Posts Tagged ‘grief’

Choka: “Grief”

February 16, 2017
My beautiful picture

My beautiful picture

Over at dversepoets pub, the challenge is one of writing a poem expressing expressionism.  We will see….this was a hard one for me.

Lady Nyo






Her lovely snow-flesh


the tracery of blue veins


upon long slim arms


like embracing filaments


fold themselves gently


cold, smooth marble her skin


water streams from eyes


looks upon such delicate


unearthly beauty, now still.




Grief, mine, stoppered up,


memories, glass-sharpened


cuts a shattered heart.


no hope for recovery,


life folded inward


her pain is over, done with,


mine, just beginning.


Each of grief’s ragged breath draws


out, to join in her silence.




Jane Kohut-Bartels


Copyrighted, 2017








“Winter Widow”

February 3, 2016

My beautiful picture 


The naked trees of winter

Lit by a slivered crescent moon,

Cast thin shadows upon a frigid ground,

Skeletons in the moonlight.


A fresh widow

Watched at the window,

Little flesh about her,

Those brittle branches

Now her bones.

There was a time when she was juicy,

Ripe with swelling life,

Velvet of skin.

She lapped at life with full lips,

Embracing passions.

Speared on her husband

She moaned, screamed with laughter,

Sheer joy.


Her life had been full,




A portrait of promise.

He died, life turned surreal,

The reason for living gone.

Life’s temperature grown cold,

Like him under the soil.

It started to snow,

A gentle cover of branch

Bush, ground,

A tender benediction,

A white blanket to her pain.

She knelt in the garden

Suddenly grateful to feel anything

Even the cold.

She would live,

She knew this now,

But he must be so cold under the snow.

Jane Kohut-Bartels

Copyrighted, 2014

Winter Widow first published in Seasoning of Lust, by the author

“Seasons Change”

April 8, 2015

Autumn colors from my bathroom window today

Why I write poetry? It’s a dedication to the imagination and also to the heart. It’s not a medium obsessed over by the general population with their smart phones glued to their ears, nor to those who watch endless tv and movies. Of all the arts, it’s probably the most ignored, passed over.

Yet….for some, they find the same phenomena I do.  It’s a passage deeper into introspection, weighing the difference between crass sentimentality and something ….well, less mawkish.  Of course sentimentality can’t be totally dismissed, because it is a factor of life and the human heart.  But….there has to be more to our cobbling of words, our poetry than that. At the same time a poet has to be careful of the other end of the scale: unfeeling rationality, hard-heartedness. It’s a balancing act.

It’s a life-time pursuit with many stops and starts.  In the end, we hope to sharpen our vision into those things around us, inside and out. We hope to be able, in our poetry, to connect in a universal way.

Lady Nyo


I took a walk this morning.

The seasons have changed here

though where you are they don’t.

The dried, brittle grass beneath my feet

made a consistent crackle,

echoed by the gossip of sparrows above.

The leaves are stripped from the birches and maples.

They fell like rain on a fallow ground one day

and I didn’t see them go.

I think of your rounded arms when I see the shedding birches,

the smooth bark like white skin

with a faint pulse of the river beneath.

Do you remember that river,

when it scared you to stand close to the bank?

You thought the earth would slip inward,

take you on a wild ride downstream

where I couldn’t retrieve you,

and I saw for an instant your raised arms

imploring me silently to save you—

though it never happened

and you never slipped down the bank

and I never could save you.

But imagination plays with your mind when it’s all that is left.

Jane Kohut-Bartels

Copyrighted, 2015 from “A Seasoning of Lust”,, 2009

“Bhava Yoga” and the resiliance of life….

August 8, 2014
PItcher of Moon, available from Createspace,

PItcher of Moon, available from Createspace,

Giant English Hollyhock

Giant English Hollyhock

I am amazed. Two weeks ago I lost my dear 102 year old Aunt Jean. She was the most influential person in my life. Warm, compassionate, wise, witty, when she died, I didn’t feel much. Now I know I experienced a numbness of emotion, afraid of what would happen when I ‘let go’ in grief. When my father died 24 years ago, I suffered criticism for ‘head nodding’ during this staged memorial service. That stopped me up and I was afraid. I gave too much power to a cold, self-centered woman who used power and control even at a funeral. I know now that grief, even over something so natural as (any) expression of grief….should not be corralled, denied, or controlled. I have learned something important here, and I have a lot of gratitude for those people in my life, especially the dead ones, for their support and compassion. I am grateful. Not so grateful for some still living….

I am also amazed at how the body and mind heals. It takes time, and I have had a particular arena to observe this: I am diabetic and my insurance (Humana) has informed me that I am in a ‘donut hole’. In other words, unless I pay a couple of thousand dollars and then the uninsured price (monthly) for these meds, I am on my own. Until the first of next year. In other words, the public is held up by pharmaceuticals and insurance companies who work hand in glove with them. Including the doctors that get kick backs.

At first I wondered what in hell I would do? And then, over the course of only a week, I realized the long term depression I felt had lifted. I wasn’t so damn numb anymore. And it could be traced back to the Victoza I was taking. Now? I am on my own, but it’s sort of a welcome challenge. Very tight control of what I eat and a lot more exercise. A LOT more exercise.

Last night my husband of 30 years brought home a leaflet advertising Salsa/Mambo classes. For years we both have wanted to take Argentina Tango, so we are still on the search here. But what a lovely gesture of my sweet husband to remember this! For the past week I have been working with 3lb weights and back to some belly dance movements: this has loosened me up, and my body feels better. A month ago I had a serious fall, and didn’t move much, afraid to, because of it. Now? Tango looks good. Even flamenco again, but I think that’s down the road. But I have the red shoes waiting!

As a poet, I exist in the realm of philosophical implications. I don’t think many of us can get very far away from that. My dear Aunt Jean was always so, and her letters express so much of this mindset, even to the very last one I received from her at 101 years old. I have so much to be grateful for. I have such gratitude for the presence of this stellar woman in my life.

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
This Vibration of Love,
Draws me within,
Feeds imagination with memory,
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, 2014, from “Pitcher of Moon”, published by Createspace,

“Winter Widow”…..

February 11, 2014

My beautiful picture


For Gay.

I was unhappy with the opening line….and wrote to Dr. RK Singh in Mumbai about this.  He suggested “Winter’s naked trees” for the opening, and it works.  He also wrote of too many adjectives.  I took some out.  Perhaps it reads better.

Lady Nyo



Winter’s naked trees,

Lit by a slivered crescent moon,

Casting shadows upon a frigid ground,

Skeletons in the moonlight

Dark ghosts.

A fresh widow

Little flesh about her,

Resembling  those brittle branches

 In the sullen night.

There was a time when she was juicy,

Ripe with swelling life,

Velvet of skin.

She lapped at life with full lips,

Embracing passions.

Speared on her husband

She moaned, screamed with laughter,

Sheer joy.

Her life had been full,




A portrait of promise.

He died and life turned surreal,

The reason for living gone.

Life’s temperature  grown cold,

Like him under the soil.

It started to snow,

A gentle covering of branch

Bush, ground,

A tender benediction,

A white blanket to her pain.

She knelt in the garden

Suddenly grateful to feel anything

Even the cold.

She would live,

She knew this now,

But he must be so cold under the snow.

Jane Kohut-Bartels

Copyrighted, 2014


September 10, 2012

A day of Memory for our nation.




That beautiful morning,

Teasing taste of early Autumn

The unthinkable happened

And our world stopped turning.

I saw the plane, I saw the fire

I saw the smoke descend like

A blanket of blinding grief

Too late to spare those on the ground

The sight of Armageddon.



Mortar-grey people transformed

Into gritty moving statues,

Holding hands, blinded by smoke,

Move down streets where

Paper, bricks, metal, glass rained down

Like the Devil’s Ticket Parade,

Walked in silence towards the bridges,

Barely a moan I am told,

An Exodus unexpected on this

Morning of such seasonal promise.


I saw worse.

I saw people jump

From the ledges, holding hands,

Some with briefcases

And all I could do

Was howl:


“I will catch you!

Jump into my arms

I will not drop you.

Do not be afraid,

Aim for my embracing arms,

With the last of my life—

I will catch you.”


That day of fire and ash,

Inexplicable funeral pyre,

Of brave souls rushing in

And frightened souls rushing out

And the ash, the ash, the ash,

Covered everything like a silent September snow.


Eleven years later

Grieving when this day approaches,

I hear the words well up in me:


“We will catch you!

Jump into our arms,

We will not drop you.

You will not be forgotten,

With the last of our breath–

We will catch you.”


Jane Kohut-Bartels

Copyrighted, 9-11-2012

Love Letters….

November 25, 2011

This is a sorrowful month for me.  My father, many years ago, died, right in the full swing of Autumn, the most glorious of seasons in the North.  Then my dearest of friends, Marge Chester died unexpectedly the other day.  They were both wonderful and similiar people in many ways. This is just a little letter of love to them, now so gone. 


Dear Daddy,

This month of your death so many years ago –feeling like a blurred yesterday—you would have loved this month, this glorious autumn.

The drought of the past few years has made the colors brilliant, longstanding.  I can’t remember a fall season, now sliding into the earliest of winter, so beautiful.  The reds of the maples are like the slashes of summer’s red cardinals, the oranges and golden leaves, bushes, long grasses as vibrant, as glowing as the sun refracting off broken glass in the grass.  The air is brushed clean with strong seasonal rains, a further blessing after a dry summer.

But the winds! They come out of the north, like bellows, or a bull bellowing. They blow everything before them, and trees, these large pecan and live oak so prominent in the south, are like swaying troupes of dancers.  When this happens at dusk, before the heat of the day cools, when the sky darkens and there is a roiling of clouds in a balmy sky, the winds come marching in like Storm troopers and this spectacle of nature is awesome, fear inspiring.

Thanksgiving was too warm for our holiday: 60 degrees; there is something wrong about this.  Pleasant, but wrong.  Better a cold dreary rain. I’ve been playing Copeland, conducted by your buddy Lennie, and I thought you would be pleased.   At least the music follows tradition if our weather won’t.

I miss you so much.  It took years for me to understand why. I only hope I can be as generous and loving to my own child as you were to me.  I didn’t appreciate you then. It took years for me to understand. But you were, are….loved deeply by me.  All the cousins and remaining dear aunt say I take after you.  I couldn’t be more pleased with that opinion.  Dear Aunt Jean was reading a letter from you from 1943, when you were up to your eyeteeth in WWII.  She said she could well understand where I got my writing ‘skills’ from.  I hope she will share your letter.


Your daughter


Dear Marge,

I still can’t get my head around your death.  We were talking the night before for Christ’s sake!

You died in the same month as my dear father.  You were born in the same month as my dear father.  But the strongest commonality here is  you had such a gentle generosity to you, such a love of life  and good, Talmudic wisdom.   LOL!  We would joke about that last thing, as I knew how much you were bent in life in dividing the wheat from the chaff.  And because of how you looked at life, you lived a beautiful one.  I haven’t been able to ‘properly’ mourn yet, sweetie.  That first hour of sobs scared me, as you know how I react to death, but I think the grief will come: it just hasn’t sunk in yet. 

You were my rock and my best friend.  Now I have to write to your mate, and I can’t get my words straight.  But I do have them in my heart, but I just can’t yet believe t they are needed.   I don’t believe you are gone.

In time, I will know but for now, I am holding you close to me, remembering the sound of your voice, and the years of compassion and solace…and good wisdom, from many streams.

Jane Kohut-Bartels

Thanksgiving, 2011

“I Remember”, poetry posted for OneShotPoetry…..

May 24, 2011

Giant English Hollyhock


I Remember…

I remember the scream

In the middle of the night

Of something dying

Down by the river,

Killed by an owl

Or possibly a fox.

I remember bolting awake

In my parent’s bed,

My heart in my throat

My father just died,

The funeral over

Sleeping in

His bed,

Afraid to move from this reality

To the next,

No comfort to be had

Even with the scent of

His tobacco in the sheets.

I wandered the house,

Touched the walls,

Looked through windows

To a landscape not  

Changed over years,

Ran  hands down the

Black walnut banister,

Smooth, smooth

As if the days would turn back

Just by this touch

And he would be here.

That scream somewhere on the banks

In the middle of the night,

When I jerked from sleep to

Awake, knowing, he was dead-

The father who loved me

Was gone forever,

I knew then

 I was unmoored from life

floating out of reach of love.

That scream challenged dreams

He would come back,

He wasn’t awaiting the fire

He would wake up,

Much as I did,

In a cold-sweat fear

And slowly, slowly

resume his place in the living

There are unseen things

That happen in the night,

Down on the river bank,

Where life is challenged by death

Where a rabbit screams his mighty last

Where the heart leaps to the throat,

Where  most we can hope for

Is a silent ghost

Who walks out of the river’s fog,

Extends his arms

And embraces the sorrowing.

Jane Kohut-Bartels

May 10th, 2011

Copyrighted, 2011

“Winter Widow”

January 18, 2011

“Winter Widow” is posted for


Dark, naked trees

Lit by a pale, slivered moon,

Cast fractured shadows

On a frigid ground.

From her window she saw

Skeletons in the moonlight,

Dark ghosts-

Brittle like her bones.

She was a fresh widow

Reduced by grief,

Little flesh about her

Resembling those fragile branches

In the  breathless night.

There was a time

When she was juicy,

Ripe with swelling tissue,

Wet with moisture,

Velvet of skin.

She lapped at life with full lips,

Indulged her thirst for love.

Speared on her husband,

She moaned,

Screamed with laughter,

Pivoted in sheer joy.

Her life had been full,




A portrait of promise.

He died one day-

Things turned surreal.

So much to do,

The season for living now gone,

The climate of life grown cold.

Outside it was snowing,

A gentle covering of

Branch, bush, ground,

A tender benediction,

A white blanket to her pain.

She knelt in the garden

Suddenly grateful to feel –anything,

Even the searing cold.

She would live,

She knew that now,

But still,

He must be so cold

Under the snow.

Jane Kohut-Bartels

Copyrighted, 2011

from “A Seasoning of Lust”,

TANKA for November 29th, 2008

November 30, 2008

I love tanka, no secret here. I find this ancient Japanese form of poetry to be an intensely personal form and expressive of things that can’t be said in ordinary sentences. I have been writing tanka for a year now, and find I am just scratching the surface of its potential.

I came across this line: “She has mounted my soul” in Japanese..or a translation from the Japanese. It means that ‘she’ has completely taken over me, she has captured my heart…something in that vein. But what a powerful sentence. I had to weave it into a tanka, in fact, to me, the soul is intangible…so in ‘mounting’ the soul (and clinging with strong legs…) ‘she’ makes solid that which is intangible.

This is just one reason I love tanka because it is so….multi-faceted.

Lady Nyo



This grim November,
The month of my father’s death.
Always bittersweet.
My memories float, weak ghosts,
Hauntings in the fog of life.


A mind that obeys
And becomes one with nature
Sees through four seasons
Embellished with life forces,
And completes a discipline.


When nature is known
Reason for awe can be found
In familiar sights.
Intimacy at the core—
Astounding revelation!


The full moon above
Floats on blackened velvet seas,
Poet’s perfection!
But who does not yearn for a
Crescent in lavender sky?


Birds fly in the blue.
All is gray upon the earth,
Heart stopped with sorrow.
White cranes lifts off calm waters,
My heart tries to follow them.


In this single branch
Of a wintry holly,
A hundred words hide.
A thousand blushes appear.
Do not overlook the thorns.


Lithe-bodied, she climbs-
She has now mounted my soul!
Clinging with strong legs
Her breasts pressed against me,
Shaping an intangible thing.

Jane Kohut-Bartels
Copyrighted, 2008

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