“Last of the True Believers” haiku

Nanci Caroline Griffith, July 6, 1953, Seguin, Texas
Updated 2020

Cracked my heart open
The first time I heard her sing
Still does, every time

You see, we all have
This problem, and it’s called love
Nanci Griffith knows

And for some of us,
Heart on sleeve fools, no one else
Sings it quite like her

From Kerrville campfires
To the London Symphony
Nanci’s played ’em all

And tracing romance
Or tugging hatred’s hood, she
Sings about what’s real

Nanci pays tribute
To her strong-women heroes
Love isn’t weakness

Has her causes, too
From the death penalty to
Equal marriage rights

Been through life’s wringer
Death of young sweetheart, divorce,
Cancer twice, friends lost

Years of writer’s block
Came too, till two-thousand-nine
Saw her muse return

“The Loving Kind” said
Nanci’s back, but next CD
Proved to be her last

Once in a lifetime
Or at least in a blue moon
One so touching shines

Happy birthday, girl
You take the cake, and our hearts
It’s all frosting now

March 2019


Library concert
Notes on the margin and you
Don’t have to erase


Library concert
Volume among the volumes
Chapter and verses


So many mistakes
I must be on the verge of
A great leap forward


Linear comic
Lots of simple jokes — for him
Life is a straight line


Hiding places fill
Hilly neighborhood — just right
For a knoll coward


Loo-zee-ana muck
On Italian running shoes
It’s Fila gumbo!


Hasn’t done the nosy dog
Any good either


Medical research
Hopes to cure everything but


My cranky old back
Bravely puts up a good front
For only so long


Her sepia songs
Golden hearts preserved, relived
In wash of tintype


Songbird and sparrow
Timeless and timely — true art
And peeps for her peeps


Gone 20 years yet
He echoes in each footstep,
Cools each long shadow


Sprightly clack of keys
Belies undertow of words
Pouring from his heart


February wind
Lingers, bites like puppy teeth
But without the fun

February 2019


Sprouting like wild weeds
Daffodils and daffy dill
Spring greens and yellow


Lead and serve? No, he
Just rules — robs “nobility”
Of class and meaning


Careless words strewn like
Stogies, figuratively
And litter-al-ly


A bag of cough drops,
A jar of Vicks — cold comfort
In these viral days


Amazing what one
Can get done while avoiding
More odious tasks


Always more to find
We search again, discover
Why it’s called research


Lost inside myself
Introspection’s lone journey
Knows no GPS


The day’s colors fade
Then concentrate, reignite
For their parting blaze


Gray drizzle at dawn
The shrouded Earth awakens
So begrudgingly


Can a Tex-Mex joint
Offer hard-shell tacos at
Its soft opening?


Blueberry lingers
In its breakfast bowl milk bath
Till the spoon’s last scoop


Can an open heart
Share enough love, light and hope
To change a closed mind?


Boundaries, barriers
A fine line between those lines
Of health and hindrance


Seems the only thing
I can never put off is


Brokenhearted know
The real price of love, know they
Will pay it again


Break down or break through
Something has to change when you
Reach a breaking point


Problems of my own
The last thing I need is a
Psycho therapist


Need to talk things out,
Decompress — thank God for my


Brown Latina limbs
White legs of a Northern Girl
Walk new paths as one


Reason all you wish
No argument or logic
Persuades pain to stop


Land of the free, home
Of the brave? Sorry, it’s closed
Show your papers, please


Things get better; things get worse
With luck, things get weird


“Bargain in good faith”
“Compromise with us” — liars
Sing their siren song


Trauma in boxes
Pack it, move it, but that stuff
Follows you around


Stoic grandfather
Six-day weeks, packing house floor
And never a beef


Soft sweater’s caress
Warm, gentle — almost as good
As a human touch


Greg’s law of motion:
When feet with joy are dancing
The heart must follow


When there is no love
Hope dies; faith dies; it all dies
There is only death

January 2019


Hangs by a Facebook thread when
Hate gets the most “likes”


Zero degrees out
Hey, fitness tough guys! What gives?
The bike lane’s empty


The CV’s longer
Than a CVS receipt
Impressive research


Pitcher by pitcher
His blender set to “bender”
Wastrel wastes away


In chaotic times
Binge-watching reality
Takes too much bandwidth


Some music hooks you,
Some worms its way in, to catch
A piece of your heart


Microsoft spending
Half-billion on cheap housing;
Will it have windows?


Rulers remind us
It isn’t just painters who
Can lay it on thick


Air as dry as dust
Winter’s trick when all moisture
Has been set adrift


Walls inside ourselves
Hardest ones to breach because
We hide them so well


Fears that divide us
From each other and ourselves
Scariest of all


A nature lesson:
Fat, fur hold heat, explaining
My hot-headed ways


Soul, definition:
Unique, sacred part of you
No one else can own


Freezing fog and mist
Bracing and mysterious
Perfect life weather


“Fasting” and “cleansing”
Such fraudulent expressions
Slow, dirty business


How to waste a life:
Spend time mocking instead of
Making a difference


Decoding the clues
Found only in dreams means we
Must twice awaken


Reflecting the light
Or generating your own
Beaming is beaming


Layers question not,
Hold many answers, but you
Have to keep digging


Footprints in fresh snow
Find joy in being the first
Care not who follows


Panic empties shelves
Time to restock with kindness,
Calm, truth and caring


Vending machine sage
Dispenses its crackerjack
2 cents: “Be the change”


Our stable genius
Seems fit for only one job:
Mucking his own dung


Dodge, duck, then no luck
We have to take the bullet
In this life someday


Respite all too brief
Dangers all too plentiful
The year’s work awaits


Blood and DNA
Or simply the air we breathe
We’re all connected


Those who see others
Only as winners, losers
Have lost their own way


Chinese land spaceship
Dark side of the moon — who knew
They were Pink Floyd fans?


Gotta love a twist
Lemon, plot, doughnut, dance floor
But ankle, knife? No


First step, then the next
Sometimes so easy, sometimes
Seems impossible


One ends; one begins
Seconds, minutes, hours, days, years
In and out of time




The Ballad of Bob

June 1 is the birthday of Bob Walkenhorst, singer, songwriter, painter, friend, husband, dad and granddad. His work with the Rainmakers has meant — and still means — so much to so many people, and his 15-plus years of Wednesday night gigs with Jeff Porter and Norm Dahlor, which ended about a year ago, helped create a musical community. Now he and his daughter, Una, have made an album that will be out later this year. Happy birthday, Bob, and many more! This was written five years ago, for his 60th, and tweaked for his 65th today.

Emptied the junk drawer
Unpacked the memory banks
Bob-O turned 6-O

That called for epic
And the longer the better
Yeah, that’s what she said

Smalltown Missouri,
Norborne, a dot on the map,
Framed Bob’s early life

Mable and Ray gave
Him love, lots of work to do,
Things to write about

They flipped newspapers
And burgers, too — anything
To help earn a buck

The carpenter’s son
Took their advice and found those
Better things to come

College, the Ozarks,
A crazy electric band,
Stumpwater by name

And then the big move
To the brightest lights around
Kansas City town

Steve, Bob & Dave burst
Out of the chute, played oldies
With intensity

They burned things up fast
From priests-and-strippers parties
To Uptown and down

Some originals
Worked their way into the mix
“Kissin’ Time,” “Christine”

That first trio split
Regrouped as Steve, Bob & Rich
Roots rockers unbound

KC, Wichita,
Springfield, Fayetteville, St. Lou,
Lawrence, Manhattan

The depths of Blayney’s
To Parody’s fire-trap heights
The boys played them all

Wore their pants backwards
Played toy-raygun “synth” solos
Whatever it took

“Baba O’Riley,”
“… Coming to Take Me Away,”
They’d try anything

Too fun, too funny
Who knew what to make of them?
So we danced and danced

Then built their own sets
Of rockin’ originals,
Showed us they had “Balls”

Pat joined in on drums
Band filled out its sound, ready
To take the next step

Renamed Rainmakers
Mercury/Polygram signed
Big-time record cut

Local fans rejoiced
Newsweek, Rolling Stone took note
Robert Christgau, too

New songs and synth sounds
Roared, but “Tornado” didn’t
Take the charts by storm

Good news: next CD
Got back to band’s roots. Bad news:
No label support

Worse news: it detailed
In “Battle of the Roses”
Bob’s breakup story

Then reckoning day:
Time for band to hang it up
Fun had become grind

Bob got that itch — naturally
To write, play again

“Another Guitar,”
Others with Gary Charlson
Rang at Buzzard Beach

Orbison high notes
And Everly harmonies
Yes, remarkable

And life turned again
Bob found his Missouri Girl
Waitin’ down those stairs

Una made the scene
And Norway fans still beckoned
Steve, Rich, Pat came back

Band reminded us
Of someone, good times “Flirting
With the Universe”

Bob got serious
Rich split, not quite furious
“Skin” band found its Bliss

More videos, gigs
Though again the Rainmakers
Ran their course, it seemed

But music still played
In his head and heart, in work
At video job

Helped start a project
Wrote a song with Una’s class
Honoring hero

“Primitivo Garcia”
Still brings us to tears

More songs came, found time
To be recorded, found Jeff
To help play them live

Wednesday night gigs born
Along with “The Beginner”
Proof that Bob was here

Norm joined in on bass
The Westport love affair Buzzzed
for 15-plus years plus

Bob played on with Jeff
And “No Abandon” — they took
Duet to Norway

“Almanac” looked back
As if Rainmakers were through
But “Almanac” lied

Rainmakers re-formed
But didn’t reform — not with
Jeff replacing Steve

25 years on
Band honored its first CD
And made brand new one

Bob mined some memories,
Mature themes about aging
And getting it right

But on stage the guys
Were as crazy as ever
Band of knuckleheads

So Bob rocks, rolls on
Playing, painting, and working
To create, help, love

What is a hero?
One kind grows where he’s planted
Blesses those he knows

So take a bow, Bob
Not bad for 65 years
Here’s to decades more

“In a word” haiku

World Poetry Day
Shanti, irini, malu
Béke, fifa, peace

Of what use are words
Vrede, wolakota, fred
Sérë, amani

If not to heal hearts
Sidi, layeni, hoa binh
Kapayapaan, paz

If not to bind wounds
Heiwa, rukun, hasiti
Ukuthula, pasch

If not to spread love
Soksang, pokoj, santiphap
Peoning hwa, pax

All we are saying
Paix, taika, rongo, baris
Uxolo, paci

Is give peace a chance
Solh, mir, pau, hetep, shalom
World Poetry Day