About Greg Hack

Writer of verses in 5-7-5 haiku meter. I hope this is my epitaph: A guy with passion / Heart on sleeve, in awe of life / And he never changed

“What goes around” haiku, or “Ferris Doodle’s Day On”

Written Valentine’s Day, 2013, keyed off the Google Doodle that day for George Ferris’ 154th birthday.

“What goes around” haiku

It’s Valentine’s Day
What better time to visit
Love’s amusement park?

Love disorients
It’s Tilt-a-Whirl, Loop the Loop
And Atomic Drop

Love distorts, deceives
It’s funhouse mirrors — and meals
Of cotton candy

Love tantalizes
When that Tunnel of Love kiss
Whispers “Forever”

Love shows us heights, depths,
Crushingly quick endings — it’s
A roller coaster

Our brains — and stomachs
Know we can’t live like this, yet
We keep going back

Heartache and heartbreak
We line up, punch that ticket
To know we’re alive

This Valentine’s Day
Google honors George Ferris
And his smoother ride

He died young but first
Fashioned his romantic dream
For the world to share

Civil engineer
Known for mastering railroads,
Bridges and tunnels

Exhibition challenged to
Out-Eiffel Eiffel

Ferris offered wheel
264 feet
In diameter

46-plus tons
Of metal forged its axle
U.S. steel, writ large

Judges terrified
Rejected it as unsafe
Then reconsidered

Ferris made it real
And millions came to catch its
Unparalled view

Ferris died alone
But his wheels turn on and on
Like a love that lasts

And here’s a favorite wrencher, about when that wheel gets bent.

Ad astra haiku

Kansas admitted to the Union, Jan. 29, 1861

Midwifed by prairie turmoil
Kansas was born free

Two-thousand fourteen
Still free, precariously,
The state of my heart

Beauty, ugliness
Across this crazy-quilt land
A most human place

Harsh state for cities:
KCK and Wichita,
Topeka — tough towns

Johnson County sprawl
Insatiable concrete maw
Cul-de-sacs, strip malls

Small farm towns, small farms
Struggle gamely to survive
Agribusiness scythe

Lawrence, Manhattan
Now you’re talking — we know how
To do college towns

And the hills and plains
Providence made them perfect
Glorious to view

Some “leaders” right now?
Hard-hearted “Christians” astray
Jesus, let us pray

Yes, we Kansans make
Our share of awful mistakes
In fear, ignorance

But we also work
For each other’s good and share
Our food with the world

So don’t take our worst
To be our best as we find
Our way through dark times

Through difficulties,
One hundred fifty-three years
We’ve looked to the stars

“100 down” haiku

If you’re looking for
A fun word puzzle to do
Try a Google search

Today’s Doodle marks
Hundredth anniversary
Of crossword’s debut

In 1913
The New York World’s Arthur Wynne
Made the first “word-cross”

A typographer
Later transposed feature’s name
The crossword was born

Today’s Doodle’s smart
Will save your answers for you
Till you are finished

So if you must quit
And come back later, there’s no
Need to be cross — Word

“A little knowledge is a fabulous thing” haiku

Maria Mitchell, Aug. 1, 1818 – June 28, 1889
Today’s Google Doodle

‘Twas astronomer
From Nantucket, famous but
Not in limerick

Maria Mitchell
Helped her dad compute eclipse
When she was just 12

Learned astronomy
At father’s elbow, other
Celestial joints

Quaker upbringing
Valued girls’ education
Equally with boys’

Thank heavens for that
Young Maria loved to learn
And she never stopped

First librarian
Nantucket Atheneum
Served for 18 years

At night she drank in
All the magic of the stars
Science, with passion

Discovered comet
Gave her international

Once wrote she enjoyed
“Acting the part of greatness”
— But just for three days

New Vassar College
Made her its first astro prof
And students loved her

2,000-mile trip
To Colorado let them
See eclipse first hand

Learned she wasn’t paid
As much as men, demanded
A raise — and got it

She opposed slavery,
Pushed for women’s right to vote
And equality

Left Quakerism
Enjoyed Unitarians’
Thirsty quest for truth

She found truth, beauty
In colors of God’s heavens
“Dyestuffs from the stars”

Sunspots, nebulae,
Moons of Saturn, Jupiter,
Solar eclipses

Google her, you’ll see
She never tired of wonders

Today she lives on
Foundation in Nantucket
Keeps her legacy

Aquarium, science hall
And they’re building more

She knew — we’re stardust
And her scientist’s soul still
Sparkles among us

“Going viral” haiku

Julius Richard Petri, May 31, 1852 — Dec. 20, 1921

Berlin scientist
Julius Richard Petri
What a cultured guy

Enabled lab work
Ugly, gross — yet breakthrough was
Really quite a dish

Agar ‘orrible
Bacteria multiplied
But aided research

His round glass dishes
Became standard equipment
And are to this day

Today’s Doodle shows
Half-dozen cultures growing
Some colorful stuff

Smelly sock, doorknob,
Keyboard, dog drool, soil and sponge
Yield exquisite gunk

So thanks, JRP
Bacteriology just
Wouldn’t be the same

And I would’ve wrapped
Your birthday present but was
All out of barf bags

Remembering Dr. King

Here are some verses from Aug. 28, 2011, about the March on Washington.

March on Washington
Was 48 years ago
How little we’ve learned

Dr. King’s great dream
Stirred hope, moved many to act,
Changed so many laws

Hundreds of thousands
Marched with him and stood with him
Black and white, as one

Mahalia, Dylan
Peter, Paul, Mary
All sang f
or  justice

But that march was not
“For Rights and Laws” but a march
“For Jobs and Freedom”

Martin envisioned
Harmony and dignity
— And that includes jobs

But today instead
We have rancor, bordering
On our disunion

Not a great nation
But warring camps, opposite
Our Founders’ vision

Recession destroyed
Gains black Americans made
Across the decades

Wealth gap, jobs gap mock
Equal opportunity,
Freedom, dignity

March on Washington
Was 48 years ago
We are slipping back

The choice is still ours
If we quit acting as if
God is on our side

Yes, the choice is ours
Let’s pray to be on God’s side
As Lincoln, King did

Honor each other
Promise to work together
— Then really do it

There’s no other choice
Work for  the dream so one day
Our kids may live it

And some from Oct. 16, 2011, when the King Memorial was dedicated. It was to be dedicated Aug. 28, but Hurricane Irene pushed back the date.

Washington, Lincoln,
Jefferson, Roosevelt, King
Justice on the Mall

Dr. King wasn’t
A president but he takes
His place among greats

Among two founders,
Two who led us through dark times
This man of peace stands

King stood for justice,
Economic rights, good jobs
And never backed down

“Out of the mountains
“Of despair a stone of hope”
Our work’s still cut out


2012 tributes

I missed writing about some important deaths, for one reason or another. I especially wish I’d written up Kitty Wells, Duck Dunn, and Johnny Otis (Hand Jive!), but those are the breaks. Friends with connections to the families said relatives of Sally Ride and Donna Summer saw what I’d written about their passings, which was gratifying. Here are some farewells, with the date they were written — usually, but not always, the day the person died.

2-19 Whitney Houston

Which did life break first?
Wings, spirit, body, voice? Now,
Silence, songbird. Rest.

2-29 Davy Jones (written the previous December, for his last birthday)
Ah, darling Davy
Child TV star, then trained
To be a jockey

But the stage beckoned
“Oliver’s” artful dodger
Made him a real star

Ed Sullivan Show
Had “Oliver’s” cast, same night
Of Beatles’ debut

Girls all went crazy
Davy knew what he wanted
Monkees made it true

3-27 Adrienne Rich, feminist poet and author

Wilderness flashlight
One tiny, brave beam cuts through
Lonely, then leading

3-28 Earl Scruggs
Heavenly breakdown
God said, “Earl, I need you to
“Come in on banjo”

Banjo pioneer
And picker extraordinaire
Rest in peace, Earl Scruggs

4-5 “One louder” haiku (Jim Marshall)

Start with a Bassman
Separate amp from speakers
Use four 12-inches

Close cabinet back
Add higher-gain pre-amp valves
Post-volume filter

Overdrive sooner
Treble frequencies boosted
Voilà! The Marshall

Townshend, Entwistle
Stacked ’em — the world got louder
Cream, Hendrix echoed

Dozens of models
Followed — famed followers, too
Too many to count

Ideas have lives
As do great sounds and moments
Decay and sustain

Marshall, the amp king
Lived to 11, times 8
Rest in non peace, Jim

4-18 “American icon” haiku

Drape Bandstand in black
Then keep on rockin’ — Dick Clark
Would want it that way

4-20 “Take a load off” haiku (Levon Helm)

Divine harmony
Levon, drums, mic, stage, no fright
One with everything

5-8 Wild Things haiku

‘Bye, Maurice Sendak
You showed us we would conquer
Though there be monsters

5-17 Donna Summer

Heaven’s disco ball
Just added a few facets
Rock in peace, hot stuff

Cancer’s never fair
Somehow it’s even more wrong
For Donna Summer

Queen of an era
When people lived on dance floors
Parties never stopped

“Heaven Knows,” “Bad Girls”
And “Love to Love You Baby”
“On the Radio”

When parties did stop
They all stopped with the same song:
Ms. Summer’s “Last Dance”

‘Bye Donna Summer
Thanks for all the dance floor grooves
Of our well spent youth

7-23 Trailblazer haiku

Sailing through the stars
This one last time, for all time
Liftoff, Sally Ride

8-21 “We Could Use Some Laughs” haiku

‘Bye Phyllis Diller
Blazed trail of tears (of laughter)
Queen of one-liners

Self deprecation
And domestic disasters
Made thousands of jokes

“Bury the laundry”
“Skip baby’s bath — he won’t tell”
Among your fine tips

“Goodnight, We Love You”
DVD captured career,
Your many talents

Mom and I watched it
In her final days — maybe
The last laughs she had

Hope now you’re having
The last laugh because no one
Could laugh quite like you

‘Bye Phyllis Diller
Loved your alligator shoes
Or were you barefoot?

8-26 Neil Armstrong

Neil Armstrong answered
Moon’s timeless pull — fast footprints
In history’s tides

In heavens, made real
Eons of human dreaming
Now he joins the stars

9-26 Smooth exit haiku

‘Bye Andy Williams
Moon River, now River Styx
You’re crossing in style

10-1 A.O. Sulzberger

Modesty, clear thought
Arthur Ochs “Punch” Sulzberger
A bold vision, too

Punch started quite young
Quickly grew into the job
And never looked back

Put press freedom first
And profits a close second
Knew papers need both

The Old Grey Lady
Added color on his watch
Took on new topics

But held to its core
Accuracy, good judgment
High integrity

World’s greatest paper
Made its mistakes, some big ones,
But fixed them, moved on

Pentagon Papers
Tested resolve, but not faith
In First Amendment

Serious business
But Punch also had the time
For a laugh, a pun

‘Bye, Punch Sulzberger
Gentleman, and gentle man
Steady at the helm

10-21 Veteran haiku

‘Bye, George McGovern
Of Mitchell, South Dakota
From prairie to dust

A minister’s son
Bomber pilot war hero
One wife throughout life

Midwestern solid
His “crazy” causes were peace,
Feeding the hungry

History professor
Desired to learn from the past
Avoid its mistakes

Cast as cowardly
He really was a lion
With courage untold

I heard him speak once
To thousands of Legionaires
At their convention

Said America
Was strong and great — but misguided
About Vietnam

And telling that crowd
We were fighting the wrong war
Took tremendous guts

Then “nutty lib” was
Trounced by Mr. Sanity
Tricky Dick Nixon

McGovern lived on,
Lived long, doing what he could
To help others

Whatever one thinks
Of his politics, no one
Should question his heart

In ’67,
This date, thousands protested
War in Vietnam

45 years on
George McGovern breathed his last
Peaceful warrior, rest

12-5 Dave Brubeck

Take five, Dave Brubeck
After all, you did it all
In your long career

Classical training
Then jazz, jazz, jazz — cracked the charts
And sold a million

5/4 and 9/8
11/4 — signatures
Few others had mined

Conquered Concord, Kool,
Newport, college campuses
With classic quartet

Then you wrote ballets,
Cantatas, orchestral works,

Time to stop, marvel
And call “Time Out” one last time
Brubeck, over, and out

12-20 Sandy Hook haiku

1 insane person
And too many God damned guns
We’ve seen this before

20 empty desks
40 empty little shoes
Countless empty laps

20 empty beds
20 holes in the night sky
With light leaking through

20 small coffins
20 headstones each weighing
As much as the world

And 8 large coffins
6 holding brave protectors
Can we be as brave?

Complicated, yes,
But clear: Unless we’re as brave
We’ll see this again

Sandy Hook haiku

1 insane person
And too many God damned guns
We’ve seen this before

20 empty desks
40 empty little shoes
Countless empty laps

20 empty beds
20 holes in the night sky
With light leaking through

20 small coffins
20 headstones each weighing
As much as the world

And 8 large coffins
6 holding brave protectors
Can we be as brave?

Complicated, yes,
But clear: Unless we’re as brave
We’ll see this again