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HAIKU DIALOGUE – Family Portraits – Portrait Three

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 Four

Who doesn’t love a cute baby? And who doesn’t love an affectionate dog? But when the two get together and share a kiss? Magic! Well, the photographer (my daughter) captured her son and dog just at that precise moment. I hope you write to emotions that are a step, or two, away from this exact experience. A slant response can be more rewarding.

The deadline is midnight Pacific Daylight Time, Saturday September 24, 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Please use the Haiku Dialogue submission form below to enter one or two original unpublished haiku inspired by the week’s theme, and then press Submit to send your entry.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 Three:

Very similar numbers this week – 146 poets contributed 239 poems. A new high of 30 countries makes me happy – I love this global community. As my friend, Victor Ortiz, said at a recent Haiku Society of America conference on The Ecology of Haiku, “Haiku may even help to save our planet.” By the way, this photo is my lovely wife. Thanks honey for letting me use this as a prompt.

A lot of coffee poems were written – this one was my favorite:

cold coffee
luck that gaze don’t kill
said the parrot

Mircea Moldovan

Ha! I enjoyed the hip/non-traditional English of the parrot! Thanks, Mircea, for a refreshing perspective on this photo prompt. I wish I had written that one.

forever framed
on the fridge
bad hair day

Roberta Beary
USA / Ireland

Roberta’s poem took me a while to appreciate. Like a good wine, it grew on me the more I let it sink in. It takes a unique outlook to display quirky photos in your home. Many people only frame and mount smiling faces, but it’s the unusual shots that are more memorable. Indeed.

is displeased
…wintery conditions!

Jerome Berglund
Minneapolis, Minnesota USA

Jerome’s haiku gets extra kudos because my wife was born on February 2nd, Groundhog Day. Of course, we love Bill Murray’s movie. Also, it doesn’t hurt that my wife was born and raised in Minnesota, and that’s where we were married.

morning bells…
will I dream of you

Tsanka Shishkova

This has mystery. Haven’t we all had a particularly provocative dream with deep allure? I know I have wished to get back into a dream that was wonderful, but feel upset for being forced back to reality. You nailed it, Tsanka.

at 17 or 70…
summer has a history
of freckles

Adrian Bouter
The Netherlands

Winter brings flu season, and spring begets allergies. But summer and freckles? Yes! Thanks, Adrian, for noticing. You had the best ‘freckle’ haiku this week.

the silent eloquence of her eyes ambivertism

Arvinder Kaur
Chandigarh, India

Ambivertism is an interesting and somewhat controversial concept. Ambiverts, apparently, have a balance of both introvert and extrovert features. Up until now, I always spoke of people as basically introverted or extroverted. Not anymore. Kudos to Arvinder for seeing something in my wife’s expression to spark this haiku.

what I signed up for
(fill in the blank)

Roberta Beach Jacobson

Okay, this took courage to send in. It touches back to the photograph in a most delicious manner. Roberta has left the readers, each one individually, to ‘fill in the blank’ to this more than human feeling.

the talker
up before me—
morning thunder

Sarah E. Metzler


alone in a household
of morning people

Louise Hopewell

Both these poems, by Sarah and Louise, allude to a person wanting to sleep in, but the environment has been invaded by early risers, leading to ‘morning thunder’ and ‘nightmare.’ Well done.

The rest of my selections are all winners. There is no reason why these haiku could not have been commented upon. Please, as you read the entire batch below, make an effort to single out 1, 2, or 3 poems that elicited a response within you. Give a shout-out to the author. We all know how great it feels to have one of our poems commented on.

On another note, if your submissions were not selected, remember that if it were another editor, your poem may very well have been selected. Poetry is an art form, and as such, it is in the eye of the beholder. Now, baking – that’s another whole thing.

& here are the rest of the selections:

nobody to talk with
about her addiction
morning cloudiness

Deborah Karl-Brandt
Bonn, Germany


morning fog this that the other

P. H. Fischer
Vancouver, Canada


scudding clouds
so many phases of love
this is one of them

Stephen A. Peters
Bellingham, WA


expired milk her crankiness simmering

Sankara Jayanth Sudanagunta
Hyderabad, India


road closed
you call me
by her name

Vibha Malhotra
Delhi, India


morning worries poptarts stuck in the toaster

Susan Burch
Hagerstown, MD


morning breath
all the petals fall
from the rose

Bryan Rickert
Belleville, Illinois USA


catching a
glimpse in the mirror
grandma’s nose

Eavonka Ettinger
Long Beach, CA


house of horrors —
family visit during
the holidays

Bonnie J Scherer
Palmer, Alaska USA


Myopic again…
Love lasts
Longer than dew

Sreenath G


Calling me pendejo while she pours me coffee

Dan Campbell


eye opener
how many leaves
in the whispering branches

Dejan Ivanovic
Lazarevac, Serbia



Maurice Nevile
Canberra, Australia


half awake
i swim in
my dream’s colours

Subir Ningthouja
Imphal, India


spinster aunt—
a world of memories
without smiles

Vincenzo Adamo


steaming . . .
our differing views
on politics

Ingrid Baluchi
North Macedonia


old novelist waking up from a dream in a dream

Hifsa Ashraf
Rawalpindi, Pakistan


keeping mum
nothing left to say
about care homes

Patricia Hawkhead
United Kingdom


not a morning person
next door’s rooster
on borrowed time

Tracy Davidson
Warwickshire, UK


I never understood
in my teens

Patricia Furstenberg
Pretoria, South Africa


under the bed sheet
so far

Bittor Duce Zubillaga
Basque Country


the spell
I cannot take back . . .
red begonias

Richa Sharma


morning fog –
shapes of dreams remain
in the hallway

Daniela Misso


first morning alone …
a cup of strong coffee
double bitter

Natalia Kuznetsova


the house is sleeping
mist and birdsong
all mine

J E Jeanie Armstrong
Canterbury UK


stirring the pot
a maelstrom of frost
in the window



barely awake
the neighbour’s new dog
growling too

Maxianne Berger
Outremont, Quebec


night owls sometimes
cannot look
at another banana

Charles Harper
Yokohama, Japan


still caught in the dream
the world floating unfocused
before my caffeine

Lorraine Schein
Queens, NYC


a night owl in a flock of early birds

Susan Farner


still early
raccoons have emptied
the bird bath

Chad Henry
United States


whistling kettle
not everything is about

Vandana Parashar


a pinch of salt
on a rotten egg . . .
grandma’s cure

Alfred Booth
Lyon, France


not knowing
I have taken a selfie with him—
a seagull

Ram Chandran


an old grizzly
edges out of the woods
the lure of civilization

Peggy Hale Bilbro


tied quilt
the shock
of waking alone

Laurie Greer
Washington, DC


telling me
how lucky I am —
the morning coffee

Samo Kreutz
Ljubljana, Slovenia


the morning before
just like
the morning after

Mike Fainzilber
Rehovot, Israel


early morn
the take away coffee
brings back her father…

Adele Evershed
Wilton, Connecticut


her look
says it all—
piled-up sink

Paul Callus


transitioning skies
in summer storm
those emotions on her face

Padmini Krishnan
United Arab Emirates


the modern world …
long before breakfast
rejection letters

Wendy Gent
Bristol, UK


morning horizon
coaxing the sleepy sun
to rise

Kerry J Heckman
Seattle, WA


still hold
a few aspects
you don’t know

薫音 Kaon H


annual Christmas photograph
among the smiling faces
her stifled yawn

Padma Rajeswari
Mumbai, India


rubbing her fingers
over her mom’s name

Kimberly Kuchar
Austin, TX


flat light—
our childhood smiles
except the wrinkles

Milan Rajkumar
Imphal, India


terry robe
wrapping the night
around her

Barry Levine
Massachusetts, USA


slow awakening—
the anguish of the day

Maria Teresa Piras
Sardinia – Italy


awakening …
my cat’s little rough tongue
on the cheek

risveglio … la ruvida lingua del mio gatto sulla guancia

Lucia Cardillo


no coffee break
out of the blue
the blackbird’s song

Florin C. Ciobica


freddo mattino…
così lontani
nella stessa stanza

cold morning …
so far away
in the same room

Giuliana Ravaglia
Bologna (Italy)


percolating pot
the weekend guests
extend their stay

Richard Straw
Cary, North Carolina


morning fog
rolls in
the kitchen

petro c. k.
Seattle, Washington


Monday morning commute
yesterday’s makeup
in the rear view mirror

Sari Grandstaff
Saugerties, New York


early riser…
my dad greets me
with “morning glory”

Nancy Brady
Huron, Ohio


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 15 Comments

  1. Thank you, John, for holding back my haiku. I enjoyed reading both the rest of the haiku and your comments. Regards…

  2. ‘not what I signed up for’ Roberta Beach Jacobson – What is it, other than a caption?

    It is lacking both the imagistic interconnectedness of haiku, and the satirical truisms of senryu.

    1. Hi simonj,
      I think you missed the third line of Roberta’s poem, “(fill in the blank)”:

      what i signed up for
      (fill in the blank)

      Roberta Beach Jacobson

  3. What a delightful read and not just because one of mine was chosen. 😉
    Wonderful to see Jerome, Tsanka, Arvinder, and Roberta all featured!

    I, too, laughed out loud at Dan Campbell’s perfect morning poem.

  4. Thank you John for including my haiku in this week’s Haiku Dialogue! So many favorites here to appreciate. Many people wrote about coffee but as a tea drinker I especially enjoyed this one. For me it strikes just the right attitude of the photo too:

    whistling kettle
    not everything is about

    Vandana Parashar

  5. Thank you John for choosing my senryu and for the beautiful words! Congratulations to all the selected poets and especially to my countryman, Caesar!

  6. Thanks John!

    Giuliana’s verse resonated with me, maybe because I have some rudimentary Italian, so could get the gist of the original. Maybe changing the last line of the English translation to “in this room” (which is not the correct literal translation, I admit) would tighten it up? Regardless, a beautiful haiku, amongst many other striking efforts.

    1. I am grateful to you for enjoying my haiku.
      I gladly welcome your valuable advice!

      cold morning …
      so far away
      in this room

  7. Lots of good pieces today! This one made me laugh out loud. As a Spanish speaker, I’ve said this more than once.

    Calling me pendejo while she pours me coffee

    Dan Campbell

  8. I especially love Kimberly’s haiku … the evocation of early morning, being still in that edgy, liminal waking-up state, the tactile fingering of mum’s initials/name on a robe making emotion concrete … the contrast of the worlds of sleep and awake, being and not-being, presence and absence. Love it!

    And thanks for including mine.

    rubbing her fingers
    over her mom’s name

    Kimberly Kuchar
    Austin, TX

  9. Such wonderful morning haiku with such varying scenarios. Susan Farner’s night owl resonated with me because I am one and live in a world where it is necessary to be awake earlier. Thanks, Susan.
    Lucia Cardillo ‘s rough cat tongue alarm clock…well if you haven’t experienced it, well, the first time, it can be surprising.
    Marianne Berger ‘s growling dog. Let’s just say, I have been accused of low pitched growling when frustrated at work and can’t really do anything about it.
    Congratulations to all. Thanks John for choosing such memorable morning moments including one of mine. Now, to wake up and get my day going.

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