The Shiki Monthly Kukai

October 2008 6th Annual Poets' Choice Kukai

Dear Friends,

Thank you for making a success out of our 6th Annual Poets' Choice Kukai. Voter turnout was excellent as were the many included comments. We are grateful to all of you who participated and also to all of you who enjoy reading the monthly results!

First Place winners of the Sixth Annual Kukai will receive a subscription for Volume X of The Herons Nest expected out in April 2009, along with a signed copy of Roberta Beary’s The Unworn Necklace.

Second Place winners will receive publications from Jim Kacian and The Red Moon Press.

Third Place winners will receive a woodcut print inked with their respective haiku.

Each of you will be contacted for arrangements.

We feel fortunate to be able to present these awards and hope all of you will visit their web sites:

The Heron's Nest --http://www.theheronsnest.com/

Red Moon Press -- http://redmoonpress.com/index.html

You can find Roberta's book here at Amazon

We will be contacting all the winners no later than November 1.

Remember as you look at the votes below that EACH of these poems has already been declared a winner during the past year. Congratulations again to all of them!!

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.

(2,1,4 = 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.

6th Annual Poets' Choice Kukai Results
Kigo Poems
Free Format Poems

First Place – 48 Points
the sky grows bigger
by one leaf

April Serock
(3,11,17) = 48 Pts

An original perception. Ying / yang. The loss of one thing is a gain of something else.

Pure haiku.

Second Place – Thirty-three Points
early spring
all night the pond ice
shifts its weight

tom painting
(1,10,10) = 33 Pts

The image is of "in the beginning was the Word" - the very, very beginning of something momentous.

sand sculptures
a mermaid slips back
into the sea

(1,8,14) = 33 Pts

How effortless it seems! Great work!

widow's cottage —
every spider
has a name

Paul Hodder
(1,7,16) = 33 Pts

Sad without being sentimental. Wabi (or is it sabi?)


Third Place -- Twenty-seven Points
a field
of faceless pumpkins...
Autumn begins

ed markowski
(0,5,17) = 27 Pts

The word "faceless" turns on the energy field of this poem.

Nice alliteration, along with a kind of zen perception of what is not there... but is to come.

The first part is sad/lonely; then the second part evokes the feelings of excitement and anticipation of the season. On a deeper level, there's a kind of mystery to this poem: It's the beginning of the end. It has a distant reverb back to Basho's monkey mask haiku.

Fourth Place – Twenty-five Points
—the night
finds its way in

miriam chaikin
(2,4,11) = 25 Pts

A kind of an inverse, photographic negative of the usual patter of perception. Beautiful!

Well done!

Fifth Place – Twenty-four Points
spring night
the astronomer finds
a hole in his sock

Petar Tchouhov
(1,6,9) = 24 Pts

How many levels are there in this one? The shape of the hole? The astronomer making a discovery? A "tear" in space? The possibilities are as infinite as the sky.

Sixth Place – Twenty-three Points
ink brush
so many ways to draw
a plum blossom

Audrey Downey
(1,6,8) = 23 Pts

her youngest daughter
calls me daddy

Colin Stewart Jones
(1,4,12) = 23 Pts

Touching beyond words.

Wonderfully portrays the feelings of tenderness, fragility, hope, expectations, the feeling of being at the beginning of something bigger than ourselves.

Seventh Place – Twenty-two Points
early spring
green at the heart
of an onion

j. cully
(2,5,6) = 22 Pts

I love this!

Sometimes nature is so secretive and sneaks up on us unawares, in places where we least expect.

Eighth Place – Twenty Points
attic window
a spider spreads his web
on the moon

Jacek M.
(1,3,11) = 20 Pts

Ninth Place – Eighteen Points
gathering thyme...
the thoughts that come
when I'm on my knees

Francine Banwarth
(2,1,10) = 18 Pts

When read over and over it seems to provoke an expansive perception of time and meaning by this brilliant combination of words.

Though perhaps not intentional, the use of the word "thyme" (time) was poignant.

Tenth Place – Seventeen Points
migrating birds —
the waving field
of narcissus

Israel Lopez Balan
(4,2,1) = 17 Pts
(please see footnote below)

first firefly
the electrician shuts
his toolbox

ed markowski
(1,4,6) = 17 Pts

A simple image with profound resonance.

Eleventh Place – Fifteen Points
I carve the turkey
in dad's place

Karen Briggs
(3,2,2) = 15 Pts

This expresses a nice paradoxical feeling of nothingness and everythingness.

Leaves a lump in the throat. I have experienced something similar with my grandfather's passing.

Twelfth Place – Twelve points
near dusk —
a tadpole surfacing
bursts the moon

P. O. Williams
(2,2,2) = 12 Pts

on the front porch
knitting beside grandmother
the spider

Bill Hudson
(1,2,5) = 12 Pts

mossy bank
the doe nuzzles
her swollen belly

Susan Constable
(1,2,5) = 12 Pts

I don't remember the topic for this one, but the image touched me so deeply at the time that even out of context, I still feel it.

from sandcastle
to sandcastle

Jacek M.
(1,2,5) = 12 Pts

old farmhouse
the weaving loom filled
with spider silk

Melissa Spurr
(0,2,8) = 12 Pts

Thirteenth Place – Eleven Points
autumn breeze
a dragonfly skims sunlight
off the pond

Keiko Izawa
(0,2,7) = 11 Pts

autumn chill —
the church fills
with the smell of mothballs

Jacek M.
(0,1,9) = 11 Pts

Fourteenth Place – Ten Points
stars turning
to snow

Francine Banwarth
(3,0,1) = 10 Pts

a spider takes over
the watering can

sheila Windsor
(1,1,5) = 10 Pts

Fifteenth Place – Nine Points
just a lily
and a lily

max verhart
(2,0,3) = 9 Pts

into the water,
into itself:

josh wikoff
(0,3,3) = 9 Pts

Fun allusion, brings a smile to everyone who knows the John Wills original.

moon in the lilies
she asks me
to stay the night

Francine Banwarth
(0,2,5) = 9 Pts

Sixteenth Place – Eight Points
new snow...
her footprints lead
to the narcissus

Susan Constable
(1,1,3) = 8 Pts

mind empty
a firefly
fills it

Francine Banwarth
(1,1,3) = 8 Pts

Seventeenth Place – Seven Points
moonlit field
the cows knee-deep
in comfrey

(0,2,3) = 7 Pts

turkey dinner
three generations

Beth Richards
(0,2,3) = 7 Pts

Eighteenth Place – Six Points
late november —
the turkey's shadow
suddenly shorter

Mary Davila
(1,0,3) = 6 Pts

What a delightful detail we our shown!

receding clouds
a spider mends
its net

(0,2,2) = 6 Pts

lavender —
even the old stems

(0,2,2) = 6 Pts

early spring
her wrinkled fingers
sort seed packets

(0,1,4) = 6 Pts

Great contrast and connections between the new seeds and old hands.

Nineteenth Place – Five Points
tax day —
a bit of parsley
in his smile

josh wikoff
(0,1,3) = 5 Pts

heat wave
a child waters
the fire lily

Collin Barber
(0,1,3) = 5 Pts

Twentieth Place – Four Points
plum pudding
an old friend warms
a cold night

Jo McInerney
(0,1,2) = 4 Pts

A feel good poem where inner truth manifests itself.

Even just reading this haiku is warming, both physically and spiritually.

into winter —
the empty plum tree
and I

Paul Hodder
(0,0,4) = 4 Pts

Twenty-first Place – Three Points
nap time —
hand print turkeys
line the classroom window

(0,1,1) = 3 Pts

turkey calls
the urge
to reply

Audrey Downey
(0,1,1) = 3 Pts

Twenty-second Place – Two Points
autumn morning
strutting behind his shadow
the old turkey

Rita Odeh
(0,1,0) = 2 Pts

late Autumn sun —
a turkey
tries to fly

Paul Hodder
(0,0,2) = 2 Pts

Twenty-third Place – One Point
the first snow...
dad and the butcher
talk turkey

Dejan Pavlinovic
(0,0,1) = 1 Pt

General Comments:

As far as I'm concerned, it's 44 winners out of 44. Best I could do was to select three that appealed to me very strongly (for quite subjective reasons, no doubt) and in three different ways.

It's easy to see why this selection of haiku earned a place among the top three this past year. A number of them are as good as haiku I've read in anthologies.

So hard to choose a few from these haiku riches.

What a wonderful group of haiku! It is so hard to decide the best!!

These haiku stay with me long, long after I've read them. Feel totally connected with the beautiful unfolding of Susan Constable’s “mossy bank”, love the surprise elements of “mossy bank” and Mr. Williams’ “near dusk”. Love the image of the child in Collin Barber’s “heat wave” and I love the beautiful images in each of these haiku.

On both sides of this month's Kukai, there were so many haiku I found worthy, I could only award one point to each, or else leave out some I wanted to vote for!


migrating birds —
the waving field
of narcissus

Israel Lopez Balan

Not to be confused with Kristen Deming’s fine haiku:

migrating birds--
fields of pampas grass
show the way

Kristen Deming

1st Mainichi Haiku Contest, Japan, 1997

First Place – 60 Points
old piano —
from every key
the same silence

Gosia Zamorska
(6,10,22) = 60 Pts

A rare senryu without people, although they are implied. Very subtle alliteration in "same silence." Plus a good fit for my sensibility of hearing-by-not-hearing.

This is the essence of wabi & sabi. Inverted, the poem would be about a new piano, each key making a different sound. It would conjure up images of the person playing the piano, and the people listening, dancing, and/or singing along. This poem depicts the absence of all of that. Has the owner died? Or has the piano fallen into disrepair? Increasing the sense of isolation is the mention of the keys as individual, instead of acting in harmony as a chord.

Second Place – Thirty-five Points
rejection letter
folding another
paper crane

Melissa Spurr
(2,6,17) = 35 Pts

An object of beauty from something saddening. It’s funny and poignant. So lighthearted!

This shows a way to "accept rejection" and turn a "no" into a "yes" - playfully, peacefully, gracefully.

Third Place – Thirty-three Points
drought year —
only the shape of water
on the stones

(2,8,11) = 33 Pts

Pure haiku. Of all 88 poems, this one was my favorite. It is about what is absent, and I enjoy the elemental images, the shapes, and the textures.

Fourth Place – Thirty Points
night sky
the rusted tin roof
leaking moonlight

Melissa Spurr
(3,5,11) = 30 Pts

A beauty, no doubt!

afternoon tea
dusk settling softly
into corners

Frances McCarthy
(0,7,16) = 30 Pts

I think this is a perfect haiku, the words echoing the feeling of a winter afternoon.

Such a gentle haiku. I love the use of the word "softly" here.

Ah, this one is so delicate and subtle.

Fifth Place – Twenty-nine Points
between two nights —
winter day

Dejan Pavlinovic
(2,5,13) = 29 Pts

There is something very poignant about this.

Sixth Place – Twenty-five Points
winter day —
the paperboy one house
ahead of dusk

Irene Golas
(2,3,13) = 25 Pts

This haiku has a nostalgic feel, as one so seldom see paper boys anymore.

This is a delight of the imagination.

Seventh Place – Nineteen Points
rusted pickup
on the edge of town —
prairie wind

Beth Powell
(2,1,11) = 19 Pts

Wonderfully evocative - in a few words you can imagine cold prairie winter winds, and the life of a farm pick-up truck.

Eighth Place – Eighteen Points
just when
I'd almost forgotten
wild roses

Ann K. Schwader
(1,3,9) = 18 Pts

Ninth Place – Seventeen Points
full moon
the call girl calls me

Petar Tchouhov
(0,3,11) = 17 Pts

Funny, yet touching in a way. The poet, rooted in earth (it's hard to get earthier than a call girl), with his head in sky (moon). Becomes an angel.

Tenth Place – Fifteen Points
winter beach
my rough hands choose
the smoother stones

Jan O'Loughlin
(1,1,10) = 15 Pts

Most poignant!

bullet holes
rust bleeds down
the old sign

Neil Muscott
(1,0,12) = 15 Pts

birth certificate:
the name of the father
he never knew

Catherine J.S. Lee
(0,3,9) = 15 Pts

…and the many interpretations.

Eleventh Place – Fourteen Points
our marriage
falling apart
he patches the roof

Carolyn Coit Dancy
(2,3,2) = 14 Pts

I could have written this one!

Twelfth Place – Thirteen points
harp song
rain crosses
a pond

Sherry Weaver Smith
(1,4,2) = 13 Pts

Beautifully aural and visual...gives me a pleasant shiver.

Thirteenth Place – Twelve Points
a mockingbird returns
the song of my flute

Rose Marie Stutts
(0,3,6) = 12 Pts

where the barn's tin roof
 rusted      through

ed markowski
(0,1,10) = 12 Pts

Fourteenth Place – Eleven Points
will writing...
a lawn mower
strikes a rock

Alice Frampton
(1,2,4) = 11 Pts

family dog
the weight of the stones
upon his grave

Melissa Spurr
(0,4,3) = 11 Pts

This one has stuck in my mind. I have buried many a beloved pet, the weight on the heart mirrors the stones weight on the grave.

yard sale —
the faded diploma
of a country doc

Carmen Sterba
(0,2,7) = 11 Pts

Fifteenth Place – Ten Points
new sunroom
the dog
claims his spot

Frances McCarthy
(0,2,6) = 10 Pts

This brought back fond memories.

Sixteenth Place – Nine Points
endless night —
between the stepping stones
the other half of the moon

Elena Naskova
(0,2,5) = 9 Pts

Often the best haiku/senryu captures a common experience that lies just under the conscious. It's like pulling up a plant to see the roots we know are there. This is one of those poems.

civil war marker
a tour bus

Roberta Beary
(0,0,9) = 9 Pts

Seventeenth Place – Eight Points
on the fridge
the to-do list
you left me

Roberta Beary
(1,0,5) = 8 Pts

This one is biting, without being obvious. No words tell the seething beneath, but still we can feel it.

play therapy
the jump rope
in knots

tom painting
(0,2,4) = 8 Pts

gardenias ...
a summer dance
so long ago

Nancy Nitrio
(0,1,6) = 8 Pts

Eighteenth Place – Seven Points
spring thunder
I promise not to tell
her mother

Bill Kenney
(1,0,4) = 7 Pts

divorce papers
the envelope
surprisingly light

Neil Muscott
(1,0,4) = 7 Pts

Nineteenth Place – Six Points
waning year
the cheese ball
changes shape

George Hawkins
(1,1,1) = 6 Pts

winter day the candle burned flat

w.f. owen
(0,1,4) = 6 Pts

Twentieth Place – Five Points
new design
the moon rises
in an antique mirror

ed markowski
(1,0,2) = 5 Pts


nightlife district
a star falls

Elena Naskova
(1,0,2) = 5 Pts

cold rain
a wrinkled hand traces drops
on the window

Warren Gossett
(0,1,3) = 5 Pts

Sad--I can picture that hand and the loneliness of the rain drop tracer.

new moon
the distant curve
of highway markers

Susan Constable
(0,0,5) = 5 Pts

scattering ashes
only this granite ledge
as a marker

Cherie Hunter Day
(0,0,5) = 5 Pts

divorce over —
she changes the cheese
in the mousetrap

Petar Tchouhov
(0,0,5) = 5 Pts

Twenty-first Place – Four Points
a cold night —
stuffing the gap between
the walls and the roof

David Caleb Mutua
(0,1,2) = 4 Pts

root canal —
staring at the dentist's
graduation certificate

Paul Hodder
(0,1,2) = 4 Pts

Seen it and done it!

full moon —
so many vines
on the banyan tree

Judith Gorgone
(0,0,4) = 4 Pts

Twenty-second Place – Three Points
his wedding ring

Carol Pearce-Worthington
(0,1,1) = 3 Pts

autumn rain —
a tattooed man sells
permanent markers

Israel Lopez Balan
(0,0,3) = 3 Pts

Twenty-third Place – Two Points
winter moon
i carve a wedge
of camembert

Beth Powell
(0,0,2) = 2 Pts

Twenty-fourth Place – One Point
back-country road
the stone mile marker
splotched with lichen

Catherine J.S. Lee
(0,0,1) = 1 Pt

new moon
filling a crack
in the skylight

Melissa Spurr
(0,0,1) = 1 Pt

General Comments:

A real joy to return to so many powerful poems and great to see them recognised in this way.

I had a hard time choosing among the free format entries, there tend to be more senryu and many were playful, a few quite biting or melancholic and most done skillfully enough not to seem contrived. Nicely done!

Once again, such a difficult decision. I love them all!

Enjoyed voting and love Devika’s “drought year” and Sherry’s “harp song”. They stay with me long after I've read them and I appreciate their beauty and the way they let me see the world in a new way.

Thanks to all of you for participating throughout the year. We appreciate it. Please look for the release of the next Call for Submissions on or about Monday, November 3rd.

With much appreciation,

Gary, Jennie & Robert

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