Posts Tagged ‘sacrifice’

“Turkey Vulture”, from “Pitcher of Moon”

January 26, 2014







(No, not a Turkey Vulture, but a bird of Hope)

From the same family  who once had Token as a sister, another sister who  stands for many of us as an example of compassion and sacrifice.  We should all be so.

Lady Nyo



I once knew a woman

Living in a scrubby trailer park

Down near the scrub pines of Florida.


She was poor as a church mouse,

half–crazed by life.

She fed all strays

-was the pariah of the neighborhood.


Every evening a flock of vultures,

Like fixed-wing aircraft,

Would skim the pines,

And land in a muddle of feathers,

Awkward birds out of their element

Land and with a group waddle

Come to the cat food offered in pans.


They were patient guests

And waited for the strays to finish.


There was decorum

Among them,

These fierce looking birds

Perhaps they knew

The charity offered

Had humbled their nature:

Or perhaps they had reformed;

I don’t know

But they had a leader named “Frank”

Who held back until the others were done.


Frank would never face you;

He sat sideways

Though I believe he peeked.

Perhaps he was ashamed

A lord of the sky

Brought down to this station,

To fill his crop with kibble

From a dented metal pan.


Come sit with me.

Extend a feather,

I promise not to stare.

Your warty red neck,

Your hang-dog countenance

Does not disturb me.


Come sit beside me,

Let our talons dig into the sand

Let the ocean cleanse our feathers

I will call you friend, brother

For the gift of trust

You have brought on your wings.





Jane Kohut-Bartels

Copyrighted, 2014

From “Pitcher Of Moon




“The Geisha”, Posted for OneShotPoetry….

December 14, 2010


Geisha Exit Ritual,

I wrote this short poem listening to Shakuhachi artists. The sound of their intertwining flutes, poignant, heartbreaking, set this poem in motion.  The raw, alien nature of their music was transporting.

There are a few issues to explain.  This is a ritual suicide, (for women, called jigai) not uncommon in feudal and even modern Japan. A geisha, an entertainer, could take lovers, and even become a favored member of a family.  This geisha has decided to follow her disgraced lover into death.  However, she is wearing a kimono that is not ‘proper’ for a ritual suicide.  I think she does this to embarrass the officials. Perhaps it is a personal protest. The tea ceremony is imbued with its own ritual and I link these two together.

Depending on the original offense of her lover, his death and the death of part of his family would restore the honor of the family.  She chose to sacrifice her life for his honor.

A tanto is a short knife.  A woman would not cut her abdomen (seppuku), but would open the main vein in her neck. She would have tied together her legs at the knees, over her kimono, so she would have some modesty in death.

Lady Nyo

The Geisha

Moon sits low

above solemn pines;

the night is cold.

As dawn breaks

the geisha kneels, waiting.

Plum tea kimono wraps

her tightly-

white would be right

color of mourning,

color of death.

Her lover, disgraced,

has embraced


blood the sacrifice

to wipe clean a

particular stain.

She to follow

Honor fulfilled,

death follows death

rigid path of decree-

a life mostly of sorrow.

She opens her gown,

exposes white skin,

her maid, quietly weeps

opens the shoji

exposing a winter landscape-

white snow on rocks

white snow like her skin

soft, soon to disappear,

one to melt,

one to white ash.

Yes, life mostly of sorrow.


winter is silent,

no wind at all,

snow falling like silken petals

Ah! She will never see spring

or cherry blossom time!

Floating over muted,

glassine air

comes the sound-

two monks

playing flutes

to welcome the day.

Shakuhachi artists,

mournful sound,

sound that brings

peace to an anxious heart.

She bows her head,

picks up the tanto-

and opens the vein.

Blood of her line

answers to that

of another.


So full of sorrow.


Copyrighted, 2008,2010

“The Geisha”, from “A Seasoning of Lust”

July 29, 2009


Moon floats above the pines
the night is cold.
The Geisha sits on haunches
grown stiff with waiting.

She wears a
pink tea kimono
for this occasion but
white would be right
color of mourning
color of death.

Her lover disgraced
he has embraced
blood the sacrifice
wipes clean a
particular stain.

She is to follow
Honor fulfilled
death follows death
rigid path of hard order
life mostly of sorrow.

Opening her gown,
exposing white skin,
her maid, quietly weeping
on command,
pulls back the shoji
a winter landscape
white snow on the rocks
white snow like her skin
soft , melting away.
Yes, life mostly of sorrow.

winter is silent,
snow falling like petals
Ah! She will never see spring
or cherry blossoms!

Floating over muted
glassine air
comes the sound
two monks
playing flutes

Shakuhachi artists,

mournful music

peace  to her heart.

She smiles
picks up the knife
and cuts her neck.
Blood of her line
answers for honor
of another.

Copyrighted, 2008

The spookier part of Chapter 40….”Devil’s Revenge”

April 3, 2009

(This is a draft of a work in progress…it needs fine tuning and more)

Lord Dilwen walked apart from the remaining four up a steep hill and into a clump of trees. Taking his bearings, he walked westward through these trees until he came to an outcrop. There he climbed around rocks and boulders until he found what he was looking for. It was called “Idris’ Chair” and it looked out onto a valley below.

Lord Dilwen had to carefully step down a very narrow path till he could climb into the stone chair. It was not cut or hewn, but of a natural shape. Deep and wide, it was a place of great lore and mystery. Only those who had the power to command these mysteries would dare to sit here. Only one who had training and was conversant with magical powers would dare to touch its stone. Those Druids who had meditated on it  had trans formative  experiences, such that either they awoke the next morning enhanced, wise or dead.

These high points served as windows to the Otherworld. Lord Dilwen had demons to command and he needed these sacred stones for his personal protection. Respect and regard on earth was very different than what was batted about in the ether.

Lord Dilwen settled himself into the cupped bottom of the stone chair. Dusk was settling fast and the first star of the heavens was clear and high. Soon the moon would rise in the western sky before him, a beggar’s cup a quarter full. It was the right time, and the forces could be called to him with this moon’s rising.

Lord Dilwen stretched his arms out on either side of the stone arms. It would be cold tonight, the spring very new and tender, but he knew he would be past feeling discomfort. The trance he would slip into would make him insensate to all elements. Only those creatures that would float through the portal of his mind and into his essence would matter. Commanding the demons and spirits he needed would be tricky. Some would try to lure him over the side of the chair, his body to fall to the rocks below. He would have to discern the tricksters from the ‘helpful’ ones, and this would tax his strength.

Taking out a stone from a pouch threaded through his belt, he held it in his right hand, and traced the labyrinth cuttings on this slightly larger than palm-sized stone. He hummed a particular tune, and to a hidden listener, it would sound out of tone, an eerie scale of strange notes. Over and over his hand traced the same lines on the stone.

The birds had settled in for the night and the wind picked up and blew sounds like low notes from hollowed out bones. He knew  the trance, the altered state was approaching, and the serpent’s tails on his wrists started to twitch. Lord Dilwen’s eyes rolled back in his head and his neck fell backward, his shoulders cradled by the hard stone.

I call out to you, the powers of the Universe, those foul and fair. I have need of your counsel, I have need of your power. Come to me, horrid Morrigan, Come to me, in t-Ellen trechend- come to me three headed Ellen, and give me your wisdom.

The wind picked up and a moaning was heard around the valley below. A low cackle floated up on the breath of the wind and circled the stone chair. The night was dark, and the beggar cup of a moon seemed to telescope, to move closer to earth, to enlarge itself and spread like a sickening smile across the sky, east to west.

Lord Dilwen knew that the power was upon him, for his breathing slowed and he could feel his heart beat lessen. A warm, caressing air embraced is old bones. He knew he was being tempted by some demonic spirit. It would call out to him in whispers, for him to-

Stand up and come to me! Come to me, my dearest lover, step out into the night time air, walk to me, I am waiting, waiting.

This was the  first temptation, and he willed his loins to shrivel. It was a seasoning, a seasoning of unholy lust that was calling within his mind, and it was false. His manhood had not shown such vigor in years, and this was the first telling of the temptation.

He shook his head and raised his arms and the tattooed serpents crawled up and down his arms, their mouths opening and their tongues flicking. One hissed, the other snapped his jaws, and the whispers moaned and disappeared…for now.

Lord Dilwen would not sleep tonight, for to sleep would be to seal his death.  There would be no awakening on the morrow. His limp body would be found either in the chair, stone cold and dead, or his carcass on the rocks below in the distant valley.

Still his hand did not stop his tracing the tracks of the labyrinth. He hummed a different and as discordant tune and around midnight, the wind picked up from the north and blew hard down the valley. Lord Dilwen was to be granted the presence of some spirit, and perhaps it would be the great Morrigan herself. But there would be a price to pay, there always was.

The wind blew hard from the north, the north being the Land of the Dead.  There would one find the Great Morrigan, who picked the bones and flesh from the battle fields.

Suddenly the air was filled with a foul odor. Lord Dilwen knew what this plague was, because it was one sent by the foulest forces of the Underworld. It was another attempt to frighten him away, but he had smelled death many times before, this particular sweet-sickening scent of putrefaction. He had been on battle fields where the stomachs of combatants had split in half, and had stepped in their fouled guts with their staggering last steps. He had smelled the land when plague took entire villages, and had arrived days later when the stench could be smelled a mile away on the wind. No, this was not of the earth, it was a huge swarm of red-ochre colored birds, the birds of the dead- whose breath withered fields and orchards and suffocated any man or beast they passed close by. Lord Dilwen tied a cloth over his nose and slowed his breathing. He knew it was a test, another one to see how strong he was, and how much he could stand. After a while, the birds disappeared, but the valley was befouled with their droppings. Where the shit landed, there were burn marks in the grasses and trees would look in the morning as if they were struck by lightning.

Suddenly, the wind picked up again, but this time no foul stench from birds. A vapor appeared in the valley and swirled and gathered, entwining like a coven of ghosts. It rose and exploded, and formed again, tendrils shooting off the tops and sides, then an updraft of energy exploding it all over again. The wide smile of the moon constricted as if even this cosmic form was diminished by what was happening in the valley below.   This vapor formed again and again, slowly rising up towards the place where he sat.

Lord Dilwen continued to trace the lines of the labyrinth. He reached into his pouch and pulled out the dried leaves of mugwort, sacred to the Morrigan. For him to eat  would be certain death.  This would leave him paralyzed in a dream, and he would not be able to move. But spreading it before him on the ground would be an offering. He also took a clear quartz crystal, her stone, and placed it on the left arm of the stone chair.

When the swirling vapor reached level to his chair, it suddenly burst into a multi-colored display of streamers shooting out into the air, disappearing with a fury of energy. Lord Dilwen felt a presence and looking to his left spied a huge crow.

Ah! Goddess Morrigan! You are honoring me with your presence. I have come for your counsel and bring you gifts.

No sound came from Lord Dilwen’s mouth, but a tinkling of what could be called celestial music, or to mortal ears, a well tuned wind chime. It was answered by a rude calling, a cackling, a low, menacing call not expected from a crow.

I already know what you want, Lord Dilwen. You have called me from my labors to answer that of a mortal’s concern? What interest do I have meddling in the affairs of such creatures?

to be continued….
Jane Kohut-Bartels

Copyrighted, 2009

In writing “Diary of a Changeling”, I realized

October 31, 2008

what I had taken on could not be done in isolation from what was happening around that particular time: June 14, 1940, or more in particular: the invasion of Paris by the German Army.

Well, it could be written without a nod to bigger events, but how narrow and shortsighted!

So, I rummaged around and came up with a number of sources that made me think much broader than this series.  There was  a World War going on.  How much more a backdrop does a writer need?

My parents admired Winston S. Churchill. I remember when he died and my parents made us kids watch the broadcast funeral.  This was in 1965.  My parents were both of the mind that Churchill had been badly treated after the war, but that was their opinion.  I didn’t have one.

More importantly, I didn’t have much of a grasp beyond the hanging (and other nasty things done to him) of Mussolini and of course the revealment of the concentration camps…or the ‘liberation’ of them…as was proclaimed by newsreels.  I knew about the London Blitz, the evacuations to the countryside of children, but I really didn’t know much about the War in general.

About a month ago, I came across “Winston Churchill, an intimate portrait” by Violet Bonham Carter, a woman and friend who met him in 1906 and followed his career and life until he died.  I  also have  Churchhill’s  “History of the English Speaking Peoples”  which I’ve had for years, and also found that I have a couple of volumes of his “The Second World War”.  This last …especially Volume III, gives me a window to what was happening all over Europe and the Balkans, Greece, Russia and back here in the States.

Marvelous reading.  Since my “Diary” is set in Paris in 1940…and the main female character (Catherine) is English and she can’t get back to London, I found the reasons WHY she would not have been able to travel and also more the ‘raison d’etre’ for the story in the first place.

Churchill takes us all over the world with his writing.  I didn’t know (being 1/2 Hungarian) the collusion and opportunism of the Hungarian and Roumanian governments and how they allowed Hitler to walk right into Istanbul and Greece.  I didn’t know the importance of the Balkans then and after the war…

My main emphasis in “Diary” is the French Resistance, but it didn’t stand alone.  It had to be thrown against this enormous background of a world war that we have not seen the likes of again …yet. And we will never see it in the format that i

Churchill was very concerned about the plight of citizens of all nations… In the very beginning of Volume II, “Moral of the Work”…we come across four things:

In War: Resolution

In Defeat: Defiance

In Victory: Magnanimity

In Peace: Goodwill

These are breathing morals to me and resonate loudly.  I wonder today, as we face another election in this country, where have we offered ourselves in such a passion?  Is there anything that would propel ourselves to give up and sacrifice and perhaps to die  in what we believe in?

Our ‘politics as usual’ pales beside the heroism of WWII.

Just my opinion….

Lady Nyo

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