Back Roads to Far Towns After Basho


Lawrence Ferlinghetti

Originally published in The Evergreen Review Issue 78 in May, 1970, this poem appeared in Issue 100 in 1998 after being selected for publication in the retrospective volume Evergreen Review Reader 1967-1973.

Make it new!
Make it new!
cried the parrot
to the mockingbird
We were born
under the mulberry trees
from which drop
the mynah birds of madness
And fish float
thru the trees
eating the seeds
of the sun

All of one summer
in a branch of water
by a stream

Silverdollar underwater
like a small stray turtle
at the bottom of things

Passing strange mountains
& dropping pine needles
in an envelope
I send you
some of my bones

Morning mocks its flowers
by becoming

We have our moments
of ecstasy
and then the bird

falls into the absurd

Basho would have liked
a lake like this
back roads to far towns
reflected in it...