Posts Tagged ‘poetry’

“The Kimono” Chapter 3

June 10, 2020

Know that this chapter has SEX in it.  If offended by the subject….Don’t Read.

MARI WAS CAPTURED within the web of a warrior with two swords under his sash, probably a very violent man, but one who wrote exquisite verse. Lord Tetsu caught her watching his face and abruptly ended his recitation of a poem. Without thinking, she reached out her left hand to his arm, her eyes swimming with tears. She was moved beyond measure with the contradictions of this man. She felt a tenderness she had not been able to feel for a long time. He grabbed her hand and pulled it into the breast of his kimono, staring at her. She, realizing he had mistaken her gesture, tried to pull back her arm, but the deed was done. Lord Tetsu stood up, pulling her to him. She shook her head.

“No, I am married.”

Laughing, he threw back his head. “Yet here you are in my chamber, naked, and you expect me to let you go? Remember you were brought here by magic and for my usage. Did you think the morning would be spent in poetry alone?” He grabbed her hands and the quilt fell off her shoulders. “I can smell your scent. You are aroused by your curiosity. You wonder what it would be like to be taken by a samurai, Woman-called-Mari. You will find out.”

He threw Mari on the futon and dropped his swords, laying them out of her reach. Untying his various kimonos, he discarded the two outer ones and left the white linen undergarment. He wore the trousers of the samurai and, with his eyes on the woman cowered below him, untied the

drawstring and let his pants fall to the ground. Mari’s eyes widened. He was a large man in life and equal to that beneath his kimono. He threw himself over her and in a low voice whispered, “Idu-go, Idu-e.” (“One moment, only once.”) He trapped her face in his large hand, his eyes holding her gaze. “The pain will be only one moment’s worth, you will fill with me and be grateful. Now, Woman-called-Mari, kiss me without struggling, for I like a docile woman in my bed.”

Mari was pinned beneath him and could only claw his shoulders. He raised himself and laughed, trapped both of her hands in his and pulled them above her head, grasping them with one of his hands. He crushed her mouth with a hard kiss. Mari moaned and spat at him, outraged at this treatment. He reached over the side of the futon and picked up a sash. Looping it firmly around her hands, he tied them to a pillar at the top of the futon.

“Stop it, stop it! I am a married woman!”

“Yet you are naked under me and aroused without my touching you.”

It was true. The sensible modern Mari was outraged at this behavior but her body was provoked in spite of her. Something stronger was at play than feminist convictions. She felt her body was abandoning her mind. Surely he knew she was not a peasant woman or a prostitute who would spread her legs for a few coins. With a mixture of tenderness and wildness, Lord Tetsu worked his way down her body, kissing her neck, her breasts and finally, her sex.

Mari’s plea for him to stop had changed to moans, the sounds of a growing desire. Her husband never made love to her this way, in fact, he avoided all such foreplay. Mari could not help but moan louder. Her face was a stretched frenzy, her eyes fluttering back into their sockets. Lord Tetsu then entered her. Mari gasped and bucked but he kept going until he was like a sword sheathed to the hilt. Her passion was now fully inflamed.

“Oh, untie me, untie my arms, please, let me embrace you,”

 

Mari begged. Lord Tetsu untied her arms but held them firmly. He moved in her slowly as she adjusted to him. Mari gasped, the sensations so strong she couldn’t hold back. The power of his thrusts increased as she tipped to the edge. With a yell, she climaxed, her body shaking, her voice something she didn’t recognize as her own. Moments later, Lord Tetsu joined in her delirium and with a groan, released himself. Joined together tightly, they lay panting on the futon. Mari had never experienced such intensity with a man. She curled into his arms and sobbed softly.

“You are a lovely flower. Your husband has riches he cannot count.”

Mari shuddered at the mention of her husband. She had never opened to Steven like she had to this man. It took a stranger for her to experience such arousal. The rest of the morning and into the evening they made love and wrote poetry. Mari composed haiku and recited her verses. He was tolerant of her efforts and threw back his head and laughed at her attempts to best him. At one point, he went to the chest where the black kimono lay and carefully placed it on the stone floor of the room. He brought back a quilted kimono and wrapped Mari with his now gentler hands. She thought it best not to ask whose kimono it was and was just grateful for the warmth. They drank the rest of the broth and warmed a bottle of sake.

Lord Tetsu was working on papers when there was a voice outside the shoji. He called out and two men came in, bowing deeply. They were carrying more scrolls and didn’t seem to notice Mari sitting on the futon. After bowing again respectfully to Lord Tetsu, they backed out of the room. He put the scrolls on the table and started to unroll one of them.

“Lord Tetsu,” said Mari from her comfortable place by the brazier. “It seems we exist in a parallel universe.” This seemed to be the only explanation for the situation in which Mari found herself.

Lord Tetsu grunted and shrugged his shoulders. “I have no confusion. I live now. You also live now. There is no riddle.” He dismissed her words with another grunt and sat down on his stool to read.

Mari thought it prudent not to interrupt him and looked around  the room. It was rather large, obviously a room for an important official. On one side, there was archery equipment, with bows of different lengths. There were lances and other swords and what she believed were maces. If Lord Tetsu was a bureaucrat for his Shōgun, he was also a warrior. Earlier, Lord Tetsu had opened the wooden lattice of one of the windows but the light was feeble. Mari walked over to the window and looked outside at a rolling landscape that appeared medieval. There were men and woman in distant fields, looking like tiny models of humans, working with oxen drawn plows and mattocks and hoes. They were planting some crop but what it was, she couldn’t tell. Obviously, it was not rice, for the fields were not swamped. Perhaps it was barley or millet. There was a small village in the distance where a few plumes of smoke rose sluggishly in the air. Farther distance, there were mountains rising one upon the other, the atmosphere playing tricks with the color of the ridges, fading from a dark color where nearest to a misty gray far away. Outside, well within her line of vision, flew three white cranes, rising in the sky like dull stars. She knew nothing was right or sensible today. She had appeared almost on a magic carpet, far from home and time. She felt a strange calmness, almost as if this was a natural part of her life to be savored, not dissected.

Early that evening, servants brought bowls of food. As they ate, Lord Tetsu talked of archery and the legendary Lord Tokugawa. Mari had noticed red oblong objects on the arrows where the heads should be. Lord Tetsu explained that these were “whistling arrows” used to announce the opening of battles. “If you ever hear one, duck,” he said with a chuckle. “I have seen a man’s head split in two like a ripe melon. We shoot

dogs for practice but first we scare them and they run. More sport in this.” Mari winced at his words but this was his culture, not hers. Lord Tetsu poured heated sake into two cups and offered one to Mari. She liked the taste but two cups later could feel the effects. Lord Tetsu was an old hand at sake drinking, for cup after cup disappeared down his throat. He didn’t seem to get drunk but Mari knew she could not chance doing so. Turning over her cup, she signaled that she would drink no more. As darkness fell, they talked quietly together, sitting on cushions before the table.

Mari knew this interlude had to end and asked a question. “Lord Tetsu, I know now how I came to be here, in this room, but how do I go back?” “I wrap you in the kimono and you go to sleep. You will wake up next to your snoring husband. He will be none the wiser for your adventure. What has been a day in your life with me will only appear to be seconds for him.” Mari looked down to her hands in her lap. Almost in a whisper she asked him, raising her eyes to his, fearful of the answer. “Will I ever see you again?”

Lord Tetsu sat back and looked at her. His eyes searched her face and he replied in a low and gentle voice. “Mari, Woman-who-is-Married, would you chance a change in heart? Would you leave your husband to become the woman of an old samurai? Would you wish such a thing? Think carefully, girl. My world is not yours. You might wither and die here. Would you chance leaving all you know for such a fate? Can a life be built on poetry?”

Mari’s eyes were now swimming with tears. She didn’t know the answers to what he asked but she knew something in her heart had opened. Something new had startled her and brought a glimmer of a different beginning. For the first time in a long while she was feeling alive and there was no way she could explain this to him. She didn’t understand it herself.

Jane Kohut-Bartels

Copyrighted, 2018-2020

Poem of the Night

June 3, 2020

Kohut-Bartels-LS-17

(an oil painting after Constable….JKB)

 

 

The streets are gleaming tonight

as if a million stars were brought to earth,

flattened into urban mirrors

under lamp posts reflecting

an empty  nothingness.

 

It is a dull mid-winter night,

straining towards spring

with all intention of leaching

the dying season’s

last insult, unleashing it

upon mankind’s discomfort

one more time.

 

“A foggy day in London town”

Is what I think when I look down

This cotton-wool streetscape,

But that has tune and purpose,

And this muted stillness has none.

 

The rain left a muffling fog,

Mercifully erasing  stark bones

of tree limbs reaching to the sky.

Black beggars on seasonal parade.

 

Yet,

there is a strange beauty to the night,

Transforming what was common,

Dissolving borders, barriers, dimensions,

Making  a mirage, an alien oasis.

 

Heavy mists swirl around the ground,

Lift past the unfocused light

combine with the creeping gloom

And turn a fine hand to pale mystery.

 

Jane Kohut-Bartels

Copyrghted, 2020

“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

 

 

 


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