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Sea Shell Game #48 
Judged by Richard Watkins
October 29, 2001


FIRST ROUND

1.
first cold snap -
the sun is overshadowed
by wild geese

2.
our lips touch -
the surf moves sand
beneath my feet

Of these two ku I think there is no question that #1 is the closest to what haiku is about. So wild geese advance to the next round.

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3.
middle of summer
they are going to war
bullets across their stomachs

4.
The walls turn pale
wee hands
are not in touch.

While on the subject of topics for haiku such calamitous subjects as war are avoided so wee hands goes to the next round.

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5
sun shower-
the oily pavement
stained with rainbows

6.
tree tops touch -
the river swells
between green banks

This pair is closer to what haiku is about. Of the two I feel that touching tree tops should go on to the next level.

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7.
An ant's paradise.
Life can be so uneven
but yet so balanced.

8.
souls are peeled
apples being pulled
from the water.

For the moment I'll ignore the capital letters and unnecessary punctuation in ant's paradise. Let's look at what the ku says. What strikes me is the peculiar situation described as uneven and yet balanced. In the other ku of
this pair we have peeled souls. I'm going with my intuition and pass ku 7 up a rung.
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9.
Bones on the tablet
winds whistle through reeds
and fronds are hollow

10.
Tears stream in summer
gazing at the warm sad sky
childhood seen in stars

Any meaning in ku 9 escapes me at the moment. Try as I may I can't connect bones, whistling reeds and hollow fronds unless we're dealing with some sort of wind chime. Ku 10 is very proper numerically i.e. the 5-7-5 syllable business. It can also be said to be padded as in the case of the second line with the warm sad sky. Nonetheless it goes to the next level.

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11.
naked trees await
refreshing April showers
leaves will soon appear

12.
I love you always
now you best remember that
now have a nice day
 
Ku 12 presents a lovely sentiment perhaps more appropriate for a Valentine's card than haiku. H.A.N.D. Naked trees advance.

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13.
gales of wind
sweep violently through the land
the old tree lays fallen

14.
Dry brown vine
One tomato grows red
In November
 
Of these two ku I reckon 13 is closer to traditional haiku and so passes on.
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15.
spring invades
seasons loathe temperate tides
she will not be denied

16.
new fingers reach
to find a familiar friend
an old ocean
 

Oh my! Look at the strong feelings or actions in ku 15; invasion, loathing,

determination not to mention the personification of a natural event or
attributing human emotions to that event. Such techniques are avoided in the
more traditional forms of haiku. I'm going with the more temperate familiar
friend to the next level.


SECOND ROUND

1.
first cold snap -
the sun is overshadowed
by wild geese

4.
The walls turn pale
wee hands
are not in touch.
 

Believe me I have looked at ku 4 from many perspectives and I still can't grasp the meaning. What is going on in that ku? Can anyone offer some clarification, please? In the meantime I'll pass #1 on to the next round.


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6.
tree tops touch -
the river swells
between green banks

7.
An ant's paradise.
Life can be so uneven
but yet so balanced.
In 7 one has the interesting image of touching tree tops then separation of the river banks. It calls to mind spring rains and swollen streams. In the ant's paradise I suppose the writer is referring to the hierarchical
structure of that world and the balance created by communal effort. Is there a link between this insect paradise and the human condition? An interesting philosophical consideration but I'll stick with the relative simplicity of
ku 6 for the next level.

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10.
Tears stream in summer
gazing at the warm sad sky
childhood seen in stars

11.
naked trees await
refreshing April showers
leaves will soon appear

Tears and sadness 'belong' to autumn feelings and not to the season of summer according the kigo guidelines. It feels wrong to have weeping in summer (though spring melancholy is acceptable - go figure). Also, the
image of a "sad sky" (meaning rain?) is not acceptable but rain would be. Ku 10 is a bit too celestial for my liking. I'll go with the more earthbound April showers.

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13.
gales of wind
sweep violently through the land
the old tree lays fallen

16.
new fingers reach
to find a familiar friend
an old ocean

I think the major difficulty with #13 is the unnecessary words. Gales of wind implies violent winds so why repeat the thought? Actually wind is redundant in that gales are comprised of wind. If we extract those words we are left with wind sweeping through the land felling trees. Extra words is certainly not the case with ku 16; perhaps we have too few. I'll pass this one on to see how it compares with the others.


THIRD ROUND

1.
first cold snap -
the sun is overshadowed
by wild geese

6.
tree tops touch -
the river swells
between green banks

These ku offer an interesting contrast in their moods. I feel a response to a primordial urge of migration as the geese wing overhead; a restlessness to obey the ancient cry. On the other hand the trees and river are also
responding to the surge of the seasons, a botanical response. One is dynamic the other languid. I find this a difficult choice. The overshadowed sun tends to be an overwhelming dramatic image, too much so. I am going with the pastoral trees and green banks.

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11.
naked trees await
refreshing April showers
leaves will soon appear

 

16.
new fingers reach
to find a familiar friend
an old ocean

Here again we have trees; without leaves at the end of a long winter. I have a problem with "refreshing" showers. Who is refreshed? the trees or the unseen observer? One response to this is changing the order of the images. At last I think I have a clue about #16. Picture a family at the beach with an infant. You know the curiosity of infants...on the crawl, tasting, touching... tasting again.  The ocean is also on the beach ebbing and flowing then the two come in contact. The baby tastes the environment as baby's are wont to and lo! it is a vaguely familiar taste. Perhaps similar to the amniotic fluid of the womb. The familiarity is further strengthened by a distant or old connection between humans and the ocean. How subtle. I'm tempted to suggest how exquisite. Ku# 16 to the next round.


FOURTH ROUND

6.
tree tops touch -
the river swells
between green banks

16.
new fingers reach
to find a familiar friend
an old ocean

Ku 6 offers a pleasant description of nature...touching trees, swollen rivers etc. Unless I missed something... not much else going on. Ku #16 offers a greater depth and challenge to the reader. It isn't the type of ku that one reads once, thinking that's nice and puts it down. At least that wasn't the case for me. I like 16 and declare it the remaining ku in the game.
Congratulations to Jenny for her haiku:

 

new fingers reach
to find a familiar friend
an old ocean

Jenny

 

Poems Copyright Individual Authors 2001.
Commentary Copyright Richard Watkins 2001.

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.

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