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SEA SHELL GAME #26
Judge: Jane Reichhold
February 28, 2000


ROUND ONE

1.

it doesn't last long
this soft, late afternoon glow;
chill ushers in fall.


2.

Clean still rain
on the worn streetman's coat
his cup is full

Both are intriguing ku. If I were writing #1 I would find a way to rewrite out the negative (doesn't) to use a positive expression. Thus, #2 wins this match.

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3.

night work done, walk home
tree, new leaves, by moonlight--aaah...
such desire for you.


4.

I should have loved you
Heartbroken love will kill me
I love you so much

To use the 'forbidden' haiku word love three times in one poem is a sure way to lose, not only a lover but a haiku match. Ku #3 wins.

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5.

relentless exhaust
behind maples and pines
solace of sorts


6.

eyes slowly closing
intriguing yet inviting
if they could just see

Am I having a 'senior moment'? I cannot grasp the object of either of these poems. Hanging on to the reality of "maples and pines" I give #5 the win here.

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7.

Rocking, blanket in lap
Wind moves empty swing
Echo of summer youth


8.

campfire embers--
the outline and crackle
of pine cones

I can just feel the author of #7 counting syllables and can easily feel the problems this method makes. I feel so strongly the second line needs 'the' swing. Also the ku has three full line stops. Ku #8 wins because it is perfectly constructed.

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9.

Black night drives the snow,
White feathers warming bleakness.
One sees illusions.


10.

spring rain nearly done
almost laughing out loud at--
is it cherries? Ha!

Both of these ku have full line-end stops in all three lines. Can you hear me shaking my head? Only the good humor of #10 enables it to go ahead.

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11.

white teeth and strong bones
sunshine makes you beautiful,
smiling desert skull


12.

foam flow, splash and roll
petticoats over my toes
(dancing with the sea)

Both of these ku use the riddle technique and use it very well. I am puzzled why the last line of #12 is in parentheses - am I missing some new fad in haiku writing? Also, if there has to be a personal pronoun in the poem, I would prefer "you" to "my". Ku #11 wins.

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13.

war erupts in hell
salvation from tyranny
many children cry out


14.

Rajah is pretty
she is a kitty with fur
she is nice and soft

Haiku subjects traditionally do not include war, blatant sex, crime or disaster. The only concrete image is 'children'. Though #14 is obviously a child's poem, it is closer to haiku than #13. Thus, #14 wins this match.

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15.

flowing growing joy
my heart is beating faster
i feel you within


16.

Sunlight will come soon.
As days bring the afternoon,
Hiding the night moon.

Well, what do you say, here? Are we going to let a rhyming ku take the match? At least it has the sun and moon in it? What do you think we should tell the author of #15 about haiku? Thanks for picking #16 to win this match.

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ROUND TWO

2.

Clean still rain
on the worn streetman's coat
his cup is full


3.

night work done, walk home
tree, new leaves, by moonlight--aaah...
such desire for you.

Not only is #3 deep into tanka territory, the six chunks of punctuation are just a bit much for haiku. Ku #2 goes ahead.

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5.

relentless exhaust
behind maples and pines
solace of sorts


8.

campfire embers--
the outline and crackle
of pine cones

One of the tests of a haiku is to read the first and last lines together to see how they relate or don't. What do you think? Doesn't the word "relentless" seem very judgmental to you? I guess you feel I am rooting for #8 to win this match. And see how the lines one and two fit together? Good haiku form.

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10.

spring rain nearly done
almost laughing out loud at--
is it cherries? Ha!

11.

white teeth and strong bones
sunshine makes you beautiful,
smiling desert skull

I find #10 very intriguing but I still have not figured out the working pivot in the poem. Exactly what is the author laughing about? At least the author has me engaged and pondering - which is a success point for a haiku. Yet, #11 wins the match.

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14.

Rajah is pretty
she is a kitty with fur
she is nice and soft

16.

Sunlight will come soon.
As days bring the afternoon,
Hiding the night moon.

What do we do here? Which teacher gets a free book on how to teach haiku? Actually, I rather like the honest feelings that the simple words of #14 portray. I feel it is closer in tone and feeling to haiku.

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ROUND THREE

2.

Clean still rain
on the worn streetman's coat
his cup is full


8.

campfire embers--
the outline and crackle
of pine cones

These two are very evenly matched. Either one could be accepted in any haiku magazine. I find both of them very worthy. I know #8 is totally nature and #2 involves a person which should knock it down a notch, but I love the spirit of the heart of the author of #2. #2 wins with attitude.

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11.

white teeth and strong bones
sunshine makes you beautiful,
smiling desert skull

14.

Rajah is pretty
she is a kitty with fur
she is nice and soft

Now it is easy to see where a haiku, a real haiku, has a power beyond three lines of words on one subject. Congratulations to the author of #14 for getting this far in the contest. But I will have to let #11 go ahead.

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ROUND FOUR - Winners' Circle

2.

Clean still rain
on the worn streetman's coat
his cup is full

11.

white teeth and strong bones
sunshine makes you beautiful,
smiling desert skull


The surprise, the smiles in #11 make it my choice for winner of this contest. It has truth and honesty - the bare bones of poetry - and a marvelous way of seeing. Congratulations to Ed Button!


Poems Copyright © Individual Authors 2000.
Commentary Copyright © Jane Reichhold 2000.

Let me read another Sea Shell Game .
Show me the form so I can my haiku.
Maybe I need to read up on haiku.

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