Skip to content

re:Virals 188

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

     dark matter the dreams I cling to
          — Brendon Kent, Failed Haiku #1 (2016) 

Robert Kingston investigates the relationships:

How apt that Brendon’s haiku should be the selected haiku of this particular week. In a moment that would have seen professor Stephen Hawking, whizzing around an earth-based university in an ecstatic whirl, chomping at the bit to get a view of the worm hole revealed by our dedicated space watchers.
Certainly a dream he would have carried and taken to his grave.

For some of us mere mortals, Brendon’s haiku could carry similar dreams, though I surmise it is linked more to a moment in a relationship that the author senses is not over. Or perhaps more a prayer for the well-being of someone known.

Garry Eaton theorizes:

Dark matter is non-luminous matter, matter that emits no light, yet, theoretically, makes up slightly over a quarter of the matter in the universe. What it is like we don’t know. We only that it is not matter as we usually understand it, because it does not behave like the matter we can see, or like the matter whose existence we can deduce from its gravitational effects on stellar objects we can see. I assume Brendon referenced this unique, and so far baffling cosmological mystery in his haiku in order to draw a dramatic contrast with another kind of ‘dark matter,’ that is the comparative insignificance of ordinary human ambitions, and of the everyday illusions and vain dreams by which we strive to understand and justify our individual existences.
A solid haiku, bounded on both sides by the unknown it reflects.

Florin C. Florian hypothesizes:

Read as one unbroken line or as a one-breath poem it is obvious that this kind of ku does not include constrained pauses, indicated by space, syntax or punctuation, therefore it diminishes the pause effect of the caesura and gives the reader the mission to re-create, to discover which is the intrinsic texture of poem.

In addition, the theme of this haiku fits perfectly with its form. Physicists affirm that most of the universe consists of dark matter. But what is it? One idea is that it could contain “supersymmetric particles”—hypothesized particles that are partners to those already known. New experiments using the particle accelerator will probably provide more direct clues about dark matter and could help scientists gain a better comprehension of the composition of our universe and, in particular, how galaxies hold together; that’s why the narrator’s position is clear: he has some dreams in which he believes strongly and hopes to find answers that could satisfy his curiosity.
Maybe it’s about the God Particle and dark energy, which accelerates the expansion of the universe and so on…
The poem as a whole emits an atmosphere of black and white film that invites us to speculate, to deconstruct in order to try to emit something valid. May the force be with us all!

Lori A Minor mines the dark matter:

First of all, a monoku works brilliantly for this poem. The way it’s written provides a “loop” effect that makes me want to read it several times in a row, as if on repeat. It also opens up the ku for a bit of abstraction, which is perfect for the cosmic vibes.

There are a few things that jump out to me within this haiku and I’d like to explore each of them in depth. When I read this piece, the first thing I see is a vast, dynamic galaxy with billions of stars that we, on Earth, would never be able to fathom. Within this image, each and every star represents a dream worth remembering, whether it be good, bad, or weird. For whatever the reason, the poet has clung to these dreams.

As we all know, some dreams are better off lost in the black hole of our brains. Unfortunately, those are the dreams that stick to us like glue. “Dark matter” is such an interesting word choice, given that it could have nothing to do with science at all, but with the actual subject matter. What if the dreams the poet clings to are nightmares? We have all had our fair share of nightmares, and I bet we remember them more vividly than we would like to.

Fortunately, some of us are able to control our dreams and nightmares through lucid dreaming. Since humans only use a small percentage of our brain, there is a lot of room for exploration in an unconscious state. Dreaming is a state in which the subconscious takes over; this leaves me wondering how deep does the “dark matter” run? Perhaps the poet is talking about the dreams that are yet to come, as well as the ones he has clung to already. So I ask, what is yet to be discovered, not only in space, but also in our minds?

As this week’s winner, Garry 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 188:

     gas chamber
     a man lifts up
     his child
          — Dietmar Tauchner, As Far As I Can (2010) 

This Post Has 10 Comments

  1. I’ve really enjoyed reading all the comments on Brendon’s haiku, a haiku that draws me in but I’m never certain I’m reading correctly. In fact, I’ve come to the conclusion that this haiku mirrors its subject matter, in the sense that this reader , anyway, can approach an hypothesis re what it’s all about but is left with the tantalizing possibilities of something she doesn’t know about and (to date) can’t know about, just like the hypothesized ‘dark matter’ in physics.
    What a difference (in the English language) an article makes! Brendan has clearly referred to ‘dark matter’ , the kind of matter posited by physicists (and which Einstein didn’t like the idea of) ,’dark matter’ as an uncountable noun. Not to any particular dark matter in the mundane sense of the term (such as a matter or matters kept secret or a matter with Satanic associations or even the dark matter of what the angelic-looking cat did last night, judging by the evidence of three mouse corpses lined up in the bathroom).
    The ‘dark matter’ here, as hypothesized, must have substance, must be physical matter, the physicists think. Things in the universe behave as if there is a lot more physical matter than we can detect or account for, so dark matter must exist.
    . . . and dreams? What an excellent cut & juxtaposition there is between ‘dark matter’ and ‘dreams’. What kind of dreams are these? Are they the sort we have in sleep and sometimes remember or are they the sort Martin Luther King meant when he said, “I have a dream. . . .” , a mental vision and a belief of how things might be in the future? Both kinds of dream are insubstantial, have no physical substance in present time. . . which is how we tend to discern between a real thing, a reality and a dream (hello to ‘The Matrix’ ) , The hypothesized dark matter does have substance, going by the signs that point to it and dreams, too, can be an attractive force for us (metaphorically) because they might come true. We do tend to cling to them as if they will be a possible reality in our future.
    Or else . . . (hello to ‘The Matrix’ again). . . here is another dark, disturbing matter: some of us, upon finding that the reality being lived is actually a fabrication, a dream, actually choose the dream over reality, like Cypher did in the film.
    (. . . and all this on Easter Sunday (Australia) … hmmm, perhaps one should avoid too much chocolate in the morning?)
    – Lorin
    – Lorin

  2. hi all,

    I have admired the depth in Kent’s work for a long time, though my exposure to his works is limited.

    Having read the responses, I find that “dark matter” intrigues us all.
    The first time I read the poem, I too was taken up by the scientific term: black matter. Matter and anti-matter is common. As is dark matter and non-dark matter. If I were to see the universe as a fabric then the dark matter is fused or holds together the rest of the non-dark matter to form what there is. Because, dark matter comprises of 80% of the universe. Thankfully, life is not 80% dark matter,…though we may sometimes be led by circumstances to think that life is 120% dark matter.

    Th question is, can we see dark matter? If light bends and can be distorted ( thank you Einstein) then the distortion of light gives us a sense of how and what dark matter is.

    Life is light and shadow, wabi-sabi, yin-yang, dark and not so dark, etcetera, etcetera…
    Without dark matter acting as a sieve, I cannot see the light, the lighter, the brighter and the obviously placid aspects of my life either.

    Coming back to the poem, without the -dark matter- that matters, why would I cling to anything?
    Kabir, a saint=poet of India wrote: no one prays during good times, everyone is down on their knees when life is a struggle, if we prayed during the good times, why would there be troubles?

    So also, if not for the dark matter, why would one be absorbed with dreams? Maybe, because, dreams have that intangible quality of morphing into rainbows or unicorns or everything magical that can make us happy and harbour us thought troubled times

    I have been hearing so much about carcinogenic stuff that my thoughts turn to scans help detect up excessive cell clusters….but I think that is way too far-fetched, even for me, and a thought I do not wish to bring up as part of the poem’s discussion.

    The beauty of the poem is in the use of the word -dark matter- which lacks luminescence. However, it is solid, tangible, and like sand in the pudding, very much there, destroying the fun value of pudding or life or what have we.

    Dreams however are different, they are almost what dark matter is not. What are dreams like? Non-tangible, not real, non-coherent. Nevertheless, that which anchors the speaker in the poem is not dark matter. The speaker finds solace in dreams.
    We have –dark matter– and dreams, thrown in together, so casually that we forget it takes a skilled craftsperson to tether them together. And, It does make for a very effective juxtaposition in a one-liner.
    Is this a poem of personal expression? Yes, because I read the poet’s response. I also sense the general truth in there. Which is why many others and I connect to that which is encapsulated in it.

    dark matter the dreams
    ………………….I cling to
    here – dark matter – is a modifier describing the nature of dreams

    dark matter
    ………………..the dreams I cling to

    here “dark matter” is the phrase and works in tandem with the fragment proving us with an effective juxtaposition.

    This is what we all are discussing in this thread.

    Brendon, I admire your work. Writing about this poem has been a learning. Any transgressions on my part are not intentional: either with you or with anyone else.

    Thank you all.

  3. I Appreciate Marion Clarke putting forth this monoku found in
    “Moon on Water”,
    by Brendon Kent (page 47).
    Garry Eaton’s explication is most excellent!
    Exposure to Kent’s work is necessary for any writer of haiku.
    For haiku writers who may not yet have his book, exposure to Kent in this forum is a treasure.
    Brendon’s work is worthy of historical reference for those readers wanting master level reads of modern haiku.
    Also from re:Virals 121

    turning crows
    the distance smokes
    a yellow tractor

    — Brendon Kent
    .Sonic Boom #3 (2015)
    .Moon on Water, page 31
    Extensive commentary at this link.

  4. dark matter the dreams I cling to

    — Brendon Kent, Failed Haiku #1 (2016)

    I find a clear break between ‘dark matter’ and ‘the dreams I cling to’

    Dreams are from the unconscious which is as unfathomable as deep space. The same way we explore the cosmos in a bid to understand, to find out where we fit into the scheme of things, does Brendon Kent, and some of us, explore dreams. The puzzle of existence is such we cling to the idea there must be more to life than the daily grind which in itself is dark matter, which we cling to.

  5. Firstly thank you to Marion for proposing my haiku and thank you THF for hosting it.
    All of your comments are completely relevant, there’s no more to add except perhaps that ‘dark matter’ the unknown holds together the known…it’s what keeps stability in our known world and holds everything in place. Like haiku the unknown is as important as the known. This started out as a ‘black dog’, depression kind of haiku but evolved into many meanings as I wrote it. I love when that happens! I carefully edited each word to allow multiple readings.
    Every commentary I’ve read has touched on all I’d hoped it would, thank you all.


    1. And I have not even written my own ramble, 🙂
      Thank you for being here, and I will post my words, because I love deconstruction and your haiku is fascinating.
      Let us see how this one turns out, now that I know what transpired behind the scenes… hi Brendon

  6. re:Virals 187:

    dark matter the dreams I cling to

    — Brendon Kent, Failed Haiku #1 (2016)

    Many thanks to this haiku foundation blog for featuring regular haiku writes, and I am delighted to comment upon Brendon Kent, whose haiku penned by dexterous pen, always a source of pleasure and kindling our critical acumen.

    This one lined haiku, delves into many a vista of our imaginative perceptions. As a theme and topic “dark matter” encompasses not only vague and mysterious objects of universe We live in, but also elusive for most of us. Personally, I feel, That we will not be able to arrive at a clear-cut idea about it.

    From a grown up’s point of view, I mean before one gets complete maturity and wisdom, this possibly might allude to the vast, mysterious hidden aspects of galaxy where light and darkness, emit at intervals and taking into speculation, where and how these happen? This is one aspect of the dream of the persona.
    For some, beyond the galaxy, passing clouds and starry nights which appear in dreams leading on to admire where and how is the otherness of universe, how it would be? If a paradise or a beautiful gathering of hermits or saints.

    A close reading of the entire line in first person with the ending note, “ dreams I cling to” denotes highest imaginative, creative speculation of the lover or dreamer, journeying deeper into the unseen; not necessarily scientific objects, but also a deeper realm of capturing and living in the unseen, journey across; metaphorically into a day dream into prospects of life beyond life.

    Even we see sailors, or horses or child hiding in the passing cloud or waning moon . Another viable derivative is that a break from day to day reality, mundane and morbid, shifting into a farther space of spaceless speechless dreams.

Comments are closed.

Back To Top