I would say there were two themes in this year’s D.C. springtime haiku contest. The first is that spring 2018 strikes a lot of us as especially fickle: less dependable than we might like it. The second is that it’s hard to concentrate on the season when everything else in Washington is so . . .well, you know.

But the best poetry has a bit of tension. And a good haiku expresses a certain evanescence.

There were a lot of wonderful entries this year. My favorite was written by Elizabeth Soyster of Gibson Island, Md.:

Frothy pink blossoms

Like southern belles’ petticoats

Soon gone with the wind.

Elizabeth can look out at two cherry trees from her home on Gibson Island, a charming little uvula of land that hangs down into the western side of the Chesapeake Bay, not far from the Bay Bridge. Her weeping cherry has just started to bloom. Her big double-blossoming cherry isn’t doing much of anything yet.

That seems to be a common experience this year: confused trees.

Elizabeth is a retired State Department employee. She wrote her first haiku when she was a student at the Madeira School in Northern Virginia. She actually composed her winning poem years ago for a contest she ended up not entering.

She told me she couldn’t remember exactly how it started, but she had that Margaret Mitchell-esque kicker, and it was easy enough to reconstruct the missing syllables.

Congratulations to Elizabeth. And thank you to everyone who entered the contest. Here are some of my other favorites:

A tow path cycler

Slows to glimpse a heron and

Count turtles on logs

— Karen Buglass,

Rockville, Md.

Spring is a lady

we read about in stories.

Will she really come?

— Sarah Yerkes, Washington

A warm spell in March

seduces cherry blossoms.

Next day, a “Gotcha!”

— Kazimieras M. Campe, Edgewater, Md.

Delicate white flecks

Drift to the basin. Blossoms?

No, just spring snowfall

— Alex Shoup, Alexandria, Va.

Sunday: got sunburned

Wednesday: snow emergency

Springtime in D.C.

— Annette Thomson, Washington

snowflakes drift downward

alighting on fresh blossoms

Earth turns in reverse

— Erik Metz, Ellicott City, Md.

Cherry blossoms pause

waiting for sun and warm air.


— Ann Gaffey, Arlington, Va.

Spring teases D.C.

Snow showers open blossoms

Then taunt, “Doors closing.”

— Lois F. Morris,

Silver Spring, Md.

Cherry blossoms: when?

The festival planners guess,

But the trees decide.

— Janet Millenson,

Potomac, Md.

When we thought it time

to feel warm air on our skin:


— Cameron Kuklick,

Ashburn, Va.

Soft, white flakes hide pink

Of fresh magnolia buds:

Lord’s powdered-frosting.

— J. Tucker, McLean, Va.

Crocuses peek out

Snow-tinged petals quivering

Waiting spring’s return

— Miriam Ruff, Silver Spring

Burleith in the spring

Azalea and daffodil

A row house garden

— Carolyn Grassel,

Silver Spring

Traffic circle horse

Stone faced soldier listening

Hears but cannot talk

— Anne Fox,

Chevy Chase, Md.

Murmurating birds

Stone monuments pink in tinge

Feathers on green grass

— Lucie Lehmann, Annapolis

Outside my Giant

the trill of birds — no, Girl Scouts

in cookie season

— Gretchen Smith Mui, Silver Spring

D.C. spring brings forth

Sunlight, short sleeves, birds, crabgrass,

And busted brackets.

— Lisa Goenner,

Bethesda, Md.

Spring spawns March Madness,

But for D.C. commuters

Each day is madness.

— Howard Walderman,

Columbia, Md.

Do things seem especially mad these days? In tomorrow’s column I’ll share some reader haikus that don’t shy away from tough topics, whether that means an embattled president, terrible traffic or seed-stealing squirrels.

Twitter: @johnkelly

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