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THF Monthly Kukai — August 2023

Welcome to the THF Monthly Kukai.

This month’s theme:

Note: Anonymity is an essential part of any kukai. Please respect this to offer the reader (and voter) the opportunity to choose only the poem.

The THF Kukai Overview

A kukai is a (usually quite casual) poetry contest. The administrator of the kukai (that’s us) assigns a theme for a given writing period and posts to Troutswirl (The Haiku Foundation blog) on the THF site, which is then redirected outward through our various media outlets. Poets write work to this theme during the allotted time and submit it to the administrator. The work submitted is gathered into an anonymous roster and posted to Troutswirl (The Haiku Foundation blog) for public viewing. At that time all participating poets and other interested readers may vote for their favorites. Votes are tallied and the results made public. The top winners will be acknowledged each month, and offered their choice of prizes from a list compiled by the Foundation. Please remember that everyone who votes is a winner — the process of choosing your personal favorites is not just fun, but also one of the best ways to improve your own haiku practice!

Results of Last Month’s THF Kukai

theme: fireworks

In July there were 154 submissions from thirty-two countries across five continents.
Ninety-five voters casting ballots determined the following results.

First Prize
4th of July
a veteran dives
for cover
     — Elliott Simons (73 points - 9; 3; 3; 2; 3)
I was once staying with some friends in Québec, just two days after experiencing a significant earth tremor in Berkeley, California. Their washing machine kicked into its vigorous spin cycle just behind the wall beside which I happened to be standing. Before I knew it I found myself halfway under a nearby table. This was an (ambiguously) humorous experience, but educational, too. It helped me understand how some survivors of modern warfare may never be free from the instant terror and accompanying survival reflex triggered by an explosion, or indeed any loud or unexpected noise. I like the way this poem opens with an innocently festive first line, setting things up for the shock of the following two.
Second Prize
between me and the stars more stars
     — Peggy Bilbro (56 points - 5; 4; 2; 3; 3)
That this poem has been presented as a monoku is definitely a good call. As such it more effectively expresses a continuum, with a sense of the sheer depth of the space that we habitually view as some sort of large-scale star chart. The poet succeeds in conveying infinity without naming it, thus confirming the old adage: “Show, don’t tell”.
Third Prize
trying to remember
who lit the match
     — David Josephsohn (41 points - 3; 2; 4; 1; 4)
This is an intriguing puzzler of a haiku for me. My mind heads first in the direction of childhood memories, and right after that to the possibility of a mishap –– perpetrated by teenagers, possibly?
Honorable Mentions
autumn bonfire
the last sparks of fireworks
in our embrace
     — Patricia Hawkhead
lonely evening
the fireworks
of autumn leaves
     — Manoj Sharma
his PTSD
     — C.X. Turner
1812 overture
the concert of illegal
     — Yvonne Cabalona
I appreciate the extravagance and humour of this piece, and find myself brushing aside any quibble over metaphor and simile appearing in haiku, to simply enjoy the evocation of glorious mayhem in Tchaikovsky’s famous overture.
writing their names
with sparklers
     — Bette Hopper

Remarks are by Dee Evetts, THF Monthly Kukai Commentator. He is an internationally known haiku poet and author of “The Conscious Eye” series on contemporary themes in Frogpond in the late 1990s and early 2000s.

Writing for The Haiku Foundation Monthly Kukai

On the first day of each month The Haiku Foundation will announce the kukai theme for that month. This theme should be the topic of your poem, and may be stated (by using the theme word or words) or implied. Form may be traditional (three-line, 5-7-5) or free (various numbers of lines and/or syllables). Season words (kigo) may or may not be used at the poet’s discretion. A poet may submit one poem per theme. All poems must be the original, unpublished work of the author. In order to maintain the spirit and fairness of the kukai, a poem that has appeared anywhere with its author’s name cannot be allowed for submission.

Please use the Kukai submission form below to enter your poem, and then press Submit to send your entry. No other submissions will be recognized or honored. Once a poem is submitted it cannot be revised. All poems must be signed (that is, no “anonymous” poems will be accepted, and the Submit button will not be available until both Name, Email, and Place of Residence fields are filled in). Poets will not receive acknowledgment of their submissions. Poems will be accepted from the announcement of the theme through midnight of the 15th of that month. All poets are eligible to participate. Administrators of the kukai are ineligible to submit poems. Your submission form to us should look something like this:

line one
followed by line two
and then line three


this poem is all in one line



[all lines right-justified]

If your poem has special formatting requirements you should note them as in the third example above.

Good luck, and have fun!


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