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re:Virals 99

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

            to get hibiscus red
     the artist eats the flower
          — Raymond Roseliep, Step on the Rain (1977)

Carol Jones takes us in an unexpected direction:

There seems to be a strong emotion of frustration in the poem, and maybe a little humour also. On first reading I could feel the artist agonising to produce the perfect colour for the botanical subject before him, a need so great that to have a better understanding of the colour he eats the flower and hopes the taste will enhance his awareness of producing the correct hue, (some people, it is said, can taste colours) only to find that his frustration has gone, a feeling of calm has taken over and realises the plant is of more benefit inside him and stress has gone.

But there is also the fact that many people turn from conventional medication when all avenues have been exhausted to find that magic potion to cure ailments and return the body to its healthy mode. Some of the herbal remedies are hit and miss and many need more investigation before ingesting. How desperate a patient must be to take chances by taking in a, supposed, excellent remedy that may do more harm than good. I think this poem will bring forth anxiety and apprehension in the healthiest of people that read it. The question I ask myself — how far would I go, what would I do to rid myself of unwanted ailments? A thought-provoking poem.


As this week’s winner, Carol gets to select the next 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 99:

     election year
     not knowing what to make
     of the sky
          — Michael Henry Lee, full of moonlight: The Haiku Society of America Members’ Anthology 2016
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