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HAIKU    (Judge: Lee Gurga)


First Place ($100)


mint condition

an autumn day

still in the wrapper


    John Stevenson

    Nassau, NY

The first line gives us a coin fresh from the mint, then the second arrests us with

somewhat of a puzzle: what could the connection be? The third clarifies the haiku like fine wine: the shiny coin from the mint has been alchemically transformed into a refreshing mint to nibble on and with it a delightful metaphor for an autumn day that invites us with a lightness of touch and a pun with a minty taste. Freshness of image!

Lightness of touch! The haiku way!


Second Place  ($50)


not a window

but a mirror

full cold moon

    Neal Whitman

    Pacific Grove, CA

 Third Place  ($25)

if swooshes were horses city bus

    Scott Mason

    Chappaqua, NY


Honorable Mentions (unranked):


each hour

its note

winter solitude


    Sharon Pretti

    San Francisco, CA

starry night—

after a while we stop

connecting the dots

    Christopher Herold

    Port Townsend, WA


a layer deeper


    John Stevenson

    Nassau, NY

TANKA   (Judge:  Marilyn Hazelton)


First Place ($100)  (tie)


my sister

in both my nieces

how the mountain breeze

now carries her across

an autumn field


    Karina M Young

    Salinas, CA

dried curls

of gray reindeer moss

crunch softly

underneath our boots . . .

no other sound, but breath

    Debbie Strange

    Winnepeg, Manitoba, Canada



 In the tanka above, we join narrators and companions at locations of serious purpose and sere beauty. First, family members gather to remember and release a woman beloved as sister or mother. The woman’s daughters extend her presence. Readers join mourners as a “mountain breeze” lifts and carries a loved one’s ashes across an “autumn field.” The breath (“breeze”) of this world does not remove grief, but can gentle it. This field will rest in winter, grow green in spring, and continue to respond to the seasons. 

 Next, we stand at the delicate edge of winter where air is crisper, and “reindeer moss” whispers beneath our feet. The color of this tundra is muted. Perhaps the light is also. In response to small, mysterious sounds framed by quiet, the breaths of those within the poem startle and deepen. And we have an opportunity to appreciate what we usually take for granted. Both poems center on absence and presence within our lives, and remind us how breath companions and consoles us with its beauty.


Second Place

late sunset

by the ferris wheel

I twirl

the phantom ring

around my finger


    Christina Sng

Third Place


out the door and off you go

a quick hug

before the slow embrace

of silence and the night

    Lesley Anne Swanson

    Coopersburg, PA

Honorable Mention

first day

after retirement

the brush

is dipped deeper

in Chinese ink

    Chen-ou Liu

    Ajax, Ontario, Canada

SENRYU   (Judge: Ferris Gilli)



First Place  ($100)


support group . . . 

the comfort of the chair

between us


    Julie Warther

    Dover, OH

This well-crafted senryu offers much to think about in only a few words.  Support groups help people deal with common concerns such as addiction, cancer, or the devastating loss of a loved one.  This group could be any one of many kinds.  The author may be new here and perhaps feeling nervous or self-conscious.  The last line surprises me and opens another door into the poet’s experience: sitting close to someone else, perhaps a specific member, may cause further discomfort.  As I interpret it, the poet is clearly relieved by the position of the chair.  The senryu acknowledges the writer’s private vulnerability, and is a reminder that vulnerabilities, often deeply personal, may be required revelations in a support group.  


Second Place 


the usual 

boy leaves girl story

assisted living


    Anita Guenin

    San Diego, CA

The key to this senryu’s success lies in how the author deftly misleads readers with the seeming flippancy of “the usual / boy leaves girl story,” but follows with the unexpected circumstances of the poem.  The revelation of “assisted living” carries a punch.  Is the poem about a widow who came to assisted living after her husband died?  Or did a man and woman become friends (or even closer) after meeting there, and at some point were separated?  Perhaps the words represent a man or woman exchanging life stories.  The poet could be a visitor to the place, summing up a resident’s situation.  The author leaves us with poignant possibilities, a senryu for readers to interpret as they will.



Third Place


all lit up 

in the lamp shop window

dead moths


    Christopher Herold

    Port Townsend, WA



I am struck by the irony in this senryu.  We’ve seen dead moths countless times, deaths caused by human sources.  Diverted on its journey by a man-made light—flame or electric bulb, lantern or street lamp—a moth is doomed by its very instinct to navigate by natural light.  In its confusion, once captured by the porch light, it must continue to flutter there.  I imagine the brightness of the lamp shop window, and not just one but a number of lamps turned on to attract customers.  Then the third line, “dead moths.”  And I think with a sigh, of course, what else?  We humans do what we do, moths do what they must, and so it will always be.  This poem could be a metaphor for all the ways human activities interfere, often fatally, with the habits of nature’s creatures.



Honorable Mentions (unranked)



we reassure Mom 

it wasn’t her cooking

    Christina Sng


moon lecture

he rotates a coffee cup 

around her head


    Alison Woolpert

    Santa Cruz, CA



blood drive

the hospital offers

valet parking 

    Neal Whitman

    Pacific Grove, CA


2016 Rengay (Judge:  Tanya McDonald)


First Place ($100)

Grand Arcade


Simon Hanson, Queensland, Australia

Beverley George, New South Wales, Australia



an old tram rattles past

shopfront windows                                               Simon


Haigh’s chocolates dance

in reflected squares of light                                Beverley


Pier hotel

colourful birds chatter

in the beer garden                                                Simon


grand arcade

little fingers smear the brass

of stairwell railings                                                 Beverley


an art deco chandelier

graces the Odeon foyer                                         Simon



the thump of cricket bats

the spires of St Peters                                            Beverley


Judge's comments: This one stood out on my first reading and continued to shine with each subsequent return. I love the details and the use of multiple senses to describe the location. I can hear and feel the old tram's rattle, see (and almost taste) the chocolates in the window, hear the colorful birds (or patrons) in the beer garden. There's both a sense of nostalgia and wonder in this poem, which gives it a richness beyond a mere description of place.

Second Place

Giving Thanks


Sarah Welch, Sammamish, WA

Michael Dylan Welch, Sammamish, WA


rising sun—

the frozen turkey

set out to bake                                                        Sarah

         a new chip

         in the best china                                             Michael


the doorbell rings—

a speck of blood

on the potato peeler                                              Sarah


napkins unfolded—

we keep passing

the green bean casserole                                     Michael


         on his cell phone

         father checks the football score                 Sarah


setting sun—

a pumpkin pie

warm from the oven                                                Michael


Judge's comments: The theme of Thanksgiving is strong, and I appreciate the title for emphasizing the gratitude part of the holiday. Again, it's the details that stand out: a chip in the china, blood on the peeler, the circling green bean casserole. I also enjoy the unanswered questions and underlying tension: will the frozen turkey be thawed in time? Why does that green bean casserole keep getting passed around? The smooth progression from pre-meal to dessert feels as satisfying as a family gathering with plenty of food.

Third Place

Page Turners


John Thompson, Arroyo Grande, CA

Renée Owen, Sebastopol, CA


cabin retreat

I enter the book’s world

completely                                                             John


book of bottle caps

my small thoughts                                               Renée


his library heroes

unable to contain themselves—

toppled bookends                                                John


calling in Poirot

sticky fingerprints

on her bookshelf                                                 Renée


tattered cookbooks

pages stained & splattered                                  John


mini-skirted speedster

the policeman struggles

to play by the book                                              Renée



Judge's comments: A clever title for a poem with a book theme. I enjoyed the playfulness and exploration of the theme, moving from actual books to bookends to a book shelf to the phrase "play by the book."


Honorable Mentions (not ranked)

Purple Haze


John Thompson, Arroyo Grande, CA

Renée Owen, Sebastopol, CA


bearded iris

making me forget

my hurry                                                             John


humming Hendrix tunes

in the slow lane                                                  Renée


wheelless wheelbarrow

an abandoned poem’s

rusty patina                                                         John


Woolworth’s counter

he drinks Nehi

from the bottle                                                     Renée


crossword puzzle—

what’s a word for purple?                                   John


fried eggplant

we draw straws for grandma’s

cast iron skillet                                                      Renée



Rocking Chair


Ruth Yarrow, Ithaca, NY

Michael Dylan Welch, Sammamish, WA

Emiko Miyashita, Tokyo, Japan


the rocking chair’s

rhythmic squeak—

the baby finally burps                                                Ruth

          the museum chair

          with missing wickerwork                                 Michael

the chair he sits in

talking about torture—

his face shaded                                                          Emiko


          from a deep armchair

          grandma struggles to stand                          Ruth


our highchair

boxed back up—

endless rain                                                                 Michael


          a telephone cord stretched

          to the love seat                                                 Emiko

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