When the history of the Great Pandemic of 2020 is written, I hope it will be noted that “coronavirus” has five syllables. I mention this because that makes the word uniquely suited for a haiku, the poem that in English has lines of five, seven and five syllables. For example:

Novel coronavirus.


When I announced my annual Springtime in Washington Haiku Contest in early March, we were still figuring out what the novel coronavirus would mean for us. Perhaps we still are. But there’s no doubt that the idea of the virus had already infected many people, even if its actual strands of RNA hadn’t. Many of the entries in this year’s contest referenced the pandemic and how it’s affecting Washington.

I picked some of those to publish, because they do a good job of encapsulating the weirdness of Washington in the spring of 2020. In the end, though, I picked a virus-free haiku as my favorite. It was written by Kim Baer of Woodbridge:

Blossoms swirl and dance

white like snowflakes, hopeful as

bridal confetti.

Kim’s haiku strikes an optimistic tone that we can really use. I know I can, at least.

“It’s probably optimistic because I wrote it last year,” said Kim. She was too late to enter my 2019 haiku contest so squirreled it away until this year.

“I live near Occoquan,” said Kim, 63. “I was outside walking. One street has a row of blossoming trees and the blossoms were raining down on me. It seemed like confetti.”

Kim is an editor. She’s a writer, too. Her first book — a paranormal young adult novel called “The Haunted Purse” — was just accepted for publication.

Her office is in Springfield, but she’s been working at home for the past two weeks.

“I tend to go stir-crazy,” she said. “I try to get out every day, see those blossoms and get some sunshine.”

Part of Kim’s prize is lunch on me. Who knows when that might happen.

“If this goes on,” she said, “we can always make it a virtual lunch.”

Here are my other favorite entries. Thank you to everyone who participated.

The calendar says

Spring has come to Washington,

But when was winter?

Howard Walderman, Columbia

a line of tourists

outside the Smithsonian

umbrellas blossom

Jean Aloe, Arlington

Flashes of gray fuzz

Corkscrew around a tree trunk

Squirrels are seeking mates

Larry Powers, Springfield

Warm and early Spring,

Could it just be the hot air

Coming from Congress?

Hunter Wagner, Arlington

Springtime reassures —

daffodils, ducklings, peepers-

as I hoard canned soup.

P. Stone, Bethesda

Gift of the virus?

Free mind-space to contemplate


Jill P. Strachan, Washington

Trapped behind glass walls

Watching buds emerge from trees

When will we break free?

Alexandra Valdez


Can’t kill the cherry blossoms

Spring came anyway

Jo Ann York, Germantown

Blossoms in full bloom

Whispering into the breeze

Social distance please.

Kheminder Chadda, Rockville

Cherry blossom buds

Do they hear someone coughing?

Better to stay shut!

Marilyn Berger, Kensington

Smithsonian, closed.

Nature’s palette of pink paints

A Monet landscape.

Karen Lippold, Bethesda

The Sun’s warm caress,

Gently touching our faces,

While we now cannot.

Madeline Bauserman, Washington

Blossoms still bloom while

Unprecedented ills go


Dan Wittenberg, Bethesda

Let me spell it out:


I’m a stable one!

Mike Creveling, La Plata, Md.

First impeachment, then

Covid-19 quarantines.

O Nats, we miss you!

Bob Dardano, Washington

Winter never came

And now we search for hand wipes

What next I wonder?

Paul Dennett, Washington

Vaccine’s coming soon

Don’t hold your collective breath

Or maybe you should

Mike McNamara, Springfield

I’m not really sick

It’s just a really bad cold


Zané Meredith

At Dupont Circle:

Why’s the escalator off?

So many steps up!

Robert Tannenbaum, Lexington, Ky.

A sea of traffic

I am swimming each weekday

Washing up to work

Sheila Lamb, Springfield

A deadly virus

Cherry blossoms out too soon

Spring needs a re-boot.

Miriam E. Tucker, Bethesda

Twitter: @johnkelly

For previous columns, visit washingtonpost.com/john-kelly.