Sometimes, The Wheel is on Fire

Sometimes, The Wheel is on Fire

Wednesday, May 13, 2020

Haiku Winners: Together

Haiku. Haiku is what bwings us togeddah, today.

Times are tough. But I'm hoping I can play a part (See what I did there? A part? Oh, never mind.) in making things a teensy bit easier for three people, and for three charities.

And thus, I shall cease my blabbering and announce the winners of my togetherness haiku contest.

Put your hands together (See what I did there?) for this year's award winners:

Not Quite Honorable Mention

My wife Denise's haiku is easily the finest pandering ever done in one of my contests. Unfortunately, she majored in English, not math. Eighteen syllables a haiku does not make.
You are my husband
He is our curly headed boy
We are together

Honorable Mentions

Rawknrobin perfectly encapsulates the mood of the working-from-home masses (even if my company uses Skype, and I'm in the pants-wearing minority).
We aren't wearing pants
Let us zoom together now
Joelle highlights cats' love for cornering us when we're at our most vulnerable (even if we sometimes secretly enjoy the company).
Social distancing?
For humans, not for kitties.
Never poop alone.
And then there's my sister Naomi, whose haiku I laughed out loud at (even if I knew long before the contest started she wasn't going to win).
Why do I see you
Whenever I turn around?
Oh, right! Conjoined twins.

First Prize: Traditional

Yeah, I might be biased against Naomi, but not her 9-year-old son Solomon. He wins the prize for traditional haiku, and he has chosen Habitat for Humanity as his charity. I will be giving them a donation of $100.
A tiny atom.
Has very very small quarks.
All stuck together.

First Prize: Humorous/Creative

Jess Sokol used one of her superpowers (i.e. cats) to take the award for humorous haiku. Her chosen charity is Protectors of Animals, who will also be receiving a $100 donation.
Too many cats near
Eyeing my keyboard and cords
The mouse is afraid

First Prize: Judge's Choice

And finally, my pick for the third prize is one that embodies family and the joys of childhood, courtesy of Joe.
Grab that big blanket.
Everyone, quick, get under.
Now tickle someone!

Joe, please send me an email and let me know to which charity I should donate. I'll be making the donations (and sending out the gift cards) in the next few days.

Congratulations to all the winners and mentions! And thank you to everyone who submitted haiku (you can read all the entries here) or shared the contest with others. I hope I was able to bring you some much-needed levity (and/or spending money) in these trying times.

So, farewell my friends,
Until we meet up again.
(With or without pants.)

Friday, May 1, 2020

Together: A Haiku Contest for Charity

*** The contest has ended. Check out the winners! ***

We, as a people, are too divided. We were already split along economical, ideological, and political lines (among others), and then the Virus That Shall Not Be Named came along and split us apart physically.

Enough is enough. Let's write some haiku about togetherness.

You may think a haiku contest won't accomplish much. And you'd be right. But at least this one will result in $300 for charity. It isn't much, but it's a start.

Simply follow standard haiku structure (5 syllables, then 7, then 5), and write a poem inspired by the word "together." However you interpret the theme is up to you.

I will select the best haiku in the following three categories:
  • Humorous/Creative
  • Traditional (i.e. eloquent, evocative, etc.)
  • Judge's Choice
As in past years,* each winner will receive a $25 gift card. But then I will also donate $100 each to charities of their choosing.

The deadline to submit haiku is Thursday, May 7 at 5:00pm (Eastern Time). Official "rules" are below.

Submit some haiku.
For you, or for charity.
Or for all of us.

Official "Rules":
  1. To enter, post haiku inspired by the word "together" in the comments section below. Multiple submissions are allowed, up to a maximum of five (5) entries. If you submit more than five, it will smack of selfishness in a time of need. It's not a good look for you. And you will not win.
  2. Standard haiku rules apply. To qualify, each entry must be a three-line poem, the first line containing exactly 5 syllables, the second line 7 syllables, and the third line 5 syllables. These rules are in place to keep the poetic form safe. If you ignore them, I'll wash my hands of you, and your entry won't win.
  3. The contest is open until Thursday, May 7, 2020 at 5:00pm, Eastern Time. If you arrive late, the contest will already be at capacity, and you'll be left out in the cold. No prize for you.
  4. If your entry is not in English, you must also provide its English translation. If I don't know what you're saying, it'll feel like you're keeping me at a distance. (Note: Translations don't need to adhere to the 17-syllable structure.)
  5. Anonymous entries will not win. You can't foster a feeling of togetherness if all you do is keep secrets.
  6. Prizes will be awarded in each of three (3) categories: Humorous/Creative, Traditional, and Judge's Choice, which is basically a catch-all category because I couldn't think of a proper third one.
    • Each first place winner will each receive a $25 gift card, and I will donate $100 to a charity of their choice.
    • An indeterminate number of Honorable Mentions will receive mention. Also honor.
  7. I will act as sole judge, and select the winning haiku based on the aforementioned criteria, as well as other criteria I make up as I go along. All decisions are final, and will not be changed under any circumstances, unless I decide I was just being sarcastic the first time around.

* For reference, previous themes were: ninja, pirates, robots, space, the ocean, heroes & villains, science, the wild west, and magic.

Tuesday, February 18, 2020


Today would have been my mom's 75th birthday.

For those who don't know, my mother passed away Thanksgiving morning, after a far-too-short battle with leukemia.

I won't recap her life story here, since my sister already did a phenomenal job of that in her obituary. Instead, I want to give you a taste of who she was.

Anita "Liar Woman" Wilson (I'll get to the nickname later) was one of the most selfless people I've ever known. She and my dad took in 5 foster children (adopting 1), and raised 13 puppies to be seeing-eye dogs (adopting 3 who didn't make the cut). She volunteered for countless organizations, not just offering her time, but often acting as treasurer, president, or some officer in between. She donated to all manner of charities. She gave blood till they wouldn't accept it anymore.

With us, she was even more generous. Many parents chauffeur their kids around, but she was my driver early every Sunday morning for 5 years as I delivered newspapers. She asked nothing in return. I know I didn't thank her nearly enough. I was a teenager.

After my son was born, my mom watched him two days a week for us, instilling in him her love of reading as she'd done for me decades before. And she almost never said no to a babysitting gig for her grandkids, even if it inconvenienced her. We tried not to take advantage of this fact. We mostly succeeded.

You know, I can't recall my mom ever saying something mean or vindictive about another person. (Well, perhaps about one specific politician... but never another person.) And she never swore, at least not in the presence of her children. Only once in my life did I hear her use even mild profanity, and that was right near the end, when I asked how she felt that day.

Of course, she wasn't a saint. (For one thing, she was Jewish.) Obituaries may be glowing on all accounts, but this is not an obituary. My mom had her faults.

For instance, she was terrible and being a Jewish grandmother. Don't get me wrong—she was a fantastic grandmother. We'd leave my son with her for the afternoon, and they'd play games and read dozens of books, possibly dozens of times. But would she try to feed him, even once? Nope.

On the topic of food, to this day I have a strange affinity for slightly overcooked vegetables. Especially broccoli. Thanks, mom.

And then there's all the stuff. You see, my mother was an amateur hoarder. Not a professional hoarder like you see on TV, but enough to lead to piles of newspapers and magazines and dangerous stacks of books atop bookcases. (She planned to read those later, but was always too busy volunteering.) Thanks to her charitable donations, she was inundated with free calendars, greeting cards, and mailing labels... none of which she threw away. Sure, her tendencies meant she kept our stories and drawings going all the way back to kindergarten, but it also meant she kept our clothes and our toys and our games. Oh, and one drawer in her jewelry box? Completely filled with baby teeth.

Okay, now you have a sense of my mother, the good and the bad. All that's left is the nickname.

I can't think of any lies she truly told, apart from that nonsense about the tooth fairy. But in the early 1990s, our family took a trip to Israel. In Old Jerusalem, my mom took some photographs of the Dome of the Rock, and a man nearby (who had previously tried to get us to pay him for a tour) began yelling not to take pictures of the Muslim women. She said she wasn't. He swore she was. They argued for a short while, eventually escalating to him proclaiming at the top of his lungs, "You are a liar woman! LIAR WOMAN!" Needless to say, we didn't stick around after that. (But of course, the nickname did.)

The last words I heard that liar woman speak were to my son, as we left the hospital near the end. I'll close with them, since they're also fitting for how I feel about you, dear readers:

"I love you, too."