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)
Did you enjoy this poem and the commentary? If so, please let us know in the comments.
Art by © Naomi Tydeman