“Requiem for a heavyweight” haiku

Walt Bodine’s last show is today on KCUR, 10-11 a.m.

It’s been a great ride
For our city’s talk show king
Walt ruled for decades

From his dad’s drugstore
To his KCUR mic
Memories galore

Linwood and Troost was
Crossroads of Kansas City
— And America

As a soda jerk
Walt soaked it all up — asking,
Telling, retelling

This city became
Part of Walt Bodine, and he
A big part of it

Walt found his calling
Behind a radio mic
First in Sedalia

Next came Atchison
Other KC jobs

KCUR called, and Walt
Had found his last gig

The talk of the town
Whoever and whatever
Walt had on his show

Movies and restaurants
Politics, history, gossip
Walt served it all up

Walt’s been fading, true,
For some years now. Still I’ll miss
That voice of our town

World heavyweight champ
Rocky Marciano called
It quits on this date

Walt Bodine signs off
On this date, too. There are no

A nice look at Walt’s career is here.


Haiku trumpeting Gideon

Gideon Sundbäck, April 24, 1880 – June 21, 1954

Google puts some zip
Into its homepage, recalls
Gideon Sundbäck

Swede moved to U.S.
Universal Fastener
Lured him from GE

Engineer devised
The modern zipper, replaced
Hook and eye design

Dimple-bottomed teeth
With conical projections,
Slider — sounds kinky

Hookless Fastener
Number 1 worked pretty well
Number 2 worked great

Necessity called
Sundback invented machine
To make zippers, too

But B.F. Goodrich
Came up with the name “zipper”
Used it on its boots

Garment makers slow
To adopt, years before it
Was done on the fly

Zippers found their opening
Ruled the clothing world

Kids, randy grownups
Still love to play with zippers
So thanks, birthday boy

Could go on all day
But to honor Sundbäck’s work
I’d better zip it

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

“Record Store Day” haiku; LeRoi haiku, redux

It’s Record Store Day! Here are a few haiku from this time last year:

It’s Record Store Day
KC’s Vinyl Renaissance
It’s all in the groove

The Tao of Vinyl:
The hole contains all music
Not on the platter

Good Vinyl Karma:
What goes around comes around
Again and again

All the best vinyl
Is revolutionary
But what RPM?

AND a big batch from last Nov. 19th, with was the 52nd anniversary of Kief’s in Lawrence, the record store I haunted in my youth, is here.

AND last year we got the sad, sad news that Leroy (LeRoi) Johnson had died. After college, when I got a job in KC and moved here, LeRoi was THE “record store guy.” Some farewell haiku from last Aug. 30:

LeRoi, it can’t be
You’re gone — I thought the music
Would play forever

King of record stores
On Main Street and then Westport
Never missed a groove

Rotund and ruddy
Ever-present cigarette
You were always there

Wrote same Pitch review
A thousand times, “Cool! Buy it!”
Of course, you were right

Feel strange disturbance
In the Force, as turntables
Cry out, fall silent

“Fanaticism fulfilled” haiku

In Oklahoma
April 19th, ’95
Gates of hell open

Ryder truck, diesel,
Ammonium nitrate, hate
Madness lights the fuse

Bits of fabric, flesh
Flutter in the wind — hope dies
In fireman’s arms

Building’s shattered face
Jagged, empty spaces, voids
In the web of life

It’s the end of time
For 168
19 little kids

17 years pass
Some questions have no answers
Except the sunrise