Posts Tagged ‘poetry’

“Darwin’s Worms”

May 26, 2020

DARWIN’S WORMS

 

The soil has lost its excellence.

Worms hide in the

Deep sullen earth

I imagine curled up,

Embracing worm castings

And each other,

Desiccated former selves

Pale little ghosts

Awaiting the fertility of spring

The watering of a hard rain.

 

I squandered the bloom months,

Thinking paper and pen

Would bring its own blossoming

Scarcely seeing the vitality outside

Windows,

Allowing cabbage moths and beetles

To dominate

My nod to farming,

To self-sufficiency,

My tithe to the earth.

 

Ah, the soil is hardened

By the sins of the season.

Sharp winds make

Furrows

The cold buries down,

Deep, deep down

Torments, teases any life

That would show a feckless head.

 

Especially those hopeful worms

Now bundled in worm-sleep.

 

The words, verse,

I chose to cultivate

Over cabbage, collards

Failed to bloom.

Better I had plied the hoe

And bucket to that

Than a fevered pen

To paper.

 

It is now winter.

The fallow earth

Plays a waiting game

Knows I have failed

In pulp and soil

And mocks with a barrenness

Inside and out.

 

Jane Kohut-Bartels

Copyrighted, 2018-2020

 

 

 

 

 

 

I Feel The Rain”….

May 15, 2020

Kohut-Bartels-LS-18

 

I feel the rain waiting to be born.
I hear the banshee wind
Racing round eaves,
Scaring the attic haunts,
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 2019

“Autumn Dusk”

September 16, 2019

Kohut-Bartels-LS-19

(Painting above by the author below)

 

AUTUMN DUSK

 

Stuttering winds blow across
Clouds tinted by the failing sun.
Brittle air softens,
Now a faded blue–
Shade of an old man’s watery eyes.

A late flock of Sandhill cranes lift off,
Pale bodies blending in the
Twilight with legs
Flowing dark streamers,
Their celestial cries fall to
Earth–
A harsh, chiding rain.

The trees in the valley
Are massed in darkness
As waning light leaches
Color from nature,
Creeps from field to hillock
And all below prepares for the
Rising of the Corn Moon.

Even frogs in the pond
Listen between croaks
For the intention of the night.

 

Jane Kohut-Bartels
Copyrighted, 2017-2019

 

“Snakes in the ‘Hood”

September 5, 2019

snake

Husband went out this morning to collect the eggs from the hen house  and there was our now-resident snake, Snakipoo.  He was wanting his breakfast, too.  Fred backed away and the snake stood (or coiled) his ground.

I wrote the following poem in 2017 and got a lot of grief because of it.  Too bad.  The ignorance about wildlife around SW Atlanta, would fill a river with hawks shot out of the branches of trees because “They are Chicken Hawks” and even if you DON’T have chickens, hawks are still ‘fair game’.  It’s just ignorance and hopefully these folk will die off and some ecological sanity will prevail.

Lady Nyo

SNAKES IN THE ‘HOOD

“When people see a snake, they think a serpent.

When they think serpent, they see Satan” 

….former State Rep. Douglas Dean, who was arrested for carrying a packet of cocaine in his wallet.

 

 

Oh, my dear garden snakes,

Run and hide in the leaf litter!

You appear each spring

Birthed from that old stump,

Your beautiful duns, browns, moss greens

Intermingling with last year’s fallen leaves.

 

I remember you as divine jewelry

Around my slender wrists as a child.

You terrified the adults

And transformed me into Cleopatra.

 

A box under my bed

Disturbed by a dust mop,

A dozen of you slithered out.

The 200 year old wood floors,

Cold on your bellies.

 

The head of the dust mop screamed

And I never could find you all.

Did you disappear out that window

Where you dropped to the ground?

 

I mourned for those missing,

Learned adults didn’t care

For the miracles of nature:

Eating blackberries from

A stretch of rambling bushes,

A July North Carolina sun

Warm for the mountains

And below me,

A cottonmouth doing the same.

 

I backed out of fear and respect,

But the blackberries were good

And enough for both to share.

 

I remember the black racers

Hanging in the pine trees

And we children dared each other

To run under them,

Hoping one of us would get squeezed

In your embracing coils

But it never happened.

You knew our game.

 

In cultures you snakes

Were the umbilical cord

Joining all humans to Mother Earth.

 

In ancient Crete

You were the guardians

Of the Goddess’ great mysteries

Of birth and regeneration.

 

The Hopi Indians

Joined the snake of the Sky Spirit

With the snake of the Earth

And dancing with them in great reverence,

Loosened them into the fields

Where the golden corn was growing

To bless and secure their fertility.

 

No garden hoe will touch you,

My dear little garden snakes,

No stoning of your innocence,

I will gather your twine-ing bodies

And lift you above the ignorance of bigotry.

 

They violate their God’s dictates

“Even to the lesser of you amongst us”

And you without limbs or voice

are surely that.

 

If not beloved by God,

Surely,

You will be beloved by me.

 

Jane Kohut-Bartels

Copyrighted, 2017-2019

 

 

 

III

 

 

CHICKEN HAWK TALK

“The Dark Leans in”

August 25, 2019

Great Horned Owl with Moon

 

The dark leaned in, cool and necessary

The wind quiets the

hambone frenzy of wind chimes.

They ceased their cacophony,

To let the birds this spring night

test their dusk-calls,

unsure of voices muted

by the silence of winter past.

 

Off in the distance a lone train whistle

perhaps the last train home

Before night blackens the earth.

 

 

How silent the night!

Now given to owls

the piteous cries of mourning doves

And the rustle of something

In the tall weeds,

Something mysterious-

But probably not.

 

The night is the territory of creatures

With night vision and silent flights

Of owls with upturned ends of wings,

Silent, silent, deadly drones

Red eyes like spooks

And talons like razors.

A banshee scream of hunter

And the resounding cry of prey

Makes the heart leap into the night.

 

No man walks about the dark,

No one would without some primordial fear

Knowing what is given by nature is not

On par with the lowliness creature of this dark.

 

Only the slight babble of the brook,

The brook that fears no rocks

Or fallen limbs or anything except drought

Makes the link to daylight where we

Are sure of our place, our courage renewed.

 

The night belongs to other species

As the dark leans in, cool and necessary

The wind picks up and rattles leaves beneath our feet

And we turn our steps towards a world

Of less mystery.

 

Jane Kohut-Bartels

Copyrighted, 2016-19

Kobayashi Issa, A Haiku Poet with an Enormous Heart

August 5, 2019

Kobayashi Issa, (1763-1827)

Savannah Birds

 

“Song of the Nightingale”.  Watercolor by the author.

I have had “The Essential haiku: Versions of Basho, Buson, and Issa” for a few years and have only really gotten to Basho. But recently reading Issa, (Issa means Cup-of-Tea), the world of haiku opened up in ways I didn’t expect. I have spent my Easter weekend delighting in Issa’s poetry, and it has begun to restore my battered humanity.

What is remarkable about Issa’s poetry is the compassion for the lowest of creatures (insects, etc.), the deep interest in the commonalities of life, compassion for humanity, and the celebration of the joyful celebration of the ordinary.

Haiku can be a perplexing poetry form. Recently I have read a lot of bad haiku. I’ve written about this before. (I’ve also written bad haiku myself) It seems people throw together observations and call it haiku. It generally isn’t. There are ‘rules’ and structures for this poetry form, and it seems that many people who attempt haiku have no regard for even reading or researching some of these fundamentals. If they started with a reading and research of renga, they would get some background of haiku, or hokku, which is what haiku was first called.

Renga, or linked verse, is marvelous to read. One poet starts with a three line poem, another picks it up, and so on. They can go on for a hundred linked poems or more. Usually accompanied by sake.

What was remarkable of renga, and later of haiku…is the shifts and dissolves that remind one of early surrealist films. And there are some modernist poets, like Ezra Pound’s XXX Cantos, or even better, Wallace Stevens’s “Thirteen Ways of Looking at a Blackbird” that comes near to the renga spirit, this shifting and resolve.

But the Buddhist tradition embraced this shifting and resolve. Renga, and then haiku, have a way of embracing this life, this transitory nature of all things.

I came across a part of a 14th century treatise on poetry: “Contemplate deeply the vicissitudes of the life of man and body, always keep in your heart the image of mujo (ephemerality) and when you go to the mountains or the sea, feel the pathos (aware) of the karma of sentient beings and non-sentient things. Give feeling to those things without a heart (mushintai no mono) and through your own heart express their beauty (yugen) in a delicate form.”(from “Basho and the Way of Poetry in the Japanese Religious Tradition”)

Again, haiku isn’t as simple as it seems. But it’s direct, forceful and of a keenness that satisfies.

People complain of the ‘oddness’ of haiku. Perhaps it is this ‘shifts and resolve’ embedded in the form. To me, Issa has less of this than Basho or Buson. There is a directness and compassion of Issa that deeply involves the heart and eyes.

My words will not convince anyone. But perhaps examples of Issa will.

Lady Nyo

Haiku of Issa: from The Essential Haiku, edited by Robert Hass

 

New Year’s Day—

Everything is in blossom!

I feel about average.

The snow is melting

And the village is flooded

With children.

Don’t worry, spiders,

I keep house

Casually.

Goes out,

Comes back—

The loves of a cat.

Children imitating cormorants

Are even more wonderful

Than cormorants.

O flea! Whatever you do,

Don’t jump.

That way is the river.

In this world

We walk on the roof of hell,

Gazing at flowers.

Don’t kill that fly!

Look—it’s wringing its hands

Wringing its feet.

I’m going out,

Flies, so relax,

Make love.

(approaching his village)

Don’t know about the people,

But all the scarecrows

Are crooked.

A huge frog and I,

Staring at each other,

Neither of us moves.

All the time I pray to Buddha

I keep on

Killing mosquitoes.

What good luck!

Bitten by

This year’s mosquitoes too.

The bedbug

Scatter as I clean,

Parents and children.

And my personal favorite…

Zealous flea,

You’re about to be a Buddha

By my hand.

A few of my own, struggling with the form.

Dogwoods are blooming.

The crucifixion appears

White moths in the night.

Tibetan earthworms

Bring a halt to all labor.

Here? Fat koi eat well.

Radishes are Up!

From such tiny seeds they grow

My stomach rumbles.

The morning glories

Twisting up the iron fence

paint random colors.

Sorrow floats like air

Strong winds blow throughout the night

Plague of death descends.

Pale lavender sky

Balances the moon and sun

The scale shifts to night.

Jane Kohut-Bartels

Copyrighted, 2013-2015

 

 

 

 

 

“The Apple Tree”

August 2, 2019

Kohut-Bartels-LS-2

 

I looked at the apple tree today,

the one the storm did not take,

and saw it still full of apples,

mottled, green/red fruit, some

rotted through with ants eating

at the brown-turning flesh

and I thought of the last months

and what was ripening inside you

and we still didn’t know….

when your breasts were like

the now ripening apples, globes of heaviness, topped with brown nipples.

 

They lay cradled in my hands warm with life and I could feel them pulse,

the river inside still flowing.

 

Jane Kohut-Bartels

Copyrighted, 2019

“Bhava Yoga”…..

July 30, 2019

Kohut-Bartels-LS-18

(A landscape I did in England years ago…)

 

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, 2019

 

 

 

“High Road”…a poem

July 29, 2019

Kohut-Bartels-BOP-5.jpg

For Frank T, Steve New and Frank H, and Kim Russell.  I’m flying with you guys, I’m tired of the crows…

 

High Road

 

Asking directions to the high road,

I got shrugs and blank stares

yet knew there were two roads-

both led into infinity

both coursed through

all manner of life with pitfalls, trenches

where bones were broken

skulls rattled loose from moorings

like ships in high winds, dangerous waters.

 

What was the difference

and why should it matter?

The effort costs

energy regardless the choosing.

 

An old man sat at the crossroads,

a bum, grizzled gray hair

sprouting porcupine’s quills,

rheumy, pale eyes staring at the world–

little interest in what passed.

 

I asked him the way to the High Road

and with a toothless grin

he stared at my feet, my hands,

lifted his eyes to my face.

I thought him mad and cursed myself

(asking questions of a fool!)

And was moving away when I heard his voice:

 

“Did I know of the eagle and crow,

how they soared upon thermals

higher and higher

became dark, formless specks upon a limitless sky,

lost to human eye, invisible even to gods?”

 

I thought him crazed and started away-

he cackled and spat on the ground.

Something made me turn, startled,

And saw the wisdom of Solomon in his

now- shining eyes.

 

 

“The crow harries the eagle, the eagle flies higher.

Vengeful, annoying crow flies round eagle’s wing

turning this way and that, yet the eagle flaps upward

soars upon thinning air until the crow

breathless and spent, drops to the common ground-

falls to his death.”

 

“The High Road, the path of the eagle.

The low road, the path of the crow,

mingling with dullards

daring nothing, with eyes cast downward

only saving a bit of energy

learning nothing of worth.”

 

Silently he sat, an old man

eyes glazed with age and fatigue.

With a nod to his wisdom and a toss of a coin

I gathered my strength and pushed onward,

Upwards, the lift of eagles, now under my limbs.


 

Jane Kohut-Bartels

Copyrighted, 2017-2019

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

“Musings On A Closing Day”

July 19, 2019

black kimono

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, 2016-2019


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