Haiku for two classics

Written April 23, 2011

What a birthday day
Shakespeare and Roy Orbison
Two like no others

To haiku or not
To haiku? That’s the question
On this busy day

Whether ’tis nobler
To wax poetic or get
These darned dishes done

Shall I compare thee
To a summer’s day? Or get
To mowing the lawn?

Anon will not do!
The Bard merits tribute now
However humble

For where would we be
Without Hamlet, Othello,
Venice’s merchant?

Or the Kings Henry
Romeo and Juliet,
Macbeth and mad Lear?

No “As You Like It”?
I wouldn’t like that one bit,
How bitter a thing

Midsummer nights would
Have no dreams, our madnesses
No method in them

We might be pricked and
Not know to bleed, be tickled
And not know to laugh

So my verse may be
Much ado about nothing.
Still, fine Will I toast

“I will wear my heart
“Upon my sleeve,” full knowing
Whose prose I purloin

And speaking of hearts
Worn upon sleeves, who could sing
Of pain as Roy did?

April 23rd,
1936, birthday
Of Roy Orbison

Roy Orbison sang
For the lonely, sang
For you and for me

Age 6, a guitar
Age 8, on the radio
He was born to sing

He couldn’t see well
And lived in a town called Wink
Full of grease and sand

He left it behind
As soon as he could
Then saw Elvis twitch

Johnny Cash told Roy
To get himself to Memphis
Sam Phillips signed him

He rocked out at Sun
But “Go-Go-Go” wasn’t what
Roy was born to sing

His career fell off
He struggled to find his way
In the late ’50s

Roy found his real voice
When writing with Joe Melson:
“Only the Lonely”

Suddenly the world
Heard Roy Orbison the way
He was meant to sing

His range was measured
Not in notes but in octaves
In songs right for him

On “Running Scared” Roy
Hit a natural high G
— Sharp — and the room froze

“Crying, “Dream Baby,”
“In Dreams,” “Blue Bayou,” the hits
Just kept on coming

Elvis, the Beatles,
The Stones, the Beach Boys, all were
In awe of that voice

“Oh, Pretty Woman,”
“It’s Over” put him over
The top on the charts

But he lost his wife
And two sons in accidents,
Lost his way again

Roy drifted, faded
In and out of the picture
In the ’70s

Others revered him
Still, from Springsteen to Bono,
Kept his flame alive

Then “Blue Velvet” put
Roy and his haunting music
Back in the spotlight

The Rock ’n’ Roll Hall
Gave Roy Orbison his place
With the other greats

Then the Wilburys
Gave Roy a true super group
To sing and play with

And Roy made magic
On one last solo album,
His “Mystery Girl”

And then Roy’s heart stopped
In the midst of his comeback
One last tragedy

It seemed so unfair
And yet so like Roy to go
Out on a high note