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THE HAIBUN GALLERY: 11 April 2024 — Dr Anna Cates, featured poet

Updated: Apr 11

hosts: Vidya Shankar & Shalini Pattabiraman

A Thursday Feature.

poet of the month: Dr Anna Cates

11 April 2024

Dr Anna Cates

Anna Cates is a graduate of Indiana State University (M.A. English and Ph.D. Curriculum & Instruction/English) and National University (M.F.A. Creative Writing). She teaches college writing and literature and graduate education online. Her haiku have won first place in the Caribbean Kigo Kukai Contest, European Quarterly Kukai Contest, Indian Kukai Contest, and Ohio Poetry Day’s Haiku for Betty Contest. Her haibun won first place in the Cattails UHTS Contest.  Her other poetry awards include first place in Indiana State University’s Arion Poetry Contest, co-first place in Ohio Poetry Day’s Welcome Aboard Contest, and Ohio Poetry Day’s Evan Lodge Workshop Contest Award. Her poetry has been nominated for the Touchstone Awards, Best of the Net, the Pushcart Prize, and the Dwarf Stars, Elgin, and Rhysling awards. Her books include The Meaning of Life (Cyberwit Press), The Frog King (Cyberwit Press), The Darkroom (Prolific Press), The Golem & the Nazi (Red Moon Press), The Journey (Wipf & Stock), the Illumination Book Award winner Love in the Time of Covid (Wipf & Stock), The Poison Tree:  A Peace Play (Wipf & Stock), Little Black Box:  Poetry from Ohio (Wipf & Stock), Electric Cat City:  A Poesy (Red Moon Press), and 39 Triolets:  A Chapbook (Cyberwit Press, 2023). She resides in Wilmington, Ohio, with her beautiful kitties, Freddie and Fifi. 

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She longed to live in that magical world where the white rabbit roamed, to peer in the wishing well, wafting its cool draft, to know that wishes can come true.  But the old folks, misunderstanding her “silly dreams,” scoffed at her ideas, telling her to think more “sensible thoughts.”  At that, she wept.


Yet dreams are magic to those who truly believe.  She planted a tree from the magical seeds of her mind, and it grew.  Rising and billowing, it grew, erupting with seeds of its own.  Wind scattered the seeds, near and far.


She also grew, with her garden, then her forest, into a woman—and there thrived many a wild thing.  Yet it was never too cold or damp, and fireflies played their part, making the darkness bright.  


Long after the old woman died, legends spoke of a cobblestone well, mossy and crumbly, deep within the forest, and a voice that haunted those miles. 


“Come child,” she calls, her voice young again, like the apple trees that bloom anew each spring. “Come to my well.  Come dream with me.”


prayer stone

warmed by her hand

sound of water . . .


Drifting Sands 11 (Sept 2021):



BIO 101


Phylogeny recapitulates ontogeny.  The gill slips of embryology.  Heart beating forward into life.  And sometimes I, too, feel a tad vestigial.  My own heart caged like a rat in ribs.  A tetrapod, loping from Walmart aisle to aisle, lunging for a musk melon with my interlocking spinal spurs like a T-Rex, probing the fish tank of what-I-once-was with my five-digit frog hands, fogging up the glass, and when I’m out of gas?  Primate pelvis holding together my umph, I galumph on over to the lounge chair, triumphant with my cherry passion fruit iced tea—One limb draped (ooh-la-la!) over the arm rest—One bone on top and two below like the flipper of a cetacean.  I breathe through two nostrils—I’m not a crustacean.  I scuttle like a lizard beneath the red dawn and sigh, hissing yesssssss like a (my tetrapod brother) snake. 


DNA results

in a monkey flower

troglodyte ancestors


Editor’s Choice, Cattails (Oct. 2018):  118.  Web. <>.

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VS: Your Alice’s story is my story too, and like her, even when I grow old and die, I would continue to call out to little boys and girls to “come dream with me”.


Bio 101 left me flabbergasted. I smiled through the imagery.   


The metaphorical aspects as well as the technique in both these haibun are so very brilliantly done that I would not be able to do justice to your skilful handling of the craft if I were to offer my observations on them. Instead, I must ask you to please share with us your thought process behind the writing of these two poems.      


AC: First, thank you for your very kind words.  I appreciate that.

Alice ties in with a number of poems I’ve written that relate in some way to Lewis Carroll’s Alice in Wonderland books. I project myself into the poem a little bit, and the woman at the end reflects what I aspire to be. The poem is speculative and reflects the idea of legacy and a belief in a type of magical permanence beyond impermanence, the latter of which receives more philosophical attention in traditional Japanese short form writing.   


Bio 101 features a speaker of the poem, not actually myself, who is just a silly, crazy, funny lady thinking about herself philosophically and scientifically in relation to the rest of humanity and life in general. I think the poem carries with it a certain energy that culminates with the hissing snake at the end of the poem, almost like a little explosion. There is a darker side to the poem too, the suggestion of a darker side to humanity as the speaker of the poem thinks about what it means to be human and ends with that “hissing yesssssss like a . . . snake.” A snake can be so full of symbolic meaning and associations, from wisdom to evil. The psychological aspects of the poem’s speaker might also merit evaluation!

There is a little bit of me in the poem, mostly in the haiku portion because I, like many people, have had my DNA tested, know what my percentage of Neanderthal is, etc. Knowing that can really prompt thought. I have some interest in natural history, as might be inferred from this poem. 

Prompt for members:

This week, shall we try to write about an imaginary (or even real) character who is not you? And if possible, try to bring in "a little bit of (you) in the poem"?

Haibun outside this prompt can also be posted!

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ Important: Since we're swamped with submissions, and our editors are only human, mistakes can happen. Please, please, remember to put your name, followed by your country, below each poem, even after revisions. It helps our editors; they won't have to type it in, saving them from potential typos. Thanks a ton!



1. Only two haibun per poet per prompt. Please put your name and country of residence under your poem, it makes the editors' work easier. Thanks.

2. Share your best-polished pieces.

3. Please do not post something in a hurry or something you have just written.

Let it simmer for a while.

4. When poets give suggestions and if you agree to them - post your final edited version on top of your original version.

5. Don't forget to give feedback on others' poems.

We are delighted to open the comment thread for you to share your unpublished haibun (within 300 words) to be considered for inclusion in the haikuKATHA monthly journal.


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84 Kommentare


A longtime

customer has, for the many decades that she’s shopped here, kept a bag of cracked corn in the back of her car.  Whatever the weather, she’d walk the perimeter of the parking lot before getting her groceries, whistling softly while broadcasting the feed in generous handfuls.  Pigeons, crows, starlings, and sparrows would inevitably descend, the quiet few becoming a noisy flock that filled the lot with a riot of chatter that lasted until the corn was eaten and the birds had disappeared back into the city from which they had materialized.

Thanksgiving feast

once a year

a moment for grace

Age has begun to impair her mobility, and for a few months now she’s been parking her rusted…

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Antwort an

Vidya & Shalini: THANK YOU so much for reading and commenting my offering. ! It’s not easy to read longer haibun, I myself prefer to read very short ones, and so truly your patience and your thoughtful comments and feedback. 🙏🏻🥰

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mona bedi
mona bedi
15. Apr.

Post #2



My daughter asks me “Which animal are you?”

Surprised at her question I retort back “I am not an animal I am a human.” The question does set me thinking. A lioness is not who I identify with. A mouse? No, it’s too timid and scared.

“Maybe a cat” I reply.

tidal pool —

the sheltered lives

we live in

Feedback appreciated:)

Mona Bedi


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Antwort an

Mona, I like your ku but I feel your prose needs a lot of tightening.

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#1 4-14-24

Paper or Plastic

Here comes the 7:30 a.m.-Saturday-morning lady. I know she has cats, lives alone and likes VanGogh. She has a Starry Night reusable bag. I wonder what she'll talk about today. "Good morning, how are you doing today? How's your day going?" I ask. I read about countries that have added a slow lane at the grocery store for people who just need to talk. I'll bet this lady would go in that lane. But I say that in a nice way. She always seems to want to talk. I like that about her.

scanning and bagging

checking out customers

grocery clerk

Jennifer Gurney, US

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mona bedi
mona bedi
15. Apr.
Antwort an

Nice prose… not sure about the title though!

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13. Apr.

Such a wonderful idea as a prompt. Loved reading the two pieces written by the featured poet. Unique concepts. Alice is one of my favourite characters too. Thanks for everything.

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13. Apr.



Self Rule

I am the queen - of my own kingdom. The sole inhabitant of a never-land. No, it's not an utopian state. It is but one that's flexible, built with nonconformist ideas. The stereotypical concepts aren't encouraged here. Anyone with a good and clear heart, with all genuineness, decent tongue and conduct with less words and more wisdom is allowed to enter, as a royal guest. And yes, with prior notice, as I maybe out to explore the world and there would be none to receive an unannounced guest.

long day

a weary traveller

beneath a tree

Kalyanee Arandhara

Assam, India

Feedback most welcome

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18. Apr.
Antwort an

Thanks so much for your feedback.

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