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HSA Best Unpublished Haibun Award Collection

See the contest rules for the HSA Best Unpublished Haiku award.

Winners by Year: 2012 | 2011 |



The judge for the 2012 competition was Roberta Beary.
See 2012 judges' comments.


First Prize:


Forty years ago, right after the breakup, I cut her out of the photo and then rounded the edges to make it appear complete. The other day I showed it to my students. One said he bet I had a lot of girlfriends Yeah, but not the one I wanted.

nightcap the hazy moon

Tom Painting

Second Prize:


And there passes in front of my inner eye a bird's view of the backyard where I grew up. In the early 1950's my parents purchased a small concrete home in a new subdivision built on the former estate of a grand Philadelphia family. At the top of our road stood the towering entrance gates to the mansion that lay crumbling on a farther hill. Between those two pillars of decayed opulence, I inhabited another wealth, the kind a child makes of a small rectangular piece of land, limned by chain link fence and honeysuckle vines. Say summer and the cut grass stains the feet green. Say summer and bees buzz in the clover. If only I had a bee of my very own, I might live just there on the rolling cusp of its drawn-out drone. I hunker by the pinkest white clover I can find, ready with a small plastic tub to trap the plumpest bumblebee, ready, too, for the chance of its sting.

safe beneath the picnic table
        the lightning in me

Michele Root-Bernstein

Third Prize:


My father reclines in his La-Z-Boy, the afghan pulled up over his head like a burial shroud. His lighter, ashtray, cigarettes, inhaler and oxygen tank are within reach. His nicotine-stained fingers—the color of sausages gone bad—twitch as he dreams.

He is 8-years old, behind the barn with his cousins Donny and Marvin in Yale, Michigan. Donny, three years his senior, clumsily rolls a cigarette, mimicking the moves of their grandfather. He licks the paper and pulls a piece of tobacco from his tongue, flicking it to the ground. Donny hands the gnarled thing to Marvin, the second oldest, who lights it. He takes a puff but doesn't inhale. He hands the cig to my dad who inhales deeply, filling his 8-year-old lungs. He doesn't cough. He exhales slowly and smiles.

My father awakens, turns off the oxygen tank and reaches for his cigarettes. The smoke fills his 72-year old lungs. He exhales, coughs, and reaches for his inhaler.

autumn mist
mom changes the ending
of the fairy tale

Terri L. French

Honorable Mention:


still-born sister
the moonlight
in her room
winter moon
the loneliness
of every stone
So you have come again called by the soothing carve of marble to make presence before my headstone's edge. Far off the stars, faint pulses, hallow this husk of a moon, but move towards me now, my pining ground. A patient sister I wait for you, walk catacombs of earth and air, prepare for your leaving breath when I'll tell, brother, my story of being still-born. This plot where you kneel soaks in more memory, more snow, but keep close, listen, cup in your hands this night of chilled silence, small acreage of my dying.
  reading old headstones
crow caws carried
on the wind
winter's shifting wind . . .
the words
I didn't say

Mark Smith


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