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HAIKU DIALOGUE – Literary Devices – rhyme & Introduction to Family Portraits

Literary Devices with Guest Editor Alex Fyffe & Introduction to Family Portraits

Thank you Guest Editor Alex Fyffe for an interesting & educational exploration of literary devices over the past two months, & thanks to our new Guest Editor John S Green for stepping up for the next few weeks… welcome!

Introduction to 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 One

While visiting our first grandchild, my wife’s mother (baby’s great grandmother) held the 2 ½-week-old child for the first time, when he suddenly began to cry. Please write one or two haiku in response to this photograph. Be sure to read the introduction to the theme about photo-haiga above.

The deadline is midnight Pacific Daylight Time, Saturday September 3, 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Please use the Haiku Dialogue submission form below to enter one or two original unpublished haiku inspired by the week’s theme, and then press Submit to send your entry.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 Alex’s commentary for rhyme:

Even in haiku, there are times when you simply have to rhyme. And maybe that’s okay if it isn’t every day. Allowing ourselves the room to explore is necessary to find the door that leads to where we want to be – just come this way and see!

Here are some of my favorite examples of haiku that use end rhyme:

the yeas
the nays

Roberta Beach Jacobson
Indianola, Iowa

Jacobson’s works partly because of its extreme brevity – it is a tightly written poem that can be read in two ways: as a list (counting the yeas [and] the nays), or as a comment on how one side keeps track of the other side’s position (counting the yeas: the nays), counting to see if they are outnumbered.

summer breeze
the gentle rhyme
of a wind chime

Teji Sethi


moth’s shadow
on the window

Teiichi Suzuki

Sethi’s poem incorporates rhyme as part of its meaning. By commenting on the musicality of the wind chimes, the rhyme itself works to echo that effect. Suzuki lines up shadow and window effectively so that the words on the page look like reflected images of each other, a moth and its shadow, one on top of the other.

night drive catching snippets of crickets

Bona M. Santos
Los Angeles, California

This one is technically internal rhyme, but if the poem were broken into three lines, the natural breaks would put snippets at the end of line two and crickets at the end of line three, giving it the same effect as end rhyme, and it works because, like Sethi’s haiku, it is about sound, and it captures that sound and rhythm very well.

a lone loon
the moon

Dan Campbell
Virginia, USA


widow’s moon
the piercing call
of a night loon

Meera Rehm

These two struck me for their similarity in the use of moon and loon, but each stands on its own as a great example of how perfect end rhymes in lines one and three can be effective even in haiku. Once again, the poems are centered on sound, and the sound of the poems themselves captures that elegantly.

Here are a few favorites that use internal rhyme:

hardly old enough
to shoulder a casket
Ukrainian son

Seretta Martin

Martin’s poem is one of the subtlest uses of rhyme, connecting “old” with the first half of “shoulder,” each placed in the middle of two different lines, allowing the reader the pleasure of the repeated sound without any interruption to the poet’s strong imagery. The boy’s shoulders are forced to bear the weight of the older generation, prematurely forcing him to age in turn.

tracing the river
through the meadow
window seat

Zahra Mughis
Lahore, Pakistan


magnolia petals
settle in her hair—
winter moth

Adele Evershed
Wilton, Connecticut

Mughis’s enjambment of “meadow / window” seems to me a great way to incorporate rhyme into haiku. The words are, in a sense, side by side, but because the pause comes after the phrase ending with “meadow,” and the fragment starts with “window,” the poem reads fluidly from start to finish. It sounds great. Evershed does something similar with enjambment – “petals / settle” –, but here the words are both part of the phrase. The iambic rhythm keeps the language flowing, though, making the rhyme musical and not at all jarring to the ear.

heavy rain at last…
we sleep beneath
the sheets tonight

Tony Williams
Scotland, UK

Williams’s phrase also employs iambic meter to keep the various slant rhymes from overwhelming the poem (“we sleep beneath / the sheets tonight”). It is lulling and comforting, like listening to a much longed-for rainfall.

And finally:

pottery gallery—
exploring wabi-sabi
in a wasabi bowl

Keiko Izawa

Izawa’s poem uses a little bit of everything, starting out with a same-line internal rhyme (“pottery gallery”), heading into a slanted end rhyme (“gallery” and “wabi-sabi”), and finishing with an internal rhyme (“wabi-sabi” and “wasabi”). It is a fun poem to read, and the language ties everything together in a satisfying way.

And here are some other favorite selections:

stormy hues
after the thunder
a fresh bruise forms

Tracy Davidson
Warwickshire, UK


lunch hour
an art of turmeric and flour
on mom’s apron

Nitu Yumnam


minding her own business autumn mist

marilyn ashbaugh
Edwardsburg, Michigan


winter chill
even the long-lived spider
shriveled on the sill

Ruth Holzer
Herndon, Virginia


spring physical
the warmth within
a urine sample

James Gaskin
Fukushima, Japan


snail trail nothing left to say

John Pappas


the lingering scent of musk
in the sheets

Nancy Brady
Huron, Ohio


of this world
or the one to come –
white plum blossoms

Deborah Bennett
Carbondale, Illinois

& here are the rest of the selections:

dreary path
i walk in the warmth
of her memory

Vishnu Kapoor
Chennai, India


The sky is grey,
an old duvet to
shiver under.

Caroline Ridley-Duff


suddenly caught
by this love song
mourning dove

Deborah Karl-Brandt
Bonn, Germany


in spring
male pigeons
do their puffed-out-chest thing

Ann Rawson
Scotland, UK


all that birdsong
in Putin’s ear
he doesn’t hear

Stephen A. Peters
Bellingham, Washington


one chance
at chivalry—
bee allergy

Richard Matta
San Diego, California


strong wind
blows behind the windows
of my house

Vincenzo Adamo


dancing in the rain –
old age refuses to restrain
the inner child

Paul Callus


Father Goose shoos off
his living children. Will choose
his swim, his sky blues

Sarah Davies
Bedford, UK


monsoon wind
wind blown petals
settle in wrinkles

Padmasiri Jayathilaka
Sri Lanka


what the puppy does–
chew marks all over
my leather shoes

Jackie Chou


monsoon clouds
the moon appears
and disappears

Ravi Kiran


my pyro phase a blaze of glory

Bryan Rickert
Belleville, Illinois


morning hint a mint on my pillow

Susan Burch
Hagerstown, Maryland


raking the leaves
feeling one more falling
on his back

Herb Tate


meteorites and
carcasses hidden in
summer grass

Masayuki Sato
Kashihara, Nara, Japan


silence hung
like mockingbirds
afraid to sing

Eavonka Ettinger
Long Beach, California


lo mein
for lunch—a prayer
for rain

Matt Robison
Ohio, USA


forest fire
a church spire breaks
the water’s surface

Alan Peat
Biddulph, UK


cutting bread
suddenly afraid
of what’s ahead

Sherry Grant
Auckland, New Zealand


fishin’ trip—
bear gits a glimmer
o’ dinner

Stephen J. DeGuire
Los Angeles, California


light falls
on the crest of a wave
whiter than gulls

Adrian Bouter
The Netherlands


morning gecko
already a group forms
around tossed crumbs

Pris Campbell


around a stone bell,
under moonlit spell, stars
dance, daisies

Patricia Furstenberg
South Africa


in the eye
of the brown barbet
a mayfly

Neena Singh


autumn breeze
my bucket list frees
wish after wish

Daya Bhat


twittering birds
but grandma muttering
to herself

Minal Sarosh
Ahmedabad, India


dirt road
cars trundle to
the cows’ ramble

Subir Ningthouja
Imphal, India


a shallow bay
the little fish tickle
bare feet

Dejan Ivanovic
Lazarevac, Serbia


in my lap
autumn leaf

andrew shimield


sudden dewbow
on the blooming meadow…

Tsanka Shishkova


my spine fused
the gift bonsai left

Richard Straw
Cary, North Carolina


a regret –
on a light street
a night shadow

rimorso –
su una strada luminosa
un’ombra notturna

Maria Cezza


a silent splash
and this roaring breeze wash
my stagnant heart

Dean Okamura
Torrance, California


shared sour dough starter friendships grow

Susan Farner


gran’s hand
trembles in mine
burying gramps

Louise Hopewell


the drift of smiles
as sunbeams shift

Kanjini Devi
The Far North, Aotearoa, NZ


pruning . . .
a little branch
goes on blooming

Rosa Maria Di Salvatore
Catania, Italy


whistling thrush—
with a final brush stroke
the painting ends

Rupa Anand
New Delhi, India


farm well-
water striders criss-cross
over the moon

Ram Chandran


all alone …
an aimless one
in the crowd

Natalia Kuznetsova


room sweep
disturbing an ant
in deep sleep

Chen Xiaoou
Kunming, China


rain pattering
on the skylight
tonight a rhapsody

Luciana Moretto
Treviso, Italy


nine months
within her then
without her now

Vandana Parashar


an old brick —
two chiffchaffs frolic
after the rain

Wendy Gent
Bristol, UK


carpet grass…
my footsteps
swept under

Laurie Greer
Washington, DC


clear sky
a dragonfly perching
on my thigh

Daniela Misso


cotton candy –
the Sunday clothes
of my daddy

Mircea Moldovan


piano lento
slow blooms of light
grow in blue nightfall

Dustin Hackfeld
Ingleside, Texas


lazy afternoon
lace curtains dawdle
in the whirr of a fan

Vidya Shankar


little deaths
from awake
to a wake

John Hawkhead


night owl
prowling in the dark
locked-out cat

Hla Yin Mon
Yangon, Myanmar


alone time likes and dislikes time alone

Jianqing Zheng
Mississippi, USA


travelling farrier
two new blue words
forged from a burn



cooing cuckoo
flowers bloom
along the lagoon

Stoianka Boianova


cicada song
a cadence along the edge
of sundown

Sue Courtney
Ōrewa, Aotearoa New Zealand


soft hour
through the asphalt crack
a flower makes its way

Marianne Sahlin


in tune
with the moonlight
my old turntable

Sari Grandstaff
Saugerties, New York


winding breeze…
leaves finding their way
onto the train

Kimberly Kuchar
Austin, Texas


down under …
a satin bowerbird dances
to the tune of blue

Carole Harrison


first cast
he catches
my eye

Sarah Metzler


the looser option
muscle tension

Jenn Ryan-Jauregui
Tucson, Arizona


high tea
the wasp and I
share clotted cream

Helen Ogden
Pacific Grove, California


wingbeats …
sycamore seeds spinning
in the breeze

Lori Kiefer
London, UK


making light
of my nightmares
morning glory

Annie Wilson
Shropshire, UK


fall colors wield
their powers

Valentina Ranaldi-Adams
Fairlawn, Ohio


staghorn fern—
the multitasking chores
of the nurse intern

Milan Rajkumar
Imphal, India


thunder fades …
wet birds feasting
at the feeders

Al W Gallia
Louisiana, USA


driftwood swan
all she ever wanted
was a wand

Kath Abela Wilson


soft hands
a strawberry lands
softly in straw

Mark Gilbert


urban sketching
white doves
perched on the church cross

Anthony Rabang
Manila, Philippines


winter chill
the cold silence
still between us



junk drawer
life’s debris
haunting me

Sharon Martina
Warrenville, Illinois


campaign season
the water faucet
runs out of reasons

ron scully
Burien, Washington


a bomb
in the womb
of my word

Pippa Phillips
Kansas City, Missouri


kind of blue
through the moon roof

P. H. Fischer
Vancouver, Canada


it still lingers
on my fingers
your wild fennel

Susan Rogers
Los Angeles, California


dusty cloud –
a herd of hooves
passes along the country road

Tomislav Maretić


winter rain
I finally come to terms
with my pain

Mona Bedi
Delhi, India


what an ocean
behind me

Zelyko Funda


turmeric stains…
eau de curry
on mum’s sari

Baisali Chatterjee Dutt
Kolkata, India


sauntering through the woods
I discover
my childhood

Padma Rajeswari
Mumbai, India


death of a stray
the stain of a curl
on the pathway

Arvinder Kaur
Chandigarh, India


singing a line
from summer of ’69
college reunion

Daipayan Nair
Silchar, India


nothin’ but net
the sweat it takes
to lose

Jonathan Roman
Yonkers, New York


mired in muck
geoduck closes up

petro c. k.
Seattle, Washington


the morning
of her mourning
—heart-breaking moon

A.J. Anwar
Jakarta, Indonesia


Guest Editor Alex Fyffe teaches high school English in the Houston area. Although he has been writing haiku off and on for a decade, he only started submitting his work during the Global Event known as 2020. Since then his haiku and senryu have been published in various journals, including Frogpond, Modern Haiku, Failed Haiku, Akitsu Quarterly, and the Asahi Haikuist Network. Alex’s first glimpse of haiku was in a collection of writings by Jack Kerouac, and he found the work of Issa while studying abroad in Japan, but he didn’t fall in love with the haiku until he discovered the free-form work of Santoka Taneda. Currently, Alex uses haiku in the classroom to ease students into poetry and build their confidence as readers and writers. Alex also posts 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:

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 30 Comments

  1. Apologies for joining in late. It was an enriching experience working out haiku poems based on your interesting prompts, Alex! Thanks for giving my poems a space every week! Such good poems are featured every week. So much to learn!

  2. out of the classroom into the playground’s field ….. ready for the next shot…..welcome john s. green…

  3. Thanks, dear Alex for the literary devices prompts, it was a great learning experience reading all the poems and your commentary. Honoured to have my ku included every week. Grateful to you. Hope you will come back in the future to challenge us again! Best wishes!
    Welcome, John.

  4. While working on a blog post about this week’s column, I re-read Alex’s opening comment. It was then that I noticed all the rhymes he included. Did anyone else notice this? I may have missed a few, but in no particular order: haiku/you; time/rhyme; okay/day; explore/door; and be/see. Clever, Alex! Thanks for this series of literary devices; it has been educational. Best of luck with this year’s classes.

  5. Thrilled and honoured to see my haiku included in this amazing column. Many thanks to Alex, Kathy and Lori for their efforts, time, and dedication. This series was indeed informative, enlightening, challenging(for a beginner like me) and interesting. And I’m sure I’m not the only one to say this. I truly enjoyed reading everyone’s poem, and I have learnt a lot from this amazing series of literary devices. I wish this series had continued and Alex had stayed longer… So sorry to see you going, Alex. Hope to see you again soon, Professor. May God bless you 🙂

    My best wishes to the whole team and congratulations to all the poets.

  6. Thank-you Alex for selecting my haiku to be included in your last column. I have enjoyed reading your thoughts each week and learning from them. Thank-you also to Kathy and Lori for all they do. Congrats to all the poets. Welcome John.

  7. Many thanks to Alex for encouraging us to explore these tools and apply them to haiku, and for including my effort. Rhyming especially lets us think about sounds, rhythms and individual words. I especially loved the sight rhyme in Pippa Phillips’:
    a bomb
    in the womb
    of my word
    and Sharon Martina’s, with its rhyme surprising in a different way (see below):
    junk drawer
    life’s debris
    haunting me
    If anyone knows what the opposite of a sight rhyme is I’d be interested. This is where visually two words shouldn’t rhyme but because of eccentric pronunciation they actually do. I’ve searched the totality of human knowledge (I googled it) and I couldn’t find the word, although I’m sure it exists.

    1. I suppose we could coin it a “blind rhyme”? It’s probably something much more boring, though, like a “sound rhyme,” or something (although that seems highly redundant in most cases…).

  8. Congrats to all the poets, well done especially those whose rhyme was almost disguised. Thanks to Alex for the whole series. I realize now that I have used some of these literary devices in the past when I am reading over older haiku I’ve written but never rhyme as I heard it was a no-no. Thanks, KJ, and Lori, for your continuing work with the column. The amount of work you do weekly is impressive.

    Daipayan Nair, I have to admit reading yours, I sang ‘summer of ’69’ and suspect I wasn’t the only one.
    Valentina Ranaldi-Adams, your razzle-dazzle reminded me of the scene in the movie, Stripes (Bill Murray).

    1. Thank-you Nancy for commenting on my haiku. Unfortunately I have
      never seen the movie Stripes and do not know what your reference means.

      1. Valentina, Stripes is a Bill Murray classic. Having joined the army in a spur of the moment, he and his whole misfit platoon mess up royally and will be going through boot camp again, but they manage to fake graduation through with a special gun salute that Murray yells Razzle Dazzle, earning them kudos and more.

  9. I’m sorry Alex, I completely missed sending mine in on your last prompt, I did so want to do it, my way of saying thanks for such an enjoyable series! It was a great experience using traditional poetry devices for haiku, some of which we try to avoid normally. Thank you so much, Alex!

    This ku by Izawa was so enjoyable, especially how wasabi feels like my tongue has slipped over wabi-sabi!

    pottery gallery—
    exploring wabi-sabi
    in a wasabi bowl

    Keiko Izawa

  10. Dear Alex,
    I am sad to see your time here end. Your love and knowledge of literary devices brought such a unique perspective to haiku. Your generosity allowed so many more poets to shine. All signs of a most effective teacher and editor. I am excited for your return.

  11. Thank you Alex for including my haiku this week and for your thoughtful selections in rhyme haiku. I feel like I have grown creatively in trying the the various literary devices. I do like rhyme in poetry very much and I feel like it gets a bad rap sometimes. Thank you for guest editing these past couple of months. Welcome John!

  12. Thank you, everyone, for sharing your work over the past two months. I wasn’t sure whether or not this approach would be embraced, but I’m pleasantly surprised to hear all of the wonderful feedback from so many of you. It has been fun. I hope that, if I get another opportunity to edit again, I can come up with something as equally challenging and enjoyable.

    1. Thank you Alex for such lovely and stimulating prompts and editing. Your thoughtful words have been very encouraging and fun.

  13. I am pleased and thank Alex for including my haiku in the comments. I have an overwhelming compassion for youth in all generations who are forced to take on the tasks of adults in wars, in work or any other circumstance that deprives them of the important opportunity to play and have a happy childhood. Alex, I am grateful for your time and dedication in stretching the boundaries and including unappreciated poetic devises in the haiku conversation. I also teach and use haiku to ease students into poetry. Blessings!

  14. Dear Alex, Thank you for this wonderful series on literary devices in haiku. I remember early on, when trying to learn about how to write haiku, being told ‘you can’t do this’ and ‘you can’t do that’. Well, as you have taught us, yes we can, so long as we do it well. Your introductions and commentaries each week have been educational, insightful and inspiring.
    As well, for me, it’s been good to go back through my notebooks and find old writings that perhaps weren’t so bad after all, just needed your instructions to hone them into something that maybe worked. Thanks so much for accepting my hones. Looking forward to see what challenges you have in store for us if / when you return.

  15. Thanks to Alex for this week and all the preceding weeks of this literary-themed haiku dialogue. It has made me approach things differently… always a good thing.

  16. Many thanks Alex for the time and attention you dedicated to our verses and for the interesting challenges each week.

  17. Contentment inevitably implies nostalgia. Today I am amply grateful to be a small part of The Haiku Foundation mosaic, in The Haiku Dialogue column, but I am also sorry for Alex Fyffe. A goodbye and a welcome.
    This is life: a goodbye and a welcome.
    I loved the originality of the requested themes and this exploration of the rhetorical figures. Thank you.
    PS I never thought I’d be welcomed into a whole that required and included the rhymes, of which I’m not an admirer, but I tried to soften them between the lines.

    Maria Cezza

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