Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Catching a Catfish with a Gourd (Josetsu)


The gourd is the dry brother to the fish.
The curvature of spout and spine
Rhyme with the barrier of the riverbank.
Hard fiber, dark clay, and green flesh
Are his brain, befuddled by wine.
I must make my mind a perfect blank,
He thinks, if I'm to lure the catfish inside.
But the neck is only two inches wide!
That fat fellow is slick and fast as light,
While I would lose a race with mud.
But if I could do it, how sublime!

Clearly, there's no wrong way or right.
The answer pulses in his brain as blood,
Easy as catching an idea with rhyme.

1 comment:

Raj Arumugam said...

how do you catch a catfish in a gourd?

catfish slippery
gourd slippery
and I am to catch this catfish

mountains stand behind
covered by mist
mountains have grown
as have my whiskers
and my clothes tear and wear out with time
and I am to catch
slippery catfish
with slippery gourd -
O god
of streams and mountains!
how do you catch, dear god of bamboo,
a catfish in a gourd?

and the waters flow
of many monsoons and storms
and the river has changed its course
many times
while I stand here with my gourd
and myself twisted and turned and all my virility lost
not a jot closer to my task
even with the god of riverbanks;
but all the while this catfish jumps around in the stream
clapping its fins like a pair of hands
and beating the water with its tail
and the message it sends is: “Come on! come on!
Catch me if you can!”

catfish in the waters slippery
gourd in my hand slippery
and I am to catch this catfish
O god of mist and rocks
how do you catch a catfish in a gourd?