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re:Virals 66

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

     In my other life
     a pale-green sycamore
     arms wide, shimmering
          — Patrick Sweeney, Only One Tree Haiku Contest (2016)

This haiku caused ayaz daryl nielsen to wax poetical:

yes, a lovely color, the color green —

my green antennae
waving hello, my green antennae
and your green antennae, too!

an earthly affair
your cool, green skin
pressing against mine

Sheila Sondik finds this poem cuts both ways:

The speaker seems to be saying, “In my other life, my fantasy life, the alternate universe I choose to dwell in, where I display my best, most loving, glorious self…”

In this reality, the speaker is a glowing, twinkling, spreading, mature and youthful (pale-green) sycamore tree, encompassing multitudes within its outspread branches/arms.

I find this haiku full of joy in presenting this shining image. Yet the question remains open: is this the inner self the speaker wants to reveal to the world, or is there an undertone of regret at only achieving this state in imagined wish fulfillment?

In any case, the poem is a marvel of sympathetic imagination.


As this week’s winner, Sheila chooses 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 66:

     she waves a thin blue scarf becoming sky
          — Lorin Ford, tinywords 15:2 (2015)
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