Posts Tagged ‘love’

“Love Songs from the Man’yoshu, Selections from a Japanese Classic”

April 22, 2019

Man'yoshu image II

A while ago, I was asked by a poetry group to do a short presentation on the Man’yoshu. This is a collection of poems from the 8th century. They are gorgeous poems, some startling erotic.

I have at least five different editions of the Man’yoshu, each giving a different translation and perspective on these poems. One of my favorite versions is “Love Songs from the Man’yoshu, Selections from a Japanese Classic”, with illustrations by Miyata Masayuki, Commentary by Ooka Makoto, Translations by Ian Hideo Levy and with an essay by Donald Keene. Published in Japan by Lodansha International.

This is an incredibly beautiful book. The cut-out illustrations by the great Miyata Masayuki, powerfully and exquisitely erotic, give a visual insight into the sexuality of these poems. I did not expect this when I held this beautiful book in my hand. The paper, the colors, the commentary, everything about this book is a delight.

There are many books about the Man’yoshu. However, an older one that (1965) is plainly called “The Manyoshu’ One Thousand Poems, published by Columbia University Press. The Foreword is by Donald Keene, the much decorated translator and interpreter of Japanese literature. This book is worth obtaining just for the writing of Keene.

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

For 1200 years, the Man’yoshu has inspired poets to write their own poetry based on these poems. Below are a few of mine inspired with readings of this classical document. The Man’yoshu poetry can be startling frank and seem to avoid modern day sexual neurosis.

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.

Jane Kohut-Bartels
(aka Lady Nyo)

11_17_7

“Poem To My Husband”…..

February 14, 2018

Valentine's Roses

Roses from Fred this Valentine’s Day.

And Happy Valentine’s Day!….

 

“You’re all I have”
Heard in the dark
Heart almost stopping
In an inattentive breast.

I dare not look at him
Too bald a sentiment
And too true to bear
A light, comforting answer.

What would occasion
Such a piteous sentiment?

When one has lived
Within another’s hours, days, years,
The fabric of this making
Can be forgotten.

The warp and weave, the very thread
That appears as if out of air
(and it does…)
becomes substantial,
it covers and clothes more than the body
and the life blood of sentiment,
Love-
Becomes the river within, unending,
Even transcending the pulse of life.

“You’re all I have,”
A whispered refrain
That echoes in the heart
And burrows deep.

Jane Kohut-Bartels
Copyrighted, 2010-2018

 

“Winter Widow”, a haibun

January 31, 2018

My beautiful picture

 

At the window she saw the naked trees of winter lit by a slivered crescent moon, casting thin shadows upon frigid ground. Skeletons in the moonlight, these ghostly trees, as brittle as her own internal landscape. Little flesh about her, a fresh widow, reduced by grief now resembling the fragile branches outside in the sullen night.

There was a time when she was juicy, ripe with swelling tissue, wet with moisture, velvet of skin. She lapped at life with full lips and embracing gestures. Speared on her husband she moaned, screamed with laughter, pivoted in sheer joy. Her life had been full, overflowing, desirable, endless, a portrait of promise.

He died one day. Life turned surreal. Much remained, only the reason for living gone. The temperature grown colder, like him under the soil.

Outside it started to snow. She watched the gentle coverage of branch, bush and ground, a tender benediction offered to a cradled earth. She knelt in the snow, grateful for this arousal to life.

She would live, but he must be so cold under the snow.

 

Come kiss my warm lips
Cup my breast in your rough hand,
Growl into my mouth.

 

Jane Kohut-Bartels
Copyrighted, 2018

 

 

“Tanka of Seductions”

October 10, 2017

Flowers 2 (Late Summer flowers from Alum Beltline Market)

The moon floats on wisps

Of clouds extending outward.

Tendrils of white fire

Blanketing the universe

Gauzy ghosts of nothingness.

Come into my arms.

Bury under the warm quilt.

Your scent makes me drunk

Like the wine we gulped last night.

Too much lust and drink to think.

—–

Give me a moment!

To catch my breath and settle.

Give me some peace.

Stop kissing my hands, stop it!

What if someone is watching?

—-

Presence of Autumn

Burst of color radiates

From Earth-bound anchors

Sun grabs prismatic beauty

And tosses the spectrum wide!

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.

Cranes wheeled in the sky

Their chiding cries fell to hard earth

Warm mid winter day

A pale half moon calls the birds

To stroke her face with soft wings.

 

Glimpse of a white wrist

Feel the pulse of blood beneath-

This is seduction!

But catch a wry, cunning smile

One learns all is artifice.

Jane Kohut-Bartels

Copyrighted, 2008-2016

“Rooms”

October 1, 2016

Watts_George_Frederic_Orpheus_And_Eurydice[1]

 In passing from room to room

I close the door

And hear the lock click.

The abandoning of one space-

Hopeful promise of another.

 

In a middle passage between lovers

Transposing between them,

Haltingly, like a car

With a bad clutch,

I think how much easier it would be

If I could do like the rooms:

Enter, leave, close the door, and step out anew.

 

But love is messy,

Memories, arguments, tears

Follow under the threshold and through the keyhole,

Become little green snakes that curl around my ankles

Tripping me up,

Tiny sharp fangs make me mindful

Of vague misgivings.

 

Also, embers of a burnt out lust

Beyond ability to evoke the necessary fires

In body parts once shared with delight.

This pallid thing knows the route to my heart

Still uneasy, done in,

By guilt and remorse.

 

Memory….

Raw materials of regret

Unfinished business,

Unspoken words,

A dream of a dance without music,

Fading touch, attention.

 

Yet still,

With nagging thoughts we were too hasty,

Too caught up in the rigor mortis of righteousness,

Too bound to the self, unbending–

Makes me turn back to that door and fumble the lock.

 

 

Jane Kohut-Bartels

Copyrighted, 2009

 

An email from Jingle Nozelar Yan (JP at Olive Grove ):

“when you post on word press or blogger, you do not have to pay or ask permission in person. which is what we count for.

maybe one of your fellow posted your stuff. will not publish formally in books.”

It won’t work, this blaming anyone else.  Jingle stole my blog and put it on her blog. She really has no imagination, and can’t write worth crap. This  issue has gone to my attorneys. She’s flaunting US copyright laws and knows it.  It’s now a legal matter. However, I will continue to post this statement at the end of every blog piece here.   I don’t like having to do this, but Jingle refuses to delete my blog from her site.   Don’t read my work on her site. If you care about literature, you will go to the source, and bypass a fraud.

 

Peace, Love, Unity: A Message from the Rio Olympics

August 6, 2016

Baba 1

 

 

Lady of Shallot rose

 

Peace, Love, Unity. A message from the Rio Olympics

Last night I watched the opening ceremonies of the Olympics. I was moved to tears seeing the 10,000 people who are there for the games and the 100,000’s of thousands there in support. Just seeing the different faces, races, ages, countries, flags moved me. In this day of age, where we are under so many negative mesages and fears: Islamic Terrorism, the election circus of two fools, the devestating lost of life in these terrorist attacks, the apprehension of more and in our own cities…well, it is too much.

Seeing the Refugees section, where these people have continued to train and work hard to get to the Olympics is something to hold high. In the face of no shoes for the track runners, no pools for the swimmers, having to ‘make do’ with conditions that Americans and Europeans would not tolerate, it broke through my cynicism.

The messages of hope from this Olympics: Peace in the time of War and upheaval, Love in the time of hatred and division, Unity in the times where we are so divided by so many things….This gladdens my heart.

And…the relatively ‘low tech’ (considering previous Olympics) of the Rio Olympics….and the Salsa Party….was the way to go. There is a humanism in this Rio Olympics that brings Unity to the whole shebang.

May it continue on and through the Olympics.

 

Jane Kohut-Bartels

Copyrighted, 2016

 

“Seasons Change”

April 8, 2015

Autumn colors from my bathroom window today

Why I write poetry? It’s a dedication to the imagination and also to the heart. It’s not a medium obsessed over by the general population with their smart phones glued to their ears, nor to those who watch endless tv and movies. Of all the arts, it’s probably the most ignored, passed over.

Yet….for some, they find the same phenomena I do.  It’s a passage deeper into introspection, weighing the difference between crass sentimentality and something ….well, less mawkish.  Of course sentimentality can’t be totally dismissed, because it is a factor of life and the human heart.  But….there has to be more to our cobbling of words, our poetry than that. At the same time a poet has to be careful of the other end of the scale: unfeeling rationality, hard-heartedness. It’s a balancing act.

It’s a life-time pursuit with many stops and starts.  In the end, we hope to sharpen our vision into those things around us, inside and out. We hope to be able, in our poetry, to connect in a universal way.

Lady Nyo

SEASONS CHANGE

I took a walk this morning.

The seasons have changed here

though where you are they don’t.

The dried, brittle grass beneath my feet

made a consistent crackle,

echoed by the gossip of sparrows above.

The leaves are stripped from the birches and maples.

They fell like rain on a fallow ground one day

and I didn’t see them go.

I think of your rounded arms when I see the shedding birches,

the smooth bark like white skin

with a faint pulse of the river beneath.

Do you remember that river,

when it scared you to stand close to the bank?

You thought the earth would slip inward,

take you on a wild ride downstream

where I couldn’t retrieve you,

and I saw for an instant your raised arms

imploring me silently to save you—

though it never happened

and you never slipped down the bank

and I never could save you.

But imagination plays with your mind when it’s all that is left.

Jane Kohut-Bartels

Copyrighted, 2015 from “A Seasoning of Lust”, Lulu.com, 2009

Happy Valentine’s Day! “Poem Of My Husband”

February 13, 2015

fred

POEM OF MY HUSBAND

“You’re all I have”

Heard in the dark

Heart almost stopping

In an inattentive breast.

I dare not look at him

Too bald a sentiment

And too true to bear

A light, comforting answer.

What would occasion such words

Such a piteous sentiment?

When one has lived

Within another’s hours, days, years,

The fabric of this making

Can be frayed.

The warp and weave,

the very thread

That appears as if out of air (and it does.)

becomes substantial, it covers and clothes

more than the body

and the life blood of sentiment, Love-

Becomes the river within, unending,

Even transcending the pulse of life.

“You’re all I have,”

A whispered refrain

That echoes in the heart

And burrows deep.

11_18_3

Jane Kohut-Bartels

Copyrighted, 2015, this poem published in “Pitcher of Moon” 2014, Createspace/Amazon, by the author.

Chessie, 1999-2014

October 14, 2014

My beautiful picture

It is with sadness I write of the death of Chessie, our cat for the last 15 years.  Yesterday we decided to put him to sleep as he was suffering a serious heart condition. To look at Chessie you would never know.  He never complained.

I am told  15 is a good life for any cat or dog, but it doesn’t make it  easier.  Chessie was a Buddha amongst cats and was dearly beloved here.  He was a tiny, beautiful kitten that an older couple across the street took in, but then gave away to a little girl up the street.  I remember seeing Chessie sitting on their porch, this gorgeous, pumpkin headed kitten, and then when the little girl took him home.  He came back around 7 months later, probably  because he was obviously a tomcat, and he lay down at our feet in our front garden and never left.  He liked to go on road trips as we walked around the neighborhood.  He was more like a dog than a cat, but I don’t hold that against him.

Chessie had the most beautiful markings and eyes.  Big. aqua-green eyes, that were ringed with kohl.  He would sit in the middle of the street and vocalize at the mockingbirds on the wires above him.  It’s amazing he made it to 15.

He died Alpha cat here, but he never cared about status.  Just attention, belly rubs and plenty of love did it for him.

We brought him home and buried him in the rose garden by the east side of the house.  A pot of salmon colored geraniums and a few bulbs of purple alums will mark his grave.

Lady Nyo

“A Kapitany”, Chapter 35

October 5, 2014

Budapest Balcony with flowers

I started this novel seven years ago.  I dropped it, mainly because it started out with a bdsm theme and it fast queered me out.  I left it for 6 years, just dangling in my documents, but last year finished it.  The trick of this was the change in emphasis of theme.  Gone was the bdsm stuff  and the characters were able to develop.  The woman, Elizabeth more fully fleshed out, and Vadas, the former Dom, became more human.  Actually, besides an ‘action’ story, full of things like art thieves, violence and revenge, it also  became a love story between two very convoluted characters. I was able to research some historical information about WWII and what happened in Hungary and the ‘containment’ camps for Jews and all others, and especially what happened with the Soviet occupation.  All this information went into the novel and I believe deepened the plot.

I had a lot of fun this summer rewriting this.  Mostly tense changes and some other changes. This is just one chapter of 40 and perhaps I will post others later.

Lady Nyo

—-

Vadas slept badly. Shortly after dawn when first light appeared, he left the bed and stood watching Elizabeth, still sleeping. He avoided her questions the evening before, but she was no fool. She pressed him why Marcus was sitting in the hall of the lodge, obviously armed. Why the gun cabinet he was so careful about locking was unlocked and wide open. Why Maria wanted her company in the kitchen even though they couldn’t understand each other, and also because Maria wasn’t that welcoming of Vadas’ new squeeze. And why he had disappeared without notice.

Vadas avoided her questions until he started yelling at her. She didn’t back down. God, how she had changed in the months when he could do as he pleased! Now? She met him word for word, even yelling and stamping her foot. She was pushing him. He raised his hand, thinking she would shut up. He wouldn’t have hit her, just wanted her to stop with the questions. She looked shocked and then laughed. “You fall back into Hungarian because your English is so bad. Actually, it’s cute.” That had cut him. Cute? He was the Dom and didn’t think what he did was cute. What in hell was she thinking? Ah, there was no fear in this woman. She was fast getting the upper hand.

Vadas went downstairs. Maria must have gotten up even earlier as the coffee on the sideboard under the boar’s head was fresh, waiting for him. She must have heard the ruckus upstairs last night.

A cigarette and some coffee would concentrate his thoughts. He needed to think. He needed to get in control of Miklos and Elizabeth. Miklos was the serious threat, but Elizabeth was getting too bold. Ah, God. Women. If she wasn’t so fragile now, he would beat her. Of course he wouldn’t, but she needed to fear him a little.

It was still raining, but lighter today. The gloom outside fit his mood this morning. He looked out the window at the mass of trees and to the landscape stretching down the valley. There was a lot of land out there. He needed to put Elizabeth out there with a spade. Perhaps a plow. A big garden would tire her out, made her more docile.

Janos must have come in the middle of the night to lay the fire. Maria would be making breakfast soon. Elizabeth? Let her sleep. She probably was disturbed by his tossing in bed all those hours. By bed time they weren’t speaking. Like an old married couple, he thought with a sigh.

Miklos. He was in control now. His appearance (if that information was reliable) in Eger was part of his strategy. Andor was right: Miklos was playing cat and mouse. Vadas didn’t like being the mouse.

All this over a mere woman. No, that wasn’t right. Elizabeth was just a pawn in Miklos’ game. Actually a pawn in a shared game. He had done the unthinkable. He had pulled down the foundation of Miklos’ empire. Well, if not that, he certainly had disrupted his business. Why didn’t Miklos pick someone to replace him? He knew why. Twenty years and Miklos was comfortable the way things were. It was a delicate operation. Each man was necessary to the success of what they had been doing, illegal as it was. They were well honed parts of a particular machine. A man just didn’t walk into the job: years of risk and valued contacts, years of trust, at least with the clients. No, his wanting out had come from left field. Miklos didn’t believe he would walk away. It was an affront to his power and control. Of all injuries and insults, this was the one thing Miklos could not stand.

Vadas thought of the woman upstairs. It was an old tale, a classical tale. Both men wanted her. For different reasons, but both used her against the other. Vadas had used Elizabeth to break with Miklos; Miklos had used Elizabeth to break Vadas. It was like Achilles and Agamemnon, with Briesis between them. A long war with much causality until one defeated the other.

None of this was fair to Elizabeth. But women were pawns in the conflict between men. It had been so since the beginning of time. Why should it be any different now?

He felt like a sitting duck. Miklos was moving the pieces around the board right now. Well, there was nothing to be done about it except go on the offensive. Perhaps getting Elizabeth out of here for a while would give him time to develop his own plan besides sit and wait for Miklos to show his ass.

He sipped his coffee and decided he would take her to Budapest. Let her be introduced to the old girls there. It was right and proper she be brought before them anyhow. They shouldn’t meet her at the reception for the first time. Plus, he could kill two birds with one stone; he could meet with his wine clients and perhaps take in a museum or two. He had promised this to her before, and he had broke his promise. She was anxious, nervous. God knows she had reason to be. They were getting on each other’s nerves. A change of scenery would do them both good.

He would ask Zoltan to go with them. He would talk this crap through with Zoltan and get a better perspective. Right now he wanted to stalk Miklos to the ends of the earth, shoot him down in the street. He knew he had to be smarter if he wanted a future.

Vadas looked at his watch. Too early to call Andor and Marcus, but he wanted to meet with them before leaving. Perhaps they could meet together at Zoltan’s and lay down a plan while he was gone. Just talking it over with them would be good. Right now he was too close to the fire to think straight.

He heard someone in the dining room and thought Maria was bringing in breakfast. It was Elizabeth. She poured herself coffee and came into the room, saying nothing to him, only nodding her head.

“Good morning, Elizabeth. You sleep as badly as I did?”

“Your moving around in the bed didn’t help.” Elizabeth sat down across from him and looked out the window.

“I’m sorry, but I have a way to make it up to you.”

“What? Separate bedrooms?”

Vadas laughed uneasily. “No, smarty pants. That will never happen, not while we’re married. The winters up here are too fierce for that. No, I was thinking we go to Budapest later today to visit the aunties and play tourist.”

Elizabeth looked over the rim of her cup. “Are you serious, Vadas? Look me in the eye and say that?”

Vadas laughed. “So, you are picking up the phrases? Good, you need to learn if you live in Hungary.”

He sipped his coffee.

“Yes, would you like that? A change of scenery will do us both good. I am going to ask Zoltan to come with us. He needs a vacation, too.”

“I would like to see Zoltan. I would also like to see Budapest, again. This time with you instead of seeing it alone.”

She put her cup on the hearth. “Vadas? I want to pick up art supplies while we are there. I need to get back to my painting. I think it will calm me.”

“Then we will do it, Elizabeth. And it is time you met the aunties. We will stay maybe for three days. I will have to visit some of my wine clients while we are there, but you will enjoy that. We will go play the tourist like I promised.”

“Thank you, Vadas.” Elizabeth gave him a wry smile. “I’m sorry we fought last night. I didn’t enjoy it at all.”

“Well, that was hardly a fight, Elizabeth. The big ones come later in marriage.”   Vadas smiled into his cup.

“Vadas? Don’t ever raise your hand to me again. I am not a dog to discipline. You do, and I will be on the next plane back to the states.”

There was no mistaking her. Her tone said it all. Vadas knew she would do just that.

“I’m sorry, Elizabeth. You were pushing me. A man doesn’t like to be pushed. And, my English is good, not ‘cute’.”

“And a woman deserves answers, especially when it concerns her life.” Elizabeth stared into the low fire.

She would have the last word this morning, thought Vadas. Let her be difficult. She would come to know he was the man and a man didn’t answer every whine.

“Vadas, can we see Soffia in Budapest? I sort of miss her.”

“Sure, Elizabeth. You can call and warn her. I’m sure she wants to see you, too. But don’t think the old aunties want to see her. They never approved of Soffia, not in all these years.” Vadas laughed.

“Why, because she is a lesbian?”

“No, because they wanted me to get married after Marta, and Soffia looked too fast for their idea of a wife.”

Vadas stretched, the tension of last night mostly resolved.

“Look, Elizabeth. I go see Zoltan. I won’t be long. I need to talk to him. You go pack and pack for me, too. It will give you good practice when we marry.” Vadas half closed his eyes and smiled at her. Now, he would have the last word.

While Elizabeth was upstairs he called Andor. They agreed to meet at Zoltan’s. Then he called Zoltan to let him know he was coming. Gulping down one last cup of coffee and chewing on some bacon, he left before Elizabeth could appear and ask more questions.

Vadas met Marcus and Andor on the road to Zoltan’s cottage. Again the same dog met them at the gate and again Zoltan’s cousin yelled at the cur. It ran to the back under the house. Zoltan was in his favorite chair, his shoes propped up on the fender of the woodstove. It was early, but he was drinking plum wine. The cousin brought in a tray with a bottle and glasses. She left it on the table with a large sausage and a knife. The men found places to sit and Vadas poured out the wine.

“Well, Zoltan. We got news Miklos was seen in Eger yesterday. Maybe true, maybe not. But I have men there watching. It’s a big town, and Miklos knows the hiding places. But so do the men. We will see what happens. You up for a trip to Budapest?”

Zoltan blew out smoke and nodded. “Sure, sure, I’m up for anything right now. I’m getting stir crazy sitting here. I got my pills. I can visit a woman I know. Fine, but I drive, Vadas. We will make it with our lives spared.”

The other men laughed. Vadas drove too fast, talked too much and drove with his knees, his arms flailing around with his talking. Only Zoltan was used to his ways, but now? He decided he had tempted fate enough and wasn’t a cat with nine lives. Being in Vadas’ company was dangerous enough. He would drive.

“What about Miklos’ men? Has anyone seen or heard of them lately?” Vadas lit another cigarette.

“Nah, only that Barna is still bitching about his finger. He can’t grip his cock with his hand missing a finger,” Marcus said.

The men laughed. “Barna better be grateful Vadas left him his cock to play with,” said Zoltan.

“What about this Ukrainian?”

“Nobody has seen him, Vadas, but he’s probably lying low. What happened to Barna sent a clear message to those dickheads.”

“To some of them. Some need to clean the wax out of their ears.”

There was nothing new so they decided to continue to wait and see. Sooner or later they would flush out Miklos and his merry men. It was a dangerous game all around, but they had little to go on. They could wait. Miklos would come to them, eventually. The point was not to fall into another trap. That would mean ‘game over.’

Jane Kohut-Bartels

Copyrighted, 2014


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