Subtlety Deathmatch

Featuring Donald Trump vs. 17th-century Japanese haiku poet Matsuo Basho

Last night, after winning the New York primary with approximately 6,900 percent of the vote, Donald Trump gave an uncharacteristically restrained victory speech, which analysts are interpreting as a sign that a new influx of political advisers may be reshaping the tone of his campaign. But we’re all thinking the same thing: How would Newly Restrained Trump fare against the all-time master of restraint, the 17th-century Japanese haiku poet Matsuo Basho?


With every gust of wind,

the butterfly changes its place

on the willow.


First of all, this is absolutely ridiculous. You want restraint? You want subtlety? Look, it's widely -- everyone knows I excel at subtlety. I can be subtle. I can be very, very subtle. Now, am I always subtle? No, because sometimes subtlety is very much not the best way to get what you want. Let me tell you something. You go into a room with Putin, and you look him in the eye, like George Bush, remember, how he said he looked into Putin's soul? Putin has the soul of a Russian bear wrestler, I'm telling you. I'm being absolutely honest. He's a man who, at a fundamental level, wants to take off his clothes and get busy with a bear. You look into the eyes of a man like Putin -- and they're very beady, nasty little eyes, I truly believe he needs glasses, he should consult a specialist, there's something very, very defective about his corneas. I have names. I have the best corneal surgeons in the world on my payroll. That's one thing I never mess around with, folks, the eyes, because you lose the eyes, woof, good luck. Good luck, folks. Really squinty eyes. You know what I mean by squinty? I'll tell you this right now. If Vladimir Putin relaxed his face, I honestly believe his eyes would roll right out of his skull. It would look like someone pushing two coeds off a waterfall. Like, swoosh! You try being subtle with a man like that. It's not a great idea, I'm telling you. But if Putin wants to play that game, come at me, beady boy.


A bee

staggers out

of the peony.


Number one, my opponent is very interested in bugs. That's all I'll say. That's all I'm going to say. I find that troubling, and, frankly, extremely revealing.


Temple bells die out.

The fragrant blossoms remain.

A perfect evening!


Wow. Wow, folks. Is this guy serious? Is this supposed to be -- you realize we're sitting on a bubble, don't you? We're sitting on an economic bubble that's going to be very, very painful when it breaks, and we're standing here debating restraint, which is, first of all, I can bring you PhDs, professors, multiple, multiple experts who will all tell you the same thing, and that's that Donald Trump is the best when it comes to restraint. If they made a crown for restraint, and I truly believe that they should -- and perhaps do, I have people looking into it -- that crown would belong to me, and I would be wearing it on my head. And you know what else? It would be shining, and there would be jewels set around its entire circumference -- the best jewels. And they'd be glittering like you wouldn't believe. That's what would be happening right now. Right this second. Crown on my head. Flashbulbs. Cheering.


The winter leeks

Have been washed white --

How cold it is!


I can't help but notice that this is my opponent's second consecutive poem, or whatever you want to call it, to end with an exclamation mark. I find that highly interesting, because I guess in poetry school they didn't teach old Bashin' Basho here that an exclamation mark, well, it's a very big jump, honestly, a very big sort of POW right there at the end. You ask anyone. Go to the corner deli and ask the guy behind the counter. You say, "What's the opposite of restrained?" and he'll tell you, "An exclamation mark." I'm not easily startled, but that -- how cold it IS! Pow, folks. If I wanted to be restrained, I wouldn't talk about big, loud, violent explosions like that. I'd keep it quiet. I'd do something like -- and this is just an example, folks, just to show you the sort of thing I mean --

My watch is restrained.

I'm looking at it

Very, very restrainedly.

You see what I mean? Or you could try something like

My gold watch

Has a subtlety and a restraint

That are so tasteful.


Ungraciously, under

a great soldier's empty helmet,

a cricket sings.


I am certain

That everything about me

Is restrained.


Tremble, oh my gravemound,

in time my cries will be

only this autumn wind.


I am so restrained it's --

it's tremendous.

You are embarrassing yourself

compared to me.


Sick on my journey,

only my dreams will wander

these desolate moors.


You got that right, pal.