“We could use some laughs” haiku

Phyllis Diller, July 17, 1917 — Aug. 20, 2012

‘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?

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 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


Independence Day haiku

The 4th of July
A Declaration

Self-evident truths
Rights unalienable
Life and liberty

No Mother England,
No Father King, they declared,
Would deny their rights

Battles with British
Had started one year before
Would last 5 years more

But Declaration
Marked the point of no return
For a new nation

Two signed right away,
John Hancock and Charles Thompson;
Others a month hence

56 signed on
Signed their death sentences if
Revolution failed

But Washington led
Troops that bled at Valley Forge
Refused to give up

French aid was crucial,
Let’s not forget, and freedom
Eventually rang

50 years later
Adams, Jefferson died, but
Their work continues

The Declaration
Excluded women and slaves
But it was the start

Declaration lit
Flame that vanquished slavery
Gave women the vote

And equal rights’ quest
Will never die if we keep
Hearts and minds open

“Don’t look down” haiku

“Don’t look down” haiku

Walk the line between
Clarity, insanity
A man, a wire, falls

With borders guarded
Crossing can be tough, but this
Is ridiculous

Last time the Niagara Gorge
Traversed on high wire

Now Nik Wallenda
Of famous flying family
Will take that long walk

End a Wallenda?
Wire humor is all gallows
No pratfalls allowed

End of Wallendas?
No, even if Nik did die
Family would go on

Following footsteps
Fatalist’s folly also
Family foundation

Following footsteps
Wallendas sound like Nike
Saying “Just do it”

Speaking of sponsors
ABC will televise
Hoping you’ll tune in

Disney’s owner says
There’ll be no death — Live! — on air
Nik must wear tether

But what if Nik sheds
His safety harness midway?
He’d like to, you know

He’s walking at night
So if he makes some mistakes
We just won’t notice

Crossing Niagara
Dark, alone, on a drenched wire
What will it feel like?

Fear, terror, longing
For the other side, to feel
Earth beneath his feet?

No, Nik Wallenda
Is a different kind of man
Mostly nuts, all guts

Walks the line between
Lunacy, serenity
A man, a wire, falls

“What’s your desire” haiku

This evening only
A solar system near you
Venus in transit

Heavenly body
Makes pass between Earth and sun
But don’t look! Don’t look!!

Telescope filter
Or special welder’s glasses
Needed to save eyes

Otherwise do what
You always do these days — watch
On the Internet

Won’t happen again
Till 2117
So don’t miss this one

First transit that was foreseen
By Horrocks, Crabtree

Horrocks, a student,
And Crabtree, a cloth merchant
Did own star studies

They used Keppler’s sky tables
To predict transit

Transit helped figure
In 1769
Solar system’s size

This time, astronaut
From space station will capture
Transit from orbit

Seems so easy now
But let that heighten, not shrink,
Our sense of wonder


Twenty-nine thousand
Thirty-five feet above sea
Everest rises

Called Chomo-Lungma
Mother Goddess of the Earth
And a bitch to climb

George Leigh Mallory
Tried often in the ’20s
Why? “Because it’s there.”

George Leigh Mallory
Died trying. We’ll never know:
Did he reach top first?

Then Tibet was closed
To outside expeditions
From the Northeast Ridge

Nepal opened up,
’49; intrepid treks
Resumed from the south

Ice, rock, blinding wind
Siren song’s frozen notes lured
200 to death

Peak experience
Punching a hole to heaven
Up beyond the clouds

Two-thirds of the way
Through Earth’s atmosphere, closer
To something divine

Two conquered — and made it back
Into record books

Kiwi beekeeper
And Himalayan Sherpa
On top of the world

Edmund Hillary,
Tenzig Norgay on this date
Climbed Mount Everest

“I think I can do the dance number, but I’m not so sure about my horse” haiku

John Wayne, born Marion Robert Morrison
May 26, 1907 – June 11, 1979

Not a boy named Sue
But a guy named Marion
Was born on this date

Hardworking and tough
Football player got a job
On a movie set

Director John Ford
Fed him ever-bigger parts
Breakthrough in “Stagecoach”

“Tall in the Saddle”
For years that described John Wayne
Cowboy Western star

Two-fisted hero
And (spoiler!) “The Man Who Shot
“Liberty Valance”

Classics “Red River”
“She Wore a Yellow Ribbon”
And “Rio Bravo”

No one said “pilgrim”
Quite like the Duke; laconic
Became iconic

Cowboy turned warrior
In “Sands of Iwo Jima,”
Other combat films

Returned to Westerns
“True Grit” Oscar, “The Shootist”
Died with his boots on

Happy birthday, Duke
John Ford was right to bet on
That guy Marion