Posts Tagged ‘poetry’

‘Samhain, a Celtic Winter Song….

July 19, 2017


(“Geese at Dawn”, watercolor, Jane Kohut-Bartels, 2003)


Dark mysterious season,

when the light doesn’t

quite reach the ground,

the trees shadow puppets

moving against the gray of day.


I think over the past year

praying there has been a

kindling in my soul,

the heart opened, warmed

and the juiciness of life is

more than the loins–

a stream of forgiveness

slow flowing through the tough fibers

not stopper’d with an underlying


but softened with compassion.


This season of constrictions,

unusual emptiness,

brittle like dried twigs

desiccated by hoar frost

just to be endured.


I wrap myself in wool and

watch the migrations–

first tender song birds which harken

back to summer,

then Sandhill cranes,

legs thin black banners

streaming behind white bodies,

lost against a gunmetal sky.


They lift off to a middling cosmos,

while I, earth-bound,

can only flap the wings of my shawl,

poor plumage for such a flight,

and wonder about my own destination.


Jane Kohut-Bartels

Copyrighted, 2017

“I was the Child”

July 15, 2017


My beautiful picture

taken by my phone to the East

Real Toads in Imaginary Gardens is prompting with an interesting challenge:  your own death. Strange but not so strange.

Lady Nyo

I was the Child


I was the duckling held under the water

Drowned for the convenience of casual hate.

Eaten by snapping turtles, dissolved in the mud.


I was the child thrown out of the sleigh

A deal with the wolves

To save you and your children

To satisfy yearning to feed on flesh.

I saw the relief on my brother’s faces

Who survived this sacrifice

But to wonder when their turn

To be pitched in the snow.



I was the baby,

Head  misshapen

By forcepts,

A monster even a mother couldn’t  love

And  when the nuns wrapped me in

Starched cocoon   left–

You pulled the corner down over my face

Pushed me to the back of the bed

And wondered how  ugly could be

Born of your womb.


From that day I half- died,

As I came to know my place

In the shadows.


From that day

I half-lived

To know corners

To know shadows

To know the sting of insults

And to dance to your stinging hands.


I didn’t live long

As neighbors expected

A child hanging from the rafters

So I fled into the ether

Where I was not missed

Barely remembered,

And not found.


Jane Kohut-Bartels

Copyrighted, 2017

“The Kimono”, Chapter 27

July 1, 2017
Fox Pix



Very recently I have picked up this story and now I am back in the swing of things. A push to the end but I know that won’t come until….well…..I think of it.  Or my characters push my hand and brush.  I believe strongly in trusting the personalities of your created characters.  They, their behavior, their quirks, usually give me a direction in which way to go with a story….or not.   Anyway, this is continuing on…

Lady Nyo

For Gay….

The moon peeked through the distant trees below Mount Gassan in the east.  This low to the horizon its color was a dark coppery-pumpkin as it hovered in the evening sky.  Its rising caused the very drunk men to pause in their good-humored noise as the women behind the screen heard their exclamations. How many times had the full moon risen, yet the beauty of its appearance, the miracle of its closeness always produced such awe?

A servant came around the screen and whispered something to Lady Nyo.  She, in turn, came to Mari and in a very low voice said that Lord Mori has requested her company.

Lady Nyo fussed a bit with Mari’s face, patting rice powder over her features, combed out her hair and gathered it half-way down her back with a twist of red paper.  From a small, wooden box she brought out a flask of scent and applied it between Mari’s breasts.  With a nod and a sigh, she was finished and bowed to Mari with a small smile.  Mari followed a serving girl to the lake where she found Lord Mori.  He gave a slight nod in greeting and turned, walking further down to a small stand of cherry trees.  Here there were no lanterns hanging from these branches silhouetting the cherry blossoms. Only the brightness of the rising moon and a small brazier gave light.  Quilts had been placed for them on the ground.

The servant disappeared, fading silently into the shadows surrounding the grove of cherries.  Dragonflies dipped and swooped along the shoreline.  The sound of the water lapping at the beach was amplified by the silence around them. They were far enough  they could not hear the others.  The sky darkened and rose- bottomed clouds appeared over the water.

Lord Mori sipped his sake and said nothing.  Mari didn’t want to break the beauty of the young night with conversation.  It was enough to enjoy the silence and the moon reflecting in the water.

Suddenly Lord Mori made a soft exclamation and pointed to some rocks at a distance, farther down the beach.

“There- do you see kitsune?  She has come for her own hanami.”

Night was replacing dusk and the shoreline was dissolving into shadows.  Mari could hardly make out the small form of a fox. She darted back and forth, from rock to rock, rolling over those at the water’s edge and pouncing on something, probably a crayfish.

Suddenly the moon rose high enough, beaming across the water and Mari could see the russet coat of the fox.  She had a tail that looked tipped in gold, illuminated by the moonlight.



Has a long and gilded tail

She comes at night

Down to the glistening lake—

The moon rises to light her way.”


Lord Mori’s voice was hardly more than a whisper.  Mari was caught, spellbound by his words.  How exact, how clever his  tanka within a breath’s notice of the fox!  Mari knew she would have struggled with her thoughts, casting aside her impressions and losing the immediacy of the moment.  With Lord Mori it was as natural as breathing.

She turned her head to look at him as the moon went dark with a flock of passing clouds.  Lord Mori’s features were silhouetted against the shadows of the grove behind them.  How serene he appeared.  Mari touched the silk of his sleeve.  He looked down at her small, white hand and smiled as the moon reappeared in its soft brilliance.  The water was like a black mirror for the moon, so still and calm.

Lord Mori drew Mari close, she aware of the scent of sandalwood from his gown and the scent of sake.  He stroked her hair and Mari put her hand inside his kimono, on his breast, feeling  his heartbeat.  With all the strangeness of her present world, with all that was unknown before her, this, this—the warmth of his skin, the scent of him at least was real, had no unsettling magic.  She had enough of magic and whatever superstitions that plagued this century and this place.

Mari shivered.  Lord Mori chuckled and drew her closer.


“The moon is clear

I escort a lovely girl

Frightened by a fox.”


Mari knew the verse to be Basho’s, a very famous poem at that. She also knew Lord Mori had changed the word ‘boy’ to ‘girl’.

Lord Mori loosened the string of his trousers and pulled aside his robes.  He pulled Mari over him, making her straddle his hips.  Without a word he pulled her carefully arranged kimonos up over her hips and off her shoulders.  He held her breasts, now exposed to the moonlight in his large hands and bent her to him.  Only her obi kept her robes around her.  She felt his hand at her crotch.  It had been so long since they had mated, right before her miscarriage months ago.  She groaned as desire flooded her, stiffening her nipples, arousing her.

Lord Mori wasted little time, his own desire evident.  Pulling her arms around his neck, he lifted her onto him and with his own groan, held her to him like a vise, pushing his hips up and back, Mari’s head rocking with his motion.  Seeking her mouth, he finally kissed her as their coupling ended.

Later Lord Mori wrapped them together in quilts and Mari slept, her head pillowed on his shoulder, the warmth of his body a further comfort.  It was still spring, not near summer at all, and the nights were cold this near to Gassan Mountain.

Jane Kohut-Bartels

Copyrighted, 2017


“Songs of Summer”….poem.

June 27, 2017
My beautiful picture

Watercolor, Early Spring, Jane Kohut-Bartels, 2011

dversepoets pub is OLN…Open Link Night!  A wonderful time to post ONE poem and visit other poets……And…they will be on break until July 17th.  Our Norseman Bjorn is presiding over OLN so be good.

Lady Nyo




Summer cartwheels through the sky!

The fertility of months

Expressed from field to orchard,

Above in  sky, and deep below,

Where earth gathers green energy

And transforms by magic

Fruits for the mouth and eye.


Fledglings tipped out of nests

Try new-feathered wings on warm currents,

Calves butt heads and race in calf-tumble

Climbing rocks and playing king-of-the-hill,

Spring lambs past the date

For the tenderest of slaughter

Coated in white curls,

Smell of lanolin sweet in their wake.


There is fresh life in the pastures,

Now  steady legs and bawling lungs,

They graze upon the bounty

And grow fat for the future culling.


Tender shoots of wheat and corn,

Waist-high, defy devious crows,

Paint once-fallow fields in saffron and

A multitude of hues-

Golden tassels forming,

Waving under an oppressive sun,

And when the sky bursts open

In random welcomed rains,

Heaven meets Earth-

The cycle complete.


These are the songs of Summer.

The bleat of lambs,

The cymbals of colliding clouds,

The noise of fierce, sharpened light,

The plaints of cows with taunt udders,

The loud quarreling of a swollen brook,

The scream of a hunting hawk

Calling for its mate,

The pelt of an unheralded storm

Upon a tin roof,

And the quiet sighing of

An unexpected wind-

Brings a benediction to the day.


Jane Kohut-Bartels

Copyrighted, 2011-2017



Young RedTail Hawk, Jane Kohut-Bartels, watercolor

Watercolor, janekohut-bartels, 2007, "Garden Shed"



Rose Garden April 2017

Our new Rose Garden this Spring/Summer.  Looks small, and probably is but we stuffed 30 roses in this area.  Mostly English (David Austen) and Knock Out roses that really need to be trimmed every two weeks.  Some Mister Lincoln (on pedestals) and O.L. Weeks roses,  and those gorgeous “New Dawn” (2) of them that cover the arbor.  And lots of mosquitoes which curtail our using the garden.

All paintings by Jane Kohut-Bartels, various dates and various mediums

Jane Kohut-Bartels

Copyrighted, 2017

“High Road”

June 13, 2017

"Eagle" Jane Kohut-Bartels, watercolor, 2005

“American Eagle”, Jane Kohut-Bartels, watercolor, 2001

Open Link Night over at dversepoets pub.  Where you can post one poem of your own-  This is a wonderful slot at dverse where we can read some  original poems.

Although I wrote this poem a couple of years ago, it seemed rather appropriate to today.  We all have choices, and they might not be easy, but we should expect our leadership, our politicians, who say they will represent us in the political arena to exhibit the best of character.  Sadly, this doesn’t seem to be the standard in practice.



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 cost
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 by.

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


“Spring Can’t Wait”….poem.

June 8, 2017

spring garden 4

(Tulips a few seasons ago….tulips don’t do well in the South.)

Soft late-winter night
Where the moon rides the sky
Like a beggar’s cup one-fourth filled.
The skeleton trees are silhouetted
Against the horizon
As light folds into dark velvet.

He remembers her skin,
Tender, warm,
Powdered bo silk,
Breasts full like
The cup of the moon–
The shape, not the level.

She spills over
Like melons of summer.

Warm sake in hand
He salutes the sky,
Moon and now winking stars
And sees that Spring
Has over-taken the land.
Winter’s hand still rough on the
Earth, but Spring, eternal and forever
Bids Winter move its carcass—
Give room for the birth of the earth.

Haunting notes of a Shakuhachi flute
Floats in the chilly wind….

Eternal, whirling dance
From season to season,
Never tiring in effort,
Surprises with earliest snowbells
And the first shy crocus.
The red maple is bursting
With carmine pompoms on bare branches.
Soon plum trees will prove as vital.

The earth’s gestation is in the air,
And life is seducing with promise.

Jane Kohut-Bartels
Copyrighted, 2017




Some short poems or possibly Tanka….

June 7, 2017

For my poetical friends, but especially Kanzen Sakura…..

Watercolor, Salisbury, janekohut-bartels, 2005

(“The Downs”, watercolor, Jane Kohut-Bartels, 2003)

The rain has finally stopped, and the sun is brilliant in the sky this morning. The mosquitoes are flying and the birds singing.  How can you not love life?  Even the garbage men this am add to the earth song with their clanging cans and motorized groan of the truck.

Lady Nyo


Mist drifts in waves
Ribbon-ing maple branches
The rising of moon
Make Egrets shimmer silver-
Gauzy ghosts of nothingness.

How could I forget
The beauty of the pale moon
A face of sorrow
Growing thin upon the tide
No one but she visits me.

The moon floats on wisps
Of clouds extending outward.
Tendrils of white fire
Blanketing the universe
Gauzy ghosts of nothingness.

Presence of Autumn
Burst of color radiates
From Earth-bound anchors
Sun grabs prismatic beauty
And tosses the spectrum wide!

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.

Overhead, the cranes,
Sandhills– swirl in broad circles.
Broken GPS?
No matter, their cries fall down
Celestial chiding rain.

The full moon above
Floats on blackened velvet seas
Poet’s perfection!
But who does not yearn for a
Crescent in lavender sky?

In this single branch
Of a wintry holly,
A hundred words hide.
A thousand blushes appear.
Do not overlook the thorns.

So lonely am I
My soul like a floating weed
Severed at the roots
Drifting upon cold waters
No pillow for further dreams.

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.

Shooting star crosses
Upended bowl of deep night
Fires with excited gaze.
A moment– and all is gone.

Jane Kohut-Bartels
Copyrighted, 2008-2017

“Call and Answer to Ono no Komachi”

May 1, 2017


(J Kohut-Bartels,  1995, ‘Birds’, watercolor)

Tonight is OLN (Open Link Night) at dversepoets pub.  I don’t know who is tending the bar tonight because I am posting this early, but they are sure to give a good reading of poems there and a stiff drink to boot.

“Call and Answer” is a work in progress…my attempt to riff in verse with Ono no Komachi.  One of my very favorite poets of any age.  She was a fascinating person and poet.  I included an essay on her in the ‘essay section’ of “Song of the Nightingale”, published 2015.  She is slippery, though.  Different translations of the same poem can give a variation in message.  I have found, for her, the best translations are done by Hirshfield and Aratani.  Jane Hirshfield became a mentor to me, of sorts, when I first started writing tanka.  From her it was: “Good start. Still not tanka yet.”  This was helpful.

Lady Nyo




Did he appear

Because I fell asleep

Thinking of him?

If only I’d known I was dreaming

I’d never have awakened.



How long will it last?

I know not his hidden heart.

This morning my thoughts

Are as tangled as my hair.

My blushes turn my face dark.”

……Lady Nyo (from “Kimono”, work in progress…)


When my desire

Grows too fierce

I wear my bed clothes

Inside out,

Dark as the night’s rough husk.


No moon tonight

Only a cold wind visits.

Murasaki robe

Stained the color of grass

Invisible on this earth.

……Lady Nyo   (Murasaki is the color purple.  it is also a grass that has dark lavender tops.  It was used as a dye.)


At least no one can blame me

When I go to you at night

Along the road of dreams.


Come to me, my man,

Part the blinds, come into my arms,

Snuggle against my warm breast

Let my belly

Warm your dreams.

…..Lady Nyo


One of her most famous poems:


No way to see him

On this moonless night—

I lie awake longing, burning,

Breasts racing fire,

Heart in flames.



When my need denied

Burns my breasts-torments me

I tear open robes

To lie naked in moonlight

The wind your hands, caressing

……Lady Nyo



Night deepens

With the sound of calling deer,

And I hear

My own one-sided love.’



Autumn wind startles–

Lowered to an ominous

     Key—Ah! Mournful sounds!

     The fat mountain deer listen-

   Add their bellowing sorrow.

…..Lady Nyo


The cicadas sing

In the twilight

Of my mountain village—

Tonight, no one

Will visit save the wind.



Tonight, foxes scream

Cued by a howling wind.

Maple leaves quilting

A lonely time of season

No one to share the moonlight.

……Lady Nyo




A diver does not abandon

A seaweed-filled bay.

Will you then turn away

From this floating, sea-foam body

That waits for your gathering hands?



So lonely am I

My soul like a floating weed

Severed at the roots

Drifting upon cold waters

No pillow for further dreams.

…..Lady Nyo



Is this love reality

Or a dream?

I cannot know,

When both reality and dreams

Exist without truly existing.



Dreams, reality

How can one truly know?

I stumble through dreams

I stagger through the lost days

Tell me: what has more substance?

…..Lady Nyo

Ono no Komachi just begs for a call and answer.  Her poetry is sublime.  I just had to take this opportunity.  She inspires on the deepest level.

All Komachi poems were compiled from the Man’yoshu and the book, “The Ink Dark Moon”, by Hirshfield and Aratani.

Jane Kohut-Bartels

Copyrighted, 2017

“I Remember…” Albert Kohut, 1915-1989.

April 26, 2017
My beautiful picture

My beautiful picture

Dusk from the East, taken by my phone.

Today is my father’s birthday.  Had he lived, he would have been 102.  He didn’t, dying at the young age of 74.  Today I read poems at Sevananda here in Atlanta for the Earth Day Celebration, between 6-9pm.  Though is poem isn’t exactly a Nature Themed poem, my love of Nature was formed by my father’s great love of it.  He had marvelous gardens, the best tomatoes, explored the gorges of New Jersey and other places, was a long distance runner, and restored a 200 year old house in rural New Jersey.  He was so loved by everyone who knew him. It’s been almost 3 decades since he died, but I love him so much.  I just wish I could have told him, shown him more of this.


I Remember….


I remember the scream

In the middle of the night

Of something dying

Down by the river,

Killed by an owl

Or possibly a fox.



I remember bolting awake

In my parent’s bed,

My heart in my throat

My father just died

The funeral over

Sleeping in

His bed,

Afraid to move from this reality

To the next,

No comfort to be had

Even with the scent of

His tobacco in the sheets.


I wandered the house,

Touched the walls,

Looked through windows

To a landscape not

Changed over years,

Ran my hands down the

Black walnut banister,

Smooth, smooth

As if the days would turn back

Just by this touch

And he would be here.


That scream somewhere on the banks

In the middle of the night,

When I jerked from sleep to

Awake, knowing, he was dead-

The father who loved me

Was gone forever.

I knew then

I was unmoored from life

floating out of reach of love.


A scream that challenged dreams

He would come back,

He wasn’t awaiting the fire

He would wake up,

Much as I did,

In a cold-sweat fear

And slowly, slowly

resume his place in the living.


There are unseen things

That happen in the night,

Down on the river bank,

Where life is challenged by death

Where a rabbit screams his mighty last

Where the heart leaps to the throat,

Where the most we can hope

Is a silent ghost

Who walks out of the river’s fog,

Extends his arms

And embraces the sorrowing.


Jane Kohut-Bartels

Copyrighted, 2014

“The Fox”

April 19, 2017

Image result for foxes



I am to be one of the ‘featured’ poets at the Earth Day Celebration April 26, 2017 at Sevananda Foods, here in Atlanta, Ga.   Poetry readings are to be of a Nature theme, which is proper for the event.  The poetry is from 6-9 pm with open mic after.  In trying to select appropriate poems for this event, I had a hard time culling out poems.  I selected 15 poems.  It should be interesting.  I don’t read well in public so I will have to work on this. Already my vocals are scaring the cats and making the dogs howl.  Posting this early for dversepoets pub Open Link Night on Thursday.

Lady Nyo

PS: I LOVE foxes.  I would have one here if it wasn’t so illegal.  No fox was hurt or injured in the writing of this poem.

The Fox

Yanked from sleep

By a scream

Wrapping around the belly,

Fueled by some instinct,

Long buried thread of ancestors.

Bolting upright

Knowing without knowing

A terrible slaughter was tearing

The soft night apart.

I had heard that sound before.

Coming fully awake,

heart pounding through my chest

I listened again, and there!

The vocals of a hen attacked

By something stealing through

The soft night, waiting beyond

The edge of sleep.


Three dogs have I

City dogs, though with

The blood of once-fierce hounds.

Not one of them would

Run out to do battle.

Grabbing the collar of the

Biggest, he turned and bit me-

He was no fool.

There was danger

In that dark night-

He was doing his best

To avoid it.


Stupid hounds!

I’ll face the monsters

Out there myself!

And switching on the porch light

I saw the dark flight of something

Fly across my yard and vision,

Take a sharp left and disappear

Into the night where porch light met

A dismal darkness.


Running to the chicken coop,

Found a young hen, a pile of feathers

Mounded around her, still alive

Clucking mournfully.


How do you comfort a tail- less hen

At dawn, with a crescent moon

Throwing feeble light upon the ground of slaughter?

I’ve raised hens for enough years

To know they are merciless to the injured.

But the events of the night

Had stunned their own instincts

And she burrowed amongst them,

They crowding around, covering with feathers and warmth,

Rocked out of their slumber

Clucking out warnings to further attackers:

Let the night and its beasts hear their rage!


In the morning I asked my neighbor

Once a south-Georgia farm boy what to do.

His answer was bloodier than

The attack of this young fox,

For young he must be,

Not to kill his prey on first strike.


“Spread poison in the kudzu,

Here, I’ll lend you a shotgun-

Fox be vermin and bred for no good.”


There is something mystical

In a fox who dares to live in a city.

Or desperate.


Birthed in the kudzu growing

From the leveling of a small forest

Sheltered in one-foot wide drainpipes,

Feeding on rats and rabbits

With a taste for chicken from time to time.



I’ll lock up my chickens

Let a dog prowl the fence,

And leave off the

Modern methods of slaughter.


There must be a balance in nature

As it struggles to right itself

To bypass concrete and the destruction

Of habitat by mankind.

There will be a balance

And I will stand with the foxes.


Oh, it is a marvel and a mystery!

For every species is the center of its universe,

If only for him.


We are connected by a fine thread to all else,

Our survival depends upon this,

Yet our eyes are blinded to the truth

And something in the proclamation

Of “Inheriting the Earth”

Lies and trips us up,

And we are no more shepherds

Of these species than wolves

In human skin.


The world is what it is,

With its own rules of hunger, survival,

We just a cog in this great Mandala,

And most of us attempt to bypass

These laws of nature, still clothed with

Dead dreams of conquerors.


And some of us know this deep in our bones.


We are blind to the beauty of life

That we are not alone.

The tragedy would be if we were,

And we deny our connection to what we now proclaim “vermin”,

Believing for some bad reason this makes us more human.

Jane Kohut-Bartels

Copyrighted, 2017

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