Quiet Desperation

It’s five, seven, five / for those who participate / in haiku contest


The time has come, the haiku said. The best way to start a new year is with a haiku contest, especially a year that is as numerically unique as 2020.

Please enter one and only one in the traditional five syllables, seven syllables, five syllables format, by 11:59 p.m. on Jan. 10. Identify yourself and your location.

Send to craigmarshallsmith@comcast.net.

Submit your haiku like this: “I met a man, Stan / His nature is Afghani / Yes. Afghanistan.”

Last year’s winner was something to behold.

Bill Bailey wrote, “Glowing Cheshire smile / A giant fingernail’s clip / The young moon returns.”

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

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

There are no actual prizes, I recognize as many outstanding authors as space allows.

The plural of “haiku” is “haiku.”

According to Wikipedia, “The essence of haiku is `cutting.’ This is often represented by the juxtaposition of two images or ideas and a `cutting word’ between them, a kind of verbal punctuation mark which signals the moment of separation and colors the manner in which the juxtaposed elements are related.”


Traditional Japanese haiku are welcome, but your entry does not have to follow any other essence than your own.

Mother Nature, humor, disapproval, resignation, admiration, frustration, patriotism, nonsense, brilliance, but, please, no plagiarism. Leave that to me.

“When life shuts a door / Just open it. It’s a door / That is how doors work.”

“Wolf in sheep’s clothing / Meets a sheep in wolf’s clothing / Confusion abounds.”

Good things, like Margaret O’Brien, come in small packages.

Write a haiku about good things that come in small packages. Write a haiku about bad things that come in big packages.

Write about frogs or Frisbees.

Last year, a reader named Susie Sigman told me she has written more than 100 “sad, funny, or poignant” haiku for divorced women, and that she has recited haiku about single parenting on stage.

That was a surprise. An audience would have to be very attentive to discover the therapeutic benefits within the nominal perimeters of seventeen syllables.

(Although “I want a divorce” is only five, and it’s plenty evocative.)

Please: Before you send your entry, count your syllables. A few entries were left out of contention last year because of excess verbosity.

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

Brett Ganyard wrote, “Sam Cooke’s last words were / (last words aren’t always famous / `Lady, you shot me.’”

Singer (“Cupid,” “You Send Me,” “Chain Gang”) Cooke was shot to death on Dec. 11, 1964, at the Hacienda Motel on Figueroa in Los Angeles by the night manager, a robust woman named Bertha Franklin. The explanations for Cooke’s death are still being disputed.

Franklin herself was dead within two years. The cause is unknown.

A Legend High School student named Lucy Bastian entered with a gem: “Great big shining eyes / Stealthily creeping towards me / Teeny paws, sharp claws.”

Obviously someone who appreciates cats. I didn’t show it to Harry.

Good luck, poets.

P. S. Haiku rarely rhyme.

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


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