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HAIKU DIALOGUE – Family Portraits – Portrait Four

Family Portraits with Guest Editor John S Green

For the month of September, a total of five weeks, we will write haiku in response to photographs of human faces – portraits of sorts. These will all be images of my family – hence the title, Family Portraits. This could be termed a photo-haiga exercise – composing a haiku in reaction to a picture.

Often, the instinct is to write a description of the image. However, this is rarely satisfying. From my experience, a poem that connects in a subtle manner is more rewarding. For some excellent examples, please take a look at The Haiku Foundation’s Haiga Galleries.

Many haiga do not mention the scene at all, but simply allude to it via the haiku. The image and the words complement each other. Let’s work on that over the next five weeks. I look forward to your poems.

next week’s theme: Family Portraits – Portrait Five

This black and white photograph could tell a thousand stories. Delve into your imagination and surprise me with your haiku inspired from this final family portrait prompt. Try not to describe the woman and the owl. Rather, express where does this image take you when you close your eyes?

The deadline is midnight Pacific Daylight Time, Saturday October 01, 2022.

Please use the Haiku Dialogue submission form below to enter one or two original unpublished haiku inspired by the week’s theme, and then press Submit to send your entry. (The Submit button will not be available until the Name, Email, and Place of Residence fields are filled in.) With your poem, please include any special formatting requirements & your name & residence as you would like it to appear in the column. A few haiku will be selected for commentary each week. Please note that by submitting, you agree that your work may appear in the column – neither acknowledgment nor acceptance emails will be sent. All communication about the poems that are posted in the column will be added as blog comments.

below is John’s commentary for Portrait Four:

Another terrific week – thanks to all 133 poets who submitted 213 poems from 26 countries. There was a good bit of kissing going on in these haiku . . . hmmm, I wonder why? And canine love, naturally. Although felines made their way into a few poems, and why not?

As you know, you can submit 1 or 2 poems – more than half submit 2. Sometimes both haiku are very good. This is difficult, because I can only choose 1 haiku per person, but it’s a good problem. Here are my comments for 8 favorites:

first after church behind the baptismal kiss

Peggy Hale Bilbro

One-liners or monoku can add an additional dimension to the reading of the poem. This one is a perfect example. After staring at these 7 words, like a 3D puzzle, it came to me. Peggy had interposed ‘after church behind the baptismal’ between ‘first’ and ‘kiss’ or ‘first kiss.’ A brilliant haiku. And a wonderful leap from the photo prompt.

dog star
drinking from the
babbling runlet

petro c. k.
Seattle, Washington

The dog star, or Sirius, is known to be the brightest star in the night sky. A runlet is a small stream. Even though the reflection of the moon has been lyrically overdone, this rings fresh to my senses. Another fine jump from the prompt.

struggling with philemaphobia puppy love

Arvinder Kaur
Chandigarh, India

Arvinder’s 5-word haiku is well executed. Philemaphobia is the fear of kissing. That’s all I needed to know to love this poem.

stillborn aftermath
two furry heads
dozing on her chest

Padmini Krishnan
United Arab Emirates

Wow, a deeply sad poem. Our fur children have a profound sense of emotion, and they respond to it in the only way they know how. Thanks, Padmini, for this incredibly sensitive haiku.

the soft glow
of a crescent moon
the curl of my pet

C.X. Turner
United Kingdom

Entering into the haiku world has changed my life. I notice things that I never would have before. C.X. Turner has demonstrated the depth of becoming a ‘noticer.’

her dog photo
gathers more hearts
than her haiku

Adele Evershed
Wilton, Connecticut

So true! Of course, a cute dog (or cat) will be loved on social media more so than a well-crafted poem. That’s just reality. I also love the alliteration of Adele’s ‘her,’ ‘hearts,’ and ‘haiku.’

answered love the birth of questions

Adrian Bouter
The Netherlands

This one, from Adrian, speaks to me on many levels of my most vivid focus – early childhood education and development. In my opinion, newborns are scientists – curious explorers. If allowed to follow their natural drive, they will, indeed, ask a lot of questions, becoming lifelong learners.

the alarm—
her tongue

P. H. Fischer
Vancouver, Canada

This 5-word poem is similar to Padmini Krishnan’s poem commented on above. Dogs or cats build an innate sense of patterns in a day. They really do know that their human should be getting up soon, and beat the alarm – sometimes by only seconds. Our cat is living proof!

& here are the rest of the selections:

The world inside the world
layer after layer
purple onion peels

Ishmeet Kaur
Ahmedabad, India


home alone
my dog and daughter
share a blanket

Teji Sethi


it takes two
to make mischief

J E Jeanie Armstrong
Canterbury UK


baby steps

Helen Buckingham
Wells, UK


before I knew what it was first love

Susan Burch
Hagerstown, MD


drinking coffee
between friends
the ripples

Stephen A. Peters
Bellingham, WA


family farm
a boy and his dog
mapping the fields

Bryan Rickert
Belleville, Illinois USA


fallen leaves –
the old dog plays
with a child

foglie cadute –
il vecchio cane gioca
con un bambino

Dennys Cambarau
Sardinia, Italy


the way a dog

Greg Longenecker
Pasadena, CA


autumn breezeー
rescue kitten’s
first love bite

Keiko Izawa


moustache tickles
a toddler’s cheek

Ravi Kiran


surprise kiss
that beard
has got to go

wanda amos
Old Bar, Australia


wintry night—
i weave the howl
into the bedtime story

Sankara Jayanth Sudanagunta
Hyderabad, India


from behind the stroller
a child
or a chihuahua

Charles Harper
Yokohama, Japan


first kiss
her tongue rotating

Alex Fyffe
Texas, USA


born on the same day …
my teenage son visiting
his best friend’s grave

Natalia Kuznetsova


working from home –
the lickspittle creeps
to a different boss

Herb Tate


first kiss…
afterwards I learned
It was French

kris moon kondo
Kiyokawa, Kanagawa, Japan


burial today
his loyal companion
waits by their chair

Susan Farner


first kiss
taste of kibble
and old socks

Rehn Kovacic
Mesa, AZ


cookie dough
the dog licks her
licking the bowl

Vandana Parashar


february filldyke
the twins being bathed
in the double sink



rescue pet
the puppy
picks out a boy

Laurie Greer
Washington, DC


the family dog –
an inner princess

Samo Kreutz
Ljubljana, Slovenia


old photos
the best friend remains
my first puppy

Mirela Brăilean


sniffing a sunbeam
the dog at dawn

Sushama Kapur
Pune, India


school graduation
I search
for my grandson’s smile

Margaret Mahony


of the moonlight kiss
still that butterfly feeling

Meera Rehm


he’s got no dimple
in his chin

Luciana Moretto
Treviso, Italy


when did we last feel
no constraints?

Ingrid Baluchi
North Macedonia


3 am feeding
the baby’s toes covered
in dog kisses

Roberta Beary
USA / Ireland


competing to catch
a red butterfly
the toddler and his beagle

Padma Rajeswari
Mumbai, India


morning cuddle
neither of us
want to let go

pelukan pagi
tak satupun dari kita
mau pergi

Christopher Calvin
Kota Mojokerto, Indonesia


on the tip of my tongue love

Marion Clarke
Warrenpoint, Northern Ireland


slumber party…
the new litter follows
my nephew home

Vibha Malhotra
Delhi, India


family portrait
our eyes follow
a lonely star

Vibeke Laier
Randers, Denmark


Late summer
Her beautiful smile
between the grass

Maria Cristina Pulvirenti
Catania (Italy)


wet nose, wagging tail
the only friend he has
is me

Priti Khullar
Noida, India


first love…
a ball of fur
named Cuddles

Baisali Chatterjee Dutt
Kolkata, India


the child holds the little dog tightly

Maria Teresa Piras
Serrenti – Italy


snow cone
his blue tongue
unnerves his mom

Barrie Levine
Massachusetts, USA


obedience school…
the baby rolls over
on command

Nancy Brady
Huron, Ohio


bed in every room
dog chooses the floor
by her crib

Kerry J Heckman
Seattle, WA


con gli occhi dolci
vegliando la culla…
cagnolino innamorato

with sweet eyes
watching the cradle….
little dog in love

Giuliana Ravaglia
Bologna (Italy)


strawberry shortcake
remembering our first
sloppy kiss

Deborah P Kolodji
Temple City, CA


stolen kisses
in a bucket of sand
two clams

Marcia Burton
Salt Spring Island, Canada


snowball fight—
our puppy catches one
in his laughing mouth

Penny Harter
Mays Landing, New Jersey


your paw on my cheek
the cuddle
I never had

Cristina Povero


new pandemic norm
social distancing
with exceptions

Didimay D. Dimacali


old diary
an entry on the day
her pet cat died

A.J. Anwar
Jakarta, Indonesia


Guest Editor John S Green, author of Whimsy Park: Children’s Poems for the Whole Family, is widely published in all styles of poetry – especially haiku. John lived in Europe before moving to the United States at age thirteen. His daughter cooks with spice, and his wife still laughs at his jokes.

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 19 Comments

  1. Thankyou John for choosing to comment on my poem. There have been some stunning family portraits , extremely heart warming. Congratulations to all featured poets.

  2. Thank you John for including my haiku.
    Such a pleasure to read each poem.
    Congratulations to all.

    1. school graduation
      I search
      for my grandson’s smile
      Margaret Mahony
      I have a grandson who is 9 months old. I look forward to the day of his school graduation, and particularly his smile! A lot of joy to come, indeed. Thanks for your kind words, Margaret.

  3. Thank you so much, John, for choosing my haiku to comment upon. You have made my day. Congrats to all the poets. I was able to visualize the haiku written by C.X. Turner, Padma and Meera Rehm. There is something about moon and butterflies:) This was my most favourite this week.

    bed in every room
    dog chooses the floor
    by her crib

    Kerry J Heckman
    Seattle, WA

    1. Hi Padmini,

      Your favorite is another sensitive poem by Kerry. Our cat likes to lay in the best spot to keep an eye on my wife and I when we are in separate rooms. Yes, something heart warming when the dog chooses to be near the baby, forfeiting a more comfortable surface.
      Thanks, John

  4. I really like this haiku. I love the multi-sensory aspect of it – the smelling, the sight of the sunbeam, the movement of the watcher that “catches” the moment, the way “dawn” suggests the dog is sniffing out the odour of the day.

    Congratulations all poets and thank you John for including mine.

    sniffing a sunbeam
    the dog at dawn

    Sushama Kapur
    Pune, India

  5. Hi Nancy,
    it takes two
    to make mischief
    J E Jeanie Armstrong
    Canterbury UK
    You’re quite right about J E Jeanie Armstrong’s poem. In fact, I love this haiku even more as I read it once again. Two college friends visited me recently, and we laughed about the mischief we did more than anything.

    On the other hand, Nancy, your poem made me cringe. I, as an early childhood advocate, am a big believer in self-directed play. It’s enough that dogs are actually put through obedience school. Of course, if done with compassion and positive reinforcement dogs, even cats, can benefit. I could go on about authoritarian parenting or testing in schooling, but I won’t.
    Good luck with your booster!
    obedience school…
    the baby rolls over
    on command
    Nancy Brady
    Huron, Ohio

    1. Thank you John for your comment – yes, old friends get many happy memories from looking back on their erstwhile mischief. I’m glad my poem revived memories for you.

    2. John,
      I would hope no one ever puts a child through authoritarian parenting, not was I advocating it. I was trying for humor and the juxtaposition that dogs often go through obedience school and have to perform on command. Children should develop at their own pace. Sorry to make you cringe, but I can certainly see if from that perspective.

      1. Nancy, I loved the irony in the allusion to “obedience school” in your haiku. I did not take it literally. I thought it was a great way to tie the child and dog back to the photo.. Thankfully, a baby a few months old, cannot roll over on command. Most parents are thrilled, however, to see their babies meeting developmental milestones. Everything from the first smile to the first step becomes a topic of conversation. While authoritarian parenting is old-school, helicopter parenting is not. I found irony in that, too. Your haiku made me smile. So did that very cute photo.

        1. Thanks Holly. Glad you found the humor in the haiku. I think there are young parents wno, having found out their child has passed a developmental marker and missed seeing it first, do command/beg the child to do it again. The photo was so cute. I smiled too.

    1. Hi Mirela,

      I enjoyed your poem:
      old photos
      the best friend remains
      my first puppy
      Mirela Brăilean
      The sentiment is nostalgic yet quite sad, to me. No wonder dogs and cats are our fur-friends forever. They are always there—listening!

  6. Maybe because of the next photo, maybe because of the fact I am a Harry Potter fan, or just the way I think, but J E Jeannie Armstrong ‘s haiku struck me. Mischief managed! Thanks for the smile.
    On a day I’m to get the latest booster, the lockdown -baby steps seems appropriate
    So many excellent haiku from sweet, to serious, to sad, and in between, congrats to all.
    Thanks,John, for choosing one of my haiku.

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