Bashō's Road

to the small poem and the quiet voice within

gary barwin | frog at the bar


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 couple 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 l’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 flnally 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 l’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. l’d wanted to watch the frog, hear it crack open the pond. But what was the point? It’s been almost four hundred years. l’m still trying to figure it out.”

from frogments from the frag pool – haiku after basho by gary barwin & derek beaulieu. This book is available by clicking here… or click the following book back-cover…


1 Comment

  1. one could do worse than be a poet for frogs—

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