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