Posts Tagged ‘tanka’

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

Spring Haiku, Tanka and Two Poems

February 28, 2017

spring garden 4

(Front Garden in Spring)

It is Winter-Spring. Most of February has been warm and now the daffodils, tulips, snowbells, grape hiathyns, and azaleas are in full bloom.  Strange and unusual for February.  Tomorrow is predicted severe storms in the South, with possible tornadoes.  We didn’t have a decent Winter, so the fleas and mosquitoes will start their pestering of anything with flesh and blood very soon.  This morning, I found three  dead baby squirrels , killed by my dogs. They were only a month or so in the living, perfect little babies.  I don’t know what nest they came from, or fell, but the dogs mauled them.  Such beautiful and tender little creatures.  How sad that they didn’t get to live this spring.  So many are taken by tornadoes and severe wind storms here, people and animals.  Well, all this has turned my heart to Spring, and the fragile  and impermanent beauty of it all.

Lady Nyo 





Dogwoods are blooming

The crucifixion appears

White moths in the night.



Soft rains caress earth

A hand slides up a soft thigh

Cherry blossoms bloom.


Changing curtains

Helicopter red maple

Pollen fills the air.


Willows whip about

Red kimono flares open

Eyes savor plump thighs.



A swirl of blossoms

Caught in the water’s current

Begins the season.




The sound of frog-calls

In the pond floats a pale moon

Fresh life is stirring

An early owl goes hunting

Wise mice scatter for cover.


Thin, silken breezes

Float upon a green-ribbon

Of spring—pale season.

Scent of lilies, myrtle, plum

Arouse bees from slumber.



Great winds come before a storm,

tree branches whirl-

green pinwheels near heaven.

One shakes like a foxtail by 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?

Rude Spring

Sharp brittle wind

Sails like clipper glass

Cuts the skin razor thin,

And flays off winter.


This spring can’t wait.

It lies,

Promises comforting warmth

Yet delivers a numbing cold-

Too much in love with winter still.


I hear the laughter in the pines.

They moan or echo an evil chuckle.


No matter.

This argument will be over

Once the earth

Pirouettes on point.


Jane Kohut-Bartels

Copyrighted, 2017












Call and Answer: my tanka to answer Ono no Komachi.

December 1, 2016


My beautiful picture

My beautiful picture

(Morning sky to the east a few years ago…)

In the spirit of what was done 1500 years ago, I am answering the call of Ono no Komachi’s wonderful poems with a bit of my own, trying to stay ontheme in each one.

These are just fast written responses., but sometimes that fulfills the task.  As to whether there are ‘real’ tanka, I don’t know, and frankly right now, I am happy enough with what developed.

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.”


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.


My longing for you—

Too strong to keep within bounds.

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 and come into my arms,

Snuggle against my warm breast

And let my belly

Warm your dreams.


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 needing you

Burns my breasts-torments me

I tear open robes

To lie naked in moonlight

The wind your hands, caressing



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.


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.




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.



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?

I did my poems  fast. I will refine and revise later. And try to complete this with the remaining poems of Komachi.

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

Jane Kohut-Bartels

Copyrighted, 2016



‘Shinto Temple’, a tanka.

November 29, 2016
Cover painting for "Pitcher of Moon"

was to be the cover painting for “Pitcher of Moon” but didn’t work out.

Over at Carpe Diem Haiku Kai, today’s prompt is Pilgrimage.  This tanka is my take on this.

A Shinto Temple

Spirit shattered, heartbroken

Worthy of mending?

Priest’s belly laughs and incense

Helped me knit back the pieces.

Jane Kohut-Bartels

Copyrighted, 2016

For many decades I felt battered by the religious fundamentalism of my birth family. I was never good enough for them to be a Christian.  So I stopped trying to  come up to their expectation.  Later I would realize that they are not Christians at all, but bullies that isolate and try to dominate in the name of their Christ.  I feel that, for their personal issues, they distorted this Christ and Christianity.  But it was too late. At the lowest point of my life I discovered Shintoism and found  acceptance.  I didn’t have to jump through hoops. Actually, it was more than acceptance.  Fundamentally, I found a wonder at Creation that had no walls and took in diversity and difference.  I didn’t have to paint bathing suits on my nudes as my sister in law suggested.  Lord Jizo and that Joker of a Buddha Fudo became real and gave guidance in my life.  Compassion with Jizo and sense with Fudo.  These two expanded my heart and mind.  I am very grateful for their presence in my life.  But I don’t think that Christ or Christianity is ‘owned’ by these others….just distorted.

Lady Nyo

Three Tanka on Silence: for Carpe Diem Haiku Kai

November 27, 2016


(“Winter’s Geese”, Jane Kohut-Bartels, watercolor, 2010)

Over at Carpe Diem Haiku Kai, the prompt was ‘Finding the Silence’. (Winter themed)   These are my submissions.


I walked a landscape

An unfamiliar dreamscape

The only sound heard

Was the tinkling of bells

Then silence covered the snow





Season of silence

Muted nature frost bitten

Black limbs empty, still

A vast field of ghostliness

No music came from the wind.


Oh, such a Season!

An invisible wind blows

Toneless, no music

Winter gives such bitterness

Silence leaches tune and song.


Jane Kohut-Bartels

Copyrighted, 2016


“Chrysanthemum”, a Tanka for Carpe Diem Haiku Kai….

November 21, 2016
Image result for chrysanthemums

Over at Carpe Diem Haiku Kai, the prompt #20 was “Chrysanthemum”.  This is a flower of Autumn, but also a kigo word for Winter.

My submission:

The Chrysanthemum-

Explosion in different hues

Cushion for the bees.

Perfume the Autumn garden

Desired by the chickens.

Jane Kohut-Bartels

Copyrighted, 2016


One haiku, two tanka for Carpe Diem Haiku Kai

November 19, 2016

The haiku is a ‘revised’ haiku based on one written by Kiyoshi

Kiyoshi :

Only silence

the summer breezes caressed

Wisteria blossoms


Lady Nyo:

Only stillness

Escapes summer’s intentions

four o’clocks close up.

(four o’clocks are flowers in the south that close up with summer’s heat and open at dusk when it cools.  They remain open, scenting the night and feed moths, nocturnal feeders.  heavy scent.)

Prompt “fragile beauty”


Her lovely snow-flesh

tracery of blue veins

fold themselves gently

grief’s ragged breath draws

hauntings of her beauty


A prompt to do with wit?

Yes, I forgive you.

(Hands unclean from previous crimes)

Go wash them in snow.

(The snow of last year’s falling)

Then I will reconsider.


Jane Kohut-Bartels

Copyrighted, 2016

A tanka for Carpe Diem Haiku Kai….

November 18, 2016
My beautiful picture

My beautiful picture

(above…the sky to the east)

Prompt: Depression

This grim November

 Month of my dear father’s death

Always bittersweet.

Memories float, weakened ghosts

Hauntings in the fog of life.

Jane Kohut-Bartels

Copyrighted, 2016


“A Mourning Dove Cries”…Tanka for Carpe Diem Haiku Kai.

November 16, 2016

Image result for mourning doves
Prompt: loneliness

A mourning dove cries

It is such a mournful sound

Perhaps a fierce owl

Has made her a widow.

Oh! It breaks my heart, her cry.

Jane Kohut-Bartels

copyrighted, 2016


Five Tanka….maybe.

November 16, 2016
My beautiful picture

photo of the morning east, 2012


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.


Autumn wind startles–

Lowered to an ominous

Key—Ah,  Mournful sounds!

The fat mountain deer listen-

Add their bellowing sorrow.


Mist drifts in waves

Ribbon-ing maple branches

The rising of moon

Make Egrets shimmer silver-

Gauzy ghosts of nothingness.


The moon floats on wisps

 Of clouds that extend outward

 Tendrils of white fire

 Burn up in the universe–

 Gauzy ghosts of nothingness.


The full moon above

floats on blackened velvet seas,

poet’s perfection!

But who does not yearn for a

crescent in lavender sky?

Jane Kohut-Bartels

Copyrighted, 2016

Tanka and free verse were the earliest forms of poetry I wrote.  Now?  I don’t think these poems above are tanka.  Perhaps a few.  There are so many rules and different techniques in tanka and I have been away from the study for years.  I found a site on Tanka forms that I will study.  I remember the different ‘sentiments of tanka from a 10th century document from Japan of course, but vaguely.  So, soon I hope to be able to ‘reform’ my own work and learn the different techniques.  So look up[pn these pieces as just attempts at poetry and dubious tanka.

Lady Nyo







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