I wish old Basho would come to my house.
Especially when it’s winter, a paltry desert winter,
Warm enough this evening to sit outside in the city night
Huddled up in a warm jacket and a good hat
The trees bare-boned,
Old men Basho and me—
We will drink some red wine
A bottle of the $7.49 merlot from the 7/11
The one with the yellow kangaroo
And we’ll swap stories.
Like that one about the frog jumping into the pond.
What’s the story behind that, huh?
Or maybe he’ll want to know
What’s it like to be pissing in the backyard with my two sons
The full moon like a Chinese coin.
We’ll sit there on our sorry asses
At the beauty of a dying cockroach
We’ll write a few poems
Useless 3x5 index cards
I’ll lose somewhere
The gate swings open and shut
Open and shut
The cockroach is the gatekeeper
Basho and me
We will empty that bottle of wine
“Enough,” he says, “ is always exactly enough.”
“That’s a good one,” I say, and we giggle
And the bright moon
Dodges back and forth behind the clouds.
Bobby Byrd is a poet who practices at the Both Sides/No Sides Zen Community in El Paso, Texas. This poem is from his forthcoming book, The Roshi Makes Shitty Coffee (March 2014). He is copublisher, with his wife Lee, of Cinco Puntos Press.
Rob Stephenson, Ft. Tilden, Rockaway, NY, 2009. From the Rockaway Series