You can’t write haiku in a buffalo herd

Roger Miller, Jan. 2, 1936 — Oct. 25, 1992

Why is it jokesters
Aren’t taken seriously?
Laughter’s important

Take Roger Miller
It’s the man’s birthday today
Do you think he’s great?

From “King of the Road”
To “Big River,” Roger wrote
A wealth of classics

“England Swings” took us
On a trip across the sea
Snapshots whistlin’ by

Some were great nonsense
Like “You Can’t Rollerskate in
“A Buffalo Herd”

But he wrapped true pain
In tossed-off titles: “Dang Me”
And “Atta Boy Girl”

“Husbands and Wives” summed
The price of pride perfectly
Forgiveness failing

And he made death’s chill
All too real with “One Dying
“And a Burying”

Roger’s mama died
When he was 1; his daddy
Split up the siblings

Aunt and uncle raised him
He worked the farm, learned fiddle
Dreamed and wrote some songs

Served in Korea,
Ducked jail for stealing guitar
“Clash of ’52”

Sarge told him to hit
Nashville; played with Minnie Pearl
And wrote with George Jones

Detour as fireman
Wife and kid to feed but soon
Nashville pulled him back

Wrote hits for others
“That’s the Way I Feel”
And “Billy Bayou”

And then the time came
He recorded his own hit
“You Don’t Want My Love”

“When Two Worlds Collide”
Was even bigger, but he
Threw it all away

’62 and 3
Were two years lost to excess
But then he rallied

’64 comeback:
“Dang Me” and “King of the Road”
Just two of the hits

That was Roger’s peak
But the rest of his career
Had some fine moments

“Big River” hit big
In ’85, reminded
Folks of Roger’s gifts

The stogies got him
Age 56, the cost of
An unfiltered life

Now his CDs rest
Between “Mellencamp,” “Mitchell”
In my collection

Great company, yes
And I reach for Roger first
For a laugh, or cry

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