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SEA SHELL GAME #27
Judge: Jane Reichhold
February 7, 2000


ROUND ONE

1.

there lies a haven
between realms of sleep and wake
where dawn waits for dew

2.

chickadees visit
for the sunflower seeds
the brighter day

Ku #2 goes ahead because it has the two parts (a phrase and a fragment) that a haiku requires. #1 can be read as a straight sentence.

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3.

Heart breaks open
love falls to the ground
in bits and pieces


4.

a rusted lawn chair
unfolds in the spring air--
old bones

The rusted lawn chair gives us a visual image for the mind to work. And wins the match.

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5.

full moon, almost -
risotto bubbles
in the pan

6.

New father
He is in love,

like he's never been before

How well do the moon and risotto bubbles go together? Enough to win this match.

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7.

gently falling fluff
packing heavy mounds of white
steadily snow falls


8.

Quite walks with nature brings reality back into focus.

Ku #8 demonstrates one of the basic problems with the so-called one-line haiku - if the natural syntax of the phrases does not clearly demonstrate the two parts of the ku, it reads too easily as a part of someone's sentence. Not haiku. Notice how #7 accomplishes this? And wins!

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9.

Horses stand at dawn
side by side in the old field
still as the fence posts


10.

rapped in your old coat
I squeeze my eyes tightly
To find you in my heart

I like the thought in #10 and the experience rings true and and and it is not a haiku. Do save this great thought in a tanka. It is too good to waste. Swaybacked and problematic #9 goes ahead.

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11.

weeds swirl in eddy
heron looks on from upstream
transfixed in his gaze


12.

entering his territory
blackbird whistles a threat
I dance to

Again I love the spirit and thought in #12 but #11 is more firmly centered in haiku territory.

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13.

Take me to a place
Where I can watch the sky fall
From a safe distance...


14.

Branch fingers twisted
Kissed by whispering rain that
Stain the fast waters


Entry #13 feels to me as if it came from a much longer poem. Perhaps it was the first sentence. A good one, but not a haiku. Ku #14 goes ahead.

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15.

rainbow brightens,
blue sky warms the skin,
darkened day ends.


16.

The rain so tender
His hands cleanse my soul tonight
Time falling so still


I am having trouble getting the picture in my mind for #15. It looks like a haiku, almost sounds like a haiku but when I try to analyze it I stumble on 'blue sky warms the skin' and how that fits to "darkened day ends". I fail to go where the author has come from. Ku #16 goes ahead.

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ROUND TWO

2.

chickadees visit
for the sunflower seeds
the brighter day


4.

a rusted lawn chair
unfolds in the spring air--
old bones


Ku #2 looks and acts like a real haiku but somehow fails to make sense. It seems the birds' colors are what makes the day 'brighter' and so that cannot be what they 'visit'. Ku #4 squeaks by.

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5.

full moon, almost -
risotto bubbles
in the pan


7.

gently falling fluff
packing heavy mounds of white
steadily snow falls

Again, #7 looks and sounds like a pretty good haiku. I do appreciate the complete symmetry of the use of -ly in lines one and two. To fill three lines with words that all relate to the subject and only use the noun once shows the author is good with words. It is not a 'bad' haiku but there is a twist, a leap between the moon and the food # 5 that is unusual enough to win the match.

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9.

Horses stand at dawn
side by side in the old field
still as the fence posts


11.

weeds swirl in eddy
heron looks on from upstream
transfixed in his gaze

Both of these ku paint excellent pictures for the mind while transmitting the calm, quiet mood so prized in a haiku. I get the feeling the author of #11 was counting syllables so religiously that he/she stopped listening to how the ku sounded. It feels as if it needs a few more words to feel complete. Ku #9 goes ahead by a nose.

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14.

Branch fingers twisted
Kissed by whispering rain that
Stain the fast waters


16.

The rain so tender
His hands cleanse my soul tonight
Time falling so still

Both of these are too romantic for haiku and even for tanka - which is saying a lot! Ku #14 goes ahead because it has more concrete nouns in it.

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ROUND THREE

4.

a rusted lawn chair
unfolds in the spring air--
old bones


5.

full moon, almost -
risotto bubbles
in the pan

These two are very well matched. Both are 'comparison' haiku where the action is based on comparing two unlike things that share a common feature. Now I have typed in two different judgments making each of these winner of the match. Ku #4 is proper, conventional in syntax and make-up, though new in it idea. The 'almost' in #5 could be seen as a drawback or a marvelous little skip in the form. I guess I will pick #4 to win this match.

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9.

Horses stand at dawn
side by side in the old field
still as the fence posts


14.

Branch fingers twisted
Kissed by whispering rain that
Stain the fast waters

#14 is so romantic, so filled with personification that #9 races ahead on pounding hooves.

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ROUND FOUR
Winners' Circle

4.

a rusted lawn chair
unfolds in the spring air--
old bones


9.

Horses stand at dawn
side by side in the old field
still as the fence posts

A very close call. The only thing that holds #9 back is the use of the phrase "still as". This is the English way of presenting a simile. From the Japanese we have learned to state the two parts of a simile or metaphor simply and then to let the reader make the connection as is so well done in ku #4. See how adding 'as' to #4 would have spoiled the poem? How much more fun the mind has in drawing the conclusions (as much as one can - whose bones does the poem refer to? the author's? the old chair's, the one who will sit in the chair?) This engagement of the reader's mind is the goal of good haiku. Ku #4 deserves to win.

Congratulations to Mary Beth for her haiku winner:


4.

a rusted lawn chair
unfolds in the spring air--
old bones

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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