Welcome to re:Virals, The Haiku Foundation’s weekly poem commentary feature on some of the finest haiku ever written in English. This week’s poem was
scattered beer cans deer shoot across a lonesome gravel road —James Babbs, Haikuniverse November 6th (2018)
Radhamani Sarma ponders the startled deer:
Delighted to comment upon the haiku of James Babbs, an American poet. When rolled over, either by wind or traffic or trampled upon by humans, the powerful metallic sound of the strewn empty beer creates a sense of terror midst the deer. Panic drives them so fast that the deer almost run across one another. The words “shoot across” aptly shows the idea of swiftness. The path chosen is a secluded gravel road, where they can run fast or hide. The word “lonesome” typifies a fear driven in pursuit of seclusion for safety.
As far as the technique, the haiku admirably works on the antithesis of scattered/lonesome. The empty cans represent noise in contrast with the image of the deer, which represent a sense of fear. The haiku works upon the successful rhyme scheme of beer/deer and cans/across.
Mark Gilbert gets geometrical:
I like the perpendicular interaction of nature and humanity in this haiku, with deer shooting across the road. There is a story behind the beer cans, no doubt; ‘shoot’ perhaps implies that there is a hunt going on in the woods, but the deer prey are possibly one step ahead. The sound of popping beer cans may also echo that of a gun.
As this week’s winner, Mark gets to choose next week’s poem, which you’ll find below. We invite you to write a commentary to it. It may be as long or short, academic or spontaneous, serious or silly, public or personal as you like. We will select out-takes from the best of these. And the very best will be reproduced in its entirety and take its place as part of the THF Archives. Best of all, the winning commentator gets to choose the next poem for commentary.
Anyone can participate. A new poem will appear each Friday morning. Simply put your commentary in the Contact box by the following Tuesday midnight (Eastern US Time Zone). Please use the subject header “re:Virals” so we know what we’re looking at. We look forward to seeing some of your favorite poems — and finding out why!
left to itself a moon without subtitles — Marlene Mountain, Haiku 21 (2011)