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SciFaiku Top Ten (1996)

Here's where I collected my favorite of all the SciFaiku submissions through January of 1996. What characterizes the best of them? Imagery is often the finest point of all of them, not only the beautiful descriptions, but the ability to evoke an entire scene with just a few words. Subtlety and implication are the most powerful devices -- the suggestion of a grander plan, a universal truth, or sometimes simply a personal truth that would otherwise go hidden. The language is also key. Most of these stick to the simplest of words, capturing very basic experience. Those that do go into technical terminology combine the terms into intricately beautiful patterns. The following ten poems come in no particular order.

Spring showers
my best friend

-- Greg Pass

The juxtaposition of the natural, the artificial, and the personal. Such minimalism! Only 7 syllables, and without even directly mentioning the technology, so much about it is revealed.

Through starry tapestries we flee
      sleeping fitfully
  chasing photons, we dream
      while Earth dies.

-- Jeffrey D. Romano

This one has far too many syllables, but I still think it deserves to be here. The language is musical, and still achieves an unmistakable minimalist clarity.

Solar Sail

Void mariners
riding the solar zephyr.
Dandelion seed

-- Dave Niedens

Beautiful. A nature metaphor works wonderfully here, and the transition is abrubt yet strikingly low-key. Titles aren't really necessary (in fact, strictly speaking, they should count toward the syllable count), but this poem works quite well even without it.

The stars look lovely
these borrowed eyes.

-- graham Huesmann

The subtlety of this poem is fabulous. The entire science-fiction theme manages to hinge on the one word "borrowed", which we wouldn't otherwise view as specifically related to science or science-fiction. The term "lovely" is also powerful, being a deep note of appreciation or possibly a note of sarcasm if you take the more devilish interpretation of the poem. Like all the best scifaiku, in saying so little it manages to suggest an entire technology and culture that allows someone to "borrow" eyes, suggesting all sorts of dilemnas and possible conflicts.

the year's end...
in myself
these unborn eggs

sai-ban ya
watashi no naka no
mi-syo no tamago

-- Yuri

Incredible. The year's end is a perfect time to be reflecting on the past and what lies ahead in the future. The minimalism is amazing. This poem has a very traditional haiku feel to it (incorporating a season word, a transitional cut-point, and the "natural" reference to eggs). Also, a very compassionate treatment of an alien perspective...

trees icy black and wet
against a pink sky
tentacles shiver

-- Heather Johnson (Poet Chick)
and Bob Cappel (CyberBeat)

I love this one for the picture it paints and the sensations it stimulates -- the indirectness, looking at the tree, not at the creature, of which we only get a hint.

Timetravel is forbidden.
But kids
do it anyway.

-- Eva Eriksson

Wonderful reckless abandon. You don't want to think it would happen, but you know it will. The phrase is so glib, so idiomatic, yet with such broader implications. This thing could be the basis of a TV series, or is this just Bill & Ted?

Magnetic tazer fanblades
weave around each other
seeking your flesh.

-- Dave Richardson

The words are vivid and specific. There's a strong sence of capturing a moment. The weaving strands of light are practically hypnotizing. A little violent perhaps, but nevertheless a striking accomplishment.

My child is born
and gently
takes me in its arms

-- Darren Greer

A tender poem with a nice surprise turnaround. The alteration of the visual image midstream reinforces the size relationships. Imagine this poem if he had said "my large child" -- the visual impact would have been lost. Imagine if he had left out "gently" -- the poem would have lost its human qualities and its character. A very nice balance of words here.

on blackhole's edge
drifts me in

-- Todd Hoff

This poem certainly captures a moment. I admire the conciseness of Todd's poems, and obviously the very human reflections of this particular poem. I also like the very quiet inevitability of the situation. You can read more of Todd's poetry on his SciFaiku Poetry page.

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