Michael Dylan Welch’s Frisbee

a floating Frisbee—
the river widens
as it nears the sea

© Michael Dylan Welch (USA)

(Published in “Nesting Dolls,” the 2018 Yuki Teikei Haiku Society annual members’ anthology)

A floating Frisbee… in water or in the air? The image of this Frisbee remains mysteriously suspended, as the power of the river appears suspended when reaching the limit of its course, it spreads beyond the banks dividing into a thousand rivulets, almost reluctantly…. The river and the sea are made of the same substance at the bottom, even though each has its own identity—yet in the culminating moment of total unification, it seems the river draws back.

I can’t penetrate the emotion that pushed the haijin to write this verse, but I have had the same feeling when, during a form of meditation, I feel that something is blocking the overcoming of my mental conditioning and hindering my awareness. The poem engaged me with its melodious rhythm and aroused feelings from heart to heart as with the best haiku.

Margherita Petriccione (Italy)

While some may scoff at the double article word “the,” how this rhymes, the use of two verbs, and what reads as “matter of fact” in the phrase of this ku, one must combine the three lines and loosen their grip on the rules to see that content matters more, which this haiku has plenty of.

Starting with the first line, note that the word “Frisbee” is capitalized, which to me instantly conjures an image of a concave disk that’s used as a pastime or for sport (ultimate) with an emphasis especially with the em dash after the word.

In combination with the phrase where the magic begins, I wonder if the frisbee as defined exists at all in the haiku. The frisbee could also be a whirlpool, hurricane, or a tornado where all have concave disk shapes that spin as a frisbee does, widening the river as it floats to the sea. Perhaps the frisbee does exist but I asked myself, “can it widen a river or is it the writer’s intention to juxtapose an object with the unsaid images not written in the haiku for the reader to fill in?” If so, it’s a masterful technique the author used very well.

Lastly, I believe the technique of “narrowing focus” was used in this haiku but in reverse. Rather viewing it from the top down, in this case, the sea is the wide lens, the river is the normal one, and the frisbee’s focal point is the narrow one, which makes this write all the more interesting.

Fractled (USA)

It takes a lot of time to understand the depth of a haiku that is written by a haiku master.

This well-constructed haiku reflects the depth of creativity and imagination.
One aspect of it gives me the image of a gliding frisbee that floats freely like our happy feelings and cheers us up both by our recreational and aesthetic senses. When someone is carefree, calm, and relaxed, he or she loves to enjoy the bounties of life and imagine life as free as a flying frisbee.

The other two lines of this haiku show the depth of our feelings that may initiate with a small action but it has a ripple effect. The river may look like a wide smiling face with profound effects that can bring great inner satisfaction.
The other side of this haiku could be a kind of cyclone that may look like a frisbee and bring turbulence in the river’s waters before it ends up in the sea.

Also, the capital letter ‘F’ in frisbee is intriguing, which may reflect the association of the writer with a particular type of frisbee.

Overall, this haiku is a combination of our cheerful feelings or childhood memories that bring its deep effects on our mind and heart.

Hifsa Ashraf (Pakistan)

Although I am an editor, I did not know before reading this haiku that “Frisbee” is sometimes capitalized. Since it is a registered trademark of the Wham-O company, it is indeed capitalized. Knowing that Welch is an editor, I admire him for sticking to the original.

Anyway, the first line is meditative. The reader takes in the movement and floating of the Frisbee more with the em dash, acting as a pause marker. The musicality of two “f”s in succession makes me think about the sound of the Frisbee tearing through the air.

The second line opens up with the juxtaposition. We come from a Frisbee perhaps in a park to a river. The river could be next to the park, but it could also be miles away. Regardless, I like the image. The intuitive feeling between a Frisbee floating and a river widening is definite. The shape and spin of the Frisbee give rise to the connection. Note also the musicality of the “i” sounds which bring a sense of sharpness.

The third line changes the scene and resolves the second line. When a Frisbee reaches the catcher, it starts to slow down and drag more. This is akin to the widening of the river before it reaches the sea. However, there is more to this image than the facts. I think this is a metaphor about how we act and feel when meeting our death or a goal. We open our hearts and minds more. Luckily, when coming to our end or when obtaining a goal, we approach it with open arms. On a side note, I enjoy the “ea” sounds in “nears” and “sea,” which to my mind brings a calming effect.

This haiku looks simple at first glance, but with its underlying metaphors, meditativeness, and musicality, it is an excellently crafted poem.

Nicholas Klacsanzky (Ukraine)

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Art by © Naomi Tydeman

Srinivasa Rao Sambangi’s Thread

the thread slips from
granny’s needle

© Srinivasa Rao Sambangi (India)
Modern Haiku, Issue 49:3, 2018

This haiku is very intelligently crafted. “Chrysanthemum” is a late autumn kigo, hence the fragment itself sets a mood of decay and destruction. The slipping of the thread is poignant in the sensitive portrayal of the loss of abilities which we take for granted in our youth.

The fragment and phrase nicely use the technique of association. There is a struggle against the natural course of things, and in between the lines, we find a glimpse of grace.

One of the deepest haiku I’ve read.

Pragya Vishnoi (India)

I have an old sewing machine from my mother in my possession, and every time I use the needle for sewing work, I can think of her presbyopic goggles and that thread that avoided the eye of the needle as if it were equipped with its own life…

In this way, this haiku of Srinivasa Rao becomes something that belongs to me, generating correspondence and the widening of perception—the qualities of a good haiku.

Melancholy, impermanence, and the sense of loss are linked to chrysanthemums. Fleeting humor is a classic element that enriches this very touching text. The rhythm of the verses leads from the slow murmur of line 1 to the fluidity of line 2, then almost pausing to savor a memory on line 3.

Margherita Petriccione (Italy)

The overall theme of this haiku is based on ageing with loneliness and melancholic feelings. I can see a very deep connection between the chrysanthemums and the sewing. The chrysanthemums symbolises grief, sadness, or pain in some parts of the world, but it is also considered as a symbol of joy and optimism. That is why in certain countries, women used to embroider chrysanthemums on skirts, shirts, and tablecloths.

In this case, maybe the granny needs to embroider a chrysanthemum not just to kill time but also to bring back memories of her past. The thread slipping may show the ‘cultural annihilation’ or ‘change of time’ where no one follows old traditions. Being nostalgic, she wants to revive that tradition to overcome her loneliness and melancholy but ageing drains her energy to do so.

It also shows the transformation of time, culture, and traditions where different phases of life are replaced with something new with a little or more acceptance. In granny’s case, she still misses her past life that was full of festivity and traditional activities that are now fading away with time.

Hifsa Ashraf (Pakistan)

In this haiku, I wondered if it could be a one-liner. But to me, line 1 has a stronger break in three lines even without the use of kireji, which is important because as a reader, it makes me contemplate the kigo word (how it is a fragment in this particular haiku and how it ties to the phrase in the two last lines), which is an all autumn/winter seasonal word in Japan and also its imperial seal.

Chrysanthemums are used as a health benefit for various ailments in its tea form, especially in Asia. To me, the juxtaposition between the words harmonizes rather than contrasts between the words “chrysanthemums” and “granny” because in China the plant represents longevity. What’s interesting to me is that the phrase “the thread slips from granny’s needle” to me can be interpreted in two ways, which can be tragic but if combined with the fragment and the history of the word “chrysanthemum,” there’s also the possibility that there’s nothing wrong with granny and the thread slipped from the needle from daily distractions of life.

In conclusion, this haiku is highly dependent on readers to create context from their own personal experiences, which I believe the author does a great job expressing by telling little.

Fractled (USA)

The poets above have done a great job discussing the content and technical aspects of this haiku. However, I want to point out how the shape of chrysanthemum petals are akin to a sewing thread. In a way, the chrysanthemums take over the scene as the thread slips from the needle. This creates a continual sense of completeness.

In terms of sound, the “th” sounds in the first and second line make a sound similar to manual sewing. Also, I appreciate the musicality of “slips” and “needle.”

A strong image and powerful juxtaposition that takes a keen look to fully appreciate its beauty.

– Nicholas Klacsanzky (Ukraine)

Did you enjoy the poem and commentary? Let us know in the comments.


– Art by Nishimura Hodo

Agus Maulana Sunjaya’s Sunset

dragging my shadow
back home

© Agus Maulana Sunjaya (Indonesia)

Akitsu Quarterly, Fall issue, 2018

A very melancholic haiku that immediately suggests the image of a homecoming in which the shadow, particularly long in the sunset, seems to weigh down the steps of the poet. But the shadow, understood as the double and sometimes as the denied part of oneself, can weigh on the spirit in a more subtle and devastating way.

I don’t want to be a psychologist, but this haiku makes me think about the fact that by not facing the hidden parts of us, which we often fear strongly, we sometimes expose ourselves to inconveniences of which we do not understand the nature of and of which condition. These are not minor choices, as they affect our lives. Even in this haiku, I feel the sensation of an unfulfilled dualism that results in frustration, all expressed with elegance and with a second line that expresses also in the sounds (double “g”) a sense of oppression.

Margherita Petriccione (Italy)

This haiku reflects both the mental and physical fatigue of life where we spend most of the time facing and fighting different issues that test our cognitive and emotional abilities. It depicts the limited capacities of a person who, besides dealing with various matters of life, finally gets tired. It could be due to aging, where the sunset of life takes a person to the stage where he or she feels lonely and manages to live with great difficulty.

The shadow shows all the regrets, guilt, and bad memories that keep on following a person until the last breath of his or her life. Overall, a person who spends his or her days developing good relationships with people may end up being lonely, which also shows the insensitivity of recent human civilization.

Hifsa Ashraf (Pakistan)

I like how the first line can be interpreted as flowing into the second line or as standing alone. Also, the simplicity of the language and the surprise in the last line is pleasing. Though the third line is unexpected, it is also expected. This is a common aesthetic in haiku, where the ordinary can be extraordinary.

Like Margherita, I also enjoy the sound of the poem. With “s” in the first line and the second line, you can almost hear the shadow being dragged through the grass. With “o” in “shadow” and “home,” I feel the melancholy is illustrated. A fine haiku from a technical point of view, and also from an aesthetical perspective as well.

Nicholas Klacsanzky (Ukraine)

Did you enjoy this haiku and the commentary? Let us know in the comments.

© Callum Russel