Comments on Frogpond, Autumn 2003

I wrote the following comments in November 2003 about selected poems from Frogpond 26:3, Autumn 2003.

Comments on selected poems from the autumn 2003 issue of Frogpond:

        she leans
        a little closer
        ladybug on my palm

                Yu Chang, p. 8

Is the person leaning closer a grandmother, a wife, or perhaps a child? Somehow I see a child, because of the childlike wonder this poem captures. Indeed, haiku itself is an art of leaning closer.

        jackknifed rig
        a trooper waves us
        into wildflowers

                Robert Gilliland, p. 20

It seems unconscionable for a haiku poet to drive his or her car over wildflowers, and here a state trooper is not so much providing permission as forcing the act. Despite the jackknifed bigrig, we feel the poet’s momentary resistance, and celebrate the shared appreciation for nature that must be temporarily sacrificed because of circumstance.

        christmas night
        a neighbor switches off
        his wise men

                Rees Evans, p. 27

Where once wisemen followed a light to find the Messiah in Bethlehem, now the wisemen are themselves a light that others see—at least for part of this holy night. The lightness (karumi) in this poem does not mask the criticism I believe it makes of the commercialization of Christmas.

        just arrived—
        their dog sniffs
        our tires

                Tom Clausen, p. 30

The dog sniffs the car’s tires not just in preparation for the act of possibly relieving itself, but also to smell the actions of other dogs who have done so before. What is unique about this poem is that the smell of other dogs has entered into new territory without those dogs actually ever being there themselves.

        Easter morning—
        the Madonna’s roses
        wrapped in plastic

                Pamela Miller Ness, p. 33

This haiku (not a senryu, despite its placement in the senryu section) adds a touch of human interaction and concern to a Madonna statue. We know from the need for plastic that it is still cold, and perhaps the flower-giver also wishes the statue to be warm.

        styling mouse
        expands in her palm—
        salon gossip

                Claire Gallagher, p. 36

The styling mousse (not “mouse” per the typo in the poem) is a delightful symbol for the salon gossip. Just as the mousse expands in the stylist’s hand, so, too, does the gossip build from fiction or the seeds of fact.