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Sea Shell Game #50
Judge Richard Watkins
February 14, 2002

 

ROUND ONE

1.
after dinner
two old men in singlets
watching the moon

2.
winter evening
a breeze whispers
between headstones

We have two strong ku in this first pair;  well shaped so far as the fragment, phrase concept in the first lines are concerned.  There is an element of suspense in #2, slightly  diminished by the unfortunate use of "whispers" but I'll have to think about that.  Perhaps whisper reinforces the idea of a cold winter evening, cold, still and quiet  as the grave save for the slight breeze. On the other hand in #1 we have a couple of old men enjoying a mild evening.  #1 is a very humanly based/oriented ku whereas #2 is not and therefore goes to the next level.

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3.
The Sea

Clear cold rolling waves,
Sparkle with tiny diamonds,
Sweeping fish to shore.

4.
Chilly, rainy, dark
I should have watched the weather.
My walk in the park.

Why did the poet use the title in #3. The restriction of words in a ku doesn't allow the use of titles. I've seen my share of rolling waves but can never recall seeing clear ones.  Now it occurs to me that we have a bit of syllable padding going on here as well.   Even with these faults it does fit the requirement of an emphasis on natural events rather than human as in #4. Ku #4 also has the padding problem.  Take care on the use of capitals. Perhaps you would benefit from having a look at the AHA poetry website for more information about haiku. Roll #3 to the next level.

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5. 
White paddles in sync
Kayaks roam the night river
Winking at the moon

6.
morning dew
licked from tree leaves
sweetly satisfies

How do you know it sweetly satisfies?  Have you really gone out and licked tree leaves in the morning?  Extraordinary!  I need a more clearly defined frame of reference in order to be able to understand this effort. Please give this version another revision. There is much to be said about the world in the first moments of our days. I'd like to read another try from you.  In the mean time I'm cruising with #5.

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7.
full moonlight
on a frozen creek
paired for warmth

8.
breeze softly blowing
the sing-song chirp of a bird
peaceful place to rest

Ku#8 needs a good rewrite, too much padding - e.g. sing-song chirp of a bird. Have a look at previous Sea Shell Games to guide you on our expectations. Ku#7 moves on to the next round.

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9.
racing through the grass
as fast as speeding bullets
thundering away

10.
smoke fades
lost in autumn shadows
the scent of hot wax

My gracious. . . it's SUPERMAN. ..That is what this ku is about isn't it? If it is he is entirely out of place.  If it isn't about Superman  we need more clues as to what is going on.   He has a place in comics and old day Saturday morning episodes in the local theatre but not in haiku. The basic form of 5-7-5 syllables is on the spot but not the fast action expressed by three gerunds. Ku #10 advances.

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11.
autumn sea
among the whitecaps
a few sails

12.
diamonds shimmer
lingering dewdrops
the night was cold

For some reason this set is full of water based ku.  An interesting bit of synchronicity.  For dewdrops to linger implies intent which assumes consciousness and I'm not ready to concede that. The actual structure of the lines is very abrupt or choppy.  Ku #11 to the next round.

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

14.
Wolves howl at the moon
Roosters howl at the morning
People howl in grief

Oh dear, what turmoil!  violent winds. . . howling - everything.  Where is the tranquility of haiku? I always thought roosters crowed in the predawn. If you insist on this topic I would appreciate a bit more direction of your intent.  As I see it presently I think so what?   Surely you can find some other words to suggest howl?  The winds sweep to the next level.

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15.
an oasis pool
two lips banked by whiskered dunes
drink deep with a kiss

16.
Approaching the edge
slow and steady as you go
stand clear without fear.

Since I am uncertain what or where we are in #16, a very abstract image,I'll opt for the more familiar snogging in the dunes.

ROUND TWO

2.
winter evening
a breeze whispers
between headstones

3.
The Sea

Clear cold rolling waves,
Sparkle with tiny diamonds,
Sweeping fish to shore

Comparing these two there is no question that 2 is the better ku.  It is more sparse without diminishing the image.  The exception to the use of language is whispers but I'll go along with that given the alternative of selecting #3.  Not that 3 is without merit it simply needs more stringent editing.

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5.
White paddles in sync
Kayaks roam the night river
Winking at the moon

7.
full moonlight
on a frozen creek
paired for warmth

It is too bad #5 was structured/forced into the old beginner's problem of 5-7-5 syllables.  It is certainly an unusual topic and presents an interesting image but perhaps that harbours another flaw by telling us too much.  I like the business of the white paddles winking at the moon. Check your website authorities for the use of capitals and keep trying. Ku #7 to the next round, please.

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10.
smoke fades
lost in autumn shadows
the scent of hot wax

11.
autumn sea
among the whitecaps
a few sails

And again more water images.  I'm missing something here in #10.  I like the first lines of the smoke fading into the shadows but then the last line looses me.  Now that I read this again I see that your two verbs, i.e. fades and lost, really say the same thing.   In the meantime #11 sails along.

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

15.
an oasis pool
two lips banked by whiskered dunes
drink deep with a kiss

One of the firmest conditions of traditional and classical haiku is its restriction of subject matter to natural events. I am puzzled by the use of language, e.g. two lips suggests a single person but then the image looses clarity for me.  Are you suggesting the lips are drinking from the oasis pool?  Although I am intrigued by the picture of kissing amongst the whiskered dunes and I assume this is a human endeavor I must consider the restriction and select #13.

THIRD ROUND

2.
winter evening
a breeze whispers
between headstones

7.
full moonlight
on a frozen creek
paired for warmth

There is an eerie sense to both ku. They both involve cold environments. The last line in #7 suggests a sense of desperation of the two beings. At first I thought they were humans huddled together in the moonlight but there is nothing to support that.  But then I wonder what they are?  Indeed a puzzle.  Ku #2 is also very suspenseful again in a cold winter's  evening in a graveyard. Now that I think of it perhaps #2 is too abstract with the whispering breeze. At any rate that is the criteria that I use to choose #7 for the final round.  Well done breeze, come whisper again.

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11.
autumn sea
among the whitecaps
a few sails

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

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. Ku#11 to the last round.

FOURTH ROUND

7.
full moonlight
on a frozen creek
paired for warmth

11.
autumn sea
among the whitecaps
a few sails

I am very drawn to the perspective offered in #11.  Can you imagine being on the shore looking out over a wind blown surf and seeing the whitecaps matched by sails in the distance?  They seem to be slicing through the waves and whitecaps.  By comparison #7 offers more of a challenge in that it presents a mystery.  #11 is a pleasing presentation of a seascape but to me #7 has greater depth. So I declare #7 the winner of this especially close game. Congratulations to the winner!

7.
full moonlight
on a frozen creek
paired for warmth

P.M.David

 

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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