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Hexapod Haiku 2018 – best in show (poet over 13)

Slowly falling down,
Insecticides stole my prime.
Death by lack of breath.

Brian Wood
Edmond, OK

Judges’ Comments: The poem paints a heartbreaking portrait of physical suffering and premature death, serving, perhaps, as a modern Silent Spring. We see dual, overlapping protagonists — one human, one hexapodous — each suffering at the hands of some unnamed chemical, until, inevitably, they are each robbed of their vitality. The irony is that toxins intended to promote human health, e.g., by extirpating insect pests before or while they’re in their prime, often contribute to the decline of human health through asphyxiation and other afflictions. The metairony is that pesticides whose mode of action is suffocation, i.e., «death by lack of breath», are by far the safest (insecticidal soaps and oils) for humans. The layered symbolism, compelling story, clever word play, and mix of solemnity and near-humor made this poem our choice for Best in Show. We congratulate and thank Brian Wood for writing and sharing this complex and highly symbolic piece.

Hexapod Haiku 2018 – runner-up (poet under 13)

When I picked you up,
you tried to flap your cute wings
sad, sad butterfly.

Monique M. (12)
Baltimore, MD

Judges’ Comments: The tragic consequences of curiosity exhibited in this poem resonated with the judges, as both a recollection of childhood innocence and as a metaphor for biological research. Large, harmless, ubiquitous, and gaudy, butterflies are the gateway insect for catalyzing a life-long addiction to entomology. Children, who have yet to adopt the irrational fear of arthropods often entrenched in the minds of their adult mentors, delight in direct interaction with these beautiful creatures. Exposing such delicateness to unrefined dexterity, however, can yield sorrowful results, as seen in lines two and three. Perhaps this child did not know her own strength. Alternatively, the protagonist witnessed a traumatic incident and now offers comfort to the affected butterfly.

Research on life often (ironically) results in death. In this light, we saw parallels between this story and biological science. To understand what makes butterfly wings so beautiful, one must dissect them. To document changes in butterfly distributions over time, one must euthanize and pin specimens. While these endeavors produce enlightening, broad-reaching results, some aspects of the process are unfortunate.

We congratulate Monique on crafting this emotional, thought-provoking poem, which emerged as our runner-up.

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