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February 2008 Issue VIII:1

The Scorpion Prize for Best Haiku/Senryu of ISSUE VII:4


Haiku Sequence in the Sufi Spirit

    In which chamber
of your heart, beloved,
    is our bed?

    your breast
against the moon
    induces prayer

    not letting go
a piece of honey
    on your lip

    withered grass
on a dry plain--
    rain on me


William Ramsey

Like all good haiku sequences, this one by William Ramsey has connectedness or flow--it doesn't seem cobbled together. His progression of content is, of course, the chief reason, but the use of two other devices, one visual and one verbal, also contribute strongly to the effect. All four stanzas have the same atypical appearance, with indented first and third lines, and all four leave their surprising juxtaposition to the last line.

Another pleasing fact about this sequence is that it remains true to its title--a homage to Sufism.  Divine love and its cultivation within individuals are the core concepts of this philosophical outlook and the reader can see such elements in each stanza.

An added feature is that all four stanzas, not just one or two, can stand alone as good haiku. Indeed, had they been submitted singly, each would have been a strong contender for this issue’s Scorpion Prize. Thus, it seemed only logical to give the honor to the entire sequence.

I hasten to add, however, that Ramsey's sequence was not alone in being memorable. Issue VII: 4 had a number of other stellar poems, an indication that Roadrunner's innovative approach is attracting gifted poets.

George Swede




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