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“The Nightingale’s Song”, End Poem in this series.

December 5, 2011



 (above, and early 20th century woodblock postcard)

For Margie.

The Nightingale’s Song


Perhaps a strong man

Should not offer love without

Having love returned

But this grieving ugly warrior

Still finds his love is growing


The rain ceased,

A cold light appeared

Dappling the ground beneath the gingko-

Like an indigo yukata.


Lord Nyo tiredly

Watched the morning grow,

His old bones stiff

As the autumn chill crawled up his spine;

Slow-moving, gait-crippling snakes.


Geese flew through peach clouds,

Their cries falling like chiding rain.

Paired for life these geese–

Like a man and woman should be.


His falcon,

Sitting in a bamboo cage,

Head tucked under a wing,

Feathers plumped against the

Raw morning breeze

Would want to hunt;

Lord Nyo preferred his warm bed.


Un-hooding the falcon,

Placing the bird on glove,

He launched her in the air,

Watched her circle the firmament

Soar in wide circles.


How beautiful!  How free!

Glossy feathers, sharp eyed,

She gave a shrill hunting cry

As she scanned earth.

She would come to his call,

A loyal bird–

She would not fly away.


Why did his wife not fly away?

As beautiful as this falcon,

As desirable by beauty,

Wit and breeding as any–

Yet she remained with him,

If not on his glove.


Once I did believe

Myself to be a warrior

Though I have found

Love has caused me to grow thin

Since my love was not returned.


The problem was this:

He could not bend,

Tightly laced in the armor,

In service to his own lord.


Ah, if she were here

We could listen together

To the sound of passing geese

Crying in the rising sun.


All day Lord Nyo cast his falcon

Into the air.

She brought down birds,

While he flushed out rabbits

Until his saddle bags

Were full, heavy.



His mind did not turn

From poems flowing

From the river of his heart.


Although a warrior

I am lying and weeping here

While I make for you

A comb of willow branch-

Let it adorn your hair.




My longing for her

Is a thousand waves that roll

From the sea each day

Why is it so difficult

To clasp that jewel to my wrist?



If from her mouth

There hung a hundred-year-old tongue

And she would babble

I still would not cease to care

But indeed my love would grow.


All day Lord Nyo

And falcon hunted,

Until darkness fell

And still he loathed

Returning home.

He struggled so hard.

What was of stone?

What was of flesh?

He remembered an old

Verse from the Man’yoshu:

Instead of suffering

This longing for my loved one

I would rather choose

To become a stone or tree

Without feelings or sad thoughts



He was neither stone nor tree

He was a man,

In sore need of the comfort

Of hearth and home,

And especially a loving wife!


Near dawn,

When birds awoke-

Began their morning chatter,

Lord Nyo turned towards home

Came through the wicket gate

Standing open, expecting him.


A bright cup of moon

Was low in the eastern sky,

Grinning like a demented god,

Through the morning fog.


Banji wa yume.

All things are merely dreams.


His  wife on the veranda,

Quilted robe thrown over her head,

And only a small- wicked lantern

Did light her.


Lord Nyo slid off his horse

And bowed deeply to Lady Nyo,

A gesture without words

A gesture not needing them.


Lord Nyo mounted the steps

Pulled his wife to him and

Arm in arm,

They entered the house

To pillow in each other’s arms

While the uguisu–

The ‘poem-singing’ bird

Welcomed them from her

Branch in the ome tree.


Jane Kohut-Bartels

Copyrighted, 2011






‘Seasons Change’, posted for dversepoets. com and

October 16, 2011


"Dusk", oil, janekohut-bartels, 2006



I took a walk this morning.

The season has 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, 2011

from ‘White Cranes of Heaven’, published by, 2010

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