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
bickering about nothing but it’s everything — Bruce H. Feingold, bottle rockets #15 (2006)
Radhamani Sarma conjures drama:
I view from my special corner of the internet a scene of my favorite TV mega serial: a cacophonic gathering on the street, each person vying for priority in times of water scarcity, arranging their plastic pots, pushing each other. All are bickering. My eyes glance again at this senryu by Bruce H. Feingold that starts off with “bickering.”
The first line — “bickering” — leading on to the second and third lines — “about nothing/but it’s everything” — speaks volumes about wrangling in all walks of life, affecting every branch, every field and every episode, applicable everywhere. Now, it is imperative that I establish connectivity with my observations about the TV mega serial, where women jostle with each other for a pot of water, within the allotted time, with a mind to returning home to take care of domestic chores. The bickering starts with whose queue is first, leading on to their falling upon each other. Closer to home, children fail at their exams, and husbands, in a drunken state of irresponsibility, are not able to feed their wives, almost hitting them with pots. At times, the abominable words, abusive language in wrangling drag into three or four generations; a lineage. Some bickering has resulted in an unforgivable end or even suicide.
Another approach to this bickering is perhaps what starts as a light argument without any significance — “about nothing.” For instance, an enthusiastic wife might expect approval from her busy husband, hurrying off to his office, about the taste of some Indian dish, but gets only the off-hand reply, “It needs more salt,” or “It’s bland.” It does not stop there; the husband adds a curt note. “Your mother did not train you before sending you to your in-laws’ house.” He adds fuel to the fire: “Get training from my mother.” His infuriated wife bursts out, hurries to the phone, complains to her mother. Back again, she continues on about ill treatment from his sisters, throwing ladles and other utensils. This goes on for weeks.
The conclusive third line — “but it’s everything” — is comprehensive of all expansive and ruinous aspects embedded within the related issue. Some end point should come from one of them.
Not for nothing, William Shakespeare writes in Hamlet, “to find quarrel in a straw,” echoing this bickering, only taking on the first part, of course.
This bickering quite possibly occurs in offices, the domestic field, shops, individual to individual, wherever ego prevails. There is no one reason: ego, jealousy, impatience, petulance and pride. All veer around one silly issue most of the time.
Cezar-Florin Ciobica looks for a spark among the ashes:
This poem is a nice senryu that highlights the dissensions that inevitably appear in a couple’s life. Arguing about petty and trivial matters is, if you want, like salt and pepper in a relationship: the spark that could rekindle, why not, some sweet feelings, deep emotions, the initial passion.
“Bickering about nothing” is a contradictory, but useful, constructive form of communication. The lack of this dialogue means the end of a relationship.
The nothingness brought into question could also be the basis for strengthening the fragile relationship between the two lovers/spouses, a strenuous way to find suitable solutions to help them save what they have built together.
These disagreements, which can have multiple causes (jealousy, sexual inappetence, alienation from one’s emotions, divorce, or raising children), are, in fact, the only thing they still possess and to which they cling desperately to survive; a chance to setup a new dimension in their marriage. If there is no love, nothing is relevant in the world; we live in vain.
As this week’s winner, Cezar-Florin 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!
palm reader my love line has a typo — Sanela Pliško, Failed Haiku #53 (2020)