Posts Tagged ‘Jane Kohut-Bartels’

“Coppermine Road”, posted for Open Link Night, dversepoets.com

September 7, 2017

 

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Coppermine Road

 

When I was a child

Sitting on a hill

In south-central Jersey,

I would watch the roiling thunderstorms

Shoot daggers of lightning

Across hills of the Sourland Mountains

Setting fires to forests,

Pastures–

Torching the barns.

 

The hand-cranked siren would yowl

And all men over 21

Would answer the call.

To lurk under jacked-up cars,

To pitch hay,

Run the combine

Or start the evening milking

Would get you the cold shoulder

Or worse…

In the local gin mill.

 

Coppermine Road had

A ton of fires,

This gateway to the Sourlands

Stretching miles into Dutch-elmed darkness

As we watched

First the lightning

Then smoke rise into the air,

And heard the howl of the siren

In the valley below.

 

Mined out, this Coppermine

Emptied before the Revolution

The sturdy Dutch taking their

Share from the earth,

Leaving little of worth, just the name,

The scars of digging plastered over in time.

 

Perhaps a grand conspiracy

Between storm clouds and copper deep down

A particular cosmic revenge,

Enough to torch the barns

Scare the milk out of cows

And bedevil the men.

Jane Kohut-Bartels

Copyrighted, 2017  (from “Pitcher of Moon”, Amazon.com 2015)

 

‘Samhain, a Celtic Winter Song….

July 19, 2017

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(“Geese at Dawn”, watercolor, Jane Kohut-Bartels, 2003)

 

Dark mysterious season,

when the light doesn’t

quite reach the ground,

the trees shadow puppets

moving against the gray of day.

 

I think over the past year

praying there has been a

kindling in my soul,

the heart opened, warmed

and the juiciness of life is

more than the loins–

a stream of forgiveness

slow flowing through the tough fibers

not stopper’d with an underlying

bitterness

but softened with compassion.

 

This season of constrictions,

unusual emptiness,

brittle like dried twigs

desiccated by hoar frost

just to be endured.

 

I wrap myself in wool and

watch the migrations–

first tender song birds which harken

back to summer,

then Sandhill cranes,

legs thin black banners

streaming behind white bodies,

lost against a gunmetal sky.

 

They lift off to a middling cosmos,

while I, earth-bound,

can only flap the wings of my shawl,

poor plumage for such a flight,

and wonder about my own destination.

 

Jane Kohut-Bartels

Copyrighted, 2017

“The Temptation of Lady Nyo”, from “Song of the Nightingale”

July 14, 2017

Song_of_the_Nightingale_COVER

To outside appearances, it would seem  Lady Nyo has a lover.  But appearances are deceiving.  She is tormented by poems left for her by an unknown admirer.  With an introduction to her situation.

Not that Lady Nyo….

Does he know?

Does he know?

Does he know about the letters?

 

The court of Lord Mori

Was a small one

Where the men,

Lord Nyo included

Sat and discussed business:

The pleasurable business of hunting,

Archery, drinking

And on occasion,

Just for form’s sake,

Wrote bad poetry.

 

The women of course

Were positioned behind carved screens,

Where the eagle-eyed Lady Mori,

An old and rice-powdered dragon

Conducted her own court of

Writing more bad poetry, finger games

And layering sleeves and hems for the

Best effects…unseen by anyone else–

Except the other women.

 

There was a break in this

Unending monotony one day;

Lady Nyo received poems

From some unknown admirer

Stuffed in different places where

She would find them:

Her screen at court,

On her silk, embroidered cushion,

And even penned on her fan.

She never knew who was so bold,

Never saw even a glimmer of the culprit.

He could have been a ghost.

She recorded her answers in her journal

So she could have evidence of her innocence

Yet she buried his poems in the garden under

A bed of peonies.

She could not bear to burn them.

 

1.

Yesterday I found a fan with a poem

Stuck in the screen.

Today I found another one placed

On my cushion at court.

Do you have a death wish?

Do you desire the death of me?

You know my husband is known for his temper.

Would I end my life so dishonored?

 

2.

I see you are as persistent

As the rain in Spring.

Have you no fear?

What is your interest?

Surely I am just another painted face.

 

3.

I read your poem.

I could do nothing else.

This time it was inked upon

MY fan.

 

4.

“The wind blows from the north

Chilling my heart.

Only the thought of a touch of your sleeve

Warms me.”

Very nice, but my sleeves are not interested.

 

5.

“I throw acorns

To the darting carp.

With each nut I say a

Prayer for your health.”

Lovely sentiment, and I am

Always grateful for prayers.

But do you think of my reputation

And what you risk?

 

6.

I see no poetry this morning

Though I searched for your usual offering.

I knew your interest was as capricious

As a flight of moths.

 

Jane Kohut-Bartels

Copyrighted, 2011, 2017 (The complete book can be bought at Amazon.com)

 

 

“The Kimono”, Chapter 17

June 30, 2017

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European Eagle Owl, watercolor, something I imagine what would be Lord Mori in bird of prey form.

 

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For my friend, Kanzen Sakura.

This is a book in progress.  Actually there is a ‘corrected’ version at Dropbox, but I don’t seem to be able to copy and paste it here.  So it goes.  I am no computer whiz.

I hope to have this ready for publication in this fall, 2017.  Nick Nicholson is a dedicated reader and much more:  his intelligence and eagle eye has made this  a much better novel.  

I know it’s not easy to post a chapter mid flight in a novel…lends to confusion. But I am now, after 4 months, beginning to finish it…”The Kimono” has it’s origins back in 2007 or so, so it’s a novel of 10 years writing.  

Short course as to the theme of the book:  Mari, 21 century Japanese/American woman, married, buys an antique kimono and donning it, is transported back to 16th century Japan….northern region, Akita,  to the domain of a warlord, a samurai and a daimyo, Lord Mori.  Plot thickens….

Lady Nyo

 

CHAPTER 17, THE KIMONO  

Mari stood at the window, a copy of the Man’yoshu in her hand.  Love poems, and of course in a language she couldn’t read.  Literally “The Collection of a Thousand Leaves”.

Some scribe had taken the time to carefully illustrate this book with erotic drawings.  They were exquisite, though rather pornographic in her opinion.  Compiled during the 8th century, this book was considered the pinnacle of Japanese verse, even in this more ‘modern’ 16th century.  But eroticism to these Japanese didn’t seem to have many boundaries.  Sex was very natural to them, and even nudity. They did not have a concept of sin, at least of sin she understood.

Lady Nyo was ordered by Lord Mori to teach her to read and write.  He was of the opinion, according to Lady Nyo, that Mari should be entertained while learning a difficult language.  Therefore he gave her this book.

Entertained!  How different their cultures, stretching across the centuries, two oceans separated by mountains and sand.  It was now two months since the miscarriage, but her mood had not greatly improved.  Her heart was a mass of confusion. She would wake in the night, sweating.  She dreamed constantly but could not remember much, just disjointed scenes in clashing and violent colors. Dreams before were fathomable, but now?  They were strips of some unrolling and unending painting, without words or knowable meaning to her.  Just confused sensations with a hidden terror.

With patient instruction by Lady Nyo, Mari was beginning to recognize some of the words.  She still couldn’t construct a decent sentence.  There were all sorts of issues with the Japanese language, and her attempts in forming a sentence sent Lady Nyo into peals of laughter.

Well, at least she was entertaining to someone, if not exactly entertained.

 

The house was a flurry of activity.  Lord Mori was to visit sometime in the afternoon, and Mari felt anxious. He had not visited her since her miscarriage, but Lady Nyo said he had come. Apparently,  she  was asleep due to the medicine prescribed by the doctor.  The only evidence was a short poem inked on his fan. Something about laughter and fireflies.

Mari turned from the window.  There were two small women kneeling outside the entrance to the room. They bowed with their heads to the wood floor as soon as she saw them.  Lady Nyo came up behind them and bowed to Mari.

“So sorry to disturb you, Lady Mari.  These women are here to attend to the house.  Would you please come out to the rokka and view the niwa?

Mari nodded and put her book down on a small chest.  She recognized the words rokka and niwa as the porch overlooking the garden and niwa as garden.  She was beginning to recognize the names of her environment.

“Oh, Lady Mari!  If you would like, I will come with you and we can read together those wonderful poems.”

What she really meant, thought Mari, is I can read these poems, because you are still stupid about our language.  Of course, Lady Nyo was the picture of decorum and would never say such, but Mari was foul in mood and took offense secretly at many things.

The house was more like a cottage, with small, bare rooms constructed from a central passageway, closed off by shoji screens.  They walked through the house towards the back where kneeling, Lady Nyo pushed a screen open and they faced a narrow platform looking out upon a small garden.

Enclosed by a low stone wall, the garden  very old with a misshapen tree in the middle.  There were raked pebbled paths and small green bushes with buds and a few open flowers beneath.  Upon the wall were small plants growing out of the rocks.  The cherry blossoms were almost beginning to bloom. This event was as important to the Japanese of this century as much as it was in Mari’s.  She heard how beautiful they were on the castle grounds when in full bloom.

 

The morning mist, kasumi, had lifted but there was a possibility of rain.  Mari liked the rain, it fit her moods.  She could withdraw from the company of Lady Nyo and look out her window, wrapped in a silk quilt against the cool air.  As she recovered, she spent less time sleeping late and would get up earlier.  She liked the kasumi, it comforted her.  It put a barrier between her and the world.  Any rain or mist was welcomed by the people around her.  There had been a drought for a couple of years. Lord Mori had mentioned the rice production had dropped.  Famine was always around the corner.

Mari sat on a wooden bench on the rokka overlooking the garden and above the pebbled paths.  The mists had all gone from the morning, replaced by a gentle wind.  White cranes lifted off the water down by the shore, their black legs trailing like stiff ribbons behind white bodies.

It was peaceful.  She felt her nerves untangle, fall away.  Breathing in quietly, she could smell the scent of plum trees within the garden wall.  The wind made cascades of plum-snow litter the raked pebbles.

“Lady Mari, I have bought your book outside.  If it pleases you, may I read aloud a few poems?”

Mari could not refuse this simple request.  Lady Nyo’s role was to educate her in these finer arts. It was not as if it were her idea to do this.  Clearly,  it came from Lord Mori.  Mari could see Lady Nyo was obediently following orders.

“Oh, Lady Mari!  Here is a poem by the Princess Nukata.  She was very famous many centuries ago for her lovers.  She was wife to Prince Oama and then the Emperor himself!”

“As I stay here yearning

While I wait for you, my lord,

The autumn wind blows,

Swaying the bamboo blinds

Of my lodging.”

 

“Oh, isn’t that the most romantic of poems?”  Lady Nyo clasp the book to her flattened bosom.

“Well, I would think it would be a matter of taste, my Lady.”  Mari didn’t want to sound sour, but the poem did not move her as it obviously did the reader.

“Oh, Lady Mari”, said Lady Nyo plaintively.  Perhaps the part of the poem that is more obscure is a key here.  The autumn wind in this poem represents the visitor….or builds yearning for him.   And this morning we have such a lovely, gentle wind blowing.”

If she is referring to the Lord Mori, she got him all wrong, thought Mari.

Lady Nyo looked at Mari hopefully.   Mari laughed and asked her to read more.

 

“Tonight, too,

Does my woman’s pitch-black hair

Trail upon the floor

Where she sleeps without me?”

 

Mari sat up straighter, her interest piqued.  Now, that poem had interest and so modern in sentiment.

But why were they separated? There were more secrets than answers in this sort of poetry.

 

“Read more.”

 

Lady Nyo smiled and looked for another poem to please her.

“Though I sleep with

A single thin rush mat

For my bedding,

I am not cold at all,

When I sleep with you, my lord.”

Lady Nyo smiled over the book, again clasped to her bosom.  “She must have been a poor woman to be only able to afford such bedding. But here’s another poem that speaks to men.”

 

“Though I sleep beneath

soft, warm bedding,

how cold my skin is,

for I do not share my bed

with you, my woman.”

 

“Now, that is nice”, said Mari wishfully.  And how modern. A man who shows his main concern in bed:  warm feet.

 

Lady Nyo read another.

 

“Brave man like the catalpa bow

That, once drawn,

Does not slacken—

Can it be that he is unable to bear

The vicissitudes of love?”

 

As soon as Lady Nyo read this particular poem, she blushed deeply.  Mari saw her reaction.

“Lady Nyo.  I am a stranger here.  I have no history among your people.  Clearly that is obvious.  But please tell me.  Does Lord Mori have a wife, or children?”

Lady Nyo’s face went sad.

“Ah, this was a long time ago, but Lord Mori still mourns, I think.  It is hard to tell with men, but Lord Mori, though powerful daimyo, is still a man.”

Lady Nyo moved closer on the bench to Mari and dropped her voice to a whisper.

“Years ago, before my Lord Nyo and I were vassals to Lord Mori, he lost his young wife and children to the sea.  They were travelling to a city on the southern coast and a terrible storm took hold of the boat and all were lost.  Lord Mori was not with them, being on land.”

Lady Nyo sighed.  “I understand he travelled to a sacred mountain and for years lived in the forests.  He talked to their ghosts and shunned all men.”

Mari felt her breath catch in her chest.  Perhaps this was key to his personality.  He was certainly a strange man.  Even for a 16th century daimyo.

 

“But surely he has remarried? Does he have a wife in the castle I have not seen?”

Lady Nyo’s eyes widened.  “Oh, no!  To my knowledge, Lord Mori has never remarried.  Certainly she would be amongst the women with Lady Idu.  Oh, it would be hard to ignore a daimyo’s wife!”

Mari thought, yes, she would be first among all the women in the castle.

“But perhaps he has a wife that lives apart from him?”

Lady Nyo shook her head. “No, not that I have ever heard, Lady Mari.”

“But of course men and women many times do not live together.  So that would account why we know nothing about a wife.  However, surely my husband would tell me.  But in all these years, he has said nothing.”

The expression on Mari’s face took Lady Nyo by surprise.

“A man and wife don’t live together?  How strange.”  As soon as Mari spoke, she realized her mistake.

“Oh, Lady Mari!  Surely the married people where you come from don’t live together after marriage?”

“Well, actually they do.  Except if the husband has to travel for his…ah….business.”

“Oh! People are so different it seems.  Only the farmers live together, but that is because their women are needed in the fields.

That morning Mari learned that among the upper classes, and especially within the aristocracy, men and women lived apart.  The visits were planned, and each was notified by a messenger.  Now that poem of autumn winds and the bamboo blinds blowing made sense.  These marriages were conjugal visits.

“No, no wife I think, but the finest courtesans do visit him….or he them, from time to time.  It is only right and proper. He is not a hermit.”

“Who?  Tell me, Hana, do you know the women?  What do they look like, have you seen them?”

Lady Nyo, touched Mari would use her name, blushed and shyly touched Mari’s hand next to her.

“Well. There was the beautiful courtesan Midori last year.  Oh, Lady Mari!  You should have seen her kimonos! Such silks and colors!  She looked like a beautiful butterfly!”

Lady Nyo giggled like a girl and rushed to explain.  “I was passing from one hall to another on some endless errand and I saw her with attendants.  She was so beautiful!  Her skin was as white as a lily and her hair was as glossy as a blackbird’s wing.  Long, too.  She wore it unencumbered and it swept her hems. “

Mari chuckled to herself.  So, Lord Mori wasn’t the hermit he appeared at first to her.  He was man enough.

 

Jane Kohut-Bartels

Copyrighted, 2017

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

“Songs of Summer”….poem.

June 27, 2017
My beautiful picture

Watercolor, Early Spring, Jane Kohut-Bartels, 2011

dversepoets pub is OLN…Open Link Night!  A wonderful time to post ONE poem and visit other poets……And…they will be on break until July 17th.  Our Norseman Bjorn is presiding over OLN so be good.

Lady Nyo

 

SONGS OF SUMMER

 

Summer cartwheels through the sky!

The fertility of months

Expressed from field to orchard,

Above in  sky, and deep below,

Where earth gathers green energy

And transforms by magic

Fruits for the mouth and eye.

 

Fledglings tipped out of nests

Try new-feathered wings on warm currents,

Calves butt heads and race in calf-tumble

Climbing rocks and playing king-of-the-hill,

Spring lambs past the date

For the tenderest of slaughter

Coated in white curls,

Smell of lanolin sweet in their wake.

 

There is fresh life in the pastures,

Now  steady legs and bawling lungs,

They graze upon the bounty

And grow fat for the future culling.

 

Tender shoots of wheat and corn,

Waist-high, defy devious crows,

Paint once-fallow fields in saffron and

A multitude of hues-

Golden tassels forming,

Waving under an oppressive sun,

And when the sky bursts open

In random welcomed rains,

Heaven meets Earth-

The cycle complete.

 

These are the songs of Summer.

The bleat of lambs,

The cymbals of colliding clouds,

The noise of fierce, sharpened light,

The plaints of cows with taunt udders,

The loud quarreling of a swollen brook,

The scream of a hunting hawk

Calling for its mate,

The pelt of an unheralded storm

Upon a tin roof,

And the quiet sighing of

An unexpected wind-

Brings a benediction to the day.

 

Jane Kohut-Bartels

Copyrighted, 2011-2017

 

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Young RedTail Hawk, Jane Kohut-Bartels, watercolor

Watercolor, janekohut-bartels, 2007, "Garden Shed"

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Kohut-Bartels-LS-17

Rose Garden April 2017

Our new Rose Garden this Spring/Summer.  Looks small, and probably is but we stuffed 30 roses in this area.  Mostly English (David Austen) and Knock Out roses that really need to be trimmed every two weeks.  Some Mister Lincoln (on pedestals) and O.L. Weeks roses,  and those gorgeous “New Dawn” (2) of them that cover the arbor.  And lots of mosquitoes which curtail our using the garden.

All paintings by Jane Kohut-Bartels, various dates and various mediums

Jane Kohut-Bartels

Copyrighted, 2017

‘Lady Nyo’s Torment’, from “Song of the Nightingale” an episode.

June 19, 2017

Song_of_the_Nightingale_COVER

(This  is a watercolor of mine called “Savannah Birds”.  I gave it to a person who apparently didn’t care for it. I found it under a bed with frame and glazing broken. I brought it home.  A few years later it became the cover of “Song of the Nightingale”.  One can never account for another’s taste.)

 

Two years ago, I published “Song of the Nightingale”, a book containing 13 episodes of poetry describing the life of a 16th century Samurai couple in Japan.  People who had read excerpts of this book loved it, but I didn’t give it enough attention when I published it in 2015. (I went on to publish another book, “Seasoning of Lust” 2sd edition in 2016 and have recently almost finished “Kimono” a long time-warp novel.) Having been a reader of the “Man’yoshu”, a 8th century document of over 4500 poems, I was taken by the beautiful and very modern verse in this great document.  I had the story already in my mind for a few years, but the Man’yoshu gave me a very human element to  understand how people don’t really change over a 1000 years ago.  Human nature, and emotions remain mostly the same. Both of these books, “Song of the Nightingale” and “Seasoning of Lust” can be bought on Amazon.com.

 

“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, is the paling Milky Way,
And Oh, my husband!
There are not stars enough in the heavens
To equal my sorrowful tears.”

—verse of Lady Nyo, 16th century

Hana Nyo threw back the quilted robe from her head.
It was just a dream, just a dream.
Then why does my heart pound so?

Two nights before
Lady Nyo and her nurse
Spent the hours til dawn
Watching the flame rise and fall
Through the shoji of Lord Nyo’s room,
Watched the candle
Consume the poems he was writing–
But to whom?

“Ah, he has another woman!”
Her nurse was loyal but leaned
On the privilege of time.

Lady Nyo’s heart took flight.
Fear and shame dueled
In her blood, pushing reason
From her head.

Did he know?
Did he know?
Did he know about the poems?
Did he know of the vanished lover?

For two days it rained.
November rains poured like
Waterfalls off the eaves,
Broke the stems of the chrysanthemums,
Scattered the flower heads,
Blew great gusts of wet wind into her room,
Blanketing an already sorrowful mind
With a seasonal fury.

Lord Nyo had ridden out
The dawn after
The Night of Burning Poems,
Dressed for hunting,
His falcon on his glove,
Not a word of farewell,
Not a baleful glance in her direction.
She watched him mount his horse,
And gallop away.
She watched from the slits between bamboo blinds,
Like a thief or a beggar,
She didn’t know what she was,
Only felt the sharp sting of shame,
A particular loss of something she probably
Never had.

 

Lady Nyo spent the day journal writing,
Her misery reflected in an unpainted face,
Tangled hair,
Shunning food as a sacrifice:
The pain of her torment
Was not lessened.

“Once I did believe
That no love could still linger
Within my heart
Yet, a love springs from somewhere
And forces itself on me.”

And:

“My eyes have seen you
But I’ve yet to hold you close
You’re like a laurel
That is growing on the moon
And I don’t know what to do.”

Yes, and I don’t know what to do.

Jane Kohut-Bartels
Copyrighted, 2015-2016, (Song of the Nightingale” a tale in 13 episodes can be obtained at Amazon.com)

 

Lord Nyo’s Lament, from “Song of the Nightingale”, Episode 3.

May 16, 2017

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Lord Nyo’s Lament

 

Oh my wife!

My feet take me over mountains

In the service to our lord

But my heart stays tucked in the bosom

Of your robe.

Lady Nyo, circa 2015

 

 

The song of the arrow

As it arced into the sea

Was as tuneless

As a badly strung samisen.

 

Gun- metal clouds

Stretched across a dull horizon

The sun still asleep

As he should be

His quiver empty

His heart, too.

 

When had the callousness of life and death

Become as comfortable as breath to him?

He had become too much the warrior

And too little the man.

 

His distance from his wife,

From most of life

Was as if some unseen object

Kept them ten paces apart.

Perhaps it was the cloud-barrier

Of earthly lusts which obscured

The Sun of Buddha?

 

 

Perhaps he should pray.

What God would listen?

Then it came to him

That joker of a Buddha, Fudo

With his rope to pull him from Hell

And his sword to cut through foolishness-

Fudo would listen.

Fudo knew the quaking hearts

The illusions embraced

To stomach the battlefield

The fog of drink,

To face life

In the service of Death.

Fudo would save him from

The yellow waters of Hell.

 

He remembered those years

When she could bring him to his knees

With the promise of dark mystery

Between silken thighs,

And the glimpse of her white wrist-

A river of passion

Just beneath the surface.

How he had steeled his heart

Believing himself unmanned

For the love she induced!

 

Three cranes flew low to the shore,

Legs streaming like black ribbons behind.

Three cranes, three prayers, three chances

To find his way back

Bound up in Fudo’s ropes,

Prodded in the ass by Fudo’s sword.

 

He would write a poem

On a bone-white fan

To leave on her cushion.

She would know his love

She would know his sorrow.

 

The sea took his arrows

Beyond the breakers,

The glint of sleek feathers

Catching thin rays of light.

An unexpected peace came over him

As they journeyed far from his hands.

 

Jane Kohut-Bartels

Copyrighted, 2011, 2016 (Song of the Nightingale was published on Amazon in 2015 and can be bought online)

 

 

 

 

“Song of the Nightingale” introduction…..

May 10, 2017

Song_of_the_Nightingale_COVER

 

In 2015, I wrote and published on Amazon.com “Song of the Nightingale”.  It’s a story in 13 episodes of a man and wife in 16th century Japan, he a general in a daimyo’s army and she fully half his age.  Obviously an arranged marriage.

I loved this story and apparently others did, too, but I never really concentrated on this book because life got in the way, along with other writing.  So, I am going to post some of the episodes on this blog just for entertainment and hopefully for  interest in the entire book.  A Moon Baby appears, a rather nasty Tengu priest, and other issues that involved 16th century life in Japan.  Lord Nyo refers to himself as ‘an ugly old warrior’, but his heart, immersed in war for so long, does begin to soften and attend to his wife, Lady Nyo, who is smarter than she appears.

Lady Nyo (but not the one in the book.)

 

Introduction to “The Nightingale’s Song”

In Old Japan there was an even older daimyo called Lord Mori who lived in the shadow of Moon Mountain, far up in the Northwest of Japan.  Lord Mori ran a court that did little except keep his men (and himself) entertained with drinking, hawking and hunting.  Affairs of state were loosely examined and paperwork generally lost, misplaced under a writing table or under a pile of something more entertaining to his Lordship.  Sometimes even under the robes of a young courtesan.

Every other year the Emperor in Edo would demand all the daimyos travel to his court for a year. This was a clever idea of the honorable Emperor. It kept them from each other’s throats, plundering each other’s land, and made them all accountable to Edo and the throne.

Lord Mori was fortunate in his exemption of having to travel the months to sit in attendance on the Emperor. He was awarded this exemption with pitiful letters to the court complaining of age, ill health and general infirmities. He sent his eldest, rather stupid son to comply with the Emperor’s wishes. He agreed to have this disappointing young man stay in Edo to attend the Emperor. Probably forever.

Lord Mori, however, continued to hunt, hawk and generally enjoy life in the hinterlands.

True, his realm, his fiefdom, was tucked away in mountains hard to cross. To travel to Edo took months because of bad roads, fast rivers and mountain passages. A daimyo was expected to assemble a large entourage for this trip: vassals, brass polishers, flag carriers, outriders, a train of horses and mules to carry all the supplies, litters for the women, litters for advisors and fortune tellers, and then of course, his samurai. His train of honor could be four thousand men or more!

But this tale isn’t about Lord Mori. It’s about one of his generals, his vassal, Lord Nyo and his wife, Lady Nyo, who was born from a branch of a powerful clan, though a clan who had lost standing at the court in Edo.

Now, just for the curious, Lord Nyo is an old samurai, scarred in battle, ugly as most warriors are, and at a lost when it comes to the refinement and elegance of life– especially poetry. His Lady Nyo is fully half his age, a delicate and thoughtful woman, though without issue.

But Lord and Lady Nyo don’t fill these pages alone. There are other characters; priests, magical events, samurai and a particularly tricky Tengu who will entertain any reader of this tale.

A full moon, as in many Japanese tales, figures in the mix. As do poetry, some historic and some bad. War and battles, love and hate. But this is like life. There is no getting one without the other.

 

The present Lady Nyo, descended from generations past.

 

“Mystic Marriage”

March 16, 2017
DSCF2572

Sailboat, watercolor, Jane kohut-bartels, 2006

I’m removing this poem from the prompt at dversepoets pub.  It doesn’t really ‘meet’ the prompt and so it will be removed.

Lady Nyo.

Mino begs a gift of Poseidon-

From the sea comes a white bull.

 

Glorious Bull! With hooves of gold,

Eyes of fire and sweet of breath.

Pasiphae, Mino’s wife

Besotted with the sight of him

Begs Mino to spare his sword–

Offers her handmaidens

In sacrifice.

 

Tender-hearted Mino allows his queen

To rule his judgement,

All sense pushed aside–

Havoc soon overturns the throne.

 

Pasiphae builds a wooden cow

Now besotted with lust

Climbs into the decoy–

Seduces the golden- hoofed Bull.

 

The Minotaur is born,

Suckled from Pasiphae’s paps,

Grew wild and strong–

A labyrinth

Built as a prison to hold him.

 

Unnatural love-making produces

Unnatural Minotaur

Half man, half bull,

Given freedom only in a maze,

Fed on virgins of both sexes.

 

But Poseidon laughs last.

He was the gift, the snow white bull

And cuckolds Mino

For his greed.

 

Mystic marriage overturns a throne,

A kingdom,

Reveals the deception of a queen–

And produces monstrous offspring.

 

In the Minotaur’s maze

All paths lead to the grave.

 

Jane Kohut-Bartels

Copyrighted, 2016

 

“Musings on a Closing Day”

February 11, 2017

revised-cover-2776

https://goo.gl/YNzows

Over at dversepoets the prompt is the word ‘heart’ included in a poem.

Lady Nyo

 

“Musings on a Closing Day”

I move my chair

to observe Mt. Fuji-

monstrous perfection

topped with the cooling crust

of spring snows.

 

Languid movement

of a branch,

like a geisha

unfurling her arm

from a gray kimono,

makes petals fall,

a scented, pink snow

covering my upturned face

with careless kisses.

 

Timid winds caress

my limbs,

a fleeting relief

to tired bones

brittle now with

the sullen defeat of life.

 

Raked sand of garden

waves barely disturbed

by feet like two gray stones

as grains flow

round ankles.

 

I realize once again

I am no obstacle to

the sands of time.

 

My heart is quieted

by the passage of nothing

for in this nothing

is revealed the fullness of life.

 

Jane Kohut-Bartels

Copyrighted, 2016  “Musings on a Closing Day” published in the new second edition of “A Seasoning of Lust”, Amazon.com, December, 2016


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