“The day’s offerings” haiku

Written Aug. 12, 2011

It’s one of those days
Musical talent was born
All varieties

Brave Rostropovich
Most brilliant cellist, champion
Of all peoples’ rights

Honored the classics,
Encouraged new composers,
Dignity for all

In ’27
Porter Wagoner loped in
Circle the wagons!

Discovered Dolly,
Had own TV show, master
Of Grand Ole Opry

Next up, Buck Owens
In ’29, another
Bright star of country

Not the Nashville sound,
Buckeroos, but Bakersfield;
Stripped down, nice and lean

Ringo sang his tune
“Act Naturally”; Dwight Yoakam
Continues the sound

More guitar greats born
This day: Sultan Mark Knopfler
And Pat Metheny

Knopfler got into
Dire Straits, and then he played
His way out of them

A KC suburb,
Lee’s Summit, was Metheny’s
Birthplace, stomping grounds

You can hear those roots,
Edge of wide open spaces,
In much of his work

He also breaks bonds
Musical and technical
To fuse ideas

A jazz superstar
In so many ways, but keeps
Sense of fun, and awe

A personal fave
Completes the group, Kid Creole,
Born Thomas Browder

His names and bands changed
But the Kid was always hip,
Cool amid disco

His tropical blend’s
Still smart, funny, danceable
— Right for a birthday

August 12th, good job!
Serving musical pleasures
Across the spectrum

“Constellation prize” haiku


Sons of Perseus
Cosmic radiance no myth
Lighting the night sky

Perfect atmosphere
For Smith-Tuttle to put on
Its annual show

Meteor shower
What better way for comet
To clean up its act?

“Tears of St. Lawrence”
To some Catholics: Sparks rain down
On that martyr’s day

A.D. 36
First record of these fireworks
Credit the Chinese

Adolphe Quetelet noted they
Appear every year

We could’ve told Dolph
What goes around comes around
But he told us when

Satellite competes
This time ’round, but pre-dawn moon
Will Gibbous a break

Year’s best viewing wanes
Better look this up tonight
Check Google today

“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


There in black and white
Color scales fall from our eyes
And what do we see?

There in black and white
Coffee, cream start one day’s life
Pepper, salt spice it

There in black and white
Ink imprints, pixels on screen
Carry the day’s news

There in black and white
Slow hands sweep old clock face — time

There in black and white
Two little friends laugh, join hands
In harmony’s dance

There in black and white
Sketch pad, charcoal line and smudge
Save light and shadow

There in black and white
Storied films flicker and fight
For love and glory

There in black and white
88 piano keys
Just aching to sing

There in black and white
Somehow are all life’s colors
And its shades of gray

“I Say a Little Prayer” haiku

Hal David, May 25, 1921 — Sept. 1, 2012

Goodbye, Hal David
Burt Bacharach’s lyricist
For so many hits

Goodbye, Hal David
Classics transcended genres
Pop, country, show tunes

Goodbye, Hal David
Helped Dionne Warwick, Tom Jones,
Dusty, Aretha

Goodbye, Hal David
Knew the way to San Jose,
What the world needs now

Goodbye, Hal David
Anyone who had a heart
Loved your classic songs

Goodbye, Hal David
91 years you helped sail
This sea of heartbreak

Goodbye, Hal David
You’ll live on. Always something
There to remind me

Haiku for loved ones gone

I wrote these a year ago today, Sept. 1. Mostly for my Mom and Dad, but for anyone you’re missing, too.

We don’t think we could
Love them more; somehow we do
After they are gone

Yet they’re never gone,
Not really; their souls echo
Louder than the flesh

In our flesh they live
In our memories never die
And help us go on

How do they still know
What we need? And how did they
Leave their best behind?

It’s all a mystery
But of all the mysteries, this
Is one of the best

Broken haiku

I’d never heard of Sam Baker, though I listen to “Cyprus Avenue” pretty regularly. (For any out of towners, that’s Bill Shapiro’s great Saturday music show on KCUR, our gem of a public radio station in Kansas City.) But some friends had tickets and asked my wife and me along to Sam Baker’s show Saturday at the Folly Theater (our beautifully restored, 112-year-old gem of a venue). I’m so grateful I got to see him. Quite a moving show, by a unique talent. A little haiku tribute:

Sam Baker sings it
Plain, plaintive, talking on pitch
A hushed, dusty twang

Sam Baker plays it
Plucked notes set the atmosphere
For tales to unfold

Sam Baker writes it
Cut, bloodied, scarred — mosaics
From life’s shattered shards

Sam Baker knows it
Meaning’s elusive amid
The beauty and pain

Sam Baker sees it
The smallest details reveal
Emotions so deep

Sam Baker lives it
Stories that haunt, love that heals
Though we’re so broken

Hourglass haiku

Kids grow parents die
Looks jobs bosses partners change
In this dance of time

It’s true normal’s just
A dryer setting meaning
Tumbling in hot wind

So we all need things
To hold onto — tumbleweeds
Are so hard to hug

Friends dogs coffee God
Things that don’t just blow away
When storms are brewing

Spaces inside, out
Spaces life can’t rearrange
Unless we say so

We all need our rocks
To build our peace on, knowing
The sands will get in

AE haiku

Amelia Earhart, July 24, 1897 — July ??, 1937

75 years later
The search continues

Mystery, adventure
Derring-do, lust to take wing
Amelia Earhart

Her birthday today
Incarnate in Atchison
Baby girl inspired

From first shed-roof “flight”
To last over Pacific
Spirit blazed, undimmed

And then she vanished
Landing on the wrong island?
Ditching in the sea?

The search continues
Hope they find what they’re seeking
If even they know

Perhaps it’s all right
When a dream runs out of gas
To keep chasing it

But I think she would
Move on, lay the dream to rest
Beneath waves and sand

“Last call for Monet” haiku

A YouTube clip of rare Monet footage reminded me of these verses, from the last day of the Monet show last summer at the Nelson Gallery in Kansas City.

Stock markets crashing
A brave helicopter, too
Death and destruction

Monet’s exhibit
Beckons, one last day of peace
Amid the chaos

Cleveland, St. Louis,
KC rejoin their triptych
Of water lilies

Yes, Monet beckons
Grainy black and white film clip
Of a smoking bear

Museum writings
Talk of history and technique.
Soul, they can’t explain

Pure tranquility
Spotlights on the canvases
In dimly lit room

Pure tranquility
Flows across the canvases
42 feet wide

Pure tranquility
Reunites the canvases
Three friends breathe as one

I sit, stand, kneel, rest
Immersing myself in them
From every angle

Can’t see from afar
Without people in the way
They’re part of the show

Round-faced baby girl
Stooped man in tourist-plaid shorts
Three handsome siblings

The Nelson’s garden
Blooms with these human flowers
Shapes, colors, ages

Monet’s panels each
Have a shimmering center
Of yellow and green

Each draws you, calls you
To get lost in reflection
As Monet once did

Clusters of lilies
Give each panel its own life
Different from the rest

Wisps of peach and rose
Deep red here, darker green there
Cream saucers and swirls

Beloved garden
Monet’s refuge from a war
That ravaged his time

Beloved garden
That became his obsession
To paint and rework

Beloved garden
A peace we magically share
Across time and space