Posts Tagged ‘Haibun’

“Lady Nyo’s Torment”

February 4, 2018

 

My beautiful picture

Front Garden

Haibun Monday is tomorrow night over on dverse.  Come read some wonderful haibun  there. It is one of the very oldest and most popular forms in Japanese literature.  Priests, poets, travelers used the haibun form to document their observations, and sometimes these above were spies.

Lady Nyo

  • I stay here waiting for him in the autumn wind, my sash untied,
    Wondering, is he coming now? Is he coming now?
  • And the moon is low in the sky, the only company
    I have tonight.
  • Now near dawn, paling Milky Way appears–
  • .
  • And Oh, my husband! There are not stars enough in the heavens
    To equal my sorrowful tears.

Once I believed
No love could still linger
Within the heart
Yet, something springs from the air
And forces itself on me.

 

Jane Kohut-Bartels

Copyrighted, 2018

These poems and tanka above come from “Song of the Nightingale”, Amazon, 2015

Song Book cover

 

“Do We Censor Ourselves in What We Write?”

January 13, 2018

Supermoon in dec.

 

Very recently I received an email asking to be ‘friends’ on facebook.  The person was a woman I knew slightly during Y2K.  Our relationship wasn’t close and she wasn’t a literary friend. I have no problem adding friends to fb, but when I told her I was a writer, she asked me if I ‘wrote dark things.’  That question startled me.  Apparently in the ‘60s she had a nervous breakdown and couldn’t tolerate ‘dark things’.

I thought about this.  Hell, yes, I write about ‘dark things’.  “Olsen’s Pond” is an example of dark things.  But further, I am not responsible for the mental stability, comfort, etc. of readers.  I don’t think this woman would want to be ‘friends’ with me on fb according to her standards. And frankly?  I don’t think I would be interested in her.

I have come across this sort of censorship before.  When I published my first book (“A Seasoning of Lust”) there were a few rather comical stories with sex mentioned.  Not full bore sex but a dusting of this issue.  My mother’s opinion was this: “ I  was a pornographer, would always be such, and I would live in the gutter.”  Thanks, mom.  But this is the opinion of a woman who writes little and when she attempts poetry, it’s sentimental mush.

I remember a woman in ERWA (Erotica Readers and Writers Assoc.) who styled everything she wrote after a silly, demented ‘dom’.  He was a hack at this site and frankly, people started to notice his projection of horrendous sadism in his work posted there.  She didn’t notice there was a rumble around his work and just continued to style her work after his.  She was rather stupid.  But it did raise the issue of censorship.  His work was so vile, so misogynistic it outdid deSade.  He projected a sense of power but I did meet him.  He was a small, whiny man, with nothing that would appeal.  He hid behind his words and they were pretty awful.

In that case, he should have censored himself.  But he was insane.

 

Censorship is something I have struggled with.  Do we do this to ‘please’ potential readers?  Are we afraid our ‘dark things’ in verse and story will isolate ourselves?  Last year I posted “Olsen’s Pond” and some people wrote that they ‘refuses to read this poem because it would depress them’.  Well, they must have read some of it to have that opinion.

I have written a lot of Japanese stories and poems.  Some in the tanka form and most not.  Some readers have no information on shibari, something I studied for a year or so because it interested me.  It was such a strange-seeming, alien practice but I kept reading about it to at least have some clarity before I ditched the whole subject.  People again were horrified that a woman (or man) would allow oneself to be tied with rope.  Some called it barbaric, some called it ‘oppressive’.  I have read one translation of the word ‘shibari’ as ‘tying up the heart’.  This was enough for me to write some comical pieces (Metamorphosis series) and some not so comical works.

So, Hell Yes I write about dark things.  War is Hell, especially on children and perhaps my “Children of Aleppo” is a dark thing but it points to hope. The light doesn’t show unless the darkness appears.  And I hope that I continue to not be swayed by those who are afraid of life.  Those who are need not read my blog.

Below is a Haibun.  “The Punishment”.

While binding me for his pleasure, I uttered displeasing words. With a level glance he considered options and too soon decided my fate. Grabbing my hair, he pulled me to my feet, opened the shoji, and forced me out in an early spring’s snow.  A lavender sky tinted the snow purple, gray in the shadows.  Ordering me to kneel, I obeyed, shivering in the cold morn.  Drawing an early cherry blossom from his sleeve (a gift that was to be mine), he threw it down.  It was his pleasure for me to feel the sharpness of the morning until the soft snow covered the blossom. I, who a month ago would not have cared what I said, now trembled with remorse, feeling more than cold air.  My nakedness revealed my shame.  A crow in the cherry tree laughed scornfully.

When love grows deep and the heart overflows, one submits and becomes a slave.

The snow soon covered the blossom at my knees.  Fearing I would die, he picked me up, carried me to the brazier and tucked me deep amongst his robes, singing softly of the foolish maiden who would die for the last word.

A swirl of blossoms

Caught in the water’s current

Begins the season.

 

Jane Kohut-Bartels

Copyrighted, 2018

“Rain”…..

October 16, 2017

tuareg2[1]At Dversepoets.com

tonight is Haibun night, and the prompt is ‘water’.  My attempt might be ‘anti-water’.  LOL!

Lady Nyo

 

 

Rain

I feel the rain waiting to be born.
A spectral haunting
Charming eyes and nose,
Rebirth in the torrent –
The waters of Heaven
Waiting to be born.

Bushes rattle leaves
Wait with eternal patience
The herald-winds start to howl,
A Saharan Miracle!
And the back of drought is broken
With this rain waiting to be born.

 

In the Saharan
Flowers iridescent
Five drops of water

 

This was written last week listening to Berber music. It ended, this torrent of musicality, with 5 measured beats.  This was the ‘rain waiting to be born.”  In the desert, the rains are awaited patiently and in some years are 5 years apart.  So, though not exactly following a haibun standard, I am hoping this pleases.

Jane Kohut-Bartels

Copyrighted 2017

 

 

 

Haibun Monday: “Seasons Change”

September 3, 2017
My beautiful picture

Autumn colors from my bathroom window

Komorebi:  the Japanese word for  light filtering, that time between summer and autumn., seasons changing. It is more extensive than what I write here, so read what Kanzen Sakura over at dversepoets.com says.  She is hosting Haibun Monday and her prompt is this.    There are sure to be some marvelous haibun (short paragraphs that originally were travel notes….) ending with a  relating haiku.

Lady Nyo

 

Seasons Change

 

Autumn wind startles–
Lowered to an ominous
Key—Ah! Mournful sounds!
The fat mountain deer listen-
Add their bellowing sorrow.

 

 

The ginkgo filters  sunlight, the ground a crescent- printed cloth fit for a yukata.  It hits my hands and feet, creating white scars that do not burn.  I welcome the sun.  My bones grow thin.

This passage, from summer to fall, eternal movement of Universal  Design, counts down the years I have left.  There is so much more to savor.  Two lives would not be enough.

Tsuki, a beggar’s cup too thin to fatten the road, still shines with a golden brightness, unwavering in the chill aki wind. The Milky Way reigns over all.

 

Sharp moon cuts the sky

 Fierce wind howls from the mountains

Disturbs dragonflies.

 

Jane Kohut-Bartels

Copyrighted, 2017

 

 

“Healing with Nature”: a Haibun

August 29, 2017

 

Flowers 2

The terrible floods out west and the continued rain there from the hurricane makes me full of gratitude for the sun and calm, almost-fall weather here in Atlanta.  The cicadas are fiddling up a storm, and we might get rain by tomorrow.  I hear this is the backlash of Harvey.  The scenes of people trekking though muddy, polluted water is heartbreaking.  What happens to the zoos, the animal shelters, the stray dogs and cats?  People have had to desert their homes and leave their pets behind.  Added heartbreak to what must be unbearable.

Nature is a double edged sword.  

Lady Nyo 

 

Healing with Nature

 

 

My solitude shared with

night time crickets and an owl

the moon must approve

soft moonbeam filters dust motes

a thousand fish swim upstream

It is late afternoon, winter by calendar, spring by temperament. The radishes have pushed above the dark soil, and look promising.

Two cats and I are sitting on a retaining wall that retains nothing, except Madame Alfred Carriere and Graham Thomas.  They both have climbed to the second story and are looking in the windows, watching us sleep.  I am surrounded by budding nature, the canna lilies brush my thighs with tenderness, making room for me. I sigh and relax into the gathering dusk.

Last night I heard the wood owls.  Their demonic chattering scared me into the chicken coop to stand guard with a rake, nervous as the hens.  Now I know they are only six inches tall and can’t eat me.

When I die, I want my ashes scattered on this garden.  Then, my ash-hands will caress the seedlings from below, my ash-heart will take pride in their growth, and my ash-ears will still hear those wood owls.

The moon is rising, a beggar’s cup too thin to fatten the soil.  Mourning doves chant their benediction and swallows tumble like sickles in the failing light. The dark embraces all below. I am healed from the day’s tribulations.  The sounds of the urban give way to the enchantment of the Night.

 

The soil our bed

Our classroom and our graves.

Reborn to the world.

 

Jane Kohut-Bartels

Copyrighted, 2017

 

“Some Haibuns just to entertain”….

August 22, 2017

Last fall, I was introduced to the haibun form by Kanzen Sakura, who has become a hearty friend.  Kanzen is deep into Japanese culture and had been there numerous times.  I have  other friends who write Haibun, like friend and fellow poet in California, Steve Isaaks.  But I never was very interested in the form, until some nudges by Kanzen.

Haibun is probably the oldest recorded writings in Japan.  They basically were travel notes and from these sketches in the trail, came beautiful haiku and tanka.  Basho was one who wrote in haibun.

They are marvelous small forms, to be written as a few sentences and ending with a haiku that relates to the memory.  Here are a few of my own.  Plus a tanka.

Lady Nyo

 

images (3)

(Sumo puppies in training…)

Sumo

I love Sumo wrestling.  Or at least I think I do.  Perhaps it is the only sport where I don’t feel like I have to hold in my stomach sitting there. Watching those mountains of flesh-men grapple with each other makes my heart beat hard.  There is such history around this sport, and such a deep tradition.  The fact that they gorge themselves with a purpose makes my heart sing.  How wonderful that you can eat and eat without any concern for weight or fashion!

And, did you know that those belts they wear can cost a million yen?  Or so I have read.  I have also read that Sumo Wrestlers are some of the most humble and gentle of men.  Here, have another bowl of rice.

 

Mountains of flesh pound

A ring of sandy earth

Cunning and strength vie.

 

 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.

kappa[1]

(This is a general warning against Kappa.  And also a good example of something to fear.)

Fear

 

Global Warming has brought significant changes to the South, and Atlanta is now nicknamed “Tornado Alley”.  In the almost fifty years I have lived here, I have seen disturbing changes. My first acquaintance with a ‘tornado’ was when I heard what I thought was a tornado and I was in the bathtub.  My now-ex-husband headed for the basement leaving me in the water.  It turned out to be a train. There was a track back in the woods we didn’t know of.

One flattened our local park and was called ‘severe wind shear’.  From the looks of it, it seemed like a tornado. Trees, hundred year old oaks flattened to the ground, an indeterminate path through the park, a warzone of defeated greenery.

I fear the heavy winds and rainstorms. I am powerless before them.  The only way to save oneself is to head for the basement and cower with whatever lives down there.  And of course this adds to the fear.

 

Winds begins to rise

Fear out runs common sense

The worms are safer

 

I wander the fields

Snow covers the barren soil

Sharp wind plays pan pipes

A murder of crows huddle

Black laughing fruit hang from limbs 

Jane Kohut-Bartels

Copyrighted, 2017

 

 

J

 

Sumo Wrestlers…..Haibun

June 12, 2017

 

images (3)

Sumo Puppies at dinner…..

 

Over at dversepoets pub, Bjorn is challenging poets to write a sport themed haibun.  I’ll bite, as I have a fascination with this ancient Japanese sport.

Lady Nyo

 

Sumo Wrestling

I love Sumo wrestling. Or at least I think I do. Perhaps it is the only sport where I don’t feel like I have to hold in my stomach sitting there. Watching those mountains of flesh-men grapple with each other makes my heart beat hard. There is such history around this sport, and such a deep tradition. The fact that they gorge themselves with a purpose makes my heart sing. How wonderful that you can eat and eat without any concern for weight or fashion!
And, did you know that those belts they wear can cost a million yen? Or so I have read. I have also read that Sumo Wrestlers are some of the most humble and gentle of men. Here, have another bowl of rice.

Mountains of flesh pound

A ring of sandy earth
Cunning and strength vie.

 

Jane Kohut-Bartels
Copyrighted, 2017

 

Haibun: Shadows

April 3, 2017

kohut-bartels-ls-19b

(“Dusk”, watercolor, Jane Kohut-Bartels, 2005)

Over at dversepoets pub, Kanzen Sakura is calling for poets to write a haibun with the theme “shadows”.  Go visit dverse site for more information and to read some wicked good submissions.

Lady Nyo

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, 2017

Haibun, “The Best Meal I Ever Had…”

March 20, 2017

DSCF2590

(Oil, “Still Life with Melon”, undated? Jane Kohut-Bartels)

The first day of Spring!  Over at dversepoets pub, Kanzen Sakura is posing a prompt to write about the best meal one ever had. I had to think on this, but the winner in my memory is below.  I love food, maybe too much.  Thank you, Toni, for this lovely prompt. And happy First Day of Spring to all!

I still remember a meal in a Japanese restaurant with my ex father in law. His name was Mori, so he knew about the food. But that food! Oh, Dear God! I remember the sizzling rice soup, something I never tasted again. I can still remember those nuggets of rice vibrating in my mouth. I remember a Kobe steak. It was different from any steak I had before. Only many years later I found what this meat cost. My father in law was a doctor. He could afford it.

I remember the owner coming out from the kitchen and bowing to him and him bowing back. They knew each other well and I think this marvelous dinner was because of this. I remember the warm sake bottles, endless brown pottery bottles and weird, misshapen handle-less cups. I thought them strange, but only decades later, long after  kicking his lazy, entitled son to the curb, did I discover these cups cost more than the dinner. Raku, a pitted glaze different on each cup. Priceless, at least to me, beyond my poor budget. Obvious now, not every day sake cups.

I remember getting a little drunk. I remember his brown eyes glittering above his sake cup. He proposed setting up a business for me. That was a great kindness because his son was a perpetual student and never did work. My father in law suggested a high end sake import business. I wanted to import the soup.

I never saw him after the divorce but what a man and what a memory. And what a dinner! I should have married him instead of his God-Awful son. But I would have had to kill his witch of a wife, and doctor’s wives are like vampires, hard to kill.

Ume blossom soup

Frogs bellowing in the pond

Night to remember

 

Jane Kohut-Bartels

Copyrighted, 2017

 

Birthday Party, a haibun

March 19, 2017
My beautiful picture

My beautiful picture

(“Peace in the East”….from my phone camera.)

Sometimes life gets so heavy you topple over, face in the soil.  So I’m posting this short ‘haibun’ to lighten up the load.  It’s a beautiful almost-Spring night, and everyone is tucked in their beds, and it’s almost silent outside.  No crickets yet, and too dark to see the sickle-swallows but the woodstove is empty and there is peace in the house.  Willow, the new kitty who was crippled at Christmas, had surgery yesterday (neutered) and he’s almost smiling. Haven’t heard a yowl yet, but he hasn’t looked in the mirror at his rear end.

There are kind parents in this world, even with major flaws.  My father was one of them.  He died too early, in November 1989.  I miss him terribly but he was a prime example of unconditional love, that issue that is denied by so many “Christians”.  He learned that from his big Hungarian family and a loving mother, my grandmother who died when I was just 12.

 

 

“Birthday Party”

Mean, spoiled Nancy Madsen was having her 10th birthday party. Nancy was always turned out in pretty dresses, with petticoats and a clean face. She had blond curly hair, like Shirley Temple, except without the talent. She was the youngest of three, so her mother took special care with her. My mother? Not so much. I was left to my own devices, and those weren’t always the best. There was no fairy godmother hovering over me.

I was sitting on a stool, stupidly too near the drop off onto the road beneath. I was taking a back seat, trying to disappear. Nancy’s mother didn’t like me much. Her dog, Freckles, a Dalmatian, had bit me in the eye the year before. She blamed me for ‘disturbing his nap.’ Back then there were no lawsuits or doctor visits for this ‘small stuff’. You had iodine slapped on the wound and went back to play. I remember being uneasy about her party, as my mother picked the gift herself. I didn’t know what she had wrapped up in gift paper. I was hoping it wasn’t my Betsy-Wetsy doll.

Nancy floated around the tables, playing birthday diva. She decided to sit on me. A big mistake for a lot of reasons, two of which I remember: One, I was deathly afraid Nancy would tip us over the cliff, and two….she was fat. I thought I wouldn’t survive this. I couldn’t breathe.

So I bit her. In the back. Nancy leaped up screaming and a general riot broke out. I couldn’t get out why I had bit her, but by the faces of the adults I knew I was no longer welcome.

My father ordered me to the car. I went, weeping, sitting in the back of the old Studebaker station wagon. I was very worried, mostly about the anger from my mother as soon as she heard what her only daughter had done. Not that she liked any of the adults at the party, and it was generally mutual, but it clearly was another failing of a daughter she really didn’t care for.

My father approached the car, his face beaming. “We won’t tell your mother about this. Let’s go get some Breyer’s ice cream.”

This wasn’t the first time my father stuck up for me. We were in a secret war against my mother until he died. He was my best friend though I didn’t appreciate it then. I do now.

 

Childhood is tough

Adults are the enemy

Kids fodder for wars

 

 

 

 

 


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