Bash (fourteen versions of furuike ya)

(fourteen versions of Bashō’s famous frog: furuike ya / kawazu tobikomu / mizu no oto)

by Bill Knott

If I were a pond

and some frog jumped into me

I wouldn’t respond.

I am a pond but

when a frog gets intimate

I keep my mouth shut.

I may look like scum

but some frogs can poke this pond

to orgasm come.

This pond is so old

even its frogs want it sold

to build the new road.

This pond is old as

me. That’s how bad-off it is.

Frog-visits, I doze.

You’re old, pond—the same

as me. But when your frogs come

you recall each name.

This pond is year-scored

as me. But frogs that shake it

up just make me bored.

I’ll float in this pond,

fearing each frog that jumps down

will wash me aground.

This pond is old too—

But when a frog jumps into

It, it still sounds new.

This pond is dead earth

But listen to its rebirth

When frogs take a bath.

Ya, the old wash-hole—

wait-a-fuck: a frog?—oh, no!—

goes splasho Bashō.

Ya, the old North Pole

where Santa Frog (ho-hop-ho)

chops a splashin’-hole.

Ya, old-boys brothel—

watch Oscar Wilde get Bashō

to wet his tadpole.

Ya, here’s to Bashō!

there’s one frog-boozin’ dude you

should raise your glass to.

From Homages, CreateSpace, 2014, pages 62–63.