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
thistledown scatters the visible breeze — Michael Rehling, A Hundred Gourds 2:3(2013)
Bill Kenney responds to the implicit koan:
“Who has seen the wind?” asks the poet. But Michael Rehling, in his poem, gives us the visible breeze. Is the breeze made visible by the thistledown as it scatters, allowing us to see the breeze in the scattering? Or does the thistledown scatter a breeze that is somehow already visible? As what Gene Murtha used to call a “dang English teacher” (I believe I was often the one he had in mind), I am delighted that one way of asking the question is to inquire whether the verb “scatters” is to be read as transitive or intransitive. But of course, if we persist in asking what makes the breeze visible, the only adequate answer is the poem in which it appears, in response to which we create the image evoked by the poet’s words. Who has seen the wind? We have, my fellow readers. That is Mike’s gift to us.
Radhamani Sarma is haunted:
Very much honored and delighted to comment upon the monoku by world-renowned senryu writer, and editor of Failed Haiku, Michael Rehling, whose philosophy combined with his unique writing concept has always inspired me.
A brief preamble before I proceed to comment: as I sit near my balcony, type, and watch the backyard and the pathway of trees and plants, at times, my experience is amazing. With the speedy, eddying wind, the falling branches of coconut trees merge with the sound and sight of the roaring wind, and one wonders if there isn’t some powerful intruder ghost at play.
Here in the monoku, as seen in the eyes of the observant poet, the colorful thistled flowers, as they are whisked by the impartial breeze, predominate the scene. The word “thistledown” needs some scrutiny; it looks like the poet, the word-smith, has tactfully compressed so much here, that a sweeping, vast collection of thistles occupy the ground like a victorious banner.
The play of cause and effect is ably figured here, in this simple, yet powerful monoku.
As this week’s winner, Bill 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!
moving day — a forgotten box of rain — Mark E. Brager, Bones no. 9 (2016)