Wednesday, June 25, 2014

I Know Which Day

At Saison Market watching a little soccer if you're in the 'hood!

That was the 17-syllable message that popped up minutes after I got home from a trip to an oyster hatchery on the Northern Neck's Coan River.

I cared less about seeing France play Ecuador than I did about seeing my friend, so I showered to remove my road trip funk and joined him at the market.

I might just point out with not a little pride that it was my second soccer game this week and I haven't watched two soccer games total in the last decade.

The big news is that he's bought a house, so I heard all the details as well as his plans to renovate it beginning with the kitchen (he's a good cook and already talking about his first party).

He's at that stage where he's dreaming big about every possible renovation he could make, fully realizing that he'll have to scale back to match his budget.

Yea, reality bites.

Once the scoreless game ended, I invited him to join me and my hired mouth for dinner, even taking a spin by his soon-to-be home on the way back from the restaurant.

It's a mighty handsome house and I only hope he follows through on his intention to turn the converted screened-in porch back into an outdoor room. If you ask me, it's a sin to enclose a perfectly good screened-in porch.

After our drive-by, I invited him to join me for Hand to Hand Haiku at Balliceaux, but he'd thrown out his back (which explained why he was sipping beer and not working during the afternoon game), so I dropped him at home.

The crowd for haiku was small tonight, no doubt because it's summer, but I also heard that they'd had a record crowd last month. Haiku ebbs and flows, you know.

Waiting for the crowd to grow, host Raven Mack came over and asked me if I'd be a judge.

Color me surprised because although tonight was my third Hand to Hand Haiku, I never expected to be asked to hold the flags and weigh in.

But why not? I've got an opinion on practically everything and how difficult could it be deciding which haiku I liked better?

Raven Mack began with a series of sonnets, each about a different direction, concluding with him placing a sheet with the direction - north, south, east and west-  in the appropriate part of the room.

My favorite began with "Sonnet of the South, land of big, bouncing asses" and he finished with a sonnet to the center, placing the rock and paper just behind where I was sitting.

"So now we got our space set!" Raven proclaimed. He went on to hold aloft the pink gamecock trophy up for grabs tonight to the best haiku writer.

Lindsay and Rebecca faced off first, each well prepared with haikus to choose from, and tailoring their choices to what their competitor read.

At one of the back tables, a bunch of people applauded after each haiku, so Raven called them the clapping party.

Rebecca won the match with gems like this one:

Man on the drums, I bet 
I can rock my hips faster
than you can play

Winning meant that now she went up against Chris, who'd stored her haikus in her phone, an unworthy place for poetry if ever there was one.

Raven reminded us, "If someone reads a haiku that they've read before, even if it was two months ago, boo the shit out of them!" Will do.

Chris kept it topical with one about workplace productivity falling due to the World Cup while Rebecca got more personal.

Late exploration
our first time, we kept it sexy
we kept it safe

That said, Chris won, in part because of haikus like this one.

You never know which
day separates your life
before and after

Isn't that the truth?

As a judge, there were many times where it was truly difficult to choose a winner, often because both were strong haikus, just very different. It's impossible to compare a deep, thoughtful haiku with a risque, cleverly worded one. It's apples and oranges.

Hand to Hand Haiku always ends the evening with a death match where some hapless soul takes on haiku king Raven Mack to try to de-throne him.

Tonight it was Ryan, the DJ also known as Revolt of the Apes, and while I'd heard him spin records, I had no idea all his tweets were done in haiku form, nor that most of them ended with the word "dude."

I"m guessing that means that many of the haikus we heard tonight had been born as Twitter feeds.

Some people may not believe
I met Nell Carter
at a Slayer show

Funny stuff, even more so when read by a deadpan man in sunglasses. But Raven is the master for a reason and he countered with:

White people talking 
condescendingly of
white people is so white

Their death match ended with Raven prevailing 13-7 and saying, "I''d like to present this trophy to myself."

Just when we thought all the night's fun was over, Rebecca challenged Raven and a double death match was born on the spot.

It was a close match and Raven trailed for a while but ultimately won, saying, "I want to say thanks to Rebecca and I'll keep my damn trophy!"

And I'll keep my 17-syllable nights, both the public and private ones.

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