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The Shiki Monthly Kukai

February 2008 Kukai

Dear Haiku Friends,

Here are the results for the February 2008 Kukai, wherein our Kigo subject was "Early Spring" and our Free Format word or phrase was "Night Life".

Congratulations to Tom Painting, winner of our Kigo section and to Petar Tchouhov, winner of our Free Format section!

The haiku are listed in order of total points received from voters. The numbers reflect the number of voters who gave the haiku either three points, two points, or one point -- followed by the total points for all votes.

Those who were given less than three points and who requested anonymity in such a case are so noted.

In the listing below, after each poem the author is listed, and then a three digit code revealing how many 3-point, 2-point, and 1-point points were cast for this poem by the other participating poets.

(214 = 12) would indicate that the poem above received two 3-point votes, one 2-point vote, and four 1-point votes.

Voters comments are in italics below the respective poems.

February 2008 Results
Kigo Theme:
Early Spring
Free Format Theme:
Night Life

First Place -- 47 Points
early spring
all night the pond ice
shifts its weight

tom painting
(6,8,13) = 47

The first contractions have just begun to be felt, but the groaning and heaving, the struggle and drama of full-blown labour are yet to come. How quietly and precisely the poet has pinpointed the exact time (this night) and place (the depths of this pond) of spring's beginning.

For me, this really captures the season. Love the sounds, movement, and emotion it evokes.

Second Place -- 30 Points
early spring
green at the heart
of an onion

j cully
(2,6,12) = 30

Onions? Of course, of course.

The humble onion, though having been taken far from its home in the earth, nevertheless hears the call of Mother Nature and faithfully responds in its little "heart"! The use of the word "heart" in an unsentimental way expands the dimensions of the haiku brilliantly.

Third Place -- 24 Points
early spring
her wrinkled fingers
sort seed packets

(1,1,19) = 24

Fourth Place – 21 Points
early spring
the hatless

Lech Szeglowski
(0,3,15) = 21

Brings a smile. Even the scarecrow senses warmer weather!

Fifth Place -- 19 Points
early spring the crossing guard's smile

w. f. owen
(1,4,8) = 19

No more standing out in the dreary cold for kids keeping their heads buried in collars - both may bloom with smiles.

Such an elegant haiku - a story made out of six plain words and containing great mystery and drama. From where to where is the crossing? Who is crossing? Why? We come to see that the "crossing" in the poem is the moment at which the guard undergoes a "conversion", within himself, from winter to spring. We are led to feel the power of nature's rhythms and the responsive power of hearts. Six-word poems don't come any more power-packed than this!

early spring  —
fresh twigs line
an old nest

Melissa Spurr
(0,3,13) = 19

"ever-returning spring," concisely and concretely caught.

Sixth Place -- 15 Points
a stray dog
going my way
early spring

Bill Kenney
(1,3,6) = 15

A lovely carefree feeling to this haiku, which goes so well with the season. Full of deep simplicity.

Seventh Place -- 12 Points
the sound of water
as you move through it
early spring

Josh Wikoff
(1,2,5) = 12

I can both hear and feel this... nicely done.

Eighth Place -- 11 Points
the soil splits
above a daffodil
early spring

(0,3,5) = 11

early spring
we try to grow
a little apart

George Hawkins
(1,3,2) = 11

A poignant haiku. The season of rejuvenation also brings its own sorrow.

early spring
the butcher
wears a daffodil

Helen Buckingham
(0,3,5) = 11

winter turns into spring
and back

max verhart
(1,1,6) = 11

early spring
a fresh crop of rocks
in the vegetable garden

Jim Swift
(0,2,7) = 11

Ninth Place -- 10 Points
early spring…
my heart too
is thawing

john tiong chunghoo
(1,1,5) = 10

my daughter's
first valentine
~ early Spring

Paul Hodder
(1,1,5) = 10

Tenth Place -- 9 Points
early spring
my sightless cat sniffs
a remembered path

Barbara Snow
(1,2,2) = 9

rinsing celery
from rib to heart
early spring

Joyce Clement
(0,1,7) = 9

Eleventh Place -- 8 Points
fawn's footprints
circle snowdrops
early spring

Harvey Jenkins
(0,2,4) = 8

early spring
the wind-chime and icicle
drip… in unison

Terra Martin
(0,3,2) = 8

early spring . . .
the frayed swing rope
feathered with frost

Ron Moss
(0,1,6) = 8

the weeds get a head start early spring

the weeds
get a head start
early spring

Susan Constable
(1,0,5) = 8

I prefer the one-breath format.

early spring breeze
the clothesline all in
baby shirts

Petar Tchouhov
(0,2,4) = 8

cradled in the crocuses~
early spring

Kate Creighton
(0,2,4) = 8

Twelfth Place -- 7 Points
A fly
wakes suddenly?
early spring

Vasile Moldovan
(1,1,2) = 7

girl in pink
dangling from the monkey bars —
early spring

(0,0,7) = 7

I much like blossoms from bare boughs.

"dangling" gets it just right.

Very visual -- love the "pink", "dangling", "monkey" -- beautifully expressed.

early spring —
squirrels run in circles
around the stop sign

Marylouise Knight
(0,1,5) = 7

passing me
her perfume
early spring

Neil Muscott
(0,2,3) = 7

Pleasure, heightened by transience.

early spring
another handwriting
in my signature

(0,2,3) = 7

plum blossoms
stuck in my hair ~
early spring

Keith A. Simmonds
(0,2,3) = 7

Thirteenth Place -- 6 Points
early spring
branches breathe
with the wind

Agnes Eva Savich
(0,2,2) = 6

I find this a rather curious haiku and actually aren't entirely sure what it mean in real life. Still somehow it seems true that branches, seemingly dead in winter, begin to breathe as their leaf buds begin to swell in spring, while dead boughs, being stiffer, do not.

from the sandlot
early spring

Alice Frampton
(0,1,4) = 6

early spring
a vase of pussy willows
on the kitchen table

Carmel Lively Westerman
(0,0,6) = 6

Rubber boots
caked with
early spring

Elaine Fields
(0,2,2) = 6

surf the windshield
early spring

(0,1,4) = 6

early spring
kites in the sky
adding colors

kala ramesh
(0,2,2) = 6

early spring ~
a sudden softness
in my wooden flute

Li Ree
(0,1,4) = 6

early spring garden
in the earthen pot's bottom
a dead butterfly

Dorota Pyra
(1,1,1) = 6

early spring —
morning papers now
makeshift umbrellas

(1,1,1) = 6

Vivid and original.

Fourteenth Place -- 5 Points
early spring  —
red noses bloom
all across campus

(0,1,3) = 5

early spring thaw
places where the dog went
all over the yard

(0,1,3) = 5

Ok, I admit it, my first thought was of paw prints. I like it that multiple (mis)readings of this are possible.

early spring
only snow in the trees

rob scott
(0,1,3) = 5

early spring sun?
sound of his voice
is still cold

Vanja Nikovic
(0,1,3) = 5

early spring —
the blackbird's first song
still short

Tom M.
(0,1,3) = 5

the smell of mud
from the half frozen creek
early spring

(0,1,3) = 5

Fifteenth Place -- 4 Points
early spring —
my three year old tries
mamma's high heels

vishnu kapoor
(0,1,2) = 4

This warming sun.
And how the snow glitters
as it vanishes.

Horst Ludwig
(1,0,1) = 4

early spring
an orange bow saw
hangs in a tree

Keith Heiberg
(0,1,2) = 4

jigsaws the dark  —
early spring

Marilyn Hazelton
(0,1,2) = 4

cruel early spring —
scattered on frozen snow
a red bird's feathers

(1,0,1) = 4

Sixteenth Place -- 3 Points
crying newborn
calls early spring
into the house

Aalix Roake
(0,1,1) = 3

my grandma
wears a red geranium
early spring again

Don Basilio
(0,1,1) = 3

early spring
a sea breeze rocks
the infant's cradle

Gautam Nadkarni
(0,0,3) = 3

early spring weather
the wreath out on the mail box
sheds its needles

(0,1,1) = 3

darker ? lighter
an earthworm retreats into
early spring soil

Mark Hollingsworth
(0,1,1) = 3

fading memories
the early spring rain
washes out the snow

Elena Naskova
(0,0,3) = 3

early spring walk
a sunray
from puddle to puddle

Jacek M.
(0,0,3) = 3

early spring
there next to the snow shovels
pots of daffodils

doris kasson
(0,0,3) = 3

early spring —
another 3 inches
to shovel

(0,0,3) = 3

early spring —
my teenaged daughter's cellphone
never stops ringing

(0,1,1) = 3

stacks of firewood
marked half price
early spring

Laureen McHugh
(0,0,3) = 3

early spring —
out of the snow

(0,0,3) = 3

in the city park
green beer bottles
 —early spring

Piotr Mogri
(0,0,3) = 3

a chat with old friends,
early spring snow turns to rain
and then back again

j. blain
(1,0,0) = 3

early spring night
slowly thawing the moon
in silent lake

Boris Nazansky
(0,1,1) = 3

nursing home visit
outside early spring
inside dead of winter

Roberta Beary
(0,0,3) = 3

I read this one as I picked the last page off the printer and thought, "I bet that makes my final list." And so it did.

General Comments:
So many great haiku to choose from!

A refreshingly large number of entries managed to avoid the clichés so easily associated with this kigo.

I just wish i had more than 6 pts to give...there are so many good ones, it's difficult to make up one's mind.

The submissions this month show why I dislike generic kigo like 'early spring' -- too many poets used an early spring kigo along with the kukai phrase. That's a technical violation called a 'double kigo.' It would be much better to let us suggest the phrase by using early spring kigo. That's how the Free Format kukai worked, and it worked well.

First Place -- 27 Points
full moon
the call girl calls me

Petar Tchouhov
(4,4,7) = 24

This one is well-nigh inexhaustible in its implications.

Second Place -- 24 Points
his wedding ring

Carol Pearce-Worthington
(1,5,11) = 24

True to the mark in that wincing way.

Third Place -- 23 Points
nightlife district
a star falls

Elena Naskova
(1,7,6) = 23

Uncluttered and yet for me the most resonant on several levels in this kukai.

Fourth Place -- 20 Points
sleepless —
headlights drive shadows
across the ceiling

Jon Baldwin
(0,6,8) = 20

I'm sure this is something most of us have experienced. Like the use of 'drive' here.

3am feeding —
a light in the bar
across the street

Alice Frampton
(1,7,3) = 20

Of the feeding-the-baby entries (and there were a lot), this is the one that successfully integrates the nightlife theme.

A great contrast, well-observed, and concisely stated.

I liked the wistful comparison between adult drinking and nursing the baby.

Fifth Place – 19 Points
grey city morning ~
the pole dancer's
sensible shoes

Paul Hodder
(1,5,6) = 19

from jazz to blues
the bottle and I
half drunk

Francine Banwarth
(2,1,11) = 19

A clever play on words.

Sixth Place -- 16 Points
night life
the abrupt stop
of a cricket's song

kala ramesh
(2,2,6) = 16

Seventh Place -- 14 Points
phone number on a napkin
left at the bar -
closing time

David Grayson
(1,1,9) = 14

Hope springs eternal in the empty glass.

Eighth Place -- 13 Points
retirement party
all the guests gone
by midnight

Susan Constable
(1,2,6) = 13

Of course, back when I was much too young to think of retirement, "gone" was a word of many meanings.

Ninth Place -- 12 Points
empty night club —
a dance of daddy long legs
on the ceiling

Jacek M.
(1,3,3) = 12

Interesting - a waltz perhaps. Beautiful contrast -- the empty night club and the dance of the insects!

city dusk
the rhythm of cicadas
and high heels

j. blain
(0,4,4) = 12

The similarity of sounds combined with the differences in source make this interesting.

Tenth Place -- 11 Points
lonely night —
she still smiles
on the billboard

Israel Lopez Balan
(0,1,9) = 11

walking home
dancing shoes in her hand —
dawn approaches

(0,2,7) = 11

I can see the shoes dangling, swinging... the last little bit of dance.

the laugh
      that. . .
           doesn't . . .
                    come . . .

Bill Kenney
(1,1,6) = 11

Nice form that conveys even more meaning.

her late shift ends
under neon

tom painting
(1,0,8) = 11

trembling flashlight
a final heave and our herd
has one more heifer

(1,2,4) = 11

Unusual with the flashlight establishing that this is part of nightlife.

Wordier, maybe, than I would usually go for, but the image and feel won me over.

I like the emotion indicated by 'trembling'.

Eleventh Place -- 10 Points
nightlife —
red neon and drizzle
on the slick street

Carol Raisfeld
(0,3,4) = 10

A vivid picture with the modifier 'slick' hinting that city nightlife may be more dangerous.

Twelfth Place -- 9 Points
nightlife —
the pillow can't talk
and I don't

Emile Molhuysen
(1,1,4) = 9

dark moonless sky —
alone with her memory
widower's night-life

vishnu kapoor
(1,1,4) = 9

Siliconed stripper,
Why will you not accept my
Counterfeit money?

Conrad Sienkiewicz
(2,1,1) = 9

moist dusk pink neon flickers OPEN

Josh Wikoff
(1,1,4) = 9

I like the phrase 'moist dusk'.

loud blasts
from an espresso machine
the slam poet

Deborah P Kolodji
(1,2,2) = 9

Thirteenth Place -- 8 Points
the bar closing
a businessman alone
with his briefcase

Neil Muscott
(0,3,2) = 8

stormy night —
I turn the last page
of my old diary

Vanja Nikovic
(1,1,3) = 8

Fourteenth Place -- 7 Points
last call
the neon beer signs
flicker off

JM Thompson
(0,0,7) = 7

Fifteenth Place -- 6 Points
At midnight
not one sound…
only an owl

Vasile Moldovan
(1,1,1) = 6

cornfield mice
dancing with the moon

Ben Gieske
(0,2,2) = 6

night alley
on a discarded canvas
a ballerina twirls

john tiong chunghoo
(0,2,2) = 6

Sixteenth Place -- 5 Points
full moon
the rock concert
fills my chest

Agnes Eva Savich
(0,0,5) = 5

late night snack
she hides the
candy wrappers

Carmel Lively Westerman
(0,0,5) = 5

we stop our bikes
on the crest of the dark hill
Orion's sword

(0,1,3) = 5

coming home —
in the deep black sky
one star

Marylouise Knight
(0,1,3) = 5

solo concert
in the opera house-
stray nightingale

Dejan Pavlinovic
(1,0,2) = 5

two old dancers
recapture lost dreams ~
night life

Keith A Simmonds
(0,1,3) = 5

I appreciated the simultaneous marking of presence and absence.

neon stars . . .
a street walker's stilettos
in a lonely salsa

Ron Moss
(1,0,2) = 5

Plop ~
Another frog
In deep night

(0,1,3) = 5

Seventeenth Place -- 4 Points
a barfly —
in tight black spandex
rubbing reddened eyes

Ed Higgins
(0,1,2) = 4

midnight train
calls to the black river
fog between them

April Serock
(0,1,2) = 4

I love the damp darkness of this one.

the playing
of the rain

Helen Buckingham
(1,0,1) = 4

street light
the same homeless man
follows my husband

Audrey Downey
(0,0,4) = 4

birds sleep on branches
while the feeder is emptied
by a deer

(0,1,2) = 4

stirring shadows
play hide and seek
with the moon

(0,1,2) = 4

wakeful child

Frances McCarthy
(1,0,1) = 4

Dark moths
flicker against neon
beautiful fools

(0,1,2) = 4

under spring's full moon
nocturnal eldritch creatures
bid me join their dance

Deirdre Godwin
(1,0,1) = 4

cold moon
through a tear in the shade
night life

Raffael de Gruttola
(0,2,0) = 4

nursing and sleeping
waking to nurse again-
quite the "night life"

Leslie Montgomery
(0,1,2) = 4

the weaverbird
returns to its nest —

Christopher Kavita
(0,2,0) = 4

wolf pack howls
inside my snow cave
I shiver

Ruth Powell
(0,1,2) = 4

night club
through the cigarette fumes
smooth jazz

Dorota Pyra
(0,0,4) = 4

air raid sirens,
close and distant

Earl Keener
(0,1,2) = 4

Eighteenth Place -- 3 Points
mosquitoes' nightlife
on my skin

Tanya Dikova
(0,1,1) = 3

fevered dreams —
the clock beside the pirate
shows 1:15am

(0,0,3) = 3

I adore line 2.

Swing Dancers Twirling
To Joyous sounds of the band
defy winter night

Philip Mizener
(0,1,1) = 3

street restaurant —
shrieks of laughter spill
into the night

Isabelle Prondzynski
(0,1,1) = 3

dimly lit
the rise and fall of sheets —
Intensive Care

Sara Winteridge
(0,1,1) = 3

blues club fever~
she undoes one more button
as he chews ice cubes

Kate Creighton
(0,0,3) = 3

day's end —
mom and dad
snuggle on the loveseat

Mary Davila
(0,1,1) = 3

laughter —
the bar dog goes outside
with a smoker

(0,1,1) = 3

strains of jazz
slices of gold moon

(0,0,3) = 3

mating ritual…
moths flock to the neon sign
flashing nightclub

Nancy Smith
(0,0,3) = 3

General Comments:
My unabridged dictionary gives only one definition for nightlife: "Social activities or entertainment available or pursued in the evening." It's too bad that so many of this month's entries evaded the challenge of this theme, retreating instead to the safer, more familiar territories of nature and domesticity. (Full disclosure: I'm a city boy.)

Thank you for participating in the February 2008 Kukai! We will be posting the March Call for Votes on Monday, March 3rd.

With much appreciation,

Robert and Gary

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