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HAIKU DIALOGUE – Facial Expressions – anger (1)

Facial Expressions with Co-Guest Editors Hifsa Ashraf & Arvinder Kaur

Facial expression as non-verbal communication is the most significant way to express emotions. Darwin also considered facial expressions as a significant part of the evolution of communication. We may run short of words, but our face symbolically says a lot. It is said that a person’s eyes can lead us to their heart and soul, something that poets and writers have used to the hilt. Apart from the movement of facial muscles, facial expressions have their own language that varies from culture to culture in terms of their understanding and interpretation. In this era of technology, emoticons are used to convey a range of emotions. In fact, one can safely say that emoticons have softened and lent a personal touch to messages that might otherwise seem dull and drab.

In literature, and especially in poetry, facial expressions have a special place. One can immediately understand the import of the moment if the poet says that her large eyes filled with wonder, a tremulous smile played on her lips and the moon appeared pale. In micropoetry, many famous haiku poets have used facial expressions in their poetry in an interesting way. Some examples from Basho’s poetry:

A sense of terror, fear, or surprise in both poems:

an old river
making big eyes
at the willow

stars in my eyes
wishing to see blossoms
on weeping cherries

Translator: Jane Reichhold
Basho: The Complete Haiku

And Kobayashi Issa used facial expressions in a different way:

autumn wind—
the face of the man
who planted pines

Translator: David Lanoue
Used with permission, Haiku

Many facial expressions have been identified now but we will stick to the basic six facial expressions. And these are happiness, surprise, contempt/disgust, sadness, fear, and anger. You can let your imagination run wild and share some personal experiences or stories, or your observations related to these facial expressions in the weeks to come.

Below is Hifsa’s & Arvinder’s selection of poems on the theme of anger:

a vein
throbs in my temple
burst of rage

Ruth Holzer
Herndon, VA


mackerel sky …
blooming in his eyes

Samo Kreutz
Ljubljana, Slovenia


gaping mouth
and wide eyes
offensive humor

razjapljena usta
i raširene oči
uvredljiv humor

Zdenka Mlinar


dark attic staircase
memories of his drunk stagger
and heavy breathing

Padmini Krishnan
United Arab Emirates


burned pan—
his scrubbing rises
in waves

Biswajit Mishra
Calgary, Canada


livid with rage
my ex from now on –
divorce decree

Natalia Kuznetsova


cigar smoke
on the nature trail–
her face burns with anger

Laurie Greer
Washington, DC


back burning
throughout the night
the heated conversations

wanda amos
Old Bar, Australia


crimson veins of leaf
mother’s wrinkles
amid storm

Nitu Yumnam


chaotic world
the werewolf howls
at the cold moon

Teiichi Suzuki


fireworks night—
we wait for dad
to explode

Adele Evershed
Wilton, Connecticut


muscles tighten
neck veins pop out
restrained silence

Kathleen Mazurowski
Chicago, IL


workday over
he meets my comments
with a grimace

Pris Campbell


gorilla’s grimace
through the glass …
kid poking his finger



angry storm
the shore so near
yet so far

Vandana Parashar


another quarrel
I leave the scene
without a word

Mirela Brailean


grocery store tantrum
the pinched lips
of mom

Peggy Hale Bilbro


manic Monday
the vein in her forehead
about to pop

Susan Burch
Hagerstown, MD


puffing out my cheeks–
a bully takes
my right of way

Helga Stania


my neighbor
scowling at the cat . . .
a shattered pot

il mio vicino
guarda accigliato il gatto . . .
un vaso in frantumi

Daniela Misso
Umbria, Italy


striped carnation
fearing my ire he doesn’t

Richa Sharma


gritted teeth:
Canute’s attempt to hold back
the tide of harsh words

Jenny Shepherd
London, UK


the bull’s flared nostrils-
we take another route
to the pub

Caroline Ridley-Duff


a fiery red horizon in her eyes the lost womanhood

Lakshmi Iyer


her rhythm
on the chopping board
his affair unmasked

Ravi Kiran


before the storm
…his ugly temper

Margaret Mahony


furrowed brow
now I’m afraid to say
the wrong thing

Eavonka Ettinger
Long Beach, CA


hissing geese
blood trickles
from his bit lip

Richard L. Matta
San Diego, California USA


first bubbles
his eyes before
he boils over

John Hawkhead


spit in a test tube diseased mother’s son

Alan Peat
Biddulph, United Kingdom


the masseter ripples greeting the windscreen ticket



scalded milk
mother’s seething scowl
boils over

Jenn Ryan-Jauregui
Tucson, Arizona USA


the old feud
still on her tongue
khola chilli

Daya Bhat


his puckered lips
seal in
his furious words

Ann Rawson


the child
posing on a battle tank
first coldspell

Eva Limbach


gathering storm the depth of his frown lines

Kerry J Heckman
Seattle, WA


my face redder
than falling leaves-
anger rising

Ruth Happel
United States


clenched teeth
the scraping groan
of a snowplow

Margaret Tau
New Bern, North Carolina


dad screams –
child takes star wars collectible
out of original box

Alan Harvey
Tacoma, WA


storm clouds gather
another evening
in silence

Susan Farner


crowded plane
the child returns
my scowl

Richard Straw
Cary, North Carolina


fierce tempest . . .
I raise my hands high
to summon the stars

Ivan Gaćina
Zadar, Croatia


red hot pokers
the way his eyes pierce
right through me

Lori Kiefer


nightfall –
sleep pauses
her anger

Valentina Ranaldi-Adams
Fairlawn, Ohio USA


computer error
i grind what is left
of my teeth

Margie Gustafson
Lombard, IL USA


unspoken words –
a lit fuse burns
beneath my skin

Annie Wilson
Shropshire, UK


deepening furrows…
no space to bury
on both sides

Vipanjeet Kaur


Join us next week for Hifsa’s & Arvinder’s commentary on additional poems, & our next prompt…


Guest Editor Hifsa Ashraf is an award-winning poet, author, editor, and social activist from Rawalpindi, Pakistan. Her work has been widely published. Hifsa is the author of six micropoetry books on gender-based taboos, mental health, socio-cultural, and socio-political issues. She has won The Touchstone Award for Individual Poems 2021 from The Haiku Foundation. She received special mention for her book, Her Fading Henna Tattoo, in the Touchstone Distinguished Books Award 2020 and in the Haiku Society of America Merit Book Award 2021. Her most recent micropoetry collection, hazy crescent moon, is about Islamophobia and is published by Alba Publishing, UK.

Guest Editor Arvinder Kaur, author, translator and an award-winning poet, specializes in English literature and Media Studies. Her haiku have appeared in several international journals. She is the author of four books of micropoetry, two of which are bilingual where she has translated her own work into vernacular. Her books have been very well received in India and abroad. She lives in Chandigarh, India with her family.

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:

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.

This Post Has 10 Comments

  1. So many great haiku again this week.
    I love the metaphor in this one.

    first bubbles
    his eyes before
    he boils over

    John Hawkhead

  2. angry storm
    the shore so near
    yet so far

    Vandana Parashar

    I was especially moved by this verse this week. The image of a current or building argument, the contrast of being physically close yet so emotionally distant.

  3. So many great choices this week, and so emotive. It took me right back to my childhood, on the receiving end of ‘those’ looks.

  4. Many thanks to Hifsa Ashraf and Arvinder Kaur for including my haiku. It’s truly an honour to be featured alongside such exceptional poems.

  5. Thank you for including mine. I especially enjoyed the Humor and Bangles reference of:

    manic Monday
    the vein in her forehead
    about to pop

    Susan Burch

    I also liked the historical reference of:

    gritted teeth:
    Canute’s attempt to hold back
    the tide of harsh words

    Jenny Shepherd

  6. Big thank you to Hifsa and Arvinder for
    including my haiku, enjoying ‘Facial Expressions ’ congrats to all poets.

  7. I found this to be quite challenging so I’m especially grateful that Hifsa and Arvinder selected my poem. I noticed many metaphors today, and I found this one particularly relatable:

    fireworks night—
    we wait for dad
    to explode

    Adele Evershed
    Wilton, Connecticut

    How I wish my childhood had been filled with less anger!

  8. Again not easy to capture facial expressions especially with this week’s theme of anger. I liked the mini-story-with-a-twist of this:-

    grocery store tantrum
    the pinched lips
    of mom

    Peggy Hale Bilbro

    And here the metaphor captures the drama perfectly:-

    scalded milk
    mother’s seething scowl
    boils over

    Jenn Ryan-Jauregui

  9. Many thanks to Hifsa Ashraf and Arvinder Kau for selecting my haiku and for all their efforts on this column. Many thanks also to Lori, Kathy, and the Haiku Foundation. Congrats to all the poets who were selected.

Comments are closed.

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