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HAIKU DIALOGUE – All the World’s a Stage – curtain call – long list

All the World’s a Stage with Guest Editor Alex Fyffe

Welcome to this month’s performance of Haiku Dialogue! Tonight’s program will begin shortly. There will be a brief intermission between acts, and we ask that you stick around until the final curtain call to support the performers. We hope you enjoy the show!

That’s right: The inspiration for the next few weeks is going to come from theatrical terms. Although one might not associate haiku with theatricality, I think that terms like “intermission,” for example, can inspire a whole folio of ideas for haiku poets to explore.

Below is Alex’s selection of poems on the topic of curtain call:

God the actor-
by the curtain call
he was in the bar

Sarah Davies
Bedford, UK

 

a band plays
at grandpa’s wake —
curtain call

Lorelyn De la Cruz Arevalo
Bombon, Philippines

 

graveside service
the curtain call before
silence takes center stage

Stephen A Peters
Bellingham, Washington

 

treatment ends
I receive a
bouquet of time

Christopher Seep
USA

 

poetry reading
a standing ovation
for her cupcakes

Randy Brooks
Taylorville, Illinois

 

a false performance
half his life
now he comes out

Ann Rawson
Scotland, UK

 

clean out
a mummified lady bug
between old books

Deborah Karl-Brandt
Germany

 

needing no applause
after tumbling on the ice
I brush myself off

Mike Stinson
Nebraska, USA

 

seventh month
into his seventh marriage
curtain call

Seretta Martin
California, USA

 

Curtain call –
moon behind a cloud
keeping us waiting

Caroline Ridley-Duff
UK

 

no tread left
the fairy queen
wakes up

Jerome Berglund
USA

 

his final grande geste –
to stamp on the photo
I’ve glued to the wall

Penny Lowery
Devon, UK

 

old window–
no one knew it was
his last performance

Lafcadio
USA

 

star attraction
for each curtain call
the sun bows low

Eavonka Ettinger
Long Beach, California

 

curtain call
playing a jolly tune
for my glide away

John Hawkhead
UK

 

he tucks her cell phone
into her coffin
just in case

Cindy Putnam Guentherman
Loves Park, Illinois

 

bit player
takes a final bow…
on dark days

Stephen J. DeGuire
Los Angeles, California

 

on the verge
of leaving…
fifth curtain call

Keiko Izawa
Japan

 

last bow
on the ballerina’s wings
a glint of gold

Lorraine Haig
Australia

 

display of fireworks
without encore
scattered stars

Teiichi Suzuki
Japan

 

his last curtain call
…makeup free

Margaret Mahony
Australia

 

David and Lisa
wishing my madness
was only an act

(“David and Lisa” – a play about mental illness)

Jackie Chou
USA

 

no standing ovation I forget to play myself

Shloka Shankar
India

 

surviving capitalism wildflowers in winter

Dr. Vidya Premkumar
India

 

after every
curtain call
self-doubt

Vandana Parashar
India

 

standing ovation
before the exit
his salute

Vishnu Kapoor
Chennai, India

 

wrapping up. . .
the blue hyacinth
of dad’s apology

Lori Kiefer
UK

 

lowering skies
maybe the last time
I get to feel rain

Keith Evetts
Thames Ditton, UK

 

curtain call
at the Pearly Gate
karma scroll

Neena Singh
India

 

his last bow
the curtain closes behind
the sliding coffin

Jenny Shepherd
London, UK

 

I take down
the curtain at the kitchen window…
magnolia moon

Steliana Cristina Voicu
Ploiesti, Romania

 

on the stage
after the final act
Juliet’s toddler

Ravi Kiran
India

 

the felled tree’s
new shoots –
full flower moon

Deborah A. Bennett
Illinois, USA

 

drawing the curtains
I see Birnam Wood
outside my window

Adele Evershed
Wilton, Connecticut

 

Ramayana
the demon king bags
all the applause

Teji Sethi
Bangalore, India

 

grade school play
rocks, trees, and birds
the first to bow

Bryan Rickert
Belleville, Illinois

 

end of drama
with no curtain call –
divorce decree

Natalia Kuznetsova
Russia

 

the wolf moon
beaches the bluebottles
curtain call

marilyn ashbaugh
Gulf Stream, Florida

 

last faculty meeting
before retirement
a new agenda

Sari Grandstaff
Saugerties, New York

 

funeral service-
watching a squirrel jumping
from bough to bough

Ram Chandran
India

 

old rose bushes —
my gnarled thumbs said farewell
with late Brahms

Alfred Booth
Lyon, France

 

curtain call
the Thane of Cawdor
smiles at dave

Herb Tate
Jersey, UK

 

gram’s warm cookies
now robed she leaves a last
goodnight smile

Richard L. Matta
San Diego, California

 

curtain call
the temptation too great
for the kitten

Jenn Ryan-Jauregui
Tucson, Arizona

 

end of the day –
shadows of the trees
behind the curtains

Daniela Misso
Italy

 

dying swan
still on tiptoes she dips
to the applause

Pris Campbell
USA

 

seed-paper heart
come June a memorial
in my garden

Maxianne Berger
Outremont, Quebec

 

ice storm
in April
winter’s curtain call

Susan Farner
USA

 

opened & closed
the morning glory
without an audience

wendy c. bialek
Arizona, USA

 

afterparty . . .
another act
beneath the masks

Ivan Gaćina
Zadar, Croatia

 

nine eleven …
again, we call out
their names

Archie Carlos
Minnesota, USA

 

nomad wedding rug
two peacocks strut
and bow to each other

Kathabela Wilson
California, USA

 

felled giant redwood
my father in surgery

Kimberly Kuchar
Austin, Texas

 

waiting for the curtain call
to count the stars
with her dead father

Swarna Bopali de Zoysa
Sri Lanka

 

curtain call
her eyelids lift
for the last time

simonj
UK

 

a burned-out candle
the curtain
no longer opens

Shizuku Tsukino
Japan

 

cut flowers
at curtain call–
the cast still half made-up

Laurie Greer
Washington, DC

 

after him
the eulogy he pined for —
autumn dusk

Mona Bedi
Delhi, India

 

winter dreams–
that flicker of light within
the final frame

Jonathan English
Washington, DC

 

taking a bow
the backlit tassels
of last summer’s weeds

Cynthia Anderson
Yucca Valley, California

 

curtain call–
Iago and Othello
bowing together

Ruth Holzer
Herndon, Virginia

 

all the dead
holding hands
curtain call

John S Green
Cairo, Egypt

 

ultimo inchino –
Giulietta sorride al marito
in prima fila

last bow –
Juliet smiles at her husband
in the front row

Giuliana Ravaglia
Bologna, Italy

 

curtain call
Hamlet and Ophelia
finally holding hands

Marianne Sahlin
Sweden

 

dugout steps
the old home run hitter
raises his cap

Richard Straw
Cary, North Carolina

 

Crickets
take a curtain call
dewdrops in moonlight

Apsara Perera
Sri Lanka

 

standing ovation
for the ensemble
–our town

Nancy Brady
Huron, Ohio

 

battle of glory
the soldier’s curtain falls
without a speech

Chen Xiaoou
Kunming, China

 

encore crocus after the snowmelt

Sangita Kalarickal
USA

 

flocking
behind the curtain
fresh snow

Mariel Herbert
California, USA

 

squirrel-proof feeders
the bushy tailed acrobat
comes back for more

Vivien Eliades
Brighton, UK

 

nursing home
behind the curtain
still her hand

Refika Dedić
Bosnia and Herzegovina

 

fallen faces… mom and dad show up together

Vishal Prabhu
India

 

swans on the lake
the old ballerina applauds
again and again

Mirela Brailean
Iasi, Romania

 

one more waterfall—
taking the scenic route
back to the airport

Julie Bloss Kelsey
Germantown, Maryland

 

curtain call
a poor player
struts upon the stage

Sarah E. Metzler
Pennsylvania, USA

 

all the leaves are off
their place is taken
by a blackbird song

Zelyko Funda
Varazdin, Croatia

 

she
becomes they
curtain call

Ann Sullivan
Massachusetts, USA

 

our troupe
of rejected lovers
smiling orchids

Richa Sharma
India

 

final curtain we clap skins between worlds

Ella Aboutboul
West Sussex, UK

 

setting sun …
I take your goodbye kiss
home with me

Annie Wilson
Shropshire, UK

 

one final
curtain call . . .
hospice center

Valentina Ranaldi-Adams
Fairlawn, Ohio USA

 

mystical moon
we are the actors
before the curtain

Minko Tanev
Bulgaria

 

nurse log’s encore
nuthatch hops among
the seedlings

Alan Harvey
Tacoma, Washington

 

curtain call
the smell of roses and
perspiration

Margie Gustafson
Lombard, Illinois

 

can’t make the curtain call –
my persona still stuck
to my dress

Cristina Povero
Italy

 

growing light in your passing outside

C.X. Turner
UK

 

won’t go to sleep
til I hear him again
spotted owl

Margaret Tau
New Bern, North Carolina

 

alone
in the mirror
I practice his smile

Evan Spivack
Teaneck, New Jersey

 

Join us next week for Alex’s commentary on additional poems…

 

Guest Editor Alex Fyffe teaches high school English in the Houston area. His haiku and senryu have been published in various journals, including Frogpond, Modern Haiku, Failed Haiku, Akitsu Quarterly, and the Asahi Haikuist Network. Some of his favorite short form poets include Issa, whose work he discovered in the intermediate Japanese textbook he used while studying in Hikone, Japan, and Santoka, whose writing introduced him to the liberating concept of “freeform haiku.” Currently, Alex uses haiku in the classroom to ease students into poetry and build their confidence as readers and writers. Alex also posts haiku, including translations of contemporary Japanese haiku, on Twitter @AsurasHaiku.

Lori Zajkowski is the Post Manager for Haiku Dialogue. A novice haiku poet, she lives in New York City.

Managing Editor Katherine Munro lives in Whitehorse, Yukon Territory, and publishes under the name kjmunro. She is Membership Secretary for Haiku Canada, and her debut poetry collection is contractions (Red Moon Press, 2019). Find her at: kjmunro1560.wordpress.com.

The Haiku Foundation reminds you that participation in our offerings assumes respectful and appropriate behavior from all parties. Please see our Code of Conduct policy.

Please note that all poems & images appearing in Haiku Dialogue may not be used elsewhere without express permission – copyright is retained by the creators. Please see our Copyright Policies.

Haiku Dialogue offers a triweekly prompt for practicing your haiku. Posts appear each Wednesday with a prompt or a selection of poems from a previous week.

This Post Has 31 Comments

  1. thank you alex and all the people behind stage for including my offer amongst these highly kudos-worthy works.

    i love this senryu….the humour and how it updates previous historical customs and remedies….for the ‘just in case’

    he tucks her cell phone
    into her coffin
    just in case
    —Cindy Putnam Guentherman

  2. Thank you Sari and Alex for your comments.
    The haiku highlights a troubling dilemma for
    those involved.

  3. All the World’s a Stage is certainly true of haiku poets, too. As I was writing a blog post about this week’s list, I realized that five continents and twenty different countries were represented in this list.

    Using Eavonka Ettinger’s haiku:
    star attraction
    for each curtain call
    the sun bows low

    Eavonka Ettinger
    the sun is constantly bowing to the poets as the earth moves around it.

    As many unique takes of the prompt as the countries the poets represent. If only the world could take up haiku as a discipline, maybe there would be global peace, but I digress.

    1. I feel deeply honored to have you use my poem to express this sentiment, Nan.

      I completely agree that haiku can and does lead to more peace within and without.

  4. I love how this one gives such dignity to a seemingly insignificant life:

    clean out
    a mummified lady bug
    between old books

    Deborah Karl-Brandt
    Germany

  5. drawing the curtains
    I see Birnam Wood
    outside my window

    Adele Evershed
    Wilton, Connecticut

    Of the many excellent verses, this one jumped out to me, waking me up, this muggy, cloudy, morning in Melbourne. (which is about as far from the British Isles as is Wilton, Connecticut.)

    “All the world’s a stage ” , indeed, from a literal theatre’s stage to the protagonist’s bedroom window.

    I like the humour of the reference to the Scottish play (which is certainly not a humorous play). I like the (intended or not) connection between Wilton, Connecticut and Shakespeare’s Scotland via prophesying witches.

    What could “seeing Birnam Wood outside the window” one morning mean? A predicted downfall of some kind, I imagine. Perhaps getting the sack from one’s job? The specifics of this downfall is left to readers. Whatever it is, I like Adele Evershed’s humorous dramatizing of the mundane.

    1. Thank you for commenting on this poem. It certainly has a tongue-in-cheek way of looking at one’s impending doom! That is also what I came away from it thinking. The first sign of the impossible fall — it’s all downhill from here, folks.

      curtain call
      a poor player
      struts upon the stage

      Sarah E. Metzler

      This one pairs well with that one, I think. Both allude to Macbeth realizing the futility of his situation as a way to comment on modern life. In this case, Metzler condenses Macbeth’s “poor player that struts and frets his hour upon the stage and then is heard no more,” his lament that life is short and meaningless, to a kind of mocking jest at the actor on stage who, after the play has ended, is in fact doing just that — strutting upon the stage, perhaps still performing in some way, taking his accolades maybe a little too seriously in contrast to the message of that despairing soliloquy.

    2. Thank you Lorin- your comment made my day!
      There were so many wonderful ku with Shakespeare references. I particularly liked
      curtain call
      Hamlet and Ophelia
      finally holding hands

      Marianne Sahlin
      Sweden

      As it made me smile.
      I was thinking that all us Shakespeare lovers should collaborate on a collection and call it Shakuspeare!

      1. Thank you so much for commenting on my haiku, Adele! I loved your Birnam Wood poem – subtle dark humour at its best. And yes, there is obviously material for a Shakuspeare collection!

      2. Some of those which did refer to Shakespeare slipped through my net due to my ignorance of the work of deceased playwrights! I think I’ve spotted them all now, however.

  6. Thanks Alex for this entertaining selection. I enjoyed looking out for those set during a theatrical curtain call, although I think these were my favourites:

    his last curtain call
    …makeup free

    Margaret Mahony – because I like clowns (my interpretation)

    alone
    in the mirror
    I practice his smile

    Evan Spivack – could be about acting, or something much darker

    1. The Spivack poem makes me think of The Talented Mr. Ripley, so I also immediately went to “something much darker”! Thanks for the comment.

  7. Wow! What a collection of wonderful poems from poets and friends I admire so much. I’m delighted to be among you. Thank you, Alex, for this prompt. It was so inspiring.

    It seemed impossible to find a favorite but then this one lit up the sky:

    display of fireworks
    without encore
    scattered stars

    Teiichi Suzuki
    Japan

  8. Thank you Alex for including my haiku. I thoroughly enjoed reading each and everyone. Congratulations to all poets.

  9. Thanks, Alex. A fine haul!

    Of the comparatively few haiku, I liked:

    taking a bow
    the backlit tassels
    of last summer’s weeds
    —Cynthia Anderson
    A clear picture with movement, allusion (bow, and tassels) and interesting seasonality

    encore crocus after the snowmelt
    —Sangita Kalarickal
    All in that word ‘encore.’

    squirrel-proof feeders
    the bushy tailed acrobat
    comes back for more
    —Vivien Eliades
    This can’t be a purely British problem! We had a whole summer of Man versus Squirrel (Cyril) over the bird feeders a few years ago. His heir this summer beats his chest after raiding the feeder.

    in the haiku/senryu crossover:

    one more waterfall—
    taking the scenic route
    back to the airport
    —Julie Bloss Kelsey

    Most opted for senryu. Amid the flood of death ones, I enjoyed the mix of warm humour, affection and irony in this:

    he tucks her cell phone
    into her coffin
    just in case
    —Cindy Putnam Guentherman
    Noticing the coffin/case as well…

    Several on the theme of characters leaving their stage personas for their real lives, also with haikai humour:

    on the stage
    after the final act
    Juliet’s toddler
    —Ravi Kiran

    And for me, rising above the rest for their detachment and at the same time, depth of meaning (clipped to my little file of faves), these two:

    all the dead
    holding hands
    curtain call
    —John S Green

    she
    becomes they
    curtain call
    —Ann Sullivan

    1. There was a lot of overlap in submissions for this prompt. I accepted quite a few variations on certain topics — it was interesting to see how a prompt can sometimes narrow possibilities by directing people’s minds into particular aisles.

      curtain call
      the Thane of Cawdor
      smiles at dave

      Herb Tate

      curtain call–
      Iago and Othello
      bowing together

      Ruth Holzer

      curtain call
      Hamlet and Ophelia
      finally holding hands

      Marianne Sahlin

      last bow –
      Juliet smiles at her husband
      in the front row

      Giuliana Ravaglia

      There were at least a couple of other submissions that were extremely similar to these ones that didn’t end up making the cut.

      Still, I think there were quite a lot of good takes on the overall theme, and your choices are strong ones. Thank you for the commentary.

      1. Interesting. Thanks, Alex. I think it was an excellent idea for a prompt!

        Of the several where named characters reverted to their everyday lives, I singled out Ravi’s for (what I see as) its other layers: the choice of ‘Juliet’s toddler’ is not only humorous and appealing, but a moment ago the doomed lovers have killed themselves, heightening the contrast. The humour turns to irony on contemplation, the toddler a tragic reminder of what might have been. I think in this instance the ‘third axis’ referencing the great play is used to great effect.

        In others, reconciliation is an uplifting theme.

        Well done all.

      2. Thank you for including my haiku in this great collection, Alex, and for this prompt. I enjoyed all of the poems, but especially those dealing with an actual theatrical experience – I find it fascinating when the line between the play and reality is blurred.

  10. Thank you Alex for including my haiku on the curtain call theme and congratulations to all the poets taking a final bow here! Much appreciation to KJ and Lori for all their tireless efforts on this weekly feature. This haiku particularly struck me. I liked it a lot and an interesting take on the theme:

    a false performance
    half his life
    now he comes out

    Ann Rawson
    Scotland, UK

    1. I like this one, too, and thinks it pairs well with:

      she
      becomes they
      curtain call

      Ann Sullivan

      Really interesting poems about gender for these prompts. I think the theatrical theme certainly lends itself to hidden identities and selves in flux.

  11. For what it’s worth, four of my favorites:
    poetry reading
    a standing ovation
    for her cupcakes

    Randy Brooks
    Taylorsville, Illinois

    curtain call
    the temptation too great
    for the kitten

    Jenn Ryan-Jauregui
    Tucson, Arizona

    grade school play
    rocks, trees, and birds
    the first to bow

    Bryan Rickert
    Belleville, Illinois

    last bow—
    Juliet smiles at her husband
    In the front row

    Giuliana Ravaglia
    Bologna, Italy

    Also, I enjoyed reading the whole lot. Thanks!

  12. My sincere thanks to Alex for selecting my haiku. My thanks also to Kathy, Lori, and the Haiku Foundation for all their behind-the-scene efforts.

  13. What a great collection of haiku! Everyone, take a bow! For a poignant haiku, Valentina Ranaldi -Adams’
    one final
    curtain call . . .
    hospice center
    resonates with me, but then we recently lost a good family friend, who happened to be a thespian among his other civic duties.
    In the same vein, Christopher Seep ‘s haiku
    treatment ends
    I receive a
    bouquet of time
    resonates with me for the same reason. Our friend got more time. Christopher, I wish you a long, long bouquet of time, say 100 years.

    Jenn Ryan-Jauregui’s haiku about her rambunctious tuxedo kitten finding the curtains irresistible just made me smile.
    curtain call
    the temptation too great
    for the kitten

    So many more I love, but I bow out for now. Congrats to all! Thanks to KJ and Lori for your backstage presence, and thanks, Alex, for including my haiku in this collection. It’s appreciated, truly.

    1. Thank you Nancy. Yes my little tuxedo kitten’s antics certainly have provided me with a lot of poetic inspiration of late.

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