Posted in Senryu

Michael Smeer’s Anniversary Dinner

anniversary dinner
i tie together
dad’s shoelaces

AHS Winter Solstice Haiku String 2018
© Michael Smeer (Netherlands)

This week’s poet is the creator of both the “My Haiku Pond” blog and the “My Haiku Pond Academy” group. We recommend these sites as great places of learning and feedback.

Now, let’s get to the commentary:

This heartfelt senryu has two elements due to the choice of words, which provides curiosity to readers.

An anniversary dinner here may be the celebration of a parents’ wedding. So, here I can see this as a matter of deep pain where one spouse is being missed (due to death, separation, or illness). The child may have tried to make this event a special one for the father, who seems to be very old. With a deep emotional state of mind, the son couldn’t figure out how to tie dad’s shoelaces. Shoelaces here symbolize the relationship that is quite messy due to different reasons, and could be a metaphor for the child’s wish to see his parents in a perfect relationship again. Shoelaces tied together indicate confusion, ambiguity, and/or remorseful feelings that may result in a perplexed state of mind and actions.

The other side of this senryu could be full of life, where parents and children are together to enjoy the celebration of an anniversary and play pranks on each other—like shoelaces being tied together in this case.

Hifsa Ashraf (Pakistan)

In response to Hifsa:

I also interpreted like you, except that I thought (in a lighter vein) that the son tied up both the laces in order to stop his father from running faster.

Arun Sharma (India)

Hifsa nailed this and I can’t seem to add more to what she saidespecially about the possibility of a prank. “I tie together dad’s shoelaces” says it all. If the word “together” was omitted in the phrase, then it would be more open for interpretation. For example, perhaps his dad was too old to tie his own shoelaces and his son did a good deed. Again, it’s still open to the interpretation of a prank as well.

Fractled (USA)

What I see here is the naughtiness of the subject… tying “together dad’s shoelaces” could be construed as tying the laces of the two shoes together.

Perhaps the subject sneaked under the dining table. I see him as specially dressed because of the memorable occasion of an anniversary. And having that devilish grin of a naughty child, proceeded to tie the laces of his father’s two shoes as others enjoyed in partaking in the bounty of an anniversary dinner, perhaps with a huge turkey at the middle of the table and champagne on the side… a special casserole, some cake, and what have you.

Willie Bongcaron (Philippines)

Much has been said about the content, but I would like to touch upon the technical aspects of this senryu.

Senryu commonly don’t have kireji (cutting word), which are represented by punctuation in English. The poet rightly did not insert punctuation due to this.

Also, notice the economy of this poem. It only has seven words, but it has a significant impact on the reader and provides a potent mood.

The format of the lines are not the “traditional” English senryu structure of a short first line, longer second line, and a short third line. However, not only are senryu more free in structure, but it does not matter so much—especially since the economy of the writing is high.

In terms of sound, a musicality is brought into the haiku with a string of “i” letters and may even portray the stress of tying the shoes together. There is a bit of rhyme in the first and second line with “r” sounds, but the strong “r” in the first line and the soft “r” in second line do not make it a heavy rhyme. We generally avoid rhyming in haiku and senryu, but sometimes if it does not push too hard against the reader, it is fine.

An efficient senryu that exudes a strong mood and a keen sense of musicality.

Nicholas Klacsanzky (Ukraine)

Did you enjoy the senryu and commentary? Please let us know in the comment section.

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Posted in Haiku

Afrânio Peixoto’s Wind

Original in Portuguese:

Sem pedir, o vento
Derruba as flores do chão . . .
Eu nunca ousei.

English version:

without asking, the wind
sheds the flowers on the ground . . .
I never dared

© Afrânio Peixoto (1876 – 1947) (Brazil)

This poem shares the attitude that nature is bold and unpredictable. The wind may relate to mood swings as well, as sometimes rage may take us to a level where we do mistakes and blunders, shedding what we have earned. I think this also shows a specific type of wind that may be manifested as cold, dust storms, heat waves, and toxic material. I also see the helplessness of human beings when it comes to catastrophes where nature ruins its own beauty. “I never dared” is showing the alternative choice that we have being human beings—empathy, compassion, and kindness that influences certain decisions we make in haste.

Hifsa Ashraf (Pakistan)

This haiku has an anthropomorphic nature. The wind, as an individual, and—without asking—sheds flowers as if it were an action so strong as to need a sort of permission before “rudely” being done … It is rare but not impossible to find this kind of humanization in a ku. When the author says “I never dared,” he shows us more than a shy temperament. He affirms to be not able to stop a flower’s life in an instant, as the wind can do it. He shows a feeling of humility and kindness for Earth’s creatures …

On the other hand, this compassionate poem could be also read as a romantic one, in which I can imagine him strolling with the woman he would like to express his love to and wishing nature to be like Cupid for him in that moment: we usually spread petals or flowers in romantic moments, in relation to a marriage or when there is a genuine, passionate, and true love to celebrate …

Anyways, it has evoked in me more possibilities and, even if it’s quite a long haiku, I personally would rewrite it as 4 lines:

without asking,
the wind sheds the flowers
on the ground . . .
I’ve never dared

It has a good appeal when we let it enter into our thoughts and emotions… It works at the level of the fourth chakra: love, bravery, and compassion are involved here, and we can see how the author gives the wind the task (hard for him) to make the flowers fall to the ground to talk of love to the lady with him….

Lucia Fontana (Italy)

This was written a long time ago, when haiku was barely known to the West. Nonetheless, this particular haiku is similar to what modern haiku poets are writing now in English and in other languages. The majority of Peixoto‘s work could be said to be more haiku-like than haiku, however.

Anyways, I think this poem does what haiku commonly do best: show a connection between humanity and nature. In this case, the poet expresses the power of mother nature, and also its indifference. It could be about admiring nature for its willingness to go through difficult processes, but also at the same be shocked at its ruthlessness. Since nature does not have a mind or emotions, it acts according to the circumstances provided. Humans may hesitate to perform the inevitable, but the natural world has no such pretension.

I don’t speak Portuguese, but I can see a fine sense of sound in the original. With the numerous “r” and “o” letters, the poem is not only musical, but also sounds like the wind. On the side of punctuation, it seems the poet used more than the usual amount that we employ nowadays. Nonetheless, the poet strove for the modern notion of a short first line, a longer second line, and a short third line.

With this haiku and others, Peixoto introduced haiku to Brazil and the West in an auspicious way.

Nicholas Klacsanzky (Ukraine)

Did you like the commentary and haiku? If so, please leave us a comment.

paint-2421585_960_720

Art by Silke Lemcke

Posted in Tanka

Jacob Salzer’s Cracked Pillars

cracked pillars
no longer stand
between us . . .
admitting all the times
I’ve been wrong

Ribbons, Spring/Summer, 2018

© Jacob Salzer (USA)

This week, we have a treat, as we have the poet himself giving commentary:

I envisioned cracked pillars from ancient Greece. As you know, a lot of the structures are now in ruins, broken down over time. Some of the pillars that once held heavy tops now stand alone, often cracked—but even those often break down, leaving only a slab of marble or perhaps a pile of stones. The pillars are actually metaphors for the sense of “I” which visually resembles a pillar. The vision was remnants of pillars in a row, and two people standing on each side of them. Basically, all that’s left of the pillars in the tanka are small piles of marble. By admitting my faults, my pillar, or sense of “I,” breaks down and I’m able to fully connect with someone else.

If you enjoyed this poem and commentary, please let us know in the comment section.

386px-Charles_Lyell_-_Pillars_of_Pozzuoli

Art by Charles Lyell

Posted in Haiku

H. F. Noyes’ Morning Stroll

morning stroll–
unshared thoughts float off
with the withered leaves

(The Heron’s Nest, Volume II, Number 10: October, 2000 – Heron´s Nest Award)

© H. F. Noyes (1918 – 2010) (USA)

I have a soft spot for the word “stroll.” It seems perfect for haiku and the leisurely way we write in this genre. Morning strolls are usually done on the weekend, when we have rested well and are relaxed.

However, with “unshared thoughts,” we get a look into the psychological condition of the poet. It implies, in a way, that the poet has thoughts he would either not want to share, or deems not important enough to communicate. Or, it could be that the poet simply did not share them, without any preconceived notion.

When I read “float off,” I resonated with it, in that I often have something similar happen. A thought comes, and soon appears to drift away. Thoughts sometimes are like satellite signals, beeping in and out of existence.

This state where thoughts are more loose can be entered when viewing nature. Seeing nature in its splendor and grandeur can often still our minds. In this instance, the poet connects his thoughts with the withering leaves that are also floating away. “withered leaves” refers to autumn, and this link may imply that the poet believes his thoughts are as useful or important as autumn leaves. The beauty of autumn is not captured here, but rather its deterioration. Additionally, maybe he is inferring that unless and until we share our thoughts, they are as substantial as withered leaves.

In terms of its technical aspects, the punctuation, sound, and layout can be considered. I think the ellipsis is fine as a way to make the reader pause and imagine a morning stroll, but it seems an ellipsis would have been more suitable to fit the mood and action of floating.  When looking at the sound of the haiku, we can notice the usage of “o” sounds to slow down our reading, reflecting the sense of a stroll. The “r”s also keep the pace of the poem leisurely. Speaking of the layout, we have a typical structure for English-language haiku, with a short first line, a longer second line, and a third line.

I like how casual the first line is, and how it is contrasted by the evocative last two lines. A striking haiku in its simplicity and imagery.

Nicholas Klacsanzky (Ukraine)

This haiku is either about yearning for certain dreams, or things that bother one the most. The opening line indicates that the person seeks solitude that this autumn morning provides fully. But, certain unshared thoughts still annoy in a way, as there is no one to share them with. It shows the introverted personality of a person who tries to live in solitude, and still enjoys it the most.

Withered leaves in this context symbolises death/ irrelevant thoughts that are still unshared and a mystery. I can also see an element of meditation here, as a morning stroll and withered leaves indicate the deep silence of autumn, departure, solitude, and hibernation. So, the person finds it the best ambiance for pondering deeply and filtering those unshared thoughts—eventually, finding those thoughts more like withered leaves: irrational. Mindfulness is the key here, where the poet cleverly related his ongoing thoughts with the season and finally achieved his goal: inner peace and serenity.

Hifsa Ashraf (Pakistan)

Did you enjoy the poem and commentary? If so, leave us a comment below. 

35064618046_6fd40e8fd2_b

– Ron Frazier

Posted in Haiku

Stefano d’Andrea’s Word

golden grapes —
if only each word
were so sweet

Ephemerae, volume 1, 2018

© Stefano d’Andrea (Italy)

The protagonist in this haiku probably refers to the type of sweet, small tomato known as “golden grapes.” They are loved as snacks in the summer and spring. The poet is from Italy, and I can imagine these in salads, and various other dishes.

Possibly, while eating one of these delicious tomatoes, the poet had a yearning for our words to be just as sweet. Maybe, recently he was engaged in an argument with friends or loved ones, or he saw the banter of politics in the news. Either way, it is a contemplation on the almost-perfection of nature, with each golden grape being consistently pleasing to the taste in the right season. In a way, it recalls a sense of innocence, when we see the world in a more simple and magical way. It could also be an introspection for us to think about what we can change in our behavior, especially in our current political climate.

Getting into the technical stuff like punctuation, layout, and sound, I like the pause given with the em dash in the first line. It gives reader’s time to imagine the golden grapes. In terms of the layout, we have a standard English-language format of a short first line, a longer second line, and a short last line. The pacing of the lines are natural and it reads easily. When looking at the sounds, one cannot skip over the multiple usage of “o.” It is reflective of the shape of the golden grapes. The haiku becomes musical with the repetition of “g” in the first line, and “s” in the third line.

A charming haiku that makes us introspect about human behavior and its relation to nature.

Nicholas Klacsanzky (Ukraine)

Grapes are golden when it’s the beginning of autumn, after the fructose in them has increased at the height of the summer sun’s exposure.

When the poet says “if only each word were so sweet,” it suggests that maybe somebody has talked in a not-so-kind way to him… There is a sort of subtle sorrow, in which the sadness of a farewell can be perceived… golden grapes, golden times, golden words… Gold has always dealt with the divine, and indeed a divine dimension can be experienced through a sweet dialogue, maybe with a missed love… a regret? A loss? A grief?

Mead, the most ancient alcoholic drink men started to produce, or the nectar of the Gods, is also made from a golden and sweet substance: honey. It was cherished by the Egyptians and ancient Aegean Sea cultures, and something divine is findable in that attribute of grapes too. So, grapes are golden when ready for harvest, ready for making first the must, then to become wine. “In vino veritas” is a Latin phrase that means “in wine there’s the truth.” The poet, an Italian, is probably fond of this extraordinary drink, and maybe he is a sommelier and vine grower. In the haiku, he seems to recall wine and its properties… Maybe words should be always full of truth and sweetness before being pronounced… And probably words should be always chosen after having reached a gentle state of mind before being written or told, especially in a poetic path such as the writer’s.

Anyways, words have a very deep and magical power, and we should prefer silence, which is also golden if words cannot be as golden as Stefano’s grapes in his poem….

A haiku that leads the reader from the sensual dimension (visual, taste) to the comprehension and acceptance of human imperfections through the divine beauty of nature….

Well done,  d’Andrea!

Lucia Fontana (Italy)

Did you like this haiku and commentary? If so, please leave us a comment.

1280px-Farmhouse_in_Provence,_1888,_Vincent_van_Gogh,_NGA

– Vincent van Gogh