|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.
my best friend
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.
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.
these borrowed eyes.
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.
these unborn eggs
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...
against a pink sky
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.
do it anyway.
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?
weave around each other
seeking your flesh.
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.
takes me in its arms
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.
drifts me in
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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