Quiet Desperation

And now, in the great tradition of newspaper haiku contests

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Maybe the time of the year, and a series of snows, contributed to the haiku contest’s success.

Winter, someone said, “forms our character and brings out our best.”

I hoped for a dozen entries. I received more than 70, and they arrived day after day for weeks.

Like traditional haiku, they were predominantly about nature. Some were romantic. Some were clever beyond, well, words.

I heard from the youngest reader ever to acknowledge one of my columns: 14-year-old Legend High School poet Lucy Bastian. Her entry came in on little cat feet.

“Great big shining eyes / Stealthily creeping towards me / Teeny paws, sharp claws.”

My 80-year-old former, Ohio high school English teacher entered, but slipped in an extra syllable, and was blue-penciled for it, as she once blue-penciled me.

It would “pain” Michael F. King, he said, to capitalize the first letter of each line.

His haiku was capital: “deep in the woods / rumor of a newborn creek / whispered by the breeze.”

Bill Bailey entered this gem (and five others): “Three English buddies / Row the Thames on holiday / With Montmorency.”

At the bottom of his email, he attached two double dactyls.

What’s a double dactyl? Please: Look it up. The definition exceeds my grasp.

Here’s one of his: “Patience and discipline / Wisdom and diligence / Omphaloskeptical / Easing of strife.”

“Omphaloskeptical” is the “contemplation of one’s navel as an aid to meditation.”

A blue ribbon goes to Teresa Crane. “Pearl-strung spider’s web / Bright morning dew drops glisten / Glory, suspended.”

And to Virginia Winnen. “Brother Sun, wise friend / Call me back to life again / Rise up with me now.”

And to Ann Burdick. “Equanimity / In the face of all that is / Stirred but not shaken.”

And to Wade Livingstone. “I prefer spring snow / There is no malice in it / just evanescence.”

Gold medals: Mary Rowley, Eva Perry, Zach Walz, Naoma Caldwell, Stephanie Young, Anne McWhite, Steven Winterstein, Annette Avery, Rebekah Holmes, Teresa Gurth, Angelika White, Kristin Prevedel, sisters Jennifer and Sharon Rahn, and Diana Kubec.

Kubec referred to a robin’s eggs as “Ovate cyan jewels.”

Brett Ganyard’s haiku was Number One With a Bullet.

“Sam Cooke’s last words were: / (last words aren’t always famous) / “Lady, you shot me.”

Susie Sigman has written more than 100 “sad, funny, or poignant” haiku for divorced women, and she has even recited haiku about single parenting on stage.

Sigman’s entry was one of her good-humored ones: “I turned the heat on / Yeah, it’s still early season / The joys of divorce!”

Tarra Mahannah’s name is a poem in itself. Her haiku would get a trophy if there were one.

“Heart this keeps bolder / Though skiing begets land love / Brew captures in gold.”

Good? It gets better.

She said, “Read it backwards.”

“Golden captures brew / Loveland begets skiing. Though / Boulder keeps this heart.”

Mahanna’s frontwards-backwards entry surpassed my greatest expectations.

Thank you to everyone who entered. Please look for “Haiku II” in January 2020.

Another one of Bill Bailey’s haiku was as good as it gets, and it deserves to be seen as a true haiku, one line above another above another.

“Glowing Cheshire smile

A giant fingernail’s clip

The young moon returns”

Craig Marshall Smith is an artist, educator and Highlands Ranch resident. He can be reached at craigmarshallsmith@comcast.net.

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