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
my shortcomings i bake pizza for him with a new recipe — Lucia Fontana, HaikUniverse (2021)
Lakshmi Iyer reflects on facing one’s flaws:
“my shortcomings” — Who doesn’t have them? Am I perfect? Or is he perfect? The definition of a shortcoming is a failing or something that is considered to be a flaw. An example of a shortcoming is when you are a messy and disorganized person. Perhaps you are unable to satisfy people. Or it could be that how much soever you cater to a person’s needs, they never seem to be satisfied. Here, the poet confesses to this in the very first line. And that is so powerful! She accepts her flaws, and to pacify this, she bakes a pizza with a new recipe.
I liked the way the poet is confronting her flaws through an art she knows really well. And when someone accepts and acknowledges, the baked pizza definitely tastes perfect.
Isn’t Lucia Fontana managing things so well? This simple yet striking haiku depicts human tastes in life! Beautiful!
Keith Evetts considers the compensation:
A neat senryu suggestively encapsulating self-awareness, guilt, expiation, and enduring love.
We are not told whether “he” is spouse, child, lover… (but we can probably discount “boss”!). Most likely it is the author’s partner in love, who is, she fears, hurt by what she sees as her shortcomings. And as they may not be shortcomings she can undo, she finds another way to please, to compensate, to give, to make things up to him, to do something for him that he will like; something she is able to do. A sensitive and loving heart, signaling by deeds instead of words. A “new recipe” for a fresh start.
One hopes he responds in kind. I’d just add that the way to a man’s heart is not, as generally supposed, through his stomach! But a nice dish doesn’t hurt your prospects.
Sushama Kapur sees the protag trying something new:
This poem shows the narrator seemingly acquiesced in her lot: to her shortcomings as perceived by someone significant in life, and secondly, that she’s game on trying something new to overcome these shortcomings — for this same person. Reminds me of an old and patriarchal adage of how the heart of a man can be won through his stomach!
However, the image in the phrase could be metaphorical, too: a new strategy rests in this definitive action. And it could literally be talking about any relationship other than a romantic one. Whatever that may be, the atmosphere/tone seems to be positive. She’s tried to find a solution, and while doing so has learned something new. On the other hand, the tone could also be sarcastic: “Yeah, so we’re talking about my shortcomings? Well, deal with this new pizza recipe!” Perhaps she’s thrown in more than necessary — a red pepper? or something else?
The connotations surrounding this senryu are interesting as they are layered, and in the end, the poem still keeps you wondering.
As this week’s winner, Sushama 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!
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prayer call— the cry of a lost calf at twilight — Sanjuktaa Asopa, The Daily Haiku (2013)