33 Translations of One Bashō

      by Chad Sweeney


1

            ancient pond;

            the frog jumps in—

            splash!

 

2

            a frog leaps

                        into the old well—

            sound of water

 

3

            self absorbs

                        into the flux

            death bell or birth?

 

4

                                                pear rots

                        in the entropy of bees

            dark night of the soul

 

5

            dragon in search of the golden sun ball

            dives into a koan of irreconcilable relations

            [old well: new water] the myriad worlds

 

6

            a thief plummets

            from the fire escape:

            listen

 

7

            Grandpa mumbles something

            about the truck in snow

            insinuating tomorrow

 

8

            a desire

            hidden in the dream—

                        one feather dipped in blood

9

            y = mx + b

            x2 + y2 = 169

                   Ø

 

10

            Quetzalcoatl

                        disappears into capitol steps:

            history

 

11

            twin snakes

                        coupling in the garden

                        dew on the jasmine

 

12

            thesis

            antithesis

                        synthesis

 

13

                        Oedipus overlooks himself

            in the sphinx

                                    unified in the oracle

 

14

            the boy is older

                        than his mother

            shaking loose the wars

 

15

            suicide note:

            the world is a nothing

            blooming

 

16

            Krishna reaching out through everything

            gives Radha a blue bracelet

            we live by the sound of its rustling


17

                        no frog without

            this rain: no rain

                        without the frog

 

18

            servant girl wearing the king’s medallion

            falls into her own reflection:

            poetry

 

19

            iroko tree

            offers to the circle of young wives

            seed in the belly

 

20

            no target no

                        arrow no bow

            bull's eye!

 

21

            man-lion at dusk

            Narasingha—

                        the gateless gate

 

22

            all day rain falls

            until mountains return to egg

            in the whiteness

 

23

                                    bare arm

            briefly lit against the night

            then the banjo

 

24

            ferry boat crosses

                        the swollen river

                 despite the cries of warning

 

25

            from her left breast

                        mother

                        fed me language

26

            where

            was the sound

                        before the sound?

 

27

                        despite the wind

            smoke draws a line

                        straight up from the candle

 

28

            by use of transitional objects the infant

            actuates into the larger community

            but not without trauma

 

29

            minnows nibble

                        roots in dark water

            the child is thinking

 

30

            the dancer

            dissolves into energy

            latent in the audience

 

31

            in the cage

                                                he wakes

            beside his old harmonica

 

32

            Mt. Fuji

                        floating

            on the eye

                        makes a new thing

           not me: not snow

 

33

                        the frog has escaped

            to lay her eggs

                        in the rain gutter