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THE SEA SHELL GAME #11
Judge Jane Reichhold - June 19, 1998


ROUND ONE

1.

With a touch i saw,
the stench of indifference.
a passionate image



2.

Listen to old winter:
Ice against rock resounds through
the valley like bells.


Poem #2 wins since #1 lacks concrete images.

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3.

shadow leaves
on closet doors
headlights pass


4.

winter sunrise --
the lowest hanging leaf
catches the first light


Good contest here. Both of these are haiku. It is close, but I will pick #4 for the interest the verb "catches" puts into the poem and because #3 ends with a verb - a haiku no-no.

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5.

The sun sinks into
The lake, and fiery colors
Spread throughout the sky.



6.

hawk on Saguaro
setting sun on horizon
flp, flp, flp, flp, flight


Again two entries correctly in the haiku mode. I would pick #6 because #5 is complete sentence in spite of the comma and caps.

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7.

frosted fantasies
six snowmen in a blizzard
search for one last climb


8.

desolate jungle
of concrete and black asphalt
which i call my home


If the author of #8 had left out the "of" the ku would have been made into the two parts I think a haiku requires. Poem #7 performs this feat and wins.

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9.

thumb print leaves
red brick anchors
straying vines


10.

Naked trees whimper
the cold night air is brutal
Begging to come in.


Rule #10,863 in haiku writing. No personification. So illogically you can write of "naked" trees but they cannot go "begging". Poem #9 wins.

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11.

As I await death
I see the glory of God
And take one last breath



12.

snow - wet nose, dry hands
falling slowly, gently, damp
ice forming, icicles glowing
snow coming, snow going,
sun smiling.


What are these poems doing in a haiku contest? I'll pick #12 only because it has concrete images in it. This means that concrete images are more important than three lines.

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13.

Translucent waters,
Sparkling in the moon light,
asking for a swim.




14.

Rusted gutter
spills a cold stream
on the empty sidewalk


Poem #13 wins even though #14 paints a complete and valid image in classical haiku style. For me, it lacks contrast or comparison, zip and interest. Other experts might disagree with me.

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15.

crushed grapes mature
into intoxicating wine
lipstick on the glass


16.


Plunk down your chemeric emotional armor

Spare the predominatley sane mass

Your wicked idioms

I take it that the author of #16 wanted to spoof haiku. Okay, you made your point and lost the round. #15 wins.


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ROUND TWO

2.

Listen to old winter:
Ice against rock resounds through
the valley like bells.

4.

winter sunrise --
the lowest hanging leaf
catches the first light


Ah, if only the author of #2 had left out the word "like" and just juxtaposed the words to let me discover that idea, the ku would have won over the perfected #4. Hand in there, you ARE close. #4 advances.

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6.

hawk on Saguaro
setting sun on horizon
flp, flp, flp, flp, flight


7.

frosted fantasies
six snowmen in a blizzard
search for one last climb


Frankly, I have a bit of trouble understanding why in #7 "six snowmen are searching for a climb". I feel I am on the outside of an inside joke. #6 zooms ahead.

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9.

thumb print leaves
red brick anchors
straying vines



12.

snow - wet nose, dry hands
falling slowly, gently, damp
ice forming, icicles glowing
snow coming, snow going,
sun smiling.


Well, this one is a no-brainer. Now which one would you guess is the real haiku?

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13.

Translucent waters,
Sparkling in the moon light,
asking for a swim.


15.

crushed grapes mature
into intoxicating wine
lipstick on the glass


At least both of these ku are on the same wave-length. And they are close. My mind bounces back and forth - yes, no, yes. I will pick #15 as it has the two parts correctly designated. #13, without punctuation would have done better.

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ROUND THREE

4.

winter sunrise --
the lowest hanging leaf
catches the first light


6.

hawk on Saguaro
setting sun on horizon
flp, flp, flp, flp, flight


I like the unusual noise-making words in #6 and the whole picture is true and accurate, but the lines feel choppy and 'telegraphic' giving #4 the win.

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9.

thumb print leaves
red brick anchors
straying vines


15.

crushed grapes mature
into intoxicating wine
lipstick on the glass


This one is very close. I have now typed in reasons why each of these should win. So, I will call it draw and advance both of them.

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ROUND FOUR - The Winners' Circle

4.

winter sunrise --
the lowest hanging leaf
catches the first light


9.

thumb print leaves
red brick anchors
straying vines


Michelle V. Lohnes (pen-name: Gemini)


15.

crushed grapes mature
into intoxicating wine
lipstick on the glass


Lil



Okay, now that my back is against the wall, and my hands are in the air (right out of the scary dream I had last night!) I will pick #4 as winner. It is the classic example of the riddle technique using a paradox. How can the lowest leaf catch the first light? -- winter sunrise. Normally the 'answer' comes in the last line, so it is a mind-bender to get the answer first, but adds to the interest in the ku. Well done. Runners-up are Michelle and Lil. The final winner is:


winter sunrise --
the lowest hanging leaf
catches the first light


Donald McLeod

Feature Copyright © AHA Books 1995 - 1998.

Poems Copyright © Designated Authors 1998.

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