2017
HAIKU (Judge: Paul MacNeil)

First Place ($100)

between sun and shadow
the grass and the hopper
become one

 

Michelle Schaefer

 

A scene straight from nature, this haiku becomes more complex as it sinks in.  The writer skillfully invites synthesis.  The plant and insect are different, but the grasshopper has evolved a camouflage keeping many of its kind safe from predators as it feeds.  Two things are compared and contrasted in each of the first and second lines.  We observers have to look more closely to identify the the shape and color of the bug.  Subtly as we move back, the sun and shadow, light and dark, also become one thing: a meadow, field, or lawn with dappled light.  All of this haiku yields the unity of things.

 

Paul MacNeil, judge

 

Second Place ($50)

        stepping in
the brook has a sound
        for my feet

 

Gary Hotham

 

Third Place ($25)

summer evening
a breeze finds your kiss
on my neck

 

Brad Bennett


Honorable Mentions (unranked)

blood moon
her rage spattered
on a white canvas

 

Carol Judkins

 

night jasmine
two prostitutes share
a laugh

 

Frank Hooven

 

crocuses in October
they say it’s
a routine procedure

Scott Mason

 

dusk descending geese

 

Alan S. Bridges

 

desert rain . . .
the stream settles
into its bed

 

Julie Warther

 

SENRYU (Judge:  Paul David Mena) 

 

First Place ($100)

 

the surgeon

almost ready

to pray

 

John Stevenson

 

This senryu unfolds masterfully, revealing a profound shift in only six words. Even the most skilled surgeon would be remiss not to prepare, and yet very often our own limitations as humans render our study and experience meaningless, and at the mercy of forces beyond our own control. This surgeon has come to that crossroad, and we as readers are right there as well.

 

Paul David Mena, judge

 

Second Place ($50)

 

no longer the athlete I never was

 

John Stevenson

 

Third Place ($25)

 

late for the Zen lecture

   most of the time

      I am missing nothing

 

John Stevenson

 

Honorable Mentions

 

the whole bath long

worrying if I can

get out

 

Carolyn Hall

 

morning commute

bumper to bumper

for lattes

 

Rob Grotke

 

  on line all night

researching causes/treatments

                           of insomnia

 

Michael Dudley

 

TANKA (Judge: David Rice)

After reading the entries for the HPNC's annual tanka contest for the purpose of choosing winners, and initially sorting them into two groups—ones I would not pick and ones I might pick—I tried to define what made some poems touch me. While what makes a tanka soar is ultimately undefinable, and while an individual reader's aesthetic is a factor, there are certain technical skills in tanka writing that the poets whose poems I liked used much better than the poets in the other group. Word choice and metaphor: as has been said before, fresh images are much more likely to reach the reader and metaphors expand the power of words and add overtones to the poem. Structure: when a tanka has a shift, it makes it more likely the reader will be drawn into the poem. Topic: a poem about cooking beans, like the one I just wrote, may be well-crafted, but poems about emotionally-charged situations, are more likely to reach the reader. 

 

 

First Place ($100)

this child, autistic
kicks a hole
cratering the door
I pull another  
splinter from my dream

 

Lesley Anne Swanson

 

The poet who wrote “this child, autistic” uses unusual imagery (“kicks a hold/cratering the door”) and then extends the metaphor in the shift in the last two lines (“splinter from my dream”) that broadens the micro-action of the first three lines to the macro-level of her whole life. “Dream” is a common word in the tanka I read that do not move me, because “dream” is a word used so frequently it has lost much of its ability to reach the reader in a particular way. In this poem, though, “dream” has a specific meaning that fits perfectly with the rest of the poem. Word choice, structure, topic, and the ineffable “splinter from my dream.” I bow in silence.

Second Place

ocean sunset . . .
the wind machineguns the sand
against my face,
and it all comes flooding back—
the screams, the smells

 

James Chessing

 

“machineguns” in the second line of “ocean sunset . . .”, as a verb, grabbed me. The shift in the last two lines knocked me down. The poet's re-experienced trauma kept me down. I've seen ocean sunsets and had wind smack my face. If a prize-winning tanka needs to pull the reader into the emotional-physical place where the poem was born, this tanka succeeds. The next time I am at the beach, I will think of this poem and hope the poet is able to deal with the post-traumatic stress.

Third Place

wind-bent willow
netting the moon on the pond
show me how to free
the me who surrendered
to the woman I've become

 

Linda Jeannette Ward

 

“wind-bent willow” has images frequently used in tanka (“willow,” “moon”).  The strength of the poem is in the shift and meaning of the last two lines. The willow, after “netting the moon in the pond,” doesn't really set it “free.” It is the moon that moves and, by doing so, frees itself from the willow's net.   Likewise, only “the me who surrendered” can free herself from “the woman I've become.” There is a lot of dreaming room in this tanka, because the poet used familiar tanka images in unexpected ways.

Honorable Mention

another Sunday,
a fresh bouquet
for your grave . . .
my helpless waiting
for gravity to let go

 

James Chessing

 

Often, people bring flowers to a grave so they can be with the person who died. The last two lines take the wish to be with the deceased literally and this surprise shift made me feel the “helpless waiting.” Gravity, an unusual word in a tanka as a scientific term, is a force that pulls objects towards each other. Here, metaphorically, the poet is asking the earth “to let go” so the poet can join the deceased, and the fresh imagery also let me feel the “helpless waiting.” 


hoping the wind dies down
so the fires don't spread
wish granted
toxic smoke
sits in the valley

 

M. Franklyn Teaford

 

We want our wishes to come true but, sometimes, we what we wish for isn't enough. This tanka let me feel how helpless we can be even after a fire, because we then have to respond to what the fire did—and there are many kinds of fires.

Rengay (Judge: Billie Wilson)

First Place    

 

Even Starlight Crackles

 

Gary Evans, Stanwood, WA

Seren Fargo, Bellingham, WA

 

frozen night

even the starlight

crackles                                       Gary

 

ice storm

cedars pierce the moon               Seren

 

too cold to snow

the sound

of popping trees                          Gary

 

arctic wind

birds huddled

on the lowest branch                   Seren

 

moonlit cobwebs

outlined with hoar frost              Gary

 

frigid evening

the last of snowberries

preserved in ice                           Seren

 

“Stunning!” I said that aloud after my first reading, and that word continues to echo at each new reading. Everything works together to create a winter as amazing as that in the film Dr. Zhivago. Each verse could easily be published on its own and links beautifully with the others. Superb word choices throughout beg to be read aloud so that the perfectly chosen sounds and resulting musicality can be savored. An A+ and 10 gold stars.  Did I mention I love it?

Second Place    

 

Hidden Ice

 

Marilyn Ashbaugh, Edwardsburg, MI

Jeanne Cook, South Bend, IN

 

the silent howl

of a broken dream

wolf moon                                           Marilyn

 

the hidden ice

of becalmed wind chimes                    Jeanne

 

incense altar

I listen to

plum blossoms                                     Marilyn

 

holding hands/

the tune stuck

in her head                                           Jeanne

 

snowdrops under a drift

sound of spring                                    Marilyn

 

unwound clock

the flowered print

of her worn-out dress                          Jeanne

 

This edgy rengay skids me like black ice right out of my comfort zone and then welcomes me into a refreshing new dimension. This response is similar to the first time I was captured by Tomita’s album Snowflakes are Dancing in the 1970s. And that music would be a perfect accompaniment to these verses.

Third Place

 

Wisconsin

 

Biillie Dee, Las Cruces, NM

Deborah P Kolodji, Temple City, CA

 

billowing clouds

a flock of sheep blocks the road

to the graveyard                               Billie

 

mushrooms growing

next to her name                              Deborah

 

           Memorial Day

           her purse the smell of lilac

           and Lucky Strikes                 Billie

    

            folded flag

            the bugle

            a bit sharp                            Deborah

 

hankie pinned to my blouse

with a golden claddagh                   Billie

 

yesterday’s roses

a handful of dirt

from Wisconsin                               Deborah

 

 

The beautiful and intricate blending of a present-day visit to a loved one’s grave with vividly-described memories brings a nostalgic sense of longing. It opens itself to each reader’s memories. I had to look up “claddagh” (but am sure not every reader would). That it is a piece of traditional Irish jewelry representing love, loyalty, and friendship adds another rich layer. 

1st HM

 

Two Rivers  (A Honkadori Rengay*)

 

Julie Warther, Dover, OH

Dan Schewerin, Waukesha, WI

 

from the coat

of one cat…

a hundred fleas                             Julie

 

washing the robe

then the priest                               Dan

 

I lead

you follow

two rivers                                      Julie

 

both sandals

having the summer

that is in them                               Dan

 

all that remains

of our walks on the beach             Julie

 

a new tide

the coolness

of coming clean                            Dan

 

*In Japanese poetry, honkadori is an allusion within a poem to an older poem which would be generally recognized by its potential readers.   These links retain echoes of Chiyo-ni, Issa, Shiki, Buson, Basho and Santoka

 

What fun to be introduced to honkadori this way. Kudos to the poets who so carefully crafted this approach and, in the process, created a rengay that really works. With the bonus of a hidden game, it is to be hoped that, with the clues in the footnote, readers will be prompted to dig through the classics to find the inspiration for each verse.

2nd HM

Weightless

Julie Warther, Dover, OH

Angela Terry, Lake Forest Park, WA

 

Valentine snow

the paper thin curls

of birch bark                                     Julie

 

weightless in the moment

wild plum                                         Angela

 

a tiny curve

fits itself to the nest

of thistle down                                  Julie

 

moss growing

in the morning mist

the silence                                        Angela

 

whisper of a snake

slipping out of its skin                     Julie

 

promising

springtime…

a lover’s kiss                                    Angela

 

3rd HM

Soak

Tanya McDonald, Woodinville, WA

Michelle Schaefer, Bothell, WA

Mimi Gorman, Indianola, WA

 

rainy, rainy day

an unopened box

of watercolors                                  Tanya

 

             pond koi surface

             in my thoughts                    Michelle

 

cream swirling

into my coffee

the lines blur                                     Mimi

 

             a drop of wine

             tints the bubble bath            Tanya

 

scented candle

wax pools

around the wick                               Michelle

 

             waterfall sounds

             stream from the radio         Mimi

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