Jacob Salzer’s dream catcher

dream catcher
a new hole
in the spider’s web 

Jacob Salzer (USA) 
(published previously in Mare Liberum: Haiku & Tanka)

Commentary by the poet:

This haiku came from observation. I saw a spider’s web with a missing spider and a new hole in the web as if a large bug had managed to fly through it (or perhaps the hole was from an insect that the spider had devoured). However, this has been left open for interpretation. Because a spider’s web inherently has many holes in it, “a new hole” could simply mean the spider is creating a larger web and a new hole or an opening has been made through newly connected threads. The spider itself is not explicitly mentioned in this haiku. Therefore, it could be a part of this haiku or it could be missing altogether.

Metaphorically, in this haiku, the spider’s web is the world and the spider is the mind. Just as the spider spins a web out of itself and then lives in it, so it seems the mind spins a web of thoughts out of itself and lives in its own creation. This brings to mind a quote from my favorite movie Waking Life: “They say dreams are real only as long as they last. Couldn’t you say the same thing about life?

Ultimately, the “new hole” in the spider’s web, devoid of a spider, could be a symbol for piercing through the illusion of separation and leaving behind a hole of silence to allow light to shine through clearly, devoid of thoughts. Thus, the mind, even the “I” thought, has seemingly disappeared in the light.

I juxtaposed the spider’s web with a dream catcher (also sometimes spelled dreamcatcher) because they look similar to me.

Here is a note I received from the St. Joseph’s Indian School:

“Native Americans of the Great Plains believe the air is filled with both good and bad dreams. According to legend, the good dreams pass through the center hole to the sleeping person. The bad dreams are trapped in the web, where they perish in the light of dawn. Historically, dreamcatchers were hung in the tipi or lodge and on a baby’s cradleboard. Learn more about the Lakota (Sioux) culture at stjo.org/culture.”

I believe I left room for different interpretations in this haiku. It seems a spider’s web and dream catchers could mean various things to people. Perhaps this haiku could conjure up different dreams you’ve had. Of course, your commentary and interpretations are most welcome.

Commentary by others:

I loved the connection between a ‘dream catcher’ and the ‘spider’s web’ as both yearn to fulfill their dreams. Like the spider’s web, every dream needs consistency, determination, and hard work in order to be achieved. ‘A new hole’ indicates that the spider’s web is already broken or destroyed by both internal or external factors. The hole may be distorted thoughts, distractions, illusions, or delusions that block our view of the world whilst pursuing our dreams. More than one hole indicates drastic life changes that destroy the scheme of a dream or a spider’s web.

On the contrary, the dream may be either unrealistic or abstract, making it impossible to achieve. In that case, a new hole may symbolize the realities or awareness/conscious understanding of the dream that again and again destroy the complicated web of a dream and sensitize the person to live in reality. 

Hifsa Ashraf (Pakistan)

Jacob and Hifsa have explored the interpretations and meanings behind this haiku in depth. I want to add that besides the clear association between a spider web and a dream catcher, I see the spiritual significance of the word “dream.” To me, it inspires thoughts of Buddha’s teaching about the end of suffering being the giving up of desires. This haiku could represent that as we seek to fulfill our desires, we cause a disruption in nature. On the flip side, it could mean that to escape being a seeker of fulfillment, we need to pass through the web of this mundane life.

I like the run of “e” sounds in almost every word in this haiku. It gives me a sense of wonder. The pacing and format of the haiku look effortlessly composed. Punctuation and line length are not as important as the feel of the haiku.

A wonderful haiku that bubbles with interpretations and contemplations.

Nicholas Klacsanzky (USA)

Andrea Cecon’s slanting rain

slanting rain
the shift worker whistling
slightly out of tune

Andrea Cecon (Italy)
Modern Haiku, issue 48:2

I enjoy the layers of sound in this haiku. “slanting rain” tells me it’s raining pretty hard. On the first read, “whistling” brings to mind a construction worker, though I like how the occupation is not defined in this haiku and left open for the reader. If we imagine the work is being done outside, I have compassion for the person in the haiku, still devoted and working despite the time of day/night and the weather. Even if the work is being done inside, I have compassion for the person working late into the night and/or early morning. “whistling slightly out of tune” brings to mind how a person can be tired or somewhat fatigued working such odd hours, yet their dedication and focus carries them through. The whistling may also be slightly out of tune against the loud sound of pouring rain. I think whistling in this haiku is also helping the person finish their work-shift. Like walking through mud, it is challenging, but with strength and persistence, it can be done. 

I used to work the graveyard shift at a theater. I always found it interesting to drive home at 1 am after the last movie ended. The quiet neighborhoods were palpable as I drove past silent houses. It was interesting to be awake while almost everyone else was fast asleep.

This is a powerful haiku that conveys compassion for dedicated, hard-working people who work odd hours while most people are sleeping. 

Jacob Salzer (USA)

It happens that when a person spends all day on a task that is tiresome and laborious, then they may not enjoy things in the surroundings or they may not find it soothing when there is bad weather. This haiku represents the life of a shift worker that may sound full of fatigue. ‘slanting rain’ expresses nature’s harsh mood where nothing comes straight and calm. It is a struggle when one cannot escape one’s duty during a slanting rain. But, the word ‘whistle’ gives a twist in the haiku as it shows that either the shift has ended and the person is enjoying their off-time. Maybe they are going back home or daydreaming. Or, it may give a hint of ‘whistleblowing’, calling out those who are not complying with their duties due to the slanting rain. In either situation, it seems that the person in question is enjoying their time.

Overall, slanting rain and whistling both allude to the opposite moods of a person during laborious work or a rough day. It also shows how a person after some hardship needs some relaxation, which may or may not be enough to unwind their fatigue, stress, or frustration.

Finally, the letter ‘s’ in this haiku sounds more like a complex situation where a person is not fully enjoying his life due to a laborious job that may not be paying well.

Hifsa Ashraf (Pakistan)

Jacob and Hifsa explored a lot of what I wanted to say. But, I wanted to add that in this haiku, I see nature and humanity crossing paths. The slanted rain, with the sound of a possible storm, is akin to whistling off tune. I believe there is not quite a cause and effect relationship. It is more the shift worker feeling nature’s mood and integrating it into their being.

In this world of artificiality and superficiality, we often forget how connected we are to nature. From the food we eat, the materials we use, to our surroundings, nature and humanity is always intertwined. This haiku displays a brief moment where that relationship shows as stark as a whistle.

Nicholas Klacsanzky (USA)

Tsuchiya Koitsu, Morning Rain at Hakone, 1938