2022 7th Annual H. Gene Murtha Memorial Senryu Contest Winners

First Place

cockroach…once more i beg forgiveness

Philip Whitley

We hate killing bugs of any kind, so just on that level alone it resonates with us. Taking it a step further, we also see this as metaphor for domestic violence. The perpetrator is the cockroach and the other person is apologizing for a mistake that is either real or just perceived by the other person, hoping it will stop them from whatever they’re about to do, which feels inevitable because it’s in their nature. We like how this senryu can be flipped around so that it’s not only the cockroach that could be stepped on, but a person too. For this reason, it was our top choice.


Second Place

and again
the white horse wins –
merry-go-round

Joanne van Helvoort

This senryu, though seems simple, is loaded. The visual of merry-go-round fills the reader with a child-like joy. The first two lines show us that in their innocence, the children are racing each other on their horses but only a particular horse wins. Is winning of a particular horse even possible in the merry-go-round? This is where this cleverly crafted senryu takes us to a different path. Line 2 with “the white horse wins” makes us realize that this poem can actually be about the white privilege or the rich privilege. We all know how it works and how some people in power rig the whole system. It’s a vicious circle – common people work hard and strive for success, but it’s only the people in power who control the reins and reap the benefits


Third Place

first bite
your move now
Adam

Aka Moone

We love the humor in this one! The allusion to Adam and Eve and then a dare on top of it makes of think of the childhood game “truth or dare.” Using the Garden of Eden as a background, perfectly illustrates how fun it can be – do you tell the truth or take the dare? Was it in fact a dare all those years ago? It’s a fun thought, making this playful senryu one of our favorites.


Honorable Mentions
(in no particular order)

old flames
at the class reunion
not one match

Ron Russell


them
not me
the obituaries

Fred Andrle


a cheerio
in the pill box
fool me once

Ron Scully


eye of the storm
not even the wind
wants me

Stefanie Bucifal


phone call
the length of
a bottle of wine

David Grayson


middle school
even our breast sizes
have letter grades

Antoinette Cheung

a constellation
on her breast . . .
freckle envy

Julie Bloss Kelsey


my neighbors’ noises
all night long –
way to go crickets

Cristina Angelescu


nesting dolls…
how history
repeats itself

Laurie Greer


chrysanthemums trying on my wife’s kimono

Jacob Blumner


tent poles
testing the strength
of our marriage

Rich Schilling


childless
cracks forming
in the heirlooms

Carly Siegel Thorp


cash flow
the hole in my pocket
bigger than I thought

Richard Grahn


national debt!
and you’re worried
about my credit cards?

Richard Grahn


deepest breath ever leaving the psych wing

Geoff Pope


carrying the coffin –
the undertaker says
i’m a natural

Stephen Toft


sand shifting pronouns

Jacquie Pearce


first cut—
the watermelon seller bites
into his profit

Kala Ramesh


hermit crab
where to begin
downsizing

June Rose Dowis

hand-crocheted afghan. . .
too late to tell her
I don’t like maroon

Billie Dee


Smirnoff vodka
all my demons
in high spirits

Cezar-Florin Ciobica

Judges – Vandana Parashar and Susan Burch

Issue 36 – Senryu & Kyoka


back to school
the fight over
corner seats

Adjei Agyei-Baah, Ghana

did I call enough
grandma’s favorite
pashmina wrap

Agnes Eva Savich, USA

coffee rings
on her desk
his promotion

Aidan Castle, USA

grail
the bra
that fits

Alanna C. Burke, USA

writing shasei––
certain I’ve read this one
somewhere before . . .

Alex Fyffe, USA

writer’s block
I ask Alexa
for a prompt

Alex Lubman, USA

10,000 feet
above San Antonio
remembering
how I hate
to fly

Allyson Whipple, USA

samurai film
she won’t let me
buy a sword

Andy Discus, USA

rosary beads : the stains of time

Arvinder Kaur, India

taxi stop
night air rushes to fill
your empty seat

Ash Evan Lippert, USA

last day of isolation
Happy Birthday
through the door

Audrey Quinn, Denmark

scrolling
too fast to pay
attention

B.A. France, USA

ready for takeoff––
the sudden spread
of a mask fight

Barrie Levine, USA

​​captcha
I am human
right?

Bart Van Goethem, Belgium

doorways
now so narrow
middle age

Bee Jay, Australia

my rainbow
is brighter than yours
suburban sprinklers

Benedict Grant, Canada

just so that
there are no regrets
a shooting star

Bhawana Rathore, India

the years of lying
about her age . . .
mother’s headstone

old widower
the life expectancy
of grief

hall of mirrors
what I think you think
of me

Bill Kenney, USA

heatwave
a white man
loses face

Birk Andersson, Sweden

on the outside
of the picket fence
Black Lives Matter

Brad Bennett, USA

cosmic noise
how much of it
is me

graveside service
an honor guard
takes the hill

menopause
she lets me know
we’re out of eggs

Bryan Rickert, USA

getting myself
in hot water again
shabu shabu

Charles Harmon, USA

genuflection
the weight
of stained glass

Charlotte Hrenchuk, Canada

two pills
shall i go up
or down

Christine Eales, United Kingdom

cold beer . . .
we try to recount
our youth

Christopher Calvin, Indonesia

computer key clicks
beneath my fingers––
his deep sleep

Claire Vogel Camargo, USA

Grandma’s lipstick
shades lighter
than Mom’s

Curt Pawlisch, USA

changing memory lanes the past of least resistance

jewelry box
the ballerina
I never was

Cynthia Anderson, USA

cataracts gone
seeing the world
through sixteen-year-old eyes
i ask the surgeon
what else she could renew

Dave Chandler, USA

altar candles
the secret wishes
of strangers

David Watts, USA

warm oatmeal
she slips a cookie
into his lunch

Deborah P Kolodji, USA

burial
the end
of forgetting

Elaine Costanzo, USA

halving strawberries
Grammy spins the story
of his proposal

Elaine Wilburt, USA

dusk
tipping dinosaurs
off the edge of the sofa

Elancharan Gunasekaran, Singapore

for sale
bozak speakers –– losing dad
all over again

Eric A. Lohman, USA

not asking
about her ‘vacation’
in-patient

Erin Castaldi, USA

the roar of traffic
dying to a murmur
country churchyard

Ernest Wit, Poland

last order
she touches up
her lips

Eva Limbach, Germany

standard deviation––
the measure of your distance
from my mean

Fionnuala Waldron, Ireland

the fly and I
share the same buzz . . .
afternoon bourbon

Gordon Gearhart, USA

yellow streetlight
a pregnant girl, heavy
with almosts

Hege A. Jakobsen Lepri, Norway

retail therapy––
the boyfriend pillow
comes at a price

Hemapriya Chellappan, India

echoing gavel
after the bidding concludes
the bride’s lowest price

underage bride
the handmade rag doll becomes
her chief bridesmaid

Hifsa Ashraf, Pakistan

pitting cherries
she spits out
her diagnosis

embroidery sampler
what each stitch holds
of her

driving with my dad
what used to be here
what used to be there

Jacquie Pearce, Canada

country accent
the roll of hills
a letter away

Joanna Ashwell, United Kingdom

an old stone wall
crumbling into itself
dad’s last words

John Hawkhead, United Kingdom

ouija board
not knowing what questions
to ask

Johnnie Johnson Hafernik, USA

minimum wage
the ramen labels
become a rainbow

Joshua St. Claire, USA

falling cards the house panic built me

Julie Bloss Kelsey, USA

cry for not my usual self help

Julie Schwerin, USA

acclimating
to its only speed
porch swing

June Rose Dowis, USA

baby shower
she remembers me
innocent

Kat Lehmann, USA

death poem––
reconfiguring
the paperclip

Keith Evetts, United Kingdom

guilt
no farther away
than my pillow

Kelly Sargent, USA

jury interview
I try to create
reasonable doubt

Ken Slaughter, USA

attic violin
the person she was before
my first breath

Kevin Valentine, USA

storm damage
not the top-down change
we hoped for

Kristen Lindquist, USA

jazz playing
your whistle far into
the night

empty chair wishing it wasn’t

Lafcadio, USA

our favorite argument
we end it
by not ending it

Laurie D. Morrissey, USA

20th anniversary
her ring finger
in the oximeter

Lew Watts, USA

dry eyes on the sparrow

rock bottom––
it sinks in
that I’m an addict

Lori A Minor, USA

Mom’s silk sheets how things come to be

Lori Becherer, USA

box upon box tissue wrapped childhood

Margaret Walker, USA

heavy scent
of the old dust
colonial house

Marie Derley, Belgium

new year
couch to 5k to couch
resolution

Mariel Herbert, USA

childhood photos––
around our table
the mismatched chairs

Mark Forrester, USA

filling the kitchen
aroma of vanilla
and his fists

Meg Arnot, United Kingdom

breakfast at twilight
trying to remember
your name

Mike Fainzilber, Israel

phone lock . . .
pulling the day into a
wrong pattern

Minal Sarosh, India

hopscotch
between adjoining numbers
the boys’ gaze

toy train
choosing from the crowd
the father I’ve never had

Mirela Brăilean, Romania

social media––
a side of you
I never knew

Mona Bedi, India

call from a stranger
his family tree
grows a branch

always happening
somewhere else
until

Nancy Shires, USA

still orbiting
my old bedroom . . .
Jupiter’s moons

Nick Hoffman, Ireland

tv news
a rioter wears
the same mask as me

climate protest
a drum beats
out of time

Nick T, United Kingdom

playing
the wabi-sabi card
chipped china

blue Monday
i wander through
my spam

P. H. Fischer, Canada

mirror, mirror . . .
the topology
of old age

Pat Davis, USA

all-inclusive
the resort’s
armed guards

Peter Newton, USA

the sin in the sinner in me

Pippa Phillips, USA

after
all these winters
the weight of a scar

Ravi Kiran, India

mother’s religion
prayer cards
under her ashtray

Rehn Kovacic, USA

five of midnight
silencing the in-law’s
grandfather clock

Richard L. Matta, USA

synesthesia
developing a taste
for the blue notes

Rick Jackofsky, USA

New Orleans jazz club
dancing with a lady
I already miss

Robert Moyer, USA

barnyard memories
I was once
a spring chicken

Roberta Beach Jacobson, USA

college degree
my application in
at the car wash

Ronald K. Craig, USA

shortest day––
fitting in
a fight

Ruth Holzer, USA

pandemic year
every day I hug
my tree

Ryland Shengzhi Li, USA

last year our cloudy memory of friends

S. Michael Kozubek, USA

black history
twenty-eight
days long

Sarah E. Metzler, USA*

origin story
learning to speak
for myself

Shloka Shankar, India

zazen––
i’ve had my fill
of emptiness

Sondra J. Byrnes, USA

teacher’s birthday . . .
rechecking the grammar
of my wish

work from home
in lieu of 3 a.m. friends
3 a.m. colleagues

Srinivas S, India

hot coffee
the warning
that you’ll burn me

Susan Burch, USA

toy store which teddy to buy dad

colossus
at least I thought
you were

Tim Gardiner, United Kingdom

doodles
on a small cross
early morning prayers

Tim Roberts, New Zealand

campfire
envying my kid’s
imagination

Tomislav Sjekloća, Montenegro

feeling good
about myself
drawstring pants

Tony Williams, United Kingdom

coin flip
am I
two-faced

Valentina Ranaldi-Adams, USA

funeral
all his ex-wives
in the same pew

guests gone
eating the leftovers
cold

Valorie Broadhurst Woerdehoff, USA

library book
did his hands touch
you too

Vandana Parashar, India

twilight
in her curves
the lack of exactness

Vijay Prasad, India

born again
the river baptism
leaves him cold

William Scott Galasso, USA

burnt cookies
my second
Covid Christmas

Yvette Nicole Kolodji, USA

status update
another day
in alternate reality

Zahra Mughis, Pakistan

​​*“Black History Month is an annual celebration of achievements by African Americans and a time for recognizing their central role in U.S. history. Also known as African American History Month, the event grew out of ‘Negro History Week,’ the brainchild of noted historian Carter G. Woodson and other prominent African Americans. Since 1976, every U.S. president has officially designated the month of February as Black History Month. Other countries around the world, including Canada and the United Kingdom, also devote a month to celebrating Black history.”

History.com Editors. (2022, January 31). Black History Month. HISTORY. https://www.history.com/topics/black-history/black-history-month

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