Issue 39 – Best of Issue / Senryu & Kyoka

Each new issue of Prune Juice features a best-of-issue senryu chosen by one of the co-editors.  

proxy war chills at Netflix

     Tazeen Fatma, India

When we first came up with the idea of introducing a “Best of Issue” award for individual senryu, Antoinette, Peter, and I spoke at length about the qualities we felt constituted a truly great senryu. Ultimately, we settled upon five key criteria: sound, freshness, style, resonance, and, when applicable, humour (of course, not all senryu have to be funny, but we very much enjoy when they are). It’s not necessary for a piece to be strong in all of these areas – and, in fact, some poems are so strong in one respect that the other criteria become an afterthought – but we noticed that the senryu we most admired featured some attention to detail with all of these. It was with this rubric that we assessed the submissions for Issue 39, and it was with this rubric that I picked our first winner. 

I should note that the submissions we received for our maiden issue as an editorial team were excellent, which made selecting just one senryu for this award an agonizing task. Special consideration went into many poems, including Jerome Berglund’s topical and well-crafted “masculinity” and Giorgio Bacchi’s hilarious and slightly perverse “new government” – both of which could have easily been selected. However, it was the strength of “proxy war” in all of the aforementioned areas that won out in the end.

At first glance, the poem might appear to be something of a bewildering “word salad.” But after multiple readings, the real skill behind the words starts to shine through. The use of cacophony complements the gravity and immediacy of the “proxy war” subject matter (need I even mention the blue-and-yellow elephant in the room?) The clever inversion of the phrase “Netflix and chill” (usually meant to refer to casual sex), instead produces an effect of uncomfortability or distress. The monoku formatting allows the reader to cluster the words at their own liberty and still arrive at the primary meaning. The central juxtaposition creates ample opportunities for re-readings. (I thought of, for example, macro sociopolitical issues and Ciceronian notions of “bread and circuses” in one reading, and was then drawn to the limited domestic scope and the commentary on streaming culture in the next.) And while this senryu might be more unsettling than it is funny, the truly ironic among us might find something darkly comedic in its larger implications about our current societal struggles and their growing inescapability. 

With all this in mind, it was clear to me that Fatma had written something exceptional, and, as a result, I’m thrilled to announce her as the winner of Prune Juice’s inaugural “Best of Issue” award! 

Aaron Barry, Co-Editor
May, 2023

a breakthrough
during the climax—
plan b

the aesthetics
of roadside murals
class divide

Aksheeya, India

old pond
the only kind of orgy
I’ve ever seen

Vidhi Ashar, India


depression pills for craters on the moon

Marilyn Ashbaugh, USA

amarbel blooming—
dad asks me
for the umpteenth loan

the huge scrotum
of a golden hamster—
new government

Giorgio Bacchi, Italy

lift door opening
the nanosecond
of eye contact

graduation day
a mother’s hat
at a jaunty angle

Ingrid Baluchi, North Macedonia

river swallowing the ten-faced night

Rowan Beckett, USA

morning writing
at the coffee shop
the smell of synonyms

cold front
I end up using
an antonym

Brad Bennett, USA

in Ukraine
another volley of missiles
adjusting the contrast

David A. Berger, USA

parts per

Jerome Berglund, USA

his old olds
the smell of gas
when it was cheap

art opening
what we see
what we miss

Elizabeth Black, USA

clear night
the death jingle
of a video game

car sputtering
the irrelevance
of the moon

Shawn Blair, USA

just a pig
living in the year
of the rabbit

Ed Bremson, USA

waiting for confession
I notice
The Virgin’s thigh

Marc Brimble, Spain

endangered species
the carousel rider
almost a teenager

Randy Brooks, USA

bugs! he goes pesticidal

Susan Burch, USA

he reads the reviews
but never the books
blind date

Alanna C. Burke, USA

ginger tea
she prefers
abortion this time too

Ram Chandran, India

sunrise between high-rises ancestral wisdom

spring equinox
half-thinking to water
my plants

Hemapriya Chellappan, India

driving wind
a shopping bag explores
my world

Thomas Chockley, USA

play date hiding in a see-through bin

Bill Cooper, USA

the purple side
of my brain

Sue Courtney, New Zealand

blood moon
siblings divide
the hospital bill

forever you and AI

Alvin B. Cruz, Philippines

clear skies
I bring along
my own clouds

Dan Curtis, Canada

neighbour’s funeral
my wife cries more
than the widow

Tracy Davidson, UK

fire drill
his false teeth

back porch
grandma’s story reduced
to pronouns and verbs

Pat Davis, USA

my daughter and I compare
cannabis products

elehna de sousa, Canada

before and after

Julie Emerson, Canada

taking the long extraterrestrial view

Robert Epstein, USA

this is the life hey mayfly

Keith Evetts, UK

infinite stars

David Kāwika Eyre, USA

economy class
for 10 hours

Susan Farner, USA

whipped cream—
turning an anathema
into blessing

my struggles with routine word ladder

Tazeen Fatma, India

The Big Dipper brothers compare the effects of Flomax

Bruce H. Feingold, USA

selling me dog food
. . . new emptiness

B.A. France, USA

I start with

fairy tales
mother takes the edge
off the wolf

Terri French, USA

work trip
the loneliness of
the neighborhood bar

Ben Gaa, USA

bed of straw man fallacy

Michael J. Galko, USA

out of the closet
my transformation
    to spring shirts

Patrick Gallagher, USA

string theory
slipping a loop
and hopping aboard

shopping list
lottery ticket
a tin of beans

Mark Gilbert, UK

the truth
 relaxed fit 

my drive to work
next exit

LeRoy Gorman, Canada

before baby’s first breath the doctor’s callused hands

John S Green, USA

community garden
this year
more sunflowers

Johnnie Johnson Hafernik, USA

discarded laundry
the life-changing magic
of giving up

Mihan Han, Canada

airing secrets
deciphering our code
in the wet patch

Patricia Hawkhead, UK

the rooster crows his complicated coffee order

Kerry J Heckman, USA

first dry day
the sidewalk chalked
for hopscotch

Frank Higgins, USA

morning shower
I concuss myself
on the safety bar

Ruth Holzer, USA

outback highway
a thousand miles
of fatality markers

Louise Hopewell, Australia

empty nesters
we give our robot vacuum
a name

Lee Hudspeth, USA

ice storm

Jonathan Humphrey, USA

annual coup overthrowing the sock drawer

Peter Jastermsky, USA

grief season
i put the shell
back where it was

Amoolya Kamalnath, India

falling in love . . .
the softened edges
of his consonants

Julie Bloss Kelsey, USA

mental health workshop
again I cancel
my day off

Ian Kenney, Canada

hospice invoice:
date of arrival
date of departure

Ellen Kom, Canada

his reply
shorter than my question
creeping haze

Nadejda Kostadinova, Bulgaria

March Madness
even grandma checks
the DraftKings line

Douglas J. Lanzo, USA

the companion animal’s
first big test

Michael Henry Lee, USA

 high school yearbook
on the dead girl’s page


Barrie Levine, USA

hunger moon
last lights go off
in the food court

Angela Leuck, Canada   

lunch with the family
just the sound
of forks

Antonietta Losito, Italy

another classmate
I can’t remember
in the obits
all the news fit to print
straight to the recycle bin

Bob Lucky, Portugal

All Hallows Eve—
one more Wednesday
in the nightclub line

Roman Lyakhovetsky, Israel

game night
our daughter
takes over the world

Hannah Mahoney, USA

to my plate

the long journey


Annette Makino, USA

living a life
of anonymity
monk’s hood lichen

Sharon Martina, USA

news of war
in the crack of the wall
this anonymous flower

Françoise Maurice, France

when she says Kerouac unidentified butterflies

Tanya McDonald, USA

barbie’s dreamhouse youths knock at the door

Sarah E. Metzler, USA

anthropocene the home I no longer recognize

Akhila Mohan CG, India

mermaid poison
my grandson
writes noir

Wilda Morris, USA

senior wellness check
another inch lost
but to where

Laurie D. Morrissey, USA

campaign promises
a broken record
for funds raised

Spyros Mylonas, USA

Sunday morning
grandmother brushes
her one tooth

Nika, Canada

transpacific storms dry tongues the other side

Subir Ningthouja, India

a gale blowing;
the glossy brochure
full of headstones

Sean O’Connor, Ireland

the stale smokiness of a stranger
library book

Debbie Olson, USA

exp: ides / Mar

Roland Packer, Canada

ambulance siren the beggar bows his head

Pravat Kumar Padhy, India

a village where everyone
wears my face

Stephanie Palombo, USA

he said she said the shit on the bed

Christopher Patchel, USA


jingkieng jri

I connect
& re-connect

Deepa Patil, India

snowblowers the men with their biggest

Marianne Paul, Canada

crazy quilt
scraps of my past
take on new colours

Jacquie Pearce, Canada

coming apart
at the seams – – –
fast fashion

petro c.k., USA

how cold
the meat I have to cook
for dinner

Kamil Plich, Germany

waning moron . . .
half-asleep I misread
the poem’s first line

Thomas Powell, Ireland

a high five
left hanging

under the influence superior mirage

Ganesh R., India

editor friend
workshopping a poem
she later rejects

Bryan Rickert, USA

no will inside the doctor’s empty can’t

the tales you tell unlocked by face

rs, USA

post-election dinner
a heap of curry leaves
on the trash plate

Srinivasa Rao Sambangi, India

rush hour
that feeling the other line
moves faster

Olivier Schopfer, Switzerland

his habit snorting another line of credit

Julie Schwerin, USA

turning teen to bulimia nervosa

fatty (acid) body shamed the nth time

her worthiness under the scalpel

Teji Sethi, India

milk and pill—
at least some things
work together

Richa Sharma, India

too shy
to make friends
a potted peony

Neena Singh, India

tall poppies
the C-Suite announces
more layoffs

Joshua St. Claire, USA

private room
mother’s smile safe
in a glass of water

Stephenie Story, USA

pastel skies . . .
a lifeless
receiving blanket

Jan Stretch, Canada

silent spring
the drip drip drip
of her taxotere

my religion of glottal stops om

Raghav Prashant Sundar, India

cellblock lighting for beginning readers

a neo-Boolean afraid to change lanes

Patrick Sweeney, Japan

first date
a day lost exploring
my pockets

Herb Tate, UK

in a world
of reality TV

Angela Terry, USA

ski lift conversation passing ravens

Elizabeth McMunn-Tetangco, USA

one-minute phone call
from the favorite son
cicada shell

Elisa Theriana, Indonesia

magenta sky
putting a smile on

C. X. Turner, United Kingdom

feng shui
I rearrange the people
in my life

Prashanth V, India

parallel universe
my garage band
still rehearsing

Jeffrey Walthall, USA

he’s not being bullied
the black-eyed boy

Michael Dylan Welch, USA

balletic his tongue ballistic

crayon recycling so many melted hearts

Genevieve Wynand, Canada 

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