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“The Punishment”, for OneShotPoetry

January 25, 2011





Four years ago I discovered shibari.  In Japan, it means the tying of something, usually packages, but an earlier meaning is “the tying of the heart’.  It has a long history in Japan and was used to secure prisoners.  In the West, it refers to the practice of rope bondage, and the word shibari has become common for this practice.

Shibari is a powerful practice.  It can be abused and misused.  In my experience I came to understand that shibari was a many-layered issue.  I have written about Shibari, in “The Shibari Series” in my first book, “A Seasoning of Lust”, and also numerous essays on my blog.  Some can be found with a Google search on Shibari.

“The Punishment” was a poem written from that time.

Different  opinions abound on rope bondage.  There is the issue of control and power, but this entry is not the place to discuss that topic.  I have had different experiences with shibari, but one thing I do believe:  the intent or the expectations of either the binder or the person bound are trumped by what I call “the power of the ropes”.  To the Japanese, in the religion of Shinto, everything has a spirit.  It is called Kami.

From a writing on Shinto religion:

“Kami  is the sacred or mystical element in almost anything. It is in everything and is found everywhere, and is what makes an object itself rather than something else. The word means that which is hidden.

Kami have a specific life-giving, harmonizing power, called musubi, and a truthful will, called makoto (also translated as sincerity).”

I don’t believe in much mystical stuff, but I do believe in kami, especially as it pertains to the practice of shibari.

I have experienced them.

Lady Nyo

THE PUNISHMENT  (Shibari Series)

While binding me for his pleasure

I uttered displeasing words,

And with a level glance

He considered his options.

Too soon he knew

What punishment to apply!

Grabbing my hair

Twisting it in his hand

He pulled me to my feet

And opening the shoji

Pulled me out into

The spring’s snowy morn.

Telling me to kneel,

This time I obeyed,

shivering in fear.

Drawing an early cherry blossom from his sleeve

(a gift that was to be mine)

He threw it in the snow.

It was his pleasure for me to feel

The sharpness of morning

Until the soft snow had covered the blossom.

I, who a month ago would have not cared

What I said,

Now trembled with humiliation

Feeling more than the cold air.

When sentiment grows deep and the heart is overflowing

One submits and becomes a slave to love.

I knelt in the snow,

my nakedness and tears

Showing my shame to the courtyard.

A crow in the cherry tree

Laughed without mercy.

Fearing I would die

The blossom now covered with snow,

He came and

Picked me up in his arms-

Carried me to the warm brazier,

Tucked me deep amongst his robes

And sang a soft song of the foolish maiden

Who would die for the last word.

Jane Kohut-Bartels

Copyrighted, 2008, 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”,

“Olsen’s Pond”, Poetry for OneshotPoetryWednesdays

January 11, 2011

We are socked in with a Winter Storm in Atlanta.  Sunday it started and we aren’t supposed to have drivable streets until the weekend.  The snow wasn’t huge, around 6 inches for Atlanta and much more in the northern counties.  But the ice that formed right after the snow storm has made it treacherous.  We have two sleds, rarely used, and we are sledding on ice and snow.  Someone is going to break an arm, probably me.

I posted “Olsen’s Pond” last week, but because of the snow this one, I’m posting it again.  Plus, it goes with the terrain outside.

Lady Nyo


I returned to the old house,

now still, vacant,

staring with unshaded eyes

upon a snowy front garden,

shrubs overgrown with the

lustiness of summer and neglect

now split to the ground,

taxed with a heavy snow.

I tried to light the parlor stove,

old cranky cast iron smoker

clanking and rattling

when heated in the best of times

now given up the ghost,

cold metal unyielding to wadded paper

and an old mouse nest.

The silence of the rooms only broken

by hissing wind whipping around  eaves

rattling old bones in the attic,

stirring the haunts sleeping in  corners.

It took a time for twigs to catch,

the water to turn coffee,

bacon and eggs brought from the city

and cooked in an old iron skillet–

tasting far better in the country air.

I looked down at hands cracked

in the brittle winter light,

moisture gone,

hair static with electricity,

feet numbed from the chill,

that woodstove not giving up

more heat than a miser.

I walked down to Olsen’s pond,

looked through the glassine surface

remembered the boy who had fallen

through the ice playing hockey–

slipped under the thin cover, disappearing

without a sound,

only noticed when our puck flew

Up in the air and he, the guard, missing.

We skated to the edge, threw bodies flat

trying to reach him just out of catch,

crying like babies, snot running down chins,

knowing he was floating just under the ice,

silent as the lamb he was.

Childhood ended that day for many of us.

We started to drift away to the city,

our skates and sticks put up,

Olsen’s pond deserted like a haunted minefield.

Fifty years ago I still remember that day

when stretched as far as I could

my belly freezing on treacherous ice,

straining to reach a life just out of sight,

his muffler and stick floating to the surface–

The boy, the important part,

gone for good from a chilly winter day.

Jane Kohut-Bartels

Copyrighted, 2009,2011

From “White Cranes of Heaven” soon to be published.

“A Reason For The Season”, posted for OneShotPoetryWednesdays

December 28, 2010

I posted this in the beginning of December and thought it a good sentiment to end the month and the year.

Merry Christmas, or the politically correct form: Happy Holidays, though the Winter Solstice is in there somewhere.

Lady Nyo


I saw the Cooper’s hawk this morning. She landed on the chimney pot, probably looking for my miniature hen, Grayson. Four years ago she was a starving fledgling who mantled over while I fed her cold chicken. She’s back this holiday, my spirits lifting. A good Christmas present.

In the middle of the commercialization of Christmas, Nature closes the gap. I have noticed squirrels with pecans in mouths leaping the trees, hawks hunting low over now-bare woods, unknown song birds sitting on fences, heard the migration of Sandhill cranes as they honk in formation. You hear their cacophony well before they appear. Their chiding cries float down to upturned faces.

There is brightness to the holly, washed by our late autumn rains and the orange of the nandina berries has turned crimson. Smell of woodsmoke in the air and the crispness of mornings means the earth is going to sleep. We humans should reclaim our past and our fecal plugs and join the slumber party of our brother bears.

Jingle Bells will fade and our tension with it. Looking towards deep winter when the Earth is again silent will restore our balance and calm nerves with a blanket of peace.

Jane Kohut-Bartels

Copyrighted, 2008, 2010

“Maiko”, from “A Seasoning of Lust”, posted for OneShotPoetryWednesdays

December 21, 2010

A Maiko, apprentice Geisha, maica.TV

Okiya is the house where geisha and maiko live.  Oka-san is the proprietress who owns and runs the okiya.  A maiko is a very young girl, who sometimes enters the okiya at the age of six or as young as three.  She is considered a maid and is only trained as maiko if she shows some talent to be a geisha when older.  These very young girls do all the work of  chores and cleaning the okiya.  They have very long hours as they are expected to stay awake to assist the geisha who return from the teahouses in the early hours of the morning.

Many children were sold to the okiya by poor parents.  This was very common for  the survival of girl children in Japan.

Today, with general education for girls, the role of maiko is disappearing, as girls have better choices for their future.  In part, the lack of maiko means the demise of geisha in Japan.  Kyoto has a different standard for the training of maiko.  Other Japanese cities have a shortened period for this important training.

The payment for the virginity of a maiko to the highest bidder is called  mizuage.  This practice was outlawed in 1959.  The money went a long way to help the maiko, now geisha, debut into her world of entertaining.

If the geisha has a baby and it is a boy, she must leave the okiya (boys, men are not allowed) or give up the baby.  If she has a girl, the baby is absorbed into the okiya and trained as a maid.

Lady Nyo



Dirty faced little girls

imitate geisha

late at night

when chores are done.

They practice

seductive glances,

graceful movements,

pouring tea for phantom clients.

Stealing a moment,

they gaze into mirrors

making geisha- faces

preening, casting

down their eyes,

trying to catch

mirrored reflections.

Now tender maiko,

painted lead-white face,

sit silently,

knees padded by

layers of stiff underdress

stifling yawns

as Big Sister Geisha

pour sake


ever so slightly

a marble- smooth wrist

barely blushing with life-

Mysterious seduction!

Shy maiko,

silent chorus

behind performers,

observing the trade,

studying the manners,

peering with furtive


watching men

roll around tatami-

foolish, drunk-

such silly children!

Slender ‘dancing-girls’

tender split- peach hairdos

drive men to lust-

a ripe and blushing fruit

sits above the red neckline of


a sample of fruit

to be plucked

for the right price

to oka-san.

Solemn maiko,

follow the way of

full-blown geisha,


sold for a pittance,

desired and sought

for beauty, grace, talents,

trapped within silken layers-

beautiful butterflies,

night’s elusive moths,

dragging through life

clipped wings

of splendid colors.

Jane Kohut-Bartels

Copyrighted, 2009, 2010

“First Snow”, posted for OneShotPoetry

December 7, 2010

Winter Scene, from the bbc.files



Also check out Steve’s weblog:

Lady Nyo


The morning brought a first snow,

Blown by the wind over the mountain.

I watched snow turn to ice,

Invisible sleet hit the panes a’ hissin’,

And soon a crystal coat on tender branches—

Invisible hands pulling to earth,

Icy fingers anchoring them fast.

I depend upon the silence

Creating a space to remember,

Solitude, too, now to be shared

Only with ghosts,

Or perhaps a cat or two.

Inside the comfort of crackling  wood,

Well seasoned of last year’s split,

The sweet, sharp tang of pine and oak,

The groan of a log shifting its failing weight.

I remember your boot kicking it back off the hearth,

Sparks flaring upward,

Stars enfolded by a blazing sun.

Outside the pelting sting on windows,

The howl of winter racing round eaves

Looking for attic-access between clapboards,

A hambone- skeleton dance to

Shake its palsied bones warm.

Soon  fading light at twilight

Suspends the day

In a cocoon of white, unfocused mystery.

The night brings a muffled benediction

Over the land

And memory is put aside for the morrow.

Jane Kohut-Bartels

Copyrighted, 2010

“First Snow” , from “White Cranes of Heaven”, to be published by soon.

Two Sonnets for OneShotPoetryWednesday.

November 30, 2010

Cu Chulainn, from Celtic Mythology

A few years ago I was writing a novel called “Devil’s Revenge”.  There is a passage towards the end of this too-cumbersome book where the characters descend into Celtic times and mythology.  From that research I came across Cu Chulainn and other characters in this fascinating mythology.  I knew a little before beginning this research but it wasn’t  enough to fill a thimble.  The mythology of Cu Chulainn and in fact that whole period gave rise to a lot of attempts at some form of poetry.  It seemed then that the sonnet form, something I had never written before, seemed to be the ‘proper’ form to  embrace this mythology.  One thing I realized: I really hate sonnet form.  It’s damn hard.

Note: Part of the  accepted mythology is that Lug dragged his cock (which stood in for a  huge club…)across the earth and made the mountains and valleys.  It’s not just me being nasty….it’s in the myth.  These sexual-psychological issues were important in the mythologizing.   Being King, God of Light, he had to have something outrageous going for him…

Also, Cu Chulainn was known as the Hound of Ulster (another story there…)

Lady Nyo


“In that sweet country, I’ll rest my weapon”

Said Cu Chulainn to beauteous Emer

And a war spasm came upon him fast

With face distorting, hair stood upended

Teeth barred in anger, cock a rigid mast

His body whipped around, his knees unbended,

And sweet Emer prayed his luck would last.

Her father, King Lug, Celtic God of Light

Set her swain to tasks and toil unending,

While Bricru the Poison Tongue cries in fright:

“The Hound of Ulster, Irish unbending,

Leads in battle for comes he in his might!

And Emer waits with patient love the day

When Cu Chulainn comes near and claims his right!


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, 2010

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