skip to Main Content

re:Virals 121

Welcome to re:Virals, The Haiku Foundation’s weekly poem commentary feature on some of the finest haiku ever written in English. This week’s poem was

 
     turning crows
     the distance smokes
     a yellow tractor

          — Brendon Kent
, Sonic Boom #3 (2015)

Jacob Salzer recalls Steinbeck:

I’ve read that crows are very intelligent. They fact they are turning in this haiku seems to imply that they are turning away from humans, and/or perhaps some form of environmental destruction via the tractor. The 2nd line “the distance smokes” seems to remind us of a dangerous gap that exists between some humans and the earth, and what happens when some people leave behind significant scars, and ignore the damage that has been done. The word “smokes” adds another layer, as it seems to imply a lack of clear understanding, or a distorted point of view.
This haiku also reminds me of Steinbeck’s famous novel, The Grapes of Wrath, and how the tractors in that novel replaced farmers, and traditional farming methods, as the industry and banks forced farmers and their families off their land. And yet, the man in the tractor, who has no real connection to the earth, stands his ground, and speaks of the tractor as a means to make a living, to feed his family. So, we have this paradox of a tractor symbolizing productivity, and wealth—it is a means to feed a family—and yet it is simultaneously completely destroying people’s way of life, and forcing families to leave a place they once called home. The tractor is providing jobs, and feeding some people, but it is also forcing others into long-distance travel, sickness, and ultimately starvation, and even death. Thus, the tractor could simultaneously be seen as a symbol of both power, and corruption.
Could the smoke be from a forest fire? Or perhaps it’s coming from the tractor itself? Is the tractor being swallowed by its own flames? There is some mystery to this haiku, drawing the reader in, yet it’s grounded in vivid imagery with the crows, and the stark, yellow tractor, and the smoke.
From another angle, I see the smoke is not coming from the tractor itself, or from perhaps a dense fog, or smoke from flames, etc., but is rather coming from the mind of a human. In other words, it seems thoughts are like smoke. In that regard, the distance in the mind seems to signify reaching the edge of understanding. It is the edge of the English Language. It is the edge between the known and the unknown.
Here is an old poem of mine that was conjured up by reading Brendon’s haiku:

     "Wandering Eyes"

How far can we look from where we stand? 
here and now through these wandering eyes
can they escape their own reflection? 

blending with grey skies
waiting for clear eyes to see
past the transient rain
falling into a vast blue sea

the observation of another world
reveals a new one
through a new pair of eyes
you may see yourself in motion
but only in your wandering eyes
who knows what a dreamer might see

David Jacobs is a satisfied reader:

The near perfect juxtaposition between creature and object in this poem reminded me of William Carlos Williams’s famous ‘red wheelbarrow’:

So much depends 
upon

a red wheel
barrow

glazed with rain
water

beside the white
chickens.

Like Williams’s, Kent’s poem moves to its conclusion with a similar fluidity of expression, the colour of the tractor as important to its structure as well as to any meaning the reader might impart.

The originality of the second and third lines leaves the reader nowhere to go but to his or her own imagination, but what better place to be? Whether the tractor itself is alight or something around it or beyond, or the colour is created by some trick of sunlight or haze, or is simply as it is, everything is satisfyingly left in the reader’s hands.

And then we come back to the ‘turning crows’ on which the final lines are dependent for their ultimate strength and which, chronologically, first drew the author to the scene he eventually described.

Bob Aspey gets corvine:

On my route to work I pass two colonies of corvids. In truth, I don’t know the difference between a crow and a rook, except that I think rooks congregate in crowds. So the colonies are probably rookeries, but to me all those big, black birds are crows.

As the days wax and wane, so at different times I pass the birds at dawn or dusk, just as they leave or return to their nests – a clattering swirl of argumentative neighbours. As well as having their own daily rhythms, the crows are attuned to the seasonal work of the local farmers. So, as they plough and sow and harvest, their tractors and combines are followed by crowds of black dots, searching the ground for whatever has been turned up as the earth is disturbed. Occasionally the birds are startled and rise as a dark cloud, cawing, complaining to one another.

This was the image evoked for me by Kent’s haiku: a tractor moving across a field, followed by a cloud of black dots as if the tractor is turning up the crows themselves, the crows using the tractor to find food, just as the farmer is using it as a tool to grow our food.

virus2
As this week’s winner, Bob gets to choose next week’s poem, which you’ll find below. We invite you to write a commentary to it. It may be as long or short, academic or spontaneous, serious or silly, public or personal as you like. We will select out-takes from the best of these. And the very best will be reproduced in its entirety and take its place as part of the THF Archives. Best of all, the winning commentator gets to choose the next poem for commentary.
Anyone can participate. A new poem will appear each Friday morning. Simply put your commentary in the Contact box by the following Tuesday midnight (Eastern US Time Zone). Please use the subject
header “re:Virals” so we know what we’re looking at. We look forward to seeing some of your favorite poems — and finding out why!
re:Virals 121:

 
     All the time I pray to Buddha 
     I keep on 
     killing mosquitoes


          — Kobayashi Issa (1763-1828)
The Essential Haiku: Versions of Basho, Buson and Issa 
(ed. R Hass, The Ecco Press, 1994)

This Post Has 32 Comments

  1. An interesting read, with just as many thoughts on a view of distant cultivations. maybe I’m being a bit literal here but here is my vision, one I have seen quite a few times, and I may add the choice of bird maybe a location thing to the viewer – my 2p’s worth –
    *
    in the distance
    a yellow tractor
    turning crows
    *
    in the distance
    a yellow tractor
    turning seagulls

    when cultivating fields seagulls just seem to appear from out of the blue.
    A very visual verse, Brendon, and one that has made me think.

    1. Thank you very much Carol!
      Just outside my country village we do have council refuse tips, yes, that’s where you would find seagulls doing this too ☺

      Thank you for your comment!

  2. As is generally known, many recent haiku, by giving little or no indication of how the author wishes them to be read, present multiple possibilities. It may be especially true of certain one line haiku, where, I have read in numerous places, the various overlapping readings add nuance and depth– a good thing.

    From comments I read here, it seems a lot of people are reading this as something like:

    turning crows–
    the distance smokes–
    a yellow tractor–

    or possibly:

    turning crows,
    the distance smokes–
    a yellow tractor

    (This second interpretation presents the rather interesting notion that “the distance” is responsible for the turning crows, but I have no idea whether or not the author wishes us to read the poem this way, because if we allow this, then we also have to allow this rather comical interpretation, namely, that “the distance smokes a yellow tractor”.

    Though what I am saying may be laughable to some, just ridiculous, it’s worth mentioning because
    for many poets there is something to be valued in leaving *how* a poem is read wide open, perhaps by omitting punctuation, letting readers find there own way, and perhaps even asserting that all possibilities are valid.

    So should we say that sometimes one has to eliminate what may be laughable or improbable interpretations of how a poem is to be read? Or not?

    In any event, for me at least, my first reading of this takes me to a place I assume (but I don’t really know) the author *does not* want me to go. But it is not a reading I impose– it is the most natural (I believe) first reading of the haiku– the one the haiku is imposing on me.

    1. Meg, if I understand you correctly, my very first response, too, to “smokes” in relation to the tractor, was to find an absurd image. 🙂 (a Dali rendition of the Marlborough man, perhaps)
      .
      After slapping myself across the wrist and reminding myself that the verb has more than one usage I opted for the most likely, which fitted logically with “distance” (as in my first post: “emitted as smoke or visible vapour”. ) “The distance” is key to the sense of the poem. In itself, “The distance smokes a yellow tractor” isn’t comical or absurd, is a clear image of a literal phenomenon. We just need to interpret the verb in a way that makes sense in context.
      .
      Yet you have a good point: “How open should a haiku be?”
      .
      My one quibble with this ku would be the same as I have with many contemporary EL haiku: the trend of doing away with a cut marker, no matter what. Because it’s “the distance” which acts here, without a clear cut we can read the 2nd line as a hinge or pivot line. Then the subject of the verb (the distance) acts on both crows and tractor. As reader, I chose to read a cut after “crows” in L1, as I can’t make sense of distance acting in such a way as to turn crows.
      .
      turning crows . . .
      the distance smokes
      a yellow tractor
      .

      The omission of cut markers altogether has become a trend which is turning into a convention, just like the omission of first person pronoun became a convention last century. Is this a good thing or not? When I first came to haiku, I had trouble with haiku such as:
      .
      pausing
      halfway up the stair–
      white chrysanthemums
      .
      ELIZABETH SEARLE LAMB
      .
      . . . despite the cut marker. The missing subject (who or what is pausing?) is not natural to the English language. I feel that such haiku are intended for “those in the know” rather than the common (good) reader. I still pause when reading these, still find that there’s something of affectation about this manner of expression, even though I know it was intended to be deferential to the Japanese origins of haiku.
      .
      Not all haiku need a cut marker, but in a similar way to the fashion of omitting first person pronoun, the lack of a marker can misdirect the reader, which may or may not be the author’s intention.
      .
      – Lorin

      1. Yes you’ve assumed the cut marker in the right place, originally I wrote it as;

        turning crows…
        the distance smokes
        a yellow tractor

        But most of the time I leave the cut marker out nowadays unless I’m posting somewhere not so haiku-aware ☺

        -Brendon

        1. Good to have you confirm your intentions re the cut, Brendon. 🙂
          .
          Which means you intended “turning” to be present continuous (progressive, USA) as adjective (like “yellowing leaves”) in relation to “crows”. Yet, as you’re aware, without the guidance of a cut marker “turning crows” can be interpreted as something “the distance” is doing while it “smokes a yellow tractor”. So perhaps you intended the misdirection, too?
          .
          What I’d be very interested in is the selecting editor’s, Shloka Shankar’s (or was it Shobhana Kumar’s?), interpretation.
          .
          – Lorin

          1. Hi Lorin

            I still use ellipses for cutting most of the time actually to be honest or occasionally m-dash if I want the reader to shift rather than pause.
            You bring up some interesting points…and a little misdirection may have been intentional on this one ☺ to make the reader stop to think after the poem, to revisit it…rather than pause between the haiku and then move on to the next haiku…
            My haiku are usually quite deep I guess and sometimes I employ a method of catching the reader’s attention for a little bit longer until their interpretation settles in.☺
            Alan Summer’s posted this haiku for discussion and obviously you’ve seen his commentary…Shloka was the one to publish it in 2015 and is also having it for her forthcoming Best of Paper Lanterns anthology.
            To my knowledge she hasn’t written a commentary to it though…
            I really appreciate these comments Lorin, thank you

            -Brendon

    2. I’ve enjoyed the ongoing discussions here, and am glad for the remarks by Lorin and Megan on the “cut” (or not) in this structure of Brendon’s haiku.
      Making note of trends and shifts in English Language Haiku is always fodder for more essays and scholarly documentation within the historical circumstances of the art and craft of haiku.
      Precious good, these remarks.

      In this haiku, the images still reign. The consideration of each word is weighted and the reader can enter into historical understanding or mythical implications, as has been noted by Alan within this thread.

      For me the choice of turning (returning) crows brings the smoke element into mythos and beyond any mechanics in structure.

      Leaving out a specific cut is what gives this haiku the depth it has and the potential for going places in the imagination of the reader.
      This is where haiku leaves craft, and becomes art.

      Jan

      1. Thank you Jan!
        As you know, I’m a person who considers every word I use and the implications…also with the type of cut or no visible cut marker.
        This haiku I believe is stronger without a visible cut; it was a conscious decision on my part.
        Right or wrong I guess is in the hands of each reader’s view on the subject.☺

  3. .
    .
    turning crows
    the distance smokes
    a yellow tractor

    — Brendon Kent
Sonic Boom #3 (2015)

    .
    .
    I am delighted that my choice of haiku for this re:Virals has drawn such a healthy response. This is especially warming as I’ve championed this haiku even when it was being turned down by a number of magazines. Despite its initial rejections, which puzzled me, I was going to include it in a book I am developing nevertheless. I certainly wasn’t surprised that Shloka Shankar accepted the haiku, only pleased to the depth of the cockles of my heart.
    .

    There is something about a haiku that just sits well with a reader, and can be read multiple times with the same or increasing pleasure to the ear and the mind. I often embarrass Brendon when he visits, that could he read the haiku out aloud.
    .

    I cannot tell you enough how “cockle-warmed” I am to read how this haiku has worked for so many people, both here, with your comments, and elsewhere now via the re:Virals post.
    .

    Why and how does this haiku work!?

    You have all said why so wonderfully, and as I have often pondered why I love this haiku so much, I will attempt to understand my own captivation with it.
    .

    For some of us we still remember the abundance of small farms, and how much they were part of our culture, because we depended on them for so much, before the march of the Super-Farm and the Supermarket stores.
    .
    It is not only grounded (no pun intended) but its choice of wording makes it both concrete and abstract, and ekphrastic.
    .
    Many of you have mentioned Vincent van Gogh, as it’s such a strong visual, it’s literally a painting of a scene that is actually unfolding in front of the author and the reader. It conjures up Steinbeck, and my wife has just finished his Grapes of Wrath, which is an incredibly finely written book.
    .
    The haiku plays with perspective, and although I feel it’s entirely ‘concrete’ it is not a shasei type approach, which can stray into reportage.
    .
    I feel it’s magical, but not magical realism, and as William Carlos Williams has been mentioned with his strong colours of red and white, so there is the strong colours of yellow and black that ‘rotate’ this haiku.
    .
    I’m often more intrigued with opening lines than closing lines, yet this haiku has strong lines throughout that powers this eight word verse along.
    .
    Just the opening line conjures up Van Gogh, even Poe, and Wallace Stevens if he wrote about crows instead of blackbirds, and of course Ted Hughes with Crow. It also brings to mind the power of childhood first seeing this busy and noisy birds full of enquiry and mischief just like us.
    .
    The opening line feels purely concrete, as we witness the crows turning in and into the wind, and we are set up for a strong image against a backdrop of sky.
    .
    This is followed by a line about distance and smoke, and the distance itself is made into a presence, which is easily forgotten, despite the horizon always being a factor out in the open air away from large urban developments.
    .
    Just reading this haiku again, and just its first two lines, I feel it has extraordinary power:
    .
    .
    turning crows
    the distance smokes
    .
    .
    Just as a two line haiku this works for me, with a suggestion of Autumn, and Basho, and where ‘turning’ could be both verb and adjective. Where the distance or horizon appears to be smoking with crows. It’s enough to be a haiku in my humble opinion.
    .
    But, and this is a glorious but, there’s more, and it’s not overpowering the haiku which can be so easy, where we are tempted to gild the lily (with unnecessary gold). And this is where Anita Virgil’s famous apple haiku and WCW’s red wheelbarrow come to mind:
    .
    .
    not seeing
    the room is white
    until that red apple
    .
    .
    Anita Virgil
    Van Den Heuvel, Cor, ed., The Haiku Anthology, 3rd edition, WW Norton & Co, 2000
    .
    .
    Now it’s entirely possible that Brendon Kent did not think of the apple haiku or the red wheelbarrow but I feel it now belongs to the canon of poems they are, and gains that extra allusion which fires a haiku up for the attentive reader, and ensures its longevity.
    .
    So back to the ‘but’, that glorious but, with the last line. Sometimes a writer wants their last line to be a surprise, almost a punchline, and sometimes a haiku can be weakened when it’s sacrificed just to deliver that ‘closing line’. Here’s thankfully there is no closing line, but a combination of a ‘third line’ and ‘first line’ if we read the poem again in a circle and cycle:
    .
    .

    a yellow tractor
    turning crows
    .
    .
    Now if the haiku was actually written with the tractor as the first line it would still work but not be elevated to a classic and outstanding piece of literature. It would still be a very good, if not fine haiku, even if the order was thus:
    .
    .
    a yellow tractor
    turning crows
    the distance smokes
    .
    .
    or
    .
    .
    a yellow tractor
    the distance smokes
    turning crows
    .
    .

    But this is where each line’s position and its words are essential, and will push a proto-haiku into both being a poem and/or taut prose and parallel to that, be a haiku, have that ‘haikuness’ that feels like the true form of haiku, and not a perceived exo-skeleton/scaffolding of sound or syllable counts.
    .

    By choosing the final line order and the final combination and order of words in (and across) each line, we have a lexicon, the vocabulary of a person, language, or branch of knowledge, or somehow all three. This is a key element of haiku, in my opinion, and that of its predecessors committed by Basho, Chiyo-ni, Buson, Issa etc…
    .
    This is also John Constable, and The Haywain, and Turner, all rolled into one. And it’s that yellow tractor, be it its paint choice, or blur of horizon colour and dust or smoke or haze effect.
    .
    There are, of course, yellow tractors out there, but often the default is for green or red:
    https://image.shutterstock.com/z/stock-photo-tractor-plowing-in-dusk-on-sunset-with-crows-137821931.jpg
    .
    It’s almost as if it’s a surprise that there’s a yellow tractor, and again, an allusion kicks in for me, and that’s of the “Big Yellow Taxi” song by Joni Mitchell, which so happens to mention DDT and farming, and apples. I feel the haiku continues to rotate every time I re-read the poem, and offers up something new.
    .
    But above all else, the concrete and abstract dynamic, created by the word order process, makes for a very magical reading, where crows turn, the horizon or distance smokes, and there’s a yellow tractor which may or may not be turning the crows in some new creation myth. Though it’s a strong agricultural poem spinning, turning, and weaving the seasons and vice versa.
    .
    I’m brought to mind Seamus Heaney as well, both for his outdoor poetry and this line which could sum up the author in his featured haiku as “a boy shipshaped in the crow’s nest of a life”
    IN THE ATTIC By Seamus Heaney and course by “In a Field” by the same author:
    https://www.theguardian.com/books/2013/oct/25/seamus-heaney-last-poem-published
    .
    As I’ve said, this unravels both new surprises, and enforces its position in a unique canon of both haiku, and poetry, across the ages.
    .
    .

    1. Phew what can I say!!
      Thank you so much firstly for always supporting ‘yellow tractor’ and now for choosing it for Re: Virals, the comments have been heart-warming; it’s been wonderful reading the interpretations.

      I’ll pay you another visit as soon as I can…and I’ll say it aloud again, perhaps a little louder now!

      Warmest regards
      Brendon ☺

      1. No worries! 🙂
        .
        .
        re:
        .
        .
        .
        turning crows
        the distance smokes
        a yellow tractor
        .
        — Brendon Kent

        .
        Sonic Boom #3 (2015)
        .
        .

        Of course this could be read as three separate lines:

        .
        turning crows
        .
        the distance smokes
        .
        a yellow tractor

        .
        .
        I’m reminded of a Hitchcock film, and other movie montages…
        .
        .
        It’s fascinating how so much can be enjoyed.
        .
        Just like the most famous of all directions, a poem, however short, can direct us in many directions…
        .
        https://www.nosweatshakespeare.com/blog/exit-pursued-bear/
        .
        .
        Enjoy!

        1. .
          I can’t wait to see this anthologised too! 🙂

          .
          .
          turning crows
          the distance smokes
          a yellow tractor
          .

          — Brendon Kent

          Sonic Boom #3 (2015)
          .
          .

          I’ve been pondering about this haiku off and on as it’s one of my very favourite ‘contemporary classics’ and it’s because of the lack of a signposted ‘cut’.
          .
          As I’ve witnessed people reading haiku out without any nod to a pause, signposted or not, and even a haibun of mine which had formal punctuation being ignored, I like the fact that someone might speedrush read this one.
          .
          When I’m next up on an open mic, haven’t done one for a year, I might triple read this one, with different nuances.
          .
          .
          There is something folklore and mythical, creation myth, the crows starting off the process of life, and the first fire (smoke) made by ‘man’ and we time travel forward to a yellow tractor. Maybe next time it’ll be a Uber flying taxi a la Fifth Element, Blade Runner, or Dr Who etc…
          http://www.independent.co.uk/life-style/gadgets-and-tech/uber-nasa-flying-cars-taxis-la-scheme-when-how-latest-a8044786.html
          .
          .
          Would this work as a one line haiku?
          .
          .
          .
          turning crows the distance smokes a yellow tractor
          .
          .
          .
          It’s okay, but there is something ‘extra’ when it’s a tercet, even if a reader does not incorporate their own pauses or the author’s at all.
          .
          .
          I am enjoying the fact that I am puzzled why I love this haiku so much!
          .
          .
          I’m reminded of the conumdrums I personally faced with Jim Kacian’s two haiku, and decoding them, and loving the challenge:
          .
          .

          the river
          the river makes
          of the moon
          .
          Jim Kacian
          Six Directions (1996)
          First Mainichi Anthology of Prize-Winning Haiku (1997)
          .
          .

          .

          my fingerprints
          on the dragonfly
          in amber
          .
          Jim Kacian
          3rd Prize, Kusamakura Haiku Competition (Japan, 2003)
          Published as a tercet at:
          http://www.gendaihaiku.com/kacian/
          .
          And at:
          .
          Haiku in English: The First Hundred Years
          W. W. Norton & Company; 1 edition (January 25, 2016)
          ed. Jim Kacian, Philip Rowland, and Allan Burns
          ISBN-13: 978-0393348873
          https://books.google.co.uk/books?id=ISVvAAAAQBAJ&pg=PA154&lpg=PA154&dq=jim+kacian+my+fingerprints+on+the+dragonfly+in+amber+haiku&source=bl&ots=m1QiGfLmD0&sig=fGwvyiH78dhTZicTe0xmL8oScfU&hl=en&sa=X&ved=0ahUKEwjOj43T9s_YAhXEVhQKHVHBBkwQ6AEIRDAE#v=onepage&q=jim%20kacian%20my%20fingerprints%20on%20the%20dragonfly%20in%20amber%20haiku&f=false
          .
          .

          1. Again thank you very much Alan..if you read it on open mic perhaps I might be able to attend, that would be thrilling!

            All the best
            Brendon

          2. Hi Brendon,
            .
            re open mic
            .
            Well, we might get a third Words & Ears event in Chippenham, that would be cool. Other things in the pipeline too. 🙂
            .
            Alan

      1. Should have put a dash in there at end of line 2 to short circuit Lorin’s inevitable jocular comment. The old engine puffs out a cloud of smoke as it backfires. THEN there is a distant crow. See?

        1. 🙂 Thanks, Garry. You know I wouldn’t dare say that to someone who mightn’t get it or anyone with whom I didn’t share a history of interchange and banter. 🙂
          .
          Yes, a dash at the end of L2 would make all the difference as you say. Foreground and distance again, with a different focus which makes for a different poem. (Was watching on the news recently how combine harvesters can start grass fires that become bushfires, btw)
          ,
          What an interesting thread of comments Brendon’s haiku has evoked!
          .
          – Lorin

          1. Wonderful comments Garry and Lorin!
            They have certainly made me chuckle…(cut marker) thank you both!

            -Brendon

  4. In response to this, by David:

    “Whether the tractor itself is alight or something around it or beyond, or the colour is created by some trick of sunlight or haze,. . .”
    .
    For me, it’s a trick of distance that creates the effect of a yellow tractor “emitted as smoke or visible vapour”. (see dictionary) I’ve seen this sort of thing with roadtrains in the distance, in flat desert country. They go smoky first, then as they go further away they vanish. So the image gives me a sense of dry heat as well as distance.
    .
    The swift turning of a flock of crows in the foreground, a tractor so far in the distance it seems not to be moving (though it is) is becoming insubstantial, turning into smoke which will soon vanish (unless it turns around) I don’t know why, but . . . crows turning as a flock, a tractor turned into smoke in the distance . . . I get a strong sense that everything is leaving, of last things. Of incipient emptiness.
    .
    – Lorin

    1. Hi Lorin

      Are you sure you weren’t there? haha, yes you’ve obviously seen it!
      You also picked up on my mood!!…it was a lonely walk, thinking when/if things will get better. A bit of a black dog walk. Then I looked around guided by the disturbance of crows in the far distance and hey, a yellow tractor like a sign of hope! A moment that stayed with me.

      thank you for your comment ☺

      All the best
      Brendon

      1. Ah, there you go, then, Brendon. A brilliant haiku with strong images can cross the equator, it seems, without suffering. 🙂
        .
        ” Then I looked around guided by the disturbance of crows in the far distance and hey, a yellow tractor like a sign of hope! ”
        .
        So on the ‘optimist/ pessimist’, it’d seem you lean to the former, me to the latter. You see the smoky yellow tractor coming towards you. It’ll become more substantial, clearer. . . almost a rising sun feeling about it. (I’m so glad that at least I included the caveat, “unless it turns around.”) A human presence besides oneself, however distant is there, approaching.
        .
        Whichever option (and I think it reads as well, though differently, either way) I really like the perspective and the sense of movement . . .both crows and tractor)
        .
        – Lorin

  5. I read this haiku minutes ago via Jan’s Tweet, as I haven’t managed to visit Re:Virals over the Christmas holidays. My first reaction was of how it made me think of Van Gogh’s painting ‘Wheatfield with Crows’, so reading Jan’s comment quoting Shloka made me nod my head in agreement. I would be very interested to hear from Brendon about his inspiration for this haiku.

    Hey, Brendon! … 🙂

    1. Hi Marion, thank you!☺
      I live in a small country village surrounded by farmland…this one was experiential.
      The tractor was actually what I saw way in the distance across mustard fields…it seemed to be yellow (could have been reflections), some of them are here in Botley but I wanted to show it as yellow anyway to open interpretations.
      Yellow is also a lucky colour in some countries (China for sure) and I also wanted to imply a kind of ‘every cloud has a silver lining’ thought.
      ‘turning crows’ was the visual that drew me in so I wanted to relay that moment.
      I also refer to crows turning as a state of mind…nagging worries that this golden moment changes into positive thoughts…( out of the smoke).
      There were other thoughts in my mind, crows and ravens are thought to be messengers that can freely pass between realms of life and death to bring back messages. The ‘turning crows’ in that concept mean returning crows.
      I left it open of course for many interpretations…
      Thank you for your interest and lovely comment Marion!☺

      1. I wonder did van Gogh, having suffered terribly from depression, know about crows being able to pass between realms. I like to think he did, particularly as his attempted (eventually successful) suicide took place in a wheatfield.
        Perhaps the outcome would have been very different if yellow tractors had existed back then. 🙁
        .
        Thank you for sharing your ‘golden moment’, Brendon.

  6. I’m well pleased for you, Brendon Kent.
    Shloka Shankar has a marvelous eye for balance in curating modern haiku, as is proven in these several (respectable) commentaries.

    For me the immediate visual impact was the caucus of crows;
    those that appear in Van Gogh’s post-impressionist paintings. Some are grounded, but it is those in flight that draw one into each work. How or why they are responding within the moment gives direction to the sub movements within?

    And Vincent’s use of varied yellows throughout his works is a study in itself; from grain fields, a yellow house and the sunflowers.

    Your images blend in my mind to bring the scent of a mown field of grain, the sight of tractor smoke that has not yet wafted my way, and the parting swish of wing, and call of caw drifting off.

    That in America we see more green than yellow tractors allowed me to pause, reflect, and consider your choice of yellow tractor. I did not get as far as some commentators with that choice, and am glad to read their interpretations.

    The smoke, trailing the tractor (for me) added an exclamation point of contrast to the yellows of the browning field and of the vivid tractor. And a compliment of mystique in relationship to the shadow work done by crows.

    For me, the haiku is a masterful combination of images.

    1. Hi Jan
      Thank you very much that’s very kind. I love your interpretation, you have captured the atmosphere of my haiku well.

      All the best
      Brendon

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Back To Top