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THF Monthly Kukai — June 2021

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.

Results of Last Month’s THF Kukai

theme: spontaneity

In May there were 144 submissions from thirty countries spread across five continents.

First Prize
summer rain —
turning the car toward
the rainbow
     — Mirela Brăilean (46 points - 4; 3; 4; 1; 0)
In cinematic terms this is a “one-shot” haiku, presenting a clear picture seamlessly while evoking unnamed feelings. At a technical level we could debate whether the dash is needed at all. To dispense with it might introduce a fleeting ambiguity for some readers, with the summer rain itself being seen as an agent or force turning the car. This quite appeals to me, as a sort of bonus. But it could also distract –– and thus detract –– from the main sense of the piece. Therefore I am inclined to leave well alone. Something else to notice is how the denouement (an understated one) is held back until the final word. This can be an over-showy tactic in haiku and senryu both, but works perfectly here. In short, brava!
Second Prize
spring equinox
the push
of each petal
     — Marilyn Ashbaugh (42 points - 6; 0; 4; 0; 0)
The spare and simple language suits this poem well. It is essentially a somatic piece, being as much about what is experienced in the body as in the mind. We can feel the push –– and the push-back –– in our own muscles, as an integral part of the exuberance and exhilaration being evoked.
Third Prize
instagram —
her carefully crafted
     — Rick Jackofsky (40 points - 2; 2; 5; 3; 1)
The poet lifts up a lid here for us to glimpse the complexity of human interpretation and response. Can we take the writer’s word for it that the message is contrived? Might we wonder whether he has imagined this? And if he is right, then what is her motivation for misrepresenting her feelings? The lifted lid turns out to be that of a Pandora’s box.
Fourth Prize
memorial bench —
finding myself in her
favourite place
     — Alan Peat (40 points - 3; 1; 3; 4; 4)
This depends for its full effect on a potent ambiguity contained in the phrase “finding myself” (or even “finding myself in her”). To spell this out would only be to diminish the poem. 

Honorable Mentions
a serenade from
one balcony to another . . .
lockdown day
     — Michele L. Harvey
first date
pretending to know
how to read palms
     — Tom Bierovic
There is a delightful appeal in this reminiscence, as a reminder perhaps of our own stratagems deployed while navigating the shoals of early relationship. We may detect some additional irony, in these more fastidious times, in that it is he telling her. Fast forward ten or twenty years –– by which time he may actually know a lot –– and it is easy to imagine him (the speaker not the poet!) as an accomplished practitioner of mansplaining. 
wild night in Vegas
I wake up with amnesia
. . . and a wedding ring
     — Tom Staudt
autistic child —
wings of butterflies
his gestures
     — Daniela Misso
cherry blossom
my grateful palm
breaks its fall
      — Ravi Kiran

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!


This Post Has 5 Comments

  1. So thrilled and humbled on being a winner in The Haiku Foundation Monthly Kukai — May 2021! My gratitude to Mr.Tom Borkowski THF Monthly Kukai Administrator. Congratulations to all winners! 🙂

  2. I had a very similar poem to the 2nd place winner in Heron’s Nest this past winter:

    the first push
    of a pedal
    spring breeze
    Published: The Heron’s Nest, Winter 2020

  3. I had a very similar poem to the 2nd place winner in Heron’s Nest this past winter:

    the first push
    of a pedal
    spring breeze
    Published: The Heron’s Nest, Winter 2020

    1. shelter in place
      the spring pull
      of each petal
      Marilyn Ashbaugh
      Stardust Haiku 2020 #40, April 2020

      I have been playing with various versions of this for some time. As a gardener, I find it a great mystery.

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