Posts Tagged ‘Lady Nyo’

“Ten Thousand Leaves, Love Poems from the Man’yoshu”

January 23, 2015
Samurai Woman

Samurai Woman

I love Japanese poetry, especially the poetry of the Man’yoshu, a collection of remarkable and ‘democratic’ poetry, in other words, poetry that was included in this great document by priests, courtesans, samurai, peasant songs, fishermen, nobles and many other sections of Japanese society from the 7th and 8th centuries of Japan.  In fact, this great document is also an incredible collection of poetry by women:  this is the first time women’s voices were heard in such length. 

In late March, 2015, I will publish “The Nightingale’s Song” a book and story inspired by this great document.  One can not read the Man’yoshu without being inspired by the passionate and spirited poetry of this document.  I also include some of my own poetry at the end of this essay that will be in “The Nightingale’s Song”.

Lady Nyo

“Ten Thousand Leaves, Love Poems from the Man’yoshu”

 

“Thick and fast stream my thoughts of you

Like the layers

Of endlessly falling snow

Upon the cedars.

Come to me at night, my man.”

—– from the Man’yoshu

It was the first golden age of Japanese civilization. In the eighth century appeared the great metropolis of Nara, (the imperial capital) its broad avenues lined with magnificent temples. Culture rushed in from Korea, China and over the Silk Road, from as far away as Persia, and even from Venice.

We think of Japan in isolation, as it was to become centuries later, but in the 7th to the 10th centuries (approximately) the cultural influences were vast and wide and foreign.

In the 8th century, Japan found it’s first voice, a clear and powerful voice to become one of the most impressive, sophisticated and frank compilations of poetry the world has ever seen. (There are other earlier and then later collections of poetry, but the Man’yoshu is considered to be the best of the poetry collections. There are many reasons (cultural and court changes, etc) but this is a long study and can’t be done in this short presentation.

There are not 10,000 poems (leaves) but over 4,500. Most of these are love poems, where lovers speak with disarming frankness and clarity, speak to us across 1300 years as if they were us.  Actually, the poems express a decided lack of neurosis that we have come to view sex in the last few centuries. There is nothing of barriers when it comes to the human heart, longing, emotions and sexuality in these poems. Many of them are openly, expressly erotic.

The authors or contributors of these poems extended from Emperors, Empresses, courtesans, samurai, priests, beggars, fishermen, peasants: a cross section of remarkable variety. A truly democratic endeavor. This was never again to happen in Japan, not at least to this extent.

Otomo No Yakamochi (718-785) is considered to be the main complier of the Man’yoshu. These poems actually span a 130 year history, from around 630 AD to 759 AD.

There are three basic divisions of the poetry in the Man’yoshu.

Banka: elegy on the death of an Emperor or a loved one.

Somon: mutual exchanges of love or longing poetry.

Zoka: Poems of Nature, hunting, etc.

This short presentation will focus only on the Somon form.

Generally the Man’yoshu poetry is considered to be declarative rather than introspective, imagistic rather than abstract. There is an incredible freshness to it all.

There are basically two forms of poetry in the Man’yoshu: choka (long poem, 5-7-5-7-5-7, etc. ending in 7-7) and tanka. (5-7-5-7-7). The ‘long poem’, choka (which isn’t very long by our modern and Western standards) died out of fashion, and tanka became the predominant form of Japanese poetry for the next 1200 years.

Although one would think so, there isn’t a lot of Buddhist influence in the poems. If any religion, there is more Shinto influence especially in the Zoka form, but even that isn’t large. This may seem strange to us, with our notions of culture in Japan, but even centuries later, with the Priest-Poet Saigyo, there is little Buddhist thought within his poems. Religion just doesn’t play such a dominant role in most Japanese poetry, especially at this time.

“Going over the fields of murasaki grass

That shimmer crimson,

Going over the fields marked as imperial domain,

Will the guardian of the fields not see you

As you wave your sleeves at me?”

====Princess Nukata

This poem is considered by many to be one of the greatest poems in the Man’yoshu. It is presented near the beginning of the collection, giving it prominence. The answer by her former husband (she is now married to the Emperor) Prince Oama, (his brother) is a beautiful poem in its own right.

“If I despised you, who are as beautiful

As the murasaki grass,

Would I be longing for you like this,

Though you are another man’s wife?”

===Prince Oama

“Do not let men find out

By smiling at me so apparently,

Like the clouds that clearly cross

Over the verdant mountains.”

—–Lady Otomo Sakanoue

There are more poems by this poet than any other woman in the Man’yoshu. What is remarkable are the amount of women poets included in the Man’yoshu. This is only possible because the Confucian philosophy was not prominent yet in Japan. When it became influential, women lost much status: before they were allowed to own property, title, name, divorce, to keep custody of their children. After, they were relegated to indoors, stripped of much power and status.

“Whose words are these,

Spoken to the wife of another?

Whose words are these,

That bade me untie

The sash of my robe?”

—-Anonymous

Many of the poems in the Man’yoshu were folk songs, or parts of folk songs. And this repeated interest in ‘the wife of another’ was an object of male desire; the Man’yoshu is full of this theme.

“As I turn my gaze upward

And see the crescent moon,

I am reminded

Of the trailing eyebrows

Of the woman I saw but once.”

—-Otomo Yakamochi

This was written by Otomo at the age of 16!

“I have fallen into a yearning

With no requite,

For a girl who, when night comes

Sleeps pillowed in another’s arms.

—-Anonymous

“If men can touch

Even the untouchable sacred tree,

Why can I not touch you

Simply because you are another’s wife?”

—-Otomo Yasumaro

To finish with some anonymous poems:

“The flowers of the plum,

Were covered with fallen snow

Which I wrapped up

But when I tried to have you see

It was melting in my hands.”

“This body of mine

Has crossed the mountain barrier

And is here indeed!

But this heart of mine remains

Drawing closer to my wife.”

“The moon crossed the sky

And I saw him only once

In its pale light

Yet, the person whom I saw

Does appear to me in dreams.”

“I shall not take a brush

To this hair that lies

Disheveled in the morning,

For it retains the touch

Of my dear lord’s arms that pillowed me.”

—-Anonymous

I end with some poems of my own inspired by the verse below:

Thick and fast stream my thoughts of you
Like the layers
Of endlessly falling snow
Upon the cedars.
“Come to me at night, my man.”

….Man’yoshu, 8th century

– 

Come to me

If even only in my dreams

Where my head rests upon my arm

And not yours–

Let this veiled moon

Above and these dark, brooding pines below

“Be witness to our love, my man.”

 

Come to me,

When the rocks have disappeared

Under sheets of snow,

The moon appears through tattered clouds.

I will be

Listening for the sound of

Your footfall in the dark.

 

Come to me, my man,

Part the blinds and come into my arms,

Snuggle against my warm breast

And let my belly

Warm your soul.

Above poems of Lady Nyo to be included in “The Nightingale’s Song”

Jane Kohut-Bartels

Copyrighted, 2011-2015

“Twelve Tanka”…..

October 23, 2014

 

"White Cranes of Heaven", cover painting by the author

“White Cranes of Heaven”, cover painting by the author

These tanka were composed when I was writing  ” The Kimono”, yet to be published. Some violate the pivot line and other ‘rules’ of tanka.  There are many parts to tanka and it is wise to learn them.  It just takes time.

A few of these tanka are published already in “White Cranes of Heaven”, Lulu.com, 2011.

Lady Nyo~

This is the problem!

Do not give over your soul,

it returns tattered.

What tailor can mend the rips?

The fabric too frayed by life.

A modest woman

does not seek comfort with thieves

Emptiness is fate.

Better her eyes turn upwards

to Heaven, soul comforted.

Human frailties

wounds that bleed such heated blood

leave a dry vessel.

Without the moisture of love

the clay reverts to the ground.

Tears soften venom.

Knives bring satisfaction to

hands still covered with love.

Trembling, can’t find the mark

but the shame returns, pierces.

The heart is brittle.

Hands can not soothe its aching

only honest words

can make the sore mind attend

unless pain ever constant.

A woman in grief,

is force that races nature.

Better now anger

contempt will replace her love.

She will be stronger for it.

Minute to the hour

The heart races on the edge,

sharpened existence.

Feet trammel the rocky ground

While pain flies up to Heaven.

Birds fly in the blue.

All is gray upon the earth,

heart is stopped with bile.

White crane lifts off lake water,

my heart follows them.

The tanka below is the Lady Nyo’s (from ” The Kimono”) death tanka.

Shall an old gray wolf

subdue a woman like me?

I shall be born soon.

The wolf head I will cut off

and nail the pelt to the cross.

The morning wren sings,

I stand in the moonlit dawn

kimono wrapped tight.

Last night my final peace made,

now free from all attachments.

Bolts of lightening flash!

The sky brightens like the day

too soon it darkens.

My eyes opened or closed see

the futility of love.

Had I not known life

I would have thought it all dreams.

Who is to tell truth?

It comes at too sharp a price.

Better to bear flattery.

Jane Kohut-Bartels

Copyrighted, 2008-2014

Mrs. Jean Kohut, 1912-2014 and the poem “Gratitude”

July 28, 2014
was to be the cover painting for "Pitcher of Moon" but didn't work out.

was to be the cover painting for “Pitcher of Moon” but didn’t work out.

(UPDATE: Pam, Aunt Jean’s daughter called today just to see how I was. Pam shared her dear mother with me for years. She knew how attached I had become to this wonderful and compassionate woman. That was so sweet and I appreciate this so much. Pam has the full weight of the funeral arrangements (along with her husband) but she told me Aunt Jean had previously picked her burial outfit. She was being buried in her lavender pants suit and her USA teeshirt! I think that wonderful, that an almost 102 year old woman would want to do such. She was dignified to the max, a woman with great influence, the head of this Kohut tribe. Originally from Hungary, she loved this country dearly.

Brava, Aunt Jean!)

My Aunt Jean, almost 102 years old, died today, July 28th. Aunt Jean was a remarkable woman with tremendous history behind her. For many years she encouraged me, basically the only person in my family besides my husband, to write and to develop my poetry. The last two books have been dedicated to this remarkable woman and she will always be first in the dedication of any future book. I started this blog exactly 6 years ago with a story about Aunt Jean. Later, when I can collect my thoughts, I will write more about this brave woman who at 24, faced down a Nazi court in Hungary. She was a prolific writer of letters and her autobiography, and came to this country wanting to be a journalist. Over the past 10 years we wrote each week, and sometimes I received two or three letters a week from her. She was such a marvelous example for all women. She was my Anya…Hungarian for Mother…and she will be missed by so many.

Jane-Elizabeth (as I was to her)

Gratitude

What are these lights?
They shine into the heart even
As I shade my eyes,
Pierce my soul with exquisite pain!

Ah! The blessing of the Universe,
Whose stars are shooting messengers
Come to claim my heart, my soul,
Come to knock down walls of
Loneliness, isolation.
.

Who am I to argue?
Is there not a web, gossamer as a spider’s
Silver wire crossing from bush to bush,
Shining with prisms of light falling from
The morning dew?

Does not this silver thread, so fragile, eternal
Bond us together in Humanity?

The ways of the heart are mysterious.
They triumph over cold logic.
The ways of the Universe are greater
With mercy when least expected.

Oh, sing my heart with gratitude!

If we would listen to the music,
Would let the stirrings of a grateful heart move,
We would dance in rebirth each day!

Let pride be destroyed,
The soul made new,
Resurrected each day
To meet the morning with song, hope;
To dissolve law into love –

Paradise enough for You.
Paradise enough for Me.

Jane Kohut-Bartels
Copyrighted, 2014

Tin Hinan, a novel

July 14, 2014

"Tin Hinan", Chapter II,  "Damaged Goods"

 

I have decided to post the beginning chapters of “Tin Hinan”, a novel I have been writing for the past 7 years….on and off.  “Devil’s Revenge” needs a lot of work right now and I came across some information on the Berber culture that I wanted to include in “Tin Hinan”. 

I also want to thank TR for the wonderful pictures she sent me of a recent hiking trip in Morocco.  These pictures, the landscape, the Atlas Mountains, settled deep in my mind and pushed me to continue to work to a conclusion on this novel. I was stuck, but I think her pictures ‘unstuck’ me.

Tin Hinan was an actual historical figure of the 4th century in Algeria.  She gathered the Berber tribes from Morocco and Algeria into a nation.  There is not much known about her so this is a work of pure fiction.  I did try to stick to the ‘facts’ in her journey across the desert with her slave. That was known about Tin Hinan, and her galvanizing power to unite the Berber tribes.  That’s about all, though her large tomb was found in the Algerian mountains in the 1920’s. Her skeleton was wrapped in a red leather shroud with gold leaf symbols, seven gold and eight silver bracelets on her arms, and other jewelry and amulets around her body. Clearly, this was a woman of great status, and as she is called today, “The Mother of Us All”, still revered by Berbers.

 

Considering the tribal traditions of any century, what Tin Hinan did in just this venture, leaving her tribe (at the age of sixteen) and setting out across these mighty deserts is amazing. Considering the odds of her survival, it is especially amazing.

 

I learned many things in writing “Tin Hinan”, and I relied on Berber friends and associates for their own information about Morocco and Algeria, and with help with this difficult language, but I also learned that the Great Deserts (4th century)did not look then like they do now.  There were grassy plains that extended all over, and lush oasis.  Today, there are less oasis, and of course, the Sahara has become a thousand miles of mostly sand and rock.

 

The Berbers opened the trade routes across northern Africa, and defended those routes from the Arabs.  Interestingly enough, Berbers were influenced by Christianity early on and many Berber tribes especially in the mountains resisted Islamic influence into the early 20th century. (Though Islam made great inroads from the 7th century onward.)  Between Christianity and Islamic religion, they were closer to the Egyptians in their worship of Ammon and Isis.

 

 The story seemed to weave itself like a rug, knot by knot and color by color. This novel is nearly finished, but I am adding much more information (especially on the djenoun as I deal with my own qareen) .   I have noticed over the past few years this story has garnered readers on the blog in a consistent way.

 

One important fact of Berber culture:  The Soul resides in the Liver.

 

 

TIN HINAN

 

CHAPTER 1

 

I am called Tin Hinan. I had the destiny of a woman ‘rooted in flight’.  Even my name means “Nomadic Woman”.  Sometimes I forget my birth name before I became Queen. It is now lost in the sands of the Great Desert.

 

I founded a nation from the stirrings of my womb.  This is my story.

 

I was born in an oasis near what is now called Morocco.  My people were nomadic, but if our tribe had a name, we would be Tagelmust, meaning “People of the Veil”. The Arabs, our enemy, rudely called us Twareg, “Abandoned by God”. We now are known as Tuareg, or Berber by the white Europeans. But since I am speaking from my short time of fifty years on this earth and now only spirit,  you should know my story and life harkens back to the fourth  century.  Life was very different then. But men and woman were not so different from now. Hearts are the same.  Reasons for anger are, too.

 

Our tribe is matriarchal.  All things, possessions, are passed down through the women.  The men still make the laws, but we women have great power.  Nothing is decided until the council of elder women and men meet.

 

 We basically had two classes of Tagelmust people, Imajeren, the nobles, and Iklan, the slaves.  There are subgroups in all that, but that’s not important. My family were Imajeren, my father a tribal elder and leader.  My mother had great status as the first of his four wives.

 

I was born in the spring, during lambing time.  I was exceptionally tall for my sex, and poems were written by my mother and other women about my hurry to reach up to the stars.  That is the reason they gave for my height.  I had long, thick black hair and hazel eyes, which was not rare. As I grew to marriageable age, more songs were sung openly around the fires as to my beauty.

 

Perhaps you wonder when you think of Arabic women with the chador and burkah covering their features, how would you sing to a black sheath of cloth with two dark eyes staring back at you?  We, the Berber, are blessed by Ammon and Isis, for The Veiled People only applies to the men!  They wear the veil, an indigo dyed cloth that wraps around their heads and covers their faces, with only the eyes and the bridge of their noses exposed.  We, the women, carry our faces proudly to the sun, to the wind, and when it comes, the blessed rain.  The men are mostly stained a dark blue, like a devil or zar because their sweat makes the dye run from the indigo and stains their faces.  They look funny for it does not wash off, but seeps into the skin.  So when you marry, you beget children from a Zar-looking creature.  Perhaps that is why children are such little devils.

 

“Aicha, Aicha!” The aunties were calling me in from where I was loafing.  I liked to stand at the edge of the oasis, and look at the sea of sand before me.  I would think of great spans of water, for some travelers once told me about the great ocean to the north.

 

I turned and ran towards my mother’s tent. To ignore the aunties would be rude, and besides, they had many surprises and secrets in the folds of their robes.

 

“You, Aicha!  Your mother wants you to come to her, hurry!  Here, be a good girl and take this basket.”

 

I slipped the large basket over my arm and went into the tent side of my mother’s.

 

She was sitting on the floor of the tent, shelling dried beans. There were other women, most of them my aunts, her sisters, also working on the floor.  Our clan was a large one, one of the largest that made up the tribe. Growing up, there were women enough to pull my ears when I was bad and to soothe when I was mournful.

 

My mother looked up, noticed me standing there and motioned for me to sit down.

 

“Aicha, you are of the age when you should be married, or at least engaged.  Your father and I think it time that we look around for a husband for you.”

 

I knew it!  I saw the sly glances of the aunties, and heard the laughter when I passed a group of women. At the river, when I carried down the washing, I got looks and giggles even from those women and girls I didn’t know well. Something was brewing and this time I was the last to know.

 

“Come, you graceless girl.” My mother’s oldest sister, Aunt Aya called out to me.  She reached behind her broad hips and pulled out a packet wrapped in wool.  Slowly opening it, she revealed a heavy silver and amber necklace made up of many silver rounds and large amber beads.

 

It was fun for them, to dress me in the women’s jewelry like I was a child’s doll.   But they were serious in their business.

 

“Hold still, you silly girl. This kohl will poke out your eye if you don’t”.

 

 This from another auntie.   My face and hair were fiddled with, and I suffered the blackening of my eyes and their hands twisting my hair into designs.

 

That day they had their fun, and I emerged from the tent at evening to be walked around the fire to the whistles and comments of the collected tribe.  My hair was braided in intricate styles and small silver discs peppered my head like beaten full moons.   Heavy silver and wood earrings weighted down my earlobes.  I was of course, without a veil, and two women held my hands, leading me around the tribe’s main fire to the sound of drums and the ney flute.

 

Although I could not to marry within my tribe, I was being presented for our tribe’s delight.  Grooming for marriage was a ritual and my blushes showed appropriate modesty that evening.

 

********************

 

 

 

There was a young man who was part of a neighboring tribe a day away. During marriages, celebrations and festivals, I would see him and he would look for me. We are modest women, but we do stare in the eyes of a man we are interested in marrying. We even wink at them. Are you shocked? Well, we did.   We had many customs, but Berber women, before the hated Arabs, had much freedom.

 

Hasim was his name, and he was a tall man, taller than I was.  I thought only proper I be married to a tall man. What woman wants to look down on her husband?  It sets a bad example for a woman.  She starts looking down on him in other things.  Hasim was a few years older and at one marriage celebration, I danced a line dance with other maidens and gave him one of my bracelets.  This was an accepted way of flirting. When the musicians took a rest, I went to get my silver bracelet back, and he slipped it down the front of his robe. He crossed his arms over his chest and smiled, or what I could see beneath his veil.  I should have known then Hasim was trouble, but my foolish heart flip-flopped.  Ah! Girls can be so silly.

 

Hasim was handsome, already a man though only about twenty-two years of age.  He had golden skin where the sun had not burned him dark and black eyes like deep shaded pools of water in the oasis.  His nose was long and slightly bent, like the hunting hawk, and his mouth was full and red, like a split pomegranate.  His teeth were white like bleached bones in the desert.

 

How do I know this, if our men are veiled?  My Hasim, for I already claimed him mine with the certainty that he would be…. had unwrapped his indigo blue veil from his face. And yes, his cheeks were stained a light blue where his beard would be.  I should have known that the Zar blood was deep in him, not just on the surface, but Isis! How was I to know then?

 

“Come, little sister, fish deep in my waters and you will find your bangle.  You want your precious silver back, do you not?”

 

Ah! My father would kill him if he heard his words!  But Hasim just grinned, playing a man’s game and my head whirled inside.  Other parts of me were disturbed, but I only knew of this by our women’s bridal parties before the weddings.  My heart flipped and my stomach turned over, too.

 

I am not known for being shy, perhaps it is because I am so tall, but shy I was before Hasim.

 

 

He reached out his hand and traced my cheek to my chin, gently pushing the back of his thumb over my lips.  My eyes were locked to his and I could not pull away. I must have looked like a little fool, for my mouth opened a bit with the firm  pressure of his finger.

 

Hasim dipped into his chest and reluctantly pulled out my bracelet.  “Little sister, be careful in what hands you place your silver. .  You might come across one who will take more than your jewelry.”

 

I heard his voice off in the distance.  He closed his eyes slightly, his long, black lashes brushing downwards, and the spell was broken.  I staggered a bit, and he threw out a hand to steady me, an enigmatic smile on his face.

 

 

I saw Hasim a few times after this first occasion and each time grew dizzy by the sight him.  During the last harvest festival, Hasim was mounted on a large, white camel as he raced across the desert with the other riders.  The groans and bellows of the beasts, the yelling of the men placing their wagers and the dust churned up from many feet made it hard for me to concentrate.  I could only follow the white of his camel for he was surrounded by mounted men.

 

That autumn, my mother and father called me before them, and announced that it was time I marry.  I of course had no choice, I was of age, but I noticed an exchange of smiles between my parents.  Unknown to me, my father had consulted with the marriage broker and a visit had been made to Hasim’s parents.  He was considered a good prospect, and with the status of our tribe and that of my father, I was considered a likely bride for Hasim.

 

My heart was light and leaping about in my chest.  I walked now with confidence, my breasts pushed out and a smile upon my face.  I would have the status of a wife, not just a common, unmarried girl.  There were many things to settle, preparations to make and issues far beyond my concern.  These were the matters of the elders and my mother’s family. But I was to be a bride!  Finally, I would take my place in the tribe with all the authority of a wedded woman.

 

 

 

Jane Kohut-Bartels

Copyrighted, 2007-2014

 

 

“Devil’s Revenge”, Chapter 2

July 10, 2014

It’s summer, it’s hot and I am looking for something easier to post. Seven years ago I started writing this novel. It was my second one and grew out of the characters of the first. The first one was ‘normal’ Dutch folk, set in the 1820
‘s in the rural landscape of New Jersey where I grew up. This first novel, called “Heart of the Maze” was too long and I dropped it. That it wasn’t on computer but typed out and put in a binder didn’t help in the rewrite. But I had fallen in love with some of the characters and didn’t want to leave them behind. So “Devil’s Revenge” came about, but the characters (most of them) were now devils, or ghosts, and the author, Bess, had tired of the original book and had closed it for 16 years. The main male character, Garrett Cortelyou, stepped out of the book and lay in wait, full of rage. He was now a Demon or devil, and full of mischief. He was gunning for another character in the original book, Obadiah Voorhees, now also a powerful devil, and Bess is caught up in the fight between the two of them. I am not posting the first chapter because it has a rape scene, or something that comes pretty close to it. And, I have work to do on it. So, for a while, until readers get tired of this, I am going to post chapters of “Devil’s Revenge”. Hope it fits the bill for summer reading and entertains.

Lady Nyo

Devil’s Revenge
Chapter 2

“What the hell?”

Opening my eyes, I struggled to focus. Embers had popped from the fireplace
and it sounded like the Fourth of July! One rolled to where I was sitting and stopped at my bare foot. Blinking, I snatched my foot back and took a deep breath. If materializing this way was supposed to unsettle me, it was working. My hands shook, my heart raced; I felt nauseous. A few minutes before I had control of myself. At a man’s command I appeared in this room. I shivered, a combination of fear and wonder.

The wind raced around the corners of the house, and sleet scratched at the window panes. I was glad for the good fire before me. I was chilly dressed in a linen morning gown, nothing more than a wrapper over a chemise. I had that mob cap on my head, falling over my eyes, but at least I was without stays. I could breathe again.

Placed on the tea table were two sheets of stiff paper and a lead pencil. I stared into the flames leaping about the logs, lost in thought, the sway of the fire hypnotic, the sound of the sleet beat a steady tattoo on the windows.

Was he a demon? Well, he wasn’t the Devil, or at least he didn’t seem to be. I had no idea what he was, and my knowledge of anything supernatural was poor to non-existent. But he shouldn’t exist, not if I was sane and the universe too, but here he was. What was he? My imagination couldn’t stretch that far to account for all these magical things, like the tankards of ale appearing with a snap of his fingers, or that he had materialized out of the pages of an unfinished book. But perhaps these things were small beer compared to what was possible? In any case, I was caught between two worlds, my comfortable if mundane life with a husband and this apparent ‘rip in the fabric of the universe.’

Since I had been thrown back into this book, perhaps I could write a couple of lines. I might as well use the time I given, and writing would calm my nerves. The chapter’s weather on my page imitated the weather outside my window, both gray and threatening days. I would write in a snowstorm, the two characters not able to travel, stuck in the countryside. Out of the corner of my eye I saw a small movement and glancing up, there sat the demon, Garrett Cortelyou. I jumped and squeaked out a scream, covering my mouth with my hands.

“Goedemorgen to you, and I am still the Devil, I see.” He sat across the table, unshaven this morning. His appearing like that and his confounded ability to read thoughts still rattled me.

“I am thinking of growing a beard, just to bedevil you.” He grinned, sitting back in his seat, stretching his legs and propping one boot upon the other.

“Why would I care if you had a beard?” I tried to sound snarky.

“It would give a turn to seducing you, something new and untried.” He grinned even broader and winked at me. “Ah, think how good it will feel with my beard brushing the soft skin in the middle of your back. I can think of other places to bury it just as fine.”

“Ah, stop it, Demon child. What business brings you here this morning except to taunt me.”

“You should form that as a question, not a statement. Again, with the bad English.”

“It is not a question of whether you will taunt me, but a fact. I already felt your sting.”

Stretching his arm out, he lay it palm up on the table, his hand out for mine. A gentle gesture. I had no reason to trust him.

“Yes, a gentle gesture, and one that I would like to follow up with more ‘stinging’ of your nether parts, my sweeting.” His eyes were languid and narrowed, and left no question his thoughts were mostly about lust this morning.

I reddened at his silly words, in spite of my determination not to.

“Oh, I don’t think that you are at all displeased, sweetheart. I think you are attempting to play a game where your feet do not touch bottom.”

I listened and thought a moment. “Tell me, then, how does this work? Does anybody in my life notice I’m gone? I don’t remember much when I’m home, and it seems the time with you is all a dream. What happens here? How do you do these things?” I looked around the room, wondering if I came down the chimney.

Garrett smiled. “Time is different in each dimension. A month here is an hour there.”

“Then my husband doesn’t know I’m gone?”

He snorted, a strange sort of laugh. “I think you could be gone a week in your time, darling, and that husband of yours wouldn’t notice.”

I didn’t want to humor him, and suppressed my own laughter. He was probably right. My husband was addicted to television and we led almost separate lives in our marriage. Little held us together, except our dogs and cats, and a comfortable routine.

“How do you bring me here?”

“Why should I tell you?”

“For Christ’s sake! You kidnap me from my bed and bring me to yours. There are laws against such behavior.”

He started to laugh. “If I told you, it would ruin all the fun.”

“For you? I have a marriage to hold together and you are interfering in my life.”

His smile disappeared. “You are quite the little hypocrite. You put a set of horns on your husband’s head fast enough and now you complain? I seem to remember you enjoying the fucking you got. Perhaps I should give some lessons to your husband.”

“You are a bastard! He’s a fine and sweet man!” I rose from my seat in my anger.
He did not seem impressed. He barely changed his posture, only crossed his arms over his chest. If he thought I would hit him, he didn’t care.

“Yet here you are with me. And curious as to what comes next. That depends on controlling your temper. You act like a spoilt child.”

Suddenly I felt drained. This show of anger was not getting me far. He was stubborn, with his own set of rules. He was right, I had set the horns upon my own husband’s head and enjoyed the fucking that set them there. Slowly I sat down in my chair, my energy gone. I didn’t have a moral leg to stand on.

“Woman.” I heard his voice through my tears. “I promise you your dear husband will not notice you gone. He will think you outside feeding your chickens or getting his ale from that cold cabinet.”

I started to laugh through my tears. He could be a fly on the wall or a ghost haunting my house!

“Sixteen years gives me the authority to do so,” he said, reading my thoughts.

Again he stretched out his hand to me across the table. It was a tender gesture, but I was having none of it. He sat back and looked at me solemnly.

“Take the mobcap off, please. It reminds me of Aunt Catherine in bed, and that’s a cock- crushing sight in the morning.”

I took the cap off. It was slipping over my eyes. Aunt Catherine was a character in the book in her eighties, almost bald and toothless.

“What have you done to your hair?” He looked intently at my now caramel streaked locks.

“Oh, summer is rough, being out in the garden, and the southern sun, you know….” My words trailed off. What in hell was I doing here? Talking to a doppelganger like he was a friend. “I put in caramel streaks.”

“Why would you put candy in your hair?” Garrett’s eyes narrowed in puzzlement.

“Does it taste sweet?”

“Oh Lord, deliver me from such fools! No, Garrett, it is just a color that women put– Oh, never mind.”

“Hey day! What’s this?” He spied my foot with the cherry red nail polish peeking from my under my gown. He reached down and grabbed my foot, almost yanking me off my seat.

“Garrett! Remember I’m attached to that foot!” He had it in his lap, where he stared at my toes.

“It’s like cherries in milk, your foot!” Looking up at me, he laughed. “From your hair to your feet, I could eat you this morning.” He looked like he was just capable of doing so. I snatched my foot back from his lap.

“You are here for a reason, now state it and leave.” I felt foolish sitting in my bathrobe talking to something not real.

“Ah, my pretty author, do I need a reason to visit you in my house? Remember that you are here at my calling. Let’s start with a name. What am I to call you?”

Oh God…I had not thought of this! After all these years, one would think he would know by now. I had three Christian names and tried not to think of them. I couldn’t fool the damn devil.

“Well, Sarah is taken now. And a bit morbid for me to call you that. Remember? Sarah is killed by your friend Obadiah. I’ll call you Bess from your middle name. I like the sound of that. Nice and docile.” He threw back his head and laughed.

I well remember what I write, you stupid devil. Why was he here this morning? Or more to the point, what in hell was I doing here in this bedroom?

“I came to apologize,” he said, offhandedly. “ I was a bit rough, not that you didn’t deserve it. I could have been a lot rougher, but then, you wouldn’t have been so nice to me.” The loathsome devil grinned.

“Ah, still with the names….and you were nice to me. Even if you resisted at first.”

“Garrett, that was almost a rape. You know that.” I wondered if he could feel remorse. I didn’t know how much was human, how much devil.

“Your own fault, Bess. You refused to kiss me. Had you been sweeter to me you’d have no problem at all. Next time allow me your mouth, it will go better for you.” He paused. “I don’t know how you could call that a rape, sweetheart. You fell in my arms fast enough.”

My mouth was open with shock. What an arrogant man…demon! But he was right. I had tried hard not to respond to his ardor, but my body was not of the same resolve. Blushing, I tried not to remember his lovemaking.

My stomach was rumbling, and snapping his fingers, a tray of tea appeared on the table between us.

“Would you like a cup?” I was trying to focus on something else, yet my hands shook.
.
“Yes, make it sweet, my love.” He turned his chair to face me. Looking over his cup, he caught my eyes. He was such a silly demon and appeared right at home in this bedroom.

“Before, it was ‘demon lover’. I liked that best. Could you please say it again?”

I smiled, touched at his vanity. ‘Yes, demon lover, and all attendant titles that go with it.” Oh God! What am I saying? Where is my sense? Where is my sanity?

“Ah, that’s better. Tell me, my Bess, what happens at the end of the book?”

“You mean you don’t know?” I was surprised, I thought he would. I hadn’t written it down, but knew the outcome for a number of years. I thought he was a mind reader.

“No, I don’t know. I have tried to read your confounded writing, but until you typeset it up into a book, I can’t. Tell me- do I survive Obadiah? Do I get the girl? What is my fate?”

“Do I look like a gypsy woman? Why should I tell you anything? I think that is the only power I have.” I sat back and looked at him smugly. Two could play at his nasty game.

“Oh, my darling woman, you have more power over me and John Thomas down here than you know. And speaking of cocks, who are these other men in your life? Does your husband know of the horns you are planning to put on his head?” He looked at me, his dark eyes flashing. I wondered suddenly if he ever had a soul.

“How would you know anything like that?” I rose from my seat, again, angry and stupid. Before I could formulate an answer, he rose from his chair and yanked me to him, hurting my wrist.

“You are full of fun, with no idea of consequences,” he said almost hissing with anger, pulling me close to him. “I would call you a cocktease, but you know what you are. You think your glib tongue will hold you from harm? It will lay you down for it. You are such a little fool.”

“You are hurting my wrist. Stop it!” My words were sharp and he dropped my arm. I stood there rubbing where his fingers now marked my skin.

He was angry about something. I could see that. Shocked by the violence of his words and hurting my wrist, I was growing afraid and tried to placate him with sweet words.

“Garrett….I created you from the desire of my loins. No mortal can compete with you. You are a subject of jealously among men, my demon friend”.

“Ah, not demon lover?” He was not so easily put off. He had a fine temper.

“Garrett, as a character, created by me, you are perfection. There is nothing lacking in you. I have seen to that. No human can hold a candle to you.” I wondered why I would say such a thing! Fear had to be the larger part of my thinking. He had the strength and violence of manhood, compounded by magic. I needed to be more cautious. He had the power of a demon, after all.

“Your words are not so original, but will do for now.”

He made a mocking bow, ending the argument. Placing his hands on his hips, he looked at me with a bemused expression on his face.

“I want some changes here. I am being starved by you, and your thoughtless writing.”

“What do you mean, sweet Demon?” I hoped my voice dripped with acid.

“Ah, nice and docile, Bess! I like that. Do it more.” He laughed but it wasn’t a cheerful sound.

“For a week I have fed on bread, cheese, and ale. Jennie doesn’t cook for me, nor does Daniel. I am hungry and that doesn’t make my temper better. I want some real food written into this damn novel. I want some Zuur Tong, Head Cheese, some Gehakt, a nice Hutspot a couple of times a week. I want you to bake me some kretenbroad.”

“All right, Garrett…translate those words.” Zuur Tong turned out to be Spiced Tongue, Gehakt was sausage, Hutspot was a one-dish meal of beef, mashed potatoes, onions and carrots and Kretenbroad was currant bread.

I couldn’t resist. “Why don’t you snap your fingers for the food to appear?” I smiled sourly.

He grimaced and scowled at me. “I can’t seem to manage more than a tankard of ale, some spirits and a tray of tea. I can levitate a chamber pot, but you don’t want to see that trick.”

I laughed and told him that I would make Daniel, the caretaker, bring in his niece, Anna, to cook. These were characters from the original book I had put aside for some other life.

“Good. Settled. Now come here, lambkin. He led me to the window that looked down to the river. Placing me in front of him, he put his arm around my shoulder, holding me.

“I don’t like sitting in that library all day, I want you to write me out there hunting. I want to bag more ducks. There are geese on the river bank for the taking, can you see them from here?” He stretched a long arm towards the general direction of the river, but I saw nothing in the gray, morning light
.
“Maybe a deer or two. I need some time with my guns, and I want to get a pack of dogs. Agreed? And about your Dutch.”

He was full of demands today. I had to smile. “What about my Dutch?”

“It is rotten. You write what you don’t know. Again. You should ask me. Like the word ‘fokken’….It doesn’t mean to ‘plow’…it means to copulate. Simple, isn’t it? Now, let us get fokken.” He tried to steer me towards the bed, but I twisted out of his reach.

“Stop, Garrett. You have the seduction manners of a goat.” He stopped in surprise in the middle of the room.

“I am unworthy of your cherry, plucked though it’s been. Forgive my manners, my lady.” He gave a low and elegant bow, and coming up, picked me up over his shoulder. He threw me hard on the bed and jumped on top of me.

“I can’t breathe, you monster! Get off me, give me some air!”

“I might, if you willingly give me your mouth this time.”

“And what do you intend to stuff in it? I know you, Garrett. I may have been oblique about your ‘lesson plan’ in the novel, but I think I know something of your appetites.”

He rolled off of me, laughing. Turning back, he propped himself on an elbow, stroking the hair from my face.

“You and I, we understand each other, no? Perhaps I don’t have to read every thought of yours. But it is fun, and it gives me an advantage.”

“It’s an unfair advantage, Garrett–and you know it. I have little independence when you do so.”

“Ah, but that is some of the delights of being a woman. You submit to me, in all things, and I will fill your–mouth with sweet things. I will stroke your limbs and warm your belly, and you will grow to open to me with pleasure.”

“Now who sounds like a second-rate novel?”, I said sarcastically.

“And what kind of novel are you writing? Do you even know?”

“I don’t, just something decent. Men are critical- and my girlfriends are even more so.”

“What do the men think?” He asked, distracting himself with his hands on my breasts.

“I thought that you would know this? Don’t you read my emails?”

“No, I don’t. Not yet. Isn’t there a password involved?”

“Why would a demon need a password? Aren’t you all seeing?”

“I’m trying, my sweet woman, to seduce you. I don’t give a damn about your letters. I want to know the competition. I want to know about these men who want to stick their tongues down your throat and part your pretty thighs. Why are you talking to them about the novel? Why mention us?

“I didn’t know that there was ‘an us,’ Garrett. You forget you are all fantasy. All in my mind, and all in my book.” I snapped my fingers; he was still there.

“I think that I am all between your legs right now.” He put his hand over my crotch, and stroked me through my gown.

“You want to kiss me, why don’t you start with my mouth?”

“You can delay all you want, you sweet witch. I have eternity here.”

“Then this is Hell? Purgatory? Something like Dante’s Inferno?

Putting his head next to my neck, he breathed gently on my skin. The warmth of his breath was arousing.

“Would you stop trying to figure it out and just let it be? Look, I will lie quietly with you, and we can coo together. I promise you will rise as virginal as you are now. Just go cook me something in the kitchen. I am fading fast.”

I promised to feed him but he didn’t keep his. The afternoon was a quiet one, as he slept on my breast. I had a chance to observe my demon lover closely, and he was as beautiful in life as anything I could put on the page. He would be happy with that, but of course, he already knows what I think.

Jane Kohut-Bartels
Copyrighted, 2007-2014

“Metamorphosis”…..And Happy July 4th, Independence Day.

July 1, 2014

Full Moon, March 2011

I wrote this seven years ago, my first attempt at comedy.  Once was enough.

This series was a favorite of Marge Chester, a friend and family member through marriage for

twenty-four years.  Marge died November, 2011.  I miss you, Margie.

Lady Nyo

 

METAMORPHISIS I

She stood at the window, lost in thought. The crispness of autumn
purified the air at dusk. The moon had just risen, the sky still
light, that peculiar time of evening when both sun and moon balanced
opposite each other. Watching the swifts and swallows flit over chimneys and
rooftops, wheeling like tiny black crescents in the sky, she wondered
about her unrest, her slight illnesses. As the moon rose, the swifts
were replaced with bats speeding like rockets back and forth in front
of the window. She could hear the sound of their twittering as they
flew by, sharing the day’s gossip.

“Laura!” Her husband’s voice near. “I’m coming” she called back.

Peering out the window her pupils opened wider. She saw strange
things. The veins in the leaves, the mounds of disturbed soil from
moles far below. The moon so close! The night beckoned to her, she
felt like flying out there.

Under her gown she felt thin membranes grow under her arms. The
tissue, transparent, joined with two hooks on her elbows. Her breasts
shrunk to nothing, only large nipples remaining. Her sex seemed to
shift backwards, her vulva misplaced.

“I’m coming along nicely,” she whispered.

********
METAMORPHOSIS II

“Laura, come to bed! What are you doing out there?”

Laura was doing nothing. Just drinking tea and looking out the
window, humming to herself.

She had lost weight, grown taciturn, seemed sexless. Harold,
confused, was getting on her last nerve.

She entered the bedroom. Harold, bald and boring, glared at her.

“What is wrong with you? Didn’t you hear me?”

Oh yes, thought Laura. Thirty years of marriage doesn’t stop up your
ears, just your mouth. And your heart.

Laura opened the closet to hang up her robe. Inside, on a hanger, was
a giant bat, its dull black wings wrapped around itself, hanging
upside down. Laura shoved it aside, looking for a hanger for her
robe. She got into bed and turned off the light.

***

The police looked at the carnage on the bed. Blood everywhere, a real
massacre. Something was wrong, damned if they could figure it out.
The wife, mute, had to be in shock. Weird batty woman.

Laura, her gown bloody, drinking tea, looked out the window. Under
the tree was a big dark man, standing with his arms wrapped around his
chest. He looked up and nodded.

Laura smiled back and winked.

*********

METAMORPHOSIS III
Jane Kohut-Bartels
Copyrighted, 2007

Becoming a widow, Laura’s life took on different dimensions. The
house now on the market, she decided to travel. She thought of
spelunking, exploring caves, climbing mountains.

Pouring over brochures, she heard a scratching sound. Unlatching the
second story window, in fluttered Bart Batkowski..

“I wish you would use the door like a normal person. You will draw
attention this way.”

“Laura, do you forget what I am? Besides a co-conspirator in murder?”

Laura signed. Harold was dead, gone, Bart now sharing her bed. But it
wasn’t the bed where the action happened. It was the damn closet and
sex was gymnastic at best. Though Laura had known a transformation,
it wasn’t complete. The angle of penetration was off. Bart would
insist on hanging from his heels, and all attempts at necking gave
Laura a stiff one; neck, that is.

Since Bart said his DNA required the closet hang, they compromised
with a vertical 69 position. Bart would embrace her with his wings
wrapped tightly around them, and Laura would get comfortable with her
pubis level at Bart’s nose.

It was a strange mating, but when Bart snored it sent Laura to heaven.

*******
METAMORPHOSIS IV
Jane Kohut-Bartels
Copyrighted, 2007

Laura twisted in the wind. Well, rotated in the air conditioning.
Bart had a new kick, called `Shibari’. An ancient Japanese practice
of wrapping things. Precisely. With hidden knots. She should have
thought twice when he insisted she strip.

Arms wrapped behind her back, more cloth holding her legs together,
she sighed. She didn’t mind hanging upside down, was even getting
used to the headaches.

Bart, however, was having a bit of his own transformation, and Laura
didn’t know if she liked this one bit. He was becoming `weirder’,
taking up hobbies. Piercing was one, this shibari another. Laura was
seeing Bart in a different light, helped along with her new, nighttime
vision.

Goddamn Japanese! Why can’t they stick to wrapping small packages?

Bart told her `shibari’ was the ancient art of “wrapping the heart.”
She bought it, didn’t even mind the bananas, mangos and kiwi he stuck
between the bindings. He was, after all, a common fruit bat.

Up on the roof, Bart had other plans. From under his wings, he drew
out a new black, leather riding crop. He slapped it on his palm,
laughing with glee.

Laura was about to obey.

**********

(For those who have not read Metamorphosis I-IV, Bart and Laura are
bats. Well, Bart is a large common fruit bat with interests in Shibari
and BDSM, and Laura is a middle- aged woman who finds she is
transforming into a bat.)

METAMORPHOSIS V
Jane Kohut-Bartels
Copyrighted, 2007

“Come on, Laura, pick it up! I can’t stay up here all day. It’s
exhausting.”

Bart was suspended in mid air, about ten feet from the roof apex,
twenty feet off the ground.

“I can’t, I can’t, I can’t I can’t. What if they don’t work?”

Laura, mesmerized by the languid flap of Bart’s massive wings, stood
on the top of the roof. She remembered the times he trapped her
small, delicate wings within his and felt the power of his dominance.
Bart had many faults, and a sadistic nature, but his sexual allure
could not be denied. Laura was blossoming like a rose, with little
Japanese beetles buried deep within her petals. She felt Shibari was
helping them bond, though Bart left her too long in the bindings.
Parts of her had turned temporarily blue. She was finding this
`freedom of the ropes’ one knot at a time.

“Come on, Laura, I’ll catch you. Trust me. Now, run fast and leap.
Your wings should work fine.”

Laura did as she was told and hit the air running. She dropped like a
stone.

“Bart! You Fuckerrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrr!”

“Hey, Laura! Next time flap your wings, not your gums.”

*********

METAMORPHOSIS VI

When Laura fell of the roof she smashed her ankle. It took all of
Bart’s Shibari bindings to stabilize her limb and now Laura was making
Bart wait on her, wing and foot. He wasn’t too happy with the `fetch’
thing but was puzzled why Laura’s wings hadn’t worked.

“Bart,” Laura whined, “The ice melted in my drink. Make me a fresh
one, darlin’.”

Bart came from the kitchen, an apron tied around his middle. He was
pissed being a house-bat but what could he do? A dominant fruit bat,
this apron went against his nature. But the dishes had to be done,
guano shoveled.

Inactivity made Laura horny. She spread her legs, flapped her pinkish
wings alluringly. Bart’s eyes gleamed as he climbed between them. He
began to lap at her, but lost his head. Laura was using a new
perfume, “Peaches and Cream”.

“Bart! I’m not a cantaloupe. Your teeth are sharp!”

“Sorry, Laura. I’m just following my nature.”

All kinds of bats in the world, and I get a fruit bat, thought Laura.

Life is unfair.

But he did look cute in a frilled apron. That big bow on his butt
suited him.

Nature be damned.

************

META VII

Tap…tap….tap…

“Bart? Whatchadoin’?” Laura yawned, just waking up.

“I’m working on a pathology.” His `go away answer’. Back hunched over
the keyboard, typing fast.

“Which one?” Laura blinked, trying to see what Bart was writing.

“Funny. I’m looking at this Gorean website.”

“Ah geez, Bart! It’s a comic book.” Laura’s eyes widened at the
picture of a woman on her knees, lips parted seductively, naked, legs
open. She thought of her own knees and knew she could never hold that
position. Plus, she didn’t look `cute’ naked. Not before, and not
now with these pinkish wings attached to her elbows.

“Hey Bart? Are you serious? How am I to hold that position serving
you on my knees?”

“You could levitate a bit with your wings, take pressure off your
knees. You could use your imagination if you wanted to please me.”

“Please him.” There it was. Always please the Dom. What did she get
out of it? Seemed like life with her dead husband, Howard, except
with guano.

“Bart? I don’t think Gorean Doms wear aprons.”

Bart looked down. He forgot to remove it after the dishes. Maybe he
really was a Gorean submissive? Not a good thought.

THE END

Jane Kohut-Battels
Copyrighted, 2007-2014

“Morning”, a new poem.

June 14, 2014

Kohut-Bartels-LS-2
(a small watercolor of fruit trees in the back yard)

This spring is so beautiful.  We have torn up the back yard and planted grass seed, trimmed bushes, taken down fences, planted more roses and the grass is lush and green.  In all these years here I haven’t had a rolling swath of green that extends to the far boundaries of the property. Beyond is a woods and we are visited by raccoons, foxes, wild turkey, hawks, rabbits:  this is an urban area, three miles from downtown Atlanta, but the wildlife hasn’t gotten the memo.  The trees are heavy with peaches, apples and pears, though the beans didn’t come up in the garden.  The tomatoes are running amuck and the black berries and blue berries are busting their boundaries.  Even the grapes, usually dormant, have heavy chandeliers of pale green fruit under the leaves.

I go out with my tea in the morning and the birdsong is amazing.  The day may get complicated, but the morning is calm, peaceful and turns my thoughts to a gratitude for these simple blessings.

Lady Nyo

 

 

MORNING

 

A wedge of sullen moon

Pales above

As life awakes beneath.

 

Birdsong threads through

Trees, a staccato cacophony

Anointing the air

Like colored ribbons

Weaving back and forth

The timbre ever changing.

 

Green spring trees, tender, tender

An early nursery of life

Can anything be wrong with the world?

 

The hammock swings gently of its own accord

Perhaps a haunt, a ghost invisible.

 

Faint gunshots far in the distance last night

Where some would

Impose their vile humanity

Startling for a moment

Until sleep reclaims.

So it goes, this is the city.

 

The hoot of a sleepy owl in the morning

Echoes the cry of a distant train

While seed pods from maple trees

Flutter to the ground.

 

We have survived the dark,

It’s blackened mysteries,

Alien things that rattle us.

We are cradled in Nature’s promise

Of life beginning again each morning

While the moon above yawns, fades and disappears.

 

Jane Kohut-Bartels

Copyrighted, 2014

‘A Turkish Tale’, from “The Zar Tales”

June 5, 2014

SEXUAL ALLUSIONS IN THIS STORY. JUST A WARNING.

I wrote this for publication in “The Zar Tales”, my second book published by Lulu.com. It is still available at that site.
Short stories have different ‘laws’ than novels and poetry, and in some important ways you are constrained. However, this story reflects some of the cultural attitudes of men in these societies today. And the Zar ritual exists though it is suppressed in these Middleastern and African countries. It is a remarkable ritual for women and one of the only ‘mental health’ avenues for them even today.

Lady Nyo

(The Zar is a number of things in Middle Eastern and North African societies. One, it’s a ritual of extracting a Demon (a Zar) from the possessed, placating and then restoring them to the host body. A Sheikha gives it new marching orders…. Hence, a Zar is also a Demon or Djinn. Three, the Zar is a bonding or ritual dance among women. And four, the Zar dance is also a form of Hyperarousal Trance, distinct from meditative trances.)

“A TURKISH TALE”

“Woman!” said an angry Ahmed. “We are married a year. You behave like a child! You don’t speak to my mother. I did not get married for this treatment. You are a terrible wife!”

Ahmed had a ‘reason’ to be angry with Aya, or at least he believed he did. She did not act the spouse he held he deserved. He expected a paradise on earth, a wife pliable to his wishes and prepared to serve his wants. But Aya was young, only fifteen years old at the wedding. She came from across the mountain, born in a village no different from where she was now. No village in this part of the country was much different, and the mountains bred people repeating the same traditions, customs and habits.

Aya was very naïve and ignorant of life. She was a daughter born in the middle of ten children, not noticed by any one much. Plus, she was a shy girl, and not expected to shine.

When a matchmaker came from Ahmed’s parents, everyone was shocked. Surprised she could be married off. Both sets of parents, with the matchmaker in the middle, bargained for Aya much as her father bought sheep in the market. In due time, Aya was married and packed off to Ahmed’s parents, over the mountain and into another village and that was the last the bride’s family saw of Aya.

Aya began to droop. Deprived of the only people she knew and thrust into a family of strangers, she became even more timid and quiet. The excitement of the new marriage had passed, and living with Ahmed in a room apart from the large, noisy family was not much of a change. All brides have hope and expectations, and though she was married for a year, Aya still held hope for something different than what her life was already.

Ahmed’s mother smelled trouble. She could tell by the scowl of her favorite son that he was not happy. Peace on earth depended upon the contentment of men, and Ahmed’s mother had tradition to uphold. She knew the trouble gossip could cause, for she had been the generator of much during her life. Soon Ahmed’s sadness would be common discussion around the well, and the family would lose face. Something had to be done and Ahmed’s mother knew it was up to her to save the family honor. But first she would talk to the raw girl.

One day Ahmed’s mother went and cornered her in the courtyard while she fed chickens.

“My daughter. Why the long face?”

She generally showed little concern for her daughter- in- law, for she did not understand her. Aya was quiet, which was proper for a good Muslim woman, but too quiet. She had grown listless and preoccupied with spending time on the roof looking over the dry and rocky countryside. Many times Ahmed’s mother caught her up there, a strange look in her eye, and seemingly deaf to her calls. At first she had hoped for a grandchild, but Ahmed was spending more time with the men and less with his woman. Surely the girl should be able to charm her new husband. She must not be trying! Ahmed said little, just went about the house with a scowl, but all knew something was wrong.

Ahmed’s mother, whose name was Leila, could get nothing from her. The silly bride bowed her head, and cast her eyes downward, looking at her dusty feet. Well, the peace of her household was at stake, and if Ahmed was unhappy, Leila was prepared to do battle.

But not with the girl. That would be beneath her.

So in time honored tradition, Leila made a formal visit to the local Sheikha. She would know what to do. Leila would at least have the satisfaction of doing her duty by her son. If the Sheikha, named Shakira, was successful, Leila and her husband would be able at least to keep all of the bride price. To return it, or even a part, would be a terrible burden. Anyway, most of the bride price was already gone. You could not recover water upstream when it was downstream.

Sheikha Shakira told her to send the girl. She would find out the trouble between Ahmed and Aya. She would attempt to fix what was broken.

For the visit, Aya came with her mother- in- law and a very quiet Ahmed. Shakira of course knew the young bride on sight, her family name and that she was a new bride, but she had never reason to notice her. She sometimes saw her at the village well, drawing water in her families jugs or washing clothes down by the sluggish river, or feeding the chickens outside the door of Leila’s house. But she didn’t seem remarkable to Shakira. Just a young bride, nothing special.

Aya was very young, with not much meat on her bones. She would not give much heat next to Ahmed when the winter winds blew down from the mountains and turned the air raw and bitter. Better that Ahmed’s parents had found him a bride who would fill his bed and warm his feet with her flesh.

However, after Shakira looked more closely at Aya, she could see there were bigger problems than too- thin Aya. The girl looked haunted to Shakira’s eyes.

After the obligatory cups of mint tea, Ahmed and his mother were sent home, with Leila passing a small gift of money to Shakira from the depths of her robe. Shakira nodded and turned back to the sullen girl sitting at her table.

Shakira prepared to question young Aya. She plied her with more of the sweet tea they brewed in the village and drank on all occasions. Aya was quiet, which wasn’t unusual for a young Muslim girl, but she noticed that she kept her eyes cast on the floor. This was more than a normal shyness. The girl appeared disturbed, or perhaps she was hiding a secret. This last intrigued Shakira the most.

“Come, Aya. Do not be shy. You know why you are here. Your husband has made complaints about your behavior in the marriage. Is something wrong, my daughter?”

Aya sipped at her tea and shook her head, but did not raise her eyes to Shakira’s face.

The Sheikha Shakira could tell many things by the shine of the eyes, by the carriage of the head, by the shoulders, by the sheen of the skin. Although thin, Aya did not appear sick, just unhappy.

“Aya”. Shakira thought a direct approach would get some answers. “Does Ahmed do what a husband should? Do you know what a husband does for his wife?”

Aya blushed, and her hands shook as she put her small glass down.

“Tell me,” said Shakira with an encouraging smile. “Does Ahmed put off his own pleasure for yours?” The look on Aya’s face told Shakira that Ahmed did not.

Aya’s blush increased, giving her dusky skin a bloom of beauty.

“Tell me, Aya.” Shakira’s voice was gentle and low, a conspiracy brewing between two women against all men.

“Does Ahmed touch you in your holy woman’s place? You know after you are married, it is right and good when he does? He should use his male member and his fingers and even his tongue.” Shakira sat back and looked closely at Aya. Her hands shook and she didn’t pick up her glass.

Ah, thought Shakira. Another stupid man that doesn’t know how to stroke his wife into bliss! Allah punish these stupid men who are so selfish!

Shakira thought a different approach would be fruitful. “Aya, do you touch yourself down there in your holy place? Did you know God has given you a body with all the pleasures of paradise on earth? You can touch and stroke and push your fingers in there and have lovely feelings. Perhaps you need to show Ahmed how to arouse you? You are married a year, and if your husband doesn’t understand, perhaps you need to give him a push. Do you understand, daughter?

Suddenly Aya started shaking violently and a great sob escaped from her throat.

“Aaaiiiyee! It is like a man is already in there…in my holy place, and he strokes where Ahmed puts his flute. I try to resist him, it is a demon inside of me! but I am not strong enough. Ah, Mother Shakira, help me! I have thought many times as I go to the roof of the house I would throw myself over the edge!”

This burst of words shocked Shakira. She sat there blinking, watching the young girl sob out her shame and fear. Ah! Now she had something to work with!

A demon. In bed between an ignorant girl and an even more ignorant husband!
But! This was something most interesting, something Shakira encountered at times among women. From the narrowness of their lives, in their isolation from the cities and from the stupidity of the men, a demon popped up frequently in the lives of married women. And thank God only married women. They seemed to scorn the virgins, which was good, for if they didn’t, it would mean the murder of many young women by their fathers and brothers, the whole village, thought Shakira.

These spirits were helpful to women as Shakira well knew. They could give a woman a certain liberty to sass their husbands. If a word popped out, she could blame it on the Zar, the demon. It was not her fault, and punishing her would do no good. Something just came over her and she didn’t know where it came from. It was the fault of the Zar. He needed to have his power ‘reduced’. He needed a good talking to, to be placated, given new marching orders.

Shakira thought about the demon. She knew she could never can purge a Zar, these troubling spirits, she would have to cajole, puzzle, confuse and ultimately, calm them. But! She would restore them with their powers reduced. No one wants a Zar wandering around scaring the children and chickens. It was bad enough they sat under the trees in the woods on the mountains and woe to anyone who cast their eyes on a bodiless Zar! Shakira knew that to be immediate possession. The Zar needed a human body. That was where Zars lived comfortably. A goat would not do.

Ah! An excuse for a Zar ritual! Shakira rubbed her hands in glee. The price of the feast and the sacrifice was less important than the chance to get the women together for some fun. And Zars were fun in a life that was black- clad, dusty and under the thumb of Allah and the men.

On the day of the Zar ritual, Shakira placed a tray of nuts and fruit on an altar in the middle of the room. The drummers came in earlier and were sitting together talking, laughing and drinking tea. The ney player, a young man, was sitting apart from the drummers, all women now. Incense was heavy, and the smell of it was hypnotic even before the drummers started beating their rhythm.

Shakira spent some time with Aya, talking to her, helping her ease herself into the ritual soon to take place. Aya had suffered some nerves, thrown up, and then seemed resigned to her fate. She remained pale.

More women straggled into the room, waddling like black crows in a field. They sat in a rough circle, breathing in the heady perfume wafting from the burning incense. Some were praying to themselves, others began chants, and the combined sounds were like a hive of bees in the sunshine, dipping into the honey. Shakira was trying not to slip into her own trance, but the warm weather and the sunshine conspired to lull her senses. She looked over at Aya sitting with her mother and mother-in-law. She was dressed in a white cotton gown, her hair loose down her back. The hair was the last place that Aya’s demon would hold on to as she tossed her head around and around, throwing him into the arms of Shakira. She wondered what this demon would be like. Would he be a hard one to cajole? Would he demand a price for his obedience? Would she be strong enough, without rallying her own demons, to take him on?

None of this could she know in advance. Allah Provide, she prayed.

Then the drummers started their different rhythms. Each part of the body was capable of possession and a different rhythm beat out on the stretched goat skin drums would find them out. The rhythm would call out to the soul of the demon, and he would have to answer. It was heartbeat to heartbeat.

The first rhythm was the ayoub, ‘dum-tec-a dum-tec-a’, the heartbeat of humanity, becoming more and more intense. Shakira could not help begin her own trance. It was a necessary part of the Zar ritual. She would catch the demon when he was tossed from Aya’s hair, wrestle him in her own arms and give him a good talking to!

Aya had risen, fear distorting her pale face as she walked around the room, her eyes like big dark moons. A blind man could see how frightened she was! Then, allowing herself to feel the rhythm seeping into the blood of all there, she started to nod her head, back and forth, little nods at first, as if she were tentatively allowing the heartbeat of the drums to enter her body. Her eyes glazed and she started to change the gait of her walking, as if she was swaying to some internal rhythm set up as a counterpoint to what was heard by all others. Her hips started to jerk and her head rolled on her neck in little circles, hair flying in gentle waves around her. The ney player picked up the tempo, the drums followed. Aya’s movements around the circle increased in speed. She started to whirl around as she walked, her face upwards to the ceiling, now her hair flying out like Dervish’s skirts. Faster and faster Aya twirled and jerked around the room, throwing her arms outward and upward. She uttered little shrieks, unheard with the general chanting and drumming and the shrill music of the ney.

Shakira knew if there was a demon inside of Aya, he would soon appear. She swayed back and forth in her own trance, standing with her arms outward towards the spinning girl.

There! Something hit Shakira in her chest! Something solid and hard enough to almost knock the wind from her. Aya sank down in a heap, shuddering with spasms. Women moved to chant over her, and ever the drums and ney player increased their frenzied rhythms.

Shakira slipped into full trance and saw the Demon standing there, hovering with a scowl, a male Demon of course! His aura was powerful, and he shimmered before her with a golden glimmer. Shakira saw him clearly in her mind’s eye, and saw how beautiful and arrogant this demon was.

“In the name of Allah, the One God! Demon. Tell me your name!”

Shakira spoke in the tongue of the tranced, unintelligible to the women around the room.

He scowled at her, but bidden he was commanded to answer.

“My name is Ali”, and his voice was sweet and seductive, in spite of the grimace.

Ah! Thought Shakira. What a lovely demon to possess a woman! His hair was black and lay in curls over his brow. His lips were full, the color of pomegranate seeds. His nose was like an arrow, straight and elegant. His eyes were two black and shimmering pools, his cheeks like halves of apples. Ah! Shakira was shaken by his beauty. She cleared her throat and her thoughts before speaking to him again.

“Demon. Listen to me. You disrupt the marriage of Ahmed and Aya. You must stop your demonic ways and let Ahmed have back his wife.”

“Ahmed is a fool and doesn’t know what to do with Aya. She is afraid of him, he plays his flute for himself, and ignores his wife.” Demon Ali’s voice was a low, honeyed growl, seeded with contempt.

“True, true enough, Demon. But you could help here. You could teach Aya things to please Ahmed and perhaps dense Ahmed will become a proper husband.”

“Why should I help Ahmed? What is Ahmed to me?” Demon Ali spat on the ground, a golden stream of honey.

“Ah Demon! You are too young or stupid yourself if you don’t think here. You could teach Aya where to place her hands on herself and Ahmed. You could take your own pleasure between them. How much more it would be if you brought them together as man and wife! You could tickle Aya’s womb and love chamber and she would toss her hips like a proper wife at Ahmed. You could stick your tongue on Aya’s button and make her think of love. You could torment both and what Demon isn’t happiest when he is tormenting two instead of one?”

The Demon Ali pulsated and quivered with her suggestions. Shakira could see he was considering her words.

(Demon Ali thought it over and could see her point of argument. If nothing else, he could torment Ahmed in some particularly pleasing way to demons. Perhaps he could be an irritant in more ways than one. Perhaps he could make Ahmed’s cock fall–)

“I hear your thoughts, Demon. Consider the case. Either Aya acts the proper wife to Ahmed, or Ahmed sends her back to her parents. She will disgrace her family, they will suffer needlessly because of a silly and selfish devil.”

Shakira could tell that Ali the Demon was considering his choices. He glimmered and glowed and vibrated and fairly danced in the air. Shakira noticed too that his male member was vibrating along with the rest of him. An impressive piece of anatomy for any man or demon. Ah! Ali the Demon was wasted on that little fool Aya!

Shakira, a wise woman with quite a number of years of experience with Djinns, decided she would have compassion for this pretty demon standing before her in all his stiffening glory. Perhaps this alluring devil could entertain her, Shakira, and leave Aya alone. She had an eye for a good looking male, and knowing the nature of demons, she could take some pleasure for herself under her chador at times. Perhaps something mutually pleasing to both could be arranged. It was worth a thought.

“So, Demon…what will it be? Will you help Aya become a wife and be a good demon, or do I have to call forth stronger Spirits to make you reconsider your behavior? It is your choice.”

Ali the Demon sighed, and it was like a sweet wind blowing from the east up Shakira’s skirts. Her eyes widened, in spite of her trance, and a smile came over her face. The Demon slyly looked at Shakira from under the fringe of his black lashes. A smile exchanged between them…

A bargain was struck!

Ahmed and Aya became a happy couple. Yes, Ali the Demon still tickled Aya in her love passage, and sat smoking his hooka crosslegged up by her womb. Ahmed was pleased with Aya now as his wife, and eternally grateful to the Sheikha.

And as for Shakira, she and Ali the Demon enjoyed many hours under Shakira’s chador. He tickled Shakira around the ears, and she spread her legs when she was busy at her kitchen fire, preparing food or just standing at the window, watching her neighbors outside. Peace reigned in both households.

Blessings on the head of Sheikha Shakira!

Jane Kohut-Bartels
Copyrighted, 2009-2014

“Goddess Nut”……poem based on Egyptian mythology.

May 22, 2014

This poem dedicated to CZBZ, a woman who inspires so many with her compassion and wisdom.

Lady Nyo

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NUT (Choka)

 

I am the Temple

of the Universe at night,

I am Goddess Nut.

I spread my body over

the dark, silky sky

and the Sun is born from my

open mouth at dawn, each day.

 

 

Invisible moon

crawls into my bowels at dawn

as does brother Sun

at night when his glory dimmed

and I cradle both

within me their majestic

glory now dulled down

until the release of them

thrown high up into the sky.

 

 

I am the keeper.

All Celestial bodies

I, the nourisher

of life and death that passes

I, Nut, sleep at day,

my stars and I well hidden

by the birth of Sun

but courted by Geb, Earth God

who sucks the night dew

from my two breasts with sweet lips

reaching with his maleness

makes the Earth fertile with love,

and the universe fruitful.

 

 

I am the River

where planets and stars sail through

on their skyward journey,

the celestial travail.

My Houri marks time,

passage of cosmic travel

discarding their veils

til naked at dawn, retire

on the horizon.

They sleep once again under

My belly and gathered near.

 

I am the passage.

I am the Keeper of Souls.

I am the mystery.

My presence lends fear to man

I touch eyes with sleep.

I round out the universe

Dark, fulsome Night.

I am Nut.

 

 

Jane Kohut-Bartels

Copyrighted, 2014

from “Devil’s Revenge”, a random chapter

May 11, 2014

Night Fog 2

My mood is a black as soot this morning.  Somehow the entire finished manuscript of “The Nightingale’s Song” has been dropped from computer.  Hopefully, Nick in Australia has a copy but it’s not the rewritten one.  That was just finished a month ago, and I was careful to save it.  However, too many techies were working on the original computer and the new laptop and something happened.  I’ve spent hours looking for it and no show.  I’m posting this silly chapter just for nothing.  But at least this novel (all over the map and unfinished….) hasn’t disappeared.  It has its moments.

Lady Nyo

 

Bucon and Obadiah…. CHAPTER   From, “Devil’s Revenge”

 

“Father”.

 

Obadiah and Bucon sat before a smoky fire, two pairs of legs stretched out towards the low  burning logs. Boot leather was drying and cracking from the heat like fried pork skins. Bucon was packing a white clay pipe with tobacco and leaned to the hearth to pick up a red coal with his fingers. The smell of burning flesh did not seem to alarm him.

 

An Arch Duke of Hell, Chief Demon of Hatred, Bucon looked through the haze of pipe smoke at his youngest son. Secretly Bucon was proud of Obadiah. He exhibited the important issues of venality and depravity that dovetailed with his own. He definitely was a chip off the old block.

 

Ah, humanity had gone flat, become flabby, uninteresting. Since the French Revolution the ground had gone fallow. Hatred was hard to sow right now, these early years of the 19th century. A kind of prosperity with this Industrial Revolution had begun to spread amongst citizens. Perhaps it was too early to tell, but there was hope in future conflict and overwork in these new mills and factories. Father’s daughters leaving their homes and spinning wheels had promise.   Money was certainly the root of all evil, but this new evil would have to fester a while. Hope for a better life did not leave much consideration for the growth of hatred. It would take time.

 

Bucon sighed, sending a black, tarry smoke from his lungs. The crusades were long over but what a wonderful time that was! Such invigorating events…all steeped in violence and contention. Religion certainly kept those fires burning amongst mankind.

 

Bucon had five invisible eyes and with the two glittering black ones on his face he could see all activity of humanity on the seven continents. Spreading hatred and contention was fine, but what really got the bile going was interfering with the natural sentiment between men and women. He could spend all day and night sowing discord and disgruntlement, jealousy and malice between a man and his wife but he had to be careful. Jealously was the domain of some particularly nasty Jewish demons and although they were all in this world (and others) together, there was still a question of overstepping territories. When done, well, they tended to act as their natures dictated. In heated spades.

 

“Father”.

 

Bucon looked over at Obadiah and thought: “What a fop”.

 

Dressed in a black wool suit with spit polished boots, a shirt and cravat whiter than virgin snow, Bucon sneered at him. Bucon’s own linen was always limp and dingy, his boots regardless of polish dull and the pores of his face pitted with the black leavings of sin. Bucon wondered if Obadiah really was of his seed.

 

“Father, what do you counsel here?”

 

If Obadiah’s clothes were a better cut, his heart certainly belonged to Daddy.

 

“Well, son, tell me again. Exactly what is it you are seeking? Is it this mortal mortal woman you are clamoring about? I already told you you could have a million of them with the snap of your clean fingers.”

 

Bucon looked at his own hands. He had bitten them to the quick and dried blood encrusted his fingers. Sowing hatred was hard work. A thought occurred to Bucon.

 

“Have you fallen in love, Obadiah?”

 

His son’s eyes flashed and an elegant sneer appeared on his countenance.

 

“Love? Do you think that possible, Father? Am I not your own son?”

 

Bucon spat into the fire, his stream of spit becoming a little snake screaming as the flames consumed it.

 

I wish those little devils wouldn’t do that. It always startles me..

 

Bucon was old as sin, older than original sin. But he wondered. He had seen a lot in his endless time. Not only mankind was changing. Even demons could be effected by outside forces.   Obadiah was certainly his son, but influences surrounding him could have made some inroads into his thinking. This would do the trick. Or better, could undercut the natural ‘trickery’ embedded so deeply in such fellows.

 

Bucon sat and thought over the options. He spit again but slammed down his foot on the snake, crushing it. No scream from beneath his boot.

 

Influences such as the Enlightenment, the Romantics in literature, music, could give pause to a waffling demon’s natural tendencies. This ‘turn the other cheek’ of this Christian God was only a tremor in the bedrock of their natural existence. Better the ‘eye for an eye’ of the Old Testament. At least that would keep the wars flowing.

 

Ah, Evil might be banal but it’s still hard work.

 

Bucon had a thought. “Gettin’s is keepin’s, son?”

 

Obadiah’s tight smile showed he understood the reference. Bullfinch’s words interpreting a scene between Agamemnon and Achilles.

 

“Perhaps, Father. This other is the target. The women only stands between us.”

 

Ah, thought Bucon. That Obadiah didn’t blast her away said reams. Yes, his son was smitten, was softening. Some Demon. Any further weakening would lead to defeat.

 

“Well, son, what is it you want from me?”

 

Obadiah stared into the fire. “I have to figure out who to trust, who to gather in for this fight.”

 

Bucon thought his choice of words was interesting. “Trust” wasn’t exactly a stable word to use when referring to demons.

 

“Well, you know who your opponent is gathering in?”

 

Obadiah didn’t immediately answer, and Bucon thought perhaps his son didn’t.

 

“I do know he’s consulted with Abigor already. Heard some word about Andras.. and he’s researching possibilities in Celtic mythology.”

 

“That would be natural, son. Your opponent has his roots there. But if he’s dealing with Druids, he won’t get much help from them. Those folk see Demons as offshoots of Christianity. Rather a narrow bunch, I’d say.”

 

(to be continued….)

 

Jane Kohut-Bartels

Copyrighted, 2007-2014