

You have brought on your wings.


Jane Kohut-Bartels

Copyrighted 2012-13 





Friendship….Plain and Simple.

March 13, 2010

I have a friend, Nick Nicholson in Canberra, Australia, whose birthday it is today.  I can call him friend because he has shown me over three years, what it means and what it entails.

We met on a writer’s website that long ago, and started exchanging our works.  He is a fierce and fine writer and someone I deeply admire.  He is also very modest and would blush at what I say here about him.  However, he is all this and more.

We grew as writers together on that site, and then went off that site and grew some more.  I’ve grown through this blog and with the help of another dear friend, Bill Penrose…..publishing now two books within a year.  They wouldn’t have existed, these books…without the loving attention that both of these fine men and writers gave to me.  They believed in me as a writer.

That is not common.  There is some fierce competition amongst writers, but sometimes there is incredible support, too.

But I wanted to write something about friendship….and the particular efforts of writers to keep the creative fires stoked and warming.

Nick has seen me at many different levels and stages.  I have been very depressed and lost emotionally, and he took me to task, asking in one instance if I would be able to afford the therapy to get through the dangerous nonsense I was involved in.  He didn’t parse words, but made me think.  Not that I listened, I had to fall to great lengths before I learned…but Nick was always there.  That is friendship.  He never grew tired of my complaints, ramblings, tears.  For some reason, he knew that I would come through.  I didn’t know at the time, but he did.  That  HE knew helped in some tangible way.

Every birthday, Nick sends a present…and ON TIME!  He calls on the important days….like when I published  “A Seasoning of Lust”, my first book, and bought it and read it.  He called on my birthday and that had to cost him mightily.  He didn’t care, he wanted to express his love and friendship.

Nick composed and produced an incredible cd about 10 years ago:  “Angel Factory”.  These tracks are all played by him and they are marvelous!! Nick is not only an incredible writer, he’s a painter and a very learned musician…conservatory trained in Melbourne.  It shows in this cd.

He sent it to me about two years ago for Xmas.  I love it because it is so good musically, but more….he gave of himself.  It’s not easy for someone to send a cd of your work, because musical tastes differ.  There is always the issue of ….”nice work”.  But his work is way beyond nice.

Bill Penrose is another dear and treasured friend, and not because of his wonderful production of my books.  He has shown a rollicking wit and a sharp intelligence and is there with love.  Abounding love.  True friendship which really is hard to define after all.

Perhaps friendship is the gathering in of a person regardless the idiosyncrasies, the peccadilloes,  the petty temper tantrums, the ‘weirdness’.  It’s an overall acceptance of all of that and a denial that these things mean anything in the long run.  It’s a sniffing of butts and acknowledging the particular tribe.  This weird tribe of wordsmiths.  LOL!

I am learning that true friendship isn’t cheap or easy.  It must be attended to like some rotten tomato plants.  Or they grow crooked and croak before the fruit develops.

Funny, but almost all my dearest friends are writers:  Bill, Nick, Margie (who is almost a relative by injection) shia, Steve Isaaks, Berowne  Malcolm and Katie.  A few  I have never seen or heard their voices, but they are there….in the real ways. They’ve shown up on this blog, and they have shown up in real time.

A few write everyday and I really benefit from their words.  I think they are afraid that I won’t ‘grow right’ if they don’t.  And they probably don’t know how much their words….in warning, concern and support….means to that growth.

These ‘guys’ encourage, cajole and support.  I’ve learned from them these issues and how important they are to friendship.  Friendship has to be a two way street.  Genuine interest in the other and the others interests make the foundations of friendship.  Without this, without the enthusiasm for what the other is doing in their lives…even if you don’t share that particular  interest…well, that’s the root of it all.  Without that two way street…it’s faking it.

There is a constancy in all of these people and it goes beyond the fact that they are writers:  they are solid and sane individuals with huge hearts.  I couldn’t have a better environment to learn the real issues of importance in life.  Of course, outside these folk there are others and they come forth with support and encouragement.  But these guys I write about are special.  They gather me in and make me fuller.  They make me understand what friendship really is, through their example.

Naturally.   Happy Birthday, Nick!!! With love.

Lady Nyo

Sorrow and Friendship

February 16, 2010

We got the news yesterday that a friend, a police officer, was killed in the line of duty.  This is adult stuff and  both my husband and I  have been up all night in shock.

His wife has been my friend for exactly 10 years.  We met during the Y2K craze and L. was the only local person who was as crazed as I was about the possibilities.  I was, at that time, the National Coordinater of Y2K Women, or some such title, and for a full year we promoted bottled water and food supplies for families.  We had a lot of fun, no balance or perspective, and when Y2K didn’t happen, we were left with a lot of bugs in rice and beans. Something we didn’t eat anyway.

L’s husband was killed yesterday as he approached two suspicious cars on an isolated road in South Fulton county here in Ga.  They shot through the windshield and blasted out the back window and got Mike in the process.  He was able to reverse his patrol car and radio for help, give a description of the the vehicles that sped off, but he died after airlifting to Grady Hospital here in Atlanta.

Mike was a detective for 20 years, originally from Wisconsin.  He and L had 5 children, and they were both of very strong stock. L. and I used to laugh that our husbands were the stubborn way they were because we had married German Catholics.

They had to be strong, and sometimes I couldn’t fathom where they got their strength.  They lost two children, one their oldest daughter who died in childbirth.  They were raising the girl as their child, and you wouldn’t believe how much she looked like L.  They were a strong and loving family.

About 5 years ago they made a Xmas visit here.  I got to talk to Mike and he was a funny man.  Strong, sensible, intelligent, but deeply committed to his family and to his profession.  He told some stories that made me realize  police officers are always on duty and in the line of fire.  Especially detectives.

Over the past three years my contact with L. was constrained.  I was moving into writing and she was very religious.  I felt ‘pushed’ by the strength of her faith into a corner.  I just didn’t believe in God in the way she did and wanted me to experience.  She is a devote Christian, and it’s not her Christianity that was the problem.  I have a Jewish friend who is the same way:  she wants me to go to shul with her and I just can’t.  I don’t believe.  The more I was pushed by both friends, the more I felt….frantic.

Just three weeks ago L. and I had a bad quarrel. It was over a chain letter.  I hate those things, for many reasons, but I probably overstated the case to L.  She threw up that I had only been a friend on my terms over the last few years.  She was right.  I didn’t know how to handle her religious fevour and threw out the friendship because it made me uneasy.

Now all this seems so stupid and shallow.  She was a friend, and regardless how much I disagreed with her on religious issues, it was a friendship with a lot of substance over 10 years.  I did apologize but it was a slight gesture.  And now, nothing of any of this crap matters.

She matters.  Her family matters.  I have great sympathy because she has lost her husband and her life is again going to change in the most extreme ways possible.  I am  comforted now that her faith is as strong as it is.  It is hers.  And now perhaps I finally understand why she was so ‘strong’ in her faith.  She lost so much, and she has lost Mike now.

What I believe doesn’t matter in the face of this.  What she does is important because this will help her survive.

I wish I had been a better friend.  I wish many things, but I wish most that Mike wasn’t gone and L. and her family had him back.

Lady Nyo

Sometimes we get lost in stupid petty stuff…tempers flare and then we reconsider what is really important.

November 30, 2008

Today I received a lovely comment from a man in India, Dr. R.K. Singh, and he sent me a beautiful tanka.

Awaiting the wave
that’ll wash away empty hours
and endless longing
in this dead silence at sea
I pull down chunks of sky


Dr. Singh is a professor in India, and an author of 34 books, many of them on haiku and tanka, plus many, many critical reviews. I have just spent a while on his blog:

And can highly recommend it. He writes with such passion and delicacy and evokes images that are powerful indeed. That he likes my poor offerings of tanka is quite the gift to me.

This past week in India, in particular Mombai, has startled and saddened so many of us watching.

(I have a friend in India, Aman, and I am getting a bit worried. I haven’t heard from him yet, but I am assuming he and his large family are ok. Aman, check in, please….you do read this blog.)

Dr. Singh’s poetry is luscious. I am going to spend more time at his site and get a couple of his books. It will be well worth the time and effort.

As did Japanese men and women from the 8th century onwards write tanka back and forth as a means of communication, I have answered Dr. Singh with an offering of my own, composed on the spot and not the best of poetry.

No news can tell
the complete damage to life.
My heart flies beating hard
And joins the spiral of smoke-
I am with you.

What has happened in India this past week is what has been happening all over the world as we know. It makes it even more personal when you know a few people there, and hopefully they, including Dr. Singh, are safe.

Please go to his blog and read his amazing poetry. I can’t think of a more restorative thing to do right now.

Heals the heart and soul, which I think is the purpose of poetry. And  puts minor (and major) slings and arrows in their proper place.

Lady Nyo

A note from Phil in Wales…he’s had a bad incident and deserves our comfort.

November 14, 2008

Today I had to deal with tragedy…

I enjoy my position, it is responsible and the work I do is I believe valuable. However, sometimes that responsibility has its down side.

Last night there was a fire and two people died in their home where they felt safe. I was immersed in my own social life when the text came through on my blackberry. A few terse words that rips one back to a very gritty reality.

The morning was dealing with emergency services and fire investigators. It turned out that the home was not one we were responsible for but the impact on the community we serve was just as severe. Talking to worried neighbours to reassure them while mourners arrived to place flowers at the Police cordon was difficult.

Worse were the fixed smiles of the press, radio and TV reporters who love a good death by fire and were thrusting mic’s, notebooks and camera’s into the faces of all and sundry. Being polite while being interviewed and carefully managing one’s words is far from my favourite pastime.

I am not complaining. I am well paid to do what I do and as they say the buck has to stop somewhere.

But in seeking diversion and some respite I came here and read some things that just made me react. We are sometimes so concerned with fragments of our fantasies that we can forget the harsh truth of real life.

Some would say that that is the purpose of fantasy and escapism, to some degree I would agree. But let’s remember that fantasy and escapism is just that.

Apologies to Avatara and Jane.


No apologies needed, Phil as we spoke by phone today.  These things happen in life, and when they do, they jerk us out of our ‘pretend’ lives, and our yearnings for fantasies…even when we are living those fantasies 24/7.

I would hope  you and everyone else here know by now that this blog has created some strong relationships and friendships.  We don’t always agree, but we don’t have to.  We DO  comfort each other because it shows the best of our humanity, and I am so taken with everyone here (except last weeks troll) that I want people always to be able to express what they want.

What Phil experienced is one of the extreme realities of life, and that he has done so with so much grace, compassion and control of the situation around him is truly a learning experience and an example to me.  I am sure others who know Phil, know his heart and know the quality of the man.

I do and love him  because he is worth that emotion.  We are here for each other…and more… in the good times and the distressing times.

Lady Nyo

Sense and Sensibility…about Men.

November 12, 2008

I admit I don’t have it. About men.

I am amazed by other people…especially girlfriends, who have to explain to me what should be very clear….but isn’t.

I don’t know if it is my age/culture/life experience or what…but I don’t seem to be able to navigate the ‘hidden’ (or up front) messages men throw out.

At least towards me.

I usually am simple enough to take men at face value. This seems to be a big mistake. I miss much of the hidden agenda, and am caught in a web of confusion…that’s IF I later on realize there Was something just below the surface.

A while ago, I met a fellow who constantly told me “Don’t try to read between the lines, girl. There is nothing there.” I don’t believe it…in any man.

There is usually something between the lines…whether he/they or me can acknowledge it. As I said…I miss a lot.

The munch situation was a good case in point. I was sitting with a favorite friend, a man who is very versed in world history, WWII, Churchill, naval history, etc. He is someone I get together to talk with and it’s a rare occasion when I realize  he is an attractive and winsome Dom…and I am a woman who has my own attraction to him.

We were at a highly sociable and charged munch…the Buckhead Munch, the longest running munch in the Atlanta area…many years…and John Taurus and I were deeply involved in a discussion ranging from Rommel, to the Boer Wars, to Churchill’s activity there, to Laval during the Vichy government in France, to god only knows what else. I think I threw in Neville Chamberlain in there somewhere. John threw in Pearl Harbor and the change in naval command during Roosevelt’s war time. I looked up and a couple of people were laughing. I got it later from  girlfriends.

“Do you and John have any idea what a munch is for?”  Other such questions.

No, I guess I don’t…but John is much more experienced in these things….and he certainly makes the round for hugs and greetings. I am a bit shyer and go for my girlfriends there.  I generally avoid the Doms.  As I said, I am a bit shy…sometimes.

I just talked to John. We are very happy with our discussions on history, war and these sort of things. Perhaps someday we will get around to the topic of bdsm….and maybe…when we run out of wind….the PRACTICE of bdsm.

John is known as a  very good ‘sensation player’. He is also known as a good singletail user. He is a gentle and intelligent man. The best kind of friend.

Perhaps someday, we will stop in mid sentence…argument….etc…and realize that opposite each other is a sexually attractive and interested ‘other’.

Who wants to ‘play’.

But we are both full of wonder at the world and deep within the realm of ideas and opinions….and for now?

It’s enough. Thank you, John….for a friendship that is easy and delightful!



A Short Story: “Ahmed is Dying of Love”

October 3, 2008

The ney is a wooden flute, only played by men.  Women aren’t to touch it.
The Zar is a trance ritual to get rid of demons.  Men don’t touch it. (except to play the ney at it…)


“Ahmed is dying of love”….

I hear Hadil next to me, chanting something under her breath.

“What? Is Ahmed sick or something?” I ask, for Ahmed is a young Algerian waiter in this Lebanese restaurant.  He’s a sweetheart and a good ney player.

We are bellydancers, applying our makeup in this ‘green room’ Nicola has given us behind the kitchen. An old sofa against the wall, a curtain over the doorway, and the same tray of dried fruits, nuts and bottled water on the table. Since we rarely touch it, we think he recycles it nightly.   Nicola is the owner and he’s very protective of the dancers.  No window in the room, typical of the seclusion of Muslim women.  I hear Hadil chanting again.

“So, what is wrong with Ahmed?”  I am trying to apply mascara, and since I don’t wear it except for dancing, I look like a raccoon.  Leila,  the head of the troupe, the uber bellydancer, insists on the heavy makeup.  We look more ‘professional’ she tells us.  Yeah, more professional, but what profession?

Hadil, the graceful one, puts down her blusher brush and looks at me with a deadpan expression.  Or her usual expression because Hadil is languid to the extreme for a bellydancer.  I always feel she should be given some catnip to perk her up.

“Ahmed has a huge crush on you.”

What?!  My face reflects my amazement.  I have to be 20 years older than Ahmed.  He’s so sweet and innocent.  Perhaps not so innocent.

“Do you suppose he has noticed my wedding ring?  And besides, he’s met my husband. You know, the one who sits at a table by the door?  His asthma kicks in, he says, when we dance because of Nicola’s moldy carpet.”

“Well, he’s hopeful, then.”  Hadil adjusts her lovely breasts in the heavy bra.  We all suffer because of the costumes, heavy and uncomfortable. We wear double bras, something soft sewn into the costume bras.  The women in Turkey who hand sew these bras must be sadists looking for masochists to torture. They have found us.

“Hopeful of what?”  I turn and stare at her instead of looking in the mirror before us.

“Well, you bring him presents.”

“I brought him a couple of dozen eggs.  What’s so special about that?”

“Think about it, Aurora.  In his country, when a woman brings a man such a valuable present, she is announcing her interest.  And besides, you’re American.”

“What?  Does Ahmed have trouble with his green card?”

I think over what she said.  I have brought him a basket filled with my chicken’s eggs.  I have done this several times.  Usually Nicola grabs the eggs and says that he will make himself a six- egg omelet.  I wondered if Ahmed ever got to eat an egg.

I thought about one of the first conversations I had with Ahmed.   I gave him a dozen eggs, and his eyes, those beautiful black pools, grew large at the sight of them.  I was touched.  He explained in Algeria, in the countryside, at 11am sharp, he and his brothers would hear the hen cluck her egg-laying song and they would rush out to find the egg.  Ahmed was younger than his brothers, and rarely got the egg.  He would disappear from home, and lay in wait for that egg, but usually he was summoned back to the chores or the field with the others.  This constant supply of eggs from my pet chickens was of value to him, and not just for the eating.

“So”, I said to Hadil, now brushing out her hair.  “The price of love in Algeria is a couple dozen eggs?”

Hadil snorted.  “No, it’s also because you are American.”

“And American women put out?”

She laughed uneasily.  Obviously, she knew more but wasn’t telling me.  Then She’nez came in, the beautiful Amazon from Somalia, and bending down, she put her face next to mine, and I saw our light and dark reflections in the mirror. Painted day and night.

“Ahmed is dying for love of you.” She chanted.

“God no, She’nez…not you too!”  I was laughing, but concerned a bit about Ahmed.

“Did you see how his ney fell out of his mouth at the Zar?  He saw you writhing around with your demons and the poor boy forgot what he was there for.”  She’nez laughed, a deep rumble from her dark, silky throat.

I thought of the Zar.  We were 12 women, dancers and students, and we were doing the ritual as a ‘bonding’ between us.  We danced out our demons, drawn by our drama queen lives to the attention of compassionate hands.  We twirled and jerked, our hair flinging outward with our spins, our demons holding onto the ends of our hair before we threw them off and into the waiting arms of the Sheikha. I have no similar cultural rituals and I was a bit abandoned in my behavior, but then again, I am the class clown.  I have been called down for this before.  I just like to make people laugh.

“Ahmed thought you really were possessed.  He told Abdul that he was mortally afraid for you.  He burned incense and said many prayers that night.”

I started to laugh.  My antics were getting me in trouble again.  I had thrown myself on my back, and wiggled like a roach dying of poison.  I would be dead, only to come back to life with my arms and legs in grotesque positions, and I would do it again.  I had my friends around me laughing, but we were all high on the turkish coffee and friendship. We didn’t get much chance to let loose like this.  So many petty things were dissolved in that afternoon of vigorous fun.  The stolen mascara, the blushers not replaced, the intentional bumps on the dance floor, the exchanged nastiness between us while smiling at the audience.  It was a clearing of many problems at that Zar.  Women things.

“So, Miss American Belly Dancer.  What are you going to do about Ahmed?”

I thought about it.  There really wasn’t much I could do.  He was a man, with all the yearnings for the kindness of a woman.  Even a much older woman who only gave him eggs.

That night, when I went out on the dance floor, I saw Ahmed at the other side of the room, playing a drum.  I waved at him and threw him a kiss, making him blush heavily.  At least a kiss, so public, from the pretty American belly dancer, would begin to repay his concern and his prayers.

I made a mental note to bring him eggs and spring plums from my trees. Let the girls talk about that!  Ahmed’s concern would be repaid with this coin of friendship.

Jane Kohut-Bartels
Copyrighted, 2008

A woman called me today, and asked me

September 18, 2008

“How do you get over a man?”  She has been entangled in a relationship for 4 years, and the emotions are raw and strong. They recently parted ways and she is distracted with a particularly sharp grief that comes from such a situation.

I don’t know.  People have told me that such events are like a ‘petit mort’. But a “little death” is usually applied to an orgasm.

I don’t know what to tell her. This wasn’t an online relationship, though it started that way in the beginning.  She moved to where he lived, here in my city,  and for 4 years everything seemed fine.  I have known her for about 2 of these years and I would never have thought there were internal problems.  But we, on the outside, never really know.

We rush to comfort those that we care about. We stumble and fumble with words we carry in our mouths like hot casseroles for the grieving.

Do we really touch or make any sense in the person opposite us who is sobbing their hearts out with longing for the past to come back?

We hear their voices, made different with the swollen tissues of red noses, and we hear, frequently, “If only I could have seen it coming”, or “if only this was 6 months ago, I would have made some changes”, but nothing would really have changed and they know it.

We all do the same.

We try to rearrange our lives to suit what we think should be the outcome, but it rarely works.  The only thing I think is to put one foot in front of the other, ride out the grief like a nasty, black horse and some morning you awake, and know that you have slept all through the night and that   heavy pain that you awakened with each day sitting on your chest, is gone.

Perhaps there are other stages, but I don’t know what to tell her.  I just say that I’ve been there, got the t-shirt and the panties, and guess what?

You survive.  And sometimes you learn some good lessons.

But this is not the time to tell her these things.  This is the time for silent listening, for holding her hand while she cries out in a private misery and passing the tissues.  For agreeing to all she says uncritically, because she doesn’t need analysis of what happened, but comfort, validation that she has value in the world.  And that there will be another man down the road, because:  “Men are like fish in the sea”….though right now she needs another man like a fish needs a bicycle….

Little enough, but perhaps collectively applied, she will make it.

I sincerely hope so, because my friend is quite miserable.

Lady Nyo

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