“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


June 1 haiku

Star who will be Marilyn
Makes her first twinkle

Born into madness
Dies in loneliness, despair
In between, magic

In ’67
The Beatles get serious
With Sgt. Pepper’s

Rock stars turn artists
Tap all that’s within them
Music ever changed

Helen Keller breathes last breath
Of unique journey

Deaf, blind, not yet 2
Alphabet unlocks genius
To inspire the world

June 1st, quite a date
For magical history tour
Birth, release, passing

Zimmy haiku, redux

Last May 24th, Bob Dylan turned 70, and I wrote these.

The short-version tribute:

Two words: Bob Dylan
For decades in his music
He’s said all the rest

And the longer one, with thanks to Joyce Carol Oates for her description of Dylan’s voice, and to Dylan, for packing almost 12 minutes of the most mind-bending music onto one 45: “Like a Rolling Stone/Gates of Eden.”

Haiku for Dylan
Like outhouse built in tribute
To cathedral, but …

Let’s give it a try
And hold it to seven more
One for each decade

Woodie Guthrie passed
The torch and Dylan produced
More U.S. classics

“Blowin’ in the Wind”
“The Times They Are a-Changin’ ”
Timely and timeless

He took us on trips
(With and without tambourine)
We’ll never forget

Torrents of words, voice
“As if sandpaper could sing”
Cut straight to the heart

Fierce independence,
Shifting styles that confounded
His fans and doubters

He sliced up the world
In 3 minutes — one time 6!
And changed everything

“Just music,” he says
But Bob, you’re gonna make me
Lonesome when you go

“Finishing the” haiku

Stephen Sondheim born
This date, 1939
Musical master

Stephen wasn’t born
A master, of course, though he
Caught the bug at 9

Passion sustained him
Through divorce of his parents,
Mother’s cruelty

Hammerstein friendship,
Mentorship showed him the ropes
Taught him to compose

Soon he wrote lyrics
“West Side Story” and “Gypsy”
He was on his way

Music, lyrics flowed
And “A Funny Thing” happened
“Company, “Follies”

And “Send in the Clowns”
From “A Little Night Music”
Was Top 40 hit

Impressive awards
For show tunes: Oscar, Tonys
Even Pulitzer

From difficulty,
Math-to-music mind, much toil
He fashioned genius

Clever, biting words
And complex polyphony
Told stories in song

“Sweeney Todd” stripped bare
The mad human appetites
Fed by life’s tortures

“Sunday in the Park”
Extraordinary picture
Vision’s fevered grip

In all its splendor and pain
Hearts cracked wide open

All so delicious
And so outside-looking-in
Sondheim to the core

Synapse gap haiku, part II

One thing I’m sure of
Can’t be sure of anything
Yes, I’m sure of that

For how do we know
What we think we know, really?
Reason with me here

We think we decide
Based on logic, not feelings
But that’s a brain trick

We should admit there’s
No such thing as pure reason,
Disembodied thought

Because brains are part
Of the body, sensory
Organs like the rest

We hear what we want
Faulty memories, senses
Make us sure “That’s right!”

Surely certainty
Is a feeling, cleverly
Disguised as a thought

It’s the ultimate
In emotion, not reason,
That certain feeling

I guess that explains
Why more facts don’t often help
To change someone’s mind

Seems more real, honest, though it’s
Less satisfying

Eventually, though
You have to decide, and act
— Just don’t be so sure

And of course, some things
We do know — and know they’re based
On all sorts of things

We know whom we love
And treasure, who makes our lives
Worth living each day

And sure, some feelings
Will disappear — so will life.
It’s called “now.” Live it.

“Lost my head” haiku

Happy Valentine’s Day. Last year it seemed as if lots of different people were singing to me. For some reason, this year it’s Van Morrison. Here are a couple of light ones.

“Crazy love,” I love
That craziest phrase in all
Its redundancy

Valentine, a saint
But not first guy, or last, who
Lost his head this day

I wrote a lot of verses last year, but for some reason this one got the most response. Hmmmm.

It’s Valentine’s Day!
Hug your sweetie; love your spouse
Just don’t let them meet

The whole 2011 bunch is here.

And here are the rest of this year’s, not so light.

Courageous, we love
Surrender our hearts, ourselves
Out beyond the fear

Courageous, we love
Losing those we hold most dear

No more to savor
Taste of salt, scent of flowers

No more to drink in
Every line, curve, lash and lock
With forever’s thirst

But till then we dare
To love with all our senses
Out beyond all sense

“Write, writer, rightest” haiku

Carole King, Feb. 9, 1942

Carole King, such gifts
“You’ve Got a Friend,” “Sweet Seasons”
No one wrote more hits

It’s true. They counted.
Last half of last century
No one wrote more hits

“Will You Still Love Me
“Tomorrow” first of more than
100 to chart

They weren’t just jingles,
Either, but pieces of heart
Life in 3 minutes

Shirelles to Winehouse
Seems everyone’s sung your songs
Been better for it

Aretha, Dusty
The Byrds, Everly Brothers
Beatles, Rod Stewart

Even the Monkees
With “Sometime in the Morning”
Channeled your romance

“Tapestry” showed you
Could sing them, too, masterpiece
Of rich, royal hue

“I Feel the Earth Move,”
“It’s Too Late” — every affair’s
Alpha, Omega

But my favorite’s still
One I hope, somehow, is true:
“Only Love Is Real”

Seven decades, lived
In the magic of music
Lady, take a bow

“Waist deep in words” haiku:

Feb. 1, 1884: First part of Oxford English Dictionary released

OED was born
At least the first installment
Called a fascicle

“Fascicle” — oh joy
600,000 words, they
Had to pick that one

It took 40 years
To finish that pig, which grew
To 12 … fascicles

A definition:
Fascicle — what you get when
You freeze your fas off

Second edition
Grew to 20 full volumes
Took 61 years

The third edition?
Complete through “Ryvita,” up
To its “S” in words

It’s also online
Good thing it’s just text or we’d
Be out of bandwidth

Happy birthday, book
With 600,000 words
Guess that says it all

Also see haiku from Aug. 22, when the latest OED update was released.

And from Oct. 6, haiku on British-isms, to mark U.K. Poetry Day.

And check out the latest newsletter for ABC Books in Springfield.

“Quite a pair” haiku:

Warren Zevon, Jan. 24, 1947 — Sept. 7, 2003
John Belushi, Jan. 24, 1949 — March 5, 1982

Zevon, Belushi
Does “birth” describe arrival?
More like “eruption”?

Zevon, Belushi
Two volcanoes of talent
Nothing could contain

Zevon, Belushi
Werewolves and Animal House
“Rah-hoooo!” and “Food fight!”

Zevon, Belushi
Shared a birthday, their demons
A death wish, times two

Zevon, Belushi
Too many drinks, hits and smokes
The real blues brothers

Belushi, untamed
Star-crossed and drug-crucified
Dead at 33

Belushi, a waste
When laughter died, tombstone said,
“Rock and roll lives on”

Zevon, redemption
For Mr. Bad Example
Some extra decades

Friends sobered him up
Music saved him till cancer
Ripped his lungs out, Jim

Zevon, Belushi
Left on the wind; let’s keep them
In our hearts awhile

“Bushy appendage” haiku

It’s 1-21
“Squirrel Appreciation Day”
Rocky would love it

The squirrel family’s huge
Three hundred sixty-five kinds
One species per day

Except it’s Leap Year
So I might jump in and join
The parade of squirrels

Tree squirrels and ground squirrels
Chipmunks, woodchucks, flying squirrels
And cute prairie dogs

Pygmies (3 inches)
To Marmots (2 point 5 feet)
Long and short of it

Excellent vision
(Where did you get those big eyes?)
Sharp teeth, sturdy claws

A nuisance, granted
(They empty our birdfeeder)
But much fun to watch

And Letterman says,
“It’s so hot I saw a squirrel
“Out fanning his nuts”

Etymon of “squirrel”
Includes Latin sciurus,
Norwegian ekorn

(Those sound like “scurry”
And “acorn” — you must admit
That’s kinda squirrelly)

And Greek skiouros
Means “shadow-tailed” — poetic
For rats that jump, fly

So put out some food
For your favorite squirrel today
I’ll be right over