April 02, 2013

Name: Charlie Sherpa
Previously embedded: with former unit in Afghanistan
Hometown: Boone, Iowa
Milblog: Red Bull Rising

The winners of "Boonie's Haiku Contest" are announced below. More than 50 entries were considered.

During judging, names were removed from entries. The judges looked first for strict adherence to the 17-syllable format specified in the contest rules (lines of 5, 7, and 5 syllables), then moved on to consider questions of how the poems evoked nature and deployed military life. The best created a surprise of recognition.


First place goes to Mariecor Ruediger, who will receive a $200 boxed set of "China Beach," soon to be released for the first time on DVD. (Due to music rights issues, it was never released on VHS.) Here is the winning entry:

        One bare Huế tree
        Shields a tower position;
        Home is far away.

The judges said: "We liked how the reader is left to determine whether the tree shades the guard tower, provides cover for it, or potentially blocks its view. We also liked how the poem suggested Vietnam."


Second place goes to John Mittle, who will receive an autographed and personalized edition of David Abrams' 2012 novel Fobbit. Mittle is a contributor to The Duffel Blog.

        From dusk until dawn
        fighting from my cozy desk,
        Bronze Star on the way.

The judges said: "The 'on the way' cracked us up! So did the sudden idea of the Bronze Star as either wishing star or morning star."


Third place goes to Joseph Davidovski, who will receive a "Blue Falcon" coffee mug designed by Doctrine Man!

        Sandstorm blocks out sun
        Birds, vics, talibs stay quiet
        Still the slides march on

The judges said: "Anyone who has weathered the 'red air' of a no-fly situation will recognize how nature can stop everything but PowerPoint and a staff meeting."


One entry, from tgdrakes, practically created its own category, generated by the power of its laugh-out-loud gravitas. It will be appropriately (?!) recognized with a separate Doctrine Man! Blue Falcon coffee mug.

        Sh-- in the shower?
        Why in the f--- would someone
        Sh-- in the shower?

The judges said: "Profound. Profane. And, in many ways, a nearly perfect description of the challenges of FOB life."

 * * * * * * *

Honorable mentions included the following, presented here in random order:

By Mariecor Ruediger:

        Bleak like grim winter
        Combat makes me spring then fall:
        This ain't no picnic.

The judges said: "This one sneaks up on you, like old age and bad knees." 


By NavyOne:

        Sprint in a flightsuit
        Long tarmac, rip my crotch
        Warm Iraqi breezes

The judges said: "This is an effective reminder of why 'going commando' is never a good idea, even when wearing Nomex. It also makes us want to sing the theme to 'Born Free'!"


By Travis Martin, founding editor of The Journal of Military Experience:

        OD green stretches
        White salt stains: Chalk-lined soldiers
        Echo restless sleep.

The judges said: "Anyone who has spent a hot, sweaty night on a transient-tent Army cot will recognize the salty-shadowy outlines evoked by this writer."


By Nate Didier:

        COP Kalagush night
        Raining rockets again right?
        Commando will fight!

The judges said: "Rhymes and references to Red Bull territory downrange in 2010-2011 Afghanistan! In this case, 'Commando' is a 1st Battalion, 133rd Infantry Regiment call sign. 'Attack! Attack! Attack!'"


By mil-blogger America's SgtMaj:

        Silly pogue don't know
        Gunslingers don't drink lattes
        Macchiato sir?

The judges said: "Eskimos allegedly have 17 different words for snow. We imagine there are also 17 different ways to pronounce the 'sir' in this poem, each with its own unique flavor. And sprinkles of sarcasm."


By Tim Kindred:

        My mind thinks of home
        I'd love a beer and Maid-Rite
        Not an MRE

The judges said: "Bonus points for using juxtaposing an acronym and a much-beloved Midwestern brand!"


By Scott McDaniel:

        Where is the Kandak?
        Alone at the command post.
        Oh, it's Thursday night!

The judges said: "We think this lonely letter from an Embedded Training Team member is potentially the first time that 'Man-love Thursday' has been recorded in Western war-poetry!"


By Jim Keirsey:

        Eight deployments down
        most surreal thing I've seen is
        KAF's TGIF

The judges said: "This is the most adept use of acronyms we've seen! And it alludes to the carnival vibe some got from seeing a T.G.I. Fridays restaurant on a downrange boardwalk."


By Raj Bose:

        Nodding a smile to the guards
        Through the barbed wire fence

The judges said: "This, like the Mona Lisa, was nicely ... enigmatic. And universal."


By "Dark Laughter" at The Duffel Blog:

        This summer sandstorm
        Couldn’t blind the first sergeant
        To my day-old shave.

The judges said: "This is beautiful! It places the reader in both time and place, and also feels a bit like a Burma-Shave ditty."


By Krystal Miga:

        Oh it’s you again
        Working, living, together
        It’s like we’re married

The judges said: "This writer found a memorable new way to evoke the ideas of 'Groundhog Day' and the 'downrange spouse.' If you have to ask what that means, don't ask."


Finally, a bonus quasi-entry from cp3002, commenting at Tom Ricks' The Best Defense blog:

        An empty Rip-It
        held to your ear in Helmand
        sounds like the ocean.

The judges said: "Marines love the sound of the sea!"


Note: This content regarding military writing is underwritten by Victor Ian LLC, a military media and gaming business. The business publishes Lanterloon, an eclectic lifestyle, technology, and military blog; has a physical retail storefront called "Dragons and Dragoons" located in Colorado Springs, Colo.; and hosts military-writing workshops and other events under the "Sangria Summit" brand name.


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