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Volume V, Valentine Awards: February 2003.
Copyright © 2003. All rights reserved by the respective authors.

Overview • Grand Prize - Poet of the Year • Favorite Poets
Grand Prize - Poem of the Year  • Favorite Poems
Special Mention - Page 1 • Special Mention - Page 2

Readers’ Choice —
Poet of the Year

John Stevenson
Readers’ Choice —
Favorite Poets

paul m.
Peggy Willis Lyles
Anna Tambour
Readers’ and Editors’ Choice —
Poem of the Year

paul m.
Readers’ and Editors’ Choice —
Favorite Poems

Billie Wilson
Anna Tambour
Connie Donleycott
Hortensia Anderson
Jim Kacian
Special Mentions —
Page 1

Special Mentions —
Page 2

Readers’ and Editors’ Choice — Poem of the Year

paul m.

migrating whales
all our footprints
wash away

paul m.

If you have not yet read Ferris Gilli’s super commentary in the November issue, I encourage you to do so. She reveals much more about this fine haiku by paul m., and she does so from several interesting vantage points. I’ve chosen to write mostly about the emotional impact of the poem and its resonance.

Not just “our footprints,” but “all our footprints.” When struck by the knowledge that nothing lasts forever (everything else doesn’t), how much more valuable, and intense the moment at hand becomes! Whales are spotted offshore at about the same time that the poet is noticing waves washing away footprints. These two observations are simple facts which, viewed separately, would not result in the depth of insight they bring when seen together. We are handed only two observations. No other sensory input is mentioned, although we may well smell the briny air, taste it on our lips, and hear the sound of waves and of human voices. These are things implicit in the scene presented. Noticing the whales and the footprints simultaneously gives rise to implications that were not lost on paul m.. Nor are they lost upon readers of the resultant haiku. We see through paul’s eyes. Our minds and hearts follow the path of his revelation. The poet in us delves beyond simple facts to make more profound connections. One connection is recognizing that what is seen right before us (waves constantly washing away whatever impressions have been made) is a phenomenon happening at that very same moment on beaches all around the world. Another connection is that, regardless of their superior physical size, whales have become an endangered species. May not the same hold true of superior intellect? Despite the brainpower of humans, we continue to beat paths which may well result in our own self-destruction. No matter how dominant, no matter how imposing someone or something may appear, whether human, whale, giant sequoia, or mountain, we are all subject to a far greater power. All of us will pass away.

Much of the time we move through life without thinking these sorts of thoughts. Instead, we direct attention to personal matters: goals, hopes, fears, basic survival. Yet moments inevitably come when we unexpectedly find ourselves regarding a broader reality. Daily routines, and those things we thought of as factual, real, or dependable, are regarded anew, as transitory and only relatively true. At such moments, when we feel significantly smaller and more interdependent, it’s natural to take inventory of our lives, make adjustments, and sometimes even change direction entirely. It is precisely at such times, if the muse takes action, that a work of art may be produced. In paul m.’s case, the work of art is this magnificent haiku.

—Christopher Herold

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