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re:Virals 59

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

     trash day —
     a drum set
     in the pouring rain
          — Brad Bennett, tinywords 13.2 (2013)

Mojde Marvast found a sympathetic resonance:

For me the sound was so dominant in this haiku:

Sound of rain, sound of drum.
An announcement, for trash day!

In my religion, we believe that on resurrection day a trumpet is blown and the dead will rise to be judged and start a life. I can see the start in a recycling life for what we call a trash!

And Jan Benson found resonance from other spheres:

From the first read, I found this haiku intriguing. Brad Bennett provides a solid shasei in this presentation, but I did not see the actual (literal) haiku until about the sixth read.

On the first read of the ku, I immediately found the prosody of it mesmerizing. There is rhythm in the words that drives the poem into my music consciousness. A drum rudiment immediately sounded, and I read “drumset” as the drumming of trash can lids and other tonal objects found in opening scene of the popular “Stomp-Out Loud” YouTube video.

For another second or third read, I married the images of the “Blue Man Group” (Paint Drumming) into the white space of the haiku. That space where you not only hear the drumming, but see it. A synthesis of the sensory realm.

While Mr. Bennett may have meant this to be a sad day in the life of the drum set, I found the haiku invigorating, musical, rhythmic and satisfying.

And Bill Cooper found resonances of our entire culture:

With the first line of Bennett’s haiku, “trash day”, we are reminded that our species has evolved or devolved to a stage where we have a vast system of trash collection, compression, transport, and storage, with land fills aplenty and more to come, studied in detail by anthropologists who marvel at the extent of recyclable phone books, nonrecyclable plastics, and toxins associated with e-waste. Yet, this extraordinary undertaking, unique to our species, is for most of us in the developed world a well-ingrained habit. In line 2, Bennett introduces the uncommon drum set, leaving us room to wonder about its condition, why if usable it isn’t being passed on. Then line three brings the pouring rain, animating the sounds of the drum pieces from snare to cymbals. Depending on the slant of the drum set and the rain, perhaps even the bass drum adds a few notes. My mind drifts to Woodstock and the memorable Santana drum solo, then to Buddy Rich, then back to the drums of prehistory. Trash, drums, and rain — in a few words Bennett beckons us to consider where we have been and where we are headed, prompted by the pings of rain.

But David Jacobs found that it just is:

Language here is everything. The unwanted drum set is not being poured or ‘drummed’ upon. It is not getting a soaking. It is not even in any particular condition (though the reader may determine that for him/herself). It is simply and rivetingly ‘in the pouring rain’, surrounded by the everyday events of weather, darkness perhaps, and the monotony — or excitement — of trash day. The drum set may foretell of a dramatic event to come or one that has gone, perhaps a long time ago, a child who has left home, perhaps even worse. The beauty and simplicity of expression leaves the reader to fill in anything and everything he or she wants to fill in.

This is a haiku to enjoy over and over and one that does not deserve to be over-analysed (or poured over!) . . .


As this week’s winner, David 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 59:

     evening bus ride . . .
        bumping along
     to the smell of chips
          — Frank Williams, Stepping Stones ed. Martin Lucas (British Haiku Society, 2007)
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