Posted in Haiku

Eufemia Griffo’s Frozen Leaves

frozen leaves
a deep silence
within

© Eufemia Griffo (Italy)

(Hedgerow #122, 2017)

For me, this haiku indicates that if we become able to see things from positive a perspective, evil will not remain in our inner self. The “frozen leaves” here stand for a thought process, “silence” stands for the state of tranquility, and “within” is infinity. A portrait of realisation in short.

– Manoj Sharma (Nepal)

There is a beautiful comparison in this haiku. Frozen leaves, where molecular activity has ceased. I can imagine such a deep state of meditation, a state of peace, where not a single thought passes through. Nice assonance in the words too.

– Martha Magenta (UK)

Frozen leaves indicate the lack of movement, motivation, and enthusiasm that makes them less active but not dead. It may be hibernation time where physically there is no activity, but spiritually and mentally, life is fully active. So, it is a transformation period of maturity, where thought processes goes on to the advanced level through meditation, and incubation. The word “within” indicates the process of knowing oneself more.

– Hifsa Ashraf (Pakistan)

I felt a sense of alienation from it. So, I can sympathize with this poem. “frozen leaves” reminds me of long patience. “a deep silence within” shows that it has no voice. The “a” emphasizes “deep silence.” It magnifies “deep silence.”
But “within” … so it is completely divided from the reader.

– Norie Umeda (Japan)

I think the poet sees this moment, leaves being frozen, with a positive spin. The silence can indicate several things: a meditation, a respect for the state of the leaves, or a peace in light of death or frailty.

Usually, we don’t like to have one word for the last line of a haiku, but occasionally we can use this technique to express various feelings. Not only is the last line surprising, and common at the same time (which is often a mark of a fine haiku), but it makes us focus on ourselves as well. What deep silence do we have within ourselves, especially during difficult times? I feel this haiku gives the reader an opportunity to introspect about the peace we have inherently within.

– Nicholas Klacsanzky (Ukraine)

Did you enjoy this haiku and/or the commentary? Let us know in the comment section.

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Posted in Haiku

Leatrice H. Lifshitz’s River

the river—
coming to it with nothing
in my hands

© Leatrice H. Lifshitz (1933-2003) (USA)

Profound and well constructed. I can feel the author’s spiritual sense on approaching the river to receive its blessings rather than to act upon it. Easy to relate to this poem.

– Eric Lohman (USA)

Rivers nurture the earth, creating and sustaining life. They symbolize the flow of nature, growth, a journey or life itself. In this haiku, the river is approached with empty hands. This suggests a deeper meaning of the river i.e. the journey towards enlightenment. A very relatable haiku.

– Martha Magenta (UK)

A river is known for its particular direction that flows with a great rhythm persistently. Maybe, the author wants these qualities, more focused, more organised, more optimistic, and more persistence/balance. Overall, I see the author is looking for a well-disciplined life.

I see another aspect (just relating it to my personal experience). In Pakistan, the monsoon season brings devastating results, like heavy floods, where rivers engulf many villages in remote areas, and also bring a lot of mud with them. I can see a man going to the river with nothing in his hands, maybe a victim of that flood that has left nothing in his hands.

– Hifsa Ashraf (Pakistan)

My tai chi teacher has said: “The best things in life you cannot hold in your hands.” This haiku reminds us of this. It also reminds us that in the river of life, it is universal. Some seem to cling to what is “me” and “mine.” This belongs to “me.” This is “mine.” The focus of attention is on the “me,” which is, ultimately, just a thought. And, in the end, nothing belongs to you. Everything you own—your house, your objects, your car, your money—will, one day, be completely out of your hands. So, it is a humbling reminder. More importantly, this haiku seems to remind us that life itself, and living is not about “me” but about something much greater that includes everyone and everything. So, from the personal, we reach the universal. This haiku also brings to mind: giving can only happen with open hands. When the hand of anger is in a closed fist, a person cannot give or receive. So, the haiku reminds us to take it easy, keep our anger at bay and embrace a big-picture perspective. The haiku is ultimately liberating because we arrive at the river of life with nothing, and trust in the great mystery that somehow, someway, serves all things.

– Jacob Salzer (USA)

One cannot step into the same river twice, someone once said. And here, the speaker is heading to the river with no expectations, open to whatever the river has to offer, hands empty, probably a clear mind, ready to receive what the river is about to give. Perhaps the speaker is an ascetic and has nothing, no possessions that he/she can hold, or, merely someone who is just open to new discoveries from a new river that can never be stepped into more than once.

– Dana Grover (USA)

The last two lines leave a mystery for the reader. We wonder what the poet is doing by the river. Bringing something to the river could imply offering something to perform a ritual. Also, the “nothing” could be an abstract or metaphysical “nothing.” So, in a sense, the poet could be bringing something that is “nothing.”

A river flows and keeps going. Maybe the poet wanted to respect this nature of the river by not giving it something that would impede it. Also, by coming without any expectation, the poet is able to observe the river in its “isness” and become one with the experience of perceiving it.

I enjoy the usage of the dash, as it provides the reader with an opportunity to pause and imagine a river. I also appreciate the simple turn in the last line. Too often haiku try to surprise and shock in the third line. A subtle last line often works better.

The most important sense of sound in this haiku is present in the second line with a string of “o”s. They make the reader feel the void with which the writer comes to the river more starkly.

Lifshitz has written a haiku that is easy to gravitate towards and to feel.

– Nicholas Klacsanzky (Ukraine)

What do you think or feel about this haiku? Let us know in the comments.

Posted in Senryu

Mark Gilbert’s Ceiling

chemotherapy
those tiny imperfections
in the ceiling

© Mark Gilbert (UK)
Prune Juice, #22, July, 2017

I enjoy the distance between the two parts of the poem: the chemotherapy, and the imperfections in the ceiling. It is just enough separation to create a spark in the reader’s mind. One mistake haiku and senryu writers can make is having the connection between parts be too near or too far apart. This senryu illustrates a fine balance between the two.

Chemotherapy, as you probably know, targets cancerous cells throughout the whole body, unlike radiation and other therapies. This drastic approach is sharply contrasted with the tiny imperfections the poet sees in the ceiling, probably in a hospital waiting room.

The act of noticing these marks in the ceiling has several concepts behind it: it can be an act of thoughtless awareness, it can be the feeling that a small issue can turn into a big problem later, and it can be envy for the minuscule problems of the inanimate compared to human beings. Perhaps, there are other interpretations as well.

The metaphor of a ceiling is stark to me, as cancer patients may feel that their world, or “ceiling,” is crumbling on them. The barrier between Earth and the heavens (sky) becomes less and less definite.

In terms of sounds, the “p” and “i” letters in this senryu seem to be the most prominent. The “p”s in “chemotherapy” and “imperfections” add a punch to the reading. On the other hand, the “i”s in the last two lines make my attention more acute towards the stated image.

Directly from real life, and from a difficult situation, the poet has expressed much in a understated tone, befitting a fine senryu.

– Nicholas Klacsanzky (Ukraine)

Posted in Haiku, Senryu

Nicholas Klacsanzky’s New Year’s Eve

New Year’s Eve
and also father’s death anniversary—
I have forgotten both

© Nicholas Klacsanzky (Ukraine)

Failed Haiku, April, 2017
(from the book: How Many Become One)

Today, we have a special edition, as we have a father and son commentary team—Mark Salzer being the father, and Jacob Salzer being the son.

1. Obviously, he has not totally forgotten both, else he could not find the words to capture the moment, so I like the irony.

2. “Holidays” like New Year’s Eve, so insignificant in the big picture…dates are so arbitrary.

3. Father’s can be significant people in our lives, but dwelling on the date of death detracts from his entire life and all the entailed moments and meaningful memories.

4. It is good to forget those things that are not so important—live and enjoy the here and now. We all die eventually…embrace that as a part of life, but there is no need to celebrate it per se.

5. Also, it speaks to not concerning ourselves with things outside our control…dates come and go, people live and die….

– Mark Salzer (USA)

One of the great things we have as humans is the ability to forget. This haiku reminds us of this. Dwelling in the past seems to separate us from the “now.” It is always now. It is never not this moment. But the mind cannot understand this, as thoughts are only about the past and future. But we want to act now. Then, we can truly live moment by moment.

The past has its place, and can be referred to at times. It is a part of life, and, like my father has said, it’s important to remember meaningful memories. But it is not a substitute for the here and now. A reasonable resolution may be: remember yesterday, plan for tomorrow, but live for today, for the miracle of this moment is all that we truly have.

– Jacob Salzer (USA)