Senryu Tsubame 川柳つばめ吟社: December

S

eeing as it was near Christmas when I presented the topic, I was wondering if anyone would totally disregard this and pick out an image from left field. Well, I must have a bunch of crazy readers because the verses below are quite diverse. Granted, ribbons for presents was the topic for many, there were others that referred to ribbons in the hair, a ribbon after a race, a ribbon to tie on a finger, and even a typewriting ribbon. A typewriter! Do you guys even know what they are? Or what they look like? I once saw a guy feeling for something on a Royal 500 typewriter. “What are you looking for?” I asked. The power button. “Ahem. It’s manual.”

Anyway, the poems are listed in order of receipt. Enjoy.


To give and receive,
Now just isn’t good enough!
Ribbons on top, please.

by XanthochromeSum

First impression: Child of the 21st century. Technical foul: None. Poet’s Remark: Wow, that was a hard topic Comments: When you say “To give and receive” I presume that you mean presents? And giving and receiving isn’t good enough? Hmmm… The “Now” also seems to suggest that ribbons are a recent phenomenon. Well, I know that I come from prehistoric times, but I distinctly remember ripping through ribbons when I was a kid. Still, it nicely represents the heart of one who who wants more than just a present, who is as concerned with the presentation (external) as as with the content (internal). How Japanese… Don’t forget to focus on a particular instant in time that is more textured; don’t leave it too much to the reader. Senryu is a snapshot or life.


Hairy man singing
“Scarlet ribbon for my hair”
But he sings gibbon.

by Allanwr

First impression: Why does this sound so familier? Technical foul: None. Comments: The phrase “Scarlet ribbon for my hair” sounds so familiar but I can’t seem to place it. Quoting from other sources is fine, but it has to be readily recognizable to the reader. There is a similar practice in traditional Japanese court poetry called honkadori. This is a technique by which a poet can augment his poem by adding images from another poem just by alluding to it through a phrase. But for this technique to work, the phrase being alluded to must be famous and recognizable to the majority of readers. Unfortunately, this doesn’t really work with senryu. Although this snapshot is pretty vivid. Why do I get the image of Jerry Garcia?


There were four runners
I was last to cross the line
Purple condolence

by HANDI_411

First impression: Purple? Technical foul: None. Poet’s Remark: I came in last in every race I ever ran in high school, but this one time I got a ribbon anyway–it’s a strange kind of satisfaction. Forgive me for giving this a title, but I just couldn’t pass up the pun (my mom’s fault). Comments: Hahahha, it’s funny and self effacing. I guess your saying that since there were only four competitors, you got a purple ribbon despite coming in last? Nice effort. This is an image I can relate to, although–in terms of the vers itself–I am stuck on the word “condolence”.. A sense of jubilation–like “4th Place Ribbon”–would have created tension as the counterpart to coming in last. It would have added to the irony that makes a good senryu.


Spools and still more spools
A new color for each gift
But where is the end?

by SleepyWalnut

First impression: End of what? Technical foul: None. Poet’s Remark: I subscribe, so I suppose that means I can participate, correct? If not, just disregard this. Comments: I love the images of the various ribbon colors and the idea that there are many gifts. But the last line was a bit confusing. I presume you are referring to the gifts? Because the end of the ribbon would be right in fron of your eyes. As such, the last line lends itself to abstraction, I think. This is not necessarily a bad thing, but it should be tied–no pun intended–with an image of frustration or concern, not the bright positive images you set down through the images of brightly colored ribbons.


Kitty likes ribbon
More than the girl who wears it
Oops, now it’s in shreds.

by WolferasDreams

First impression: Cute. Technical foul: None. Comments: This is a sweet sounding poem but I’m not sure I get the ending. I can see how a kitty can shred ribbon–I’m a cat lover and have had my share of cats–but the way you phrase this sounds like the kitty is shredding the ribbon in the girl’s hair. That is hard to grasp. Am I missing something? First, how does the kitty get into the girl’s hair? Is she lying down? If so, you should fit it in somehow. And if it is in her hair, isn’t “oops” a bit reserved as a response? Shouldn’t it be more like “ouch” or “hey, stupid!” Of course, if you are suggesting the ribbons are elsewhere, then the imagery went *swoosh* completely over my head…


Tantalizingly
Sweet swirled on the tongue’s taste buds–
Chocolate ribbons

by bane_vixen

First impression: Chocolate! Technical foul: None. Poet’s Remark: Look at an ice cream carton that has raspberry or chocolate fudge in it. Notice how they are described. It goes something like this: Praline-coated almonds in creamy vanilla with ribbons of luscious, decadent chocolate. Yes, chocolate ribbons exist. Hell, lemon ribbons are somewhere out there, too, though a bit elusive Comments: I almost can’t believe this is your poem. Where’s the angst? Where’s the sarcasm? Hehehheeh. Just kidding. I like your attempt, although you are trying to say too much with too few words. I point to your explanation as evidence. Fortunately for you, I love chocolate fudge in cies cream so I picked up the imagery immediately. Unfortunately, I am not the typical reader, and you should be writing for them…


a box of treasures
hiding a smile behind
a red radiance

by Di_Gah_Jea

First impression: Hiding behind a present? Technical foul: Only 6 syllables in the second line. Comments: Let’s see… the smile is behind the red radiance and since the box of treasures is hiding the smile, the box is the red radiance? The diction you use is colorful and bright and quite beautiful, but there needs to be a way to understand the picture you are drawing with text. Remember, senryu is snapshot of a moment, and the reader needs your words to provide the image, so all your pixels have to be in order. Also, I fail to see an image of the topic in your verse. You don’t necessarily have to mention the word, but if you don’t, then the verse has to point to it in a very obvious fashion. But don’t fret. You’ll get better next time. Just keep trying…


knots on a finger
a ribbon to remind me
to forget me nots

by aznquarter

First impression: Oh yeah, I forgot! Technical foul: None. Comments: A nice simple picture of someone’s hand. Too bad we don’t know whose hand. Maybe yours? I had always imagined a string tied to a finger to remember things, but the image of a ribbon is quite pleasing, and a colorful way of presenting an American (I think) practice that is rather quaint but still understood by many. I actually remember doing this when I was younger, but I ended up forgetting why I tied the string, what i was supposed to remember! Hahahah. I was–and still am–so pathetic…


The typewriter clicks
Thought broken like the ribbon
I was on a roll

by whonose

First impression: Wicked. Technical foul: None. Poet’s Remark: You have no idea how much I used to write on an anachronistic typewriter before I ever had a computer, and how frustrating it would be to lose a train of thought when the ribbon broke. Comments: Dude! How old are you? Are you secretly 47 years old? Hehehehehe. Anyway, this is wicked–I have just used the only modern British term I know–if not a bit anachronistic. But it works for me. One types away on the typewriter, getting down thoughts quickly and smoothly when suddenly the ribbon snaps–there used to be an inked cloth ribbon that was rolled around one spool and fed to another spool as the keys tapped on it to transfer letters onto paper. Anyway, the train of thought snaps with the ribbon, and he was on a “roll”. Get it? Get it? Okay, it was corny. But the corn is based on a pun, and the Japanese LOVE puns. Senryu is no exception.


wrap and place the bow
write words of love from soul deep
box sits in corner

by SENSEI49

First impression: Sad image. Technical foul: None. Poet’s Remark: i am a virgin at this…i am not a writer but i will try anything… Comments: This is a pretty good attempt for a virgin. The grammar/tense could have been different, but then again, it conveys a sense of immediacy, like we were there. Anyway, a present wrapped and tied with ribbon with word of love, but if it sits there, it has yet to be delivered, or maybe since its in the corner, it will never be delivered. What happened? that may have been a bit too abstract. If we knew, it might have even been better, but still, as I said, the imagery and mood is quite good, especially for your maiden attempt. Keep it up.


with dainty fingers
she wraps the shiny, black silk
stockings round her thighs

by detachable

First impression: Hubba hubba! Technical foul: None. Comments: Damn, girl. This is a pretty sexy poem–a young woman (dainty fingers) pulls on a pair of black ribboned stockings (not pantyhose). It might have been helpful if you had indicated how these stockings related to her life. Does she like to where stockings? Is she wearing them for her boy friend? Is it a special occasion? By somehow indicating these things, we might get som insight as to the significance of the stockings/ribbons. By the way… um… do you wear black stockings yourself? Er… like when you take those sexy, shadowy, monochromatic night stills?


hearing bell jingle
I see a red coin bucket
a buck donated

by DaddyLike

First impression: Salvation Army. Technical foul: None. Comments: A thought provoking verse, especially during the holiday season. My first impression was the Salvation Army charity bucket so ubiquitous from Thanksgiving to New Years. The sound of the bell arouses a sense of wanting to help by placing a dollar into the pot. Certainly an appropriate verse during the holiday season. But I’m not sure I see the topic, ribbon. While ribbons could be attached to the pot or some other place, the image of the verse seems to focus on the bucket. Next time, be sure to manifest the topic, and to make sure you do, mention it specifically in the verse.


Tied in a neat bow,
the bright, red ribbon beckons.
Who knows what’s inside?

by SunJun

First impression: A tease. Technical foul: None. Poet’s Remark: I guess because of the Christmas season, gifts wrapped in ribbons were my initial thought. Trying to capture the anticipation one gets looking at a wrapped present. Comments: You are so good at depicting a very specific momentary image. Are you really an engineer? The red ribbon tied around a present “beckons” (great diction!) and what child–or adult, for that matter–could resist picking it up, maybe shaking it, wondering what’s inside. The last line not only suggests the question, but the anticipation of opening the present and maybe even the frustration of having to wait until Christmas. Nice.


Perfect satin curls,
unfurled, discarded with glee
by one anxious child.

by RachelsMommy

First impression: Nice. Technical foul: None. Comments: The image of a child desperately wanting to open a present is competently depicted here. The juxtoposition of a prefectly tied ribbon–satin curls–being tossed aside well portrays a child-like attitude, one that is at once careless and unthinking yet not necessarily mean-spirited and disrespectful. Perhaps, the syllable used up in “one anxious” could have been avoided as it is repetitious–a child discarding the ribbon with glee already tells us the child is anxious. Still, a nice verse.


stevie wonder says
there’s a ribbon in the sky
but where’s the present?

by msbLiSs

First impression: Whoa! Technical foul: None. Comments: I’m not sure I can capture the moment here, at least not in the way you may want me to. You’re listening to Stevie Wonder, and he’s singing about a ribbon in the sky for a love he feels for someone. So I suppose your referring to your significant other, that there is a ribbon in the sky to represent your love for each other… but where’s the present?!? Hmmm… Okay, I can take it as a joke, but that would be a bit abstract. The more literal approach–one that takes the images presented by the text–might be a bit more pessemistic. Also, the reference to this song may be abstract as wwell to many; when alluding to an outside referent, it should be more obvious. Subtlety makes the verse seemed privileged–“only those who know Stevie will get it”. But you’re not a snob, right? Senryu is a poetry for the masses, and it often makes fun of specifically those who are privileged. But that’s okay. You’re poems up until now have been so incredible; we all have our off days, heheheehhe…


red ribbon wound tight
but no paper underneath
December “Playboy”

by LaMangust

First impression: Huh? Technical foul: None. Poet’s Remark: there it is! perhaps a commentary on how some people can pervert wholesome family holidays? perhaps just something to make your dirty little hentai mind give a naughty little hentai giggle. merry christmas. Comments: Hmmm… *folds arms* um…. *unfolds arms* uh… *places chin in palm of left hand*… let’s see *drums fingers on desk* Okay, is the red ribbon wound tightly around… what? A rolled up December issue of Playboy? Or do you mean ribbon tied around the magazine? And no paper underneath? Is the model on cover gonna pee on the carpet? No wait! Are you saying there’s no wrapping paper? Ah, okay, I get it. And actually, this is quite clever if only the words were a bit more lucid. The ribbon is tied around an issue of the December Playboy, a present–I presume–but ribbon without the wrapping paper makes it look tantilizingly naked, a reflection, perhaps, of what is in store inside the pages. Clever… if only the diction were clearer.


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