Kalev’s Anti-Blog A Poem


By Kalev Pehme

Basho’s pupil paints a haiku so cruel.

He writes: “A red firefly/Tear off its wings/

A pepper.” Zen compassion, the rule

of syllables, moves his master. He sings:

“A pepper/Give it wings/a red firefly.”

The student’s image cannot be reversed.

Buddha does not suffer. The open eye,

its dark center, sees the red insect first.

The fruit is flightless; shining is the fire.

Calligraphy is happening; its art

is inky vine on silk paper; desire

is Tao that can’t be found inside the heart.

The bug flaps fruit, the fruit flutters to mate

in air. The seed is now, never echoes.

Basho leaves, road shoes, not to contemplate

the old pocked moon that needs no shine or glows.

Seventeen syllables are the steps through snow,

melting at the spring’s night into nothing.

Basho on the beach picks up shells, hollow.

Flies are flying. peppers are peppering.

You must go on living, although you are

alive. Basho sees no future. He’s blind.

A child runs out and hits him: “You’re it!” Far

away the girl runs to hide unconfined.

It is poetry after rhyme, modern.

Basho sinks into deep waters, no more

real than me as myth, as moonless nocturne

repeated in two realms of metaphor.

It’s been days since Basho has seen mortals.

A frog jumps. Cranes stick-walk. The pond hunters

make Basho hungry. He roams through the portals

of branches, domain of cuckoo chanters.

And finally he sees the drops of dew

from bolts of lightning flashes—here and there…

the withered field sparkles amidst the few

great oaks whose long living flowers find rare.

The heat is cleaved; the silence cut; cold wind

is loosed from the verdant dark vaporous summit.

We are both dreams wandering all thinned

in landscapes where birds in seas plummet.

Picking moth-white mushrooms on the green hill

of Zen, I grew feverishly ill, toxin
of enlightenment. Ah, Basho, the nil

of you and me is warmed in season’s sun.

The snow Buddha melts, cooling the warm day.

Fresh fish is grilling over coals. He eats.

When thirsty, Basho drinks. In faraway

islands, Basho walks to where the heart beats.

I am a turtle walking on the bank

of the mirror pond. He looks at his face

and sees me. He writes haiku where I sank

into the reflective waters of space.

It’s not winter, or spring, summer, or fall.

Soleil or moon shine not. There is no night,

or morning or afternoon. Overall

there are no more voiced syllables to write.

Basho dissolves like sugar in hot tea

to sweeten the taste of journeying back

to where he’s real enough to be calmly

flowering to the most fragrant lilac.

Hundreds of years later, an illusion

on a keyboard rhymes quatrains of verse

about Basho who in his seclusion

looked at a fly and found the universe.

Some fireflies light up in new autumn air,

the poets say. Just so! And the bronze bells

knell to and fro so silently elsewhere

while writing poems to where Basho dwells.

About Kalev Pehme

I am an icastic artist and a Straussian. I am not a conservative or neocon Straussian. Sadly, there are too many of them. My interests are diverse, however, and sometimes quite arcane. I have a deep interest in Daoism, Indo-Aryan religion, Buddhism, Plato, Aristotle, and whole lot more. I love good poetry. I also enjoy all things ancient. And I would like to meet any woman who is born on May 29, 1985.
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