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re:Virals 67

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

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

Marion Clarke has a light take:

I love the sense of ‘joie de vivre’ in Lorin’s delightful haiku. I imagined a person who had just dumped a cheating partner revving off in an open-topped sports car, her scarf fluttering in the air behind her. Good riddance, I say!

Meanwhile, Modje Marvast waxes lyrical:

Beautiful poem!
Beautiful moment!

The start of this moment by “she” made a hush sound of silence, but a female fertile silence, the picture I see is a calm sea.
Calm, because of the thin blue.
Wave has zenith and nadir, it fluctuates but within limits.
It goes on when it starts. It moves forward.
The sea wave, when it goes up joins the sky when it comes down it sinks into itself.
A kind of extrovert and introvert spirit at the same time all because of continuous movement.
The horizon where deep sea joins deep sky, is so promising and though blue but depth of this blue, at any direction, is not empty to be depressing, rather there are never-ending wonders and revelations . . .

And Jennifer Sutherland weighs its intrinsic vale:

Here is a haiku that has a sense of nostalgia and dreamlike quality about it. This is not simply a moment captured in time. There is significance to this scene which is memorable.

Whether it’s a farewell for now or forever is not important. I am reminded how fleeting life is.

The alternate alliteration of words is wonderfully appealing yet in every read my imagination takes over and I am left caught in the image of a filmy chiffon scarf gradually disappearing into the distance.

“She” continues to wave me farewell from the present into a world of infinite possibility.

David Jacobs questions how we might view it:

At a recent meeting of the London haiku group, I trailed one of my own one-liners for discussion. It was structured the same way as Lorin’s ie without any spaces to indicate a pause or whatever, although a member of the group was insistent that I should have included one — I suspect because the haiku was read with a pause simply by that person. Others disagreed.

Lorin’s haiku could possibly be read with a pause or breath after ‘waves’, less possibly after ‘scarf’ and, most improbably, after ‘blue’. But frankly it hardly matters. The success of this haiku is the glorious flow of the whole, mirroring the movement of the scarf itself. Is the poet the recipient of the wave of the scarf, or is she the waver, and simply the recipient of a wave of the hand. Or is she a third party, observing the parting itself. How often do we watch, for example, at departure and arrival gates, the way others say goodbye and greet loved ones while waiting for our own — perhaps even questioning the way we ourselves perform these acts?

The beauty of this haiku is in its flow and in the life that flows through it. It would almost be an offence to tag it as a one-liner.

While Sheila Sondik takes the opposite tack:

Lorin Ford’s poem intrigues me because I enjoy cutting it in different places to create shifting meanings: after waves, blue, scarf, and becoming. In my most recent encounters with it, I became aware of the possibilities of reading “becoming” as both an adjective, “(a piece of clothing) flattering a person’s appearance,” as well as a noun, “the process of coming to be something or passing into a state.”

It’s fun and rewarding to mull over these various readings of this one-liner, but the biggest pleasure for me is to experience the exhilaration of this animated scene. Even if it’s a valedictory wave, it’s a transcendent one.


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 67:

     arms race
     how quickly can you fold
     paper cranes
          — Johnny Baranski, tinywords 13.2 (2013)
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