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The Sea Shell Game # 13

Judged by Jane Reichhold
August 1, 1998


ROUND ONE

1.

hair and wind
red seas swallows blood
on contact



2

mosquitoes,
claim my blood
employees want more


Ouch! It must be a jungle out there! Whereas I am not sure how to categorize #1 (is it a haiku or not?) and #2, in Tokyo, would be only be accepted as a senryu but since the web includes San Francisco, where #2 might be accepted as a haiku, and since I am not getting a clear picture of #1 (is this a shark-attack?) I will pick #2 to advance to the next round.

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3

whispering to me
the seashell speaks
my mind tingles with delight


4

the tongue plays
erotica on the lips
a lover's tune


You guys are ganging up on me. Haiku "experts" seeking the world ' just as it is' - the isness of a thing - would flip over these, while kicking them both out of the game. While reading #3 I cannot get the image of a seaside telephone out of my mind, (and mine is not "tingling with delight"). #4 looks, acts, employs the shape of a haiku, yet the rule book readers would be screaming it cannot be one. However, I like it very much and wish many more haiku would be just like this one. Winner #4. (Sex always wins on the web; didn't you know that?)

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5

high above
a swing and a boy
meet the sky



6

Ripples upon water
race the wind
fade and vanishes.


#6 gives me grammar gripes. We have ripples (plural) which could fade, but I am really worried about the water (singular), if that is what vanishes. If we could snip off the first two lines and come up with a good third line, this ku has real possibilities. That leaves #5 to go to the next round.

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7

Rain drip, drip, dripping
slowly down the water spout
down into the dry brown grass



8

Snow geese in meadow,
long necks stretch, pointing skyward.
grace fallen to earth


Hmmm. Two authors who can count to 17. And you see what it gets them? Author of #7 gave up on the last line - refusing to play the game anymore. Therefore, #8 goes ahead.

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9

The sun spins alive.
crickets creak with the effort
of a pale blue sky.



10

whipped in a funnel
the dust cloud collapses
over the curb


Wow, we hit the jackpot here. I love both of these. Haiku mavens will startle and choke over #9 and I would have to calmly agree with them that this author is 'wasting' him/herself in haiku. This is the lyrical stuff of tanka. Get out of here, fast before you get seduced by a too-short haiku. You are too good to be here. And that leaves #10 to win. I know it is unfair, but maybe it will teach you to take better care of your jewels.

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11

old rice rest in peace
plastic coffins never leave
refrigerator



12

summer dusk-
the cool breeze
in my hair


So, if you were voting which one would you take? No one else stumbles over the grammar in #11 in the first line? And why not write "the refrigerator"? Just because of syllables? I feel it is more important that lines #2 and #3 have a smooth, sentence-like syntax so they flow together. Without 'the' there is a bump that hurts. #12 wins.

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13

Sun, sky, moon, and stars
True love shining bright
Couldst thou be with me?


14

soft rain falling
fish jumps in the waves
morning on the lake


Shakespeare on the web? Maybe, but he would not win a haiku contest. And neither can his shadow in #13. Haiku is touted as using colloquial language (the words we use in everyday speech) and no one has thee'd and thou'd me today. #14 wins. Also haiku concentrates on one small part of the universe. The first line is slightly overloaded.

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15

butterflies always
dance on the oregano
but it's night--you're gone


16

"Coffee, big boobs, please."
God, as waiter, played a joke:
only coffee came.


These two mis-matched entries make me feel as if we should also have a shell game for tanka and another for senryu. (Heaven spare us that!) Since this contest is supposed to be for haiku, what do we take? -- boobs or butterflies? The gods of haiku (past masters) are whispering that they prefer the butterflies. Ooookay.

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ROUND TWO

2

mosquitoes,
claim my blood
employees want more


4

the tongue plays
erotica on the lips
a lover's tune


If you had to be locked in an elevator with these two authors, with which one would you want to be? Now you know why #4 wins here.

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5

high above
a swing and a boy
meet the sky


8

Snow geese in meadow,
long necks stretch, pointing skyward.
grace fallen to earth


In #8 someone is letting the 5-7-5 rule ruin a good start for a haiku. The second line (in my mind) wants to be 'snow geese in the meadow'. If I were working with this ku, this situation would alert me to the fact that this line really wants to be #2. Okay. What about putting "long necks stretch" as line one? And them maybe "pointing skyward" as line three? I'd save that 'grace fallen to earth' for a tanka and be grateful for the haiku I had gotten out of the scene. I know 'my haiku' doesn't have 5-7-5. But it MUST, you say? Then pad it out yourself and see if it gets better. While we wait, #5 goes ahead.

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10

whipped in a funnel
the dust cloud collapses
over the curb


12

summer dusk-
the cool breeze
in my hair


This match-up should be a breeze. If anyone else, other than I, was judging this set, #12 would probably win hands down. As sensitive, and charming and perfect as #12 is, and there are times and places this ku could take a top prize, I enjoy the suspense and surprise of #10. Both are excellent haiku, since I cannot declare a draw (and screw up this ancient scheme) I will go with the joke -- #10.

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14

soft rain falling
fish jumps in the waves
morning on the lake


15

butterflies always
dance on the oregano
but it's night--you're gone


The jerkiness of the three breaks at the end of each line in #14 really jars me, but the subject matter, the tone, the everything else is haiku. There is an excellent haiku lurking here right under the surface. Set the hook and then jerk (just once). #14 wins over #15 which is an excellent tanka and would win in that contest. Sorry.

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ROUND THREE


4

the tongue plays
erotica on the lips
a lover's tune


5

high above
a swing and a boy
meet the sky


As super fine as #4 is, #5 is much more haiku-like. I like #4, and would be delighted with myself if that were my poem, but the haiku people would never forgive me for following my heart in judging a haiku contest. #5 is a perfect example of a haiku. #4 is on the outer fringe of the future - maybe we can think of this a place we wish to go with tomorrow's haiku.

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10

whipped in a funnel
the dust cloud collapses
over the curb


14

soft rain falling
fish jumps in the waves
morning on the lake


Purely on the basis of syntax, #10 has the haiku-sound, the haiku-feel. In many circles the tiny, funny joke at the end would get the ku tossed out. The subject matter in #14 is typical haiku territory. If not for the three line breaks, #14 could have been serious competition. As it is, #10 goes over the final rope.

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ROUND FOUR - THE WINNERS' CIRCLE


5

high above
a swing and a boy
meet the sky


10

whipped in a funnel
the dust cloud collapses
over the curb


These are both excellent examples of two different aspects of haiku. I feel one can only have a draw here. Both are winners. Congratulations to:



high above
a swing and a boy
meet the sky


marjorie chew


AND



whipped in a funnel
the dust cloud collapses
over the curb


Michelle V. Lohnes

Page Copyright © Jane Reichhold, AHA Books 1998.

Poems Copyright © Individual Authors 1998.

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