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HAIKU DIALOGUE – Facial Expressions – contempt/disgust (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 Guy.com

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 contempt/disgust:

dismissal
the faces they make through
back bus windows

John Pappas
United States

 

cardboard effigy
she discovers who I am
kissing in the rain

John Hawkhead
UK

 

eighties hair-dos
her sideways glance
at my flat bangs

Jackie Chou
United States

 

counting the pennies
the beggar turns up his nose
to foreign coins

Marilyn Ward
Lincolnshire UK

 

white lies your shaven-lipped look

Alan Peat
Biddulph, United Kingdom

 

holding breaths
nearing the trash bin
ripening belly

Nitu Yumnam
India

 

parent conference
the constant eye rolls
of a teenager

Eavonka Ettinger
Long Beach, CA

 

verbal abuse…
gazing into the small blue
between grey clouds

Keiko Izawa
Japan

 

I choke on vomit
as I clear the litter tray
what we do for love

Jenny Shepherd
London, UK

 

ume blossom
with a frown, he permits us
to live with him

Richa Sharma
India

 

complete mess
deeper wrinkles upon
granny’s forehead

Chen Xiaoou
Kunming, China

 

accused spy
in the courtroom
sneers and boos

Neena Singh
India

 

curling his lip
that wordless scorn
always stings

Tracy Davidson
Warwickshire, UK

 

puckering my lips
I suck on lemon rind
your lips souring mine

Bonnie J Scherer
Alaska USA

 

durian
her crinkled nose
at the first slice

Bryan Rickert
Belleville, Illinois

 

rolling her eyes
at my imperfect cake —
stepmom

Mona Bedi
Delhi, India

 

testing a jellyfish
with my foot—
the quiver

Tony Williams
Scotland, UK

 

wrinkled nose
my cat’s eyes
smell fish

Jharna Sanyal
India

 

mama copies
the crinkled snout…
stench of war news

Suraj Nanu
India

 

holding my breath
at the lunch date
anchovies

Lori Kiefer
UK

 

holding my nose
the diner at the next table
belches loudly !

Minal Sarosh
Ahmedabad, India

 

squabbling again …
a scornful grimace
distorts her face

Natalia Kuznetsova
Russia

 

a slight lift
of one eyebrow—
her dad’s bawdy joke

Ingrid Baluchi
North Macedonia

 

annual grimace
no raise again
this year

Susan Burch
Hagerstown, MD

 

family drama I grit my teeth at mom’s performance

Eleanor Dean
Massachusetts, United States

 

a rainy day
at the seaside resort
faces full of scowls

Richard Straw
Cary, North Carolina

 

eyes squeezed shut
rows of preemies
denied heat

Caroline Giles Banks
Minneapolis, Minnesota, USA

 

her upper lip
slowly curling up
mansplaining

Padma Rajeswari
Mumbai, India

 

the acrid taste of smog
a blech
in my burning throat

Sangita Kalarickal
United States

 

he forgets his pills
for the third time—
her eyeroll

Elizabeth Shack
Illinois

 

nauseating
ensanguined barbie
beside her body

Vipanjeet Kaur
India

 

get-together…
the pulled down eyebrows
of an aunt

Amoolya Kamalnath
India

 

morning yoga –
the cat blinks in disdain
at my downward dog

Annie Wilson
Shropshire, UK

 

lowered eyebrows
his tale of last night
full of wrinkles

Richard L. Matta
San Diego, California USA

 

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: 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.

This Post Has 12 Comments

  1. scorn drips through the seams
    of your tightly stitched disdain
    sounds is superfluous

    the turned shoulder of
    a cat’s peculiar stillness
    exudes disdain

  2. Thank you, Hifsa and Arvinder, for including my words. Grateful for the opportunity.

    Loved everyone’s poem, especially these:

    dismissal
    the faces they make through
    back bus windows

    John Pappas
    United States

    family drama I grit my teeth at mom’s performance

    Eleanor Dean
    Massachusetts, United States

    Congratulations to all featured!

  3. Thank you so much, Arvinder and Hifsa for selecting my ku! However it’s not a belch but a blech, maybe it got autocorrected! 😄

    the acrid taste of smog
    a blech
    in my burning throat

    Loved all the selections, especially I loved Eavonka’s teenager’s eyeroll at the parent conference and Annie’s cat at her downward dog! Thank you!

  4. Thank you so much, Hifsa and Arvinder for including my poem this week. I was so impressed with how easily I understood the facial expressions expressed in each.

    I was particularly struck by this poem because I have felt humored and bullied by this very thing throughout my life!

    dismissal
    the faces they make through
    back bus windows

    John Pappas
    United States

  5. So many situations here warranting facial signs of contempt or disgust, some amusing, some not so, and all recognizable in our varied human ways.
    Eye-rolling as a gesture has apparently been around since the 16th century, Shakespeare using it occasionally to show lust or passion. In our day, I think not!

    parent conference
    the constant eye rolls
    of a teenager

    Eavonka Ettinger
    Long Beach, CA

    Oh, just so annoying!
    ….
    And this situation so sad . . . and avoidable:

    eyes squeezed shut
    rows of preemies
    denied heat

    Caroline Giles Banks
    Minneapolis, Minnesota, USA

    Thank you, Hifsa and Arvinder, for including mine in this selection.

    1. Thanks for mentioning my poem, Ingrid. As a teacher of 13 year olds, I admit that I probably eye rolled as much as they did. 😂

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