Tom Painting

Tom Painting teaches junior high at the Paideia School in Atlanta, Georgia. Since 2000, his students have had winning haiku in the Nicholas Virgilio Memorial Haiku Contest. Tom’s own haiku have appeared annually since 1998 in The Red Moon Anthology of English-Language Haiku, published by Red Moon Press. He has received recognition in the Haiku Society of America’s Brady and Henderson contests for haiku and senryu, and in its haibun contest. His work has also appeared in Haiku in English: The First Hundred Years and Baseball Haiku: The Best Haiku Ever Written About the Game, each published by W. W. Norton. Tom is an avid birder and enjoys hiking in out-of-the-way places. The following is a selection of Tom’s haiku.


in wildflowers . . .

the logging road

his death

added to her litany

of complaints

family feud

the pallbearers

take sides

summit road

once more the moon

changes windows


the wildlife activist

flashes her teeth


into the backcountry

a spit of asphalt

family plot

the gravedigger

severs a root

spring plowing

a flock of blackbirds

turns inside out

nursing home

a stranger turns

my father

my tongue

explores a worn tooth

the snowy hills


the pulse in a hollow

of her neck


he finishes

his sentence

peace rally

a forgotten scar

starts to itch

nursing home

my father

the way I left him

deep winter

I search the lease

for a loophole

midday blues

a row of icicles

taking shape

big sky

the uncertain legs

of the foal

separate stops

off the interstate

my parents’ graves

after hours

the grief counselor

loosens his tie

first crocus

I make a promise

I can’t keep


my father slips out

of the conversation

fall planting

the way my father

set them straight

year’s end

the weight of pennies

in the mason jar

peace vigil

one candle

lights them all

year’s end

I give the graveyard

a passing glance


I forget the rest

of the story

muscle memory

the weight

of a casket