back

SEA SHELL GAME #38
Judged: Jane Reichhold
November almost election day, 2000

ROUND ONE

1
Kite flew over
As Autumn Leaf
Blew in the wind
like a song.

2
WASHING HER HAIR
HE CLOTHES HIS LOVER'S BODY
WITH SCARVES OF WATER

Ku #1 starts off wrong by omitting the article (a, an, the) for the first word in my never humble opinion. Also, I do not need the word 'like' to make the poem work for me and I could easily live without the capital letters, especially the ones on the autumn leaf. Ku #2 goes ahead even with its all caps.

---------------------------------------------------

3
rolling white cap waves
moon tides pulling ocean seas
filling white sands below

4
whale's tail poking out
reaching, striving to be free
escape from his mind

Both of these ku are loaded with gerunds (verbs ending with -ing) but ku #4 has the greater fault of whale mind-reading (how do you know this is what the sight of the whale's tail means?). Thus, #3 easily swims ahead.

---------------------------------------------------------

5
path to the Bay -
poison ivy climbs
with the honeysuckle

6
Dogwoods in shadeless rows
deliver bright berries
outside my office window

I wish the author of #6 had used 'to' instead of "outside" in the third line. I cannot figure out why I need to know that the "dogwoods (are) in 'shadeless' rows". Would the ku have been complete without the word shadeless? Or even without "in shadeless rows"? Also, the ku is a complete sentence with or without the phrase to which I object. I shall let #5 go ahead.

-----------------------------------------------------

7
friend-given sofa's
rust colored for the corner
eye glasses paint specks

8
clinging to its branch,
the leaf shivers in the wind
it won't let go

Both of these ku paint vivid scenes and have the breaks in the right places, so I cannot complain about that. Leaving aside the observation that one ku is centered on human things and activities and the other is concerned with nature, look at the emotional tone of the two. One ku relates the experience of being given a gift and then finding fault with it (probably rightly so). The other ku portrays a simple leaf fluttering in the wind, but still hanging on (and demonstrating courage). So which attitude is more admirable? I will go with #8.

------------------------------------------------------

9
Batik nightshirt
tinged by earth's shade
the moon in umber

 

10
two short lines, one long
joining the shorter, it stops
queues can be like that

As tempting as it is to write haiku about writing haiku, and we all do it sometimes, it is hardly material for a contest. Ku #10 is not without merit and I enjoyed the smile it gave me. And it is right that the author wrote it down and saved it. I just feel another verse might have been better for a contest. So, #9 goes to the next round.

------------------------------------------------------

11
sickly still water
beads and falling downwardly
rotting nature shit

12
Imperfections are
existing in all nature
but nature's perfect!

All the abstract concepts in ku #12 and the lack of any specific images give the win of this match to #11.

-------------------------------------------------------

13
Black and orange wings
shimmer in the waning light.
Migration awakes.

14
fearful thoughts
drain the earth
killing slowly

Again the philosopher / judge over-rides the impartial observer. Is it so hard to stop teaching-preaching? Ku #13 flits right into the next round.

-------------------------------------------------------

15
Open Fields

Open fields alone
my father stands at the gate
the butterflies dance

16
No food to eat and
no place to live but still proud
to be Indians.

One of the goals of sharing haiku is to explore the aspects of our world in which we are all a part - a common ground which is usually nature. As politically correct as it is to applaud the pride of some groups which deserve more credit than they have been given in the past, such expressions as in ku #16 have no place in haiku. Ku #15 goes ahead; title and all.

_____________________________________________________________________

ROUND TWO

2
WASHING HER HAIR
HE CLOTHES HIS LOVER'S BODY
WITH SCARVES OF WATER

3
rolling white cap waves
moon tides pulling ocean seas
filling white sands below

Some people claim that the reason we should avoid gerunds in English haiku is because the Japanese language does not have such a form - a reason I find unreasonable. What I do object to, however, is the rhyming that occurs with a gerund in each line. And there is no grammatical reason for the situation. With a bit of careful rewriting, the author can easily control this factor - if aware of it. So, in spite of the human images in #2, it goes to the next round.

----------------------------------------------

5
path to the Bay -
poison ivy climbs
with the honeysuckle

8
clinging to its branch,
the leaf shivers in the wind
it won't let go

As much as I admire #5, I am uneasy about the directions within the poem. Somehow, when I think of a path to the water it seems to go downhill. The second and third lines are accurate in themselves as both poison ivy and honeysuckle are climbing vines, but how to mesh together these ups and downs. I love the way the verb "climbing" fits to "path" so that the action of the humans and that of the plants is joined, yet I have trouble with the directions. It seems to me that the vines and the viewer should be going in the same direction. Ku #8 goes to the next round.

------------------------------------------

9
Batik nightshirt
tinged by earth's shade
the moon in umber

11
sickly still water
beads and falling downwardly
rotting nature shit

Even my spell-check wiggles in red about the word "downwardly" and the term does seem to be excessive as most "falling" assumes a downward path. My nose wrinkles for the third line as does my forehead when I cannot quite figure out what the ku is all about. Ku #9 is not totally clear to me either, but there I enjoy the pondering much more. So it goes on to win this match.

----------------------------------------------

13
Black and orange wings
shimmer in the waning light.
Migration awakes.

15
Open Fields

Open fields alone
my father stands at the gate
the butterflies dance

Both of these ku raise questions in my mind. How can the author of #15 be "alone" in the open field and when his father stands at the gate? And what does this have to do with butterflies? Maybe butterflies in the tummy out of fear? If so, that makes the ku doubtful material for a haiku. Therefore, on these grounds, and not because of the out-of-fashion title (which adds nothing as it only repeats) I would advance #13 to the next round.

____________________________________________________________________

ROUND THREE

2
WASHING HER HAIR
HE CLOTHES HIS LOVER'S BODY
WITH SCARVES OF WATER

8
clinging to its branch,
the leaf shivers in the wind
it won't let go

Now I am caught on the horns of dilemma which I have made myself by always insisting that a nature/nature haiku is more real haiku than a human nature one. According to my own 'rules' and preferences I should pick #8 as winner of this match. But honestly, I love the very unhaiku phrase "scarves of water", especially as it combines with the rest of the visuals in the verse. The only small fault I can find in #8 is "shivers". Theoretically, shivering is an animal response to cold, and some would object to the use of the word with a leaf; but I like the idea that the leaf has enough feeling to feel at least the cold wind, if not the fears of its coming separation from its home the branch. All of this 'leaves' me unable to discredit #8 in any valid way and yet I want to give the match to #2.

------------------------------------------------

9
Batik nightshirt
tinged by earth's shade
the moon in umber

13
Black and orange wings
shimmer in the waning light.
Migration awakes.

I am bothered by the concept of "waning light" which suggests night-time and the idea that "migration awakes". Actually the animals awake to the needs to migrate and migration itself cannot "awake". I do like the use of "Black and orange wings" instead of saying "monarch butterfly" - a practice we should all make use of more often. Thus, yet and therefore, # 9 wins this match.

_____________________________________________________________________

ROUND FOUR

2
WASHING HER HAIR
HE CLOTHES HIS LOVER'S BODY
WITH SCARVES OF WATER

9
Batik nightshirt
tinged by earth's shade
the moon in umber

I still love the "scarves of water" image, especially since they so accurately describe soapy water falling from the hair, but actually, ku #9 is more haiku-like and by not having any flaws, wins this version of the game. I am intrigued by the comparison of "batik nightshirt" and the eclipsed moon and am not totally clear on which image is describing what. The fact that the author used "shade" and "umber" (which is Latin for shade) gets forgiven because umber is also a color - one easily used in a batik because it is so easy when dying color over colors to end up with brown! Nightshirt adds the right amount of sex and humanness while still keeping both feet firmly in haiku territory. It was a squeak between duty and desire, but I will take #9 as the winner.

9
Batik nightshirt
tinged by earth's shade
the moon in umber

.......................giovanni

Congratulations to giovanni for a great haiku! And thanks to all who participated by lending us their haiku! Good show!

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

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

back