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THE HAIBUN GALLERY: 18 April 2024 — Dr Anna Cates, featured poet

Updated: Apr 19

hosts: Vidya Shankar & Shalini Pattabiraman

A Thursday Feature.

poet of the month: Dr Anna Cates

18 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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This week, we continue with Anna’s fascination with all things gothic and fantastical.  


Case No. 4758 


Everyone loves to stick it to an evil fiend . . .  

But first we must hear from his lawyer:


He has no possibility of peace. 

His sleep is dreamless surcease. 

His coffin is no sepulcher for saints. 

He is lifeless as a gargoyle. 

His eyes shine like diamonds in fear of your stake. 

You terrorize with your cross. 

You think you’re brave to kill with your bare hands

his castle’s fat black spiders? 

You imagine him with leathery wings, flapping

off to a full-bodied moon, his dark hair wild

with wicked wind.  You could never fathom

his vocabulary for night, but did you ever consider

his sickening beauty?  Did you ever love him?


Endless confinement\upside down\starlight


The Vampiricon: Imaginings & Images of the Vampire (Mind’s Eye Publications) Ed. Frank Coffman (Jan 31, 2023):  p. 128



I wonder if the vampire in this poem metaphorically alludes to a villain in real life — someone on trial for a heinous crime, perhaps? The tone of sarcasm is unmistakable in every line of the free verse, especially the phrase “sickening beauty”. And the ku at the end beautifully brings it all together with the “confinement” relating to a conviction and an interesting use of backslash instead of the usual slash to relate it to “upside down”, making it a concrete ku in a way.


Let’s read another of Anna’s vampire poems. Notice the contrast brought on by the floral imagery. Also note the use of the word “hunger” in the title. It’s a hunger that is quenched, not thirst.

A Hunger, Nearly Quenched

He was the vampire

drinking the fire of red peonies

flooding Romanian hills . . .

He was the fantasist

frolicking in effulgent lilac

baptized among water lilies

purified by snowy daffodil

pining the beautiful



we nearly touch



Drifting Sands 23 (September 2023): 

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VS: Anna, we would like to know your thoughts on these two haibun. What went into writing them?       


AC: First, I actually meant Case No. 4758 as more of a fantasy poem and did not mean to comment on court proceedings, although it does certainly call court proceedings to mind. It might remind us that, at least in the U.S., everyone is supposed to get a fair trial and be presumed innocent until proven guilty, based on the U.S. Constitution, but again, it is a fantasy poem. My intention was not to comment on crime and justice. And the voice in the poem is the character of the lawyer, not me! 

A Hunger, Nearly Quenched is a poem I struggled with, trying to get the words just right. What finally made the poem work to my satisfaction was a change in perspective. Originally, I’d written it in first person, making very bold declarations: “I am the vampire, drinking the fire . . .”  I realized that I should change the point of view to third person. After that, ending with a haiku to suggest a tragic romance created the impact that allowed me to conclude my revisions.


Voice is a very important aspect of writing. It is the voice that helps create personality and establish perspective to create the desired register in the reader. While most haibun poets prefer the first person narrative, we sometimes come across haibun where narratives are in the second or third person. And if a poet is in an experimental mood, they might even try head hopping. In Case No. 4758, the poet uses a deep third while in A Hunger, Nearly Quenched the voice is more objective.

Prompt for members:

What's your voice for this week?

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.


242 views77 comments


I am much impressed by the compositions here. Recently, I have been reading Reichhold's The Complete Bashō. It's quite a treat, especially her commentary. Although the book is a collection of haiku, Reichhold discusses the way Bashō started writing haibun. "The Narrow Road to the Deep North" is what she refers to. As we know, haibun combines prose with poetry. Reichhold says "Writing the prose parts of haibun is very different from simply setting down a bit of story or sudden fiction. The haibun are to be poetic prose, the idea being that the principles that govern poetry are followed in the text portion." Further, "The Narrow Road to the Deep North" consists of prose followed by 4-line poems. Every…


Really top-notch pieces. Thanks to you and to the hosts.

Psalm of Marvin

My friends laugh at me because I own so many pairs of camouflage

pants yet neither fish nor hunt. Not for any particular reason . . .

Or maybe I'm afraid that my clumsy sausage fingers might pull

the trigger too soon. Kill too eagerly and carelessly---not even

give thanks to God. Not even care for the bones.

moon shadows . . .

so much tenderness

for the earth to bear

Replying to

A very moving haibun Andrew. Words have such power. Peace and healing.


#1 Gembun

Why ask who sings better?



in parallel

a hawk

Biswajit Mishra



Apr 22



Revision. Thank you Vidya Shankar Ma'am and Shalini Pattabiraman


Wonder what would man do if he's given another chance to create the world. Would he use the take-aways of this life to build it anew?

puckered moon

the homeless hugs his dog

for warmth

Kalyanee Arandhara

Assam, India

Feedback most welcome




This and that

Wonder what would man do if he's given another chance to create the world. Would he use the take-aways of this life to build it anew?

puckered moon

the homeless hugs his dog

for warmth

Kalyanee Arandhara

Assam, India

Feedback most welcome

Apr 24
Replying to

Thanks so much



Anna’s house

For two hundred years it has given shelter to its many inhabitants. Now the small cottage is an open shell.  It’s a winter’s night, and the fog weaves through the empty windows. In the distance, there's the haunting whistle of a train. Nothing moves.

If you were keeping watch or walking past you might see a small child enter through the white gate, alone, and disappear. They say shadows summon the past if rooms are opened to the moon.

In the morning, there’s the clump of boots. Soon there’ll be oak timbers, tiles and glass shutting out the restless dark.

nursery rhyme

the tattered rope

of an old swing

Lorraine Haig, Australia

Revision with thanks to Vidya.

Replying to

Thank you, Shalini.

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