Posts Tagged ‘poetry’

“Rain Waiting to be Born”

June 22, 2018


(Watercolor, Jane Kohut-Bartels, 2004?)

Second day of summer, much like late spring and we haven’t any real storms in Atlanta to take away the dust and parchedness.  I am praying for rain, any rain.  A good thunderstorm (sans tornado) would be nice about now.

Lady Nyo


I feel the rain waiting to be born.
I hear the banshee wind
Racing around eaves,
Scaring the haunts in the attic,
Making hambone frenzy with
Powdery limbs.


Trees now tilting whirligigs
Ancient pin, water oaks
Dancing St. Germaine’s dance–
Frenzy below amongst quilted colors
Ruffling the feathers of nature
Tossing the spectrum wide.

I smell mossy rain finally born,
Hear the clatter on a tin roof
Smell again the musty fog
Born of a sullen, moaning stream
And head for bed under the eaves,
Shared with a Banshee wind
And a hambone frenzy until dawn.


Jane Kohut-Bartels

Copyrighted, 2018

“Musings On A Closing Day”

June 19, 2018

Mt. fuji women


I move my chair
to observe Mt. Fuji-
monstrous perfection
topped with the cooling crust
of spring snows.

Languid movement
of a branch,
like a geisha
unfurling her arm
from a gray kimono,
makes petals fall,
a scented, pink snow
covering my upturned face
with careless kisses.

Timid winds caress
my limbs,
a fleeting relief
to tired bones
brittle now with
a sullen defeat of life.

Raked sand of garden
waves barely disturbed
by feet like two gray stones
as grains flow
round ankles.

I realize once again
I am no obstacle to
the sands of time.

My heart is quieted
by the passage of nothing
for in this nothing
is revealed the fullness of life.


Jane Kohut-Bartels
Copyrighted, 2016-2018

“Bhava Yoga”

May 22, 2018


(Watercolor by Jane Kohut-Bartels)

Bhava Yoga

Morning’s roseate sky
Has been blasted away,
Branches now whirligigs
Swirl with a fierce southern wind
As windows rattle in frames.

A tattered umbrella
Shades from a relentless sun.
I listen to Bhava Yoga
The vibration of Love,
Where imagination meets
Memory in the dark.
Yet surrounding these soothing tones
The world outside this music
Conspires to disrupt, sweep away
All thought, reflection.

The fierce wind gets my attention.
I can not deny its primal force.

Still, the pulse of Bhava Yoga
Draws me within,
Feeds imagination with memory,
Calls forth something as enduring as the fury outside,
And I feel the pulse of the infinite.
We are like birds,
Clinging with dulled claws to
The swaying branches of life.

Jane Kohut-Bartels
Copyrighted, 2014 (from Pitcher of Moon,, 2014)


“Basho on Poetry: Learn from the Pine”

May 9, 2018

waterlily in our pond.

In rereading these words of Basho, I am struck to the core.  Oddness and plainness speaks to not only haiku but so much of poetry.  I struggled to learn Japanese aesthetics but I missed something fundamental.  I think Basho hits the nails on the heads.  There is so much ‘truth’ to what he says here that I want to understand and experience this honest approach to poetry, as Basho details below.  I keep reading it, over and over, and each time something else is revealed in his words.

These are excerpts from a rather long document by Basho, considered to be the top haiku poet of the 17th century. I am presenting these thoughts of his because they ‘make clear and plain’ what Basho believes is the correct approach to haiku. Today, lots of poets are attempting haiku, and missing by a wide streak. This is sad, but also represents a lack of study, perhaps pure laziness, and as one poet said: “Every thing I learned about haiku, I learned from the internet.”

This is especially sad, but an honest statement from one poet. There are enough books on haiku out there, and by masters of haiku, too, to read and learn from. That is not to say that haiku is easy. It looks easy, but isn’t. At least attending to some of words of poets like Basho will give us a hint.

Perhaps these words will help in our forming our own haiku. I offer some of my own, but these were formed before I had read Basho. Perhaps readers will see the struggle to form haiku. Writing haiku is definitely a learning process that should take a long time of study and contemplation.

Lady Nyo


Learn about the pines from the pine, and about bamboo from the bamboo.
Don’t follow in the footsteps of the old poets, seek what they sought.
The basis of art is change in the universe. What’s still has changeless form. Moving things change, and because we cannot put a stop to time, it continues unarrested. To stop a thing would be to halve a sight or sound in our heart. Cherry blossoms whirl, leaves fall, and the wind flits them both along the ground. We cannot arrest with our eyes or ears what lies in such things. Were we to gain mastery over them, we would find that the life of each thing had vanished without a trace.

Make the universe your companion, always bearing in mind the true nature of things—mountains and rivers, trees and grasses, and humanity—and enjoy the falling blossoms and the scattering leaves.

One should know that a hokku is made by combining things.
The secret of poetry lies in treading the middle path between the reality and the vacuity of the world.


One must first of all concentrate one’s thoughts on an object. Once the mind achieves a state of concentration and the space between oneself and the object had disappeared, the essential nature of the object can be perceived. Then express it immediately. If one ponders it, it will vanish from the mind.

Sabi is the color of the poem. It does not necessarily refer to the poem that describes a lonely scene. If a man goes to war wearing stout armor or to a party dressed up in gay clothes, and if this man happens to be an old man, there is something lonely about him. Sabi is something like that.

When you are composing a verse, quickly say what is in your mind; never hesitate a moment.

Composition must occur in an instant, like a swordsman leaping at his enemy.
Is there any good in saying everything?

In composing hokku, there are two ways: becoming and making. When a poet who has been assiduous in pursuit of his aim applies himself to an external object, the color of his mind naturally becomes a poem. In the case of the poet who has not done so, nothing in him will become a poem; he makes the poem through an act of personal will.

There are three elements in haikai: Its feeling can be called loneliness (sabi). This plays with refined dishes but contents itself with humble fare. Its total effect can be called elegance. This lives in figured silks and embroidered brocades but does not forget a person clad in woven straw. Its language can be called aesthetic madness.

Language resides in untruth and ought to comport with truth. It is difficult to reside in truth and sport with untruth. These three elements do not exalt a humble person to heights. They put an exalted person in a low place.

The profit of haikai lies in making common speech right.

Haikai needs more homely images, such as a crow picking mud snails in a rice paddy.

In humanity, there can be something called a windswept spirit. A thin drapery torn and swept away by the stirring of the wind. Indeed, since beginning to write poetry, it (this windswept spirit…this dissatisfaction (my word) knows no other art than the art of writing poetry and therefore it hangs on to it more or less blindly.
Poetry is a fireplace in summer or a fan in winter.

How invincible is the power of poetry to reduce me (Basho) to a tattered beggar!
It is the poetic spirit called furabo that leads one to follow nature and become a friend with things of the seasons. Flowers, moon, insects, etc. For those who do not see the flower are no different from barbarians, and those who do not imagine the moon are akin to beasts. Leave barbarians and beasts behind and follow nature and return to nature.
The bones of haiku are plainness and oddness.
From: Basho on Poetry.

Lady Nyo’s examples of early haiku.

Pale lavender sky
Balances the moon and sun
The scale shifts to night.

Under the dark moon
I awaited your return
Only shadows came.

A swirl of blossoms
Caught in the water’s current
Begins the season.

Dogwoods blooming
The crucifixion appears
White moths in the night.

(this last haiku is my favorite…)

Jane Kohut-Bartels
Copyrighted, 2018



“Haiku Mind”….

May 7, 2018


(“Daffodils”, watercolor, Jane Kohut-Bartels, 2003)

Well, attempting it.  These haiku are some of my very first and are hit and miss.  My study of haiku was slight when I began to write them, so I have a lot to catch up on.  The study of haiku no michi (following the way of haiku in daily life) is a way to open the heart and mind to the present moment.  Attempting now a more formal study of this ‘michi’.

Lady Nyo

Pale lavender sky
Balances the moon and sun
The scale shifts to night.


Fallen leaves crackle.
Sparrows add the treble notes.
Season’s musical.


Dogwoods blooming
The crucifixion appears
White moths in the night.


Fall’s crispness compels
Apples to tumble from trees.
Worms make the journey.


The frost at morning
Makes the birds plump their feathers
Squirrels add chatter.


A swirl of blossoms
Caught in the water’s current
Begins the season.


Jane Kohut-Bartels
Copyrighted, 2018






“Muses”, for Read Toads poetry

May 3, 2018


(My Garden Spot…watercolor, Jane Kohut-Bartels, 2003)

I am my own muse.
I never did believe
In them.
Too shady, too fleeting
To depend upon their presence.

Like a song on the air,
They floated away before
I got attached, dependent
On their offerings.

They never showed up when I needed them,
Leaving me holding empty hands.

I am my own muse
With the pain it brings
With the pain of life
I can’t escape.

Jane Kohut-Bartels
Copyrighted, 2018


“Moon Child”, from “Song of the Nightingale”

April 26, 2018

Song Book cover

A few years ago I wrote and published “Song of the Nightingale”, on Amazon.  It was written in 13 episodes about a 16th century Japanese couple, married for decades and without children.  This series of poetry became part of “The Kimono”, to be published sometime this summer.

“Tsuki” is a word for moon.  Jizo is a Japanese Shinto god.

Lady Nyo was barren, a ‘stone’ woman.
Once there was hope of heirs,
Babies to raise, coddle.
But fate provided nothing
Not even a stillborn to mourn,
Buried under the snow
With the fog of incense rising
To a leaden sky.

Many times Lady Nyo
Passed the temple of the humble Lord Jizo,
Riding in her palm-leaf carriage
Drawn by white oxen adorned with ribbons, bells.
Many times she peeked through curtains
At his simple, stone statue,
Bedecked with babies’ bids, knitted hats,
The offering of a grateful mother, or
A mournful one.

Ah! To be as much a woman
As her lowest servant with a swelling belly!
How she wanted to leave her own offering
Of her child’s garment at his feet!


Lady Nyo decided to make a pilgrimage.
She would walk barefoot through the fragrant murasaki grass,
She would wear a humble hemp gown,
She would seek advice from temple priests.

Lady Nyo and her old nurse set out one morning,
And though her old nurse grumbled and groaned,
Lady Nyo was the vision of piety walking
Through the delicate morning mists –
These frail ghosts of nothingness.

The priest had a long, red nose,
Wore a robe none too clean,
And he scratched at lice
Under the folds of his gown.
He had feathers growing in his ears
And feet like a large bird.

A Tengu!
A trifler of men and women!
But they were staring at his nose,
And missed his feet.

“When the Moon grows full,
Row out in the bay,
Directly under the Moon
And climb up a long ladder.
You will be pulled by the Moon’s tides
To its surface,
And there you will find what you want.”

When the Moon blossomed into a large
Bright lantern in the sky,
They rowed out in the bay,
Two trusted ladies to steady the ladder
And one to spare.
Lady Nyo kicked off her geta,
Tucked her gown into the obi
(exposing her lady-parts),
And ignoring the remarks of her old nurse,
Climbed directly under the Moon.

So powerful
Was the pull of the Moon
That fish and crabs,
Seahorses and seaweed,
Octopi, too
Rose straight up from the waters
Into the night’s air!
Lady Nyo’s hair and sleeves
Were also pulled by the Moon
And her kimono almost came over her head!

With a summersault
She flipped onto the surface
And found her bare feet
Sinking into the yellow-tofu of the Moon.

She heard a gurgling
And gurgling meant babies,
So she searched on spongy ground
Followed by a few seahorses who were curious
And a few fish who weren’t.

Past prominent craters
One could see from Earth,
Lady Nyo found a baby tucked in the Moon’s soil.

Ah! A fat little boy blowing bubbles,
Sucking on toes,
Bright black eyes like pebbles
Black hair as thick as brocade!

Lady Nyo bent down,
And lifting him
She heard a sucking noise.
He was attached to the Moon
By a longish tail
That thrashed around like a little snake
As she pulled him free.

She placed him at her milk-less breast
But soon he grimaced and started to howl,
So she tucked him in her robe,
Aimed for the ladder,
Somersaulted back into the night,
Where she and her ladies rowed for shore.

The baby, now named Tsuki,
Was put to a wet nurse
His tail mostly disappearing,
Shriveling up like a proper umbilical cord–
Though there remained a little vestigial tail
That wagged with anticipation when placed at the breast,
Or when the full Moon appeared
In the black bowl of night.

The Tengu had flown the coop,
Never to be seen again.
But Lady Nyo no longer envied ladies
With swelling bellies,
For her own arms were full and heavy
With this yellow Moon-child.

Through fragrant fields
Of murasaki grass,
Lady Nyo and Tsuki
Would walk alone,
Where they would lay
Offerings of knitted bibs,
Strings of money, toys
And a feather
At the feet of Lord Jizo,
When the Moon was fullest
In a promising sky.

Jane Kohut-Bartels
Copyrighted, 2011-2018

“Food Chain”

April 18, 2018
My beautiful picture

To the East at morning

OLN  (Open Link Night) at is always an interesting read of poetry.  No prompts, the poets pick what they will post there. That’s Thursday, after 3pm.



Are we really
At the top of the food chain
Or is this the conceit
Of humanity
Hit over the head with theology
And the further conceit
That Mankind has
Dominion- Over- the- Earth?

I see a bit of a food chain,
But it blurs when reality comes close.

Yesterday, the Coroner dragged a body bag
Out of the woods and over the rocks.
A homeless man died in those woods
The fox and worms and unknown things
Had at him.

He was light as a feather,
Inconsequential, probably never more
In the eyes of most while he breathed.

He must have been.
It took only one man to drag
Him like so much garbage
To the van in the street,
Bumping him over the pavement,

knocking his bones against the curb.

So….the food chain
Gets blurred, confused
In the light of actual life.
And those who say that we are the wisest
The most intelligent–
Still allow their species to die in the cold,
To rot yards from their warm houses
To be fed upon by wildlife
Who are waiting for our stupidity
To reveal the real food chain that exists
Under our noses.

Jane Kohut-Bartels
Copyrighted, 2018




“Foxtail”, a poem

April 10, 2018



(“Pitcher of Moon” available at





Great winds come

Before a storm,

Tree branches pinwheel near Heaven

One shakes like a foxtail

Near the ground.


All this wind!

I think of the impermanence of life

The ghost-smoke of one loved, now gone.


Even the snow falls to the ground

But you have disappeared into air.


Perhaps that foxtail

Sends greetings

To comfort the heart?


Jane Kohut-Bartels

Copyrighted, 2018, from “Pitcher of Moon”.

“Easter Morning”

April 5, 2018


It’s OLN at  Come over and read some great poetry.


The wind chimes are fierce
This Easter morning.
We thought of church where we would be aliens
Unknown and suspect, sitting on hard wooden pews; trespassers.

The music of the spheres
Is not out in the black of night
Does not pass from  star to star
As tones of energy or an ocean of harmony
But is carried by the wind from the east
That tallies majesty
With the music of wind chimes
More glorious than any carillon this morning.

I am soothed by a spirit
Random and precise,
Almost tangible blustering
piercing my heart
As it jangles the simple vehicle of
Hollow metal pipes
And awakes me to life.

Jane Kohut-Bartels

Copyrighted 2018


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