Bashō's Road

to the small poem and the quiet voice within

gary barwin & derek beaulieu | frogments from the frag pool

Painting by Lucha of Arcadia (aka Marie of Ellison Bay, WI, USA)

Gary Barwin & Derek Beaulieu

you can’t teach
an old pond
new frogs

[from: FROGMENTS FROM THE FRAG POOL, Haiku After Bashō, (2005) The Mercury Press, Box 672, Station P, Toronto, Canada M55 2Y4…www.themercurypress.ca] or click here if you are interested in buying this book…

Editor’s Note: Here’s a bonus prose splash from Barwin and Beaulieu’s Bashō-brilliant little-green-jumpy book that keeps croaking in the “ah” line of the haiku-mind—-Norbert Blei

Frog at the Bar

The sky was threatening to burst and so I ended up at Sam Meniscus’ Bar before the usual time. Met this old guy nursing a drink at a table at the back. He was looking to talk, and time had almost run out on his beer.

“It’s about seeing,” he said. “And about not seeing.” His watery eyes were rheumy ponds, and his whole body trembled slightly as he spoke. “You see the rain out there? Imagine trying to see a single drop fall, trying not to see any of the other drops. That’s what I had to do. That’s what I had to accomplish. And it wasn’t easy. You think it was easy?”

I drained my bourbon. Motioned to the barman for another. “Don’t figure so.”

“Well, that’s how it was with the frogs. Thousands of the things. All burping, and bubbling, and hopping all over the place. It wasn’t easy to ignore them, the warty buggers. Slimy green jumping rats. So I sees this one frog and I train my eye on him. Trick was to ignore all the other frogs. The first cou¬ple of hundred times I lose him quick. But I go back to the pond for months. You think I had anywhere better to go? Think I’d hang around the station waiting for the goddamn bus to the friggin’ Deep North? Not this gutterball. So the weather’s getting cold. We’re all moving slow — me, the frogs, the girls plopping down grey stuff at the soup kitchen. So finally I blank out all the other frogs and stick my eye to the big mother frog. And then it jumps from its place on the slobbery bank. AND IT HITS THE GODDAMN SURFACE OF THE POND WITH A SOUND LIKE MY TEETH BEING PULLED OUT. The pop of the pink denture goo snapping off my I-don’t-know-what-colour-they-are gums. I knew it would be like that. Perfect. A single island of pure uninterrupted sound in my sorry and always interrupted life. When I heard it I knew I’d been waiting for that sound ever since I was denture-cream pink and wrapped in diapers. And you know what I did? You’ll never guess, not in a million. I ripped open some smokes and wrote on the package. In Japanese. A guy back at the bunk told me what it was. Five, seven, five. A haiku. Whatever the hell that means. I’d wanted to watch the frog, hear it crack open the pond. But what was the point? It’s been almost four hundred years. I’m still trying to figure it out.”

 

5 Comments

  1. Barbara Fitz Vroman

    September 28, 2010 at 5:47 pm

    Love it. Wisdom reigns in everyone if you listen long enough. Great old man. Great capturing of old man.
    In Burma there is a season when it literally rains frogs.
    I always liked frogs “…far away from me.” One day a friend forced a toad into my hand. I was ready to bop! her,
    and then…I looked, and I felt, and my anger deflated. The little toad felt like velvet, and it was so scared, my heart ached for it as I set it free.

  2. Oh Norb, what joy you bring. Thank you so much for bringing me these wondrous writings!!! Blessings, ma

  3. ribet
    ribet
    lovit.

  4. Thank you dear friend………

    From ~Your Elusive and Devoted Fan~

    xoxo

  5. The imagine of a single rain drop reminds me of a story told once by a student of mine in a philosophical class about the imagination. He had asked during one seminar what is the imagination. I answered: “imagine a rain drop and try to get inside it without breaking it.”
    The student nodded. He did not say anything further. Since it was the last seminar before Christmas vacation in Heidelberg and everyone of the American students preparing to go to Prague it was interesting to see them go with that question in mind.
    In January during the first seminar in the New Year the student asked if he can tell a story what happened with my answer. I said, yes, of course, go ahead.
    He began:
    “I was writing Christmas cards and especially one I wanted to send to her.”
    He nodded towards Sarah in the backrow and everyone realized he had taken a fancy of her.
    “I told her about a single raindrop up in the sky. It was hidden in a big black cloud and very sad because all alone. This made the rain drop very heavy, so heavy as a matter of fact that suddenly the rain drop started to fall. As it fell and fell and gathered speed, the raindrop became more and more frightened. What if he would fall on tiled roof or a sharp fence or some sharp object? But no, he fell into a big ocean full of millions of raindrops. He was so happy to be surrounded by fellow raindrops. They touched his body all over and he in turn could feel them. What joy after all that misery in loneliness up there in the clouds. The other raindrops took him by his arms and showed him the fishes and the corals and many other things to be seen in a deep and wide ocean. On the third day of discovery there came up a storm. All the raindrops hooked arms and formed waves to ride out the storm. Wow, what feeling to do that together. But then came the storm with a sudden force and grapped the rainbow by the neck and lifted him up into the air. The others could not hold on. They let him go. The raindrop was in despair: why did you let me go when I just joined you. But he had no time to wait for an answer as the storm carried him up, up, up. The raindrop thought why me. But he started to look at himself and once he reached that altitude where sunrays shone upon his body he saw beautiful colours like in the rainbow. He then came to the conclusion that he was send up again because surely there must be many more raindrops like him all alone and heavy in sadness because hidden in some dark cloud. And sure enough the moment he had this thought he discovered many other raindrops around him. He rushed to them over and told them about the big wide ocean below with many raindrops waiting for them. All the raindrops started to cry out of joy. This is when it rained again.”
    Wherever Doug may be today, I still thank him for that lovely story of the raindrop.
    Thanks Norb for frogmenting the frag in the pond!
    Hatto

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