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
the grating voice so out of key but mellow after a few drinks — Karen Harvey, The Haiku Foundation's per diem (2020)
Radhamani Sarma considers two sides of the brew:
I’m pleased to view and comment on this haiku by Karen Harvey, taking as its subject the mood, sentiment and related issues before and after “drinks.”
The introductory line alludes to unpleasant sounds heard by the narrator, leaving more room for the reader’s speculation. “the grating voice” takes me back to my early days when opening bottled soda, obstructed with a small round-shaped ball, produced harsh sounds. Foam would sprout along with the popping and hissing. Puffs of those watery drinks still reverberate in me. These harsh sounds, like a grating, jarring voice, may put one out of place, out of mood. Nonetheless, after a few sips of the soda, one’s mood is subdued, even mellowed.
Another possible drawn, viable reference we have often heard is that after an alcoholic drink, people forget their worries, or perhaps their anger from quarreling is abated once they’ve had a drink. They may dance, even shout in a belligerent voice. On the other hand, at parties, some who drink alcoholic beverages after first having a high-pitched reaction, soon become calmer. The impact of tonal variation leads to “mellowing.”
An additional example I would like to share, here in my place, is that the custom has been to administer a mild dose of brandy to a mother who has just delivered a baby so that she will have restful sleep — a sort of mellowing after the labor and during confinement. Drinks do play their salutary part.
As this week’s winner, Radhamani 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!
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crossing my path... peculiar big cat drops me a bone — Pat Geyer, The Mamba, Issue 4 (2017)