Friday, November 17, 2023

Poetic Musings: Rain and Blood Haiku by Michael McClintock

a drizzling rain ...
washing their blood
into their blood

Light Run, 1971

Michael McClintock

Commentary: The use of repetition in this haiku about the Vietnam War is thematically significant and visually and emotionally poignant, and when juxtaposed with symbolically rich L1, it hints at the inevitable conclusion: nothing can clean/wash away the Blood of War.

To the best knowledge, Michael's sociopolitically conscious poem is the first English language haiku that dismantled the facade of haiku as the art of "singing about flowers and birds.” And it reminds me of the following penetrating insights into writing poetry in times of crisis and opportunity:

In a war situation or where violence and injustice are prevalent, "poetry is called upon to be something more than a thing of beauty." 

-- Seamus Heaney, an Irish poet, playwright and translator who received the 1995 Nobel Prize in Literature. 

And a gentle reminder:

Poetry is insurrection, resurrection, and insubordination -- against amnesia of every sort, against every form of oppression, dispossession and indifference. And against the drowning noise of other words. 

-- Anne Michaels, Infinite Gradation


1 There is a set of five haiku called 'Vietnam: Five Poems' in Light Run.

2 The phrase, "singing about flowers and birds,” refers to the famous declaration made by Takahama Kyoshi (1874 --1959), a student of Masaoka Shiki and the editor of the most influential haiku magazine, Hototogisu, during WWII, that "haiku was essentially the art of "singing about flowers and birds ..." and for more about Kyoshi’s involvement in wartime haiku persecution, see Itô Yûk's groundbreaking monograph, "The Evolution of Modern Japanese Haiku and the Haiku Persecution Incident, reprinted in Simply Haiku, 5:4, Winter 2007)

Added: This Brave New World, CX
written on World Children's Day, Nov. 20
after Michael McClintock

hazy twilight ...
rain washing a mother's blood
into her children's blood

FYI: Al Jazeera, Nov. 20: "World Children’s Day tragedy: Gaza’s 5,500 lives lost to Israel’s attacks"

One out of every 200 children in Gaza has been killed by Israeli attacks in the past six weeks...That is one Palestinian child killed every 10 minutes. 

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