Posts Tagged ‘new Metropolitan Library’

“Tanka for Almost Spring”

March 17, 2016
My beautiful picture

corner of my front garden


I am giving a presentation April 18th, at our new, local library.  It’s a beautiful building, using parts of the old Baptist church that was torn down a few years ago.  Stained glass windows, and four elegant columns are fronting this very modern building outside at the street.

I have an issue:  this neighborhood is not an area of highly educated residents.  It has a lot of people  on public assistance and frankly. the schools are substandard. It also has black youth gangs, who roam the neighborhoods and cause a lot of trouble, anger and damage.  So, Tanka is a rather rare form and certainly unknown to the majority of residents here.  My aim is to bring tanka to this audience and to try to spark their own abilities to write poetry.

There is no guarantee that many or any will attend, but the librarians know the issues here and are reaching out to different areas.  I am grateful for their efforts because tanka has the ability to speak to souls.  I see what the exposure to Japanese poetry did for my own soul, and I think that perhaps it could do some of the same for the directionless black youth in the neighborhood. We will see what happens here. Also, these tanka are very early in my study, so I would say  these pieces don’t exactly meet tanka ingredients.  Generally there is a need of a ‘kigo’ word, and I see that most of these don’t have that.   But as poetry, they pass.

Lady Nyo



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.


Like the lithe bowing

Of a red maple sapling

My heart turns to you,

Yearns for those nights long ago

When pale skin challenged the moon.


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.

Autumn wind startles–

Lowered to an ominous

Key—Ah! Mournful sounds!

The fat mountain deer listen-

Add their bellowing sorrow.



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 (some of these tanka were published in “White Cranes of Heaven”,, 2011)



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