I live with my wife and new pup in the rural northern California community of Ukiah ("haiku" spelled backwards). I've been writing poems since the second grade and though now retired, I'm still writing. I was selected as Ukiah's first Poet Laureate and have published three books of poetry. The latest is In the Name of Wonder (Haley's Press). For more information, please visit my website: www.armandbrint.com.
Basho Shows Up at the Pond
The old pond—
a frog jumps in,
the sound of water.
-Basho (trans. by Robert Hass)
A fisherman catches an enormous bull frog
on mill creek pond.
The boy next to him, his son maybe,
holds it out for us to see.
The frog’s legs spread out
as if it might propel itself
through the blue summer air.
It does not seem especially panicked—
perhaps it knows
how the old haiku will end.
Nancy asks to hold the dangling frog.
We don’t ask her to kiss it,
as we’re all too old
to believe in fairytales.
But we do believe in the spirit of Basho.
Even the fisherman seems uncomfortable
keeping the frog from its old pond.
In fact, he might be counting out haiku syllables
as the placid frog looks out
over the green water.
Except for a few ripples,
everything is still.
The boy waits
for the tangible world of summer
to come back to him.
We balance on the banks
of a Japanese wood block
waiting for Basho to give us the signal.
And when he does,
my friend releases the frog
into the old pond.
Basho places a finger to his lips
and then we hear the sound of water
where the frog jumps in.
Brush Street Hawk
Every time I drive down Brush Street,
the same small hawk
sits at its station on the telephone wire
overlooking the abandoned lot
next to the Catholic Church
built on the bones of an old garage.
The hawk gazes out over its domain
seemingly oblivious to the nearby freeway
and the general poverty
on this side of the railroad tracks.
It is completely focused
on small movements
in the adjacent patch of weeds and yarrow.
The hawk doesn’t move a feather
while it gathers all its energy
for the pursuit that will go unnoticed by drivers
on their way to the JC Penney.
But I always look for the hawk—
a symbol of constancy
in the midst of boarded store fronts
and abandoned shopping carts.
And each time I see this small raptor
my heart rises a bit
in the cage of my chest.
It is rare to witness something
in a place where even the gnarled oaks
amid the self-storage units
look as if they’ve given up.
I know the hawk could be gone
in a flicker.
And that would leave Brush Street
even poorer than before.
The telephone line would be free
to lacerate the sky.
And there would be no place
for this motorist’s eye to rest.
But for now, the hawk sits on its wire
charging the air with its vigilance.
And that is almost enough
to redeem what’s been done.
©2016 Armand Brint